(I came across the letter on Facebook, and the below is a comment I made on that post, in response to the letter)
If I am to use the structure of the letter, I’d like to outline my demographic as well.
I am 34-year old black man, living in the township, not as successful as Mike, but we are getting there. As a black man, I think I know a thing or two about hard work, to get to where I am. As a black man, I sure face harsher obstacles than Mike. These are the unfortunate facts of our country. Emotions aside, it is a know fact that a black man next to a white man are separated by the invisible social and economical permanently widened gap. My hard work is relentless based on trying to close this gap, before I could even think of material and financial surplus. We come a long way. There are levels to this concept of hard work.
The above is to provide perspective and a point of view that whilst it may seem that as South Africans we want the same thing, we don’t speak from the same vantage point. This is a critical point to note and not be brushed aside. When I look back at where I come compared to where I am now (nowhere near where Mike is), I sometimes stare at the mirror in awe.
With regards to my political views, just because I’m black doesn’t mean that I support the ANC or EFF. I have frankly lost all hope in all politics, it doesn’t matter what colour – they are all the same. The DA, ANC, EFF, all them, full of incompetence and lack of leadership. When it comes to politics, there is no better party.
Coronavirus is not a political issue, it’s a health issue (which makes it our issue as civilians)
The Coronavirus is not a political issue, it is a health issue that unfortunately falls squarely on the laps of Government. With that said, the Government plays a critical role in helping us curb the spread.
Whilst the points raised about an active economy are true, opening the economy alone is not sufficient. It needs to be supported with measures that will reduce infection rates.
What’s the point of having an active economy with sick people and people dying? The economy is not money, it is made up of people. No people, no economy. No people, no life. No life, no point.
We need balance, not an extreme of either side
It is not to the Government to keep the infection level rates down, it is up to the people. Not the Government.
There’s a quote which I like, which states; “The virus doesn’t travel, people do”.
We cannot simply advocate for the economy, we have to balance those demands with the health of people.
Now is not a time to be pointing fingers
As mentioned above, I am not a fan of any political party. The last President who I had hope in was Thabo Mbeki. The ANC has failed its people dismally. With a few success stories here and there, but overall, they have failed our economy, our health system, and our education, they have literally failed in every aspect. They have failed our people. They have failed me. They have failed my parents. They failed my grand parents. I wish they had this vigour and zeal from the first second of our new democracy.
With that said, I am still able to discern the difference between their 26 years of dismal leadership and what is happening now.
I don’t like the ANC, but it is utterly unfair to judge them on how they have handled the Coronavirus pandemic. I don’t even like President Ramaphosa – he is not one of my favourite presidents; (In my personal definition of leadership) he is not an ideal leader, but I do recognize his leadership during this time. We should not judge the Government for how they have handled this situation against their everyday leadership. The Coronavirus, as it has been dubbed, is novel, and therefore nobody really has experience on this, therefore, we cannot and shouldn’t point fingers. We are even lucky that our leaders have handled this situation the way they have. Other countries are in devastation (edit: South America is busy digging 300 000 man holes to bury those who are going to perish – whilst we instead prepared healthcare facilities at Nasrec).
The lockdown was not only to prepare for the worst, it was primarily to AVOID it. Our Government has done well, given all factors and circumstances.
What economy are we opening, and for who?
The economy that Mike is advocating to be opened for the poor, in my view, is the same economy that has never been about the poor. The economy only uses the poor as cheap labour so the rich can get richer. We can look at the inequality stats if the above is found to be untrue.
So for me, people’s need to exercise, smoke and drink is quite shallow frankly.
If the economy was really concerned about the people and we really wanted to end poverty, the so called economy would pay the poor better. If the economy that we are so desperate to open is the same one that exploited the poor, never cared about the working class, and it is still going to maintain the status quo of the majority of black people in the economic state that we are in, then this economy can stay closed a little while longer. Why? Because it never really solved poverty to begin with, so I don’t see how opening it now will solve for poverty. It failed to do so in the past 26 years.