Miss SA: Mind the gender gap, Mr Roper

CHRIS ROPER WRITES “we need to demand accountability of beauty pageant contestants and governments alike. And consistency in their application of principle.” Roper’s views are decidedly patriarchal, old-fashioned, and redolent of gentlemen clubs and men’s magazines. He thus appears to garner his information on the subject from Wikipedia and his principles with reference to one Iqbal Surve and the Independent Group.

That’s the daily media outlet still touting a decuplet, multi-child trafficking story.

Woman have been getting their own act together and deciding their fate for themselves ever since women’s suffrage started in 1889. A former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan fully supports Miss SA, and has come out in support of Lalela Mswane’s stance. It is her decision as a women after all, to attend or not at the end of the day.

Since Roper’s article is behind a paywall, I can only surmise on the rest of its contents, but his macho rhetoric appears to be in line with other male BDS chauvinists and homophobes, those who continue to stake their claim as [white] males in determining the views of black women such as Mswane

In South Africa white women were given the right to vote by the ‘Women’s Enfranchisement Act of 1930’. It would tragically take another 6 decades before black women were effectively able to vote in 1994.

In contrast, black women have been able to vote since the inception of the state of Israel in 1948, and following the events of the Nazi Holocaust which stripped Jews of legal status as persons. Racist policies which turned European Jews into chattel slaves, to be euthenised when the German war machine had no further use of slave labour. Ethiopian Jews for instance comprise some 3.3 percent of the population, while Maghrabi Jews, those from North Africa number in the region of 750 000. All of whom possess the vote.

Roper like many other misguided individuals, appears to claim black women experience the same situation of apartheid disenfranchisement in Israel, while Gaza and the Palestinian Authority are somehow ‘beacons of hope when it comes to LGTBIQ+ rights’. He thus embraces a false supercessionist movement to replace Israel with yet another Arab State within a broader constellation of Arab States under the rubric of Palestinian statehood. (please see: Letter: Seth Rogen: ‘I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel’ ).

Far from being ‘occupied’ and surrounded by Israel, Gaza shares a border with Egypt and is a separate country for all intents and purposes. The situation in the PA is a lot different and may be likened to the Chinese occupation of Tibet. No apartheid bantustan ever complained of ‘being occupied’. For the record, I support the Corpus Separatum viz. vi. the status of Jerusalem and do not favour partition. (please see: What if Israel didn’t exist? Isacowitz vs Shain)

The reverse is true.

When it comes to women and gay rights, Palestinian leadership fails miserably. There has never been a female Palestinian head of state, while Golda Meir was Israel’s PM from 1969-1974. According to Amnesty International, women in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority continue to face discrimination and violence, including killings as a result of gender-based violence. An Hamas-run Islamic court in the Gaza Strip ruled in February that women require the permission of a male guardian to travel.

On the ‘moderate side’, President Mahmoud Abbas amended an election law in March, raising a quota for women in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority legislature to 26%, ‘not the promised 30%’. This is still a far cry from the 50% female quotient of the population, and the result devalues women.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender (LGBT) persons in the “State of Palestine” face legal challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBTIQ+ residents. The Amnesty 2020 report on Palestine states: “Section 152 of the Penal Code in Gaza criminalizes [male] consensual same-sex sexual activity and makes it punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.” In 2019, the Palestinian Authority police banned the activities of queer and feminist rights organization Al Qaws and demanded that residents report ‘suspicious’ activities.

Several reports on the subject of so-called Israel Apartheid have been discredited in recent years, since clearly nations are not races. While ethnicity plays a part, there is no science to back up the claim.

Discredited reports

The infamous 1975 UN resolution 3379 ‘equating zionism with racism‘ was overturned by an overwhelming majority of nations in 1991. The same assertion was voted out of the final text of the controversial 2001 Durban Conference on Racism  and the text reaffirmed at Durban II. A highly flawed 2017 UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report examining the policies of Israel within the context of a UN definition of apartheid was withdrawn by UN Secretary-general Guterres. It famously introduced race categories in order to arrive at its conclusions.

