Archive | South Africa

South Africa: COVID-19 Crisis Unmasks Dangers of Profit Oriented Healthcare

By Salimah Valiani

The pandemic has shown the need for medical care and interventions that have nothing to do with profit. But not even SA’s proposed National Health Insurance would fit the bill.

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Covid-19 has been linked to a number of truth claims long made by activists in South Africa and around the world. Perhaps most glaring is the need for universal healthcare and fortified public healthcare.

Following the mid-March announcements of measures to deal with the pandemic and the global financial crisis, researcher Sameer Dossani argued that while universal basic income and other income supports would help boost flagging economies, Covid-19 reveals universal healthcare as the most important need.

More recently, researcher and writer David Hemson draws attention to the 4 960 critical care beds in South Africa’s private sector versus the 2 240 ones in the public sector. Hemson underlines that one of the most pressing questions is how the private beds will be used equitably as Covid-19 spreads to the uninsured majority in the face of conflicting claims from the minority with medical insurance.

Brought to the surface by the current pandemic, these issues beg for unity through a common analysis and popular mobilisation in terms of solutions. For advocates and activists from a wide spectrum of political views – Sibongiseni Dhlomo, Shehnaz Munshi and Oupa Lehulere, to mention a few – National Health Insurance (NHI) is the solution for South Africa.

Deeper analysis that draws on medicines being used to treat the pandemic and decades of public healthcare experience in other countries, however, brings out the fundamentally flawed model of the NHI. The analysis is also relevant for other African countries in which public health insurance similar to the NHI is being designed and discussed.

Cuba and medicines 

Interferon Alfa 2B is one of 22 medicines that Cuba is producing to treat Covid-19 internationally and a major antiviral used in China from the onset of the pandemic. The story of how the antiviral came into being helps paint a picture of people-oriented, decommodified public healthcare that stands in contrast to the proposed NHI.

Interferons are proteins produced and released by cells in response to infections. The release, in turn, prompts other cells to heighten their antiviral defences. Cuba began investing in interferons in the 1970s. Interferon Alfa 2B is a product of one of Cuba’s 31 state-owned pharmaceutical firms, which fall under the umbrella agency BioCubaFarma. These firms research and produce drugs and vaccines as per the healthcare needs of the majority in Cuba.

Developed to crush the Dengue virus outbreak in Cuba in 1981, Interferon Alfa 2B was successful and has since been used to fight hepatitis B and C, shingles, HIV and Aids in Cuba and elsewhere.Universal Healthcare in Africa Is a Necessity for Genuine Development

Like its use, the origins of Interferon Alfa 2B is also multinational. As economic and social history lecturer Helen Yaffe explains in a London School of Economics blog, interferons were first identified by London-based researchers in 1957. By the 1970s, United States oncologist Randolph Clark Lee shared successive work with Cubans during then-president Jimmy Carter’s easing of the US embargo on Cuba. Fidel Castro saw the promise of interferons for curbing infectious diseases typical in countries like Cuba.

By September 1981, having learned from Finnish doctors how to isolate human interferon and produce it en masse, Cubans created Interferon Alfa 2B to treat Dengue fever, which affected 344 203 people in 1981. Due to the success of the antiviral, only 158 deaths resulted from the outbreak.

Multinational as it is, Interferon Alfa 2B could not have been a project for the multinational pharmaceutical industry. This is because such a drug cannot realise the level of profit required by pharmaceutical corporations. Johnson & Johnson’s profit, for example, rose 1,077% between 2018 and 2019, despite more than 13 000 lawsuits concerning ovarian and lung cancers linked to the company’s famous baby powder. Looking further back and calculating from Fortune 500 annual figures, Johnson & Johnson has had average annual profit increases of 201% since 2015.

Beyond antivirals, Interferon Alfa 2B is one of 569 medicines produced in Cuba. This is two thirds of the 857 medicines approved for use in the Cuban health system. Comprising about 21 000 workers, including 6 158 university graduates — 270 with PhDs and more than 1 000 with master’s degrees — BioCubaFarma also contributes to foreign exchange generation. As of 2015, Cuban pharmaceutical and biotechnology products were exported to 49 countries. This includes China, which has a joint venture with Cuba to produce Interferon Alfa 2B and was the first country to add it to the list of medicines to treat Covid-19.

