Greens should challenge notion that banks determine “Environmental Leadership”

In 2016, ‘two men pretending to be police officers’ murdered Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Radebe the founder of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, an environmental group opposed to mining in Umgungundlovu in Eastern Mpondoland. 

In November this year, Fikile Ntshangase, deputy chairperson of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation, was assassinated amid ‘claims of death threats and bullying by those in favour of the expansion of Somkhele Coal Mine, which requires the relocation of 21 families, which Ntshangase opposed’.

Instead of releasing paid advertising promoting their house brand, one would have expected WWF and others, to stand up in solidarity against the slaughter of environmentalists. The latest round of ‘leadership’ material glosses over the fact that environmental justice leaders are being killed and assassinated as we speak.


South Africa’s environmental justice movement originates in the tumultuous period in which organisations such as End Conscription Campaign were being banned. In particular, Earthlife Africa arose as a broad movement for environmental justice which broke terrain by being inclusive of human development and issues affecting ordinary black citizens. 


Having linked the environment to apartheid and its deleterious effect on our climate and habitat, environmental justices activists such as myself, took to the streets in successive waves of protest action over the decades. However it is abundantly clear that bankers and financiers are seeking to control this narrative by a strategy of ‘electing’ leaders within the movement.

A newsbrief posted this past month bluntly states:  ‘WWF Nedbank Green Trust environmental leaders graduate internship programme has been dedicated to developing the leadership capacity of graduates who want to contribute to a better environment’.

WWF is an organisation co-founded by apartheid financier Anton Rupert, the man responsible for creating a National Party sponsored cabal which continues to ignore the massive contribution of organisations such as Earthlife Africa, Environmental Justice Network and allied organisations.


In 2018 ELA national director Makoma Lekalakala was named co-winner of the prestigious Goldman Award alongside Liz McDaid of SAFCEI, a Southern African multi-faith institute addressing environmental injustice. Unlike ELA, SAFCEI is considered inside of the fold of the WWF Nedbank alliance. It took a foreign award to recognise the achievements of both parties.

Banks and corporate South Africa need to be told that they while they are free to support environmentalism, promoting their own favourites as ‘leaders’ whilst ignoring the immense sacrifice of persons such as Fikile Ntshangase and Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Radebe, is nothing more than a gross form of greenwashing, paid propaganda exercises calculated to deflect attention away from obvious holdings in oil, gas and fossil fuel.


Similarly, environmental activists need to be called to account for failing to raise solidarity with the Mfolozi Commmunity. We must take a stand on democratic accountability within the broader environmental justice movement. Leaders should be elected and accountable to membership of their organisations. Fund-raising should be transparent and open to member scrutiny.

Senekal: Time for genuine Fair Trade Certification and income equalisation?

IT IS easy to become cynical following the events surrounding Senekal over the past two weeks. On the one hand, extremists who justify farm murders by driving an overtly racist Afro-chauvinist narrative (Africa exclusively for black Africans). A story which ignores the very real problem faced by rural murder rates, some 80% above the national average and related issues of food security and social stability.

On the other hand, lack of decent wages and career opportunities faced by thousands of seasonal share croppers, farm workers and rural labourers, is providing fertile ground to those driving a fascist post-Marikana narrative that feeds into an ongoing legacy of land dispossession, at the same time that it seeks to negate democratic transformation and the notable gains of the second Republic.

Undoubtedly solutions such as income equalisation and fair trade certification will be seen by the hard left as dissipating of revolt and reinforcing of the status quo. Maintaining the current state of affairs is not my intention. Rather, we should all be asking questions: Why is it that in order to drink tea from a label such as PG Tips which prides itself on delivering a product which is ‘farmed by workers earning a decent wage, with access to good quality housing, medical care and education for their children’, one has to look instead, towards an imported brand?

Where is the local equivalent of the Rainforest Alliance, whose certification process aims at “breaking the cycle of rural poverty—and tackling the ensuing impacts for people and nature ” a fact considered “critical for a more sustainable future for us all”?

