God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

The SA time bomb of 46.3%

“According to Stats SA, the unemployment rate as per the expanded definition of unemployment increased by 0.6 of a percentage points to 43.2% in the first quarter of 2021. The official unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 34 was 46.3% in first quarter of the year”, so the City Press on 14th of June 2021.

This is a result of an education system failing since years the learners and students and creating applicants not fit for the job market. Add a BEE system which is open to abuse by those enriching themselves anyhow while not really assisting those in the mainstream, then you have the toxic mix which was amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It becomes a sense of urgency to tackle this; especially after the recent riots have shown how quick violence and looting can become the order of the day while the state is not capable to protect its citizen or even has at times and in parts not the willingness to do so.

It also does not help to sugar coat the current situation in a country, where more people live on state sponsored grants then are in employment and the portion of substantial taxpayers is rather shrinking.

But there is also no reason to call it a doomsday and put the heads in the sand. The solution is to tackle it head’s on – leaving behind the political Sunday sermons and the put-up-to-failure ideology of parts of this nation’s ruling party. It entails to seriously engage in give and take between government, industry and the NGO sector, focusing solely on the task ahead and not the feathers to win or the political vision prone to override common sense. It also entails to have a sharp look at the educational sector, cut down on union’s power in this sector and put money into the uplifting of teachers and other educational staff.

Nothing is lost, but the clock is ticking; we already lost one born free generation to the inability to master the task – it is questionable whether society will allow that another generation will be sacrificed by political ideology and cadre deployment which translates in incompetence on levels which matter.

South Africa had always shown the ability to stand on the edge of the abyss and not to jump but to turn around and make it to safety. I am convinced this is also possible in current times. The amount of goodwill and preparedness to work together and to create positive synergies is palpable. Leadership is needed to harvest these synergies and to create a situation of excellence in the education sector and in the job market for our young and aspiring people.

Filed under: Africa, Politics and Society, Reflection, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

Unemployment, murder, rape and teenage pregnancy

Photo by Klimkin/Creative Commons

Whoever tries to sugarcoat the situation in South Africa had to be heavy at work in the last days. Figures released by various institutions showed the decay of the South African society on so many levels.

The official unemployment rate is 32.6%, the expanded unemployment rate is 46.3% in the first quarter of 2021. More than 18 million people living constantly on a government grant – the tax base is shrinking constantly because of immigration and the inability of government to tax the informal sector and some other industries in the appropriate way.

Crime statistics for the first quarter of the year record 5701 people being murdered – a figure which paints a grim picture of violence in this country. Rape is also up; alone in Gauteng, 9 518 rape cases in three months were recorded. And this is only the reported figures.

Teenage pregnancies are up, and the published report shows around 1000 of such reported pregnancies of girls in the age group between 10 – 14 years within a year.

There is no real leadership in the country – the avoidance tactics of President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Zondo Commission to account for failures; his insistence of the necessity and normality of cadre deployment which was demonstrated again in appointing tainted Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqabule as the speaker of the House gives little hope that this might change in the near future.

The education system in the country produces many matriculants without any proper general knowledge, the output of the education system often produces alumni who are not employable. The BEE system serves not really a purpose in the current form and shape.

The list of woes is certainly longer – and one could fall into deep despair looking at the shape and prospect of South Africa. I guess the only way out is to be honest and clear about the situation, raising respectfully but forcefully the realities, and to start in earnest to tackle the problems by concentrating on two two essential pillars of every society: health and education. And when I talk about health, I also mean the mental health of a society.

Giving up on 58 million people only because of government failure is not in option. Civil society has to take the lead, NGO’s have to come much more to the table and synergies have to be created between those existing capable and willing government officials and those within civil society joining hands and hearts to get it right.

There will be no fix in short time – it is a long and thorny way. But if we don’t start now, the next generation will once again be defrauded of all the opportunities needed for a healthy, prosper society.

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

In Anticipation

The disconnect between national government and the South African society is palpable at the moment – and South Africans are in high anticipation of rumours becoming reality that the President will announce the easing of restrictions this week.
So far nothing has happened and given the track record of delaying tactics it is to be expected that it will only be at the weekend, when he will proclaim the news to be changed anyhow before being implemented days later. It is always the same game and mirrors the split in the ruling party, the politics playing out behind the curtain and the extent, crisis is used to change the economic narrative with predictable catastrophic outcomes if realised.
Therefore, time is of essence in South Africa to stop the complete economic meltdown and a so-called 2nd wave which is already happening in unemployment, despair and trauma.
Covid-19 has again shown how complex South Africa can be:
the lockdown, which was only partly adhered to in the townships due to existing conditions, the predictions of infection and death rate which were way over realities materializing, the almost unbridgeable gap between those in power continuing to follow an ANC system of past struggle times complemented with shameless corruption and stealing from the people. Add the revelations of the Zondo commission on a daily base nailing the fact that those in power either willingly participated or witnessed and did nothing to stop the looting under the Zuma government. All the ills of South Africa are lying bare to see for those who want to see it.
And therefore the anticipation of some easing of lockdown is an indication of the pressure building up – people have enough from irrational rules, outright stupid arguments to bolster ideology and power play, so much trust is lost in the new democracy that we can almost talk about a danger zone in also democratic terms we have entered now.

