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.”