A year into the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africans can handle the truth about the spread of the coronavirus. So, what is driving a continued hold on information by our health minister? asks Kyle Cowan.
For more than a year, the South African government has withheld crucial information about the Covid-19 outbreak from its citizens. If not for a dedicated core of scientists who have always pushed the boundaries of their government-imposed gag orders, we may not know, for example, how the country fumbled the acquisition of vaccines or, for that matter, what scientific advice government relied on to impose harsh lockdowns.
Nine days ago, the first signs that Covid-19 tests were starting to return higher numbers of positive results surfaced. In those nine days, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize did not call a media conference and urge the public to take heed of the warning signs. He did not bring his foremost scientists to the podium to explain the numbers, explain why we should be concerned or explain his thinking. Instead, on Wednesday, Mkhize sent a text message to his provincial health heads saying that, "for all intents and purposes", the country was now in a third wave.