Thursday, August 06, 2020

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC—LET US PAY EQUAL ATTENTION TO BOTH IMMUNISATION AND THERAPEUTIC SOLUTIONS.

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC—LET US PAY EQUAL ATTENTION TO BOTH IMMUNISATION AND THERAPEUTIC SOLUTIONS.

 

Floyd Shivambu

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a reality that will redefine world history and narratives of what is exactly happening in the world.Whilst there is a global consensus that this Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome known as Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) is a deadly disease which has led to lockdowns in virtually all parts of the world, there is still no commonly accepted solution on what is to be done to contain and ultimately eliminate the disease. The various developments in many parts of the world nevertheless raise many questions than answers and we all should begin to think on what should be sustainable health, economic, political, and social responses to the pandemic.

 

As of early August 2020, the world has witnessed more than 19million known and recorded infections, 12 million recoveries and more than 700 000 deaths. In South Africa, infections are more than 550 000, with more than 400 000 recoveries and 10 000 deaths. The government of South Africa as announced by its President believes that by the end of 2020, there would have been between 40 000 to 50 000 COVID-19 related deaths. This estimation is of scientifically contested by both extremes with those who believe is overstating that impact and those who believe these estimations are understated. There is not yet certainty and there will not be any in the foreseeable future due to government’s reduced testing of the people.

 

Despite the uncertainty of where this will lead to, the strict lockdown regulations and measures in many parts of South Africa have collapsed and many people continue with lives as usual. In anyway, many townships, informal settlements and villages where black people live could not practically lockdown and isolate due to the spatial realities of congestion and landlessness. The standard World Health Organisation guideline and advice that all people should constantly wash their hands, use alcohol-based sanitisers and keep social distancing is a practical impossibility for most of our people. It should be so because if government estimations are anything to go by, this disease will cause a lot of preventable deaths. 

 

There are however questions on what is to be done globally and domestically to contain and ultimately eliminate COVID-19. It is evident however that the dominant and seemingly only permissible narrative in the world is that COVID-19 will and should only be contained through a vaccination of the entire global population. All authorities, inclusive of the WHO, influential governments such as the United States and its disproportionately influential advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, super-billionaires such as Bill Gates, and even the South African government promulgate a singular perspective that it will and must only be vaccination/immunisation that should contain COVID-19. It is only vaccines that will get us out of this pandemic we are told. 

 

Whilst scientific and properly administered immunisation or vaccination should be part of the solutions, it should and cannot be the only solution to the containment and ultimate elimination of COVID-19. The same energy that is dedicated to immunisation should be dedicated to scientific therapeutic solutions. The reality is that majority of otherwise deadly diseases in the world are contained and treated through therapies, and of course vaccines have excellently contained pandemics such as polio and smallpox. What is odd about the COVID-19 pandemic is that the only solution promulgated is vaccination and any other medical solution is denigrated, undermined, scorned at or even censured.

 

All media platforms in the world, inclusive of social media platforms are hard at work to suppress and censure anyone who suggests that there is, can or should be therapeutic solutions to COVID-19. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all media platforms literally discontinue and remove posts that suggest that there can be a therapeutic solution to COVID-19. The immediate case is that of Dr. Stella Immanuel, a Cameroonian Doctor, trained in Nigeria and practicing as a physician in the United States. Instead of testing the claims that 100% of the more than 350 patients of all ages and with different comorbidities whom she treated with a combination of Hydroxychloroquine, Zithromax (Z-Pak), and Zinc were cured, the world’s mainstream and social media platforms chose censure, deleting all the videos where she made these claims in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

 

The censure of those who speak about therapies to COVID-19 is perhaps linked to the Decade of Vaccination Collaboration. In 2011, the Bill & Melinda GATES Foundation launched the Decade of Vaccination Collaboration, and established a Leadership Council which includes members such as Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO; Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director for UNICEF; Ms. Joy Phumaphi, Chair of the International Advisory Committee and Executive Secretary of African Leaders Malaria Alliance; Dr Tachi Yamada, President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and notably, Dr Anthony S. Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) .The decade of vaccination ends in 2021 and that is the year the COVID-19 vaccine will be approved and begin to be given to all the people in the world.

 

Whilst there are currently no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19, the number of recoveries globally and domestically should give some direction on what those who recovered do to recover from COVID-19. There is certainly a common thread amongst the 12 million recoveries in the world and the 400 000 recoveries in South Africa that should be deducted and made known to all the people. What is conspicuously evident and absolute fact is that majority of these recoveries happened without hospitalisation and the sophisticated medical equipment such as ventilators, which in the beginning of the pandemic were presented as panacea to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In South Africa, those who recovered mostly treated the symptoms and some used the highly effective traditional healing heard called Umhlonyane/Lengane, whilst some depend on recurrent steaming. Millions of South Africans use these and other measures as part of boosting their immune systems, and whether these works will be tested by history. Whilst all these interventions have no common scientific validity as cures of COVID-19, they have to led to recoveries of thousands of people without hospitalisation. 

 

Amidst all these developments, Governments carry a moral obligation to educate the general public about primary healthcare and healthy interventions to immunise or recover from COVID-19 in the same way more than 60% of those infected recovered. Censure, suppression and isolation of views that speak about preventive and therapeutic solutions does not and will not help the world overcome the pandemicThe global economy has already suffered, evidenced by the US’ economy contraction by more than 30% in the 2nd quarter of 2020, a recession worse than the global depression and the 2008 financial crisis. Millions of jobs have been lost and industries are closing every day. If the establishment continues to suppress everyone with the intention of imposing their own pre-determined solution, then we are headed for a global crisis which might culminate in a physical catastrophic world war.

 

Additional to preparing quality healthcare infrastructure, governments should build Healthcare Reserve capacity in the same way military reserve capacity were built in the post war era which will now be replaced with the post-Corona era. A Healthcare Reserve capacity will entail that all governments should train not less than 10% of its population with basic but necessary healthcare skills and capacity, which will give the population some intermediary skills to provide healthcare services in the era of pandemics. It is now proven that with knowledge and adequate care, people can recover from COVID-19 without hospitalisation. Therefore, we need an army of healthcare practitioners who can administer basic healthcare as and when needed. In the immediate, the permanent scientific solution to COVID-19 should be both immunisation and therapeutic.  

 

Floyd Shivambu is EFF Deputy President

Thursday, July 09, 2020

STATE CUSTODIANSHIP OF THE LAND IS THE ONLY SOUND BASIS FOR EQUITABLE LAND REDISTRIBUTION.

STATE CUSTODIANSHIP OF THE LAND IS THE ONLY SOUND BASIS FOR EQUITABLE LAND REDISTRIBUTION.

Floyd Shivambu

On the 30th of June 2020, the South African Parliament through a hybrid system voted to re-establish the ad hoc committee that is mandated with the task of amending section 25 of the Constitution. The parliamentary resolution is a continuation of the Constitutional Review Committee and thereafter parliamentary resolution in 2018 which unequivocally stated that, “Section 25 of the Constitution must be amended to make explicit that which is implicit in the Constitution, with regards to Expropriation of Land without Compensation, as a legitimate option for Land Reform, so as to address the historic wrongs caused by the arbitrary dispossession of land, and in so doing ensure equitable access to land and further empower the majority of South Africans to be productive participants in ownership, food security and agricultural reform programs”.

