Government should collaborate with business to address slow COVID-19 vaccine roll out: Prof Mohale

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The slow roll out of COVID-19  vaccines could have been averted through collaboration with business. That’s according to University of Free State Chancellor and businessman, Professor Bonang Mohale.

Prof Mohale was delivering the keynote address at the 6th Tsietsi Mashinini Memorial Lecture at the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music in Soweto:

Mashinini led the historic 1976 Soweto student uprising opposing Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at schools.

South Africa is behind in meeting its target of vaccinating 40 million people by the end of the year, having only administered just over 1,6 million doses so far. This as the country enters its third wave of COVID-19 infections.

Speaking on the impact of the pandemic, Prof Mohale believes the country would have been well on its way to meeting its target if there had been collaboration between the government and the private sector.

“There is a role that we need to play as a business, the business has a disproportionate resource, business knows how to deliver. So, I will be wrong as a businessman not to work hand in glove with our government because only when we reach herd immunity can all of us say this thing is behind us and that this too will pass.”

And on the country’s progress since the 76 uprisings, Prof Mohale painted a bleak picture about the future for many young people.

“Inequality is rising, racism is at an all-time high, black graduates are roaming the streets hopelessly, and yet we know that leaders are dealers in hope. Public healthcare continues to fail the poor and the vulnerable, today a hospital is a place you go to die, not to get healthy.”

A learner at the Morris Isaacson High School, Zandile Maumela, says the pandemic was a reminder of how inequality continues to affect the youth. The school was the epicentre of the uprising.

“As all schools were closed, it meant that online learning was the new and safe effective online way of learning, sadly a necessity not provided in government schools. For five months I could not go to school.”

Youth not reading enough

Speaking on myths, truths, and conspiracies about COVID-19, microbiologist and co-chair of the Coronavirus Ministerial Advisory Committee, Professor Koleka Mlisana urged the youth to start using resources at their disposal to educate themselves. She says the pandemic has demonstrated how the youth are not reading enough.

“We honestly relying on WhatsApp forwarded messages and Facebook to educate us about a disease that has brought the whole world to a standstill. The fact that you have access to Facebook means you can get online and get information and educate yourself about this thing.”