What we would need is political, social and religious leadership which really makes an effort to guide, comfort and lead – so far it is only seen in some places, but very shy as it has to work against a flood of present woes. Courts and civil society organisations have kept the ship South Africa and its democracy and rule of law afloat so far, and it also were those entities preventing more hardship and despair. The country has shown again and again that it could jump from the abyss – but this time it is only possible if there is capability to reconnect politics, business and civil society to form a united front against all the odds South Africa faces. And for this to happen, there must be trust, one of the factors clearly a miss at the moment.

In practical terms speaking: The lockdown has to end – and instead of petty rules we have to learn to live with Covid-19: emphasis clearly on hygiene, physical distance, face-masks in public and testing, hot spot identification and containment. Period. All this can happen without a lockdown.

South Africa has the potential to rise again out of the ashes of its past – this global crisis lend a helping hand to unmask all what is wrong and not healed in this country, but it also showed clearly the potential of civil society and NGO’s and men and women of goodwill to come and join the efforts to tackle what is not right. A clever leadership would cease this moment – and also here: in anticipation…

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

Don’t crack down on dissent – have a plan and show it!

The fallout of comments made by members of the South African ministerial advisory committee MAC was to be expected – Minster Dr. Zweli Mkhize wasn’t happy and the reported heated exchange leaves the need to little fantasies about tone and emotions during the last meeting.
Obviously a government with a president claiming to follow sound and best advice of the very best academics the country has to offer cannot be happy, when the very same experts question the rationale of decisions made.
We are dealing with a health crisis – so the advice of health experts is of utmost importance – it seems that the political ploy to use this crisis for political gains and the dissatisfaction of “our people” led the academics to the conclusion that they will be blamed for the dire situation instead the politicians in charge of all the hardcore decisions; be it the ban of alcohol and tobacco sale, be it the never ending discussions about what a person is allowed to buy and what not in our times.

For me it is encouraging that those academics who are indeed known for their expertise and listened to at many conferences see finally also the need to speak out and not keep silent about the madness of regulations we are showered with – changing almost on a daily base. I guess the frankness of Trevor Manuel was one of the encouraging trigger point for them to speak out – and they said actually nothing what we did not know – they spoke common sense:

It is a health crisis – and instead of getting imprisoned in stages and rules and fine-tuning of rules there are some facts undisputable and determine the way forward:

  • Government asked and got 5 weeks to prepare for a virus, which will not stop even during lockdown to spread.
  • South Africa with the dense township population and the amount of people living in poverty or on a daily or weekly salary or allowance cannot adhere to Western measurements of e.g. physical distancing over a long period of time.
  • The impact on our economy is almost killing our system – the attempt of some in national government to change the system abusing the crisis is simply not acceptable.
  • We have to live with the virus for a longer time to come – so all public health measures should be – next to screening and testing – the focus point of all governmental efforts. Companies, NGO’s and all other in the working field should get all resources to remain on top of the pandemic and to function as safe as possible.
  • Military personnel should assist in opening field kitchen and field hospitals to assist our weak health system.
  • Parliament must regain oversight control over all the measures again – this is a time parliamentarians have to come together for the greater good of South Africa regardless of political creed.
  • Assistance must be made available to all South Africans – Covid-19 is also a chance to feel that we indeed are all in it.

A clear and transparent time table is needed to open up the economy while using all energy to bolster further our health system and get more testing and tracing done. We can’t live from President’s speech to President speech – expecting afterwards again a change in rules.
Honesty and the willingness to share all information, to explain the steps taken and the attempt to regain the trust lost in the last weeks will go a long way to beat this virus here in South Africa. We don’t need any ideology at the moment, no political grandstanding but humility and decency from those making decisions. No Cuban flag, no camouflage, no finger up in the air, no threats, no kindergarten teacher attitude but clear, sustained smart steps coming out of a common consent that we are all want to beat this little bug in a way, that makes us stronger and more resilient in the future.

 

Filed under: General, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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