This process is a result of the 27th of February 2017 Parliamentary motion led by the Economic Freedom Fighters which took primarily two resolutions which stated that Parliament must a) “review and amend section 25 of the Constitution to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation, and in the process conduct public hearings to get the views of ordinary South Africans, policy-makers, civil society organisations and academics, about the necessity of, and mechanisms for expropriating land without compensation”; and importantly b) “propose the necessary constitutional amendments with regards to the kind of future land tenure regime needed, taking into account the necessity of the State being a custodian of all South African land”.

Whilst there is overwhelming consensus on amending section 25 of the Constitution, there is still a process of converging the perspectives of majority black political parties in the perspective that seek to “propose the necessary constitutional amendments with regards to the kind of future land tenure regime needed, taking into account the necessity of the State being a custodian of all South African land”. This is the most important aspect of land reform in South Africa because without State custodianship of the land, there will never be thoroughgoing equitable redistribution of land in South Africa. A piece by piece land repossession will be disastrous and further delay the long overdue land redistribution programme which by all measures of standards has dismally failed since the end of formalised colonialism and apartheid.

State custodianship of South Africa’s land is objectively the only mechanism that will guarantee all South Africans equitable access to land.  Any other method will not even scratch the surface of the massive land poverty and hunger that defines the black majority and Africans in particular. The land poverty and hunger is no doubt a direct consequence of the barbaric colonial conquest and the nonsensical, cruel system of apartheid that entrenched dispossession and isolation of the indigenous Africans.

The State, composed of an elected Parliament, appointed Executive and Independent Judiciary is the most dependable custodian of South Africa’s natural resources. The State is currently the custodian of South Africa’s mineral resources, water and strategic parcels of land.

To thoroughly understand State custodianship of the land, one does not need to go further than vital pieces of legislation in South Africa that govern key natural resources, i.e. Mineral Petroleum and Resources Development Act (MPRDA). Section 2 a) and b) of the Act give the two primary objectives of this seminal law and states that the objects of the Act are to a) recognise the internationally accepted right of the State to exercise sovereignty over all the mineral and petroleum resources within the Republic; and b) give effect to the principle of the State’s custodianship of the nation’s mineral and petroleum resources.

Section 3 (1) of the MPRDA emphatically states that, “Mineral and petroleum resources are the common heritage of all the people of South Africa and the State is the custodian thereof for the benefit of all South Africans”. The entirety of the Act thereafter determines and defines the circumstances under which those with capacity to cultivate the mineral and petroleum resources should be allowed to do so. That is not subject of this perspective, but it is important to highlight that this piece of legislation is consistent with the constitution and international laws, hence the fact that majority of mines that are operating under this legislation are multinational corporations.

The second illustration of State custodianship of a natural resource in South Africa is on water. In the National Water Act of 1998, “national government is designated the public trustee of the nation's resources to 'ensure that water is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner, for the benefit of all persons and in accordance with its constitutional mandate'”. Effectively, whoever harvests water for agricultural, domestic and energy purposes necessarily need permission of the State, which is composited of a democratically elected Parliament, the Executive and an Independent Judiciary. The National Water Act is not unconstitutional and does not infringe in anyone’s rights.

Due to South Africa’s cruel history of barbaric racism that was underpinned by the colonial dispossession of land from the black majority and Africans in particular, the State custodianship of the land is the only rational and logical option towards equal redistribution of the land. The Surveyor General recently illustrated that close to 80% of Africa’s land is owned and/or controlled by the white minority. The black majority is congested in 13% of the largely barren land, whilst the remainder is owned and controlled by different spheres of government.

State custodianship of land is not an unusual and unprecedented phenomenon and practice in South Africa because majority of the land under State custodianship is being used productively. The land which the State is currently custodian of include the land parcels in the control of the Department of Public Works, Trade & Industry, Forestry and Agriculture, SANPARKS, different government departments and Municipalities. In the case of Public Works, most part of the land is fallow, but that which is leased to private users, a security of tenure is guaranteed and attached to the use purpose. The land that accommodates Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is under the custodianship of the State, and those using the land have security of tenure in line with the purpose they applied for the land usage. For instance, the land that is given to FORD automotive for the recently unveiled auto special economic zone in Tshwane cannot be used for any other purpose despite industrial expansion.

SANPARKS owns about 6 million hectares game reserves and national parks, and leases portions of that land to private game lodges, some with foreign and multinational owners. The security of tenure in those private game lodges is guaranteed. State custodianship of the land must not compromise land tenure and legislative mechanisms must be enacted to disallow arbitrary dispossession of land.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) indirectly manages 368 505 hectares of State plantations (Category A) through lease agreements signed with four private forestry companies and the South African Forestry Company Ltd (SAFCOL). DAFF also directly manages one hundred and nine (109) commercial forest plantations (Category B and C) with the total area of 63 114.21 hectares (ha). The Category B and C plantations are mainly in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The geographic location of the commercial plantations is spread over five different regions namely: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West.

Category A plantations with a total of seventy-one (71) state owned plantations (181 185 hectares) are managed by private companies leasing the land from DAFF for a minimum period of 70 years. The companies are MTO Forestry (Pty) Ltd; Amatola Forestry (Pty) Ltd; SiyaQhubeka Forest (Pty) Ltd; and Singisi Forest Products (Pty) Ltd. In addition to this an area of 187 320 hectares is managed by the South African Forestry Company (SAFCOL) which is a State-owned company. The security of tenure in those areas is guaranteed. Municipalities own the land and some release such for agricultural purposes.

South Africa therefore should amend section 25 of the Constitution to permit for total repossession of all South Africa’s land whilst guaranteeing security of tenure for residential land parcels. The amendments must necessarily include a provision that a democratically elected government and State is custodian of all land and can legally redistribute the land to all South Africans and productive investors.

The piece by piece land repossession and expropriation will delay the historical, political, economic and social justice programme of land reform meaning that land ownership and control will continue to reflect the vestiges of colonialism and apartheid. It will also lead to piece by piece litigations which will certainly frustrate the land reform programme. As we said before, the legitimately elected and established State which has got rules that are very clearly defined, that are balanced by Parliament, the judiciary and parliament,-  must become the custodian of all land in the same way as (being) the custodian of minerals, petroleum resources and water. That’s the only way that we can release the land to all those who are going to utilise it. It’s not confiscation, it is a morally, economically and socially justifiable repossession. It’s a legitimate process that is specifically for South Africans’ historical conditions where the entire land was confiscated from the black majority.

Floyd Shivambu is EFF Deputy President

Sunday, May 03, 2020

KARL MARX 202 BIRTHDAY

TRIBUTE TO KAR MARX ON THE 5TH OF MAY!

Floyd Shivambu 

Karl Marx is indisputably the greatest thinker of the 19th, 20th, and 21st century. His ideas greatly changed influenced history in a manner that no man outside of the divine beings of Jesus Christ and Mohammed did. The writings of Karl Marx, notably the Communist Manifesto, influence society in both appreciative and oppositional manner. Born in Trier, Germany on the 5th of May 1818, Marx early intellectual development was influenced by his appreciation of philosophy, which for centuries before his existence re-affirmed and legitimated the ideas of the ruling and dominant classes, royalty and those in charge. 

Out of thorough observation of society and the factors that determine consciousness, Marx developed a scientific thought system which threatened ruling elites during his time and influenced the lives of many long after his death. Marxism, the scientific ideology that underpins the scientific social scientific discoveries of Karl Marx came to be compartmentalised into three components, which are materialism, political economy and socialism. Unlike philosophers before him, Marx proclaimed that philosophers have previously interpreted the world, the aim however is to change it. It is this change that influenced and continue to influence progressive philosophy, the political economy and its critique and revolutions across the world. 