Fairtrade, another international certification organisation “exists to empower farmers and workers around the world. Some 1700 producer organisations, representing over 1.7 million farmers and workers, are the foundation of the Fairtrade system.”

Given South Africa’s history of super-exploitation of labour, one would hope that consumers would be more actively involved in changing the cycle of wage exploitation, by demanding better work conditions on farms at the same time that we act to end farm murders, in effect creating an orderly process of empowerment of black farmer and farmworkers, without the need for political opportunism and grandstanding.

Clearly there is not enough land to give each and every citizen in South Africa a farm, and similarly we can’t all become farm managers over-night. Providing a different scenario to that faced by today’s share-croppers in the form of real shares and dividends would be a welcome start. So too would proposing an income equalisation fund, one that avoids seasonal fluctuations in wages whilst protecting the families of those affected.

The real race fraudsters are those in political power …

SOUTH AFRICA has a constitution whose preamble asserts that we are a non-racial country. Unfortunately our government believes otherwise. The ANC conveniently terms itself a non-racial party, but then myopically discriminates against persons on the basis that Africans can only be from one exclusive group, the so-called ‘Bantu-people’.

In the racialised prism of our education department, an indigenous Khoi or San, is not considered a Human Being. The Glen Snyman story is no different from the Kobus Faasen story, read here.

Snyman, a teacher at Grootkraal Primary School in Oudtshoorn, the founder of ‘People Against Race Classification’ self-identifies as African, the result has been a reactionary backlash from a clearly racist education department.

Given the corruption endemic to our nation, the racist and petty apartheid views of the Department are likely to be upheld by an equally racist judiciary, one infiltrated by organised crime, according to police chief Bheki Cele.

Even though my family have lived in this country for generations, we are considered Non-African as in Non-European, a term taken from an apartheid text book, read Lord Musi, quit calling yourself a judge. The request to a citizen for ‘evidence of African-ness’ is beneath contempt. What next a determination that Snyman is not South African and ergo he should forfeit citizenship?

It was Adolf Hitler who introduced the distinction between Aryan and non-Aryan, and likewise Hendrik Verwoerd who pursued a world view separating people into European and Non-European categories

There is no piece of legislation to my knowledge categorising persons according to the defunct ideology of race — the apartheid Population Registration Act for instance was abolished in 1991 –yet petty apartheid remains. According to Denise Coetsee, an HR professional quoted in the Citizen “there are currently no fixed set of rules for race classification”, which is “largely based on the verbal confirmation of the person claiming to form part of a specific racial group”.

In 2010, a corrupt ANC official by the name of Halton Cheadle, presided over a legal matter involving his own client and business partner. A matter in which I was not represented and restrained from calling witnesses. You can read the proceedings of the case here.

The resulting crack-pot decision under the racist Western Cape division, proceeds to upbraid my identity for asserting that ‘I am a person of Colour’ a Bantu, and denying apartheid race classification. Coloured is not an identity per se, it is the term that was given me when I was banned and sectioned under the Group Areas Act.

Read my story “Living in the Heart of Kakness” or watch a video preview.

A 1999 Constitutional Court decision (President of the Republic of South Africa and Others v South African Rugby Football Union (Sarfu) and Others) regarding a recusal matter brought by one Louis Luyt, seemingly paved the way for judges to remain ANC party members whilst holding office. Notably the test for ‘reasonable apprehension of bias’ was moved away from that of the ordinary citizen or ‘reasonable person’ to that of the purview of what juristocrats or legal professionals might consider reasonable.

Therefore, when addressing these allegations, we must not only address the ‘multiracial’ fraud being perpetrated by the ANC and its officials in the Dept of Education, but also the abject failure of our courts and judiciary to uphold the very basis for the Republic’s legal dispensation, namely the Preamble to the Constitution.

