Editorial | We need a vaccine plan

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)


President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government have come under a great deal of scrutiny and criticism for their handling of the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines for South Africans. Most of the criticism stems from the fact that government appears to have been caught napping in generating or obtaining enough vaccines to inoculate millions of citizens to create herd immunity.

When pressure from health NGOs increased towards the end of last year, government responded by making bold claims about securing the vaccine – without giving specific dates or places of origin, or explaining how it would go about rolling it out.

During his regular national “family meetings”, Ramaphosa has sent mixed messages, first saying the vaccine would be available in the second quarter of this year, then saying the first quarter. This week, he added to that confusion, saying 20 million doses would be acquired “throughout the year”.

It has been a rearguard battle for this administration, which has been shown up as most of the developing countries in its league around the world quickly acquired vaccines for their citizens. For all its global influence, including being chair of the African Union, a regular invitee to the G20 meetings and a member of the Brics group of nations, South Africa has come up lacking on this front. Even the target announced by government – to inoculate 40 million South Africans – appears to be overly ambitious and, frankly, unrealistic.

This is the first time Ramaphosa’s administration has embarrassed itself so badly since funds meant to buy personal protective equipment were looted in the middle of last year. Our advice to the Ramaphosa government is to eat humble pie and acknowledge its lack of foresight and poor planning. They also need to divulge what the plan is and provide details. Big, bold announcements without details sound suspiciously like placatory statements intended only to quell rising resentment among the population.

True, we cannot overemphasise the importance of acquiring a vaccine, or of observing the protocols of hand-sanitising, social distancing and wearing masks, but, at the same time, government cannot afford to look so shaky when so many are succumbing to this deadly virus. It needs to regain – and retain – the trust of its citizens.


Delivering the 

news you need

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Latest issue
Latest issue
All the news from City Press in PDF form.
Read now
Voting Booth
On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the state of the nation address. What do you think his focus should be?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Load shedding
63% - 12 votes
16% - 3 votes
21% - 4 votes