Mabuza urges traditional and religious leaders to play a role in getting people vaccinated

South Africa is in danger of having two pandemics unless the government, civil society, church, and traditional leaders join forces to educate the public about this looming danger. This is according to Deputy President David Mabuza.

He says the news of an impending fourth wave means the country could be faced with a serious spread of COVID-19 and an HIV Aids pandemic.

Mabuza was addressing traditional and interfaith leaders at the Durban’s International Convention Centre.

The Deputy President met with interfaith and traditional leaders to rope them in to assist the government to get its message across in the fight against the scourge of diseases.

The government believes the leaders of the community can help convince more people to get on treatment programmes for HIV and AIDS and also to get enough people vaccinated for COVID-19.

This comes as recent figures indicate that not enough people are presenting themselves to be vaccinated. This is coupled with news of the emergence of a new COVID-19 strain and the subsequent travel ban slapped on South Africa by Britain.

Mabuza says unless the government can do something drastic, the country may find itself battling two pandemics.

“We’ve got in the main two pandemics that continue to ravage our society, COVID-19 is still with us, it is still a challenge. We are told that we must anticipate the fourth wave somewhere on the horizon. So we must not let our guards down, we must continue to fight the other pandemic HIV and aids TB and STI’s.”

Mabuza admitted that the government could have done a better job in communicating its COVID-19 messages.

“We have heard that we have lost livelihoods, we’ve lost our jobs. We’ve lost people. We want to say as a government it was not intentional to move ahead and leave you behind. We were responding to a pandemic that is fast-changing.”

Deputy President David Mabuza is expected to chair South African National Aids Council extended plenary meeting on Sunday: 

Traditional leaders welcome Mabuza’s message

Traditional leaders have welcomed Mabuza’s sentiments on the government’s failure to consult properly.

“We welcome the Deputy President for confessing. Because that is leadership, most of the people, they take for granted people in rural areas whereas what we need is the proper consultation so that we can be part and parcel of every decision,” says KwaZulu-Natal Chair for the House of Traditional Leaders, Phathisizwe Chiliza.

Religious leaders also have a role in encouraging people to look after their well-being.

“We are actively encouraging, we have gone beyond encouraging, it is almost as if we are compelling but we are talking to people to go and vaccinate and we are aware there are many anti vaccinators, but we are convinced that is the only way to go and vaccinate,” says religious leader Asihwin Trikamje.

The leaders signed a pledge to symbolise their commitment to work with the government. Such collaboration will not only create awareness on the dangers of not vaccinating against COVID-19 but will also help the government catch up on the number of people on treatment for HIV Aids and TB who have since stopped taking treatment.

An estimated 8 million people are living with HIV or Aids. Of these, only 5.5 million are said to be on treatment programmes.

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Mabuza urges traditional and religious leaders to play a role in getting people vaccinated