Jean-Jacques Cornish

Delay in COVID vaccine’s arrival infuriates South Africans

Battling an unprecedented new wave of COVID 19 infections, South Africans have returned to a lockdown regime last seen five months ago.It includes a ban on alcohol sales, an extension of a curfew from 9pm until 6am, the closure of all beaches, lakes, dams and rivers and new restrictions on social gatherings.President Cyril Ramaphosa told his compatriots in a televised “family meeting” that those not wearing masks face six months in jail.He says the lockdown measures could be eased in mid January if there is a sustained reduction in the number of infections which now exceeds a million.A visibly emotional Ramaphosa made no mention of the increase in marital violence that has accompanied the pandemic.In previous broadcasts he has called gender-based violence another pandemic facing South Africa.Neither did he talk about the corruption that has hamstrung efforts to resist and contain the coronavirus.The Berlin based watchdog group Transparency International says that the pandemic has exposed the greed and longstanding need for South Africa to act against corruption.Measures to fight corruption have proved irresistible to thieves who have unashamedly and brazenly hijacked emergency measures designed to deal with COVID 19.This includes a 28-billion euro relief package, social grants for 16-million South Africans and  employer/employee relief measures.Ramaphosa has drawn the most heated response to his announcement that COVID 19 vaccinations will arrive in South Africa in the second quarter of 2021.Until now there has been no clarity on when the medication covered b the COVAC agreement will arrive here.Analysts are saying a delay until the middle of next year is unacceptable, particularly since pharmaceutical firm Johnson and Johnson is manufacturing a caving in South Africa.The say they cost of buying the vaccine rather than waiting for free supplies will be less than the economic damage from a week of lockdown.The acquisition and provision of one of the four available coronavirus vaccines must replace lockdown if SA is to survive Covid-19, says opposition Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen.
“We understand that the resurgence in Covid-19 cases is dire for our country, but we knew at the beginning of this crisis that we would be grappling with the virus for 18 to 24 months. We now need to stock our arsenal with a finite solution to address this pandemic decisively and sustainably,” he says.Steenhuisen says President Cyril Ramaphosa initially promised South Africa would get the vaccine in the first quarter of 2021.“There needs to be a simultaneous plan to massively improve public health care and get urgent access to a vaccine to begin a comprehensive rollout.“The vaccination rollout is continuing apace across the EU and UK. In countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico, where the socio-economic circumstances are not dissimilar to our own, vaccines are already being rolled out nationwide at great pace.“The SA government has no excuse for its negligence in this regard and owes South Africans an explanation.”

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.