When commemorating the 200th birthday of Marx in 2018, China’s President Xi Jingping correctly said that, “Marxism is an open-ended and continually developing theory; it is always at the forefront of the times. Marx admonished people over and over that Marxism is not dogma, but a guide to action that must be developed with changes in practice. Therefore, Marxism is able to forever maintain its appealing youthfulness, and continue to explore new problems in contemporary developments and respond to new challenges facing humanity”. 

The reason Marxism continues to inspire the world is because it is logically superior. Karl Marx’s views did not arise out of a sentimental, visceral attachment or sympathy to the working class and the poor, but arose out of a thorough understanding of the political economy and history. And any person free from private interest, class prejudices and biasness would necessarily reach the same conclusions if they thoroughly study history and the political economy. That is why more than 200 years after his birth, Marx continues to be the main point of reference by progressive activists and scholars across the world, and the greatest threat to the capitalist establishment. 

If honest truth is told, it is through Marxist inspiration that civilisation, not free market economic thought and beliefs that many societies were able to derive maximum value out of nature and human existence.  Despite the many difficulties that confronted socialist Russia in the subsequent stage, it was due to Marxist inspiration that Russia developed from a feudal society into superior industrial society. It is through Marxist inspiration that fascism was defeated in Europe and China. It is through Marxist inspiration that many African countries were salvaged from colonialism. It is through Marxist inspiration that many countries in the world were salvaged from colonialism and slavery. It is through Marxist inspiration that China developed from being the 100th most developed nation in the world to 2nd in less than half a century. The reason all of these happened is due to the fact that Marxism guides that industrial expansion and development should be pursued for human emancipation purposes, not profits. 

What distinguishes Marxism from other thoughts is its adaptability to different circumstances and conditions. Marxism is not like a culinary recipe where the exact ingredients should be added to achieve a particular outcome. It a philosophy, political economic system and scientific socialist theory that seeks to achieve a humane society.  Marxism is a call to action, not a call to idealism that existential realities of people will naturally change without active participation of those who are condemned to capitalist subjugation and exploitation. 

When Marxism was placed into practice in the great October revolution in Russian in 1917, it was countered with massive military suppression by the global capitalist establishment. The suppression of Marxist thoughts and ideology all over the world was not because it is a flawed system, but because the ruling class knew that once Marxist ideas came into contact with the masses, it will inevitably lead to a revolution that will overthrow their undue and illogical dominance. That is why many capitalist nations promulgated legislations against the ideas of Karl Marx, because they lacked the intellectual capacity to counter their superiority. In South Africa, the nonsensical apartheid regime promulgated the suppression of communism acts of parliament and terrorised anyone who associated with ideas inspired by Karl Marx. In the US, the Roosevelt administration admonished all those it suspected to be associating with the ideas of Karl Marx. As a result, even the arts and creative industry was suppressed as a measure to counter Karl Marx’s inspiration in what became known as the Hollywood 10 trials and imprisonment. 

Despite the systemic suppression of Karl Marx in many parts of the world, his ideas continue to inspire not only revolutions, but socialist solidarity all over the world. In this day of a world confronted by the deadly and highly contagious COVID-19 pandemic, it is the socialist Cuba that is at the forefront of socialist medical solidarity in the world. It is China that has helped so many nations in the world and pledged additional solidarity with the World Health Organisation (WHO) when the capitalist West is engaged in nefarious efforts to undermine the WHO, therefore incapacitating its capacity from coordinating efforts to defeat the pandemic. 

The reality is that the world should now look up to the philosophy and scientific socialist thoughts of Karl Marx to salvage the world from what he called fictitious capital. From Marxism the world will learn the development of the productive forces in a manner that will benefit all. From Marxism, the world will learn that many governments are nothing but committees that manage the common affairs of the bourgeoisie, hence they want to prematurely re-open lockdowns so that capitalist profiteers continue to make profits. From Marxism the world will learn the only solution to the COVID-19 pandemic is international solidarity and common global efforts to first contain the rapid spread of the virus. 

Amidst the many voices on what the solutions to the current global crisis should be, progressive and Marxist forces in all parts of the world should fight for universal access to quality healthcare with an appreciation that such access must also entail access to quality water, human settlements, sanitation, nutrition and education. Perhaps these are the most important components of what the global health system needs because it is after all correct that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc. Happy Birthday Karl Marx. 

Floyd Shivambu is EFF Deputy President.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

AFRICA MUST COOPERATE TO DEFEAT COVID-19

AFRICA MUST COOPERATE TO DEFEAT THE CORONA VIRUS:

Floyd Shivambu 

As of April 2020, the African continent is not as devasted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the same manner it was overwhelmed by other diseases such as EBOLA and HIV/AIDS. Despite this reality, the African continent retains one of the highest disease burdens in the world. The disease burden in the African continent is worsened by its lack of adequate healthcare systems, infrastructure and essential equipment. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Africa has been the largest beneficiary of aid from the developed world for as basic necessities as masks, which do not require a complicated industrial and manufacturing process to produce. 

Despite Africa’s inadequate healthcare systems, infrastructure and equipment, it still has not been overwhelmed by the burden of COVID-19, largely due to the reality that the continent does not experience the intercontinental travel that defines the developed nations. The countries that are currently bedevilled by the COVID-19 in the continent, notably South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Ghana and Nigeria are those that have relatively larger interconnections with the rest of the world or are the nodal points for international travel. If all countries in the continent was integrated into the global economy in the same way other developed nations are, the COVID-19 pandemic in the continent would have killed millions of people in Africa. 

The population density in most African cities, slums in urban and peri urban settlements in the African continent added with the lack of adequate healthcare systems, infrastructure and equipment would have certainly worsened the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the US, the most economically developed nation in the world, African Americans endure the most brutal face of COVID-19 because their existential reality is more or less similar to the conditions which Africans in the continent find themselves in. African Americans in the US are concentrated in urban and peri-urban slums with inadequate healthcare facilities and social distancing in their world is not as easy as it would be for the more affluent Caucasian communities who continue to benefit from the intergenerational privileges of slavery, colonialisation and racist capitalism. 

On the 18th of April, New York Times reported that the African continent has 10 countries with not even a single ventilator, a respiratory medical equipment needed for when the severity of a respiratory illness such as COVID-19 limits the capacity of those infected to breath. The African countries that have ventilators cannot cater for even a fraction of their populations. For instance, the Democratic Republic of Congo only has 5 ventilators for a population exceeding 100 million, meaning that there is 1 ventilator for 20 million people. In Mali, which has only 3 ventilators, the ratio is 1 ventilator for 6 million people. In Madagascar which has only 6 ventilators, the ratio is 1 ventilator for 4 million people. In South Sudan, which has only 4 ventilators, the ratio is 1 ventilator for 2,6 million people. In Zimbabwe, which has 16 ventilators, the ratio is 1 ventilator for 1 million people. These ratios are definitive of the entire African continent, which has the most devastating disease burdens in the world of illnesses which can cause higher death rates if COVID-19 permeates the continent in the same rates and intensity it is doing in the United States. 

Despite these realities, almost all African countries have placed measures to contain the rapid spread of the virus. Majority of African States have imposed lockdowns and are promoting hygienic standards that will limit the spread of the virus. This happens despite the reality that in many urban and peri-urban spaces, social distancing, which is one of the pillars in the fight against COVID-19 is practically impossible due to population density. Furthermore, the subsistence traders, entrepreneurs who benefits from tourism in urban areas are deprived of their income and therefore condemned to poverty and starvation due to the COVID-19 containment lockdowns. 