Andile Lungisa may have a point …

THIS past week saw some of South Africa’s top judges demanding a retraction of remarks made by former ANC youth league leader Andile Lungisa that ‘his case was unfairly decided because of political pressure and affiliation”.

If everything was hunky dory in our Republic, the erstwhile ANC deployee, would have zero basis for making such statements, and given the deteriorating circumstances, still serve his time, but I fear things have gone from bad to worse.

The deplorable situation in which certain members of the judiciary, (and I include acting judges such as Halton Cheadle) appear to be actively involved in petty party politics, (beneficiaries of party-political largesse, if not on the payroll), is only magnified by the recent statements of the Chief Justice and the various cases brought against the nation’s many juristocrats.

If the Judge Hlophe saga doesn’t raise ones ire about the status quo in which there is a visible lack of opprobrium and absence of a functioning civilian mechanism of discipline within the broader profession itself, then the public surely needs to be reminded that it was Judge Hlophe himself who called for a commission of inquiry into his own behaviour?

Certainly a case of deferral, deflection and proverbial passing-of-the-buck, to quasi-governmental commissions which have shown themselves unable and unwilling to deliver on decades of inquiry and complaint? What next, news that Hlophe has appointed his wife as the chairperson in charge?

Will Zondo spend the next decade taking testimony which would best be considered by a grand jury comprising the National Provincial of Councils, if not the entire legislature?

That there remain institutional problems inherited from the past which have not disappeared under the new dispensation is abundantly clear. The Western Cape division is a veritable Vorster bantustan, its chambers replete with photographs of apartheid-era judges going back to colonial times.

A division which persists in promoting an anti-Secular, anti-Enlightenment, multiracialist and multiregionalist ‘nouveu-apartheid’, can only be condemned.

The untenable situation in which legal professionals are elevated to the status of nobility within a juristocracy out-of-kilter with our non-racial democracy may be demonstrated by the abject failure of the Judicial Services Commission to do anything about several complaints before it, including my own.

But let’s not run away with the Lungisa debacle, and belittle the irony of the situation, forgetting the real predicament of those within the very self-same political formations responsible for bending the judiciary to their egregious aims.

At the end of the day it is the ruling party which is to blame.

Letter: Seth Rogen: ‘I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel’ refers

Dear Ed,

Seth Rogen: ‘I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel’ refers

As an anti-war activist opposed to the abuse of the term ‘apartheid’ in the Middle East, I wish to respond to the latest binary correspondence on Israel and Palestine carried by The Guardian. In particular I wish to point out the tendency by either parties to the conflict to view the other in Manichean terms.

The resulting dualistic cosmology describing ‘a struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness’, has plagued the religious conflict over the final status of Jerusalem, for decades and is not helpful in arriving at a secular solution.

Like the actor Rogen, I too once believed that everything I had been told by my Jewish father was wrong. During the 80s I found the Rabbinical references to the biblical stories told of King David and the construction of the Temple inconsistent with the 1982 invasion of South Lebanon by the IDF under the government of Menachem Begin.

During my years as a student activist and member of the South African Union of Jewish Students, I drew parallels between the SADF invasion of Angola, and became an outspoken critic of Israel military aid to apartheid South Africa.

I was fed Fatah propaganda related to the Nakba and ended up believing that colonialist adventurism by European settlers was the cause of the problem, while Palestinians were the innocent victims. I even publically renounced my right to return as an Orthodox Jew after the construction of the separation barrier in 2000.

Several beatings by Jordanian-Palestinian immigrants and self-styled Palestinian activists set the stage for an end to my delusion. Nevertheless I still persisted in my Anti-Zionist views, attended various rallies, met with a group of Palestinian doctors and even appeared at a UCT seminar hosted by members of Fatah. There I was told the problems were the ‘Jews, Jews, Jews.’

The narrative provided by the PLO began to unravel shortly after I became the subject of a religious inquisition by a corrupt ANC official in 2009/2010, some of the details of which are available in my self-published Amazon book, ‘Life in a Time of Heretics’.

