Image: eNCA

A call has been made for the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) to be disbanded and reconvened as an independent body operating transparently and “not reporting to politicians”.

Making the call in an eNCA TV interview earlier this week, the Progressive Health Forum’s Dr Aslam Dasoo stressed that a step change was urgently needed to put the national response to the pandemic on a different, more effective footing.  

“It is clear to us, given the history of the government’s response to the pandemic, operating in fits and starts with policies made on the hoof, this has not really worked,” he explained. In a population experiencing a lot of anxiety, with many South Africa families experiencing losses due to COVID, he added, there was clearly insufficient comfort instilled by or confidence in the government.

To build this badly needed confidence, he suggested, it would help if the response moved under the direct hand of the president: “All of these secretive committees, for example, the Command Council, the IMP, need to be disbanded,” Dasoo continued, intimating that these entities must be centralised under the presidency.

In making his call for the Ministerial Advisory Committee to be disbanded to make way for an independent public body “not reporting to politicians”, he said: “Make it a body that operates transparently – transparency being the key to building confidence. It must make its recommendations transparently. The government, of course, maintains the right what to do with it, but whatever they do they must explain, again, transparently!

“What we should start thinking about now is putting together a Commission of Inquiry into this pandemic and our response to it – obviously at an appropriate time, but we must start thinking about it now.

“When we finally get out of the emergency phase of the pandemic, hopefully sometime next year,” Dasoo concluded, “we need to be able to sit down and look at what we’ve done, what we have done wrong, who’s responsibility …and make sure that accountability exists.

“We have to prepare for the next epidemic which will be probably be here before the end of the decade.”