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Ramaphosa: Africa Resents West's COVID Treatment

FILE: Medical workers attend to coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit of an isolation and treatment center for those with COVID-19 in Machakos, south of the capital Nairobi, in Kenya Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

PARIS — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Friday that resentment towards the West still lingers over the treatment of African countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact in Paris, President Ramaphosa described how African nations "felt like we were beggars when we needed access to vaccines."

The former head of the African Union said that Western nations "had bought all the vaccines in the world and were hogging them."

"We resented that and it got worse: when we said we wanted to manufacture our own vaccines - and when we went to the WTO (World Trade Organization), there was a lot of resistance, enormous resistance.

"We kept saying: what is more important? Life or profits by your big pharmaceutical companies?"

Ramaphosa added that "we felt like life in the northern hemisphere is much more important than life in the global south."

The South African leader also took aim at pledges by rich countries towards developing nations to help them adapt to climate change.

A promise to provide $100 billion a year made at a COP climate summit in 2009 is yet to be fulfilled, he said.

Meanwhile, South Africa's foreign policy under Ramaphosa is under scrutiny in the West after his recent visit to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin and following allegations - denied by Pretoria - that the country provided arms covertly to the Kremlin.