Cabinet Reshuffle Talk Drowns Out Jabs Focus

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Wednesday Walkabout at vaccination sites in Gauteng to focus interest in Covid-19 jabs may have missed the mark.

Instead, the media focus was on Israel’s observer status in Africa, a possible Cabinet reshuffle, and the fate of the suspended health minister Mhkize.

“We are opposed to that,” said Ramaphosa in reference to Israel having been awarded observer status by the AU.

Much as the president spoke about the more than seven million people who had received their Covid-19 jabs, questions around his Cabinet response to the unrest resurfaced.

On the public contradictions between the police and intelligence ministers about who knew what and when about the unrest, Ramaphosa said it was necessary for government messages to be “cohesive”.

Reiterating that the government was not prepared for the unrest that left more than 350 people dead and billions of rand lost in looting and infrastructure destruction, Ramaphosa steered away from saying he would act against the pair.

He would not be drawn into saying Police Minister Bheki Cele, Intelligence Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, and suspended Health Minister Mkhize would be fired and replaced.

The message of vaccination as an important weapon in the fight against Covid-19 was, perhaps, drowned out by media questions about Mkhize, whose involvement in a multi-million rand communication tender was investigated by the SIU.

Ramaphosa said he had the SIU report and could not “sit on it forever”, but he was looking at it carefully before acting.

Ramaphosa was also asked about his suspended spokesperson Kusela Diko, whose late husband Thandisizwe Diko, had been linked to dodgy PPE tenders before he died.  

The president said the matter of his suspended spokesperson Diko was also receiving attention and she remains “on special leave”.

There have also been questions about deputy president, David Mabuza, who went to Russia last month for medical treatment and has not made a public appearance since.

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With nearly all questions about everything else answered – not entirely satisfactorily – Ramaphosa had a moment to say the vaccination programme under way was the biggest ever undertaken in South Africa.

“We are learning and getting better,” said the president.

Vaccinations in Gauteng were going along at a pace of about 60 000 a day, which Ramaphosa said he was happy with.

He, however, said he expected the number to increase when mobile vaccination centres come into operation.