Staypozi, Cyril’s new TV serial

Tuesday.

It’s nearly midnight.

I’ve been up since about 4am, but I’m still wide awake.

Wired.

Continuous confinement will do that.


So will covering late evening announcements of R500-billion economic stimulus packages by the head of state in the middle of a global pandemic.

Between the two, I’m very far away from hitting the bed.

At least I’m not hungry.

I cooked a roast chicken while I waited for the commander in chief to do his thing. All the whining about the ban on Woolies selling roast chickens made me crave one. Mine was bangin’, lovely and spicy and crisp on the outside, juicy inside, served with beautiful golden roast potatoes and braised baby spinach.

It was easy to prepare. Wash the chicken, season it, place it on a tray surrounded with potatoes and bung it in an oven preheated to 220°C for about an hour. No drama. Way better than Woolies. And nobody had to risk their life to cook it for me or serve it.

The president’s announcement was timely, and completely necessary, even if he did depart from the “my fellow South Africans” intro that he’s been using since his first announcement of the state of national disaster last month. He referred to us as “compatriots”.

Perhaps that’s his groove: my fellow South Africans when it’s bad news; compatriots when it’s good. Compatriots on Tuesday, fellow South Africans on Thursday or Sundays.

Perhaps.

Perhaps I’m just bored.

Cave sick.

The rescue package will help though, particularly because all indications are that the lockdown is going to continue, even if some conditions are lifted, for a good few months. The infection numbers are pointing towards it.

So is the money.

The head of state didn’t announce the plan to make the new social grant and unemployment payments over a six-month period because he’s planning to lift the lockdown on April 30.

I’m expecting an incremental easing of the conditions of the lockdown, with periodic announcements to extend it.

In instalments, or episodes, much like a TV series.

Serial Ratherstaypozi.

I’m digging the bailout, even if the president didn’t give us a cannabis grant, to tide the people over until the lines of supply reopen.

Think about it.

There’s something ironically groovy about Ratherstaypozi going to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for a loan to essentially fund a welfare state in South Africa.

For six months.

Who’d have thunk?

I wonder how we’re going to pay for all of this? R500-billion is a fair amount of cash, and we’re just getting started. This package is only aimed at getting us through the pandemic and its immediate aftermath. Rebuilding the economy is going to require more intervention and the loans will have to be repaid.

Perhaps we can start charging Swaziland rent.

And Lesotho.

Perhaps.

Lesotho’s police minister, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, has taken a rather different approach to his South African counterpart, Bheki Cele, when it comes to enforcing abstinence from alcohol during lockdown.

While Cele has been running around South Africa enforcing the booze ban as part of the lockdown, threatening to turn us into a permanently dry nation, Moramotse was breaking his country’s alcohol prohibition. He was caught on camera buying liquor illegally.

Most South Africans — the drinking ones anyhow — would be pretty keen to swap Moramotse for Ndosi at this stage of the lockdown, given his avowed disdain for the demon drink.

I gave my last two quarts of beer to my better half. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I regretted it immediately afterwards. She has a stock of ciders and wine, and has been dealing with the bottle of whisky I laid in for the lockdown, but wanted beer. I wasn’t keen to risk running into Cele and his heavies at a roadblock — or pay mad prices — so I did the sensible thing and surrendered the two ingudus.

Once they’re done, they’re done.

She’ll have to make do with what is left in the house until Ratherstaypozi and Cele open the taps again.

I still haven’t seen any soldiers in the streets of Glenwood. Perhaps that will change, given the president’s call-up of 73000 South African National Defence Force members, the reserve force and the auxiliary force. That’s a lot of soldiers, so I’m hoping for at least a foot patrol in my neighbourhood before this is all over.

I’ve been through quite a few roadblocks since the lockdown started, most of them this week, after the army and police started enforcing it more strictly in Durban and the rest of KwaZulu-Natal.

I haven’t been asked for my permit yet, despite all the roadblocks.

Not once.

Perhaps I have an official face, with essential services written all over it.

Perhaps it’s just white privilege, even at the height of the pandemic.

Perhaps.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.
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