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Easy choice. No choice

Enforced hibernation is a necessity.
The poor and sick are vulnerable – President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: GCIS

What was feared has come to pass. The nation is going to be locked down as a way to counter the spread of the deadly and contagious Covid-19 virus.

From 12am on Friday members of the country’s 14.5 million households will be prohibited from leaving their homes for 21 days and non-essential businesses shut down.

For those who are counting, those 21 days work out to 504 hours, 30 240 minutes and 1 814 400 seconds.

During this time, an already-struggling economy will come to a standstill, as even before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced steps on Monday night to confine South Africans to their homes, GDP had shrunk 1.4% for the quarter to end December. This negative trend is expected to continue.

For once, however, the economy has taken a back seat, as Ramaphosa brings the country to a standstill in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

He has reason to act rapidly.

Looking at how Italy and China have struggled to cope with the virus, the chances are good that it would have overrun South Africa’s health service if drastic steps were not taken.

Poverty trap

It does not help that SA’s socio-economic footing is far from sound. About half of the country’s population (35.2 million) live in poverty, according to the Statistics SA definition of poverty which is people living on under R1 227 a month.

With so many people earning so little, a healthy diet becomes an issue, as it affects the body’s ability to fend off illness. This can be seen in malnutrition resulting in 1.7 million children under the age of five being short for their age; 3.7 million people having anaemia (a deficiency in the number or quality of red blood cells); and around 760 000 children suffering from obesity, according to the United Nations.

Aside from the implications of a poor diet, the impact of Covid-19 on those with compromised immune systems – like the 7.7 million living with HIV/Aids and as many as 400 000 people who have contracted tuberculosis – could be devastating.

When measured against the potential for catastrophe, Ramaphosa’s decision to lock down the country was a hard and also oddly easy one.

De facto house arrest

It is hard because putting 58 million people under de facto house arrest is not an easy decision for a man looking to be elected for a second term as president.

It’s easy, however, because he has no choice. If he allowed the virus to spread, it would certainly have led to the deaths of thousands if not tens of thousands of people.

SA has been lucky. Even though just over 500 people (that we know of) have contracted the virus so far, no one has passed away from it.

But without this enforced hibernation, it’s almost certain that the country’s luck will not hold. It would only be a matter of time before the virus makes its way from a wedding in the winelands to some destitute community.

What has to be done, has to be done.

So it’s now up to the public sector and elements of private medical service to save us. The country’s 193 000 police officers and 74 000 soldiers will enforce the lockdown. Our 46 000 doctors, 285 000 nurses and countless emergency medical services personal and lab technicians will treat the sick and counsel their loved ones.

All of them will be working the hardest three weeks of their lives to ensure that we all go to back to what amounts to ‘normal’ in SA.

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Jaaaa Boet. No need to brainwash us anymore.

Urgent questions Moneyweb need to pose to the relevant government officials on behalf of S.A. citizens and then inform the public about:
1. Will the town councils allow some leeway with rates and services payments where families are struggling to survive as a result of this virus crisis on top of the slow economy of the past few years?
2. Will local counsels allow for an interest-free and penalty-free repayment catch-up period after things have resume to “normal” – say for a three month period?
3. Will S.A. banks similarly allow some penalty- and interest-free leeway on bond or other financing liabilities and also for a reasonable repayment catch-up period;
4. Will body corporate’s, HOA’s, housing schemes, rental agencies, etc also play ball in regards to keeping basic services running where levies have fallen behind?
5. Will retailers such as clothing chains, chemists, etc also come to the party to extend the facilities interest- and penalty-free?
6. What will government do to alleviate this burden of the struggling working class?
7. If money runs out and all else fails, will the government assist the poor with food stamp credits to buy basic food supplies?

These are the urgent worries of ordinary, poor citizens and it needs answers, reassurances and of course putting the deeds to the promises.

I can’t see how HOA and Body Corporate’s will give owners a gap when levies fall behind.

So you speak for ordinary, poor citizens? I know many South
Africans have been hoodwinked by their political masters to think they can live for free but for this country to have any chance people need to realize that they to pay their way for the system to survive.

Sadly the brainwashing is just beginning…this is all part of a global reset at every level…

Dear Larry On what planet do you live?? The public sector cannot “save” us as you put it ,because the public sector=the ANC- IS the problem. Corrupt incompetent and lazy and entitled. Why would the private medical services help?? The ANC is undermining them and whole of the private sector and trying its best to destroy anything privately owned. I you do not know this by now you cannot be much of a journalist.

The “Cyril the Saviour” narrative is in full effect.

I actually thought CR did quite well. Don’t really see what he could have done differently to be honest. I am as happy as the next man to beat up on politicians in general but in this case he played the cards he was dealt IMHO.

So what does that mean overall? He is probably 1-21 for fronting-up. That’s hardly anything to get excited about.

I could at least listen to CR for his entire speech where I felt solidarity with the most vulnerable.

The theme – this lazy government is perhaps getting a wake up! Here’s hoping they continue for the good of the nation.

Imagine it was JZ in charge!? Just imagine.

What CR needs to focus on quickly is Plan B when 21 lockdown hasn’t curbed the outbreak… and it probably won’t work based on what’s going on abroad.

Since when is 35.2 “about half” of 57?

since the 30% pass rate

While lockdown is probably essential, the real issue is what if infection rates are still rampant after 3 weeks?

Other country experiences show likely 2-3 months may be needed.

Just don’t take away our right to braai, that right is somewhere in the Constitution, and if it isn’t, it should be.

Not sure I agree with that. It’s because he doesn’t have to worry about being re-elected that he can make a big call like that so early. It seems to be the one and only benefit of being a 1-party state – the ability to act fast without political fear in a genuine emergency.

The Rupert and Oppenheimer foundations donated R1Bn each.
Is there a list somewhere showing which other business / businessmen donated?
Just curious to know.

hereshoping
I really hope this will end some of the corruption, Everywhere you look it is just sheer corruption in all the departments you deal with, it seems part of every day life to the councilars. As I have said before it costs between 6 and 8000-00 Rand to have a prepaid electric meter installed. I need one so I can put in solar panels to get away from the thieves in the council.

End of comments.

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