The final parting of company with the Palestinian version of reality coincided with my rediscovery of the missing narrative of Mizrahi Jews, the stories of dispossession and disenfranchisement suffered by oriental and North African Jews.

In particular my late father’s inability to talk about the Farhud Massacre, ‘the violent dispossession” carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad, Iraq, on June 1–2, 1941, and followed by the expulsion and dispossession of property of Arab Jews following the events of 1948, put paid to the notion that this was a singular conflict between good and bad. Between 1920 and 1970, some 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and other Muslim countries.

Rogen’s revelations reported by Oliver Holmes in the Guardian, that “more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation” is thus a one-sided tally given the magnitude of these expulsions and the enormity of the Holocaust.

The inescapable facts surrounding the complicity of Amin el Husseini, then Mufti of Jerusalem, and the resulting controversy also need to be weighed, as too the facts surrounding ‘Dhimmitude’, a permanent state of subjugation by either of the parties.

A 2015 Time magazine article addressing the question of whether or not Husseini was the source of the Final Solution certainly demonstrates the problem of focusing exclusively on the Nakba whilst denying the Holocaust. Not that one should make the cardinal error of assuming that all non-Jewish Palestinians are to blame, or thereby privilege one life more than the other.

To put this matter to rest, although Husseini attended the infamous Wansee Conference where Hitler’s Final Solution was formerly adopted, the decision to ‘exterminate all the Jews, and not simply the Zionist ones’ had already been taken, and thus, the ‘invitations had already been sent out’ when the Mufti arrived to argue his case against Jewish immigration to the Holy Land.

The real nail in the coffin of apartheid analogy however, is when one realises that Husseini’s position in history is much the same as the father of apartheid, DF Malan who introduced the racist Aliens Act in January 1937, restricting Jewish immigration to South Africa before the war. Both men are responsible for condemning hundreds of thousands of admittedly, European Jews, to euthanasia camps in Poland.

Two wrongs do not make a right. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Banning points of view, with which one disagrees, and as Rogen and Holmes motivate by implication, is never a solution. Rather it is my considered opinion that the conflict in the Middle East represents a tragic case of injustice vs injustice, or as the writer Amos Oz has put it, a sad case of competing juridical systems.

Like Peter Beinart in the New York Times, I too no longer believe in the Middle East, but can imagine a Jewish home in an equal state.

Whether the result is a binational or plurinational solution is anyone’s guess.

Kind regards

David Robert Lewis

A vaccine is just the beginning of the fight against Covid-19 …

THIS PAST week saw British scientists lauded for a successful phase 1 vaccine trial. A working vaccine may be available by the end of 2020. Unfortunately deploying a global immunisation programme may prove to be harder than producing the vaccine.

Although the United Nations is pushing all countries to join ‘an effort to make vaccines and drugs to fight Covid-19 cheap enough that the poorest populations in the world can be treated’, the sheer scale of such an endeavour looks daunting.

South Africa with a population of 58.8 million would require production of at least 160 000 doses per day for over a year to cover the entire country. Dispensing the vaccine would require 6712 jabs per hour to complete in 12 months, a Promethean task, more likely to occur over 5 to 10 years.

In other words, while the good news is that the world has a working vaccine, one of several vaccines capable of producing the right antibodies and killer T cells required to defend against the virus, the logistical problems of immunisation, make the pandemic likely to stay with us for the foreseeable future.

Technological innovation such as robotic application and drone delivery, novel production techniques and other medical advances, could bring this horizon closer — the day when everyone has immunity and countermeasures such as masks, social distancing and other measures are no longer required.

Bare in mind that as more people recover and gain natural immunity, the target population for an immunisation programme is lowered, thereby reducing the immediate task at hand. Although there is some debate as to whether or not, such immunity is short term and may fall off over time.

