The Covid pandemic has shown that South Africans can come together for a common cause

The fight against Covid has proven that South Africans can come together to successfully fight a common enemy and must develop a common vision with the same spirit and energy.

This was a challenge set by Lisa Seftel, National Council for Economic Development and Labor (Nedlak) Executive Director at the first of two webinars hosted by the Nedlak and Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Thinking.

Yesterday’s webinar focused on South Africa’s experiences, successes and failures in the fight to outsmart Covid. Seftel took up the role of “family meetings” of President Cyril Ramaphosa, which many people have been looking forward to.

She said that while his role is not always recognized, the Covid lockdown speeches tonight showed strong leadership in the fight against the pandemic.

“In the fight against the pandemic, we had a common enemy. So we could come together with a common vision,” Seftel said.

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The webinar said that, despite some claims that South Africa is lagging behind other countries, in fact South Africa’s experience in terms of the impact of incentives on Covid vaccinations has been similar to other countries that have tried them.

David Harrison, CEO of the DG Murray Trust, said that small guaranteed incentives directly related to vaccination were most effective at effect sizes of 6-15%. Only lottery-style incentives were less effective.

He gave various figures such as Vooma Weekends which resulted in an additional 500,000 doses; and the Vooma incentive voucher, which accounted for 8.31–13.95% of all doses given to people over 60 years of age. The evaluation showed that in the two months since the campaign began, the KeReady program resulted in an additional 251,000 vaccinations among 25-34 year olds, above the expected trend.

“We encourage mobile operators to offer free first dose data to encourage young people. MTN will be first in the next couple of weeks,” said Harrison.

“I believe that in a context of lack of trust, transactional approaches are important to offset some of the invisible opportunity costs of vaccination.”

He warned against control boards, command centers and operational headquarters that create unnecessary fear and alienate the public.

Other submissions came from the Community Voters Front (CCF), unions and individuals.

By March 20, 2020, the South African Garment and Textile Workers Union has trained 90% of its 2,800 salespeople on Covid protocols; held information briefings for 125,000 members by March 24, 2020; and launched an extensive digital and media campaign to get the word out to workers.

Mabalane Mfundizi of CCF said that as a civil society they have made a huge contribution to the fight against Covid. CCF has mobilized traditional leaders, the sports community and urban communities to support government initiatives.

Nedlack said that the recommendations from the webinars will be passed on to the relevant government and social partner structures for further consideration. The webinar ends today.