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Address by Deputy President David Mabuza at the launch of the North West Vaccination Social Mobilisation Campaign of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture

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Programme Director, 
Premier of the North West Province, Mr Bushy Maape, 
Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, 
Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo,
Members of the North West Provincial Executive Council, 
Mayor of the Bojanala Platinum District, Cllr, Maria Fetsang Molosiwa, 
Mayor of the Rustenburg Local Municipality, Cllr Mpho Khunou,
His Royal Highness, Prince Bothata Molotlegi of the Royal BafokengNation,
Chairperson of the North West House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi Mushi Ezekiel Mabe,
Chamber Development Executive of NAFCOC North West, Mr TshepangRamosepele, 
Vaxx Ambassadors, 
Distinguished Guests, 
Members of the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are pleased to join you in this leg of the Vaccination Social Mobilisation Campaign in the North West province in Bojanala Platinum District, which is home of the Cradle of Humankind.
Besides being the host of this iconic Royal Bafokeng Stadium, this district has the highest number of people eligible to vaccinate at over 1,2million. However, only just above 260 thousand have vaccinated.

Over a year ago in June 2020, we visited the Bojanala Platinum District when it was found to be the area with the highest number of Covid-19 infections in the North West province. 
To contain the spread of the infections at the time, the provincial government partnered with the private sector and traditional leaders. This model was found to be effective in producing the desired results of curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The same approach and enthusiasm is required on demand generation efforts and interventions for ramping up the Covid-19 vaccination programme. 
It is befitting that we are back in this district under the banner of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture joined by social partners in the sporting, cultural and creative industries to spread the message on Covid-19 vaccines.
Indeed we stand side by side with our legendary artists, sporting heroes and heroines to drive home the important message that vaccines save lives thus sustaining livelihoods.
Our artists, sporting heroes and heroines are our indispensable partners as influencers and vaccine ambassadors towards the creation of favourable conditions to restore a sense of normalcy that had been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 
We are aware of the tribulations that the Covid-19 pandemic has also visited on all sporting bodies, sportsmen and women, artists, creative sector, and its value chain alike, who had to go-by without a guaranteedincome since March 2020. 
We therefore understand the suffering that artists endured and the negative impact of the pandemic on sports and the creative sector in general. 
Because of your lived experience under the Covid-19 lockdown, we call on all of you to work hand-in-hand with government and the business community in the rollout of vaccines to reach every eligible person that is yet to visit any of our three thousand vaccination sites scattered across the country. We have also extended vaccination days in order to ensure that everyone is able to access either the public or private vaccination sites.
As you can deduce from the launch theme, it is abundantly clear that the more people take vaccines, the sooner we will be able to “Return to Play” in our stadiums, in theatres, and at festivals. This is achievedthrough a variety of platforms, including social media, city-to-cityvaccination outreaches as well as television shows. 
It is therefore in our collective interest to call-to-action every eligible South African to stop procrastinating, and to prioritise getting vaccinated against coronavirus, so that we can increase our chances to return to play, and to unlock the full value of the sporting and creative economies and ultimately to rebuild our national economy because it is in our hands. 
Fellow compatriots,
Today’s event here in Royal Bafokeng Stadium is a continuation of an ongoing mobilisation campaign that we launched last month in FNB Stadium in Gauteng and later took to Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga.
We commend the demonstrated partnership between government, the various sporting bodies and cultural organisations, interfaith leaders, Traditional Authorities, farmers groups, youth groups and civil society to mobilise communities for vaccination. Together, we are working collaboratively to educate and to inform the people about the proven benefits of vaccines in defeating the Covid-19 pandemic. 
Together, we shoulder the responsibility to clarify to the people of our country, several misconceptions being deliberately peddled about vaccines in order to confuse them. 
We must continue to engage the people to dispel these dangerous myths and false conspiracy theories about the efficacy of vaccines,which unfortunately contributes to vaccine hesitancy and subsequently, loss of life.
In all previous pandemics, vaccines have proven to be credible as a solution to save lives. In the case of Covid-19 pandemic, vaccines are again the only available and credible solution we have to ensure that we are adequately prepared and armed to face the changing coronavirus variant strains. 
The route we are taking on vaccinating the nation is the same route that we all once took when we vaccinated against measles, polio, smallpox and chickenpox and other diseases. 
In this regard, there is no one more suitable to convey the critical message about the safety and efficacy of vaccines than the people’s own idols, heroes and heroines. Everywhere we have gone, one thing is clear, the people trust your influence that “vaccines saves lives”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow Compatriots,
We are registering progress towards containing the pandemic as evinced by recorded decline in new infections, hospital admissions and reported death cases. 
