Treasury needs to urgently fund weekend vaccination drives

Issued by Geordin Hill-Lewis MP – DA Shadow Minister of Finance
24 Jun 2021 in News

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Geordin Hill-Lewis MP.

The DA calls on the National Treasury to release the funds needed to pay for staff overtime so that vaccinations can be done over weekends. It is simply not true that there are no funds to pay staff over weekends, as Department of Health officials has argued.

South Africans are waiting to be vaccinated and need to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Every delay is measured in lives lost.

A DA government would make sure every provincial department had all the funds they need to run a non-stop vaccination rollout.

Government should be pulling out all of the stops to roll out vaccines. It is totally unacceptable to stop (or drastically slow down) vaccinations over weekends, when the funds are available to prevent these delays.

In February, the National Treasury included an allocation of R6 billion in the Budget this year to fund the vaccine rollout. This includes R1.5 billion for provincial departments, and R4.35 billion for the national department. In addition to this, R9 billion was budgeted in the contingency reserve with the explicit commitment that this could be used for vaccine rollout if necessary.

Now is the time to ensure this budgeted money is made available to provincial departments to speed up the rollout.

The Department of Health’s Deputy Director-General, Nicholas Crisp, has said that the reason vaccinations are suspended over weekends is because there is “no overtime budget”. The Department’s spokesperson, Dr Lwazi Manzi, has said that provinces don’t have the budget to pay weekend overtime.

This is an excuse without truth. The funds are available and have been budgeted for. Now is the time to use them.

South Africans cannot afford to wait any longer to be vaccinated.

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