Almost a year to the day that South Africa entered its first hard lockdown, there are still questions being asked about government’s ability to stave off the COVID-19 pandemic.
As talk of an expected third wave makes the headlines, there is growing concern about the dithering pace of the country’s vaccine rollout. To put it into perspective, Rwanda vaccinated 140 000 people in two days while South Africa managed to do the same in three weeks.
In order to obtain herd immunity, South Africa needs to vaccinate 67% of its population. If vaccinations continue at the present rate, it will take the country 17 years 4 months and 5 days to reach the 67% target.* Clearly, the government is need of a helping hand right now.
And this brings me to my point. The private sector, including mining companies, has put up its hand and offered to assist with the vaccine rollout. Now, the mining sector is no stranger to dealing with pandemics – the huge strides it has made to combat TB and HIV/Aids in the workplace and mining communities are cases in point.
Mineworkers are part of the second tier of essential workers that are due to be vaccinated after health workers. Already, Minerals Council South Africa members have pledged to work with government and unions to achieve a smooth roll-out of vaccines at mines and in mining communities.
It is evident that what is required is a united front to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The mining sector is prepared to come to the party in this regard. Let’s hope government accepts the offer so that the vaccine rollout plan can receive a much needed shot in the arm.