Group rallies citizens against ‘unnecessary’ laws

News The South African

A Facebook group has become the home of members of South African society who are ready to take action against the lockdown measures currently stifling the economy. 

The #EndTheLockdownMzanzi group has over 100 000 members, and administrators are rallying the frustrated masses to embark on a protest against the stay at home orders, proposing that everyone defy lockdown regulations by walking out of their homes and going back to work. 

‘We will go back to work’ 

The group is planning what they call a “mass movement” in which they are encouraging not just the 100 000 strong membership of the Facebook group, but the whole country, to retrieve tools and go back to work. 

No date has been assigned to the protest, but group administrator Michael Southwood said that members would be given three day’s warning prior to the event in which all businesses should open and “life will go back to normal”.

Speaking to The South African, Southwood said that he and other group members are tired of writing futile letters to government and said the plan to defy the lockdown regulations and take matters into citizens own hands was borne of a necessity to avoid the “death of millions by starvation”. 

“We aren’t going to engage government whatsoever,” he said. “We have decided to invest our time by getting more people involved instead of writing letters.”

“We are bringing on board industry leaders, religious leaders but also being cautious. Its not a vigilante thing. The strategy is to continue with the mantra of the lockdown and keep the elderly and vulnerable indoors, as well as abide by the hygiene advice.”

He said that despite the many conspiratorial posts that have been shared on the group, the ultimate vision of the movement is not to dismiss the legitimate danger of COVID-19, but rather rise against “unnecesary” restrictions that are punishing the economy and those who contribute to it. 

“We want everyone to stay as close to their homes as possible. It is important to be responsible. We aren’t saying the virus isn’t real. We are saying that the government has put completely unnecessary restrictions on the country. People are going hungry every day now.”

“We spent a lot of time thinking of another way to do this but there isn’t one. We have to decide as a country to go back to normal life. We have to protect our people and get back to work.”

No fear of police retaliation  

Responding to the notion that the actions the group intend to take would be in direct conflict with the regulations set out by government, and would thus be illegal, Southwood said that he hoped law enforcement would be sensible in their approach. 

“[The reaction to the protest] is entirely up to the armed forces,” he said. “We are not looking for a fight – we are simply taking our lives back. We refuse to be held prisoner to a fast-approaching death by starvation.”

“We aren’t saying defy the virus. We are saying we are prisoners and we don’t need to be. We will take precautions. We can’t live in fear of absolutely everything.”

He also suggested that the current lockdown measures were not doing any good in terms of stemming the spread of the virus, and said that much of the medical advice that has been handed down by the Department of Health can be easily debunked. 

“This is a completely new thing, no one understands it and can claim to be an authority on it. One should be practical about it. Lets just be really careful about it. 

He admitted that while there are some medical professionals involved in the group forum, there is no specific medical body guiding their project. He said that there are plenty of alternative theories that could be as effective as mainstream approaches though.

“This is about desperation. If people get ill we must help them, and there are already treatments out there that are helping people. The bottom line is that we need to go back to work” 

“All we are using is common sense. We have a lot of medical people on board in our group and they are saying very similar things.”

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Author: Dan Meyer

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