The same category error appears in an equally flawed 2009 local HSRC report written around the time of Durban II and a subsequent NGO Human Rights Watch report published earlier this year.  Eric Goldstein of Human Rights Watch has thus been referring to the unrest surrounding the Sheik Jarra neighbourhood of Jerusalem (which escalated into the incursions on the Temple Mount, and the recent war pursued by Gaza this year) as a conflict occurring in a ‘mixed race’ area.

His assertions beg the question: why are black Jews invisible when it comes to the media? Is it because a Yemenite Jew from Yemen is not considered black enough, nor even Arab for that matter?

While many of the policies of Israel may be considered ‘reprehensible and morally indefensible’, (as are the policies of many other states) the situation is rather one of injustice vs injustice (especially considering the Farhud, and the complicity of Palestinian leadership at the Wannsee conference where Hitler’s Final Solution was adopted). The root cause is not race, (a loaded term) but the confluence of ​religion and ethnicity and in particular, religious schism which has resulted in nationality on the basis of religion​, a fact common to many Middle Eastern countries.

Bioprospecting & Ethnopharmacology: recent advances in local plant medicinal knowledge

ETHNOBOTANY is the ‘study of how people of a particular culture and region make use of indigenous (native) plants.’ Needless to say, I attended a science cafe presentation by Nox Makunga, a professor of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University entitled “Medicinal Plants of South Africa: Digging in the past for a future bio-economy.”

Her work on the Cape Floristic kingdom which include various ‘bio-hotspots’, is simply incredible, the more so due to its location of botany alongside ethnographic studies. Her talk thus traversed work on salvia africana, pelargoniums/geraniums, Ysterhout (olea capansis), and Rooibos (aspalathus linearis), to name a few of the plant species mentioned, and included the multifaceted cultures associated with their medicinal use in South Africa.

There is recorded history of ethnopharmocology and “Dutch remedies” for instance going back to the time of Simon van Der Stel and his journey into the interior where the then governor of the Cape Dutch colony came across Mesembryanthemaceae also known as Kanna, Kougoed, “Bushman’s ecstacy” and Sceletium. Makunga has published extensively on the local ‘sack people’, and her piece entitled “The Informal Trade of Medicinal Plants by Rastafari Bush Doctors in the Western Cape” is often cited, alongside her more empirical lab-based studies, (see here)

Even more astounding is the fact she presented some of her own findings on the efficacy of Ysterhout in treating tumours in mice, the use of Southerlandia to treat diabetes and a plethora of plant knowledge, deserving of a devoted online wiki project (see here) — if only to enable the lay health practitioner and informal botanists amongst us to access indigenous knowledge alongside the evidence-based science which is forging ahead in leaps and bounds.

I would very much have loved to record and upload her talk, done in an African oral tradition sans powerpoint, but due to the ‘exigency of the situation’, this was not to be. However what followed was a lively chat about patents, my own input on the very first news story published in South Africa by yours truly, on the problematic patenting of rooibos tea in the USA (and subsequent two-decade battle to return its intellectual property), and my own research conducted on carpobrotus edulis, the common sour fig.

I thus took the professor to task for glossing over a plant with some 500 patents, many of them from biotech companies in Asia, but neglected to situate my own informal work within the context from whence it sprung, namely an ongoing journey into indigenous plant medicine. And should therefore give credit to traditional knowledge practitioner Tumelo Kuena for having pointed out the long-standing traditions associated with this plant, which is more than simply a skin balm, but proven to be effective against microbes and bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus.

Whether or not Sour Figs represent the same potential value chain as Hoodia, Sceletium, Southerlandia and Rooibos tea remains to be seen. Unlike these plants, Sour Figs are endemic to other regions, including Western Australia and parts of the Mediterranean. I find the question of whether or not a patent in Asia for a plant living in our backyard is enforceable given its longstanding use by indigenous peoples, rather intriguing if not challenging.

