Census debacle

We have to do a census thing. It’s been at least 10 years since the last one and we need to stand up and be counted – for reasons. There’s an option to do it online (thank the heavens) and I gladly grasped that with both hands, so that the beagle wouldn’t eat the local volunteer. But then I noticed that the URL it sent me to ended with gov.za and my heart sank.
It’ll be shit, I thought.
And it is.
Because in true South African government style, the UI is just horrible, nothing works properly and the things it is asking me are… well… bizarre.


So, I put our house number (let’s say it’s 25) and then “House”, because we live in a house (I didn’t think it actually needed to know what colour it was from the Plascon range) and now – even though it said that it was going to ask for my address later in the process – it thinks my address is “25 House”. Which is going to get it rejected immediately.
Perhaps a field asking for – I don’t know – my “Address” might have been a better way forward. Because no-one wanting your details in any other circumstance asks:

OK, and could I have your name, unit/flat number and further description of the structure/unit, please?

Do they?

And who lives at “500 Green House”, anyway? The SA Post Office isn’t going to be able to deliver anything to you with an address like that, are they? Mind you, the SA Post Office is so dysfunctional and wrecked by corruption and theft that it isn’t really able to deliver anything to anyone anyway, so why not go for 500 Green House? Just for the giggles.

And it’s already a LOT of work. Especially if you have moved from “8 House” to “25 House” since the last census. Which we have. So I tell it that we’ve moved and it asks “where from?”, but won’t allow me to enter anything but Athlone, Belhar or Bellville. So now I’ve moved from Belhar simply because at least it’s an answer I can give, and it asks “Why did you move?”.

I mean, have you seen Belhar?

But more seriously, I selected that the household had moved. Just moved house. No divorce, no fire, no death or destruction: we just moved house. But then, even though it already knows exactly who lives in my household, I have to jump through all the same hoops for my wife. And my son. And my daughter. One of us now comes from Athlone. I think it’s the missus.

Ugh. Just populate the form for me.
I don’t have time for 176 drop down menus for each person – most of which don’t work (the menus, not the people) – when I’ve already given you all the same information, anyway.

And I wasn’t even halfway through the very first section.

To add insult to injury, the site then crashed. And I can’t get back in. So, long story short, I’ve given up. I’ll try again tomorrow now I’m more aware of the size of the mountain of bullshit between me and the finish line.
I will prepare with coffee and biltong and lock myself away in my office until it’s all done.

Right now though: some football, I think.

Day… No, wait…

And that was that. A last minute announcement of a Presidential address to the nation, which was then (as is tradition) late in starting. And the news that the State of Disaster, whose regulations had been with us for 750 days, and which provided the framework upon which the lockdown and everything else Covid-related was attached, was summarily ended at midnight last night.

With it go many of the rules and regulations which have governed our lives for the past two years, although there is some confusion as to where we stand with mask wearing and 50% capacity in venues, given that it seems that there is no longer any legislation under which to enforce that, but we’re still supposed to do it. That legislation will be forthcoming later this month, but in the meantime, there are a big grey area.

Gone too then is the 6000 miles… The Lockdown Diaries category: 767 posts of thoughts, opinions, news and – now – memories of the lockdown. Including one where our neighbour told the local WhatsApp group that she had microwaved her newspaper, and another where I hit 91.9kph running in the back garden.

Oh, and the reminder that in April 2020, I went to the supermarket (once):

Halcyon days.

To be honest, we haven’t really been locked down for a long while now, and last night’s change won’t really make much difference to anyone’s lives here.

But, let the record show that South Africa’s State of Disaster is officially over. And before I hit PUBLISH, let me click that The Lockdown Diaries button one last time. It’s been wild.

Day 730 – Two years

It’s 26th March 2022, which means that it’s exactly two years since South Africa locked down as the Covid pandemic hit our shores.

Kwik maffs: 365 x 2 = 730, see?

Did it work? In limiting the spread of the virus, almost certainly, yes. And in terms of the economy and social effects? Well, there’s clear evidence that lockdowns all over the world had a terrible effect in those regards. And it would be easy to simply say that it wasn’t worth locking down just because of that.

