If there is one politician who never holds back when throwing jabs at others, it is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Leader Julius Malema.
On Monday, Malema was at it again, and his casualty was President Cyril Ramaphosa, as has been the case on numerous occasions in recent times.
Malema was a keynote speaker at the party’s eighth birthday celebrations on Monday.
Once again he made calls for South Africa to start using other vaccines, specifically referring to China’s recently approved Coronavac and Russia’s SPUTNIK V vaccine that is yet to get a green light from the South African Health Product Regulatory Authority (Sahpra.)
In a swipe aimed at Ramaphosa, Malema said that the President was too “over-dependent on Johnson (J&J) vaccine to drive the vaccination programme as the country battles against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Ramaphosa has become a marketing agency and ambassador (J&J), which is why we are seeing such a high rate of infection and slow vaccine programme,” said Malema.
“You would even think Ramaphosa is an influencer of J&J. He mentions J&J many times in his speeches as if he is a receptionist at J&J offices …. that’s how he deals with it (J&J) when he deals about issues of vaccine, an influencer of vaccines.”
How exactly Ramaphosa became the target of his ire is unclear, since the president is not responsible for approving vaccines, as this is the job of the Sahpra.
Malema also reiterated allegations that Sahpra CEO Helen Rees was not objective in her job, accusing her of being influenced by politics and outsiders with other interests.
“Global pharmaceutical companies are weapons of the establishment and have forced Ramaphosa, Helen Rees and Sahpra to deliberately delay the approval and use of alternative vaccines from the enemies of global capitalism,” he said.
“It is for this reason that Sahpra drags it feet on the use of Chinese vaccine Coronavac and Russia’s SPUTNIK V vaccine because those at the helm of Sahpra are literally in bed with those who have interest in J&J.”
And while accusing Sahpra of denying approval for the Chinese vaccine, he simultaneously accused them of eventually approving it for the wrong reasons, calling it a PR stunt to divert attention.
“The EFF march to Sahpra led to a PR approval of the Coronavac vaccine from china… to date the vaccine is still not being used. We want to send a strong warning to this greedy vultures at Sahpra that we will not tolerate a vaccine programme that operates on the availability of J&J vaccine.”
“In this country our vaccine operates like a light switch, when there is J&J there are vaccinations, when there is no J&J our people surrender to death,” Malema said.
He warned that the vaccination programme that depended on one vaccine was tantamount to genocide.
Malema failed to mention that according to the distributor of the Coronavac vaccine locally, South Africa is among 50 countries waiting on the vaccine, as millions of doses are being prepared.
The Sowetan recently reported that Numolux chief operations officer Anton Arendse said, “Sinovac is responding to urgent orders from more than 50 countries daily. However, they have indicated that for SA they will make 2.5 million vaccine doses immediately and an additional 7.5 million as and when ordered.”
He also failed to mention the recent University of Hong Kong study which showed that people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — used alongside the J&J jab locally — had antibody levels 10 times higher than those given Sinovac, while Thailand has started providing medical staff who have received the Coronavac jab booster shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a massive bout of breakout infections.