Today, 26 March 2022 marks two full years of South Africa's 21 day lockdown announced by the government back in March 2020. Back then there was a serious amount of concern about what the lockdown would entail and how it would affect us all.

Initially there was broad support for the lockdown despite the fact that before it started there had been no local Covid related deaths and infection rates were minimal. 

However all that good will was blown out of the water in a single moment that turned most of the population against the government. Having been told by the Health Minister that we would be able to exercise and walk our dogs during the lockdown, the very next day the now generally despised and ridiculed Police Minister then firmly slapped down his colleague, and told us that not only could we not exercise or walk our dogs but that alcohol sales were also to be banned.

In that single moment the government lost a huge amount of goodwill!

Then, just two weeks in to our 21 day lockdown the govt extended it by another 14 days.

A further loss of goodwill followed and this was then compounded month on month as the National State of Disaster was extended time and again, with no public or cross-party consultation.

The context for this shouldn't be forgotten, South Africa had the strictest lockdown of any country outside of communist China! Not a bad achievement for a fledgling democracy.

We were thrown various bones of encouragement along the lines of the govt eventually clarifying their five levels of lockdown and eventually moving us down to Level 4 on the 1st of May that year, though in reality all this change meant was that we could now exercise outside for limited time outside of a strict curfew. 

On the 1st of June, the Constitutional Court ruled that Levels 4 & 3 were unconstitutional and gave the govt 14 days to reply, but still nothing changed and no consultation was offered. We were thrown a further bone on 25 May when were were promised Level 3 from June 1st, which allowed most economic activity to recommence but not bars, restaurants, hairdressers etc. 

All in all the cost and fallout from this was catastrophic and as a church running a regular feeding programme we still see the tragic consequences of all this. Sadly, unlike the UK and other more advanced economies, there was no furlough scheme for workers and the promised help for the neediest never materialised.

It's good to remember the history behind the lockdown, especially as we know it is ending on the 16th of April as the National State of Disaster is allowed to lapse. And this is not an anti-lockdown post (though it may read as if it were), rather it's and anti how the govt behaved and reacted as a dictatorship with no regard for the weakest and most vulnerable.

All I can say in that regard is thank God for the local church! Many of these amazing communities excelled themselves and reached out to care for and love the most vulnerable.

Personally, I feel immensely privileged to have pastored The Gathering through this debacle and am in awe of God's provision throughout.


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