By that stage, those who would have died from the virus, will in most likely be dead. The risks of cluster outbreaks and casualty ward spikes will have diminished, and the burden on our health system will normalise along with the impact on the economy.

In effect, the virus and its grip on society, will have weakened, at least for now, but the risk of future flare-ups and other coronovirus clades remain.

Targeted immunisation programmes focusing on vulnerable groups and maximising scarce resources could also assist us in meeting our goal. But for now, we stuck with the ‘no longer novel’ coronovirus of 2019, which looks set to become as prevalent as the common cold, and a seasonal disease just like the flu.

Study apartheid, revisit the TRC, reinstate the constitution

A PETITION circulated by Nyasha Mboti, asks: “Why are there no Apartheid Studies in South Africa, or in any other country across the globe? In 1994 Nelson Mandela said “Never, never and never again” to apartheid. But how do you say “Never again” to something that you do not study?

Mboti adds: “There has been no interest in provisioning for the formal study of apartheid. There is no degree programme, or even an apology of a course or module, even at 1st year level only, called Apartheid Studies. There is not a single Centre for Apartheid Studies, or Institute of Apartheid Studies, or Research Chair in Apartheid Studies, at any of the 25 South African universities – or anywhere around the globe. The universal absence and neglect of Apartheid Studies is a blot on the world’s conscience.”

The reluctance to tackle South Africa’s past has lead to denialism within our nation’s institutions and a general lapse of constitutional provisions within the justice system. Is the constitution even worth the paper it is written on?

The matter is compounded by the NPA’s failure to prosecute perpetrators, amidst a collapse of the amnesty provisions of the TRC Act. This has lead to crimes under apartheid being treated as if the were mere petty offences, or had simply occurred under the current dispensation, and thus lack the necessary characteristics that accompany the crime against humanity, known as apartheid.

Sipho Ngwema, NPA spokesperson for example, issued an irrational statement last month in regard to the Timol inquest, falsely claiming that the law of prescription applied: “As far as the assault charges at John Vorster Square are concerned, prescription has set in, as a period of 20 years has passed since the commission of the offences in 1982/83.”

This without any word about the actual murder of Timol, a capital crime for which no prescription period is applicable.

The NPA statements echo equally false statements, issued in writing by Legal Aid South Africa, and follow a racist decision handed down in March last year by AJ Martin of the High Court, impugning the TRC Act and essentially refuting the Preamble to our Constitution.

Despite the shoddy legal environment in which apartheid crimes are effectively lauded by the authorities, even if the delicts may be ongoing and the impact and effects, immediate, there remain public calls to charge perpetrators for their crimes against humanity.

Shannon Ebrahim writing in the Cape Times says: ” In the case of South Africa, the liberation movements showed great magnanimity by agreeing to allow the perpetrators of similar brutality under successive apartheid regimes to receive amnesty if they fully disclosed their crimes at the TRC.”

“While many did come forward and admit to their crimes, there were rarely full disclosures, and far too many ­senior members of the military and police failed to apply for amnesty, believing they would never be found or prosecuted.”

It is the gross failure to take action against those who did not receive amnesty, alongside a stark refusal to provide legal aid for the victims, which is particularly troubling. The result is denialism, denial that a crime occurred, then followed by denial of justice.

Hopefully the call for the institution of apartheid studies on our nations campuses alongside renewed interest in the body of evidence that begins with the TRC Report, will result in corrective action being taken to reinstate the constitutional framework. One which begins, by stating, “recognising the injustices of the past”.

MOGOENG MOGOENG: STATEMENT BY TWO WAR RESISTERS

AS ANTI-APARTHEID activists, war resisters and peace-builders, with a long history of opposition to the unbridled use of force to achieve political goals, we understand the many predicaments faced by those wanting to build peace in the Middle East, and act in solidarity with those who refuse military service to the Israeli state.

