Address by Minister Nathi Mthethwa on the occasion of the National Vaccination Social Mobilisation Campaign launch


8 September 2021

Programme Director: Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize,
Honourable Deputy President, Mr David Mabuza,
Premier of the Gauteng Province, Mr David Makhura,
Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla,
Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Mbongiseni Dlomo,
Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Ms Nocawe Mafu,
Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi,
Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Ms Mbali Hlophe,
Leadership of the Sport, Arts and Culture sector,
Opinion makers in the Sport, Arts and Culture industry,
Our Corporate Partners,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

“I am particularly thrilled to be part of this unique and ground-breaking initiative, under the banner of “It is in your hands”.

There is no question that the last 19 months have provided each and everyone of us with the true meaning of the word “deprivation”, for which we can all blame the pandemic. This deprivation has taken the form of restrictions to how we previously exercised our livelihoods, personal liberties, consumed entertainment products and grieved for the loss of loved ones.

Up to now, the public reaction has been to look to government to prescribe how we needed to modify our behavior in response to an invisible and constantly changing enemy. Indeed, we have waited on government to tighten or relax the existing restrictions except those relating to mask-wearing, washing of hands and social distancing.

Thankfully, advances in the development of effective and sufficient stocks of vaccines have managed to offer the public an additional avenue to combat the virus through making vaccinations available to all South Africans.

However, the uni-directional observation of what the government was going to relax or tighten can only go so far. Also the reliance on taking people to vaccine sites rather than the other way round, has had to be a strong consideration. The upshot of this approach is the prolonging of the negative impact on the economy, with the predictable hardship on livelihoods. A two-pronged approach focusing on both livelihoods and return to play, is likely to produce better results, faster.

What this calls upon is an accelerated government-community social compact which tackles the virus from both ends. This social compact has, at its core, a win-win outcome for everyone concerned.

The greater the population of the “vaccinated” the sooner the economy can be reopened and in the sport, arts and culture community, the quicker we can get back to watching our sports stars and creatives at the various venues. The one quick and trusted ingredient to attain that status is to maximise the population of the “vaccinated”.

Government alone cannot raise the required numbers of the “vaccinated” needed to reach what is known as herd-immunity.

The “it is in your hands” campaign, which we are launching today, is therefore intended to kickstart the active mobilisation of community members to “take the jab” in ever increasing numbers. The medical experts have already eloquently extolled the virtues of vaccinating more and more people on a sustained basis.

As Minister in the Sport, Arts and Culture sector who also happens to be a theatre and sports lover, a parent, brother and friend, I wish to take this opportunity to announce that it is now time for the iconic artists, creatives and sports stars to take the baton and proceed to extend the footprint of this message to areas they alone can reach.

A start has already been made by some sports organisations and individual opinion leaders in the Sport, Arts and Culture sector. Today is about doing more.

Our sector, sadly, has not been spared the negative impact of the “restriction fatigue” experienced by all citizens as we crave for a return to “normality”. The situation is exacerbated by watching full stadia in many of the sports matches played in some European and Australasian countries.

At the core of this sector is the word “participation”, which is about coming together across all physical and physiological barriers.

Through the example and influence of our popular sports and creative stars, we wish to pull all stops to get the vaccination efforts back on track. It is not just about ourselves but also about those we come into contact with.

The virus is real and deadly. We cannot wait for it to slow down. It can get worse before it gets better. We have to stop it and the only avenue we have not exploited to the full is the vaccination of more and more South Africans. The vaccine works. It is safe. It is available.

Over the next few weeks you will be exposed to creative ways of getting the vaccination message across, which will be premised on examples like:-

  • free entry tickets for the vaccinated at sport and entertainment events
  • games and performances prioritising the vaccinated
  • taking the vaccine to the people

We will use all available media platforms like TV/radio/digital/electronic to communicate this campaign.

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that it is our collective responsibility to keep each other safe.

At this moment in the history of our country, we see that taking place in the following two ways:-

  • get vaccinated ourselves whilst encouraging and helping others to do the same
  • become part of the calls against Gender Based Violence and Femicide(GBVF) and stamp it out wherever it exists

Finally, it gives me great pleasure to welcome and introduce our Keynote Speaker at today’s launch, our Deputy President, Mr David Mabuza to address us.

I thank you