National Disaster extension is reminiscent of garlic and beetroot days


Like many of my fellow South Africans I’m shocked, but not that surprised, by the decision of the cabinet — or is it the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) that has been running the Republic for two years? — to extend the State of National Disaster for another month.

Despite earlier promises by the head of state that life under disaster regulations would soon be coming to an end, Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed off on another month of ruling South Africa by decree earlier in the week.

The rest of the world is, rightly, dumping the Covid-19 regulations and getting on with life. At least it is in those countries where there are declining infection and death rates.

Our medical establishment recommends that we do the same. Unfortunately, we’re back in the zone where the experts — the doctors and scientists — are recommending one thing and the government is doing another; clinging to a position that’s quite clearly outdated, wrongly, just because they can.

Garlic and beetroot, anyone?

Maybe the members of the NCCC are angry with South Africans, because of the ANC’s loss of power in so many parts of the country in last November’s local government elections, and reckon we should stay broke and continue to make us suffer for as long as possible.


Perhaps it’s a liking for the additional power that comes with the disaster regulations — the ability to rule by edict, to make stuff up as you go along and force it on the public, just because you can — that sparked this week’s extension.

Perhaps it’s an exercise to buy time while working out a way of holding onto some of that power beyond the lifting of the regulations; or something way less cynical but just as problematic — an inability to respond to changing conditions.

Perhaps the NCCC will keep the monthly extensions going until the governing party’s provincial and regional conferences are completed in June — there will be way less chair throwing and venue storming this way — or even until Cyril Ramaphosa gets his second term as ANC president in December.

Stranger things have happened.

Whatever the reason for the extension this week, it’s the wrong call.

Think about it.

Russia and Ukraine are fighting a war — tanks, rockets, infantry all over the place — not a mask in sight, not a mention of Covid-19.

The rest of the planet is seized with the new catastrophe unfolding in front of them, where we are another month of masks, football on TV only and no call bets in the casino, courtesy of the NCCC.

We thank you.

Like many of my fellow South Africans — and millions of humans around the world — I’m wondering whether Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been wearing the same military T-shirt every day since the Russian army invaded his country three weeks ago.

I’m also wondering if Voldy’s olive drab BVD is Ukrainian army bog standard — the same as the troops on the frontline are wearing — or whether that cross on the left breast signifies some high-end East European clothing brand, or even his own.

Does Zelenskiy wear, wash and repeat; or does he have a full-on wardrobe section that moves with him and the make-up and cameras from broadcast to broadcast, bunker to bunker.

What was Voldy thinking, wanting to join Nato and have the United States set up more forward bases — and rockets — on Russia’s border?

What did Voldy expect Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to do in response: invite him over for a couple of cold voddies and a bowl of borscht; a roll in the snow and a sauna?

I guess that’s what happens when your head of state is a comedian.

I heard that our own camouflage clown — Carl Niehaus — was keeping so quiet in recent weeks because he had led a detachment to Ukraine in support of the Russian army as former president Jacob Zuma’s special envoy; an Afrikaner Chuck Norris.

Word on the street had it that Carlito and the Ziyakhala Brigade had delayed the Russian advance of Kyiv for two weeks because they had stopped to loot the bottle stores and department stores around Chernobyl, but I had just written that off as factional propaganda.

It turns out that the Zeerust Zhukov was being purged by the department of military veterans database cleansing and verification committee for passing himself off as a military veteran, as opposed to a political prisoner.

Not the outcome Niehaus would have wanted — unnecessary, but inevitable.

We make it make sense

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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