There are however positive aspects that can be derived from the reality of COVID-19 pandemic. Senegal for instance has been able to introduce a cheaper but effective medical respiratory equipment, a ventilator which costs less than 10% of the typical ventilators needed in the fight against COVID-19. Whilst not proven through reliable universal scientific systems, Madagascar has announced an immune system boosting herbal medication that prevents death of those infected by COVID-19. In South Africa, two black South African entrepreneurs have speeded up the coronavirus testing procedure significantly. It usually takes up to three hours to obtain test results, but their test kit has reduced it to 65 minutes. In isolationist fashion, different countries are engaged in national efforts to arrest the rapid spread of the virus.

All these efforts are not given immediate global recognition because they are produced by black people, who are considered a lesser race in racist global political, social and economic establishment. The world does not give due recognition to the African continent, so the African continent should give due recognition to itself. While appreciating and acknowledging superior solutions from all parts of the world, including development of vaccines, the African continent should seriously and more cogently coordinate its response to COVID-19. The coordination should necessarily include the elevation of nationally developed solutions into regional and continental solutions. 

The African continent should share scientifically proven practices and experiences and must help lesser capable nations in the fight against COVID-19. Through this, a permanent solution for COVID-19 might come from the continent, which has the practical experiences of containment of Malaria and EBOLA and many other diseases. The form of a continental response to the COVID-19 response can take regional and neighbourly cooperation and thereafter coordinated at a continental level. It will be epidemiologically foolish and unsustainable to contain the pandemic in South Africa whilst it is prevalent in Lesotho which is wholly within South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Malawi. A portion of each country’s resources, inclusive of financial, human, healthcare and systematic resources should be dedicated to a regional and continental coordinated effort in the war against COVID-19. 

In the immediate, the continent must assemble its resources to build adequate industrial and manufacturing capacity to produce all the healthcare essentials such as masks, ventilators and even pharmaceutical products that have helped those who recovered to recover. An isolationist response to COVID-19 is not only reactionary, it is dangerous and will condemn the African continent into the inhumanity that defined the warring opponents in the 1st world war who ignored the influenza pandemic and therefore losing between 50 and 100 million lives of people. The African continent must develop a common response to the disease. 

Floyd Shivambu is EFF Deputy President. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

BILL GATES, COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE NEW GLOBAL ORDER? WHAT IS TO BE DONE! –APRIL 2020


BILL GATES, COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE NEW GLOBAL ORDER? WHAT IS TO BE DONE! –APRIL 2020

Floyd Shivambu

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019, a name of one individual that has appeared in many people’s discussions, newspaper articles, conspiracies, television programmes and boardrooms is that of Bill Gates, one of the richest people in the world. Bill Gates is often mentioned in contradictory terms, sometimes as the villain and sometimes as a global Saviour in a world confronted by COVID-19. Bill Gates’ name is associated with a conspiratorial supposition that he knew about the outbreak before it occurred and is part of those who will produce a magical vaccine, which will save the world from the dangerous and devastating pandemic.

As of mid-April 2020, the highly contagious COVID-19 or the novel corona virus as it is also known has impacted more than 2 million people and claimed the lives of more than 150 thousand people since the first reported case in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China which had just hosted the Military World Games in October 2019. The virus, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in March, has seen entire countries lockdown and close their borders as economies take a massive knock.

Without the conspiratorial ramble that has defined public discourse since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we perhaps should pause and use hardcore facts to analyse and understand the Bill Gates phenomenon and thereafter propose concrete solutions on what is to be done nationally, continentally and globally to combat COVID-19. In the left political spectrum, conspiracism is a “trend that equates the bourgeoisie to an Illuminati-like organization, to see the workings of class society and its contradictions as the conspiratorial actions of the ruling classes rather than as historically and materially- defined processes. To willfully ignore antagonisms within the ruling classes and have a weak analysis of current conditions, opting for a caricature of scientific (Marxist) analysis. On the other hand, to conduct oneself secretly when the conditions do not call for it[1]”. This contribution will not be conspiratorial as conspiracies drive decision-makers far away from the truth, and further from scientific solutions.

In South Africa, Bill Gates’ name became an issue after he said in an interview with the Comedian Trevor Noah that “in developing countries [COVID-19] is far harder and so you know there will be these measures to actually stop it from getting to a large part of the population in places like India, Nigeria. You know I was talking to President Ramaphosa, who’s not only President of South Africa but as the head of the African Union and he’s a very strong voice encouraging the countries there to act quickly when the number of cases is still fairly low”[2] . Without revealing much detail, President Ramaphosa confirmed his interaction with Bill Gates and said in a Twitter post that, “The @GatesFoundation has supported our health needs for many years. They have offered assistance with innovative mass-based testing kits and research. I spoke to @BillGates and he commended the swift and decisive action South Africa has taken on #COVID19[3]”.

At the present stage, Bill Gates and President Cyril Ramaphosa have not taken the country into detailed confidence on the exact content, scope, scale, and nature of their discussions. What we all hope for is that whatever discussions they held will be subjected to official protocols and systems that govern South Africa and the entire African continent. It is important to highlight in this context that when subjected to acceptable protocols and ethical standards of trials and scientific confirmation, we all will be bound to undergo vaccination and if not, therapeutic or antiviral medication in order to contain the devastating nature of the virus.

Should South Africa, the entire African continent and the world be concerned about Bill Gates’ role in the efforts to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19? Should we be apprehensive about Bill Gates’ role in the efforts to find a global solution to the COVID-19 pandemic amidst suspicions of a future digitised vaccination, which will mandatorily include a biometric and digital identification of all vaccinated people? Before we respond to this question, let us perhaps give an overview of Bill Gates’ role in other global public health initiatives and how this links to his business interests. We should do so because the history of philanthropy in the world has demonstrated that philanthropists are often not genuine but rather greedy capitalist profiteers who manipulate governments into silence and submission on the altar of chivalrous generosity. There’s no country in the world that has ever stabilized its essential social service systems such as healthcare, education, sanitation or food supplies through philanthropy.

Who is Bill Gates in the Global Public Health Fraternity?

Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world who has made his riches through a corporation called Microsoft, which has monopolised parts of the market and has come to define how the world interacts and relates in the post third industrial revolution age. Almost all computing and now wireless communications platforms in the world have some degree of transactional relationship with Microsoft. In this regard, almost all major corporations, government, private age public institutions, non-governmental organizations and private individuals operate on platforms provided by Microsoft.

Bill Gates’ business interests include owning shares in different companies such as the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Ecolab, Canadian National Railway, Berkshire Hathaway, Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Republic Services, Diageo, Ritz-Carlton, and Walmart Inc. As of 2020, Bill Gates’ wealth is estimated to be above US$100 billion, which translates to more than R1.8 trillion in the current exchange rate. This effectively means that with an annual national budget of the same amount, Bill Gates’s wealth could fund South Africa’s basic needs inclusive of all salaries of public servants, social grants, budgets for transport infrastructure, debt repayments and all essentials of the state for the whole financial year. His wealth is not insignificant, and certainly bigger than the annual incomes, i.e. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries on the African continent and many other parts of the underdeveloped and developing world.

In March 2020, the New York Times reported that Bill Gates will “step down from the board of Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by his close friend, Warren E. Buffett[4]”. The Newspapers quotes Bill Gates as having said, “I have made the decision to step down from both of the public boards on which I serve — Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway — to dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change[5]”.

