The Healthcare Workers Heroes Memorial aims to recognise and remember all those “who have fallen in the line of duty”. Yet, unlike soldiers, for whom monuments and memorials were traditionally constructed, the duty of those who fell in the Covid-19 “war” was not to take lives but to save lives. They lost their lives saving others. They could have stayed at home and refused to work. They didn’t. They followed their calling and worked in the line of fire.
How do we pay fitting tribute to Dr Lungile Pepeta and the 181 other healthcare workers who have so far laid down their lives in the struggle against Covid-19?
South Africa is at a crossroads. All of the strengths we have as a society, which could and should have been mobilised against Covid-19 still exist. There is still an enormous reservoir of solidarity, resources and ideas. We can still save lives, rebuild livelihoods, push back Covid-19 and birth a better society. But ‘in the time of contagion the lack of solidarity is first and foremost the lack of imagination’.
A Love Letter to Social Justice Activists: Now is the time to change the world, tomorrow may be too late
These days, civil society often seems to be the last redoubt of dignity and solidarity. It is a place where love and concern for fellow human beings still drives politics. A place where the noble spirit of sacrifice that animated Nelson Mandela and many other freedom fighters has not been snuffed out. But as much as Covid-19 needs action to defend people’s lives and livelihoods, it also now needs the courage to take risks to fight forward for a fair and equal society.
Tomorrow, the results of the National Income Dynamics Survey: Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) study will be released. They will show that the social harm caused by the lockdown and the Covid-19 health emergency is far deeper and more damaging than previous estimates. But, paradoxically, Covid-19 presents us with an opportunity to make reparations for South Africa’s racially divided past, to rebuild trust, and to create safe neighbourhoods that erect an invisible barrier of community and solidarity against Covid-19 and the poverty it is unleashing.
If we lived in the type of society envisaged by our Constitution – one where there is equality and social justice – Johanna ‘Jojo’ Monama would probably be employed in the public or private sector. But our society is neither fair nor equal, and that’s how Jojo found herself among many other talented people who can’t find jobs. But help came from an unlikely source. Covid-19 gave her a mission.
Across the world, capitalist economics is in tatters. As always happens in a mega-crisis on a scale of that brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, governments and central banks are breaking ‘rules’ that in stable times they insist are immutable.
Equal Education accuses Department of Basic Education of ‘administrative chaos’ over schoolchildren feeding programme
Another day in the court of the “new normal”. Except it was far from normal. Instead of squaring off in a court chamber, lawyers were squaring off over Zoom. As usual, the lawyers were robed and respectful. But the matter they were arguing was far from digital. In the words of Geoff Budlender SC, this was a matter about the hunger of “between three and four million schoolchildren” who that very same day were being denied their constitutional right to a school meal.
Today Gauteng has over 100 community action networks, all of them made up of organisations and individuals who are trying to provide relief in the face of the humanitarian crisis unravelling in their communities.
Throughout much of 2017, South Africa was gripped by a health disaster of another type – the Life Esidimeni tragedy. It seems that its lessons are being forgotten already.