Peter Breggin MD, raises questions on US-China ‘gain-of-function’ Coronovirus research.

THIS WEEK saw a special report by Peter Breggin, MD, raising serious questions about US-sponsored ‘Gain-of-Function’ Coronovirus research at China’s Wuhan laboratory facility.

This type of research was temporarily halted over ethical concerns under the Obama administration. Gain-of-function (GOF) research ‘typically involves mutations that confer altered functionality of a protein or other molecule.’

He says a ‘2015 Scientific Paper Proves US & Chinese Scientists Collaborated to Create Coronavirus that Can Infect Humans‘.

In 2015, American researchers and Chinese Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers collaborated to transform an animal coronavirus into one that can attack humans. Scientists from prestigious American universities and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worked directly with the two coauthor researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology, Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli-Li Shi. Funding was provided by the Chinese and US governments. The team succeeded in modifying a bat coronavirus to make it capable of infecting humans.

The research was published in December 2015 in the prestigious British journal, Nature Medicine (volume 21, pages 1508–1513). The paper by Vineet D. Menachery et al., “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence” is available here as a PDF as well as on-line.i

The research demonstrates how a modified Bat coronovirus capable of attacking ACE2 was created by Chinese researchers and also their failure to develop a vaccine, and was followed by warnings of the danger involved published by The Scientist, 16 November 2015.

We built a chimeric virus encoding a novel, zoonotic CoV spike protein—from the RsSHC014-CoV sequence that was isolated from Chinese horseshoe bats1,” claim the researchers.

“The results demonstrate the ability of the SHC014 surface protein to bind and infect human cells, validating concerns that this virus—or other coronaviruses found in bat species—may be capable of making the leap to people without first evolving in an intermediate host, Nature reported. They also reignite a debate about whether that information justifies the risk of such work, known as gain-of-function research. “If the [new] virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory,” Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, told Nature.”

Breggin’s astonishing report comes the same week that an investigation into the same Wuhan facility has been reopened by the USA.

Breggin is well known within the medical and scientific community and has authored dozens of scientific articles and over twenty books, ‘promoting more caring and effective therapies’. He is also highly critical of the drug establishment and pharmaceutical industry.

His report follows initial articles, questioning whether Sars-Cov-2 is a chimera of two different viruses?

And apparently conclusive evidence that the virus is not man-made.

Breggin is at pains to point out that the man-made coronovirus referred to in the 2015 scientific literature is not SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19. He instead presents various questions, necessitating further inquiry:

Concluding Questions:

  • Who in the US government enabled this research? Why was it allowed when it was enabling the Chinese to develop a military weapon or to accidentally cause an epidemic?
  • Why was an FDA official involved as an author and why was NIH funding the project?
  • The virus created in collaboration with the Chinese and the current epidemic virus are both SARS-CoV with many shared characteristics. This writer has found no scientific research that specifically compares the two viruses, a subject that needs to be investigated.
  • How many more lab-created or manipulated viruses are in the world’s laboratories and under the control of governments and the military?
  • Are potentially dangerous research projects continuing to go on involving American and Chinese collaboration with or without funding from both countries?
  • Why and how has this research project wholly escaped notice amid the growing concern about China’s role in causing the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic?
  • Why have none of the American researchers come forward to draw attention to this project which, at the least, enabled and promoted Chinese efforts to weaponize viruses?

Two years before the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic upended the world, U.S. Embassy officials visited a Chinese research facility in the city of Wuhan several times and sent two official warnings back to Washington about inadequate safety at the lab, which was conducting risky studies on coronaviruses from bats, according to Washington Post.

A new investigation, titled “Coronavirus 2019-nCoV contains a furin-like cleavage site absent in CoV of the same clade,” suggests it is unlike anything seen before. Which might require furin inhibitors.

