Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Paddy Harper’s on the Rastazenica vaccine


It’s Day 385 of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Like most of my fellow South Africans, I’m wondering when, if ever, it will be my turn to get vaccinated.

There’s no real answer coming from President Cyril Ramaphosa — or Health Minister Zweli Mkhize — at this stage. Lots of ifs, buts and maybes.

There are millions of doses being lined up, here, there and everywhere, we are told. Deals with manufacturers all over the world are being done, according to Mkhize.

There are visits to factories in the Eastern Cape, workshops, Zoom briefings, committee meetings and online press conferences.

Lots of words, lots of figures, lots of promises.

Vaccine: dololo.

AstraZeneca was a flop. Johnson & Johnson — which wasn’t even a rollout but rather an experiment — isn’t looking too much better. There’s millions of doses coming from Pfizer, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that they will ever arrive, let alone that one will make its way into my bloodstream.

For now, it appears that one will have to stick with the Rastazenica vaccine I’ve been using since the start of the pandemic: massive daily doses of full spectrum cannabis oil. Hourly spliffs at night.

Ivermectin and moringa cocktails every time I start feeling fluey. Regardless of whether Ivermectin works or not, I’ll never have to worry about having intestinal parasites again.

I’ve passed on Ramaphosa’s visit to the Durban harbour to inspect the port. There’s far too much work to finish for me to head down to the harbour and stand around in a crowd of civil servants while the lahnee poses for the cameras, so the head of state, Premier Sihle Zikalala and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan will have to do without me.

There’s also a deadly pandemic going on, so risking my life to watch a bunch of suits pretending to know what they’re looking at isn’t really a priority right now.

How does one “inspect” a harbour, and what does one inspect it for?

Does one simply stand with one’s entourage — all construction helmets, overalls and umbrella-wielding bodyguards — and inspect, nod sagely while the port manager reassures one that the harbour wasn’t stolen overnight, that it is, in fact, a harbour, that these are, indeed, cranes and ships and containers and not, well not something else?

Perhaps one should turn the harbour upside down and shake it to see that nothing is broken inside. Does one check that the batteries aren’t flat and that the wiring is dry, before heading off for the rest of the day’s activities with the comrades, and then jetting back to Pretoria?


Perhaps the harbour inspection isn’t really about inspecting the harbour. Perhaps it’s more about showing solidarity with Gordhan, the head of state’s unofficial prime minister and close political ally.

PG, as Gordhan was known down here back in the day, back when he and Zuma were still friends, has had a bit of a rough birthday week, with claims that he tried to influence the chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, to give a seat on the supreme court of appeal to his friend and former United Democratic Front comrade, Judge Dhaya Pillay, during the Judicial Service Commission interviews in 2016.

What better way for Ramaphosa to cheer Gordhan up and show him — and his critics — that he has his back than to cosy up with him on television the day after the Economic Freedom Fighters’ deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, laid corruption charges against him over the discussion with Mogoeng?

Like many of my fellow South Africans, I wasn’t surprised that Gordhan’s twin, Zuma, who shared a birthday with him on Monday, declined to provide Mogoeng with reasons he shouldn’t go to jail and what sentence he would like to serve if he did.

uBaba bailed on the Zondo commission imbroglio a while ago, just after he found out that he was going to have to do more than read out a statement; that singing and giggling wasn’t going to get him off the hook.

I wonder if Zuma’s lawyers wrote the 21-page response before or after the supreme court of appeal cut off his access to state legal funding this week.

Perhaps Zuma’s letter was the final state-funded missive to be written on behalf of the former head of state, now that the tap has been turned off. Perhaps it was written for free, by a lawyer loyal to the cause. Perhaps.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

Related stories


Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Zanele Mbuyisa — For the love of people-centred...

She’s worked on one of the biggest class-action cases in South Africa and she’s taken on Uber: Zanele Mbuyisa speaks to Athandiwe Saba about advocating for the underrepresented, getting ‘old’ and transformation in the law fraternity

Update: Standard Bank rejects climate proposal

Climate considerations are pressing Standard Bank shareholders to push for the recusal of those with fossil fuel ties.

More top stories

Denel money woes clip air force’s wings

A senior officer says the shortage of spares and and ability to service aircraft and vehicles has a negative effect on the SANDF’s operational ability

State fails at-risk children as R55m orphanage stands empty

Boikagong Centre in Mahikeng has been closed for almost two years because it did not meet safety requirements. The discarded children say they want a safe place to learn, but instead endure rape and other violence

Wildlife farming vs Creecy’s panel

The departments of environment and agriculture legislation are at odds over modifying the genes of wild animals

Drugs and alcohol abuse rage in crime stats

Substance abuse has emerged as a reason for the spike in crimes during the first quarter of 2021.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…