One can only suggest that an open-source approach, a scheme which allows for the creation of value at the same time as the protection of rights, would be a far better path to follow than yet another decades long battle inside the WTO.

What if Israel didn’t exist? Isacowitz vs Shain

CONTRIBUTIONS by two correspondents published on Politicsweb demonstrate the diametrically opposed views on the existence of Israel as a “democratic state with a Jewish character”. Roy Iscawowitz has taken Milton Shain to task for reiterating the manner in which the country sprung to life after the United Nations sponsored commission on the [British] Mandate then held by the colonial powers.

Shain argues “In the context of two peoples fighting over the same territory, partition of the [British] Mandate was seen as the reasonable and moral option by the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP). It complied with regnant notions of national self-determination.”

He further claims the real reason why the ANC deplores Israel is because of its hostility to Jewish secular identity, its failure to consider Israel was born in recognition of two national movements – an Arab/Palestinian and a Jewish movement – within British Mandate Palestine.” He says: “Those supporting partition knew they were supporting the creation of a Jewish state, alongside an Arab/Palestinian state.”

Isacowitz on the other hand maintains the formation of the Israeli state constitutes an original sin, a political programme to remove the native Arab population, and thus a situation which can only be rectified by turning Israel into an Arab State within a constellation of other Arab states. “To me it’s obvious that Israel was founded on the basis of ethnic preference (which today would be called apartheid.) That’s clear from the policy of “Hebrew labor” (also called “conquest of labor”), which was code for separate development..”

Isacowitz quotes at length without providing any citations from “A State at any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion” written by Tom Segev, while Shain suggests “those interested in a serious analysis can do no better than to read Israel and the Family of Nations, by Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein.”

There is a plethora of work on the subject of Israel and Palestine, with most falling into either one of two essentialist camps — those who believe Israel should exist, as a state with a “Jewish character” and who accurately follow the events of the Nazi Holocaust, and those who wish to dislocate the tragedy and instead focus solely on the Nakba, a ‘tragedy of equal proportions’ for the Arab world.

Isacowitz asserts “I won’t challenge his conclusion that the ANC is anti-Semitic. What I will challenge, though, is his attempt to portray Israel as a run-of-the mill country – no different from many others – without even bothering to come to grips with the fact that is has now held the Palestinians of the occupied territories hostage for longer than formal apartheid existed in South Africa.”

Both perspectives deserve due consideration. Should Arabs gain more land than was granted them when the British Mandate was partitioned to form Jordan for instance? Or the French Mandate was unwound to form Syria? Virtually nothing is said these days about the Pan-Arab flag waved at Palestinian rallies, or the San Remo conference in which the Ottoman Empire was broken up, and thus decisions which predate both the formation of the Arab League and the State of Israel. I digress.

What if Israel did not exist? Would the result be a democratic state in which many of the rights we take for granted, LGTBIQ+ rights and freedom of the press, were protected? It is considered a stock Zionist response to any counter-assertion, to simply illustrate the manner in which the Arab states have failed miserably to guarantee fundamental freedoms even to their own minorities.

So let’s consider this problem another way. Do the rejectionists (those who eschew Jewish rights to self-determination), and who were forcibly removed from places like Haifa by the United Nations following partition, and in some instances driven out of Israel by David ben Gurion during the War of Independence, deserve to return?

One can only suggest that it would behove the Palestinian cause if there was a Freedom Charter, much like our own– a political programme guaranteeing rights and freedom for all. Instead, all we see by the Hamas Charter, and the de facto policies of Fatah is the stark reality — the only resolution on the table, is a demand that Jews resume their pre-war status as Dhimmi — people of the book, subjects under an Islamic state with a nominally ‘democratic character’.

[Disclosure: This writer is banned by polticsweb due to his views on Fees Must Fall]

UPDATE: Shain’s response to Isacowitz

BDS beauty rhetoric removes women & gay rights

THE MISS UNIVERSE pageant was not the subject of a boycott when it was held in apartheid South Africa. In fact, the oft referred to event never occurred, and was never scheduled. Our country does not appear as a location on the list of Miss Universe pageants held every year since 1952 — except for a sole 1996 event which was mooted for Johannesburg but then shifted to the USA.