Coronavirus study identifies ‘gain of function for efficient spread in humans’

Another paper raises Ethical and Philosophical Considerations for Gain-of-Function Policy: The Importance of Alternate Experiments

Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world’s most dangerous pathogens

South Africa’s high tech response to Covid-19 epidemic

SOUTH AFRICA is leading the way in charting a high tech response to the pandemic. Several hospitals, including private and public facilities are utilising robots to limit exposure and infection control. A two-wheeled robot named Quinton is helping to reduce the time doctors are physically present with infected patients at Tygerberg Hospital, while Netcare has deployed germ-eradicating robots to fight infection.

Netcare Group’s chief executive officer, Dr Richard Friedland says “Both the Xenex pulsed ultraviolet (UV) robots and Yanex Pulsed-Xenon UV robots deployed in Netcare hospitals use high doses of UV light to destroy viruses, bacteria and fungal spores and disinfect hospital wards, theatres and other spaces within minutes”.

Meanwhile Prof Salim Karim outlined this morning, how his team intends to tackle the local epidemic using ‘big data’ by deploying the CSIR National Ops Centre initially created for the soccer world cup. His team is busy gathering data by geolocating tests via cellphones and identifying hotspots inside the country.

A strategy of containment has also been rolled out. Prof Karim is in the process of ‘identifying weak links in the national containment strategy’. He says the country is not just slowing the outbreak but ‘is learning from how the virus spreads’. Is concerned about potential for spread within Prisons, Mines, Hospitals, and is talking about ‘control, enforcement and more aggressive steps’.

The use of technology is proving to be a game-changer.

Local biotech company, Cape Bio Pharm is introducing spike proteins into plants, to produce “a cheaper, locally produced test kit” which would “separate the seasonal flu sufferer from a person infected with COVID-19, thereby alleviating the strain on our healthcare system”

The Health Dept recently ramped up testing by utilising a GeneXpert TB test machine repurposed for Covid-19 that will massively increase capacity.

Two entrepreneurs from CSIR have developed a lab PCR test which takes just 60 minutes.

Stellenbosch University and AzarGen Biotechnologies (Pty) Ltd, a South African biotechnology company have focused on developing ‘human therapeutic proteins’ using advanced genetic engineering and synthetic biology techniques in plants, and have joined forces in the global fight against the coronavirus.

A branded synthetic pharmaceutical, previously used for the treatment of neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome (nRDS), a condition where some premature babies struggle to breathe due to collapsed lung sacs, as well as treatment for acute lung injury in adults, is being tested as a supportive agent for the treatment of ARDS, the condition associated with COVID-19.

South Africa’s local biotech industry is already quite advanced, and the country has a history of medical world firsts, including the first ever heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital.

Telemedicine is moving in leaps and bounds, but still needs a way to go within the public health sector.l

A syndromic response may be required as we move into Winter flu season. Various companies around the world have outlined the means by which multiple tests for a variety of respiratory illnesses may be combined in theory into one single test.

While SAA may have been grounded for good, Ethiopian Airlines arrived with medical supplies from China, and also tests and equipment donated by Jack Ma.

Emirates Airlines has started implementing rapid testing for passengers demonstrating the type of technology being appraised by Senegal’s Louis Pasteur Institute.

Biodx, a proudly South African company,  is developing ‘cutting edge antimicrobial and antiviral technologies’ with technical support from the CSIR. However UV Led Light may turn out to be a better option, as demonstrated by a 30-Second Coronavirus Kill.

South Africa’s first successful genome sequencing of a locally collected sample of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been added to an international database to help better understand the disease. KwaZulu Natal’s Research, Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) and the Big Data Flagship Programme of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has a multi-disciplinary team of world-renowned experts which mainly focuses on analysis and control of viral outbreaks and genomic analysis.

SA’s 3D-printing community is making life-saving protective gear from home and the University of Johannesburg is deploying its printers in the fight against Covid-19.

The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide technical assistance to South Africa’s National Department of Health (NDoH) and National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in addition to 50 million rand to the countries epidemic response.

Concerns about the use of tech during the crisis taking the surveillance state to a new level have been expressed. In 2013 South Africa passed a law protecting personal data, The Personal Information Protection Act.

Gatesgate: Naspers/News24 sudden flipflop on vaccine testing claims

READERS may be aware of false claims made by Naspers media group, News24 stating incorrectly that philanthropist Bill Gates would be testing a vaccine against Covid-19 on Africans. The story turned out to be fake news gleaned from twitter and has resulted in a series of embarrassing retractions and apologies by the media group.

A column by ‘public editor’ George Claasen stands alongside news editor Adriaan Basson’s open acknowledgement: “There is a massive difference between testing kits to help the government determine how many citizens are Covid-19 positive, and testing new vaccines on Africans. This should have been picked up and corrected in the editing process.”

“We messed up and for that we apologised to you, our readers, and to the Gates Foundation” says Basson.

Claasen’s narrative on the other hand, is exceedingly bizarre considering his own admission: “When I was a young cub reporter, ethical accountability by the media was a rare phenomenon. Press codes mostly did not exist and a watchdog such as the Organisation of Newsombudsmen and Standards Editors (ONO), the international body today guarding over journalism standards, did not exist and was only established in the 1980s”.

One should note here that any comparison with the activities of other media houses during the struggle period referred to by Claasen would quickly assess that neither Grassroots nor South Press for that matter, had similar lapses of judgement. Whether the same can be said of the Weekly Mail and its treatment of Winnie Mandela is another story.

Although other media players acted recklessly under various media restrictions and were perhaps, victims of embedded journalism, the old Argus Group showed more backbone than Naspers did in allowing open criticism of the regime. Criticism notably missing from papers such as Die Burger during the same period.

Both Basson and Claasen should therefore be reminded that they speak on behalf of a discredited news organisation that continues to lie about its role during apartheid, was found guilty of gross violations of human rights by the commission of inquiry into apartheid, and today stands accused of waging a campaign against the TRC and also of going so far as to corruptly influence a 2010 decision by our labour legal system, in order to avoid culpability.

The retraction this week follows the passing of Conrad Sidego, ‘the only person to have experienced discrimination’ at Naspers during apartheid, according to the company, a company which itself is a marvel of reinvention.

This follows several well-publicised scandals involving former senior Media24 journalists accused of sexually abusing boys while they held senior positions at the company,

The public retractions by News24 editors, welcome are they may be in some quarters, are thus one of the rare moments when the Naspers corporation has found pause to consider the deleterious effects of its lack of journalistic integrity.

Surely time to demand why no retraction of the many previous ‘errors of fact’ introduced by the apartheid lie factory?

Why no public acknowledgements of complicity in the dirty tricks operation waged against anti-apartheid newsrooms and following similar revelations made by Paul Erasmus during the Timol and Aggett inquests?

Could it be that in all these cases, none of the victims turned out to be billionaires?

Rupert Covid-19 donations debunked or not?

NEWS that former apartheid financier and bankster, Johann Rupert was ‘donating’ R1 billion to small business relief via the President’s so-called Solidarity fund, raised the ire of many critics who argued that the donation was in fact a loan.

The controversy recalls similar prevarication issued by the Ruperts, especially in regard to the family’s collaboration with the apartheid regime.

Sunday World at first broke the story that the funds would be used as loans not bailouts

Moneyweb soon followed suit, by questioning the publicity stunt, but then decided to fudge the matter somewhat. The devil as they say was in the detail, — what at first appeared to be a massive credit might yet turn out to be a very large debit:

As investment analyst David Morobe explained, the money was in fact a donation to the fund but the “assistance will be in the form of a loan, which is repayable over a period of five years.”

“For the first year, applicants will not have to pay interest or instalments, but thereafter they will be expected to do so.”

The Citizen similarly varied its piece on the subject, but carried word of opposition party the EFF and its open disgust for the manner in which the crisis was being used “entrap” small and medium enterprises in debt. The party even went as far as to accuse the billionaire of trying to be a “loan shark”.

Meanwhile the only person to have ever experienced discrimination at Naspers/Media24 headquarters during apartheid, according to the company, has died. Former Stellenbosch Mayor Conrad Sidego passed away this week bringing a close to a chapter in which he was the sole person to have been affected by apartheid. The Rupert’s iron grip over our legal system, itself designed to give the first round of state capture  a massive advantage, has all but stifled legal action in the aftermath of apartheid.

It should strike readers as incredibly odd (or just a tad convenient), that nobody in the media world has found pause to consider that the Rupert’s various investments in the media and capture of the justice system, came about as a result of apartheid — the late Anton Rupert’s close business relationship to Nico Diederichs and Owen Horward, both stanch Nationalists and close confidants of the late PW Botha.



10 Days into the ‘National Disaster’, and South Africa continues to bungle its response to the crisis

AS THE COUNTRY prepares for what appears to be an unprecedented lock-down, following the declaration of a national disaster over a week ago, the authorities continue to bungle the epidemic.

Granted a lot has changed since we reported on the failure to close borders to European red zones, our obsession with Wuhan repatriation, and the problematic roll-out of posters with a case definition which excluded the possibility of community transmission.

Since then, our President announced broad-ranging and sweeping measures to contain the spread of the virus, including the shutting of ports and harbours, limitations on groups of more than 100 individuals, the introduction of a drinking curfew and other draconian measures, none of which tackle the central problem that this is a singlestranded, positive-sense RNA virus which hijacks the body in order to synthesise the proteins required to reproduce itself.

Instead of announcing a colloquium or symposium to collect the prevailing scientific and evidence-based research needed to make informed decisions, our government has simply launched the country into a series of drastic actions and interventions via presidential decree, albeit informed by World Health Organisation officials in Geneva.

One action announced on Monday is an unprecedented shelter-in-place directive, in other words a national lock-down, which will require all citizens except those in exempt categories, to stay home for 21 days.  A similar order during the epidemic in Wuhan, essentially voluntary self-quarantining, and also currently in the USA, and elsewhere, has had limited success, and will in all likelihood fail.

The measure to use the parlance of the WHO ‘merely buys time‘.

To put this another way, if we simply suppress the virus, it will just come back once we end our lock-down, and the exponential spike we are all hoping to avoid now, will come back in May or July, especially since the virus is more active during Winter.

Public health officials hope that these steps will act to ‘flatten the curve’, but as this video shows, doing so at the wrong time, may risk the situation where the other half of the population will still go on to get the illness.

We can’t go into another lockdown after this one, and the sheer impact upon the economy is causing reverberations and jitters around the continent. While a raft of measures were announced to mitigate the impact on sectors such as the Hospitality industry, the sheer numbers of people affected make life incredibly difficult for scenario planners.

So what are we not doing that we should be doing?

Avoiding crude measures such as mass quarantines and instead relying upon big data as Taiwan and Singapore have done, to manage the spread of the virus, is certainly more preferable.

Creating acceptable risks by rapidly introducing antiviral treatments which act to reduce viral production within the body and thereby infection, transmission and mortality is another option of managing the problem. (To date over a 100 compounds have been identified by computational methods, a veritable Manhattan Project).

Realising that we have an incredible advantage when it comes to data processing that previous generations and pandemics lacked is crucial to the outcome of the crisis.

Cutting the red-tape that prevents the repurposing and redeployment of antiviral medication to fight the virus is going to determine whether or not we win this one.

It is unthinkable that we live in an age of germ-destroying ‘disinfection robots’, artificial intelligence and the sudden re-emergence of the cordon sanitaire, long considered a throwback to the Middle Ages.

Extending force magnification measures already in place such as tele-medicine to virtual visits during the epidemic could assist an overstretched public health system in reaching out to patients in the absence of transport.

Extending drone delivery of blood samples to delivery of medication and home diagnostic kits also could save lives.

Correcting mistakes with health communication by acknowledging the evolving symptoms and vectors of the epidemic as the City of Cape Town has done, is just a start.

So too would be correcting the comparison often made here with the flu.

The Coronovirus is related to the common cold, in essence a Zoonotic Cold or Respiratory Illness from Bats and Pangolins, and has struck down normally healthy youngsters who form some 10% of those in ICU, as well as the aged.

The reason why some people end up in ICU with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) while others get away with mild symptoms is not well understood and may have something to do with previous exposure to coronoviruses and the presence or absence of antibodies.