However, we are still a long way from reaching the required target of vaccinating 40-million people so that we can reach population immunity. It is projected that vaccinating 70 percent of the South African population by December 2021, will help us reduce severe Covid-19 illnesses that would result in hospitalisation. As things stand, we have lost more than 87 500 lives to this pandemic.
In the same vein, earlier this morning, we launched the VoomaVaccination Weekends Campaign by the Department of Health and its partners. This is another effort by President Ramaphosa calling on all leaders to increase their efforts at district and local levels across South Africa, to rally all of society behind the achievement of the 70 percent vaccination target by December 2021. This will adequately prepare the country to save 20 thousand lives that could be lost during the expected fourth wave infections. 
Through this initiative, certain weekends are set for Vooma Vaccination Weekends during which all vaccination sites, both public and private, are open to encourage access to vaccines. Your enthusiastic participation is the only guarantee towards getting more people vaccinated by end of December 2021. We hope that this will magnify the message that vaccines save lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since we started this journey of vaccination social mobilisation, we are encouraged by the role played by the vaccination ambassadors and for their commitment to the course of mobilising our communities, assuring them of the safety and usefulness of Covid-19 vaccines. 
The end goal of the campaign is that the country returns to sporting and creative industry spaces as well as other economic activities. Just imagine that in few days’ time, we will be playing Ethiopia in the second round of the World Cup qualifier that will be played in an empty stadium. 
Fellow compatriots,
This collaboration of government, business and social partners is steeped in the traditions of our country in our project of nation building.Let us remember that since the dawn of democracy our nation-building efforts and social cohesion have been centred on unity of purpose, collaboration, and social compacting. It is for this reason that as a country we have managed to overcome every other adversity that has come our way. The Covid-19 pandemic is no different.
Similarly, through every trial and tribulation, we have had to encounter as a people, the advocacy role that our sporting heroes and heroines, artists and creatives have played in promoting certain campaigns and social cohesion efforts including acting as a compass of our national consciousness is appreciated.
It is precisely for this reason that we continue to tap into the power of their voices and influence, to help us make headway in the fight against the coronavirus through advocating for vaccination and behavioural change. 
Together, we are spreading the message that “vaccines save lives”. We urge all our artists, players in various sporting codes, our sporting and all creatives to once again summon their patriotic zeal, and work with us to encourage every eligible one of us to be vaccinated. 
Vaccination is our only chance to reduce infections, to reduce chances of severe illness, and to reduce chances of hospitalisation as well asprevent unnecessary loss of life. 
Whereas it is increasingly becoming clear that vaccines are the only ticket to take us back to our stadiums, our theatres, concert halls and festivals, we shall however protect and respect everyone’s right to choose whether or not to get vaccinated.
It is our responsibility to educate the people about what science has taught and proven to us; that vaccines are the only solution and antidote to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic. For this reason, we have secured enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone who is willing and is eligible for vaccination.
It is in our hands to reverse and transcend the coronavirus tidal wave. It is in our hands to ensure that we create a viable atmosphere for the opening up of the economy and bringing everything else to normality. 
By opening up, we will be able to embark on a sustainable path of economic recovery and reconstruction, thereby increasing our efforts to fight poverty, unemployment and inequality. 
It is in our hands to ensure that the North West province reclaims its global image of being a host to amazing tourism sites and venues. Over the years, this Province has been a formidable player in attracting local, regional and international visitors to its game reserves, natural wonders,the internationally renowned Sun City and signature events like the Om Die Dam Marathon.
As you will know, the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, released in March this year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, has specifically noted that tourism has extensive value-chains and labour absorption capacities. 
Our ability and willingness to get every eligible person vaccinated before end of December this year, has a direct correlation with our ability to rebuild local and international investor and consumer confidence, and therefore create jobs.
It is all in our hands to turn the tide around and to create the pre-requisite environment for economic recovery and an opportunity to rebuild lives and livelihoods. Let us join this campaign, which will rekindle our economy and prompt it to create the jobs it has shed.
Fellow compatriots,
There is no reason for panic and fear! The route we have taken and are pursuing, is informed by science and a rigorous process of approvals by regulatory bodies internationally and domestically.
No responsible government can advocate for that which is not in the best interest of the people, especially that which concerns the right to life. We therefore come to you and plead that taking a Covid-19 vaccine is the right thing to do. No one shall be left behind, whether you are in Madibogo, Mabeskraal, Jouberton, or in Hartebeespoort. 
I thank you.