God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Short sleeved t-shirts – as long as they are intended to be used to keep you warm

Madness pure – that is the only description possible following the actions, the South African Covid-19 Central Command – which is not the democratic elected government but an invented structure with lots of constitutional question marks – takes at times.

Yesterday two announcements made this clear again:

Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry published again guidelines what South African’s can buy or not buy. We have had in the last weeks discussions whether roasted chicken, sold in its warm form poses a health risk and the confusion about his directions caused a Woolworth store to not allow for the sale of underwear as they did not clearly fall under the category of “winter cloth”. Out of this sort of confusion South Africans get again and again updated versions of what they can buy or what are existential goods and what government does not allow selling at all. The question of selling alcohol or cigarettes being the prominent ones as they are forbidden under current legislation. Obviously the black markets, often connected to politics, is raving about such decisions and cashing in.

Yesterday, the new list of cloth to be sold was gazetted by Patel, who now determined, that short sleeved t-shirts are only to be sold, if they intend to be used to keep us warm – the official gazetted wording is:
short sleeved t-shirts, where promoted and displayed as under garments for warmth

The new rules apply immediately and are specific to Level 4,so the Minister in the Government Gazette,
It shows to which length national Ministers go to combat the virus.

But competition is not far in finding ways to combat Covid-19: Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, always in military camouflage and the Cuban flag on her beret to prove her socialist military approach to the pandemic said her department would be tightening the screws on organisations who distribute food to the needy. In her view it can’t be that those going hungry are receiving a warm meal from NGO’s or other charity organisations. As there is anyhow a tendency to allow only government (say: ANC) to provide for the needy, obviously the work of those non-profit organisations disturb the picture of only the ruling party provides for the poor and the sick. Plans are to allow for such food delivery for the starving population only with a permission given out by her department. Having in mind that her food parcel delivery plans are often marred by chaos, stealing and non-delivery, this approach amounts to  depriving people of food which translates in keeping people in their misery of hunger and despair.

While Patel’s list has almost a comical stroke and one could laugh it off the plans of Minister Zulu are endangering lives and the very fabric of society. Hungry people have nothing to lose any more and even the military, called to police people will not be able to stop a development bringing South Africa further down. For the sake of those who have nothing – the nonsense has to stop.

Filed under: Africa, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Billions of Rand promised…

Praises are sung again in many quarters of South Africa about the leadership of President Ramaphosa after his speech yesterday evening – twitter and social media repeat the billions of Rand promised: R500 billion strong economic and social support package with an increase in child support grants of R300 next month and R500 a month from June to October; all other grant beneficiaries will receive an additional R250 a month and to top it: a special coronavirus grant of R350 a month will go to those who are unemployed and do not receive any other form of grant or UIF payment. The Department for Social Development, UIF and SASSA are named to execute parts of this money blessings and the dawn of a new economy was promised after the hardship of lockdown- to be lifted
… gradually … to be announced on Thursday.

At the same time Ramaphosa authorised the employment of an additional 73180 members of SANDF to assist SAPS in keeping law and order – either an admission, that 2820 soldiers already employed are not enough to enforce the lockdown next to the usual law enforcement agencies or a promise for further painful measures to come.
Additional Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma floated the idea that the Western Province, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal as the hotspots of Corona-19 could see a prolonged lockdown while other provinces are able to lift some restrictions earlier.
Accompanied is all this by the news that Eskom announces load shedding will resume after lockdown and news of SAA and the land bank standing before collapse.

Mixed messages, hope and realities – and certainly one reality is that all plans and all leadership needs people to execute them.
The blatant failure of SASSA, the national Ministry of Social Development and UIF to deliver so far on a much smaller scale of measurements; the absolute questionable performances of Ministers like Mbalula, Cele and so many more are not giving rise to the hope that the new economy will fly or reach the people in a way that uplifts and renews society.
Cadre deployment and corruption – past and ongoing – is once again the danger to bring down and hinder some of the plans we heard last night from the President.
Bringing in outside financial institutions to assist means that within the ANC those hard-liners lead by Ace Magashule must finally admit defeat and abandon their radical economic transformation plans.

I did not see a self-confident Ramaphosa last night, I rather had the impression that deep in his heart he knew that all the promises, all the billions of Rand hang at the end on being able to win the battle within the party but also the ability to execute on all levels of government – filtering down relief and good ideas without corruption and all the failures, administration is marred with at the moment.

The level of hunger and despair of the people in South Africa, acknowledged by the President last night and the current inability to deliver adequate help and assistance has to be mitigated at short notice to avoid a failure of all the plans we heard last night.
Words must translate in deeds the people feel, promised Rands must translate in filled stomachs, stimulus packages must hit the nail for those at the many margins of society soon and lockdown must end soon in a feasible manner for all South Africans, otherwise the fifth address of the President will go down in history as another pie in the sky.

 

 

Filed under: Africa, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

In need of help

Dear Friends and Partners, near and far –

HOPE CAPE TOWN in South Africa urgently needs your support:
As in many townships, a lack of food and hunger is a huge problem in Blikkiesdorp – we kindly ask for donations in order to be able to give our children a meal.