Although some contestants refused to participate in various international pageants if the then Miss South Africa attended, none were barred by their respective governments. They thus exercised their freedom of choice.

The organisers behind the campaign to remove Miss South Africa from the competition being held in Israel this year would like us to believe that similar government actions were taken against the self-same beauty pageant held in apartheid South Africa. It is only the 1996 Miss Universe event which was scheduled to be held in the country, two years after the first democratic elections, but which was later moved.

The blatant denial of the rights of Lalela Mswane, a black woman to decide her fate for herself, especially when it comes to political issues, is both patronising and racist. In a televised interview Palestine4Africa’s Bram Hanekom, upbraids Mswane’s decision to attend, insisting that he, as a white male, should decide her future. In a missive published by IOL, he tells Mswane: “Do as you are told”.

Hanekom claims that since boycotts were used to good measure as one of the many tools of the anti-apartheid movement, similar strategies will be equally effective in ‘gaining rights for Palestinians’. He appears oblivious to the fact that if such an event had been held in the country during the height of apartheid, no black contestants would have been allowed to attend.

The first official Miss South Africa pageant held in 1956 was only open to “white” (Caucasian) females and was organized to send a representative to London for the Miss World pageant”. That year Norma Vorster was crowned Miss South Africa. Two years later, Penny Coelen, was crowned and would later go on to win Miss World. It was not until 1977 that all persons of all races were allowed to compete in the Miss SA competition. “Prior to that, people of colour competed in the Miss Africa South pageant, which was renamed Miss Black South Africa in 1977.”

It is unclear what the goals of the BDS affiliated campaign are — whether or not they are campaigning to effectively end women’s rights in Israel, or merely seek to maintain the status quo viz vi LGTBIQ rights in the region, a situation in which Gay rights are restricted in most Arab States and in some cases subject to the death penalty. Apartheid was a policy separating persons according to pseudo-scientific race classification, not national or religious affiliation, and homosexuality was outlawed.

According to Amnesty International (AI), women in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority continue to face discrimination and violence, including killings as a result of gender-based violence. An Hamas-run Islamic court in the Gaza Strip ruled in February that women require the permission of a male guardian to travel. Meanwhile President Mahmoud Abbas amended an election law in March, raising a quota for women in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority legislature to 26%, not the promised 30%, and still a long way away from the 50% female quotient of the population.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender (LGBT) persons in the “State of Palestine” face legal challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBT residents. An AI 2020 report on Palestine states: “Section 152 of the Penal Code in Gaza criminalizes [male] consensual same-sex sexual activity and makes it punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.” In 2019, the Palestinian Authority (i.e., West Bank) police banned the activities of queer and feminist rights organization Al Qaws and demanded that residents report ‘suspicious’ activities.

Injustice cannot be overcome by Injustice. Forward to a Freedom Charter for the Middle East. Forward to human rights for all. #StandBySecularism

SEE: Former Miss Iraq supports Miss SA for not quitting Miss Universe pageant in Israel

Yoga ‘wokeism’ misses the whole point of post-modernity.

IF YOU one of this week’s spiritual-elect — self-appointed cultural purists devoted to pointing out ‘cultural appropriation’ or ‘misappropriation” whatever the case may be, and upbraiding the ‘yoga community’ for ‘not being more inclusive and representative’ (or worse), ‘costing a fortune and not catering to different body types’, — you may wish to reflect on the history of puritanism in South Africa, and my own yoga journey.

In order to maintain ‘white privilege’ the architects of apartheid devised a grandiose scheme whereby the character of tribal and ethnic groups ‘would be preserved’, albeit under the pretext of culture. The unique and distinct peoples of South Africa, the faces of whom seemingly adorn a well-known art deco building in Cape Town, were presented with separate homelands, under a segregationist system introduced by Hendrik Verwoerd. All to maintain the ”integrity of culture’, and to avoid the dreaded cross-pollination which has characterised much of the past century including our own.

