The sport and creative industries can play a catalyst role in South Africa reaching its vaccination targets, and in turn, ensuring life returns to pre-COVID-19 levels, says Deputy President David Mabuza.

The Deputy President, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on COVID-19 Vaccines, made the call during the “Return to Play – It’s in your hands” social mobilisation vaccination tour in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, on Friday.

He said even under depressing circumstances, the sports, art and creative industries have been a major drive in restoring hope to society.

“Therefore, the sooner the activities of these industries are opened after most of us have been vaccinated, the sooner we’ll get our lives back. The hope of defeating COVID-19 rests squarely on our shoulders. It rests in our hands. We can do more by convincing everyone to stand up and vaccinate because this is the only way we can get out of this.

“Today… [we] join hands in unison to mount a decisive fight against COVID-19. We can win the fight,” he said.

The Deputy President said a return to stadiums, festivals and theatres is possible, only if the public vaccinates to reach herd immunity.

If inoculation is taken, popular cultural and traditional events will return.

“These are very exciting events in the life of the Mpumalanga province. These events contribute to nation building. Today we are coming here as a broad coalition from different angles and different fronts – as government, the private sector and civil society to support this vaccination programme. [We are doing this] to save lives,” Mabuza said.

The message of vaccines saving lives, instead of destroying them, needs to be driven home, he said, thanking those who have taken up the task of vaccinating.

“The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent risk adjustment nationwide lockdowns, have sharply exposed all the underlying fault lines in society and brought to the fore the extent to which the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment, and inequality has manifested itself.

“This also builds confidence for tourists, who bring the much needed income into our economy, to travel globally thereby limiting prospects of spreading the virus,” he said.

Through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 vaccines, government, Mabuza said, has secured enough vaccines to supply everyone.

“It is up to us to stand up and step forward to be vaccinated.”

He said the country is making strides to deal with fake news around vaccines.

“The vaccine does not kill – it gives life. Vaccines are the only available and credible solution we have to ensure that we are adequately prepared and armed to face the changing Coronavirus variants.

“We can only fight these strains if we are vaccinated.”

Sport, Art and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, echoed the Deputy President’s sentiments.

He said the campaign is targeting sector practitioners with great audiences to drive the message vaccinations to spike numbers.

“We’ll [drop our infection] numbers if we all encourage each other to go and vaccinate. Our sporting, cultural and creative icons are our heroes, who come from communities across the country.

“Your voices resonate with our country’s people. Their stories of success are our stories of success, many role models among youth and have an appeal across the board.”

He also urged for conspiracy theorists to be shunned.

“Let us be guided by science. Let us, whenever we engage on this matter, engage from a position of science. We have reached a point where millions of people are already vaccinated. We also know that many more millions of our people want to get vaccinated.”

Source: South African Government News Agency

News Reporter