Covid vs. Democracy: South Africa’s Lockdown Misfire

Issue Date October 2020
Volume 31
Issue 4
Page Numbers 106-21
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In March 2020, South Africa’s government imposed a severe lockdown in response to the covid-19 pandemic. The economic and social costs of the lockdown—coming on top of preexisting unemployment, poverty, hunger, and deep inequality—resulted in strong pressures on the government to ease it just as the pandemic accelerated, especially in June and July. The combination of pandemic and lockdown exposed anew incompetent state institutions (with limited capacity to deliver key services), poor leadership (through an entrenched dominant party mired in corruption), a largely supine Parliament, and weak opposition parties. The courts and civil society have played important but insufficient roles in holding the executive to account.

About the Authors

Nicoli Nattrass

Nicoli Nattrass is professor of economics at the University of Cape Town.

View all work by Nicoli Nattrass

Jeremy Seekings

Jeremy Seekings is professor of political studies and sociology, and director of the Centre for Social Science Research, at the University of Cape Town.

View all work by Jeremy Seekings