Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Zweli Mkhize pausing roll-out of J&J vaccine typical of taking cue from Western powers

By Opinion Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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Oupa Ngwenya

Pretoria - Is it not time we pause to ask: what has happened to us? Why are we following rather than leading ourselves in the national interest? Is that not our greatest leadership undoing.

How have we participated to escalate what has been done to us? Those that have done this to us, most certainly do not have any other reference point to act otherwise but to continue acting in the only way they know how - doing the same thing. Typical of our taking cue from Western powers on how to manage our affairs, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa will pause its roll-out (or vaccine trial) of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine as did the US after its regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a break citing safety issues.

The FDA took its decision after rare cases of blood clots were reported among six women out of more than six million that had taken the J&J jabs to date in combination with low platelet counts.

“I held urgent consultations with our scientists, who have advised that we cannot take the decision by the FDA lightly,” South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters. We have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated,” Mkhize said.

Earlier, the government had reviewed its usage of the Astrazeneca vaccines after accepting delivery closer to their expiry date. The decisions came after countries such as Germany suspended the usage of Astrazeneca following concerns raised about the safety of the jabs by EU health regulators. Independent South African capacity to make a contribution to the world’s health’s breakthrough is a must to do. Continued disinterest to Dr Emmanuel Taban’s bronchoscopy procedure that has saved no less than 50 lives is mind boggling. This happens at a time when the SA government has no convincing back-up plans in the absence of any inoculation programme to speak of despite spending millions on the various vaccines.

However, our decisions on the vaccine roll-out, lockdowns and the pausing of the programme seem to have been taking cue from Western capitals rather than national interests informed by conditions on the ground.

Taking cue from them makes us the most pathetic and incorrigible aping graduates of their ways to even recognise the detestable image of what we have become. Our solidarity is feared the most and criminalised as harbouring something gravely sinister, motives that only our divisions can bury from coming into life.

Being so guilt-tripped, and to consent that our solidarity spells nothing that their oppressive power fears the most, we have also found reason to believe there is something untrustworthy in our solidarity to liberate ourselves from our dehumanisation that they have inaugurated to order a society built on superiority and inferiority complexes, out of which inequality was issued to place whiteness on top and blackness bottom.

The author Oupa Ngwenya is a writer and corporate strategist.

The cruelty we become as people of the world is not without making of the corporate and global capital transacting profit-making agenda in any given opportunity including diseases.

Global solidarity to combat the Covid-19 pandemic eating into our common humanity has regrettably taken a back seat in deference to market forces scrambling for a trillion market opportunity with each country battling to save respective citizens contingent upon what money can buy.

Health has become a commodity effectively out of reach for the poor to buy.

Finding a cure to what afflicts people has become a decision-making preserve of pharmaceutical companies. Instead of taking the lead, governments are increasingly taking cue from what is deemed worthy to dispense by pharmaceuticals, most of whom do not consider finding cures to diseases a profitable business model. Added to this, pharmaceutical companies insist not to be liable for things going awry.

Knowledge to be shared for common human survival is shrouded in mystery leaving the desperate to experiment with trial and error responses also contenting with dismissals of what is said to be conspiracy theories.

The usefulness of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to impress deserved solidarity is not winning the day.

The UN, as a world body, has not exhibited uniform commitment to the sanctity of life. The battering of black bodies continues without abating in the US.The death of George Floyd on May 25 last year is still fresh. But even Floyd’s demise for which Derek Chauvin currently stands accused, seems not to be serving as a deterrent.

An undisclosed outstanding misdemeanor warrant discovered by police after pulling 20-year-old Daunte Wright to a traffic stop resulted in his death on April 11 2021. Official word in Minneapolis said one of the officers wanted to use a Taser but mistakenly drew a service weapon fatally shooting Daunte point-blank. The propensity of authority figures to be not as careful when black bodies are concerned has become norm more than coincidence.

Closer home, who would have thought a three-week-old baby admitted to the Bernice Samuel Hospital in Delmas, Mpumalanga for diarrhoea would end up having a hand amputated. So desensitised with regularity afflicting black lives, the killing of two job-seekers at a farm in Dirkieskop in Mpumalanga, on April 9 2021 passes as a news flash without bother to the nation’s conscience.

The ANC, as a centre of our lives, is heaving under the weight of corruption to continue holding together. It has cracked into factions that have factionalised every facet of South African life including thinking, planning and execution to minister to warring strange gods whose preoccupation is who is next to be president. This thus places the country into a permanent election mode and recurring cycles of succession battles dizzying the nation into hopeless loyal zombies that can no longer free their minds drilled to the drumbeat to acquiesce to the inevitability: If you cannot beat them, join them.’

Even honest mistakes that could be pointed out, amongst ourselves for admission for correction are denied as being out of sink with debasing, crippling, career-limiting and thought-starving religion. In the defeat of this demonstrable miserable spiritual cul de sac, principles, probity, morality and ethics get tossed out of the window because all are in vain and do not put food on the table. It marks the end of the road for good causes.

It is surprising to see it assumed that out of these structured top-bottom, and super and inferior dehumanising complexes an economy can in fact recover, grow and flourish over landless, homeless, powerless, unequal, injustice and starving people while we are following Western powers rather than leading ourselves in the national interest in emancipatory humanising fashion with distinct exemplarity.

* Oupa Ngwenya is a writer and corporate strategist

Pretoria News

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