South Africa: A Pledge to Build Unity and Solidarity During a Global Crisis


This virus does not distinguish on the basis of nationality, and all within our borders have a role to play in its containment, and a right to be treated equally under the law.

Last week we noted with disappointment that at a press conference during which Cabinet ministers detailed plans for the 21-day lockdown, Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that during this period, only spaza shops owned by South Africans would be allowed to function, to ensure that the quality of food that is sold can be "assured".

This is offensive, discriminatory and exactly how xenophobic sentiment and violence are fuelled in South Africa. The minister expressed a prejudicial view, in these comments, that spaza shops owned by foreign nationals sell food that does not meet health and quality standards, without a shred of supporting evidence. This othering fuels toxicity, and goes against the spirit of ubuntu that we as people living in South Africa have witnessed and engaged in over the last few weeks, under the leadership of the president as he called for cooperation, collaboration and common action in dealing with Covid-19.

We note with relief that the official regulations published on Thursday regarding the implementation...

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