Unlock the South African economy now!
As we enter lockdown day 43 in South Africa, with over 8000 positive cases and a death toll of 161, the situation is bleak, to say the least. The economy was abruptly brought to a halt on Friday 27 March when the lockdown started. Everyone had to stay at home, you could only go out to buy food or go to the doctor. Only essential services were operational.
Everyone else had to stay at home and work from home. Restaurants, hairdressers, beauty parlours and gyms were closed. There was a ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes and a curfew in the evenings. Sounds more like we are going to war than fighting a virus.
Exactly 6 weeks later and thousands of people have lost their jobs. Some had to take salary cuts of more than 50%. Others can’t afford to pay their rent, pay their car instalments, or buy food. Someone I know had to be content with 10% of their normal salary. I mean, what do you do with 10%?
The companies also don’t have a choice, no-one is buying, no-one is paying, pending orders are cancelled. With a huge cashflow crisis gushing expenses with no income, it’s not a pretty sight.
How does your life change so radically in 6 weeks?
A whole generation’s sweat and toil down the drain. No-one has an emergency fund. No-one. I guess we thought the rainy day would never come.
All the schools are closed. Children are at home. Parents are at home. Nerves are in tatters. Children are going hungry. Parents watch in despair. If they go outside without a permit they can get locked up.
We know that the lockdown was never going to stop the virus, it was only going to slow down the spread so that hospitals can prepare and get ready when the virus hits at its peak. But in the meantime, people are starving.
“First they came for the cigarettes, and I did not speak up because I am not a smoker. Then they came for the alcohol, and I did not speak up because I’m not a drinker. They later came for my cooked chicken, and I did not speak up because I’m a dumbass who can’t recognise danger.” — Quentin Quarantino Ferreira
The government has vouched to plough back billions into the economy to ease the hardships of ordinary people, but the sheer magnitude of the administration is leaving many people wanting and waiting. The grants are not coming today or tomorrow.
In the meantime, people are going hungry, by the millions. Another initiative was to distribute food parcels. Well done for that, but it’s only feeding the family today, what about tomorrow?
By the time we wake up, starvation would have killed many more people than the virus ever could. We need to lift the lockdown and let people get back to work, those lucky ones who still have a job.
Masks are now mandatory. Yes, let’s wash our hands and wear masks, but please can we just get back to work!