The controversial statements by our nation’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng have thrown into stark contrast the divergences of opinion on the subject of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

It is not our objective here to issue dogma nor to take sides on whether or not sitting judges may issue forth with their private or personal views on the subject, nor even to take issue on whether or not Mogoeng Mogoeng was speaking in his capacity as the chief justice or as a private citizen.

Rather and more pertinently, we wish to state that the religious justifications for support of the Israeli state by some within the Christian faith, and a judge holding high office, raise crucial and important questions about the overall neutrality of our justice system, especially the right to dissent from religion when it comes to the issue of secularism.

According to George Holyoake, the man who coined the term, ‘secularism’, and who was imprisoned for his belief that all laws should be subject to rational debate, “Secularism is a series of principles intended for the guidance of those who find Theology indefinite, or inadequate, or deem it unreliable.” (1)

Holyoake went on to say:- “”A Secularist guides himself by maxims of Positivism, seeking to discern what is in Nature — what ought to be in morals … Positive principles are principles which are provable.”

Secularism is not the absence of religion, but rather the absence of religious rule.

For instance, Moses Mendelssohn, (one of the key figures of the Jewish Enlightenment ‘Haskalah’) outlined the central thesis of separation of secular and ecclesiastical authority, in his 1783 book ‘Jerusalem oder über religiöse Macht und Judentum‘, stating ‘the state declares laws, religion offers precepts.’

The principle of separation of state and religion is thus the basis for the Progressive movement within Judaism in South Africa, whose adherents are predominantly secular.

In a critical review of Tarek Fatah’s Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State (3) Professor Nader Hashemi writes, “given the European roots of secularism … the challenge for Muslim democrats is to develop coherent and indigenous arguments in favour of religion–state separation as part of a broader strategy for advancing democracy.”

It is important to note that our own democratic South African Constitution begins with the words:- ” We, the people of South Africa,” and not “In Humble Submission to Almighty God”.

We therefore wish to remind the Chief Justice of the controversy surrounding secularism during the adoption of the preamble and the elegant solution achieved by our country in creating a separation of powers and neutrality in religious outlook.

This was achieved by dropping: “In humble submission to Almighty God”, and appending Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.

We further wish to commend Zane Dangor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for opening a necessary and crucial space for dissent on the subject of religion, by issuing a statement reiterating South Africa’s ethical leadership and moral stance on Palestine. One guided by International Law at the same time that it seeks to uphold the Chief Justice and his rights as a citizen, by stating “he has a right to differ with the foreign policy position of South Africa”

The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis has been waging and ongoing for over 70 years — the prospect of peace has continued to elude our generation. In seeking to find a solution, now is the time to open critical debate (4) by defending the rights of those with differing views within our own country, to speak. 

Talking out the many issues faced in the conflict, ‘Lusaka-style dialogue’, is the only way to solve problems without resorting to more violence and kragdadigheid.

SIGNED ON THIS DAY:

David Robert Lewis

Michael Graaf

IN Cape Town

NOTES

(1) Principles of Secularism, George Holyoake; Austin. & Co., 1871.

(2) Mendelssohn, Moses (1783), Jerusalem: oder über religiöse Macht und Judentum. Von Moses Mendelssohn. Mitallergnädigsten Freyheiten, Berlin: Friedrich Maurer

(3) Political Islam Versus Secularism — A review of Tarek Fatah’s Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State. Nader Hashemi, 2008

(4) Read Rabbi Warren Goldstein’s response to Judge Cameron here.

BRIEF BIO

David Robert Lewis has written and worked for several titles banned under the apartheid regime, including South Press, Grassroots, and New Nation. In 1987 Lewis refused to stand on a combined IDF-ECC platform alongside Cameron Dugmore and then SAUJS president Johnathan Handler. Handler had objected to SADF troops in the townships but asserted his unconditional support of the IDF. The ECC was later banned in 1988 along with its members, as was the Swapo Solidarity Committee, of which Lewis was a member.


