Steven Friedman’s new book, just published with Wits Press: One Virus, Two Countries: What Covid-19 Tells Us About South Africa.
This book offers a searing analysis of government and expert scientists’ responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Friedman argues that South Africa is two societies in one – a "First World" which resembles Western Europe and North America, and a "Third World" which looks much like the rest of Africa or South Asia.
According to Friedman the South African state, the media and the scientific community have largely tried to deal with the virus through a "First World" lens in which much of the country was either invisible or a problem – not a partner. He adds that this approach prevented the country from responding in a way which would have protected most citizens. This is why case numbers and deaths are so high: South Africa has done worse than the rest of Africa not despite the fact that it has a "more developed" health system, but because it does.