It would seem unarguable at this point that the government has given in to the taxi industry.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday 12 July that minibus taxis will now be allowed to run at 100% capacity appears to be a demonstration of both the relative weakness of the state and the power of the mass transport industry. It also shows how important this entire sector is to our society, and how difficult it is to control or police it.

The strength of the industry may well lie in its very structure, and the way it operates, making it difficult for the government to enforce its will. This many-decades-in-the-making-thousand-headed-hydra could now play a deadly role in the spread of Covid-19.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed many of the strategic centres of power in our society. It has demonstrated how, in national government, the political might is right, while opposition parties can be reduced to mere spectators. It has demonstrated how, despite their financial strength, both the tobacco and the alcohol lobbies cannot always have their way. But it has also shown that the government’s hand can be forced – by the taxi industry.

The beginning of this current showdown lies…



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