Implications for Africa

The lesson here for South Africa and other African countries is simple. For a continent that is struggling to strengthen public healthcare and suffering from poor population health as well as high unemployment, a people-oriented, decommodified model like Cuba’s can turn healthcare into a means of transformation.

The production of health goods that prioritises the needs of the majority – and trains and employs local people in the process – helps strengthen population health while keeping costs down. It also avoids the draining of resources and lives as in the Johnson & Johnson case of soaring profits and destructive products. In addition, healthcare production driven by the needs of the majority creates the potential for exports that spread yet greater good.

In South Africa, this could take shape by socialising the private healthcare industry, which the government’s own health market inquiry has found is controlled by just four mega-corporations: Remgro, AfroCentric Investment Corporation, the Life Healthcare Group and Netcare. They own and control a number of sub-sectors that range from pharmaceutical production, pharmacies, hospitals and homes for the ill and elderly to medical scheme administration and managed care.

The monopoly of these four corporations has evolved largely after 1994 and, like many other aspects of the post-apartheid economy, is a problem that can be rectified now for the benefit of the majority. If activists mobilise around socialising the private health industry, it would be a people-centred solution for the long term, far beyond temporary solutions such as the nationalisation of healthcare industries in Spain and Italy to tackle Covid-19.

This contrasts sharply with the private health industry-dependent model of the NHI, which amplifies the current organisation of public healthcare in which the state subcontracts to private firms. As is well known in South Africa and has been documented for several European countries which have divided public healthcare between the state as funder and private firms as care providers since the 1980s, the major results are under-delivery of goods and services and wastage of public funds through overpricing, corruption and patronage.

Socialised, decommodified universal healthcare also contrasts with models of public healthcare like Canada’s, where delivery of hospital care is fully public but dependent on privately produced pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. Over the past 50 years, this dependence has meant that an increasing proportion of public funds has gone to pharmaceutical and medical equipment firms like Johnson & Johnson, while hospital funding has fallen to a bare minimum. Clearly this is not the model of universal healthcare that can take on epidemics and pandemics the way Cuba’s system has and continues to do.

As Covid-19 relief packages in many countries suggest, the risk of neoliberal solutions is high, with the largest share of benefits going to big employers, banks and other corporations rather than workers, the underemployed and the unemployed. Health systems are also at risk of being shaped and reshaped along neoliberal capitalist lines – unless activists seize the moment. The fast spread and multiple impacts of Covid-19 make the demand for decommodified, fully non-profit, people-driven universal public healthcare the basis from which to begin rebuilding society in South Africa and beyond.

Posted in Africa, Health, South Africa0 Comments

Cuban Doctors Head to South Africa to Help Fight COVID-19

Cuban medical brigades have been deployed across the world to help several countries combat the COVID-19 crisis.

The group includes family physicians, epidemiologists, biostatists, health technology engineers, and biotechnology experts, among others.

A new Cuban medical brigade is scheduled to arrive in South Africa on Sunday to join another group of Cuban colleagues, who are already working in the African country to reinforce the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Argentina Welcomes Cuban Medical Aid, Slams US Blockade

In the framework of the solidarity cooperation offered by the island at the international level, the 24 specialized medical brigade of the Cuban internationalist contingent Henry Reeve, responded to a request from the South African government to ihelp them during this critical time.

The group includes family physicians, epidemiologists, biostatists, health technology engineers, and biotechnology experts, among others.

Dr. Reynaldo Denis de Armas, head of the Cuban medical brigade in South Africa, explained to the Prensa Latina news agency that after a 14-day quarantine, Henry Reeve doctors will be deployed throughout the country’s nine provinces, according to the program. agreed with the South African authorities.

As of today, according to the latest official information from the South African Ministry of Health, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the nation is 4,361, while the death toll is 86.

According to a statement from the Cuban diplomatic legation in South Africa,  the group of health professionals is made up of family doctors, epidemiologists, biostatists, engineers in health technology and biotechnology experts, among others.

They were carefully selected, the text explains, to guarantee a great experience and knowledge in the planning, execution and management of clinical cases, as well as the public health response.

Currently, the Cuban Medical Brigades dedicated to fighting COVID-19, with more than 1,200 Health professionals, are deployed in more than 20 countries on different continents.

