Thus far I have resisted the temptation to comment on COVID19 events but now feel the need to add my 2c worth. As usual, SA society tends to be polarised with no real middle ground. Some are not worried about the virus at all, others are willing to completely sacrifice all personal civil liberties in the name of playing it safe. Personally I am not a huge fan of the lockdown (at least not while hospitals are standing empty) as it neither stops nor prevents infections, just shifts out the timeline and gives authorities and medical staff time to prepare. But this extra time comes at a great cost and I’m not sure that the bulk of the population can afford further extensions. Regardless, I have been a dutiful adherent for the last five weeks and stayed home.
But as we move into the next phase I am
1. Concerned about the spread of COVID19 and a potential health crisis.
2. Concerned about a lengthy lockdown resulting in the collapse of the SA economy, mass poverty and inevitable hunger riots, looting and eventually full civil unrest.
3. Concerned about the growing abuse of power, removal of civil liberties, mass deployments of armed military and a move towards a full authoritarian state.
These concerns are not mutually exclusive… It is entirely possible to be all three at the same time!
The ship is sinking and instead of trying to save it by any means possible, many of the crew are running around trying to rearrange the deck chairs while confining the passengers to their cabins.
How many of the rules introduced are strictly in terms of reducing the spread of COVID19? Are those in power abusing our constitutional rights to advance their own agenda and doing so while conveniently riding on the back of the pandemic?
A clue was given when our esteemed president gave his economic stimulus speech and spoke of a new post COVID19 economy based on radical economic transformation. The same government, that has over the last 26 years through corruption, mismanagement, misguided legislation and state intervention in the economy, ineptitude, theft and looting brought our economy to its knees, overseen the collapse of almost every state owned enterprise and seen us downgraded to junk status in the investment world (and all of this PRIOR to COVID19), is now suddenly keen to build a new economy based on socialist principles.
Even while some are desperately trying to save our economy we have a court decision that deems it legal and just to base bailouts and allocation of relief funds purely on race based ownership of companies. The very same BBBEE principles largely responsible for the mess we are already find ourselves in. Do we really need to learn the lesson the hard way? As already proved by our neighbour in the north with its citizens hunting rats to survive, when an economy is allowed to collapse it is not something that can simply be revived and given a new life and ideology.
The warning from the UN listing SA as one of the countries identified as abusing state powers during this time is another clue. Quite apart from the heavy handed and morally bankrupt military and police response while trying to confine the poorer communities inside their shacks, there’s the almost unbelievable decisions made by those in charge of our well being. While we sink, those in power dither and base their decisions on fairness rather than survival.
E-commerce, deemed as crucial to keeping the economy afloat with a minumum of risk in terms of COVID19 in most other countries, is not allowed in SA because minister of trade and industry, Ebrahim Patel, deems it unfair to those retailers that do not yet have an online offering. So rather let everyone go down with the ship?
And while I’m not a smoker, what does a smoking ban have to do with COVID19? Yes I know it’s a respiratory disease but suddenly stopping smoking is not going to magically repair cumulative lung disease. Addicts are not suddenly going to stop because it’s now a rule. Millions will be lost to tax revenue on legal sales and the illegal trade will flourish. But perhaps that’s the point given the documented financial links between minister Dlamini-Zuma who made the rule and those in the illegal cigarette trade.
The point is that we have crossed a line and I no longer believe decisions are being made based on scientific evidence and our best interests
And at the same time I remain deeply concerned about COVID19 itself. There are still so many unknowns. What is the true death rate, do those that survive suffer from any permanent damage to organs, can recovered patients be re-infected or can exposure build immunity? We just don’t know enough at this point to take the threat lightly.