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Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the province was working hard to combat Covid-19, but that was overshadowed by the suspected abuse in the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE). mSpeaking at Tuesday’s State of the Province Address, he said the full story of Gauteng’s success in his battle against Covid-19 was not being told as the emphasis was on irregularities committed. One of their successes, Makhura said, was expanding the public health system’s potential with more beds and staff. Yet, this was overshadowed by allegations of corruption, he said.

The lethal pandemic was seen as an opportunity for public funds to be looted. The Auditor General as well as the Special Investigative Unit are currently investigating corruption allegations and irregularities and all this undermines our response to Covid-19.’ The premier said that they would ensure that those found guilty face penalties and that examples would be made of them. He said the money they received by dishonest means would have to be paid back and charged and imprisoned.

The pandemic might be far from over, according to Makhura, as the third wave was still on its way, expected in winter. There was a glimmer of hope, however, as the country has entered the process of vaccination, he said. mBy Monday night, Makhura said, more than 5,000 Gauteng health workers had been vaccinated. The vaccine is the only weapon against any pandemic, and many people must urgently be given vaccinations to save lives. In Gauteng, we plan to vaccinate 10.4 million people and call on individuals to be prepared to be vaccinated in large numbers. We need to save lives and dispel myths and conspiracy theories because vaccines work around them.

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He said teachers, police officers, the elderly and those with comorbidities would be included in the second phase of vaccination, expected to target 7.3 million individuals. The third step will be for all, targeting 2.7 million individuals. As far as the economy is concerned, Makhura said the war against Covid-19 was expensive, with more than half a million people losing their jobs.

┬áHe said the province planned to reignite the economy of Gauteng so that it could take the lead in the country’s recovery and reconstruction as well as in Africa’s industrialization. One way to do this, the premier said, was for Gauteng to become the country’s cannabis hub. “We want to be the hub for cannabis, not to smoke it, but to treat it for health reasons and to improve the quality of life as well.”

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