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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Covid pandemic showed South Africans can unite for common purpose

Nedlac said the recommendations from the webinars would be submitted to relevant government and social partner structures for further consideration

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

This was a challenge posed by Lisa Seftel, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) executive director, on the first of two webinars organised by Nedlac and Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection.

Yesterday’s webinar focused on the SA experiences, successes and failures in the battle to outsmart Covid. Seftel raised the role played by the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “family meetings” to which many people looked forward to.

She said despite its role not being always acknowledged, the evening addresses on the Covid lockdown were indicative of a strong leadership in the fight against the pandemic.

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

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The webinar heard that despite some claims that SA lagged behind other countries, actually, SA’s experience in terms of the impact of Covid vaccination incentives was similar to other nations that tried them.

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

He quoted various figures, such as the Vooma Weekends that led to an extra 500 000 doses; and the Vooma Voucher incentive which accounted for 8.31-13.95% of all doses administered to the over 60s. An evaluation showed that two months into the campaign, KeReady programme had resulted in an additional 251 000 vaccinations among 25-34-year-olds, above the trendline expected.

“We have been encouraging the mobile network operators to offer free data for first dose vaccination as a way of encouraging young people. MTN will be first in the next couple of weeks,” said Harrrison.

“My view is that, in the context of lack of trust, transactional approaches aimed at offsetting some of the unseen opportunity costs of vaccination are important.”

He cautioned against control councils, command centres and war rooms that create unnecessary fear and turn the public off.

Other inputs came from Community Constituency Front (CCF), trade unions and individuals.

The SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union trained 90% of their 2 800 shop stewards in Covid protocols by 20 March, 2020; conducted awareness briefings for the 125 000 members by 24 March, 2020; and initiated extensive digital and media campaign to communicate the message to workers.

CCF’s Mabalane Mfundisi said as civil society, they made enormous contribution to the fight against Covid. CCF mobilised traditional leaders, the sporting fraternity and urban communities to support government initiatives.

Nedlac said the recommendations from the webinars would be submitted to relevant government and social partner structures for further consideration. The webinar ends today.

– ericn@citizen.co.za

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