Let’s acknowledge Government’s handling of the pandemic

By Howard Feldman -Head of Marketing & People - Synthesis
By Howard Feldman -Head of Marketing & People - Synthesis

Let’s acknowledge Government’s handling of the pandemic

By Howard Feldman, Head of Marketing & People at Synthesis

Imperfect though it might have been, it is important to acknowledge South Africa’s success in the handling of the Covid 19 pandemic. With the announcement that the State of Disaster has ended, it is an apt time to look back and to note with gratitude that – on the most part --- we did well.  To a large extent, as a country we can hold up heads up with some pride.

Whereas it is always important to look back at a process to determine what areas were not handled as best as they could have been, it is also important to not judge the process, decisions and implementation with knowledge that we have today. It is undoubtedly the case that the pandemic made fools of all politicians, doctors and experts and taught us humility in ways that were hard to imagine.

Early on in the life of the pandemic, doctors and scientists were forced to come to terms with just how large the void in knowledge was, and governments were forced to make decisions that they knew would result in hardships one way or another. Despite the confident rhetoric, few lawmakers anywhere could honestly claim to comfort with their choices that would commit their citizens to some form of suffering one way or another.

These were times of unenviable choices: times when it was much easier to be a commentator than a decision maker.

There were, of course, fantastically stupid decisions as well. The banning of cooked chickens, open toe shoes and cigarettes will haunt the government for years, but there is hardly a cabinet anywhere who hasn’t been called out by their citizens for an act of irrationality. The beach closures and the inevitable damage to the morale of the nation was inexcusable and one that appeared to me to have been made in spite. It is unlikely that we will ever know the real motivation for the decision. In addition, the theft of COVID relief funds will remain an embarrassing blight on an already corruption-tainted government.

Once again, a terrible “own goal” if ever there was one.

And yet, despite these, vaccines were successfully procured, systems were set up with impressive speed, recording logistics and administration managed extremely well to the extent that whoever wanted to receive a vaccine, was able to do so. The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAPHRA) was particularly impressive and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) did the country proud with neither organisation succumbing to the political pressures that they endured.

The private sector, although tentative at first, stepped up and together with government ensured people who required treatment, were not only able to be provided such, but that vaccines reached the upper arms of all those who rolled up their sleeves.

Of course, there were dark and terrible days: days when oxygen ran low, car parks were converted into makeshift areas and the medical teams near buckled under the horror and strain of it all. There were days when hundreds of South Africans lost their lives, when families mourned the death of loved ones to whom they could not bid farewell to and when burials took place without fanfare and without community. But each country will talk of those days and no one in the world was spared the loss that the epidemic invited.

One of the lesser attractive features of the so called “woke culture” is that we like to cancel things. Inherent in this is judgement over the past, which might be reasonable in some cases, but not all is current knowledge. If the pandemic taught us anything, it should be that we need to acknowledge how little we know and how little we can control.

As someone who has been – and most likely will continue to be – vocal in my criticism of our government, I want to take a moment, to hit the pause button and to acknowledge with gratitude their role in the handling of the pandemic. I would further like to acknowledge the doctors, medical support staff, scientist, teachers, parents and everyone else who did their bit to usher us through our walk in the shadow of death.


For more information on the innovative work Synthesis has done for its blue-chip clients, contact:

Kim Furman

Marketing Manager

072 236 3572


About Synthesis

Synthesis is a true South African success story. Synthesis believes that providing innovative solutions based on emerging technologies will help their clients become globally competitive. Synthesis focuses on banking and financial institutions, retail, media and telecommunications sectors in South Africa and other emerging markets.

In 2017 Capital Appreciation Limited, a JSE-listed Fintech company, acquired 100 percent of Synthesis. Following the acquisition, Synthesis remains an independent operating entity within the Capital Appreciation Group providing Cloud, Digital and RegTech services as well as corporate learning solutions through the Synthesis Academy.