South Africa: The Unseemly Sight of Ministers Expecting Special Treatment While the Poor Suffer

opinion

Politicians in South Africa are not just tone-deaf -- they firmly believe that they are above the law in South Africa. This attitude comes at a time when ordinary citizens are being asked to make extraordinary sacrifices.

It's a rainy Saturday and the waste-pickers living in shacks in Newtown, Johannesburg, are hungry and cold. One man, their "leader", is being interviewed by Lindokuhle Xulu for television news. A tall man, his face tells a story of resignation. One suspects that he learned long ago to numb the pain of displacement and hunger.

In terms of the lockdown, waste-pickers are not allowed to operate. Usually, they are responsible for much of the recycling in the suburbs. This earns them a meagre wage.

In this little shack land, the waste-pickers would go hungry were it not for interventions by an array of modern-day Good Samaritans. During the interview, the "leader" says he understands why the lockdown is necessary. In the background a man moves about on crutches, perhaps hoping that this interview, this brief spotlight on their circumstances, might bring respite.

Life is so much harder when you're poor

When the lockdown was announced, President Ramaphosa appealed to our sense of patriotism....

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