Friday Briefing | The education and arrival of Salim Abdool Karim

2020-04-17 06:30


Friday Briefing Karim


The education and arrival of Salim Abdool Karim

South Africans were on Monday glued to their television screens as Professor Salim Abdool Karim, 59, an immunologist and infectious diseases specialist from KwaZulu-Natal gave a two-hour briefing to the media about the novel coronavirus. Abdool Karim provided clarity and honesty about the spread of Covid-19, explained whether we are “flattening the curve” and what needs to be done before South Africans can return to normality. 

His appearance on an open platform was important. South Africans want to know that the decisions taken by their government are based on incontrovertible facts and proven science. Abdool Karim went into as much detail as the Zoom meeting allowed him to, and the knowledge that the country’s most accomplished scientists are guiding government is reassuring. 

Investigative reporter Sarah Evans delved into Abdool Karim’s background and found that he was known as an activist as much as a physician, and that he has professional ties to Dr Anthony Fauci, dubbed "America’s doctor", who is leading the United States’ response to the coronavirus. Also, analyst Mpumelela Mkhabela says there are very good reasons to heed SA Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago’s exhortations, and former human rights commissioner Leon Wessels says Covid-19 has again exposed old apartheid divides.

There’s some smart writing in this edition, and a lot to think about.

Stay inside, only two weeks of lockdown left!

Pieter du Toit

Assistant Editor



Slim: The life, times and education of Salim Abdool Karim

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, the government's chief advisor on Covid-19, has achieved worldwide acclaim in a career spanning more than thirty years. He has straddled science and activism his whole professional life, and helped stare down Thabo Mbeki on HIV. But this, the battle against the coronavirus, is his moment, writes Sarah Evans.

Covid-19 exposes old apartheid divides and draws new boundaries

We're now much more certain of the past than we are of the future. The new coronavirus has emphasised old apartheid divides, like spatial planning, and have put up new boundaries between people. The virus "has forcefully reminded us that we have not overcome the vestiges of our past", writes Leon Wessels.

There are very good reasons to listen to Lesetja Kganyago

The governor of the SA Reserve Bank might sound like a stuck record, but he's playing a consistent tune: reform, reform, reform, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela.

Read more on:    coronavirus
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