To round off the year, here are just a few snippets of stories Elitsha overed this year.
2020 has been a very challenging year for everyone, in South Africa, on the continent and around the world, for the working class and the poor especially. This is the last post for 2019. Covid-19 and the lockdown exposed the inequalities and poverty that exist in South Africa and other parts of the world. Elitsha will be back in the new year to bring you stories that focus on those who do not have power.
In 2020, we brought stories that we think mattered to you and your family on Covid-19 and lockdown under the themes of labour, education, health, and local government.
In the month of January we brought you the story of a school in Gugulethu that managed to improve its physical science results. The vandalisation of the Cape Metrorail’s central line that caters to Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha was the current story in the unremitting woes of Prasa. The trains have been suspended since November 2019.
As part of the nationwide public hearing on the National Health Insurance, Cape Town residents, civil society organisations, political parties, traditional healers and healthcare workers aired their views on the issue.
A group of ex-mineworkers supported by civil society organisations and community activists protested outside the annual Mining Indaba in February calling for, among others, for justice and their speedy compensation following the R5-billion silicosis class action settlement.
In March, following the trends around the world in Covid-19 infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for a national lockdown. The first case was reported on March 6 but in a matter of ten days, the number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa jumped from one to 62.
In Khayelitsha the queues at various government buildings were growing each day as the departments grappled with plans to continue providing services without putting staff and the community at risk.
Because of loss of income and livelihoods due to the lockdown, many backyard dwellers in Khayelitsha and Cape Town occupied vacant pieces of land and built themselves houses as they were no longer able to pay rent. The government and the police responded brutally, punishing these victims of a situation not of their own making.
In Khayelitsha and other parts of Cape Town and elsewhere in the country, grant applicants slept outside Sassa offices hoping that they would not be turned away the next day.
The coronavirus has exacerbated the ailing public health system and the inequalities between private and public healthcare. In the Eastern Cape it resulted in chaotic provision of services.
Covid-19 and the lockdown affected the working class and the poor the most as they struggled to get food.
As the lockdown continued, more and more people lost their livelihoods, could no longer pay their rent and as a result they occupied vacant land in cities around the country.
Civil society and community activists under the banner of the People’s Coalition held pickets and protests on the 1st of August, in what was dubbed a “Working Class Day of Action”, demanding an end to police brutality and gender-based violence and more.
Before Covid-19 and the lockdown people in the villages near Centane and Ngqushwa in the Eastern Cape did not have water. When the government was calling for people to wash their hands regularly, they could only wish to do so.
Racism reared its ugly head as members of the Economic Freedom Fighters were assaulted by white parents and residents of Brackenfell as they picketed outside Brackenfell High School after some learners, teachers and parents organised a “whites only” matric farewell. After the assault of its members, the second biggest opposition party organised a march but were prevented by the police from nearing the school.
The high levels of poverty in Zimbabwe has forced many children into work, notably in reclaiming recyclables.
To round off the year we ran a feature story on the suspended Truda Foods workers in Komani who have accused the company of imposing bad working conditions, managerial arrogance, bullying and of undermining unions.