The state’s virus response is ruined by its denial of SA’s jobs ...

Ideas

The state’s virus response is ruined by its denial of SA’s jobs nightmare

And it has dithered while having at its disposal a world-beating tool to help the masses who desperately need it

Columnist

In its response to an emergency a government reveals in a flash how it understands both itself and the society it governs. In regard to the former, SA’s governors have performed better than we could have reasonably imagined. But in regard to the latter, there is trouble ahead.

To get a sense of the poise with which SA’s government understands itself, compare President Cyril Ramaphosa’s response with the onset of the pandemic with that of Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador, who waved a six-leaf clover in the air, saying it would protect him from the virus, while doubling down on an austerity programme. Or compare Ramaphosa with Thabo Mbeki, who greeted the Aids pandemic by fuelling a dissident scientific paradigm.

We are fortunate to have a president of great sobriety, who understands both the limits and the possibilities of his own power and descends neither into panic nor fantasy. And we can see, too, how misleading it is to talk of the ANC as a homogeneous entity with a common set of values...

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