EDITORIAL | Julius, cut the rhetoric and point-scoring and put your people first
By refusing to say whether he has been vaccinated, Malema is hindering the rollout and putting people’s lives at risk
EFF leader Julius Malema this week encouraged the youth to get vaccinated against Covid-19, which is good, but he only went halfway in that he refused to say whether he had been vaccinated. His reason? He doesn’t want to be an “influencer of western vaccines”. He said getting vaccinated is a personal choice, which it is for now, but how can he, in good conscience, not throw his considerable influence behind the country’s effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible, as quickly as possible? The short answer to that question is politics, because he has long called for SA to import the Russian or Chinese or Cuban vaccine equivalents, well knowing we’re sourcing from US companies that developed them in record time.
He may have a point about SA’s reliance on the West, especially the US, and we may well reflect that SA potentially could benefit from more diverse sourcing, if that contributes to the economy and health goals we are trying to achieve. But before ideology, surely, must come the health and wellbeing of all South Africans, which is precisely what our vaccination programme is striving to promote. In this instance, at least, we have to be ideology-blind.
Therefore, Malema joins, even if unwittingly, the chorus of those hindering SA’s effort to move beyond this tragic chapter in our existence. As it is we were battling to move beyond global depression abroad and state capture at home before Covid-19 further compounded our problems. This chorus ranges from the vaccine-hesitant to the outright vaccine-refusers, from top doctors one trusted to know better, to lay people who insist they’re not yet satisfied with the research, but blithely do so without the handicaps of polio or measles they would have were it not for vaccines...