For a considerable period of time, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest philanthropic organisation in the world founded by Bill Gates in 2000, has been involved in the funding of public healthcare programmes in different parts of the world. However, the impact of their interventions has not been independently gauged. In South Africa, for instance, the Foundation has a close relationship with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and had previously worked with former President Nelson Mandela in efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis[6] . The Foundation’s work includes the development of vaccines and immunizations for these leading causes of mortality in South Africa.

In this regard, the Foundation’s stated intention has been to discover and develop new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines for HIV and TB. This is because despite the fact that South Africa comprises less than 1 percent of the global population, it contributes to 18 percent of the world’s HIV infections and HIV-related deaths, as well as 6 percent of the world’s TB infections and 2.5 percent of global TB-related deaths. There is no verifiable data that the Foundation’s effort has borne significant results because there are still no vaccines for HIV and TB despite more than 7 million people infected with HIV and 300 000 TB cases, number 5 in the world[7]. Due to these realities, multinational pharmaceutical companies have been making billions of dollars out of the distribution of antiretroviral drugs, which are distributed for free by the government after concerted lobbying by social movements.

In 2000, Bill Gates also started the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI), which includes the WHO, World Bank, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other philanthropy organizations in an effort to find vaccines, which will prevent a variety of diseases globally. The GAVI Vaccine alliance was previously called the Children Vaccine Alliance. Vaccines are defensive medicines which, when administered on people, prevent diseases from attacking their immune systems. In this regard, Bill Gates has developed obsession with presenting himself and his Foundation as those who will save the world from diseases.



As a result, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent the following amounts on public healthcare initiatives and programmes across the world, particularly on vaccination and immunization projects and programmes;

a)     The GAVI Vaccine Alliance received more than US$3,5 billion.
b)    The World Health Organisation received more than US1,5 billion.
c)     The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria received more than US$700 million.
d)    The Johns Hopkins University received more than US$200 million.
e)    The Clinton Foundation received US$200 million.
f)      The University of Oxford received more than US$100 million[8].

A variety of other public healthcare initiatives and global institutions have been the beneficiaries of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and evidently efforts that deal with vaccinations and immunisations receive disproportionate support from the Foundation. The network of benefactors from the Foundation provides Bill Gates with unfettered access and influence over public health policy at domestic and global levels. In 2011, the Foundation launched the Decade of Vaccination Collaboration, and established a Leadership Council which includes members such as Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO; Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director for UNICEF; Ms. Joy Phumaphi, Chair of the International Advisory Committee and Executive Secretary, African Leaders Malaria Alliance; Dr Tachi Yamada, President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and notably, Dr Anthony S. Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)[9].

Now, Dr Anthony Fauci has become a disproportionately powerful voice in the United States’ Coronavirus Task Force and is often seen presenting superior scientific logic in the daily press briefings held under the leadership of US President Donald Trump at the White House. The establishment’s media houses present Dr Fauci as the alpha and omega of epidemiology, perhaps due to his credentials of having served under five Presidents of the United States as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or due to his involvement in the vaccine lobby under the fervent guidance of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In relation to Corona, Bill Gates’ warning about an impending pandemic has been well recorded and highly circulated during this period. In a 2015 TEDX address, Bill Gates said, “If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes[10]”. He further said, “We've invested a huge amount
in nuclear deterrents, but we've invested very little in a system to stop epidemics. We are not ready for the next epidemic[11]”.

Since then, Bill Gates has used different platforms and opportunities for engagement with world leaders to caution against an impending pandemic. In December 2019, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum (WEF) partook in EVENT201, a simulation of a Coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the world. EVENT201, hosted by the John Hopkins Centre for Health Security, acted out what would be the global response in the case of a global pandemic outbreak and assessed how different role players would react to the pandemic.

In the immediate aftermath of the real outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were those who tried to link the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the novel Coronavirus. In response, the John Hopkins Centre issued a statement saying, “to be clear, the Center for Health Security and partners did not make a prediction during our tabletop exercise. For the scenario, we modelled a fictional coronavirus pandemic, but we explicitly stated that it was not a prediction[12]”. The Centre further said, “Instead, the exercise served to highlight preparedness and response challenges that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic. We are not now predicting that the nCoV-2019 outbreak will kill 65 million people. Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modelling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019[13]”.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, Bill and Melinda Gates have conducted several interviews arguing that the world’s solution to the COVID-19 pandemic are vaccines, and further highlighted that their Foundation is funding different projects that are looking at finding a vaccine which will be the only basis upon which the world economy will function optimally. It is difficult to separate whether their fervent lobby for vaccines is due to their generosity or for private purposes, only time will tell.

If what we have outlined above are actually genuine efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, why are people so afraid of Bill Gates? Why are we all apprehensive that a generous man has spent billions of his hard-earned money to caution the world about a pending pandemic and begun preparations of what should be done when the pandemic arrives? Why is the world so afraid of a man whose primary focus after generating intergenerational wealth wants to eliminate diseases in the world through defensive vaccines and immunisations?

Below we present the reasons why we argue that the people of the world should be afraid of a Bill Gates-funded mission to vaccinate the whole world.

1)  Capitalist Philanthropy is suspicious:

Writing for the Jacobin Magazine in 2015, Zahra Moolo argues that, “Wealthy businessmen set up the very first American foundations at the beginning of the twentieth century to shield themselves from taxation, build prestige, and gain a voice in global affairs. Since then, philanthropists have come to occupy an increasingly dominant position in economic development, influencing governments and international organizations alike[14]”. Moolo (2015) further argues that, “by investing vast sums of money in solving complex historical problems, expanding the private sector, and investing in technical fixes, they advance the idea that capitalism is not the cause, but the solution, to the world’s troubles. In the words of historian Mikkel Thorup, capitalist philanthropy obscures the conflict between rich and poor, asserting instead that the rich are “the poor’s best and possibly only friend[15]

Moolo is correctly strengthening the view of Naomi Klein who argues that, “over the last two decades, elite liberals have been “looking to the billionaire class to solve the problems” that were formerly addressed “with collective action and a strong public sector[16]. In the context of South Africa, this is way too familiar and reminiscent of President Ramaphosa’s bulging announcements of generous “donations” from capitalist philanthropists, the Ruperts and Oppenheimers, which was subsequently revealed to not donations, but loan schemes aimed at desperate small and medium businesses. As Moola argues, “the solutions capitalist philanthropists propose in areas like health care, education, and agriculture erode public sector spending and shift the focus away from structural causes of poverty[17]”.

In an opinion article published by the New York Times in 2011, Warren Buffet, of the global mega-billionaires and philanthropist wrote in an article titled, “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich”, that, “while the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors”. This observation does not apply to American mega-billionaires only, but to all super rich people all over the world. Buffet concludes by saying, “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice [18]”. If Governments all over the world stop coddling the super-rich, capitalist philanthropy, which comes with agenda setting and control of very important institutions, would be mitigated.

2)  Bill Gates has private interests in pharmaceutical corporations.

In 2002, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has purchased shares in nine big pharmaceutical companies valued at nearly $205 million -- an investment likely to attract attention more for its symbolism than its size[19]”. It is not a secret that the biggest beneficiary in the production, distribution and administering of the COVID-19 vaccine will be the pharmaceutical companies. This is due to the fact that each and every one of the approximately 7 billion citizens of the world will be compelled by governments to vaccinate. This will entail massive profits for the big pharmaceutical companies, and consequently, benefit the chivalrous Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A COVID-19 vaccination will entail that the estimated 100 million babies who are born each year will be subjected to the vaccine and digital identification, meaning that year-on-year, after the vaccination is administered to all people who are alive today, there will be an additional 130 million or more vaccinations. If the capitalist logic of vaccination and digital identification is the norm and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the pharmaceutical companies, they have shares in plays a role, then they will make massive profits for eternity, more so with the nonsensical Intellectual Property rights administered in medications and computerised systems.

