By Andile Mngxitama
The government of Cyril Ramaphosa and the media are hiding the truth about the extent of the Covid-19 infections in South Africa (SA). If those showing symptoms of the infection don’t test for it, because there are no mechanisms in place to do so, how are we going to know the truth about the extent of the pandemic?
The best way to hide the truth about Covid-19 is to just not make provision for testing. This is what the Ramaphosa administration has opted for. The number of people who have tested is shockingly low and those testing positive from such a low sample is a shockingly high number.
It’s almost a month since the first case of infection was detected on 5th March. In this context only 31 963 people, out of a population of 59.5 million, have been tested. Moreover of those who underwent the test, 1187 people have tested positive for the virus.
To fully understand the magnitude of systematic concealment, one has to compare the low number of people tested in SA with the 320 000 tests conducted in Venezuela in a shorter period of time. Also South Korea has contained the spread of the virus through mass testing. SA on its part has put no mechanisms in place to ensure that massive testing of the population is conducted. It has accordingly kept the nation in the dark about the extent, depth and adverse effects of the pandemic.
There is also the added reality that over 90% of the tests conducted thus far are in the private healthcare sector and to this end those tested are predominantly white. This means that we have no clue about how badly the pandemic has actually affected black people.
The media is failing to ask the right questions. We need to know: How many people were tested? Where were the tests conducted- private or public health care facility? What is the race, gender and age of each of those who have been tested! What is the cost of testing? Who can afford it?
On our part, we need to ask: Why is government not providing free testing for all? Why is government not forcing the private healthcare sector to open its laboratories to all for free testI gotta? This is the least that the government can do after failing to do the right thing which is to nationalize all the hospitals like Spain has done.
Black First Land First (BLF) has proposed a simple solution – TURN ALL VOTING STATIONS INTO TESTING STATIONS.
Voting stations are in the communities. These must be converted into testing stations for Covid-19, where the people get tested for free. If the government can set up voting stations to get votes, surely it can use these stations to conduct free testing to save the lives of the voters too.
The concealment of the extent of the epidemic by systemic non testing, has to end pronto, if we are to arrest the spread of the virus further. It can be done. It just needs the political will and a program that puts the people and not profits first.
The Ramaphosa government must stop the systemic suppression of the actual numbers of those infected by deliberately not making provision for the people to test.
Andile Mngxitama is the President of Black First Land First (BLF), a radical black consciousness organization.