A lovely conversation I had yesterday with a fellow blogger Stroke Survivor led to me articulating my feelings about Lockdown in South Africa (Thank you Stroke Survivor!). We’re on 39 days now, so by and large, the South African society are past the stage of feeling panicked or anxious (fearful mode), curious and intrigued (selfie-taking mode), and even angry or sad (grieving mode).
We’re getting used to our new normal, and many of us just want to go on with our lives – whatever form that takes on now! At the same time however we find ourselves questioning the validity of the regulations being imposed on us. We accept that we have a new reality but we’re tired now. Tired of being scared to breath, tired of being scared to live, tired of feeling like hostages in this passive aggressive pyscho-thriller reality series that is our lives!
So below is an extracted part of the comment section of yesterday’s blog post “South African Gløgg” however reflecting on it today, I felt that it deserves its own space on my blog – although I’m not going to edit my original words. My response was authentic and not at all premeditated – and that’s why I want to share it.
Stroke Survivor asked me about the logic behind our country’s current prohibition of alcohol. My response follows:
“Gosh Stroke Survivor, I don’t understand our regulations myself! I have South African friends abroad in Belgium that are just as shocked.
Initially, as South Africans we were all behind our government’s strict regulations to flatten the curve, but it’s literally in very practical terms becoming unbearable for many. We are a society characterized by a large proportion of ‘haves’ and then an equally large proportion of ‘have nots’.
Without getting into politics, simply put, our very strict regulations, while well-meaning are f’up up and discriminatory towards the poor, the people who drink alcohol, the people who smoke, and the people who don’t exercise…. there may be others.
For example, no alcohol is sold in this time because the consumption of alcohol encourages gatherings and social activity – so No Alcohol whatsoever. No cigarettes, because according to our government- cigarettes are ‘supposedly’ synonymous with alcohol consumption. I’m not a smoker (anymore) but I can only imagine how difficult this must be for smokers.
I think inadvertently, our government is potentially facilitating ordinarily law abiding citizens to resort to non-law abiding behaviour simply because of their rigidness. They are turning ordinarily law abiding citizens into criminals, not because the citizens have changed – but rather because our regulations have changed. Grossly unfair.
Ultimately all the government is succeeding in doing is creating black market, because they are destroying the free market in South Africa. By imposing a billion illogical regulations, our government is successfully destroying all our citizens respect for the law. This makes me sad. But this is the way that it is.
Another example is those of a ridiculous law is all those who want to exercise may only go for a walk, run or cycle between 6am and 9am in the morning – I won’t go into detail about all the problems which crop out because of that – however the biggest one is arguably everyone, I mean EVERYONE with their dogs, cats and nannies are out in common communal areas that time because we’ve been confined to our houses for the past five weeks #PerfectRecipeForCOVID19Spread. ….Makes no effing sense.
No one is allowed to work (by implication earn money) without a ‘permit’ which confirms that you are performing an essential service, so people are really suffering economically. And these are people who were suffering before lockdown – the current regulations simply makes it worse! I think in South Africa we are no longer even scared of COVID19. After all the strict constraints on our personal freedom we want to take our chances with COVID19…. and that is primarily due to government enforcing crazy regulations.
But I shall stop bitching. The one thing that we all have in common is we want SA to get through this crisis as unscathed as possible. How I don’t know. I’m actually glad that my biggest problem is figuring out how much sugar to put in my mulled wine….
I have real empathy for the leaders of my country. At the moment I don’t believe that they doing a good job- but I hope they figure it out soon!”
Stroke Survivor UK said:
What you said, I took away and shared it with other people too, because I had no idea… I think we pretty much all of us start from a point where we want to help and are willing to fall into line. But we have to see the sense behind the rules. I figure I am smart enough that if somebody can explain why something is necessary, I can take it in and process it. Equally, if it sounds like a line of bs, I’ll do my own thing.
One thing I have been surprised about here is that people’s minds become prisons, they tell themselves they can’t do such-and-such, but actually, there is nobody to stop them, if they decided they really had to do it.
I know that I’d have no hesitation using the black market there if I could. We have seen with the drugs argument that making them unavailable to purchase freely does not diminish the market for them. You’re right, they are fiddling with the economy when really this is a health problem. The only measure that makes sense is keeping one’s distance from others.
Marcelle van der Westhuizen said:
Nanny state and a tale of two cities…
how well told