President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

A number of South Africans are becoming gatvol of 'draconian control'

By David Biggs Time of article published May 21, 2020

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It must be wonderful to live in a country where the government treats its citizens like adults. I am filled with admiration when I read how the Swedish government has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost alone in the world the Swedes decided against locking their country down. They studied the available facts about the new disease and told their people how to stay as safe as possible - wear a mask in public, keep your distance, wash your hands, sanitise and stay away from crowds. If practical, stay at home.

The only rule they insisted on was a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more. Then it was up to the people of Sweden to behave responsibly. And they did. They didn’t need to call out the army and be herded about at the point of a gun like criminals.

They knew the dangers and acted accordingly. As a precaution, the Swedish government set up a 500-bed military field hospital outside Stockholm in case things got really bad.

At the time of writing not one of those beds had been occupied. In contrast our government set up a mysterious “Command Council”, which apparently has the power to overrule the decisions made by the State President. (Think cigarettes). Who are these powerful people and who elected them?

Are they a part of our democratic system of government? What section of our much praised Constitution laid down the rules for the establishment of command councils? Does this command council report to Parliament, or is it above parliamentary control?

When our lockdown was originally announced, I noticed that traffic came to an almost complete halt in Fish Hoek. You could wander across the Main Road safely without having to look left or right. People were obviously staying at home. This week I ventured into town and was surprised to see all the traffic in full (almost) flow again.

I think people have become sceptical about all this draconian control. We’re starting to think like grown-ups again. Maybe like Swedish grown-ups even.

People are asking why it’s necessary to ban surfing at the point of a gun. Is there any possibility of contracting the coronavirus out in the waves? Why are cigarettes banned? Is there any evidence that smoking increases the risk of Covid-19 infection?

From letters in newspapers and comments on the internet it’s clear that the people of this country are becoming (if you’ll excuse the expression) gatvol. Maybe if the authorities put away their guns and asked us politely to act responsibly we’d feel more like part of the solution and less like the enemy.

Last Laugh

In a cinema a woman found herself sitting behind a man with a large dog in the seat next to him.

Every time the movie came to a sad part the dog whimpered softly and when the story took an amusing turn the dog grinned from ear to ear.

After the show the woman tapped the man on the shoulder and said: "I was amazed at the way your dog reacted to the film.”

"Frankly, so was I,” said the man. "He hated the book.”

* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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