The people and government of Cuba, the text emphasizes, deeply value the very special and deep friendship with the government and people of South Africa, and consider it a duty to extend solidarity and support to our brothers in this beautiful nation in this time of need. .

Posted in CUBA, South AfricaComments Off on Cuban Doctors Head to South Africa to Help Fight COVID-19

S. African women: “My body is not your war zone,”

At #SandtonShutdown, South African Women Disrupt Business as Usual as Fury Over Gender-Based Violence Boils Over

“My body is not your war zone,” read one protest signs.

by: Andrea Germanos

Protesters march against gender-based violence, organised by several NGO?s and organisations at the JSE in Sandton on September 13, 2019 in Sandton, South Africa.

Protesters march against gender-based violence, organised by several NGO?s and organisations at the JSE in Sandton on September 13, 2019 in Sandton, South Africa. There has been a public outcry after the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town. Several protests and marches have been held across the country to highlight the plight of women and children who are constantly fall victims of gender-based violence. (Photo: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Thousands of protesters rallied outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Friday to protest staggering levels of violence against women in South Africa after a spate of recent killings and rapes fueled civil unrest over the issue.

Protesters carried placards with messages including “My body is not your war zone,” and “We should not need protection to survive in our streets and our homes.”

Images and videos of the action, which kicked of before dawn, were shared on Twitter  with the hashtag #SandtonShutdown.

Pearl Boshomane Tsotetsi@Pearloysias

For all the womxn whose bodies have been casualties of this war against us. (Excuse the shaky video) #SandtonShutdown

View image on Twitter

1611:09 AM – Sep 13, 2019

Ndlunkulu@_uZamaNgcolosi

✊

Standing together for all Women. We won’t be next. #SandtonShutdown

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

3811:15 AM – Sep 13, 2019

“Business can no longer continue as an innocent bystander,” wrote advocacy group Action Aid South Africa wrote in a tweet explaining the choice of the financial center as a target.

#TheTotalShutdown@WomenProtestSA

A 2% levy on profits to help fund the fight against GBV and femicide.
All JSE-listed companies must contribute to a fund to resource the National Strategy Plan on GBV and femicide. #SandtonShutdown #PayThePatriarchyTax #IWontBeNext

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

192:37 PM – Sep 13, 2019

From BBC News:

There was a sombre mood at the protest, which brought traffic to a standstill in Johannesburg’s Sandton district.

Tears were rolling down the women’s faces as they started singing “Senzeni na?”, which loosely translated from Zulu means “what have we done to deserve this?”

New national police data underscores the depth of the problem.

Over 41,000 rapes were committed in the year ending March 2019—an increase of almost 4 percent from the previous year. Over 2,700 women were also murdered in the time frame. That amounts to a woman being murdered every three hours, Bloomberg noted.

Catalyzing the recent surge of protests was the brutal murder and rape of university student Uyinene Mrwetyana by a Cape Twon post office employee. The attack reportedly occurred when she was checking on a package. 

Her murder, and recent others, have been a flash point, triggering protests including one last week that blocked the entrance to the World Economic Forum in Cape Town and launching the #AmINext movement.

“Every week, there is a story in South Africa that should stop us in our tracks—a newspaper report detailing what feels like a freak detonation of psychotic, demented violence against women, a one-off explosion of hate that somehow just keeps on happening,” Cape Town-based writer Rosa Lyster wrote at The New Yorker.

Referring to Mrwetyana’s murder, Lyster continued, “Confronted with the reality of how she died, and the knowledge that ‘the post office;’ must now be added to the long list of places to be scared of, women around the country are reaching what feels like a breaking point.”

“Mrwetyana’s death, so grotesquely emblematic of the state’s failure to protect women and children,” wrote Lyster, “seems to have channeled the anger that so many feel and directed it toward a clear target. The feeling that someone should do something is turning, quickly, into the conviction that someone is going to have to.”

Posted in Human Rights, South AfricaComments Off on S. African women: “My body is not your war zone,”

Back to Segregation? White-Only South African Town Denies Allegation of Racism

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  • South Africa
    South Africa’s white-only town inhabitants deny allegations of racism. | Photo: Reuters

A town called Eureka in the Northern Cape province of South Africa is built by white Afrikaans exclusively for themselves but they deny the move is racist.