Enter the interlocuters of a contemporary movement known as ‘wokeism’, who appear to vigorously object to any instance of ‘hybridity’ and ‘cultural influence’ , if only to serve a political purpose — namely media exposure for a campaign which locates itself within the global ‘black lives matter’ movement. All for the sake of convenience and keeping the pot on the boil, (and who can argue with this strategy?)

To add some context, I started my free yoga journey some years ago at an ashram in Beverley Hills. One cannot get more ‘up-market’ than that. Hollywood itself is replete with cross-cultural influences, (some of which may, like the black face of the 1920s, cause offence, whilst others like the face of Mickey Mouse have universal appeal).

After a long hiatus, I found myself returning to my yoga mat, with another free yoga class at the Scalabrini Centre offered by an Italian yoga instructor by the name of Laura Anjali. The local revolution in freebie yoga classes didn’t end after Anjali left Cape Town.

When my attendance at ‘paid sessions’ at Virgin Active became unaffordible, I turned to costless yoga videos on Youtube, and began practicing at home.

A Tamil friend of mine suggested a particular Hatha Yoga guru, offering ‘authentic yoga‘ and whose videos were also freely available. I was then drawn into the gratis events surrounding the International Day of Yoga, joined several free yoga festivals and participated in many outdoor sessions, some for love, some by donation only.

Earth Child even have a programme whereby one may sponsor children to practice yoga in the townships.

Reading the brouhaugh surrounding a City yoga studio, punted by a news outlet at the centre of a multi-baby scandal, I counted nearly a dozen false assumptions, most of which boil down to a variation of any of the following:

Yoga is exclusive

As my own journey with costless and free yoga practice demonstrates, yoga is for everyone, and you don’t necessarily require any money.

Yoga should only be practiced in India or by persons of Indian descent

Much like the Asian game of Chess which conquered the world and is played nearly everywhere, Yoga has entered the common global lexicon and exercise regime, alongside Cricket and Tennis. Similarly tattoos and dreads.

People will get offended by my weight or body type

The whole point of yoga is to embrace the inner journey that arises from the physical limitations of the body. Don’t get put off if you are overweight, but then don’t go about destroying other people’s spiritual health practices just because they are willing to get up at 5am to do sunrise yoga on the beach, while you prefer to stay in bed.

People should be offended if I embrace hybridity and cross-pollination

While there is much to be said about traditional yoga practices, new styles of yoga are constantly emerging. Getting caught up in the correct naming of asanas (or poses) can be a huge distraction (but is recommended, especially if you want to appreciate the new Skywalker Pose). Of course there is nothing to beat acquiring a working understanding of the conventional, but demanding that we all cowtow to convention is just plain idiotic.

Quinton: Bury my heart at ‘bend the knee’

IN HIS autobiography, Silent Gesture, published nearly 30 years after two African-American athletes displayed the black power salute at the 1968 Olympic games, Tommie Smith, wrote — ‘the gesture was not a “Black Power” salute per se, but rather a “human rights” salute’. The demonstration is regarded as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympics.

Contrast this with the latest debacle involving Quinton de Kock’s refusal to ‘bend the knee’ at the ICC T20 World Cup on Tuesday, after Cricket SA instructed the team to kneel ostensibly to demonstrate support for the global “Black Lives Matter” campaign.

There is much being made of his decision to avoid a symbolic gesture made popular in recent times by television series ‘The Game of Thrones’ and arguably appropriated by the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Almost nothing is made of its association with Christiandom, and ritualistic practices in the Anglican Church for instance, its resonance with the Crusades and Knights Templar.

That anti-racism interventions are beginning to resemble zealous meetings of the Hitler Youth and Italian fascists which similarly appropriated ‘volkish’ symbols, and even the Ku Klux Klan which appropriated themes from the Spanish Inquisition, can be put down to a lack of continuity with black struggles from the 1960s.