In the near absence of universal testing, (SA will only able to do 30 000 tests a day by mid April) temperature screening of fever suspects at public gatherings, might eliminate super-spreaders, and also buy us more time. Enough time until we are able to roll-out a universal vaccine and immunisation campaign.

A jab in the arm is far preferable to living in conditions that resemble ancient times.

To date, South Africa has yet to announce a local vaccine candidate or drug trial.









Is COVID-19 a Waterloo moment for the Anti-Vax Millennial brigade?

FOR MANY Gen-Xers, born during the twentieth century, the prospect of a world free of epidemics and disease has proven an alluring chimera. Instead of marshalling our efforts on developing a vaccine for SARS (2003), our fragile world got caught by the perfect storm.

Millennials who grew up enjoying the benefits of ‘herd immunity’, mass immunisation programmes and inoculations from previous generations, turned into pundits of anti-vaccine conspiracy, as measles returned, and the SARS virus came back 17 years later, with a more infectious sister-clade. SARS-Cov-2, (let’s just call it SARS2?)

The past weeks saw the world wake to a living hell, an episode straight out of World War Z and the Zombie Apocalypse. The exact same economic scenarios depicted by modellers shortly after the first SARS epidemic. One depicts a world economy during a period 2002-2081 in total decline as a result of social distancing and quarantines.

After a long global boom period in which the bulls outweighed the bears, we woke to extreme volatility, unprecedented in financial history, and the prospect that the COVID-19 epidemic could be with us for years to come, anywhere from 18-24 months.

The problem is that without a working phase 2 vaccine and mass immunisation programme we are stuck in quarantine mode, a crude method of containment no different from measures taken during Ancient times.

Containment is likely to suppress the virus, but it looks set to come back in waves if we do nothing. China is currently experiencing imported infections.  The cure may turn out to be worse than the disease. Is this how freedom dies, asked one online pundit?

Normality must be restored, and freedom can only repaired via immunisation programmes that default in favour of those who are vaccinated, protecting the rights of the free, versus the rights of those who simply wish us to return to Bible Ages. Whither the Anti-Vax movement?

Should vaccines be mandatory?

Who decides and how do we move away from a slippery slope which is surely contrary to human rights such as the right to bodily integrity, a pillar central to our Constitution?

What about the right to die?

Do we have the right to become infected?

The previous HIV epidemic should guide us. Nobody was ever arrested for getting HIV, but many people in various countries have been prosecuted for seeking to infect others.

Shutting down our free and open societies can only ever be considered a stop-gap measure until a working vaccine arrives. Or as one online hack put it, ‘its only quarantine if its from the French province of Quarantine, everything else is just sparkling isolation.’

Introducing curfews and restrictions on mass meetings and movement can only ever be temporary. Restrictions under Disaster and Emergency legislation, all have limitations.

There must be a Constitutional timeline and guarantee from our government that our liberty will be restored.

Unless we do this, we are no different from any totalitarian state.




Rate of Infection R0, why this so important when it comes to COVID-19?

R0 describes how many cases of a disease an infected person will go on to cause – in this imagined scenario R0=2.

FOR THE first SARS pandemic in 2003, scientists estimated the original R0 to be around 2.75. A month or two later, the effective R0 dropped below 1, thanks to the tremendous effort that went into intervention strategies, including isolation and quarantine activities.

Scientists use R0 – the reproduction number – to describe the intensity of an infectious disease outbreak. R0 estimates have been an important part of characterizing pandemics or large publicized outbreaks, including the 2003 SARS pandemic, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. ‘It’s something epidemiologists are racing to nail down about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.’

Since SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is a sister clade of SARS, it is extremely useful to simply refer to the bug as SARS2. In fact much of what was learnt during the first epidemic should be applied to the latest outbreak. For example, SARS was transmissible via respiratory and bodily fluid. Until evidence is provided to the contrary, one must assume this to also be the case with SARS2.

In the 1950s, epidemiologist George MacDonald suggested using R0 to describe the transmission potential of malaria. He proposed that, if R0 is less than 1, the disease will die out in a population, because on average an infectious person will transmit to fewer than one other susceptible person. On the other hand, if R0 is greater than 1, the disease will spread.