In his interview with the comedian Trevor Noah, Bill Gates said, “Our foundation (Gates Foundation) funded some work that will help with the vaccines now and the diagnostics. But most of what was called for, particularly in a New England Journal of Medicine article I did, that went into way more specifics than I could in a short TED talk, those things didn’t get done. That’s why it’s taking us a long time to get our act together faced with this threat”. Basically, the Foundation is financing large preparations for vaccination of the entire global population, which presently stands at more than 7 billion people.

3)  We are apprehensive of the computerization of human beings.

Without being Luddite, we are correctly apprehensive of the rapid transition to the 5th Generation (5G) of wireless interconnectivity and what it might bring. We are apprehensive of the insertion of computerised chips into the human body. In September 2019, the Biometric Update published an article on its website, which said, “the ID2020 Alliance has launched a new digital identity program at its annual summit in New York, in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, vaccine alliance Gavi, and new partners in government, academia, and humanitarian relief. The program to leverage immunization as an opportunity to establish digital identity was unveiled by ID2020 in partnership with the Bangladesh Government’s Access to Information (a2i) Program, the Directorate General of Health Services, and Gavi, according to the announcement[20]”.

In the article that was updated on 26 March 2020, the Biometric Alliance says, “digital identity is a computerized record of who a person is, stored in a registry. It is used, in this case, to keep track of who has received vaccination[21]”. Whilst this appears complex, what is more complex is the general understanding that human beings will be linked to computerised systems which will not only track who has received vaccinations, but will invasively monitor their movements, and in a worst case scenario, even influence their thought process when it comes to basic questions of what is wrong or right.


The relationship between the ID2020 Alliance and GAVI Vaccine Alliance started prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in December 2019 and is an uncomfortable one because when the vaccine is announced, the whole world will undergo vaccination and possibly digital identification. It is highly possible that part of the sine qua non (compulsory) necessities for all those who wish to travel to other parts of the world will be vaccination and digital identification. It will be highly possible for people to be forbidden to attend mass gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, and restaurants without verified vaccination and digital identity.

So, because the COVID-19 will inevitably define a post-Corona world where vaccinations will be mandatory, people are afraid that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will use superior technologies to invade, zombify and control the entire world in the name of vaccination. A better explanation should be provided on how digital identity will not be abused by the powerful to achieve private political and capitalist aspirations through digital surveillance. Surveillance is often used by the powerful to track the less powerful.

There possibly exists an alternate superior explanation of the relationship between vaccination and digital identity, and those who can do so should provide such an explanation. An explanation in this regard will assist in dispelling the sect religious conspiracies and shallow biblical scholarship, which associate the present developments with the biblical Armageddon, and the mark of beast, which will want to mark each and every human being in the world to determine their selling or buying permissibility.

4)   Bill Gates proximity to and control of key institutions and decision-makers in global health.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s extent of influence in global public healthcare is disproportionately higher than any of the organised or individual formations in the world. As illustrated in their benefactor network above, the Foundation has disproportionate influence over the WHO, UNICEF, World Economic Forum, and key individuals such as Dr Anthony Fauci.

In a seminal study of philanthropy and development, Jens Martens and Karolin Seitz argue that, “philanthropic foundations can have enormous influence on political decision-making and agenda setting. This is most obvious in the case of the Gates Foundation and its role in global health policy. Through the sheer size of its grant-making, its practice of providing matching funds, and its active advocacy, the Gates Foundation influenced priority setting in the WHO and the political shift towards vertical health funds. The Gates Foundation’s increased influence on the priorities and operations of the WHO is also due to changes in the funding patterns of its traditional state donors. Because in recent years the WHO has faced a serious lack of resources, which stands in stark contrast to the enormous and growing funding needs in global public health, including emergency preparedness and crisis response, the increasing imbalance of voluntary in relation to assessed contributions has led the WHO to “attract new donors and explore new sources of funding.” As the influence of these sources increased, so too have gaps in the WHO ability to respond adequately to global health emergencies, as seen in the case of its response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014[22]”.

They further argue that, “philanthropic foundations, particularly the Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the UN Foundation are not only major funders but also driving forces behind global multi-stakeholder partner-ships. In fact, many of these partnerships, like the Children’s Vaccine Initiative, the TB Alliance, the GAVI Alliance, and Scaling up Nutrition (SUN), have been initiated by these foundations. But the mushrooming of global partnerships and vertical funds, particularly in the health sector, has led to isolated and often poorly coordinated solutions. These initiatives have not only contributed to the institutional weakening of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, but have also undermined the implementation of integrated development strategies at national level[23]”.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s reach in global and domestic health policy options is disproportionate, and the results of such are not yet gauged because philanthropists are not publicly accountable to anyone. Whilst global capitalism and politics are presided over by mega-billionaires, elected representatives and elected bodies globally should strive to gain some degree of relative autonomy in order to provide leadership inspired by humanity and care for all people.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

1)  Global Alliance against COVID-19–

Because we are dealing with a global pandemic, there necessarily has to be a common global effort to fight against the spread of COVID-19, and at the forefront of this global alliance should be powerful countries under the coordination of global institutions, particularly the WHO. The WHO should be equipped with the necessary resources, expertise and know-how to combat COVID-19 worldwide. Any leader who believes that the containment of COVID-19 should be a national or isolationist project is daydreaming because if such succeeds, it should immediately be followed by efforts of de-globalisation. The world is interconnected and a nationalist or isolationist effort to combat COVID-19 will not go very far because millions of people travel to different parts of the world for family, business, organisational, religious, sporting and personal purposes in any given year

The dominant countries such as China and the US should consolidate efforts to fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the same way the US and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) collaborated to eliminate the smallpox pandemic in the mid 20th century. In 1966, the smallpox virus caused havoc in the global health condition, and collaboration between cold war protagonist rivalries contained the spread of the disease. In a perspective titled Vaccine Diplomacy”: Historical Perspectives and Future Directions, Peter J. Hotez reminds the world that, “vaccine science diplomacy entered its golden age during the Cold War between the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Between 1956 and 1959, Dr. Albert Sabin from the US traveled to the USSR and collaborated with his Soviet virology counterparts, including Dr. Mikhail Chumakov, to develop a prototype oral polio vaccine and test it on 10 million Soviet children and ultimately 100 million people under the age of 20[24]”.

The perspective further says, “today, the oral polio vaccine is leading to global eradication efforts. Similarly, between 1962 and 1966, the USSR pioneered a freeze-drying technique for smallpox vaccine and provided 450 million doses of vaccine to support global smallpox eradication campaigns in developing countries, while the US provided key financial support, as a result, “such international collaborative efforts led to the global eradication of smallpox by the late 1970s, an effort led by Dr. D. A. Henderson[25]”.

Whilst the world was able to collaboratively and decisively contain smallpox and polio during the cold war, it failed dismally to suppress the influenza pandemic, which happened during World War 1 in 1918. Due to the suppression of open and honest reporting about the extent of the influenza pandemic, which was called the Spanish flu because the Spanish media widely reported about the pandemic whilst other countries suppressed the flow of information due to the war hostilities, between 50 and 100 million lives were lost to the influenza pandemic.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says, “the 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States[26]”.

It is evident that the effort to combat COVID-19 necessarily needs a global alliance similar to or even bigger and better than the collaboration between the US and USSR during the cold war era. A supposition that national and isolationist containment of the rapid spread of COVID-19 will be a long-term solution is shortsighted. Whilst pursuing national containment measures, all countries should appreciate that the COVID-19 pandemic is a global phenomenon and will require a global response, because the world is not about to undergo any form of deglobalisation.

