Why Is The Government Not Listening To Their Experts?

So, if you remember, at the beginning of this pandemic, the government did three things. Number One – Institute the Lockdown, Number Two –  Prevent any information from the pandemic, and the Lockdown, coming from any other source, other than the government, and Number Three – They said that they are listening to expert advice, and will relay that advice to the public.

Then, the regulations started coming out, and then we thought to ourselves; As South Africans, well; what does alcohol have to do with the pandemic? What does e-commerce have to do with a pandemic? Very little actually, but since we didn’t have the information at hand, we couldn’t make an educated decision. Why did the government ban cigarettes, alcohol, e-commerce during the lockdown? Last week, Friday, something very interesting happened.

A member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee spoke out, and her name is Dr Glenda Gray, she is both a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee and the Chairperson of the South African Medical Research Council. And then she goes on to say the lockdown should be ended immediately, and the non-pharmaceutical interventions like washing, hand sanitizing, et cetera, et cetera. takes its place.

Now, I am very curious. Why does Professor Glenda Gray think it’s a good idea to speak to the public when she is actually prohibited from doing so? And there are a few clues as to why this is the case. According to her, there have been malnutrition cases seen in hospitals. This hasn’t been seen in decades. She also says the month to month phasing out the lockdown has no basis in science and many lockdown regulations, seemingly. thumb-sucks. If you’ve been paying attention, none of these things are surprises, because the hospitals are basically empty, since there has been no surge in Covid-19.

And, the lockdown hasn’t shown that many people go hungry. Child malnutrition is coming back into the South African health sector, this hasn’t been seen in decades. No doubt, when she says that some of the regulations were thumb-sucks, we are thinking about the obvious ones, alcohol, the ability to buy only closed-toe shoes, but not t-shirts. 

It’s all a mess, and everyone understands that it’s nonsense. So why is Professor Gray talking to the public? My suspicion is that she thinks the government is not actually paying attention to the experts they employed to deal with this pandemic. I can’t see any other reason for Professor Gray’s utterances to the public in this regard, and if that is the case, there is a clear indication that the lockdown phasing out process has absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic at hand. 

However, the chairperson of MAC, Prof Salim Karim, said it is not true that the government has ignored advice on the issue. However, Gray says as scientists, they give the government good advice, as to why they don’t heed that advice is not known at all. Why have experts if you don’t really care what they think? Another member of MAC, called Mark Mendelson, said lockdown in its current form is doing more harm than good and given the resource constraints on the country, we need to refocus the central tenant of prevention on the non-therapeutic interventions earlier described while opening up the economy quicker. 

 So, based on what we see there, it appears that MAC and most members of MAC are saying: Open up the economy or go down to lockdown level one immediately. This is causing more harm than good. 

The health minister came out after the fact, and said the following: 

“In terms of rising infections, they still justify the lockdown; but, from the point of view of balancing the benefit, that won’t make a lot of difference. But from the point of view of economic activity, you can’t just do a lockdown, you must do other things.”

So, it appears that the government wants to end the lockdown, in some way, but in terms of the new infections, the lockdown is actually justified. It seemingly appears that the government is not listening to its own experts. So, out of sheer desperation, those experts are talking to the media, despite not being allowed to do so.

And the economic implications of that lockdown is scientific and is well within the realm of a scientist to understand because a scientist understands viruses, and not being able to buy open-toe shoes, has nothing to do with viruses. I think that’s fairly certain unless of course, you have a BA in Art (like Ebrahim Patel).

The Heroic Bravery Of Collins Khoza’s Family

If you have watched this channel for the past few weeks, you know about the case of Collins Khosa. Collins Khosa was a man living in Alexandria and he was beaten to death by the SANDF. His family has asked the court to prescribe a code of conduct for the SANDF and the police, especially in times of disaster management. Thankfully they won the case and in the judgment, the judge said that the code of conduct must be published in newspapers, as well as on social media, and just to prove the point is a little bit more strongly; the judge ordered that the guidelines must be issued about enforcing social distancing, and the restriction of movement and other activities during each stage of the lockdown. These guidelines must include when a person may be arrested, as well as alternative means of securing their attendance at their trial.

Furthermore, the judge ordered that all SANDF members who were present at the Khosa’s home that day, or adjacent to his premises, must be placed on suspension – with full pay, within five days. This is pending an outcome into an investigation of his death. And lastly, the judge ordered that the ministers of the police, and SANDF as well as the entire chain of command, had to warn their members within five days,that any failure to report, repress, and prevent acts of torture or inhumane treatment of people should expose them individually to criminal, civil, or disciplinary sanctions. The judge said he wanted these affidavits within seven days from these ministers, as to whether this was done. 

This is a phenomenal judgment, for a variety of reasons. There’s never been a remedy under South African law, as to what happens under the State of Emergency, or State of National Disaster. What happens if, the police or the army abuse citizens? What if the SANDF kills people during this time, what remedies were available?

Well, according to the law; nothing at all. It took Collins Khoza’s family, to go to court, to get a remedy, and the remedy is a code of conduct, and if the police or SANDF breached their code of conduct, they shall be exposed to criminal, civil, and disciplinary sanctions.  I tip my hat, to the call of the family, in this regard. They’ve created accountability and transparency, in a time when the government does not want any of that. And thankfully, the High Court, in this regard, was on the side of the constitution and the side of the citizens of South Africa, and I do have this is ratified in the form of legislation.

Cigarette Ban Fail

The cigarette ban has officially failed. According to a study from Cape Town, the researchers found that 90% of respondents had bought cigarettes during the lockdown. Though smokers were still buying cigarettes, many of them were not able to access their regular brand. Spaza Shops scored big in the course of the lockdown because there was an increase in sales of cigarettes, between 34% and 44%. And what do those surveyed feel the most? Anger.

The overwhelming sentiment is one of anger. One of the respondents was an ex-smoker, who had been using an e-cigarette as a quit aid, but said she was not able to access the vaping materials, which led her to start smoking again under the lockdown, and she’s quoted as saying: “I am Master’s level educated. I am more than aware of what smoking does, which is why I stopped smoking originally.” She goes on to say; “I can see no sense in the regulations. I will continue to support the illegal vendors.” 

But then, curiously, the findings suggested the ban has been efficient. I’m not sure what to make of that last statement. If the ban has been efficient, how come 90% of the people can still buy smokes? That doesn’t make sense at all. I suspect the sale of cigarettes and alcohol, were very similar to the eCommerce. It’ll just be unbanned, just like that, by the minister. Without any due recourse and any due explanation. We will see where this goes.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar Zookeeper on May 18, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Thought experiment?

    The ban on the sale of tobacco and alcohol causes significant financial harm to BAT, Distell and SAB InBev.

    With absolutely zero rationale behind the bans, and especially considering the length of time this lockdown is lasting, what is the potential for an ANC cadre takeover of the above three multi-billion Rand enterprises at firesafe prices?

    Think about it, these are the bans which are most visceral for the ordinary person; the ones which are seen (largely) as some kind of collective punishment.

    But there’s another thing:

    Expect all shebeens to have to register with the State to reopen, thus bringing them (along with spaza shops) into the realm of business impossibility which the formal sector has to deal with. At first I thought the was a particularly bad idea, but the more I think about it, the more I want those spaza shops and shebeens to register and then get regulated into purgatory. Let the informal sector feel the wrath of an over-regulating government. If anything is going to collapse the ANC, its regulating the informal sector!

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