By Edward Senzo Mchunu
Since the onslaught of the Coronavirus pandemic, Government and government services here and elsewhere have shifted to the centre of people’s lives. The main drive by Government has always been to render public services which are not only relevant to the current situation but are also qualitative in nature.
The challenges are immense but through the concerted efforts of Government, Health scientists, the private sector, civil organisations and the public at large, we have remained resolute in finding sustainable and evidence-based solutions. The current second wave has placed a strain on, not only public resources and infrastructure, but also on the economy and has resulted in the country being placed under adjusted alert level 3.
With the world at large seeking to find a solution to the containment of this pandemic, the health professionals as a whole have been at the front line, risking their lives and rendering services to the citizens. In addition to this, health professionals, scientists and members of academia have been hard at work in developing vaccines and a number of breakthroughs have been achieved in this respect.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), Governments, health experts as well as a number of reputable pharmaceutical companies have advised on the availability of vaccines and South Africa has made provision to procure such vaccines. Government has sought, from the onset, to provide accurate, scientific and comprehensive information to the citizens and the information regarding the availability of the vaccines forms part of such information.
The President of the Republic, through regular addresses to the nation, has provided relevant and scientifically based information in a transparent manner, which has served as a guide. This openness includes regular updates on the number of infections, deaths and recoveries made.
This has been a great effort to render public service in an open and transparent manner, including via regular engagements amongst South Africans. In this regard, Government has been working with traditional and religious leaders, science and healthcare bodies as well as labour organisations on the headway being made. This guide has been a source of progress and united effort demonstrated, which has led to the advancements made to date.
A number of negative and mischievous reports in the media, particularly on social media concerning the vaccines and vaccination roll-out strategy have surfaced, these are calculated to mislead, confuse and thereby cause wide-spread panic amongst the public. There are people who have associated the emergence of the Coronavirus with the advent of the fifth-generation technology without any factual basis whatsoever.
These doomsayers want people to believe that this natural technological progression is responsible for Covid-19. These are conspiracy theorists purely seeking personal glory and preying on the vulnerability of citizens, whilst setting us back in the fight against this deadly and invisible virus.
As Government, we want to assure the public that the information on the vaccines which has already been provided is factual and scientific and any future information will continue to possess such characteristics. Engagements by the President of the Republic, the Department of Health, relevant stakeholders and professionals as well as information sharing will continue.
It is quite unfortunate and disheartening that we have information peddlers making claims and allegations without any scientific basis or any peer reviews of their findings, leading to the misguiding of society. Although information peddlers and opportunists have always existed in society, we urge the public to ignore such false information and refuse to be misled by those who seek to take advantage of the most vulnerable members of society and whose toxic agenda is not known.
The recent media reports that four truck drivers had died at the Beitbridge border post as a result of the massive congestion serves as a recent example– such reports were found to have been inaccurate!
We call upon the citizens of the Republic of South Africa to trust in the Government’s efforts and the information disseminated from all official platforms because such information is credible, factual and scientific. Furthermore, we ask that all citizens be critical and alert of the information at their disposal and want to assure them that there is no monopolising of information.
Let us continue adhering to the health protocols and the regulations in place: together, we can get through this!
* Edward Senzo Mchunu is a Member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC and the Minister for Public Service and Administration.
* The views expressed here don’t necessarily represent those of IOL.