The symbolic act is not universally embraced, as a symbol of solidarity with anti-racism, and despite Lawson Naidoo’s contention that it is somehow the de facto gold-standard in sport.

De Kock’s own objections appear to be religious in nature, and are certainly not openly racist. Refusing to cowtow to authority has long been a theme of a religion synonymous with revolt against the Roman Empire.

That commentators ignore the fact that De Kock is well-within his rights to object and to refuse to engage in a symbolic act whose origin, provenance and message is open to interpretation and dispute, can be put down to the lack of appreciation for fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to dissent.

Race chauvinists and supremacists such as Khaya Koko were quick to issue invective and derision, in the process implicating the leader of the official opposition. There are many other ways to express solidarity, that do not involve appropriation of symbols or ritualistic acts which may be deemed offensive, for example, wearing a ribbon or armband.

Proteas skipper Bavuma says De Kock has his team’s support after refusing to ‘take a knee‘.

Freedom of religion is also freedom from the religious views of others. Refusing to engage in an act which at the face of it is not voluntary, but rather the result of coercion by Cricket SA, deserves our categorical and open support.

After all, its just not cricket.

UPDATE: The Proteas wicket-keeper has since offered an apology following pressure from Cricket SA.

READ: To take a knee or not

Mandates: Public peril or just plain baloney?

THE CAMPAIGN by those punting unlawful vaccine mandates ratcheted up yet another notch this week, with several opinion pieces casting those who oppose immunisation score cards and internal passports, as ‘beneath scientific discourse’ or to use Stephen Groote’s phrase: members of the “desperate and low”.

That Grootes like many other so-called academics and experts positioning themselves as ‘protectors of moral hazard’ and ‘saviours of public health’ (read your health), fails to provide any supporting citations for his bizarre reasoning on the subject is par for the course.

Grootes’s characterisation of the ACDP position, surely one which is admittedly non-partisan if a little opportunistic, may be forgiven — it’s a long-standing grudge by the formerly progressive left. The ACDP to their credit do not oppose vaccination as such, rather they oppose the unbridled removal of patient consent, and the process whereby constitutionalism i.e. the will of the people is replaced by the dictates of the few in positions of authority.

Less easily forgiven are the unsupported ramblings of Professor Keymanthri Moodley, a director of the Centre for Medical Ethics and Law at Stellenbosch University, as quoted in a piece also published by the Daily Maverick, in which the author fails to provide any counter-point to the one-sided narrative of other right-wing medical ethicists who support the return to an apartheid-era dompas, albeit to protect the most vulnerable.

Clearly this is a move beyond pure rationality into outright coercion and bully-tactics — the webinar held by the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics saw contributions by three other individuals, none of whom are similarly quoted, and thus may be mistaken for being a summation of the views of the Biko Centre itself.

If Biko were alive I am fairly positive he would have a lot to say about these hasty and needlessly slapdash attempts to limit or negate Article 12 and Article 14, two of the foundation stones of our current legal dispensation.

The US constitution, for example, written by slave-owners, does not contain an explicit right to privacy, nor is it an expressly anti-slavery opus such as our own. The US has no right to ‘ownership and control over the body’ — as I have already written, our own constitution presents a unique legacy of struggle against the patronising dictates of the apartheid medical apparatus, one which sought to classify persons using pseudo-scientific analysis — operating as if most South Africans were members of a separate species to the Human Race.

Merely because an ethicist is able to make a public interest argument does not automatically follow that it is reasonable nor rational. Without motivating why this is so from a material perspective, Moodley sees the issue as a simplistic binary: public peril versus personal privilege.

One suspects that she is referring here to the idea of herd immunity, and not a metaphysical debate introduced by a theologian?

A Nature journal article published in March for example, claims herd immunity when it comes to Covid is out of reach, and thus our efforts may come to nought.

