Farouk Cassim writes that corruption has left many questioning the country’s vaccine efforts, and he also asks if our security service will be able to protecting our vaccine supplies? Picture: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD/AFP
Farouk Cassim writes that corruption has left many questioning the country’s vaccine efforts, and he also asks if our security service will be able to protecting our vaccine supplies? Picture: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD/AFP

LETTER: Corruption has shattered trust around government Covid-19 solutions

By Opinion Time of article published Jan 21, 2021

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by Farouk Cassim

The brightest aspect of the Covid-19 crisis has been the spectacular success of vaccine makers to shatter all records in coming up with a vaccine in extraordinary record time. While the scientists have excelled the politicians have sown confusion.

While many governments in developed countries were quick to place orders and efficient in distributing vaccines, the failure to administer them quickly has not happened. Bottlenecks are occurring everywhere in the USA. Clearly, there have been inadequate preparations for successfully managing the administration of the vaccine.

Vaccinating the population of a whole country was never going to be either smooth or easy for any government. For most people in South Africa, the reprehensible role of government actors and agents in corrupting every major effort to deal with the crisis is deeply worrying. Even though President Cyril Ramaphosa tried to assuage these concerns, trust has been shattered.

Criminal enterprises are also making their moves. They are already in on the act of either stealing vaccines or marketing fake vaccines. Will our security service be up to the task of protecting our vaccine supplies and outing those who are trying to make a quick buck with counterfeit vaccines? That is an important question to address. The vaccine, after all, is liquid gold and a huge opportunity for self-enrichment.

The other issue is that of gatekeeping. The national government wants to be the most significant player in purchasing and rolling out the vaccine. Is it up to the task? Is Ramaphosa’s government interrogating city and town level strategic micro plans? Who is going to be injecting the vaccine into arms and will they be able to handle the case load?

Very soon finger-pointing will begin. Each sphere of government will quickly blame the other for things going wrong. We haven’t heard from Premier Alan Winde and mayor Dan Plato what their strategic plans are. We need to know this upfront so that blame can be correctly apportioned when things go awry.

How the vaccine is going to be distributed and earmarked for target groups must be shared with the public. We need to know. In particular, we need to know what lessons are being learnt from other countries and other cities.

With vaccines coming from different suppliers, which city is going to get which? Also, what type of syringes has the government ordered? With some syringes, six doses can be extracted inside of five. Has this matter of no small significance been properly addressed?

We, the people of Cape Town, must be fully engaged in what happens in the home stretch. That is where the race can be won or lost.

As a councillor, little of this most essential information has been fed to us even though we have a role to play in informing the wider public. I hope this letter will activate the premier and the mayor to share strategic information with us.

* Farouk Cassim, Cope. Century View, Milnerton.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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