Politicians declare truce in the ‘war’ against Covid-19 for local polls


It’s a beautiful day in Durban. 

The rain is gone and the sun is out:  the bins are emptied, the taps are running and the power is on — for now.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan must have gotten tired of trying to join the dots in the dark.

With less than 24 hours to go until voting begins, the campaign for the 2021 local government elections is — thankfully — almost over, formally at least, with only a smattering of rallies on the go.

Party leaders will try to squeeze out a last few fistbumps, hugs and clicks — and hopefully votes — through the second day of special voting; “inspections” at polling stations and guest appearances at places of worship that they haven’t visited since 2019: but by now they’ve pretty much shot their shot when it comes to wooing the voting public.

There’s still some telephone hustling to do, but now the main focus on the part of the parties is to make sure their machine is suitably oiled and ready to get their people to the polls on Monday morning and to keep them flowing to the voting stations until they close at 9pm.

Like most of my fellow South Africans, I’m wondering how long it will take before we’re moved back to level three, four or five of the Covid-19 lockdown, given the number of superspreader events the politicians have convened in the run up to voting day.

My money is on the increase in the number of infections being deemed as “”manageable”’ just long enough for the horse-trading between the ANC and the other parties to be concluded and to get the newly elected councillors onto the Persal system — the personal and salary system, used for the administration of the public service payroll — so that their November pay cheques are sorted before we get locked down again.

All of a sudden, the “war” against Covid-19 appears to have been suspended — a unilateral temporary cessation of hostilities  — by the powers that be.

Politicians who spent most of the last year telling us to stay at home and avoid mass gatherings to keep the number of infections down have spent  most of the past two weeks — two months, actually — invading people’s homes with a horde of minders and hangers on in tow and convening mass public  gatherings and calling on people to not stay at home but to get out there and mingle.

Let’s see if they’re so willing to hug grannies and kiss babies this time in December if the Covid-19 figures — and the body count — rises.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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