The plot thickens over the Gauteng Provincial Government’s health infrastructure programme, planned for a Covid-19 wave that has now passed, which is starting to look like a big white elephant. The worst part is that the buildings and ICU units that were supposed to be up and running when Covid-19 hit SA’s most densely populated province, are still under construction.
“Economists have only ruined the world – the point is to improve it”. (With a nod to Karl Marx) Today is the United Nations International Day of Democracy. At a time when democracy is under attack in so many parts of the world, the day could not be more important. But rather than activists satisfying ourselves with glib platitudes, we should ask deeper questions about what’s going wrong. One obvious area we should look at is the disconnect between democracy and economy.
No recovery without redistribution: No ‘social contract’ without meaningful inclusion of civil society
After President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move to Lockdown Level 2 in his address to the nation on Saturday night, 15 August, South Africa entered a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. But what will this mean to us in our day-to-day lives?
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.
The social contract we entered into to defeat Covid-19 is not over. It came in several parts. Inasmuch as we accepted that the lockdown would destroy jobs and livelihoods, this contract contained an implicit promissory note that in return, and after the lockdown is lifted, those jobs would be recreated. Resetting and restructuring our economy is integral to the next stage of Covid-19 prevention.
Pull a pint, fix a bike… against all odds, some of Joburg’s small family businesses survive. But now the lockdown to stem the Covid-19 pandemic may be putting them through their ultimate trial. This article celebrates the tenacity of two family businesses and calls on readers to patronise them when this crisis is over.
In recent weeks President Cyril Ramaphosa has made two speeches in which he has made far-reaching promises and stated plainly his commitment to use the crisis to rapidly accelerate efforts to build an equal and fair society out of the ruins of the economy left by Covid-19 and the lockdown.
During lockdown, I work from a room on top of a hill. I have two views. One is outward, over the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, above an urban forest and the rooftops of spacious and secure homes. The pollution has lifted and the vista extends all the way to the Magaliesberg mountains whose outlines are crisp and clear. There’s a calmness in the air. Clouds dance, form playful shapes, undisturbed by perpetual air traffic and the heat generated by the busy city.
Yesterday I reached out to a close friend and comrade of mine in England. We both studied at Oxford University and then spent two decades in the trenches trying to defeat HIV. Now she’s in London. She replied to my inquiry about her well-being by sending a sad and eerie video of the streets of London and with an admission: “It’s very, very hard.”