Ronald Lamola. Picture: SOWETAN/MDUDUZI NDZINGI.
Ronald Lamola. Picture: SOWETAN/MDUDUZI NDZINGI.

When I was reflecting on the debates around the usefulness of the extended lockdown, I was reminded of a response by justice minister Ronald Lamola to Julius Malema, when he stated that it is the will of the people that counts in a democracy. What this means in governance terms is that the government listens and does exactly what the people want.

The prevailing opinion at present is that people are fearful about the prospects of being unemployed during this lockdown period and want the government to do something about it. The minority view, held by the privileged few in our society, which blames poor people for not abiding by the unbearable lockdown restrictions, is unsustainable.

The reality is that a government that practises democracy as a form of governance needs to come up with a way to address what the people want. If the government keeps dismissing the will of the people and listens to only a few privileged individuals with guaranteed salaries and consultancy fees, we are headed for a crisis of governance.

Managing the affairs of the nation on behalf of the people is not a theoretical exercise based on models projected by experts on what is good or bad for the country. It is the people who decide what is good or bad for them, not anyone else. The fact that people are saying they do not want to go hungry is not a matter of theory in governance, but a practical reality.

The government can come up with the best and most intelligent models of lockdowns developed by people who go to bed with full stomachs at night, but it will never change the fact that starvation will bring about a crisis of governance in this country.

Lazola Vabaza
Via e-mail