Social scientists’ views on Covid-19 in Southern Africa (8)

A township in Kayamandi, a suburb in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Photo by Derek Tam. Taken on April 1, 2010. No modifications have been made. CC BY-SA 2.0. 

Since the beginning of the epidemic, implementing lockdown and ‘social distancing’ seems to be a real challenge in the economic and social context of South African townships.

The outright imitation of measures taken elsewhere (China, Korea, European countries…) raises insoluble problems in the country’s poorest neighbourhoods. Godfrey Maringira pleads for a different approach : more realistic, less stigmatising and, above all, more effective.

Godfrey Maringira is an Associate professor of Anthropology at Sol Plaatje University, Kimberley, South Africa.

In any case, in southern Africa as in many other countries, the Covid-19 epidemic has acted as a powerful indicator (and even accelerator?) of social inequalities, shedding a brutal light on the situation of the most fragile populations. Will the safety net put in place in South Africa be maintained beyond the end of the crisis? This is the question asked in a forum signed by Hannah J. Dawson and Elizaveta Fouksman.

Hannah J. Dawson is an anthropologist and post-doctoral fellow at the Society, Work & Politics Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Elizaveta Fouksman has a PhD in International Development. She is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford, based at the African Studies Centre at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies.