BRICS war criminals seek to impose ‘reserve currency’ from above

EVER since the term was coined by Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill in 2001, as an acronym for countries, which were ‘deemed to be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development’, the BRICS grouping has been little more than, a disparate think-tank of dictators, oligarchs, and yellow democrats from either extremes of the political spectrum.

That the term arose from a paper written for Goldman Sachs’ “Global Economic Paper” series by a later British life peer and lord and former conservative government minister, should have given us a hint as to what lay in store as BRICS became a metaphor for top-down rule-by-decree and the bypassing of national government checks and balances.

In 2009 the leaders of the first four countries held their first summit and in 2010 BRICS became a formal institution of 5 nations including South Africa. It was the administration of Jacob Zuma which saw BRICS as a sterling opportunity to essentially jettison parliamentary oversight in favour of a series of corrupt practices by the executive in a scheme which became known as ‘state capture’ and whose outcome is documented by the Zondo Report.

Since its inauguration, the new entity has seen the creation of the so-called New Development Bank (NDB) in 2012, followed by this year’s hasty proposals by Russia’s Putin to create a ‘reserve currency’.

Russia was recently forced to raise interest rates above 20 percent to stop capital flight following its illegal invasion of Ukraine. The country is subject of an International War Crimes tribunal and has had its foreign reserves blocked by central banks resulting in a sovereign default, which may explain the overall Russian anxiety in wanting to create an instant reserve currency, and bar the consequences for individual nations.

In fact if one reads the press releases, the new currency is a foregone conclusion, this at the same time that President Ramaphosa is at the centre of a currency scandal involving dollars placed under a mattress. Either the Kremlin assumes BRICS has jurisdiction over our Central Bank or believes every BRICS member-state is essentially run by a dictator at the head of a command economy? One may even argue that Russia’s position in BRICS has emboldened its aggression in Ukraine, instead of acting as a moderating force much like the African Union which it seeks to surpass.

If you read the Russian propaganda spewing from news agency Sputnik, BRICS’s individual constituents may be about to forego their own sovereign currencies in order to create a brand new currency, in all likelihood a parallel version of the Chinese Renminbi, or perhaps an exchange note based upon a basket of currencies such as the Ruble? In effect a Ponzi scheme whose beneficiaries will most likely be heavily indebted nations struggling to pay off sovereign debt.

The only way a currency could ever be considered a ‘reserve currency’ is if it were frequently traded like the Euro or Dollar. Such a feat would require all BRICS members to replace their own currencies as legal tender, a costly exercise in and of itself, since this would mean replacing Randelas with new bank notes.

Exactly how all of this effects South Africa’s Rand status and our Reserve bank’s inflation targeting is anyone’s guess, but as the they say, caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.

China for instance has conducted a policy of currency deflation for decades while routinely implementing currency controls, pegging its fiat currency to the dollar. This is quite the opposite of the current Rand-based regime, based as it is on floating exchange rates and moving away from an apartheid-era siege economy.

There is also talk of expanding BRICS membership to include Iran (a country with a death penalty for homosexuals), in a mad dash to upsize by increasing the size and weight of BRICS, in the so-called multipolar world. Generating in effect a de facto Putin Support Committee? So much for the effete idea about South Africa being non-aligned and LGBTQIA-friendly? The BRICS NDB has already accepted countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Bangladesh, and Egypt’s military dictatorship as tentative members.

Iran and Argentina (with 90.2% inflation) have already applied to join.

In short, South Africans can kiss their democratic constitution and sovereignty goodbye, and should get ready for news of our tax-Rands flowing into Russia’s frontline. This should come as no surprise, as the ruling ANC has already signed the national treasury up to at least a decades worth of foreign aid for Cuba and other dictatorships.

Which is why our foreign policy looks a lot like a badly-thought out campaign of bribery to support anyone opposed to the current UN Charter, rather than a means of furthering the aims and objectives of our constitution via the exercise of soft power and diplomacy.

As Ray Hartley and Greg Mills put it “While democracy is vital to South Africa, it is apparently not necessary in other countries with whom we wish to be friends for opaque reasons.”

SA Astonishing failure to plan transition away from ICE

EVEN if there was no war in Ukraine and no embargo against Russian oil and gas, South Africa would find itself in a pretty pickle, forced to import fuel directly. It is not just our strategic fuel reserves which have been plundered, but our capacity to refine crude in the face of a global transition away from the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) which stands at the heart of massive increases at the pump.

Attempts by government to restructure and partially deregulate the fuel price by lowering or dropping levies are merely band-aids on a serious problem, whose root cause is the pivot away from fossil fuels towards Electric Vehicles (EVs).

The blame needs to be placed squarely on both the Minister of Energy and Resources, Gwede Mantashe and Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula whose porfolio’s intersect.

It seems strange that a former spokesperson to the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Yonela Diko should be generating after the fact opinion pieces pointing out that ‘depending solely on fuel imports threatens energy security”, as if this strategic reality were not already at the heart of our energy policies, and especially given our countries past experience with sanctions?

Diko’s demonstration of the lack of refining capacity caused by the unwillingness of energy companies to invest in upgrades is only part of the problem in dealing with the harsh reality that the entire world is transitioning away from fossil fuels, towards electric vehicles:

He writes: “The latest closure of Shell and BP-owned Refinery Sapref in Durban which had a peak capacity of 180 000 bbl/d, a whooping 35% crude refining capacity of the entire country, becomes the latest blow in the countries refining capacity leaving the country with only one option, to import.”

“We are now left with the only worlds coal-based synthetic fuels refinery, Sasol’s Natref, which has a peak day production of a 150 000 bbl/d, which is not enough to carry the entire country and replace the lost refinery capacity. We also have the ever so incapacitated PetroSA which is supposed to be a gas-to-liquid refinery in Mossel Bay which never seems to find any gas.”

Instead of defending the capacity already in place and coming up with a mitigation plan, we have seen a veritable, wild goose chase. Readers may remember the debacle involving Shell and Mantashe’s search for oil and gas off our coast? The entire energy strategy, which found its origin in Jacob Zuma’s Operation Phakisa, has been to pivot towards ‘prospecting’ (read: Adventurism) and the parceling out of future ocean rights to oil companies, none of which have panned out. It is only Namibia which has benefited.

As the saying goes, a bird in the hand is always better than two in the bush.

In some respects the environmental justice movement is also caught offside with its mantra of “Just Transition Away from Coal”, instead of a ‘Just Transition Towards Renewables in Transportation’.

Although there are tentative plans involving so-called “Green Hydrogen” impacting upon heavy industry and mining vehicles, the government has failed to deliver any tangible incentives to transition towards Electric Vehicles. No rebates, no tax incentives, no assistance to an industry which desperately needs to be retooled.

Petrol attendants and ‘pump jockeys’ may just go the way of the lift attendant, elevator operator and ice-hauler, who no longer haul ice to the proverbial icebox. All categories of work long considered redundant. Unless SADC is able to co-operate in finding a solution, the transition will come-about via accident if not force majeur, and not according to any particular plan.

Unlike the USA and Europe, South Africa faces a hybrid future, where bio-diesel, methane, hydrogen fuel cells and electric all play a role. One would expect the Minister of Transport to have announced plans for moving South Africa’s massive fleet of Quantum minibuses towards sustainable bio-diesel or methane. Ditto the trucking industry.

To date there are no plans to my knowledge to assist in the retrofit of private and public transport.Talk about the introduction of Chinese-produced, electric-powered ‘Bullet Trains’ seems to be just empty talk, as consumers are forced to pore fuel at the pump.

SEE: https://www.outa.co.za/blog/newsroom-1/post/reclaim-sas-strategic-oil-reserves-946

Shell Wild Coast : The struggle against whaling has come full circle

SOUTH AFRICA comprehensively banned the practice of whaling in 1979. The campaign to ‘save the whales’ is one of our oldest conservation movements, predating the later environmental justice movement which emerged during the 1980s. This week, Royal Dutch Shell was given the go-ahead to invade traditional whaling habitat on the West Coast during the calving season in order to conduct seismic testing.

The move signals a massive shift in government thinking, from conservation and tourism, sustained littoral zone fishing to outright exploitation of marine resources.

The country is not strapped for cash when it comes to land-based mineral resources, but under former President Zuma, it evolved a plan to carve up the seabed and ocean floor in rights allocations to foreign multinationals.

The so-called “Operation Phakisa” plan produced under the former administration is bereft of reference to sustainable marine fisheries management and climate mitigation. Instead, a document produced by the DTI in 2017, sees oil and gas as the next frontier, alongside ship-building, harbour construction, and logistics operations.

The practice of whaling in South Africa gained momentum at the start of the 19th century and ended in 1975.

“By the mid-1960s, South Africa had depleted its population of fin whales, and subsequently those of sperm and sei whales, and had to resort to hunting the small and less-profitable minke whale. Minke whales continued to be caught and brought to the Durban whaling station from 1968 until 1975.”

The only major whaling population left after the decimation (aside from the Humpback and Minke) was that of the Southern Right Whale. Its population has been steadily falling due to climate change. Numbers measured in 2020 “are the second-lowest in October in the past 32 years, after the extremely low numbers of 2016 (55 pairs)“. 

“The Southern Right Whale is seen along the coastline of South Africa every year between July and December.” The whale has a higher population than its northern counterparts, and is “seen along the coastline of South Africa every year between July and December In fact, there are only a few hundred Northern Right Whales individuals left in existence.”

The whales attract hundreds of thousands of tourists to the so-named ‘Whale Coast’ every year, and thus many people are understandably upset at the prospect of Shell displacing the whale population, whether by seismic testing, exploration or drilling.

The issue however, is not simply that of noise pollution nor its impact upon marine tourism. Although ‘seismic surveys reduce cetacean sightings across a large marine ecosystem” the overall impact of the invasive endeavour on the entire eco-system needs to be taken into account — the very real prospect that we may lose our whales altogether, and along with their habitat, the ecosystem, and that means us.

Alongside the collapse of whale habitat, our fisheries and any hope of a sustainable marine resource.

A review of the potential impacts of marine seismic surveys on fish & invertebrates shows the true extent to which anthropogenic noise in the world’s oceans impacts marine fauna has become a subject of growing concern.

“Available evidence suggests that seismic survey noise may influence the behaviour of cetaceans in a number of ways potentially leading to reduced sighting rates e.g. Long- and short-term displacement …”

The displacement of the Southern Right Whale habitat by Shell’s invasive seismic testing, followed by exploration and potential drilling, demonstrates that the whaling industry that once provided blubber to the lubricants industry is being superseded by the oil and gas industry, and the mammals are seen by our government as a mere hindrance to development.

The result will invariably be extinction.

SEE: Shell’s seismic blasting is a threat to South Africa’s fish stocks and totally out of step with global energy trends

SEE: The huge momentum shift in the story of two environmental campaigns against Shell

Loom without a blessed view

THERE’S a new ponzi scheme targeting Cape Town’s ‘woke females’ who seem to think that sharing videos on babies and spirituality via social media like Whatsapp and Telegram, is going to lead to an empowering ‘gifting event.’ With all the overtones of stokvel and women’s circle (both legitimate) loom also known as the ‘blessing loom’, and ‘secret sisters’, relies on new money from a devolving membership in order to function and is thus a Ponzi Scheme.

Things have certainly progressed since the simple ‘chain letter’ scams of my days at school. Try giving someone a gold coin to plant, to make a gold coin tree grow and you will get the picture.

If you missed the Bitcoin Ponzis or the Crowdfunding Ponzis such as Crowd1, get ready for the post-Covid Spirituality Ponzi going viral as we speak, in Australia, Nigeria and Cape Town.

Women do count in my book. But I’m afraid the maths is against anyone playing this game since the way it runs is in multiples, 1, 2, 4, 8, … 64 which then requires 4096 people in order to have that moment when the magic jelly beans fall out of the proverbial unicorn’s backside.

The best description is by a women writing under the pseudonym Delphine Delchambre who published an article about her experience on Medium.

To put it short: one is invited, usually by a friend or relative, to join a simple, circular, money making system — its circular form makes its members believe it is not a pyramid system, but when one would virtually pull up the center of the circle and lift it, one would quickly see the circle evolving into… yes, a pyramid! Entering the system is as simple as paying a small amount of money, which in this case was €150. All you need to start “the game” is a Whatsapp account, some patience and — this is key — you are asked and expected to invite at least 2 or more of your beloved friends, family and acquaintances. The more people you manage to add to the circle, the quicker the movement of it, and thus, the easier it will be for you to make your chunk of easy money. In front of such minimum “work” stands a wealthy reward: you’d end up making €5250. (you can find more about how the money making actually works, by looking through the diagrams and pictures posted below) So, with a small effort and by spreading the “love” and “positive vibes” of this circle, you’d end up making a staggering €5250 profit in no time! For every person to eventually make this kind of money, the “Loom” needs to always, ad infinitum, keep on growing. 64 new people are needed for every person to gain his or her Loom-boon. 

My own encounter with a local version of the ponzi preying on our community in its nefarious ‘activation of the feminine divine’, was via a close associate attempting to ‘sponsor’ my partner in a BEE version of the game that appears to have differing terms for the various levels or stages.

Since the game runs like a trojan hijacking our community and informal sector, it may also be manipulated, as one Youtuber explains, the problems are endless.

Please don’t get loomified. If you want to start a legitimate gift economy, make sure it complies with stokvel legislation and is truly sustainable.

Brew some coffee: here are top 5 Alternative Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories

A NUMBER of alternative theories are circulating about the origin of Covid-19. Though none demonstrate conclusive proof beyond what is already known, ( the virus is the result of zoonotic transmission, in all likelihood arising from contamination at a wet market in Wuhan), the resulting conspiracy theories are alarming to say the least. By no means definitive – take with a pinch of salt and remember, the burden of evidence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

1. Different Origin

“In all the discussions of the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic,” write independent researchers Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD “enormous scientific attention has been paid to the molecular character of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including its novel genome sequence in comparison with its near relatives. In stark contrast, virtually no attention has been paid to the physical provenance of those nearest genetic relatives, its presumptive ancestors, which are two viral sequences named BtCoV/4991 and RaTG13.”

The pair have proposed a new origin, based upon evidence garnered from a Chinese Master’s Thesis and collected from a mineshaft in Yunnan province, China, in 2012/2013 by researchers from the lab of Zheng-li Shi at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

They also write the Case Is Building That COVID-19 Had a Lab Origin’. “most of these ancestor-like bat coronaviruses cannot infect humans . In consequence, from its beginning, a key question hanging over the pandemic has been: How did a bat RNA virus evolve into a human pathogen that is both virulent and deadly?”

Probability: High

2. Engineered Doomsday

Did this virus come from a lab? Maybe not — but it exposes the threat of a biowarfare arms race” writes Sam Husseini in Salon. “There has been no scientific finding that the novel coronavirus was bioengineered, but its origins are not entirely clear.”

“Deadly pathogens discovered in the wild are sometimes studied in labs — and sometimes made more dangerous. That possibility, and other plausible scenarios, have been incorrectly dismissed in remarks by some scientists and  government officials, and in the coverage of most major media outlets.”

“Regardless of the source of this pandemic, there is considerable documentation that a global biological arms race going on outside of public view could produce even more deadly pandemics in the future.”

An editorial published in the New York Times as early as 2012 warned “Scientists have long worried that an influenza virus that has ravaged poultry and wild birds in Asia might evolve to pose a threat to humans. Now scientists financed by the National Institutes of Health have shown in a laboratory how that could happen. In the process they created a virus that could kill tens or hundreds of millions of people if it escaped confinement or was stolen by terrorists.”

Probability: High

3. Mutually Assured Contagion

Did either the Trump administration or Xi Jinping’s party collaborate on, or release a virus as part of protracted trade war negotiations, a retaliatory tit-for-tat, resulting in a bizarre engineered covid trade round?

Although the evidence of both USA and China involvement in the Wuhan Institute of Virology is overwhelming, and has been exposed by Peter Breggin MD, there is no evidence of such a conspiracy, aside from Trumps own ravings on the matter in the days following the global lockdown. Proof would require a thorough examination of the motives and capacity for a release: Why would either party want to set loose a mild, but very infectious contagion, except to disrupt markets and make money? Look at the denial carried by the Wall St Journal.

Probability: Medium to High

4. Mutually Assured Covid-nomics

One subset theory of the above is based upon economic modelling conducted by the Whitehouse several months before the pandemic, that predict a sudden cessation of economic activity, necessitating intervention by you guessed it, the Federal Reserve .

In 2004 Jong-Wha Lee and Warwick J. McKibbin in ‘Estimating the Global Economic Costs of SARS’ published in ‘Learning from SARS: Preparing for the Next Disease Outbreak‘ produced a global model to simulate the economic impact of a long-term SARS epidemic using the period 2002–2081. The so-called ‘G-Cubed (Asia-Pacific) model’ is eerie and prescient in its description. I reproduce it here:

First, fear of SARS infection leads to a substantial decline in consumer demand, especially for travel and retail sales service. The fast speed of contagion makes people avoid social interactions in affected regions. The adverse demand shock becomes more substantial in regions that have much larger service-related activities and higher population densities, such as Hong Kong or Beijing, China. The psychological shock also ripples around the world, not just to the countries of local transmission of SARS, because the world is so closely linked by international travel. Second, the uncertain features of the disease reduce confidence in the future of the affected economies. This effect seems to be potentially very important, particularly as the shock reverberates through China, which has been a key center of foreign investment. The response by the Chinese government to the epidemic was fragmented and nontransparent. The greater exposure to an unknown disease and the less effective government responses to the disease outbreaks must have elevated concerns about China’s institutional quality and future growth potential. Although it is difficult to measure directly the effects of diseases on decision making by foreign investors, the loss of foreign investors’ confidence would have potentially tremendous impacts on foreign investment flows, which would in turn have significant impacts on China’s economic growth. This effect is also transmitted to other countries competing with China for foreign direct investment (FDI). Third, SARS undoubtedly increases the costs of disease prevention, especially in the most affected industries such as the travel and retail sales service industries. This cost may not be substantial, at least in global terms, as long as the disease is transmitted only by close human contact. However, the global cost could become enormous if the disease is found to be transmitted by other channels such as through international cargo.

Probability: Medium to High

5. Viral Population Control

Another variation of the Mutually Assured Contagion theory, is based upon events leading up to the assumption to power of Xi Jinping, and the relationship of Trump to the Jinping administration during the early days of the Trump presidency. It can also be summarised as Mutually Assured, Mad Dictator Syndrome. In order for either party to become President for Life, as Jinping became in March 2018, a way to cement power over the global population had to be found. With growing dissent in Hong Kong, the winning dictator released a contagion, that made command and control of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army a lot easier, and ditto US Army.

In this scenario, alluded to in 2007, epidemics are seen as opportunities for either party elite (read global elites) to seize power or cement control, with the added benefit that global spread of the contagion, empowers similar totalitarian initiatives around the globe. Did we forget to mention the World Health Organisation?

Probability: Low to Medium

Hunger must be seen as a determinant of health

YESTERDAYS looting of supermarkets in several South African townships, is unfortunately driven by hunger. These food riots are indicative of an alarming situation unfolding two and a half weeks into the hard lockdown. Gatesville, Manenburg, Tafelsig, Alexandra, are where low-income families have been forced into the lockdown without any tangible relief from government. Hunger must be seen as a determinant of health alongside the burden of disease.

Instead our government appears hellbent on implementing prescriptions driven by the WHO in Geneva. Solutions which may turnout to be wholly unsuited to conditions in emerging economies such as our own. The lockdown may be wrong for Africa.

It is doubtful whether or not the hard lockdown will accomplish any of the supposed objectives laid out by our Health Minister, and should rather be replaced by a smart lockdown, or soft lockdown as soon as possible. Despite experiencing a surge, Japan has implemented a soft lock-down, as have many countries fully aware that completely suppressing the virus risks the situation where one merely postpones and lengthens the epidemic.

According to chief scientist Prof Salim Karim, ‘South Africa will know on 18 April’ if the methodology utilised against the coronovirus is inaccurate or factually correct. The measures may have bought time for our health system to prepare for a coming surge, known as the ‘delayed exponential curve of infection’.

If mitigation measures  to curtail the spread of hunger, are not implemented immediately, the problem of mass starvation could dwarf the current epidemic and grow to haunt South Africans as we move forward during an unprecedented period of economic turmoil. Most households are only able to maintain a two-week supply of food. Without income or food parcels, the situation could quickly deteriorate to conditions seen during wartime, famine and natural disasters.

“Our problem is not that we don’t have enough food in South Africa. Our problem is that the food is only available to those who have cash” writes business strategist Marius Oosthuizen.

The closure of restaurants and hotels has perversely resulted in literal food mountains. Tonnes of produce is being destroyed around the world because of the global pandemic, while ordinary consumers are ironically forced to pay more for fresh produce.

Since 2011, three million more South Africans have been pushed below the poverty line, according to a study by the national data agency, Statistics South Africa. More than 30.4 million South Africans—55.5% of the population—live on less than 992 rand (about $75) per person per month. Yesterdays interest rate cut will assist middle-class households, but the problem remains that most households were already below the poverty line at the beginning of the lock-down.

Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina on Tuesday launched a food bank to provide relief to the poor during the Covid-19 outbreak. The same plan alongside further disaster relief is required in every Metro, town and city. School feeding schemes urgently need to be restored. Other relief measures that should be contemplated include once off emergency cash payments to each and every household.

Current relief packages rolled out by national government include  assistance to SMMEs, tax relief, Agricultural Aid, UIF, Health and other support services. More needs to be done if the lockdown continues. As an anonymous author from Iran writes, ‘the difference between barbarism and civilisation is a plate of food’.

It is imperative that food security be seen alongside the burden of disease, as a determinant of people’s health.

 

Covid-19 Facts: Surviving the Covid-19 ‘Immunity’ Disaster

1. What is SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19?

“Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” is the name of the new virus according to the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). “COVID-19” is the name of the new disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 following guidelines previously developed with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

This means it is related to the coronovirus responsible for the 2003 SARS epidemic. ‘Based on phylogeny, taxonomy and established practice, the CSG recognizes this virus as forming a sister clade to the prototype human and bat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs) of the species Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus, and designates it as SARS-CoV-2.’

2. What are the Symptoms?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19, according to the WHO: fever (in 88% of cases), dry cough (68%), fatigue (38%) and sputum/phlegm production (33%). Shortness of breath occurred in nearly 20% of cases, and about 13% had a sore throat or headache, the WHO said in a report drawing on more than 70,000 cases in China.

3. How Infectious is SARS-CoV-2?

Covid-19 is more infectious and contagious than previously assumed. R0 value is likely to be between 4.7 and 6.6., and not 2.2 to 2.7 as previously reported. This places it in the realm of Smallpox which has an R0 of 5–7.

It can survive for up to 3 days+ on surfaces and remain airborne for hours.

It is most infectious during incubation, and first week of symptoms and less infectious during post-symptomatic recovery period. Incubation period averages 5.1 days.

It follows that since SARS-CoV-2 is related to the SARS 2003 virus, the same protocols should apply, ‘avoid direct contact with respiratory secretions or body fluids.’

Note: It is well worth reading up on predecessor SARS 1

Can We Learn Anything from the SARS Outbreak to Fight COVID-19?

The problem is that since the coronovirus is a new pathogen, we do not possess natural immunity. South Africans will eventually gain ‘herd immunity’ which is ‘the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination’.

4. How many South Africans are likely to catch COVID-19?

If one uses Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel’s estimates that 40%-60% of the population will invariably be infected: South Africa with a population of 56+ million must plan for some 22 400 000 to 33 600 000 cases of which 1 904 000 will be critical according to WHO average mortality rate of 3.4. This makes it a major problem for the public health system. See Coronavirus: Simple statistical predictions for South Africa

Luckily we have a relatively young population. Age of a population is a factor in mortality rate.

5. How many hospital beds does South Africa have?

There are currently some 80 000 beds in the public health system, and 5000 beds in the private health care system according to MOH Dr Zweli Mkhize today. This means a potential shortfall of 1 819 000 beds. Nationally, there is only 1 hospital, 187 hospital beds and 42 surgical beds per 100 000 population.

6. Which groups are most at risk from SARS-CoV-2?

Most reports suggest that the elderly, infirm and those already possessing co-morbidity, i.e underlying disease such as HIV, Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease are particularly at risk from falling critically ill from the disease.

COVID-19 update: What you need to know now that it’s officially a pandemic

7. Why should I be concerned about SARS-CoV-2 & COVID-19?

Patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection are presenting with a wide range of symptoms. Most patients seem to have mild disease, and about 20% appear to progress to severe disease, including pneumonia, respiratory failure, and, in some cases, even death, according to the Lancet.

Coronavirus turns deadly when it leads to ‘cytokine storm’; identifying this immune response is key to patient’s survival

Since COVID-19 may also reduce lung function, opportunistic infection from Pneumococcus, Streptococcus and Mycobacterium Tuberculosis within the South African context may also be inferred. This presents a substantial and heretofore under-reported risk.

Unless we think globally and act locally to contain and prevent transmission, new waves of the pandemic are likely to hit the sub-continent.

8. What can I do to prevent transmission?

Social distancing, avoiding large crowds, hand-washing, the Covid “handshake” and sneezing into ones elbow are all behavioural changes suggested by our MOH.

Providing hand-sanitation stations at Taxi ranks, Metro-Rail and public venues is another suggestion, so too providing UV lights and/or latex gloves and hand sanitiser to those who deal with money at checkouts, and also pump jockeys at Petrol Stations.

Disinfection of Public Transport and Taxis should be prioritised!

Predecessor SARS 1 showed sensitivity to UV light, renders inactive.

Traditional burning of Imphepho or African Sage may assist poor households in removing bacteria and viruses from the air, as inferred from Journal of Ethnopharmacology, since havan samagri has the potential to kill 94% of bacteria.

9. Is there a cure?

Treatment is currently symptomatic. Several treatment therapies have been advanced, including the use of chloroquine phosphate to treat fever, antivirals such as protease inhibitors to treat viral reproduction and other therapies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that codeine and ibuprofen exacerbates the fever and should not be taken without doctor supervision. Favipiravir, a Japanese flu drug has also proven effective.

Covid-19: ibuprofen should not be used for managing symptoms, say doctors and scientists

See Could an old malaria drug help fight the new coronavirus?

Warnings issued on lethal dose of Chloroquine 

Nvidia is calling on gaming PC owners to put their systems to work fighting COVID-19 by assisting projects already  ‘simulating potentially druggable protein targets from SARS-CoV-2

Avoid Coronophobia, the fear of Coronoviruses killing you. Rational thinking rather than fear, panic and denial is the key here.

10. Can I test for SARS-CoV-2?

Yes, currently the only tests available are via pathology labs, designated public hospitals such as Tygerberg and the private health system and cost anywhere between R1400 to R900. Local tests have a 48 hour turnaround. This is a significant downside to an otherwise excellent disaster plan. Singapore for instance has rolled out a four-hour turnaround swab-test at entry points, while Senegal is working on a 10-minute PCR test.

Demand better screening, lowering of threshold of surveillance and access to free testing.

11. Is there a Vaccine?

South Africa has no candidate vaccine at this time.

See: How can AI help biotech companies seeking vaccines?

Passive antibody therapy, an Antibody Method from the 1890s is being used to provide stop-gap immunity.

A Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle.

Immunisation will take time, we need to be vigilant and patient until then.

Everything You Need to Know About Coronavirus Vaccines

12. Which borders are closed?

A travel ban has been enforced on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. There is currently no word on Japan,  Spain and other places of concern.

13. How will this effect the global economy?

In 2004 Jong-Wha Lee and Warwick J. McKibbin in ‘Estimating the Global Economic Costs of SARS’ published in ‘Learning from SARS: Preparing for the Next Disease Outbreak‘ produced a global model to simulate the economic impact of a long-term SARS epidemic using the period 2002–2081. The so-called ‘G-Cubed (Asia-Pacific) model’ is eerie and prescient in its description. I reproduce it here:

First, fear of SARS infection leads to a substantial decline in consumer demand, especially for travel and retail sales service. The fast speed of contagion makes people avoid social interactions in affected regions. The adverse demand shock becomes more substantial in regions that have much larger service-related activities and higher population densities, such as Hong Kong or Beijing, China. The psychological shock also ripples around the world, not just to the countries of local transmission of SARS, because the world is so closely linked by international travel. Second, the uncertain features of the disease reduce confidence in the future of the affected economies. This effect seems to be potentially very important, particularly as the shock reverberates through China, which has been a key center of foreign investment. The response by the Chinese government to the epidemic was fragmented and nontransparent. The greater exposure to an unknown disease and the less effective government responses to the disease outbreaks must have elevated concerns about China’s institutional quality and future growth potential. Although it is difficult to measure directly the effects of diseases on decision making by foreign investors, the loss of foreign investors’ confidence would have potentially tremendous impacts on foreign investment flows, which would in turn have significant impacts on China’s economic growth. This effect is also transmitted to other countries competing with China for foreign direct investment (FDI). Third, SARS undoubtedly increases the costs of disease prevention, especially in the most affected industries such as the travel and retail sales service industries. This cost may not be substantial, at least in global terms, as long as the disease is transmitted only by close human contact. However, the global cost could become enormous if the disease is found to be transmitted by other channels such as through international cargo.

14. How will this effect the local economy?

Our economy is so intertwined with the rest of the world that the impact is bound to last for a very long time. In the meantime, think about the benefits and opportunities of buying local, sharing with your neighbour, lending a hand and being prepared. Household responsibility dictates that it is up to individual households at the end of the day to provide for oursselves and to figure out how best to move the economy forward.

Heartless NUMSA official claims cyclone which wiped out Beira is a lie

ON NATIONAL television, NUMSA official Phakamile Jola claimed that the cyclone which destroyed “90 percent” of Beira, a city of about a half-million people ‘was a lie’. Apparently, the resulting loss of power from the massive Cahora Bassa hydroelectric scheme which powers Gauteng, is merely a ruse by our government to promote privatization of Eskom.

Beira is Mozambique’s fourth largest and faces the Indian Ocean, while the inland Cahora Bassa scheme in Tete province was unfortunately in the path of the storm which also wreaked havoc in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The power lines came down over the weekend, causing massive power outages in South Africa.

The shameful failure to get to grips with climate change and baseload energy dynamics comes at the expense not only of Mocambicans, but  the poor and unemployed of South Africa.

In an editorial, Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper said that climate change was responsible for the extreme weather, and that the country must brace itself for more. “Tropical Cyclone Idai brings vital lessons that climate change is now with us’.

Some 850 000 people are affected.

NUMSA continue in their legal challenge on behalf of well-heeled coal truckers in the country seemingly oblivious to the suffering caused by climate change, the result of emissions from mammoth coal-fired power-plants such as Medupe and Kusile.

While privatization may not be the only solution to Eskom’s woes, IPPs are certainly part of the necessary corrective to the state monopoly and its over-reliance on state-sponsored debt to drive expension.

 

‘State Capture’, treason by any other name

THE latest Guptagate revelations amounting to a plot to capture the Republic of South Africa should be considered treason by any other name. As William Shakespeare famously once said:”A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” , in this instance, if state capture smells and looks as bad as treason, then surely criminal charges need to levelled against its chief protagonists, charges that are more serious than simply that of looting state coffers?

In the South African Law Journal, C. Snyman wrote: “… high treason is the unlawful intentional commission of any act with the ‘additional intent’ to overthrow or coerce the state.”

According to the Helen Suzman Foundation

The crime of high treason is defined as:
“any conduct unlawfully committed by a person owing allegiance to a state with the intention of:
• overthrowing the government of the Republic;
• coercing the government by violence into any action or inaction;
• violating, threatening or endangering the existence, independence or security of the Republic;
• changing the constitutional structure of the Republic.”

The ingredients are all here, betrayal, coercion, violation of independence and public trust, in short capture.

The circle of plotters, range from the President himself, the Gupta crime family, and several directors of parastatals and government agencies.

Names appearing in news stories associated with state capture allegations include a range of individuals whose motive appears to have been to redirect state funds into private hands, in the process depriving ordinary South Africans of poverty relief.

The NPA is investigating seven cases related to what has come to be known as “state capture”, involving R50 billion.

In one case it is alleged that R10m of the funds paid to Estina for a dairy farm was paid into Atal Gupta’s personal bank account.

It appears board members  and employees of ESKOM Sean Maritz, Anoj Singh, Zethimbe Koza are also involved in a parallel kickbacks scandal.

Bell Pottinger a public relations entity has also been named.

A story published by ENCA last year openly discusses treason: “revelations by former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas, and former head of GCIS, Themba Maseko, that the Gupta family had offered them ministries or had made requests to direct state finances in their direction, amount to exactly that.”

Turning South Africa away from its constitutional mandate as a democracy into a personal fiefdom, nothing more than a means of benefiting a few private individuals, has all the hallmarks of treason and should be dealt with accordingly, unfortunately this is unlikely to come about under an ANC government, itself the target of disputed treason allegations under the previous regime.

 

 

 

Here’s where Cape Town’s water is going

A YOUTUBE video posted by Adam Spires, substantiates claims that millions of gallons of drinking water are being allowed to escape, flowing downstream from a major dam, apparently to save farmers. Posted earlier this month, the video shows the sluice gates are open at a dam site outside of Cape Town, posing the question why is this happening? With Zero Day approaching, and the water crisis beginning to impact upon households, why are wealthy farmers in the country’s wine estates benefitting? Is this another case of the Stellenbosch Mafia coming first while ordinary citizens’ needs are sacrificed? Why are local media houses publishing incorrect information on water shortages?

READ: The City that ran out of water