When public health agencies are figuring out how to deal with an outbreak, they are trying to bring R0 down to less than 1. This is tough for diseases that have a high R0.

When SARS2 arrived, it was assumed the R0 was similar to the previous epidemics. Initially SARS2, the novel coronovirus, was spreading within a range of 2.2 to 2.7 then it shot up to 4.7 – 6.6

This places it in the realm of Smallpox which has an R0 of 5–7.

You  can read more on How Scientists Quantify the Intensity of an Outbreak Like COVID-19

Coronavirus: Simple statistical predictions for South Africa

Coronavirus: Simple statistical predictions for South Africa

As South Africa fumbles COVID-19 testing, WHO warns social distancing is not enough

AS SOUTH AFRICA continues to struggle to ramp up basic testing for COVID-19, experts at the World Health Organization on Monday emphasized that countries should prioritize such testing— and that social-distancing measures are not enough.

“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (aka Dr. Tedros) said in a press briefing March 16.

Dr. Tedros noted that, as the numbers of cases and deaths outside of China have quickly risen, many countries—including the US—have urgently adopted so-called social-distancing measures, such as shuttering schools, canceling events, and having people work from home. While these measures can slow transmission and allow health care systems to better cope, they are “not enough to extinguish this pandemic,” Dr. Tedros warned.

What’s needed is a comprehensive approach, he said. “But we have not seen an urgent-enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the response,” Dr. Tedros said.

“The most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission,” he went on. “And to do that, you must test and isolate. You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.”

SEE: US testing response flounders 

SEE: Singapore’s Portable Covid-19 Swab Test 

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

Is it time to see Koos Bekker in an orange suit?

AN OP-ED in today’s Business Report asks the question: ‘is it time to see Koos Bekker in an orange suit?’ Sizwe Dlamini writes, “Naspers and Media24, by their own admission, were responsible for actively supporting the apartheid government. Naspers benefited by receiving textbook contracts as well as television licenses in exchange for hiding from the South African public the atrocities and destruction which the apartheid government put black people through. We know that these executives, along with their friends during apartheid, stole tens of billions from South Africans. This is fraud and corruption on a scale, which is far greater than that which Basson refers to.’

‘The ultimate irony of the new South Africa is that Naspers remains the largest dominant media company – the apartheid era from propaganda remains the dominant propaganda machine today. No other country or society in the world would have ever allowed a business such as Naspers, which was wholly complicit in apartheid-era crime and corruption, to exist today.’

Dlamini’s piece fails to mention Naspers opposition to the TRC, Naspers corruption and unlawful capture of the Labour Court and as a result the High Court. Naspers fraudulent and unlawful race-based 2010 inquiry into my own Secular Jewish identity and also repugnant interrogation of my struggle history, Naspers and its relationship to Remgro, and the questionable post-Codesa purchase of Kagiso and the resulting pathetic racist media cartel which runs a significant portion of SA media at the behest of apartheid bosses Bekker, Moolman, Rupert and Vosloo.

Read more here


Towards an African, humanist environmentalism for South Africa

IT WAS during the dying days of apartheid, that I wrote a series of articles promoting ‘ecological sustainable development’ and deep ecology. The pieces published by Grassroots and South Press were extraordinary, the least of which is that they were published by a working class imprint shortly after the state of emergency.

They dovetailed my criticism of race-based conservation efforts by elements within the regime, for example the Rupert Family, and addressed perceptions that the emergent environmental justice movement in the country was, to put it crudely, an all-white affair.

The result was the ‘First National Conference on Environment and Development’, in which academics and activists from all quarters joined hands on a broad eco-justice platform which included both the ANC and PAC, and which resulted in the placing of Earth Rights at the centre of our Constitution, in the form of article 24.

Today’s political pundits Carilee Osborne and Bruce Baigrie , conveniently ignore the history of environmentalism in South Africa, preferring to situate their respective struggles within the contemporary milieu of the Climate Strike — the recent Cape Town March which saw some 2500 people from various organisations and civic structures take to the streets in what they view “as one of the largest environmental protest actions in South Africa’s history.”

