Covid-19 forces introspection. A year ago, with the threat of death on a mass scale arriving on these shores, we allowed the state to take more power. Whereas a vocal minority would like us to think otherwise, this is a pandemic that it tackled by cooperation. By helping each other.
The year since has taught us two things: our political class is despicable, disgusting and solely interested in what it can devour; and most people are exhausted but phenomenal.
That first lesson is not a new one.
The ANC, South Africa’s ruling party for a quarter of a century, destroys us with hope.
Enshrined in its plans are all the basic rights we want to see in a democratic socialist country, where corporations work within a framework of bettering everyone else. Where the government exists to improve lives and where we give to help others.
But this year has demonstrated the reality that this party will likely never achieve these ideals.
This past weekend its highest decision-making body, the national executive committee, contorted itself (yet again) to give its powerful secretary general, Ace Magashule, more time to step aside from his duties. This is a man who, the courts will likely show, stripped people of their futures to profit his own power.
We all know his actual sins are far worse. His point, though, is that he sits in an ANC with the likes of Deputy President David Mabuza, who have similar sins marked against their souls.
Magashule will use this time to further break the ANC, freezing it in inaction, at a time when the country is being crushed by all manner of crises.
The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, this month also doubled down on its shift back to the white. It fought for Afrikaans at Stellenbosch while campuses elsewhere saw the state brutalising students. It asked for the lockdown to end so people could evict tenants.
Its real leader, Helen Zille, trumpeted the release of her book about tackling “woke” culture.
How can it be that our hope for an opposition is a party that copy-pastes clichés and thinking from the worst of the West?
Let’s not talk about the Economic Freedom Fighters. Like many in the ANC, its leaders should be in jail. At the very least, they should do the honourable thing and stand down, rather than pontificate through their hypocrisy.
The vast majority of people are brilliant. We are exhausted, scared, hurt, overwhelmed, heartsore, sick and disillusioned. But in this past year people have helped each other.
So many of us are still here thanks to the kindness of others.
Let’s keep the faith. And with elections looming, let’s also remember that this is our country and we can demand better of our leaders.