Let’s face it, 2021, much to the dismay of millions of our people – seems to be a repeat of last year. Much of the same hangovers suffered last year carry over into the 2021 Season of ‘Surviving’ South Africa. Even though we welcomed this new decade, one year in and already South Africans (the tribe) are once again bearing the brutal brunt of our government’s inefficiency, lack of innovation and more of the same old issues we fight year-on-year.
Besides the difficulties of trying to contain the spread of the deadly Coronavirus, introduced to us in March of Season 2020, we now have a new South African variant of the virus – which has been spreading like wildfire – to contend with.
This grim ‘reality series’ continues in 2021. However, it’s now coupled with our inability to properly plan and secure a vaccine. Some of us are lucky enough to watch many of our counterparts in the developing world inoculate their populations, but we also have limited screen time, losing at least two hours a day due to Eskom and its never-ending challenge, load-shedding. Eskom, the villain that undermines any and all efforts of our tribe to rebuild our economy, despite just having the one simple job of keeping our lights on.
Our hospitals remain ill-prepared for the worst, and injuries can get pretty grim. Healthcare in our country is in shambles. Far too many of us cannot afford R850 for a Covid-19 test, and many are scared of getting the virus at our public healthcare facilities. The Social Relief of Distress Grant for the unemployed, which stands at R350/month, means it would take a minimum of three months to save up to get tested.
Our host, President Cyril Ramaphosa, was so proud of having an empty trauma unit at one of the top hospitals in our country on 1 January this year, that it got mentioned in ‘tribal council’ also fondly referred to as our’ family meeting’ – together with the decision to shut down the sale, consumption, and distribution of alcohol. Yes, the trauma units being empty is something to celebrate. However, we cannot be proud of shutting down industries, due to the lack of personal responsibility in our consumption of alcohol, while at the same time we march on for jobs and a better life. We must do better. We must find a better balance.
Frontline workers, the members of the tribe most revered for their selfless sacrifice in saving lives, continuously fear for their own lives – partly because many of the personal protective equipment (PPE) tenders got bungled. Corruption once again seeped in. So too, does the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, led by Judge Zondo, continue. Hopefully, there will be some closure this year as Judge Zondo and his legal experts’ team are expected to deliver a final report to the President.
Then there are the unions. Their multiple pleas and fights for workers’ rights and justice continue. This time around, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) has stepped up and is now calling for a moratorium on retrenchments amid the adjusted level 3 restrictions. They are concerned about the impact on the tourism, personal care, entertainment, and hospitality sectors. These sectors are still reeling from the effects of levels 4 and 5, among the main challenges in Season 2020 of ‘Surviving’ South Africa.
To add to these challenges, National Treasury announced it is considering raising taxes as one of several mechanisms to fund the vaccination drive when it finally reaches our glorious shores – which are empty too, as beachgoers are prohibited from dipping their toes in the sand.
That’s the wrap, all sectors of our society (tribes) are unhappy and outraged over the myriad of decisions our government is taking.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. We have so much to be hopeful for, besides our planned Census and getting counted by StatsSA; we will be taking our frustrations to the polls. This year’s elections will hopefully see a better youth turnout participating in our Local Government Elections, and we hope for better representation. I am sure the usual Covid-19 T’s and C’s will still apply at the IEC polling stations, either August, October or November, whichever date is promulgated by the President.
Let’s hope he announces this in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in February. I’m almost certain we can cut expenses significantly for this event, as a social media live broadcast of another ‘family meeting’ costs nothing, compared to a glamorous, well-attended, in-person SONA. There is no reason for our public representatives to get dolled up and strut their designer wear on a red carpet when thousands are mourning the loss of their loved ones, and millions still face abject poverty and hunger.
I urge you all to tune-in to Season 2021 of ‘Surviving’ South Africa, where overtaxed, underpaid, stressed and strained South Africans try to bear it all, and yet still make their votes count, in pursuit of the dream for a ‘better life for all’. We have been through a lot, and we are possibly the most resilient nation on the world stage.
Yaseen Carelse (27), is the Head of Media and Communications for the Inkatha Freedom Party in Parliament.