"The night Cyril Ramaphosa became a wartime president" is how a leading columnist for South Africa's News24 website described the South African leader's decision to impose a nationwide lockdown to defeat coronavirus.
The three-week lockdown, which started just after midnight, is unprecedented.
It is the first time since South Africa became a democracy in 1994 that a president had stripped away the most basic freedoms of citizens - to walk, to shop, to socialise and to congregate for prayer without hindrance.
"The law is that you stay at home. The exception is for survival: food [and] health, with security forces making sure that the law is enforced," government minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said.
The government has even banned the sale of alcohol and cigarettes, as well as jogging or walking dogs, during the lockdown - warning that offenders risked being prosecuted, and either fined or jailed.
This goes further than anything that the apartheid regime threw at the country's population during its almost five-decade-long oppressive rule.
But the hard-won freedoms that South Africans attained after defeating apartheid have been lost a mere 25 years later as they - like many other nations in the world - cede their rights to governments to fight what UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called an "invisible enemy".
Governments elsewhere in the region have not imposed such stringent measures.
'Viruses know no boundary'
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared a national disaster, promising to marshal the government's limited resources to fight the virus.
But two weeks ago, the country's Defence Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, thought her nation's borders were impenetrable, claiming that the virus was the enemy of powerful Western states - not a poor African nation under US sanctions for its human rights record.
"Coronavirus is the work of God punishing countries that imposed sanctions on us. They are now keeping indoors. Their economies are screaming just like they did to ours. Trump should know that he is not God," she said at a rally of the ruling Zanu-PF party on 14 March. The minister ignored the fact that the virus was first detected in China where it has killed more than 2,000.
Her hubris was short-lived: the virus has hit Zimbabwe, claiming as its first victim, 30-year-old broadcaster and filmmaker, Zororo Makamba earlier this week.
"Pandemics of this kind have a scientific explanation and knows no boundary, and like any other natural phenomenon cannot be blamed on anyone," President Mnangagwa said, effectively rebuking his defence minister for trying to politicize the global health crisis.
He banned all gatherings, shut schools and set aside three hospitals as quarantine centres as part of what are now familiar measures introduced in other parts of the world to prevent the spread of the virus.
With its economy in ruins and the government struggling to pay its bills, Zimbabwe is in no position to cope with a major outbreak, as many of its health centres do not have basic equipment, medicine, staff or a regular electricity supply.
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