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Anxiety and uncertainty over the Covid-19 vaccine rollout

By Opinion Time of article published Jan 30, 2021

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By Kevin Ritchie

It has been another tough week for South Africa and it’s only week 5 of 2021. We’re battling Covid-19, hopefully peaking past the second wave, as we watch with trepidation how the rest of the world is battling a third wave with no end in sight.

The twitterati are arguing whether enough was done to speak to the Big Pharma companies earlier – if the government actually ever did speak to any one, like it says it did, six months before it admitted doing so, although no one can remember that.

We’ve had countless newspaper columnists wringing their hands over the vaccine and how South Africa is going to pay for it – if we can get it. We’ve had an ex-newspaper editor phoning an expat South African pharmaceutical executive and getting a verbal assurance that we can get everything we need – if someone from the government would phone.

And then we had this week.

At one stage, everyone was complaining about SAA being bailed out – yet again – when the money could have been better used paying for the vaccines.

On Tuesday, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had to do his utmost not to fall off his chair when the acting director-general of the Secret Service Agency admitted the spooks had managed to blow R9 billion without trace. The acting DG followed Sydney Mufumadi, who stole the show with his revelations of how the SSA had been turned into Stratcom 2.0 – and Jacob Zuma’s personal piggy bank, supplying everything from pocket money to a personal food taster.

There’s no money apparently in the Treasury, especially not to extend critically needed welfare grants, but the funds that we do have, which aren’t spent on salaries for an overstaffed, underqualified public service (including the Eastern Cape’s heroically bankrupt and inept Amathole district municipality), are either blown or plundered.

It’s everywhere. The self-proclaimed squeaky-clean administration of Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi came under the spotlight this week – for paying millions to firms that had no track record to clean classrooms.

But this is South Africa, all is not lost.

When we do get the vaccine and need to distribute it, we don’t need to look any further than SA Breweries. They’ve apparently got the best distribution network in the country. Since they can’t sell the booze they make, maybe they can pivot to doing that – and distributing the textbooks for Limpopo schools too.

As for running the country, why don’t we hand everything over to Imtiaz Sooliman?

His Gift of the Givers foundation normally does critical emergency interventions into failed states; like the bloody civil war in Syria, earthquakes in Haiti or cyclones in Mozambique. For the last year, Gift of the Givers has been feeding the famished, drilling for water in parched municipalities and building Covid-19 wards and doctors’ accommodation – all in South Africa.

The ANC, DA, EFF, ACDP, UDM, Herman Mashaba, Mmusi Maimane and all the other wannabes should get down on their knees and give thanks that Sooliman has no political aspirations of his own.

And keep praying that he never does.

* Ritchie is a former newspaper editor.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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