A law firm has written a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding that he publicly addresses the country and apologises for not thanking the Indian government, the Serum Institute of India (SII) and the Indian people for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived in the country on Monday.
This followed a backlash on social media by some South Africans of Indian origin, who had complained about the president’s address in which he thanked MTN for its donation of $25 million to procure seven million vaccines that will be rolled out to countries on the African continent.
Ramaphosa also recognised Cuba for its “selfless and unwavering assistance” to South Africa. The president also said Cabinet had approved a proposal to nominate the Cuban Medical Brigade for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, which has been criticised by unions and political parties.
In its letter to the Presidency, dated 2 February 2021, Kirshen Naidoo & Company Incorporated said it was acting on behalf of various citizens and organisations in South Africa who had instructed it to urge Ramaphosa to apologise for snubbing the Indian government. The law firm has offices in Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.
Its director, Kirshen Naidoo, said the Indian government and the SII “generously allocated” the 1.5 million vaccine doses to South Africa that would be given to healthcare workers in the first phase of the vaccination programme.
“Our clients note with disappointment that during your address to the nation last night [1 February] you had failed to thank the Indian government and the Serum Institute of India for their consideration and generosity but chose to praise and recognise pharmaceutical companies, a cellphone company and the people and government of Cuba,” Naidoo said.
“Your failure to thank the Indian government, the Serum Institute of India and the people of India who had made the arrival of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines to South Africa possible, was insulting, inconsiderate and disgraceful.”
Naidoo said Ramaphosa and his team of advisors and experts failed to secure the vaccines for the country. And if it was not for the generosity of the Indian government, its people and the SII, “South Africa would still be standing in a long line begging for vaccines to be allocated to it”.
He also drew the attention of the president to the fact that India maintained strong ties with South Africa.
“Our clients are well aware of the politics that prevails within our government that influences your decisions which are mostly prejudicial and contrary to the best interests of the people of South Africa,” Naidoo said.
“We are lastly instructed to urge you and your government to always be considerate and grateful, which is indicative of honour and integrity that is clearly non-existent within the South African government.”
Attempts to get a comment from the Presidency over the demands were unsuccessful.