Avatar photo

By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor


From lockdowns to levels: Government takes us on a rollercoaster ride

As the nation experienced the ups and downs of lockdowns, load shedding, and the rise of illegal miners, Police Minister Bheki Cele introduces a new 'levels' system.


First it was lockdowns, then load shedding, water restrictions and now zama zamas. Like a shaky old lift, the government’s job seems to be taking us up and down levels.

Police Minister Bheki Cele brought the lockdown PTSD back this week when he revealed that cops have now categorised illegal miners into levels, with level one being the “dusty” and stereotypical shaft worker.

He described the “middle-class” level as having Lambos, fancy houses and Italian furniture.

Levels seem to be the hottest trend in the Union Buildings’ “save the country” office. They came into vogue during the Covid pandemic in 2020 and then got a new groove with the name changed to “stages” and moved into Megawatt Park.

ALSO READ: Lily Mine Inquest: ‘Lack of safety checks’ cause of deaths

And while it often brings turbulent times, it may hold solutions for our future. Let’s forget the sticky fingers, dodgy deals, army terrorising citizens and the hot chicken debacle and look at some of the positive developments of the Covid lockdown and higher stages of load shedding.

Stage 5 crises showed a serious government, quicker to respond and willing to offer tangible assistance to the poor. As levels of lockdown and load shedding increased, so did the state’s willingness to get outside help.

We need a stage 5 government that takes our problems seriously.

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi’s claim national government is holding up scrapping of e-tolls highlights the need for the state to be quicker in execution.

ALSO READ: ‘In their yards are Lamborghinis’: SA cracking down on ‘big guns’ in illegal mining – Cele

Some parts of the state do appear willing to get outside help. Kusile this week increased its capacity and there is something brewing at Transnet.

Government was quick to deny it was selling the rail company into private hands as part of the freight logistics system rescue plan. It blamed a “leaked draft version” of the document, which may have been leaked to float the ideas in it. Among these is Mariana Mazzucato’s The Entrepreneurial State, which calls for private help to bolster government.

As analysts warn government’s power may decline in the next few years, it may need all the outside help it can get to keep it afloat.

Even the dust-filled eyes of a zama zama can see we need to move up a few stages and have a level 5 government.

ALSO READ: A zama zama mother’s story of sacrifice and love

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.