This morning, it's not good weather in Johannesburg. It's a bit of grey, a prelude to the southern winter probably.
The outlook hasn't changed much. In its forecast, the South African government expected the country to see between 4,000 and 6,000 cases. These were the numbers. We are far below for now.
That doesn't mean much at the moment. The next two weeks will be decisive and everything could suddenly change. The government works on the basis of the alarmist scenario. Nearly 80,000 hospital beds have been released. A massive campaign of tests will be launched next week. About 45,000 tests have already taken place. This will probably not be enough when the alarm rings.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has looked at the pandemic's potential impact on African governments. In my opinion, they neglect a major fact. African tyrannical regimes have often used chaos as one of the most effective ways to break through the rules of civil society to augment their power. After a long time of breaking down the rules and safeguards of society to keep themselves in power, will they be able, this time, to kill mass death itself?
If the virus forces Africa to close the oil wells and rushes a tax crisis, we will face the most radical unexpected situation since decolonization.
Achille Mbembe is a Cameroonian philosopher, political theorist, and public intellectual. He has held appointments at Columbia University, the Brookings Institution, Yale University and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa. He is a contributor to Public Culture. His essay "The Age of Humanism is Ending" went viral after the election of Donald J. Trump.
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