South Africa: Excessive Force During the Lockdown Will Fuel Civic Disobedience

opinion

South Africa needs to restore trust in public institutions if the country is to properly contain the spread of the coronavirus.

With the president's announcement on Sunday 15 March imploring South Africans to be proactive about protecting themselves against the coronavirus, it is worth reflecting on our civic culture as a people and how South Africans mobilise as a nation. One of the challenges in getting South Africans to mobilise is that a weakness in our civic culture involves an inherent distrust and disregard for authority.

This comes as a result of the high levels of corruption in government and the lack of accountability, failing and underperforming public service institutions, crime which plagues society and erodes faith in the police, along with persistently high levels of unemployment and low or even negative economic growth. All of this creates disregard for the government and erodes public trust.

This drives a culture of civil disobedience. A prime example is that of e-tolls and the crippling levels of non-compliance that have plagued this system since its introduction. From the very day of its inception, there was a payment revolt against e-tolls and it continues to this day. The government has been unable to...

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