But if you want to do science and maths stuff (more complicated than the effort above), you need to measure like against like, and you need to have controls and all that. We can’t compare the effects of economic hardships with the number of infections prevented or the number of lives saved. And even if we could, who would decide the balancing point where one won out over the other? You could make those data say exactly what you wanted them to.

Not that you would have any data anyway. Because beyond the issue above, there’s the one of controls. How many infections has our lockdown prevented? We’ll never really know, because there wasn’t another cohort that didn’t lock down. And sure, the economy has tanked, but let’s be honest: those same individuals who hate the government because they instituted a lockdown, also hated them before that lockdown because they were tanking the economy.

So good research is hard to do, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t try. When the next pandemic hits, it would be good to have a working policy on the best way to navigate things ready to go. I’m not sure if we can formulate anything like that from where we stand now, though.

So maybe it’s enough to say that pandemics are just crap for the economy and absolutely awful in terms of their human cost; that prevention is better than cure. Agreeing on those might not help us out much of there is a next time, but it’s probably the only consensus we’re going to get.

Day 705 – How long is a 40 mile long convoy?

OK, OK, I know the answer to that, but as we hear of satellite imagery of a Russian column of armoured troop carriers, tanks, artillery and support and logistical vehicles stretching 40 miles along the road approaching Kiev, I felt that just seeing or hearing the number doesn’t mean much. So I thought that I’d put that into perspective.

So… Let’s leave Cape Town on the N1 and drive 40 miles.

40 miles is the distance from central Cape Town to the far end of the Huguenot Tunnel. Imagine each and every metre of that trip – past Woodstock, Paarden Eiland, Anal Walk, Durbanville, Joostenberg Vlakte, Paarl and out into the mountains – as an armoured convoy.

Don’t like the N1? I don’t blame you.

So let’s take the N2 instead. 40 miles will take you from Cape Town almost to the gate of the immensely popular Peregrine Farm Stall in Grabouw.
Of course, any attack on Cape Town from this direction would be thwarted by frustration and capitulation at Somerset West and its infernal, constipated traffic light system, which probably explains why the Russians have chosen to come in from the North.

Day 704 – Local propaganda

Here are a couple of articles that appeared on local news site IOL (Independent (ha!) OnLine) today. While the rest of the world shuns Russia and their dodgy “news” sources, we are seemingly welcoming them with open arms. Sputnik (not this one) is now banned from spilling their propaganda vomit across the EU, but here’s their uninvited and surely unbiased take on China’s reaction to sanctions against Russia, in the local rag:

IOL is part owned by Chinese State Television, by the way. Which at least goes some way to explaining their strange fascination with telling bemused and uninterested South Africans about… well… all (wonderful) things Chinese State Television:

And as if that content wasn’t bad enough, here’s a wonderful puff piece about Russia’s 30 year love affair with South Africa, penned from the wholly impartial

Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of South Africa

And shared today, which is conveniently the 30th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between the countries (the National Party weren’t big fans, see?).

It chats about how great Russia has been to SA in all those years, and goes on in some detail to remind us all of the support it offered to the ANC and other anti-apartheid organisations during the pre-1994 years. However, if they are wanting to use this as some sort of emotional leverage (what? no. surely not!), then we’d all do well to remember that during those years, Russia was part of the USSR in very much the same way the Ukraine was. And so I’m not sure why we should now choose to be celebrating and supporting one, while it invades and bombs the other.

SA’s response to the invasion of Ukraine was initially rather wishy-washy, as mentioned here, but then suddenly DIRCO kicked in and had a bit of a pop at Vlad’s actions:

Cyril (and presumably Vladimir) was reportedly somewhat unhappy with that though, and so then there was this:

The trouble (or rather the t-Ruble – see what I did there?) is, being such good mates with Russia, we do seem to have an awful lot of money tied up with them in one way or another, which makes it politically awkward for us to try to admonish them. But we don’t want to end up being one of those countries that tacitly supports their actions, like Nicaragua, Venezuela or – God help us – Belarus. Because that would be a very unpleasant situation to be in.

SA has been excommunicated by the rest of the world before – with good reason.
Let’s not experience it again for a bad one.