As SA marks a year since the Covid pandemic hit our shores and the country was put in a hard lockdown, it’s important that we take stock of how the country has fared in the fight against the coronavirus.
SA embarked on one of the hardest lockdowns in the world — a decision that was initially well received by the business community, religious sector, labour federations and, most important, the citizens themselves. They understood the lockdown was meant to save lives. But the wheels started to come off when some in government, particularly on the national coronavirus command council, started to talk incoherently, offering mixed and confusing messages.
Such mishaps led to a free for all, with a number of lawsuits brought against government decisions and regulations by the tobacco and liquor industries and some political parties.
It is in this context that the veil of secrecy surrounding the rollout of the vaccine means the plan doesn’t inspire confidence. The programme is already running far behind schedule — and behind some other African countries, such as Rwanda and Uganda — despite SA’s sophisticated and modern infrastructure.
SA’s citizens deserve to know how the process is going to unfold. The government has an obligation remove all the secrecy and inform the public about the rollout strategy. President Cyril Ramaphosa and health minister Zweli Mkhize should take the country into their confidence and offer a clear, coherent message, including all the timeframes for the rollout.
Mafika Siphiwe Mgcina
ANC Sedibeng task team co-ordinator, writing in his personal capacity
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