All countries and geo-political territories should certainly pursue national efforts to combat the further spread of COVID-19, and these should be in appreciation that a permanent solution will be a global solution. This therefore calls on the United Nations and its agencies, the WHO and UNCEF to lead and guide a concerted effort against the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, these agencies should not be micro-managed by philanthropists who often have private aspirations.

If Foundations and entities they support discover permanent and dependable scientific solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, these should be given with due consideration and subjected to the necessary protocols. This, nevertheless, should not entail that some messianic Foundations and individuals should lead this process, while world bodies can combine the global scientific medical, pharmaceutical and epidemiological responses that will salvage the world from a healthcare crisis, which will leave exponential socio-economic consequences in the whole world.

In this regard, it is logical to call to end all wars and sanctions that will serve to worsen the conditions most countries find themselves in and heighten the risk of COVID-19 infections. Let all wars, sanctions and trade embargoes be suspended in favour of a common global goal to defeat the pandemic.

Within the global alliance against COVID-19, the African continent and all its countries should immediately commence production of key healthcare essentials inclusive of protective gear, medical equipment and in the long term pharmaceutical products. The COVID-19 pandemic should spring South Africa into building some degree of dependable industrial and manufacturing sovereignty. If there is a continent that doesn’t play a significant role in the manufacturing component of the global value chain, it is the African continent. 

As is illustrated in this perspective Cuba is a relatively small country, but it has built a very powerful healthcare system and pharmaceutical capacity which insulates it from heavy disease burdens that define the African continent. The African continent should engaged in both national and Pan continental efforts to build a healthcare system and pharmaceutical capacity, which might elevate some of the scientifically proven indigenous healing and disease prevention systems into the global pharmaceutical industry.

2)  Intensify National Efforts with a global appreciation.

Whilst the primary pillar for the war against the COVID-19 pandemic is a global alliance, nation-states and all geo-political territories should intensify the containment measures such as non-essential travel restrictions, lockdowns, and heightened supplies of medical essentials and equipment that should respond to the pandemic. The relaxation of these restrictions should only be scientific epidemiological and dependable data analysis, not narrow economic considerations. Relaxing restrictions earlier might lead to an unmanageable resurgence of the spread of the virus, and we should not get there.

In pursuing national efforts, the whole world should appreciate that there are countries and nation-states in many parts of the world that have minimal or no healthcare capacity to effectively respond to the virus. These include the fact that due to years of colonialism and neo-colonialism, many African States in the African continent have no adequate and responsive healthcare systems and facilities to independently contain any pandemic. In 2015, the WHO pointed to the reality that, “without access to medicines, Africans are susceptible to the three big killer diseases on the continent: malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Globally, 50% of children under five who die of pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria are in Africa[27]”.

Of utmost importance in the current conjecture is that all nation-states and countries should intensify national efforts against COVID-19 without being isolationist. Isolationism in the current pandemic equates to foolishness. The reality is that the whole world body is sick, and attempts to administer medication on one part of the body will not help in ending the systemic virus, which thus far affected all parts of the world, and certainly disrupted the global economy.

In this context of intensified national efforts that are not isolationist, the WHO is vital, because it is the only platform that avails dependable data of each and every country in the world. The WHO can and should provide consistent dependable data on the disease burden of each and every country, the state and capacity of each country’s health system and facilities. In this regard, resources will be distributed to all corners of the world from each according to capability to each according to need. That’s the only sensible way to escape the wrath of the disease because it will be foolhardy for instance to completely eradicate COVID-19 in one country whilst another cannot.

The African Union and all African Regional bodies must combine efforts in the fight against COVID-19 because it will be senseless to take an isolationist approach since all African countries are integrated. What will be the purpose of South Africa winning the COVID-19 battle whilst Lesotho, which is wholly within the borders of South Africa, fails to contain the virus? Countries with capacity to help their neighbours in the fight against COVID-19 are important as a measure to prevent neo-colonialism and recolonization that will be brought through loans from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other external forces.

The leadership of every country, global organisation, political formation, and whichever sector in these efforts should abandon egomania, which expresses itself as some degree of messianic obsession to want to appear better than others do. Political leaders should abandon narrow partisan and self-gratification pursuits, which seek to gain immediate political and partisan glory at the expense of a global effort to defeat the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst these efforts, there is a need to eradicate narcissistic personality disorders amongst leaders. The helpguide.com correctly says that, “it is more accurate to say that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are in love with an idealized, grandiose image of themselves. And they’re in love with this inflated self-image precisely because it allows them to avoid deep feelings of insecurity. But propping up their delusions of grandeur takes a lot of work—and that’s where the dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors come in[28]”.

The helpguide.com further illustrates that, “people with narcissistic personality disorder are extremely resistant to changing their behavior, even when it’s causing them problems. Their tendency is to turn the blame on to others. What’s more, they are extremely sensitive and react badly to even the slightest criticisms, disagreements, or perceived slights, which they view as
personal attacks. For the people in the narcissist’s life, it’s often easier just to go along with their demands to avoid the coldness and rages[29]”.

It is safe to argue that some of the decisions and actions taken by leaders at global, national, and local levels since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic reflect some degree of narcissistic personality disorder. Some of the decisions taken have far-reaching global, national and local consequences and will compromise the efforts to defeat COVID-19.

In pursuit of national efforts, nation-states should do everything in their power to defeat hunger and homelessness. No one should go hungry and no one should be evicted from their homes due to unemployment and no one should be condemned to absolute poverty due to COVID-19 economic consequences.

3)  Pay attention to Cuba and its pharmaceutical capacity.

Cuba, an Island in the Caribbean, is often sidelined in mainstream global efforts to fight pandemics and epidemics, despite its massive healthcare and pharmaceutical capacity. The isolation of Cuba is largely due to the trade embargo imposed on this country by the United States for many decades. Since the beginning of the COVID- 19, Cuba is one country that has played an important role in international solidary and practical efforts to combat COVID-19. Cuba has sent medical doctors to Italy, Jamaica, Venezuela, Barbados, South Africa, Angola and many other parts of the world.

In April 2020, The Economist oddly led a new report titled, “Cuba’s doctors are in high demand” which amongst other things said, “Cuba’s Central Medical Collaboration Unit, which for six decades has sent doctors across the world, is having a busy month. Some 14 countries, from Angola to Andorra, have received a total of 800 doctors and nurses. Politicians in Buenos Aires and Valencia in Spain, and indigenous groups in Canada, are pressing national governments to request Cuban brigades[30]”.

The Economist further acknowledges that, “Cuba trains a staggering number of doctors for its size and wealth (42 doctors per 1000 people). Even though its population of 11 million is not young, it has doctors to spare. More than usual are available. In the past 18 months, 9,000 have left Brazil, Bolivia, El Salvador and Ecuador, where leftist presidents have recently lost power. According to Granma, Cuba’s state-owned daily newspaper, the number of doctors and nurses abroad fell from more than 50,000 in 2015 to 28,000 in 2020[31]”.

Whilst Cuba’s medical solidarity with many parts of the world is commendable, it is high time the world pays some detailed attention to Cuba’s pharmaceutical capacity and how this should be mainstreamed as part of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As argued in the

perspective Lessons from Havana: “despite Cuba’s massive achievements and health indicators that come as a result of maximum focus on primary healthcare, Cuba has developed excellent pharmaceutical capacity through the State-Owned Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology or in Spanish, Centro de Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología (CIGB)[32]”. It should be highlighted here that Cuba’s Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology established in 1994 is different to the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, which was established under the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 1983.

