OPINION: There is a risk of a third wave, but the key to avoiding that, rather than delaying it, is to get South Africans to behave, Kevin Ritchie writes.
THE EASTER Bunny hasn’t been arrested. You won’t have to swop the kids’ Easter eggs in the rose bushes for your beers or granny’s gin, Cyril Ramaphosa isn’t the grinch that stole the long weekend. There were long queues outside bottle stores on Tuesday – just ahead of his latest “family meeting”. The word on the tweets was that the taps would be shut for 11 days; church devotionals banned, hell even the beaches and national parks might be closed.
In the end none of this came to pass. Bottle stores will be closed, but only for this weekend. Churches have been opened a bit too. In truth the restrictions announced on Tuesday were incredibly fair. For a start, they followed the science, which is all anyone has ever asked for over the past year.
The infection numbers are down, along with the death rate. There is a risk of a third wave, but the key to avoiding that, rather than delaying it, is to get South Africans to behave. The only way, much like bringing up unruly teenagers, is to start by trusting them and taking it from there.
Simply imposing blanket bans might delight Bheki Cele and the other nanny-knows-best types in the Cabinet, but all it does is guarantee bad behaviour as everyone either stocks up on booze or WhatsApp’s the neighbourhood bootlegger. Imposing draconian curfews only means that people party through the night until it’s legal to go home, even if they’re wholly incapable by then of driving.
This Easter will be a far cry from last year, when our CBDs looked more like sets from the Walking Dead. We will be free to move about, to pray, visit people or even go out for a drink – we just can’t have raucous private parties. There’s even a vaccine plan.
That’s right, Ramaphosa’s government has apparently secured enough vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to inoculate about 41 million South Africans, starting this month. The government is also in talks apparently with Sinopharm, Sinovac and Sputnik V.
If you listen to the clamour, which in fairness changes tack depending on the mood of the trolls, you’d think there was no plan – or that the government was pandering to Western manufacturers because: colonialism.
You’d think the government was hell-bent on bringing the economy to its knees – or on speed dial with Johann Rupert’s WMC to fire the RET-istas/ get Bafana Bafana to lose to Sudan, all depending on what day it is.
You’d think that ‘step aside’ applied to Cyril as much as it did to Ace – and that either were more difficult to dislodge than the Ever Given that had been blocking the Suez Canal until Tuesday.
But if you stop for a moment and just let the dust settle, things don’t appear as bad as the catastrophists would have us believe. Maybe it’ll be easier to get vaccinated in the end than it currently is to get hold of a PlayStation 5 console in this country – even if you can afford it.
Now there’s a thought.
* Ritchie is a former newspaper editor.