Ending the coronavirus pandemic is South Africa’s priority in order to bring the economy back on rail, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.Ramaphosa said this when he addressed the ruling African National Congress (ANC)’s 109th anniversary celebrations amid the country’s great economic and health upheavals made worse by the nine-month pandemic which is getting worse daily due to the virus variant now driving the current surge.
“Our foremost immediate priority in 2021 is to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus is ever-present and it threatens the health and well-being of everyone in our country,” Ramaphosa said during the virtual celebrations address.
He said the pandemic is threatening livelihoods and undermining his government’s efforts to rebuild the economy and create jobs.
The president noted that his country was in the midst of a second wave that could prove deadlier than the first unless “we all play our part to curb and defeat this virus.”
“We will continue to strengthen our health system and sustain community health interventions such as mass screening, testing and tracing,” the president said.
He also spoke on the Covid-19 vaccine programme, saying it would initially prioritise health workers, police and teachers to ensure the continuity of these frontline workers nationwide.
“We will progressively reach all South Africans to achieve herd immunity,” he told the nation.
On politics, Ramaphosa said the party needed to unite and tackle rampant corruption within its structures.
Every member accused of, or reported to be involved in corrupt practices, must report to the integrity commission immediately, he said.
ANC members who failed to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they faced disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures, would be summarily suspended from the party, Ramaphosa said.
He reminded the party members of the original principles underpinning the party’s formation 109 years ago: those of integrity, honesty, tolerance, respect and service to the people.
He admitted the organisation had been weakened by internal conflicts, corruption, resistance to renewal and controversies involving ANC leaders.
“Internal conflicts can consume us and detract the real very need to unite and transform society,” he said.