South Africa: Confronting the Bantustan Epidemic in the Face of a Global Pandemic


If the rallying cry from left movements globally is that Covid-19 is simply a virus in the face of capitalism, then we, rural people, must affirm the statement's truth in this way: the Bantustan endemic in post-1994 South Africa will usher us more quickly to our deaths in the face of a global Covid-19 pandemic.

We watched how poor planning, underdevelopment and erasure of rural people from meaningful citizenship determined the fate of our families and communities at the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We watched how our families were sent back to the Bantustans to die; how those of us who never left died still, because of underfunding of clinics and hospitals as well as the negation, in any meaningful way, of targeted interventions for social and behavioural changes.

We never mattered. Not more than a footnote, a "by the way", an afterthought. We are seeing another iteration of this in the time of Covid-19.

The government's enforcement of a national lockdown without any integrated plan for rural South Africa (save for limiting movement by closing the provincial borders, and adding the traditional leaders to the list of essential services), has confirmed our fears. Are we ready, finally, to...

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