Time for a rethink…

We could tell you about the Swedish epidemiologist who believes Covid-19 lockdowns are anti-democratic and dangerous, apart from being largely unnecessary, but you probably don’t want to read about that now, so we won’t.
Or we could give you some comparisons between the government’s best estimates of deaths expected because of Covid-19 and South Africa’s annual death rates for the common ‘flu, traffic accidents, murders and Aids, but you probably don’t want to read about that now, either.
So, whether you’re sick of being confined to your home or smallholding or not, whether you’re seeing your life savings and livelihood evaporate with each passing day, or whether you’ve merely run out of fags and booze, let’s rather do some future gazing to paint a picture of how our world may have changed post this disaster.
A few things become immediately apparent. One is that the effect on the world of the pandemic and the various governments’ responses generally will be profound. Globally, for example, the world economy will shrink at a rate to equal or surpass the Great Depression (which became one of the causes, co-incidentally, of the Second World War). But, the effect on individual national economies will vary, depending on the extent and depth of the individual national lockdown effort, and its individual economic makeup.
In South Africa, for example, the economic effect will be devastating, firstly because of the already weakened economy before the lockdown started, then because of the length and severity of the lockdown itself (five weeks with very limited economic activity, followed by an indeterminate period of continued lockdowns of varying severity) and because certain important sectors of the economy, notably air travel, tourism and hospitality, have effectively been rendered obsolete. Up to 1,2 million workers employed in the tourism and hospitality industries may lose their jobs. That’s devastating, particularly when that number is added to the already huge unemployment figure.
But, both nationally and internationally, there are some good outcomes, too. One can see them all around the world. In China, for example, blue sky was seen over the city of Wuhan for the first time in decades, because the perpetual grimy smog caused by the many factories in the region blew away when the factories were temporarily closed.
In India, the majestic Himalayas could be seen from 30 or more kilometres away for the first time in decades because the air cleared there, too.
In Venice, jellyfish and dolphins were seen swimming in the city’s canals for the first time in decades as the waters went silent because the vaporetti (water taxis) ceased to trade, and the action of the tide brought in clean ocean water.
And oceanographers studying the effect of noise pollution caused by ships’ propellers on sensitive species such as whales have noted a dramatic improvement.
All of these effects (and many more) may, of course, be negated when economies start up again, and factories reopen. But maybe, just maybe, people who have seen the blue sky, the Himalayas and the dolphins in Venice will realise that this is the way the world should be, and will start to fight for such conditions to continue.
Another change that may take place is that nations, South Africa included, may start to rebel against the imperialism of China and that country’s incursions, both subtle and forceful, into the economies of the world.
National governments may see the damage that reliance on Chinese imports for everything from motor vehicles to medical supplies has on employment and industrial activity in their own countries, not to mention on their economies, when supply of goods dries up as the Chinese themselves start closing their factories.
Now, therefore, is the time to use some of the R500 billion that President Ramaphosa is going to dole out to re-equip factories with machinery, retrain workers and restart meaningful small industrial enterprises to make our own clothes, textile products, soft furnishings and shoes.
Local must be made lekker again. Which is your cue as a smallholder to increase your own production of food and produce, and to participate in establishing food markets and exchanges in your area. Growing your own is no longer a quirky luxury. It’s a must.
Moreover, there is no doubt that it’s time for a fundamental reset of the way the world works. A new world order awaits, and it’s up to us as citizens to see that our governments usher it in.