This is no mean feet and without wishing to downplay the successes of these epic events during the course of the past year, one should always remember that the environmental justice movement arose as a foundation stone of our Constitution during a period of mass democratic action, the likes of which have yet to be repeated. And thus a struggle which was situated not upon my own writings, nor the writings of any one particular individual, but rather the Freedom Charter, which (within the colour of the time) called upon people black and white, to “save the soil”, whilst sharing the land, and assisting the tillers of the land.

A similar mistake in historical proportion and misreading of history occurs within the various articles penned by one Farieda Khan. She writes in “Environmentalism in South Africa: A Sociopolitical Perspective”, (an otherwise excellent paper written over the turn of the millennium): “The first extra-parliamentary political organization to commit to a formal environmental policy was the Call of Islam, an affiliate of the United Democratic Front (the South African front organization for the then-banned African National Congress).” She goes on to state: “The Call of Islam had a formal environmental policy since its inception in 1984, due in large measure to the efforts of its founder, Moulana Faried Esack.”

If only history were so convenient as to claim environmentalism on behalf of any one religion or individual, whether Islam, or the Church, as many within SAFCEI and SACC would have it, or on behalf of one or more important groups or class formations formulated by those on the left, as those within AIDC would have us believe. (Please read Roger Hallam, XR Rebellion founder criticism of the failings of the so-called radical left).

Rather, I think it more accurate and best to take a broader arc of history — one that includes the Freedom Charter and its appeal to ‘save the soil’, and reaching forward to the essential humanism espoused by the deep ecology movement of the 1970s, whose distinguishing and original characteristics are its recognition of the inherent value of all living beings: “Those who work for social changes based on this recognition are motivated by love of nature as well as for humans.” And by extension, as much of my writing and published work from the 1980s suggested, an African environmentalism which realises that Ubuntu is not simply being human because we are all human, but rather, a common humanity contingent upon the necessary existence of our habitat, without which we could not exist as a species.

Instead of situating the environmental movement within so-called ‘working class’ struggles, or working class factions as Osborne and Baigrie attempt in “Towards a working-class environmentalism for South Africa”, and thus the binary of a grand populism vs narrow neoliberalism, a binary which simply perpetuates the idea of man’s dominion over nature and thus a struggle which of necessity is juxtaposed alongside the authoritarian grip of party politics, another path must be found.

It is all too easy to issue anti-capitalist prescriptions, leftist directives and cadre-based imperatives calling for the end of free markets whilst, forgetting that it is Eskom’s captive market, Eskom’s socialist ambitions, and Eskom’s coal barons which have pushed South Africa ahead of the UK in terms of GHG emissions, a country with 10-15 million more people. Although only the 33rd largest economy, South Africa is the 14th largest GHG emitter in the world. Our national energy provider, Eskom has yet to adopt GHG emissions targets.

All the result of  the boardroom compromises of the statist, authoritarian left, whose policies have seen our country embrace ‘peak, plateau and decline’ alongside a COP-out strategy excluding South Africa from the Paris Agreement, and thus a national environmental policy which is not based upon empirical science and evidence-based research but rather class driven kragdadigheid and Big Coal.

If those on the far left expect us all to reject secular humanist values alongside Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess who introduced the phrase “deep ecology” and thus an environmentalism which emerged as a popular grassroots political movement in the 1960s with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, simply because these persons are lily-white, or tainted by the liberal economics of the West, then they are sorely mistaken.

Instead, I believe, that it is far better to formulate an African-centred response, and rather a Pan-African struggle which is broad-based and inclusive of our collective humanity and common habitat. Such a broad-based struggle out of necessity includes an African-Centered Ecophilosophy and Political Ecology.The draft Climate Justice Charter is one such vehicle and deserves our full support.

The struggle for survival during the collapse of the Holocene, includes those already involved in conservation and preservation efforts and those who now join because of concerns about the detrimental impact of modern industrial technology. When one talks about climate justice we thus need to include the voices of those who have not been given an opportunity to speak, and remember that without mass mobilisation, nothing would have changed during apartheid.