Deepening Democracy through Access to Information
Home / Opinion / Latest Opinions RSS ← Back

Email this article

separate emails by commas, maximum limit of 4 addresses

Sponsored by


Article Enquiry

Covid-19, 3 — Ramaphosa, 0


Embed Video

Covid-19, 3 — Ramaphosa, 0

Covid-19, 3 — Ramaphosa, 0

28th May 2021


Font size: -+

Award-winning columnist, Bhekisisa Mncube, tells President Cyril Ramaphosa that the country is crying for bold leadership as our Covid-19 vaccination programme stutters along.  

Sawubona Mongameli, His Excellency Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa. I am peeved. The sheer magnitude of your government’s incompetence gets on my nerves. According to the available statistics (BBC News), the country’s vaccination programme can best be described as stuttering, despite having the worst mortality figures on the African continent.


The effect of your vaccination programme is undetectable on people’s arms, like Deputy President David “The Cat” Mabuza who leads it.

Give us a shot in the arm, Mr President, and the rest will be forgiven. We won’t dance to the Digital Vibes scandal that is allegedly connected to your Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize. I didn’t know that for Mkhize to announce the country had entered the second wave of Covid-19 it cost R3.65-million, according to the Daily Maverick. But I digress.


South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) data shows that more than 145 000 excess deaths of people over the age of one year had occurred by February 27. The researchers estimate that between 85% and 95% of these deaths are directly attributable to the Covid-19 pandemic. If these figures are half correct, then Mr President, you are presiding over a medical genocide. The official Covid-19 mortality rate stands at roughly just over 56 000.

I was almost among those mortality statistics recently after testing positive for Covid-19. As you recall, Mr President, my dearest mother died earlier this year due to Covid-19 complications.

I must admit that I took off my mask to take a group photograph while at a book event a while ago. I was infected immediately. Fourteen days after exposure to the virus, I was hospitalised. On that day of hospitalisation, I had breathing difficulties which my lovely daughter Nonku noticed before any of us at home.

On the same night of my hospital admission, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. The positive Covid-19 test only came back the next day. It was my second Covid-19 test.

The first one on day seven after exposure had inexplicably come back negative. I stayed in hospital (the Covid-19 ward) on oxygen support for the better part of seven long days at a cost of just over R100 000. I have been out of hospital for over two weeks now, yet I am still suffering from Covid-19 complications.

Last week I was diagnosed with urticaria, a skin condition caused by an adverse reaction to certain types of drugs. I needed medical intervention (more drugs) to manage a drug reaction episode. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. I have lost a considerable amount of weight during my lone battle against the virus. Thankfully I am alive, unlike thousands of South Africans who lost the war and paid the ultimate price.

Luckily I didn’t infect anyone with Covid-19, including my family and the medical team who treated me for what we know now as Covid-19-induced lower back pains before hospitalisation.

Mr President, my death would have been laid at your door for the woeful failure to roll out life-saving vaccines. My Covid-19 close contact died a few days after testing positive.

To this day, I am haunted by her last WhatsApp message to me: “I am so sorry about all this.” Her mother (a senior member of your party, Mr President) also succumbed to the virus, a day after her daughter perished. Surely the death of your comrades should mean something?

Maybe not?

I am at my wits’ end trying to figure out how Zimbabwe, a failed state, can manage to vaccinate more people than the most sophisticated and arguably the third-largest economy in Africa.

In the vaccination stakes, South Africa officially lags behind the likes of Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Botswana. As the third Covid-19 wave approaches, more South Africans will die needless deaths at the hands of the virus SARSCoV-2.

Where is your courage, Mr President — the character you displayed in the early days of this war against the virus? South Africa cries for leadership, bold and decisive leadership, not this wishy-washy type being bandied about in a time of grave danger.

The current Covid-19 vaccination lethargy echoes the deadly HIV/Aids management disaster that consigned millions “of our people” to early graves.

Mr President, do not allow this moment to redefine your presidency. At the rate you’re going, I guess you’re ready to join uBaba and share the hard-earned moniker of being a monumental flop president. Nine lost years, anyone? Till next week my man. “Send me to the vaccination site, please.”

This Letter to Mahlamba Ndlopfu is written by Bhekisisa Mncube a former senior Witness political journalist, the 2020 regional winner in the Opinion category of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award, and author of The Love Diary of a Zulu Boy, a memoir.

This opinion piece was first published in the Witness/News24.


To subscribe email or click here
To advertise email or click here

Comment Guidelines

About is a product of Creamer Media.

Other Creamer Media Products include:
Engineering News
Mining Weekly
Research Channel Africa

Read more


We offer a variety of subscriptions to our Magazine, Website, PDF Reports and our photo library.

Subscriptions are available via the Creamer Media Store.

View store


Advertising on is an effective way to build and consolidate a company's profile among clients and prospective clients. Email

View options
Free daily email newsletter Register Now