SA’s vaccine rollout is a disaster. Hand it over to the private sector
Unless the hapless government hands the process over to the likes of SA Breweries, you’ll probably never get your jab
It is time to face an unpleasant truth — you might not get vaccinated for a very long time. In fact, many South Africans might never receive the vaccine at all. This brutal reality dawned on me when I interviewed famous African vaccinologist Prof Shabir Mahdi earlier this week. He was being his cautious, scientific self as he dodged my questions about specific dates by which we could reasonably expect to receive our jabs. So I made it personal: if your grandmother came to you and said: “My boy, level with me, when will I get the vaccine?”, what would you say? Perhaps it was the metaphor he used, but his brutally honest response to a loved one sent shivers down my spine: “I would tell her not to hold her breath.”
How did we reach this deadly impasse? If you have been paying attention, you would notice a singular lack of urgency about this pandemic on the part of your government. Put straightforwardly, they simply do not care about you or your health. There are no daily briefings or set timelines or urgent messaging on the vaccine. Death in Mzansi is so commonplace that 55,000 Covid-19 victims hardly move us. Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize might as well be giving a report on the state of potholes in the country such is his lack of passion and urgency when talking about the one thing that could save thousands of precious lives — the vaccine. I sometimes wonder whether this senior cabinet minister with the deadpan face masks sexual excitement in bed.
Make no mistake, we put on a good show when it comes to policy pretensions. As an over-60-year-old I registered twice (before and after the official start time) on the impressively named South African Covid-19 Vaccination Programmed Registration Portal. I even got an SMS! There is just one problem. I am still not vaccinated and according to Mahdi, that might be my status for a long time. As one of my favourite social media personalities, Karabo K Kgoleng, put it on Tuesday in response to yet another eloquent government invitation for over-60s to be registered: “You’re full of nonsense. We are a global joke. Our parents are registered. WHERE IS THE VACCINE?”..