The reality of Covid becoming endemic certainly puts paid to the ‘most vulnerable’ argument, (why are we not all taking ARVs to avoid deaths from HIV?) The logic of preemption is dependent upon there being a rational basis for these types of interventions — not simply well-meaning rhetoric, nor the wish nor fanciful whim for a life free of seasonal illnesses such as the flu, and ultimately a cure for death?

Another article by the New York Times, looking back at what has been learnt from successive waves of the covid virus, demonstrates that high levels of vaccination in some states has ‘acted like a wall’ to prevent the spread of the virus, thus protecting other members of the community, but is certainly not an endorsement of those who would also have the family dog and cat foreceably vaccinated, whilst everyone else is neutered from a political perspective?

Still other articles in the world’s media, paint a picture of divergent results from different vaccines, while several present caution when it comes to young adults and children.

There is as yet, no concrete evidence provided by any of our local ‘experts’ on why vaccine score cards (alongside demerits and sanctions for non-compliance) ought to be implemented, if at all, as we arrive at the end of the tragic two year period in which the virus has been with us. And yet all data suggests that South Africa’s vaccination strategy, though slow at the outset, is on track, despite its being voluntary and lawful. Though, the country still has a long way to go,(1) we need to exhaust lawful interventions before embarking on what may be termed, ‘special measures’, of the type implemented during wartime.

Furthermore, there are other issues which practically nobody is debating, for instance, why rolling out an elimination strategy vs simple suppression, need require an extraordinary change to the democratic character of our country? A country which claims to defend the health of the most vulnerable, yet callously consigns these self-same individuals to damp shacks and shantytowns sans water and sanitation.

Reducing the virus, which is bound to become endemic to absolute zero, and which will, in all likelihood simply fade into the background as the pandemic invariably draws to a close in 2022, need not require the removal of our current democratic dispensation and its replacement by an authoritarian dictatorship — one that keeps everyone squeaky clean, and there’s a thought.

Ordinarily mandates, as I have written in my previous piece, are gained via elections, yet the arguments being issued by so-called medical ethicists fail to consider that we have a multi-party democratic system, and instead seek to place us all on a path of mandate capture and totalitarianism.

Public health policy should be debated in Parliament, the mooted medical injunctions and objectives need to be subject to public scrutiny, the same way every other peril, including poverty is debated.

And so I have more than an elegant one-liner to Moodley’s miserable reductionist logic: Freedom is not a privilege but a birthright.

No to medical apartheid. Your medical choices are not our business.

NOTE: As of October 24, 21.3-million Covid-19 shots had been administered in SA, but only 11.56-million adults, or 28.8% of the adult population were fully immunised

When the pandemic ends, those unlawful mandates are going to haunt us

THERE has been a plethora of verbiage on the subject of ‘vaccine mandates’ over the past weeks. Several pieces written by legal academics and health scholars all present these measures as a fait accompli, and worse, present public health policy as if the extraordinary measures contemplated do not require anything resembling rational debate inside our nation’s democratic institutions.

Mandates are usually associated with elections and the resulting laws and policies are ordinarily drafted by parliament. Instead public health activism has adopted the fever pitch of the imperative, the unquestioning injunction and ever-present directive. What passes for debate these days, usually 5-minute opinion provided by so-called expert ‘talking heads’ on television followed by equally vapid ‘vox pops’ from the public with absolutely no balance provided by presenters, is leading the country assuredly down the road of internal passports and vaccine score cards.

As I have already written, this country has an egregious history when it comes to internal passports, in particular the aparthied era dompas, not to mention a troubled past — one haunted by the evil doctoring and medical experimentation of the likes of Dr Verwoerd et al. All the more reason to tread carefully lest we forget the lessons of the past and ignore the imperatives enshrined in our constitution?

Instead a paid-for-promotion by Investec, boldly claims without providing any citations: “Unvaccinated people are driving up the chances of mutation, creating more opportunities for the Covid-19 virus to bypass the immune system. The more people who are vaccinated, the closer we will get to a point of containment like we have with the flu.”

