We get the point: A nurse preparing to vaccinate. Picture: Sunday Times/Sebabatso Mosamo
We get the point: A nurse preparing to vaccinate. Picture: Sunday Times/Sebabatso Mosamo

An improperly awarded health communications contract to Digital Vibes worth R150m. Needless and irregularly awarded school cleaning tenders amounting to R430m. An Eastern Cape mayor who bought a car using Covid funds meant for emergency sanitation.

New personal protective equipment (PPE) paid for, but stored in such shoddy conditions that it could not be used. Other PPE bought at inflated prices, or delivered to the wrong place, in the wrong quantity, and often at the wrong quality. And companies paid to fill water tanks that simply don’t do the job.

There it is. The money that the government could use to pay nurses to administer Covid shots on weekends is hiding in plain sight.

Last week the health department said it had "no budget" for overtime pay to allow vaccines to be given over weekends. It’s a lamentably thin excuse for the steep drop in vaccination rates over weekends, during a pandemic that is upending the lives of millions of South Africans.

Consider that last Friday, June 25, SA administered 103,715 jabs across the country. But on Saturday, just 18,722 people received shots (of which more than 14,000 were in Limpopo) and on Sunday, that number fell to just 1,343.

And this was the same weekend that President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed an adjusted level 4 lockdown to stem infections that appear to be out of control. In Gauteng, where infections are rocketing, just 1,130 people were vaccinated over the weekend.

Yet this is the same government that speaks boldly of how it wants to reach 300,000 jabs a day.

How can the health-care system hope to stem the third wave, you ask, when departments and municipalities spend all their time dishing out money to their friends and family, and then take weekends off?

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