South Africa: COVID-19 - Why a Mysterious Disease Shouldn't Result in Mysterious Decisions


So far, the South African government's approach to access to information and transparency in its efforts to manage the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has not been stellar. I'd rank them a two out of 10. But based on what, you might say? What does it take to get to a three? What's your index? What's your expertise? What data, ma'am? Well... exactly. See what I did there?

General access to public information has had some wins during the Covid-19 crisis. The early intervention by the South African government to centre reliable, government information on services -- and oblige South African websites to link to it -- is an important counter to the risks of misinformation. On an ordinary day, this kind of service-focused information is often difficult to source for citizens (I dare any cynic on this issue to try to get the current contact details of information officers for different departments), and providing it centrally is important for building citizen trust.

But the wins may have ended there. There are reports that decision-makers and scientists are having trouble wresting data from the Department of Health, directly impeding the ability of innovations to help combat the spread of the...

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