International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor. Picture: Alon Skuy
International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor. Picture: Alon Skuy

Boris Johnson’s UK government has copped a lot of flak for its daft decision to keep SA on the tourism "red list", even as it moved other countries that are more vulnerable to Covid onto the amber list — such as Kenya and Egypt.

And, of course, Westminster deserves this criticism for its soft-brained inability to assess the salient facts before making a policy decision of this sort.

But it is now clear that the SA government, by sitting on its hands, also played a role in this bungling.

This emerged clearly from an interview that Naledi Pandor, minister of international relations and co-operation, gave to the Sunday Times. She admitted that her department hadn’t provided the scientific data that would have allowed the UK to make a more informed choice.

Asked if SA presented the data to the UK, Pandor said the information was "readily available", adding: "I don’t recall an instance where the UK government asked us for information."

If the UK officials had asked, she said, "obviously we would have made sure that they did have the facts".

This passive approach, typical of SA’s foot-dragging tendencies, doesn’t cut it. SA had a great deal to lose; Pandor had no business waiting idly in the wings when the tourism industry depended so heavily on decisive action.

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