The same piece is remarkable for its failure to disclose the banking group’s considerable investment in Aspen Pharmacare, and instead presents an Aspen Senior Executive, Dr Stavros Nicolaou as an expert in the field of epidemiology. Then Professor WD François Venter of the Wits Centre for Reproductive Health is presented as an expert on virology. The webinar is a far cry from a national science symposium on the subject and a long way away from resembling anything like a colloquium or conference.

At the same time as these paid promotions, other health propaganda pieces are published in the media.

One by Safura Abdool Karim of the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism falsely claims “South Africa’s laws allow for the government to implement mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations but these mandates won’t necessarily infringe on individual rights.” Then proceeds to jump the gun in claiming “under the Notifiable Medical Conditions Regulations, a healthcare provider would be allowed to administer a vaccine even if a person refuses to accept it.”

While the National Health Act of 61 of 2003 certainly allows for the quarantining of individuals suspected of being infected with a notifiable disease, (and Covid-19 is a notifiable disease according to regulations), the act does not provide for mandatory vaccination as such, nor does it define vaccination nor even provide a relevant immunisation section. The astonishingly brazen claims made by Karim, instead appear to refer to draft regulations which have yet to be promulgated, and thus an as yet unfinalised government vaccine mandate policy — a policy which remains moot, and which is already the subject of a legal challenge by a religious group.

It is worth considering first principles and discussing what exactly we are dealing with here.

A piece ‘comparing SARS-CoV-2 with SARS-CoV and influenza pandemic’ published in the Lancet in September 2020, may be considered required reading:

Cheadle-stan: A brave new shameful world?

STUDENT bodies have resoundingly rejected calls for ‘mandatory vaccination’ on our nation’s campuses. Coercion defeats the purpose of constitutional guarantees, including bodily integrity and freedom of movement, not to mention academic freedom. The students say immunisation programmes should be voluntary and recognise individual rights at the same time the needs of the majority are taken into account.

This hasn’t stopped several motions for vaccine mandates and/or vaccine passports from being proposed by UCT Senate and other universities. And it hasn’t stopped far-right legal professionals from arguing essentially for the scrapping of article 12 alongside the introduction of internal passports which recall South Africa’s introduction of the so-called ‘dompas’.

If these proposals are anything to go by, we could end up adopting a version of the ‘China Model’ of social control, in which vaccine points scores determine both social status and access to resources in society, and all this without so much as a debate on campus nor even a democratic process within the hallowed halls of the National Assembly? A system which lends itself to all sorts of abuse. Post something the authorities don’t like, and beep, you’re just an anti-vaxer, denied access to public transport.

Right-wing juristocrat Professor Pierre de Vos thus penned yet another article published by Daily Maverick, this week in which he purports to present case precedent and various authorities in support of the limitation of one of the foundations of our constitutional dispensation.

According to article 36 of the constitution, rights may only be limited by a ‘law of general application’, — the rights under article 12 were considered important enough by our nation’s founders, for them to be listed as non-derogable during a state of emergency. In other words, one may infer that the mere declaration of an emergency or disaster is not sufficient to consider their limitation, and that one cannot argue, as many SABC talking heads have over the past week, on the basis of the mere roll-out of so-called ‘mask-mandates’.

De Vos argues: “While a policy requiring all (non-exempted) staff and students to be vaccinated will not directly coerce anyone to get vaccinated, it will present individuals who are not keen to be vaccinated with a difficult choice and would therefore interfere with their right freely to make decisions about their own bodies. “

After appearing to walk back some of his astonishing statements made in his earlier piece (see here), he then proceeds to rehash work written on the subject of bioethics, referring to an 2016 article by A Nienaber and K N Bailey, in the South African Journal of Bioethics and Law:”The right to physical integrity and informed refusal: Just how far does a patient’s right to refuse medical treatment go?”

In this manner De Vos introduces yet another series of citations, ostensibly to argue the point that article 12 may be limited by any arbitrary law when it comes to immunisation.