“Using the COVID-19 pandemic to demand better” – Siwe Kuse

“Using the COVID-19 pandemic to demand better” – Siwe Kuse
Using the COVID-19 pandemic to demand better
As one of the most developed economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa exists as
somewhat of a paradox because it also simultaneously exists as the most economically
unequal country in the world. Characterised by high-income polarisation, South Africa has a
small number of high-income earners, a relatively small middle class and extremely high
levels of chronic poverty.
It is for this reason that the WORLD BANK http://povertydata.worldbank.org/poverty/country/ZAF
credits its Gini Index as the highest in the world. Now, given the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases, one does
not have to think too hard about the devasting consequences this will have, and has had, on
impoverished communities. The cries of anguish are louder, the lines of inequality are
sharper, and the existence of injustice is plainer. Furthermore, we face a dilemma whereby
the militarisation and draconian policy imposed to respond to the pandemic eerily resembles
a path dependency towards the bygone days – but that’s a conversation we’ll have to shelve
for another time.
Nevertheless, in the midst of this bleak state of affairs, I think there may be an unintended
positive consequence. The privileged part of South Africa has often indulged in a weird
euphoria that allows them to escape into believing that all is well within this dystopian
society of gated communities, high walls, electric fences, panic buttons and private security.
But perhaps for the first time in a long time (if ever), there’s been a shock to the entire
system, regardless of socio-economic standing. Only a fool would believe that things will
ever be the same. And, perhaps that’s not a bad thing.
No one can hide behind the veil of equivocation and indifference. Everyone is feeling some
degree insecurity, fear and discomfort. Something is wrong. Something has been wrong for a
very long time, and it has nothing to do with COVID-19. This disease has, in many ways,
serves as a lens through which many can now begin to interrogate the incongruities of
society.
Sivuyisiwe N. N. Kuse, MPhil Candidate
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2 Comments

  1. Entle Bizana
    May 11, 2020 / 9:32 am

    So well written.

    • Cwayita Bizana
      May 11, 2020 / 10:44 am

      I couldn’t agree more.

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