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Comparing lockdowns – a glimpse of South Africa


This article consists of a personal note that South African activist Dale McKinley wrote to us, while wishing us Happy Labour Day. The contents give a good feel, in a handful of words, for what is happening in South Africa. We are publishing it with his permission.

“Dear comrades in LALIT,

“Here in SA I am sure you are largely informed about the rate of infection and deaths (still relatively low all things considered – although clearly the official figures of around 6000 infected and just over 100 deaths are an undercount). The 5 week total lockdown was harsh and even though we just went to stage 4 (from stage 5) the only real changes are on the opening up of more sectors of the economy and the personal allowance to go out of one’s home to walk/jog between 6-9am (alcohol and tobacco remain banned as does the public selling of hot/prepared food – it can be delivered though!!!). 

“Further, we now have a daily curfew from 8pm-5am. There has also been the more recent deployment of over 70 000 SA national defence force personnel (mainly reserves/auxiliary forces) – joining the hundreds of thousands of police and private security force personnel already on the streets. There is little doubt that the pandemic will soon escalate substantially once its permeates the townships and informal settlements and the feeling is that we are going to be in various phases of the lockdown for months to come. 

“As far as left/progressive forces, there has been a pretty good response through the formation of a People’s Coalition (which now consists of over 300 organisations/movements) that is active on many fronts (legal, food, repression, housing, gender-based violence, worker safety etc.) and the activities of many other NGOs, community organisations/networks et al.  There have been some successes in getting government to at least increase some social support for the poor/workers, pushing back degrees of excess when it comes to the drawing up of and implementation of lockdown regulations and a lot of really good localised work to provide food, shelter, PPEs, check security abuses, provide counselling and social support and more.

“This is going to be a long and winding road ahead .. balance, pace and revolutionary patience are called for.

“In struggle,

“Dale McKinley,” [South African political and working class activist]"

Dale enclosed three documents which members and supporters can request us to forward copies of.