Estate of The Nation - Part 1

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Did he know something before we did?

It is said that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

This rationale is used as the justification for some of the increasingly inconsistent decisions and bizarre pronouncements made by governments everywhere, not least in South Africa.

Of course, people throughout the world will have their own first hand experiences of this and all of it leaves most of us confused and grumpy. I heard the UK PM recently saying in a broadcast how the country had ‘come together’ to deal with the crisis – not actually Boris, most people had stayed away from each other.

Barack Obama probably summed it up best with his comment to the effect that - if nothing else, the pandemic has torn away the veil from the flimsy belief that those in charge know what they are doing - in fact, he continued, some of them are not even pretending to be in charge.

In South Africa, it is a fact that the ANC’s failure to address the social, housing and land issues effectively, has created a rod for its own back in terms of the number of people living in poorly structured townships and informal settlements.

These conditions required the resulting lockdown to be structured as a one fits all solution. This means that whether you live in a shack, on an isolated farm, or at an estate - ‘stay at home’ is the overriding requirement.

Being able to maintain the social distancing protocols is very easy on a farm, or in most estates, especially those with golf courses, where space is one of the lifestyle attractions.

Aerial view of Pecanwood at Hartbeespoort

However, even the ANC’s most disingenuous members would blanche at the thought of trying to relay the dual message, that if you are in a township like Diepsloot you must stay at home. Whereas, should you live on an estate you will be allowed to walk, jog, or even play golf, because social distancing in these environments is easier to achieve, even when you are outdoors, than it is under the strictest ‘house arrest’ in very overcrowded places like the townships.

South Africa is acknowledged as being one of the most unequal societies in the world. The country’s lockdown has further highlighted these glaring social disparities, while also being one of the most severe.

Too draconian many have said with, during level 5 and most of level 4, 95% of business activity shut down, no house moves, night-time curfews, no going outdoors, even for exercise other than in a recently introduced period when everyone is allowed to squeeze out between 06h00 to 09h00, no alcohol or tobacco sales allowed, etc.

In a business sense it has become a bloodbath and few would now disagree that the cure is proving to be worse than the disease, which it was set up to combat.

The poorer areas have been monitored by what has proved to be the not so benign presence of the SA Defence Force and the SA police, both under orders to enforce the lockdown regulations.

Golf estates represent a significant niche in the golf market and residential housing sector. In all of this uncertainty and discomfort, has it been a case that another set of rules have been in play behind closed doors, for those fortunate enough to live in the parallel universe of the nation’s estates?

Happily, and in the main it would seem not to be the case.

The consensus from the golf estates is that most homeowners and residents currently are complying with the requirements of the lockdown, but management has also said that it is the police’s job to enforce the lockdown’s regulations.

The estates I have contacted have been communicating regularly with their homeowners and residents. The focus of the messaging has been the on the need to comply with the regulations. None have empowered their security firms to ‘police’ the requirement and have relied on their residents and homeowners to ‘do the right thing’.

Morne Botha. GM of Pecanwood Golf & Country Club

Pecanwood’s Country Club GM Morne Botha commented, “Our members and homeowners trust the judgement and abilities of both management and the board”.

He continued by saying that, “This trust is reciprocated in that we have an equal confidence and trust that our residents will adhere to the laws, whatever personal opinions they might have of them”.

“Trust and respect are the bedrock of any successful community, which is what has been developed at Pecanwood and this type of trial has put us all to the test and we are very pleased to say that, as a community, we have not been found wanting”.

Therefore, it would seem to be a case of so far so good.

Let us hope that the restraint displayed to date, by the majority of South Africans, is not squandered by any continuation of the opaque decision-making and inconsistencies, which have characterised too many areas of the government’s response to the pandemic.

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