Just 10 days ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa, writing in his weekly newsletter, sought to reassure South Africans that when it comes to making decisions and formulating regulations to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, officials rely on scientific and empirical data.

It’s a message often repeated by his team, led by health minister Zweli Mkhize. But several examples reveal that what they tell themselves is not always what we hear...

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