The children cannot play outside as shown in this picture, they live with their families during our lock-down in a very confined space.

Through Stacy, our HOPE Cape Town employee who lives in Blikkiesdorp, we are able to provide some hot meals for the kids.

Besides Blikkiesdorp there is need in so many other townships HOPE Cape Town is presently working. Our HOPE doctors and Community Health Workers are part of the essential services and hard at work to keep the virus at bay.

 

Donation accounts:

South Africa:
Account Name: HOPE Cape Town Trust
Bank: Standard Bank of South Africa Limited
Account Number: 07 027-452-5
Branch Code: 020909
SWIFT code: SBZAZAJJ
Branch Name: Thibault Square

Germany:
Account name: Catholic Foreign Secretariat
Bank: Commerzbank, Koeln
Account number: 2 114 021 00 (BLZ 370 800 40)
SWIFT-BIC.: DRESDEFF370
IBAN: DE72370800400211402100
Password: HOPE Cape Town Trust

Donation via our website:
www.hopecapetown.com

Any support, big or small, will help!
Please feel free to share…
Thank you very much and please stay healthy!

Filed under: Africa, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

The Gap

Sitting at the Waterfront in Cape Town I watch the crowd of people making their way through the shops and passages of this No 1 tourist attraction. It is buzzing as always after the day of pay for most of the people. Having read a report of the NGO Oxfam just a bit earlier, I wonder how to reconcile what I see with what was written in the research ” Is South Africa Operating in a Safe and Just Space? ”  In the conclusion they mention that South Africa has one of the highest official unemployment rates in the world (25%) and is one of the most unequal countries, with a Gini coefficient of 0.69. The wealthiest 4% of households receive 32% of total income while 66% of households receive only 21% of all income. Over half of South Africans live below the national poverty line and more than 10% live in extreme poverty, on less than R15.85 per day.
Once again it is obvious which gaps exists between those who have and those who don’t have. All BEE and BB BEE and revised BBBEE has not achieved that the entrepreneurial spirit ignited on a scale changing the destiny of the country. Poor leadership and cadre deployment has done injustice to those aspiring to leave the spiral of poverty, hunger and desperation. It is the millions still living under conditions not suitable for humans which did not get the fair share in the new South Africa. But not all is lost – there is an immense will and dedication in many places to better the lives of those in need and hope never has disappeared. But South African society will remain unequal till the spirit of 1994 re-emerges and people understand that only together we can make it and turn the tide towards a prosper nation. It is also this inequality which makes sometimes working in the fields of HIV and AIDS so difficult: empowerment of patients to understand their treatment, to have the means to dish out good food on their tables, a social network which carries those in need the extra-mile. It is not only about donations – bridging the gap between those who have and those who don’t have means to get to a real understanding of each other and a solidarity which comes from the dept of the heart and not as a feeling of obligation to share some bucks with the poor. Religion could play here a much better and supportive role – if all the energy which goes into the controlling of sexuality and related fields as well as marking the territory against competition or those believing differently into supporting social coherence and healing the wounds of our society, much could be achieved in little time. At least the aforesaid gap could be narrowed and the blessings of the new South Africa could be spread to many more as it is done in the moment.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Radioactivity

Besides all the news about the bus bombing in Jerusalem today and the war games in Libya – Japan still maintains a role in the news on TV. And listening to the news about more and more radioactivity in food, in water, in the air and the evacuation of all workers of Fukushima Nuclear Plant I ask myself whether we really grasp the reality we are facing. Looking at the pictures of destroyed cities – empty shops, no electricity, no petrol: a whole system, praised as one of the most efficient and technology wise advanced nations has come to a still stand and the radioactivity in the nature and the sea will not go away soon. Most probably at least one generation will be constantly reminded of the disaster.

It is the second time, Japan is hit from the nuclear power – the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still vivid memories for the Japanese people.

I read from Bishop Williamson, that he connects the disaster with the sins of the people and that God uses such punishment to bring people to re-think their doing. What a nonsense – what an abuse of a catastrophe for a meaningless theology – abandoned in that form a long time ago. God protect us from those Pius-brothers, they are really a pain in the neck of our church trying to recover from all the bad news of the last years.

It seems that most people have lost the ability to comprehend what is going on – the consequences of natural forces and that within minutes, our ordinary life is gone – as the people of a nation, a community or also in a private capacity. It reminds me that also other disasters like HIV/AIDS seems to be so incomprehensible that one stops thinking really of it, because it is “the others”, not me, not us. It is far away – it cannot happen to me, to us, to our family. Or the question of the millions dying of hunger every year, while we throw away food and subsidies destroying food in the rich countries or for farm products never been sold.

For me, the Japanese tragedy reminds me, how short-sighted we are and how we push away all thoughts, which would mean troubling thoughts on a long term run. Which would push me to give answers on questions I don’t want to be bothered with… Which maybe ask me to acknowledge that this world is still “in creation” as the bible put it – not ready, not in harmony – and even not giving an answer to the question “why””.

Be the work in the fields of HIV/AIDS or be it the tragedy in Japan – I hope I led all these questions to bother me as long as I live and challenge me to search for new answers every day.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

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