EDITORIAL | Mtsweni-Tsipane’s unmasking should be a wake-up for ...

Ideas

EDITORIAL | Mtsweni-Tsipane’s unmasking should be a wake-up for all of us

Yes, action must be taken against the maskless minister, but her lax attitude reflects that of many South Africans

Editorial

It is hard to decide which is worse. Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane’s no-mask appearance at Jackson Mthembu’s funeral, the lame apology issued afterwards or the holier-than-thou South Africans metaphorically sjamboking her. Her face was without a mask for only a brief moment, her office said. She did not notice it had fallen off. “She thought it was intact.” So many retorts come to mind (how does one not notice one’s mask has come off?, was there no spare mask at hand?, what about a video showing the premier was made aware of her maskless face?), but that would oversimplify the matter. 

This incident goes deeper than that. The photo of the maskless premier is a snapshot of our society. It shows why SA is in such a bad place at the moment. If a senior, educated and informed politician, attending the funeral of a man who succumbed to Covid-19, has such a lackadaisical approach to the regulations, what about the rest of us? At every “family meeting” President Cyril Ramaphosa begs citizens to follow the basic prevention rules, yet so many turn a deaf ear.

We can argue about and debate the stupidity of the premier’s actions, and police minister Bheki Cele can order an investigation into the matter, and Ramaphosa can dock her salary as he did Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’s (let’s hope he does that again), and social media users can mock and moan about it, but this should be a turning point for us...

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