The Cuban CIGB works in more than 20 projects aimed at the obtainment and development of biomedical products for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, cancer, inflammation, autoimmunity, healing and cytoprotection. It comprises the departments of Vaccines, Pharmaceuticals, Immuno-diagnosis and Genomics, Chemical Physics and System Biology, and Control of Scientific-Technical Activity and Administrative. It has 200 workers: 41% holding the degree of Doctor in Sciences and 37% Masters in Sciences[33].

As part of its programmes and promotion of South-to-South relations, CIGB has built and co-developed state of the art pharmaceutical factors in many parts of the world including in South Africa. The CIGB is part of an umbrella body called BioCubaFarma, which has 38 Enterprises and more than 22 000 qualified workers. BioCubaFarma manufactures generic drugs, therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines, biomedicines, diagnostic systems, and high-tech medical equipment. It also does researches in neuroscience and neuro- technology. In fact, BioCubaFarma domestically manufactures 583 of 881 generic drugs used in Cuba.

Cuba has also established an industrial Development zone, which permits investors to play a role, with security of tenure and protection of investments in the pharmaceutical space. Furthermore, Cuba is willing to transfer skills and technology to the developing countries as evidenced by the partnership with Biovac Institute South Africa. Biovac Institute manufactures different vaccines and some of the vaccines being manufactured are awaiting approval after clinical tests and all the processes that have to be followed.

Due to the successes recorded by Cuba in the past, which includes the development of CimaVax-EGF, a vaccine used to treat cancer, specifically non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) through Cuba’s Center of Molecular Immunology, the world should pay particular attention to Cuba’s pharmaceutical capacity and potential. It is possible that the solution might come from Cuba, but because of the sanctions and senseless trade embargo imposed on Cuba by successive US governments, Cuba’s pharmaceutical presence in the global healthcare system is unduly insignificant.

4)   Build healthcare Reserves all over the world.
The outbreak of Corona virus and its global spread with significant fatalities represents the end of the world order, as we know it. The significance of the outbreak is that it is at the same proportions if not more far reaching than the World Wars that occurred in the 20th century with the First World War in 1914 to 1918 and the Second World War in 1939 to 1955. These World Wars significantly defined the world order in almost all its manifestations. Both World Wars gave rise to the militarisation of nation states in such a way that the collective psychology of nation states in the period post the World Wars was underpinned by the need to assemble huge armaments and preparation for another war.

The period post the World Wars positioned the whole world to expend trillions of dollars in stockpiling armaments, building geo-political alliances and establishing command centres in different parts of the world in anticipation of and preparation for another war. The world’s most powerful economy, the United States currently expends more money on its army than the nominal value of all African economies combined. The alliances the US supports and keeps in different parts of the world are not premised on shared values, but on an imaginary anticipation that if another war occurs, those allies will fight on the side of the US.

Governments should build Healthcare Reserve capacity in the same way military reserve capacity were built in the post war era which will now be replaced with the post-Corona era. A Healthcare Reserve capacity will entail that all governments should train not less than 10% of its population with basic but necessary healthcare skills and capacity, which will give the population some intermediary skills to provide healthcare services in the era of pandemics. There is no guarantee that the world will not be confronted with another health pandemic in the foreseeable future, so we need an army of healthcare practitioners who can administer basic healthcare as and when needed.

After flattening the global curve on new infections and thereafter defeating the Corona disease, each and every leader in all parts of the world should appreciate that the post-Corona world should necessarily be a world of global cooperation in terms of healthcare system. All leaders of the world should care about scientifically proven dietary prescriptions, water quality, human settlement spaces, hygiene and health systems of each and every community in the world because a pandemic outbreak that starts in a relatively unknown city of Wuhan has potential to lockdown their entire world, disruption economies, and can exterminate millions of people from the surface of the earth.

Governments must start using electronic platforms to inculcate public health education, not only about COVID-19, but also about all other forms of health burdens. Public health education is often limited to pandemics, and thus far, the biggest killers in the world are diseases, which many people have no intense knowledge of. Public health education is an essential component of primary healthcare and should be promoted every using both traditional and novel social media platforms.

5)   Appreciate that the system of global capitalism is not the most suitable in response to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated thus far that without mitigating factors such as lockdowns, social distancing, and strict hygienic practices, it could kill millions if not hundreds of millions of people in a very short space of time. The essential goods, products, equipment and services to fight against the continuing spread of COVID-19 should not be pursued with the profit motive. The profit motive, which is an elementary component of the capitalist mode of production entails that essentials, goods, products and services will only be availed by the private producers, financiers and middlemen only if they are guaranteed profits, not when they are guaranteed that lives will be saved.

Governments should develop mechanisms of decommodification of healthcare essentials in the efforts to contain the further spread of COVID-19. Private healthcare providers should allow the usage of their facilities for the common good, and no patient should be denied healthcare services and hospitalisation on the basis that they do not have money or medical aid or hospital insurance. Capitalist greed should not lead to loss of lives of particularly poor people. The intention and common effort of all people should be to save lives of all people.

The government of Turkey has already appreciated the logical notion that the commodification of essentials is the war against COVID-19 is unacceptable. The Independent reported on the 7th of April that, “this week Turkey launched a website where both citizens and official residents can register to receive five free surgical masks per week delivered by the national postal service. On Friday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced new rules requiring all those in workplaces or markets to wear masks. He later banned the sale of the masks amid accusations of price-gouging”. So, in Turkey, masks, which are essential in containing the spread of the virus are decommodified, and this should apply to other key essentials including medical equipment such as ventilators.

6)   Conclusion

While Bill Gates has positioned himself at the fore of many global public health initiatives, we should remain cautious of the capitalist philanthropy he pursues in his efforts to force through mandatory vaccinations into the global health system. Bill Gates’ capitalist philanthropy, private interests in pharmaceutical companies, proximity to key public and global healthcare initiatives, and the urge to fuse vaccines with digital identification makes many people in the world apprehensive about Gates role. 

Global institutions such as the WHO should step to the fore a lead a COVID-19 Global Alliance to tackle the pandemic. Pan continental Organisations, nation states and all sectors should look for a permanent solution the pandemic with an acknowledgment and realization that an isolationist solution to the pandemic will not be sustainable. In pursuit of these solutions, we should pay particular attention to Cuba’s pharmaceutical capacity and appreciate that the capitalist logic will not help in finding a permanent solution. 

The emergence of a global pandemic has demonstrated that we need to build a progressive and egalitarian world based on principles of humanity and all national progressive forces should fight for access to quality healthcare. The post COVID-19 world necessarily has to be different from the pre COVID-19 world. Instead of folding arms decrying and conspiring about what the world mega-billionaires and capitalist philanthropists intend to do out of this pandemic, we carry an obligation to provide cogent alternatives on what is to be done.

A significant number of people in many parts of the world are rightfully apprehensive of solutions that will be provided by capitalist philanthropists, hence the call for a globally coordinated solution represents superior logic. Amidst the many voices on what the solutions should be, progressive forces in all parts of the world should fight for universal access to quality healthcare with an appreciation that such access must also entail access to quality water, human settlements, sanitation, nutrition and education. Perhaps these are the most important components of what the global health system needs because it is after all correct that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc. 



[5] Ibid.
[8] https://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do AND https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%26_Melinda_Gates_Foundation
[18] Ibid
[21] Ibid.
[33] Ibid

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