Deputy President David Mabuza has called on all South African citizens to heed the call to vaccinate in order to reduce the rate of infections, hospitalisation and deaths.
Mabuza was speaking at the launch of the Vaccination Social Mobilisation campaign, in partnership with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture under the theme 'Return to Play – it’s in your hands'.
Mabuza said that they have partnered in their collective commitment to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by reaching out to communities through this campaign.
"If we are to revive our vibrant creative industries, if we are to return to our theatres, stadiums to play and enjoy, it is important that our vaccination programme is accelerated to reach as many people as possible," Mabuza said.
The Deputy President was flanked by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa; Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Gauteng Premier David Makhura, among others.
Mabuza said government has no doubt that with the active participation of leaders and practitioners in the creative sectors and sport, the campaign will reach every village, suburb and every street corner to get South Africans vaccinated.
"As part of this social mobilisation programme, we must reach out to educate communities about the benefits of vaccines, and dispel myths and the spread of fake and untrue conspiracy theories about vaccines. In that way, we will ensure that we eliminate vaccine hesitancy and save more lives in the process.
"As a country, we must contribute to the global fight against COVID-19, and revive sport and the creative industries to contribute to economic recovery and reconstruction," Mabuza said.
The Deputy President said the country’s response to containing the spread of COVID-19 infections necessitated the implementation of restrictions, which impacted on the economy as a whole, while ensuring lives are saved.
"The restrictions related to entertainment and sporting venues have made it difficult for some of our artists to sustain themselves. With limited fiscal resources from government, no amount of support could be enough to compensate for the negative impact of COVID-19 on sustainable incomes and livelihoods.
"While government made contributions to lessen the negative impact on incomes, we are under no illusion this dealt with all the problems that the creative sectors faced," Mabuza said.
He commended the commitment and resilience of artists and the creative sector as a whole for supporting government efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the loss of lives.
The Deputy President said the path to saving lives and economic recovery depends on the accelerated roll-out of the vaccination programme to reach the required levels of population immunity.
"For those countries who have reached population immunity, including the United Kingdom and Germany, normalcy is returning as they are now able to attend the sporting and cultural events of their choice. In the process, there are positive impacts on their economies," Mabuza said.
He said Africa has a long way to go to reach the levels of vaccination that allow it to follow suit.
"The social mobilisation campaign that we are launching today must assist us to ramp up our vaccination programme to reach a required target of herd immunity, so that we are able to open sport and entertainment venues.
"A vaccinated nation is what it will take to once again open the stadium for the popular Soweto Derby. A vaccinated nation is what it will take to open the Cape Town Jazz Festival, Macufe and other prominent music events on our calendar, and indeed, a vaccinated nation is what it will take to open the Durban July and other similar events," Mabuza said.
Mabuza said government will continue to work with the scientific community and ensure that its decision-making processes are based on empirical science, which states clearly that vaccines save lives.
Delivering his remarks, Dhlomo said the Department of Health is grateful to be part of the event, where leaders are making a commitment to join hands with government to save lives and livelihoods.
Dhlomo reiterated that it is clear vaccination is the only way to reclaim some form of normality to life.
The Deputy Minister said Gauteng is currently vaccinating 75 000 people a day and the province would like to push that number to 100 000 a day.
Meanwhile, Makhura announced that the Gauteng province is officially out of the third wave.
"We can only fully return to some new normality when we have vaccinated between 67% and 80% of our population. Vaccines are the most powerful game changer in our hands.
"This is a very empowering [campaign] theme, which calls on all of us to play our part. The theme emphasises the power of collective action and ability of people in every sector to take their destiny and future into their own hands," Makhura said.