History has proven that psychologists were the chief engineers of people’s oppression across the world. Think of Adolf Hitler’s trusted Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, or Henry Joseph Gardner in the United States of America. The indelible marks that these men left continue to have a massive impact in present-day Germany and the US respectively. In South Africa, it was also a psychologist who engineered a system that continues to grapple the democratic society almost three decades since the rise of democratic rule and the end of white apartheid rule.
In this period of the government’s national lockdown, Hendrik Verwoerd’s evil plan of creating economic privilege based on skin colour is evidently clear and one can also argue that it became more visible even before the announcement of lockdown was made. Even before President Cyril Ramaphosa took to the podium at the Union Buildings to announce a 21-day national lockdown, there were massive stock purchases made by a certain group of people in what many cautioned as panic buying. People bought groceries that could last them for over six months, while the majority of the people were still trying to secure their last pay-cheque before going into a full freeze of the country’s economic activities.
Fast forward to level 4 of lockdown where the country currently finds itself in, there have been a lot of people, mostly prominent individuals and politicians who want to play with the minds of many poor South Africans all in the name of speaking on behalf of them. The most contentious debate continues to be when will the government end lockdown and allow the full resumption of economic activities. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has since gone to court to force Ramaphosa’s government to end lockdown entirely.
The DA claims to be representing ‘the people’ in its bid to challenge the government’s long measures of flattening the curve against the deadly Coronavirus. The debate that has since emerged is who are ‘the people’ the DA through its leader John Steenhuisen are referring to.
Are these the poor masses who rely on food parcels from the government, and have no medical aid?
Or is it those who have managed to stockpile even before the announcement of the lockdown was made?
The ones who are still financially stable even after almost two months of no work but still have better access to world-class health facilities in the country?
It certainly cannot be the former that Steenhuisen is speaking for because even when the conditions are bad for the majority of poor people, many will not want to risk their lives by being admitted into dysfunctional public hospitals. Steenhuisen, in this case, represents what many white progressives have done since the dawn of democracy, which is, placing themselves in the oppression of poor people for their own selfish gains. It can easily be argued that Steenhuisen represents his party donors as suggested by his political foes and not the marginalized and economically disenfranchised. Politicians like him should desist from using the current conditions of poor people as a political tool to get one over their political rivals. The economy is the people and if this virus wipes all the people, they will be no economy to speak about.