Michael Graaf was sentenced to one year in jail, suspended on condition that he completes 2400 hours of unpaid community service at King Edward VII Hospital, at the rate of 72 hours per month. In October 1990 Graaf was found guilty at the Pietermaritzburg magistrate’s courts of refusing to serve in the SADF. Mike was objecting to a camp call-up for the 15 December 1989. The sentence was set aside in June 1991 and he was able to stop his long hours of portering at a Durban hospital.

Dear Mr President, the paradox of leadership during Covid-19

THERE is a paradox in philosophy, one popularly referred to as Buridan’s Ass. It tells the story of a donkey that is equally hungry and thirsty, and placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. The paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, and therefore it dies of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision between the hay and water.

Similarly, South Africa is caught between two seemingly contradictory paths, both of which necessitate immediate and urgent action.

On the one hand, we are required to combat a ‘killer virus’, a virus whose impact upon our health and the health of our broader population is only beginning to be understood. If we do nothing, we risk inundating our health care system with casualties, and incurring unacceptable loss of life.

On the other hand, we are dependent upon our economy, for our livelihoods and way of life. Not simply our lives, but the very manner — both way and means by which we as individual households, survive year to year. We are all stricken by the need to feed and clothe our families, forced to pay our way, our rent and our bills. It matters not whether one believes necessities of life exclude alcohol or the nails one uses to repair ones roof, or whether we do depend upon smokes or the tools one uses to fix ones walls.

If we cease to engage with our economic imperatives, we also risk death — incurring unacceptable, diminished living standards, shortened life spans and negative health outcomes as we move forward.

That the burden of disease is also the burden of hunger, has already been written about here at length, and only a fool would suggest otherwise, to engage in a binary debate between people’s lives and livelihoods. Both are equally important.

The conundrum is similar to a patient forced to take medication. The list of side-effects may turn out to be worse than the disease. The cure may kill us all.

To complicate matters, there are urgent human rights and serious civil freedom predicaments that have compounded the situation. What appears to be nothing less than a silent coup, occurring the world over, a creeping Global Police State and a major shift in national and international imperatives.

Bar the health agenda, it is with almost zero constitutional backing that our own government has embarked upon a drastic course of action, (taken alongside other governments both across the continent and the world), with outcomes that appear to result in a blatant seizure of power in favour of the national executive.

Power taken without debate, taken away from Parliament in favour of the Executive, power usurped from the Courts, without checks and balances in favour of a centralised authority, the so-called National Command Council (NCC). The erosion of democratic institutions which have characterised our republic for decades and likewise many other democracies, is further reflected in local authorities pulling away from democratic norms and standards .

That the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) in South Africa has admitted it was an “error of law” on its part not to investigate the alleged role played by the Johannesburg Metro Police in the death of Collins Khoza at the hands of the SANDF is to be welcomed.

But a lot more needs to be done to preserve the rule of law in our country.

For starters, recognition that the SANDF may only act in an adjunct or auxiliary role to the Police during a National Disaster — the courts and justice system must be seen as primary during such a difficult period, especially one where the metaphor of war is easily bandied about, but where no actual war has been declared. Even then, we are a democracy and expect the democratic will and rule of law to prevail.

There are troubling signs that local authorities also wish to curtail rights not to be subject to search and seizure without a warrant.

The lock-down certainly has a sell-by-date and it is surely an extraordinary act of chicanery for us to believe that powers emanating from a piece of legislation designed primarily to deal with natural disasters such as hurricanes, drought, famine and earthquakes is fit for the purpose of public health initiatives taken over the past month?

Parliament must return to its civic duties, and the justice system must resume its oversight role. The many rules, bylaws and regulations must be debated by our elected representatives, and the NCC must explain why it is that they find themselves unable to choose between a stack of hay and a bucket of water, unable to speak to the absence of a vaccine and the problematic of herd immunity, unable to come through for those who demand alcohol or tobacco? Stricken as it were, by the enormity of what they have done, in seizing power over the commons.