Andile’s Thoughts on the New Year

I guess the expected thing to say at this time of the year is ‘Happy New Year’, but sadly it doesn’t feel like a happy new year at all. 

Given the unprecedented grief we are all experiencing as a result of this COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to fall into a state of depression and despondency. There is however some hope on the horizon. I recently read an article in Business Day that outlined the vaccine schedule that South Africa has secured, thanks to the incredible collaboration between government and business in recent months.

‘Up to 12-million doses have been secured from the international vaccine financing vehicle Covax. Depending on whether it provides single-shot or two-dose vaccines, the first tranche of which is due to arrive in February.  There is another 1.5-million doses of AstraZeneca’s shot, manufactured under licence by the Serum Institute of India, with the first 1-million doses slated to arrive by the end of January. Then there are 12.25-million doses from the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (Avatt), of which the first 2-million will flow between March and June; and finally another 9-million doses from Johnson & Johnson, according to the Ministry of Health’.

If feels like we are in some cruel video game where more and more people get sick, leading to less and less hospital beds available to treat them, which in turn leads to more and more deaths. All this only gets better if and when we follow the health protocols of wearing a mask, keeping a distance if at least 1,5 metres away from each other and washing and sanitizing our hands regularly.  

My heart goes out to the many South African entrepreneurs who’ve had to shut down their businesses as a result of the restrictions forced upon us by this virus. It is important that you keep in mind that a lot of what has happened was beyond your control. You should not take it too personally. There was no way of fore telling this outbreak, let alone how it would ravage humanity in this way, claiming not just lives but livelihoods as well.

Thankfully there is evidence that shows people are seeing the benefits of following the health protocols and are increasingly applying them. While the benefit of lower trauma cases can absolutely be linked to abuse of alcohol, I still feel for the many entrepreneurs that rely on this industry to feed their families – and I am not only speaking about those who own pubs and taverns. The entire tourism and hospitality industry is compromised by this restriction and others. 

However, all signs are that the numbers are falling, and the arrival of the vaccine as early as January will send some much-needed positive energy across the country. Hopefully lead to the relaxation of some of the restrictions and allow business activity to flourish unabated.

We desperately need the economy to start pumping again, and for that to happen we need women and men, who are ready to put their shoulders to the proverbial wheel and work. It’s not going to happen automatically.

So I won’t say Happy New Year. It has not been Happy so far. Thankfully, we still have time to change that. All the best for 2021. I wish you survival.

Article by Andile Khumalo, 19 January 2021