White South Africans have built a white-only town in the Northern Cape province. A white-only town is not racist according to the inhabitants.

RELATED: South Africa: Ramaphosa Heading for Another Electoral Victory

The town, called Eureka, is only for white Afrikaans speaking people who allege to be victims of racism.

The place is built to protect and preserve the Afrikana culture, language, and way of life according to Okkert Swanpoel, one of the inhabitants of Eureka. “With affirmative action, it made it increasingly difficult for us as white people to get jobs… and also job security,” Swanpoel said.

Adriaan Nieuwoudt, founder of Eureka told Al-Jazeera, “The shoe is now on the other foot and now we are fighting against the racists. How can we be racists when it is us who are being forced out of the country?”

So far only 20 families reside in Eureka while more homes are being built.

However, the local government urged courts to stop people from building any more houses in the area. According to the municipality, the homes were built without permission and against building regulations. The court agreed on stopping further construction but it is also deliberating on whether a white-only town should be allowed to exist.

Racism has been a concern of Black people in South Africa even after the end of apartheid. White people still own most of the lands that they have taken away from Black farmers during the colonial period. The social movements have been demanding the government passes a law of expropriating land from white farmers without compensation.

Since the end of apartheid in the early 1990s, no more than 10 percent of the white-owned land has been transferred back to Black South Africans. Most of South Africa’s arable land remains controlled by white farmers. In 2016, the country’s parliament approved a bill allowing the “compulsory purchase” of land by the state to later transfer it to Black citizens, but not many white farmers have been interested in selling their property. The bill was withdrawn in 2018.

The land expropriation without compensation plan will seek to take back lands from white Afrikaners and to redistribute them to Black citizens who had been denied rightful ownership since the apartheid period.

That demand raised an outcry from white farmers who claimed to be victims of racism.

“The law of this country is anti-Black,” said Andile Mingxitama of Black First Land First party. “The whole economic system is anti-Black. The media projection of Black problems is anti-Black. We are going to the parliament, therefore, to represent the real voice of our people.”

South Africa is going to elections Wednesday and the issues of racism, land, and segregation are considered to be the main concerns of voters in this election.



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I fought South African apartheid

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I fought South African apartheid. I see the same brutal policies in Israel

I was shut down in South Africa for speaking out, and I’m disturbed that the same is happening to critics of Israel now

 Ronnie Kasrils was a leading member of the African National Congress during the apartheid era and former government minister

A Likud election campaign poster in Haedera, Israel.
‘Benjamin Netanyahu said recently: ‘Israel is not a state of all its citizens … Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and them alone.’ Photograph: Amir Levy/Getty Images

As a Jewish South African anti-apartheid activist I look with horror on the far-right shift in Israel ahead of this month’s elections, and the impact in the Palestinian territories and worldwide.

Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens, African refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza has become more brutal over time. Ethnic cleansing, land seizure, home demolition, military occupation, bombing of Gaza and international law violations led Archbishop Tutu to declare that the treatment of Palestinians reminded him of apartheid, only worse.

How disgraceful that, despite the lessons of our struggle against racism, such intolerance continues to this day

I’m also deeply disturbed that critics of Israel’s brutal policies are frequently threatened with repression of their freedom of speech, a reality I’ve now experienced at first hand. Last week, a public meeting in Vienna where I was scheduled to speak in support of Palestinian freedom, as part of the global Israeli Apartheid Week, was cancelled by the museum hosting the event – under pressure from Vienna’s city council, which opposes the international movement to divest from Israel.

South Africa’s apartheid government banned me for life from attending meetings. Nothing I said could be published, because I stood up against apartheid. How disgraceful that, despite the lessons of our struggle against racism, such intolerance continues to this day, stifling free speech on Palestine.

During the South African struggle, we were accused of following a communist agenda, but smears didn’t deflect us. Today, Israel’s propaganda follows a similar route, repeated by its supporters – conflating opposition to Israel with antisemitism. This must be resisted.

A growing number of Jews worldwide are taking positions opposing Israel’s policies. Many younger Jews are supporting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a peaceful mobilisation inspired by the movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.

The parallels with South Africa are many. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently said: “Israel is not a state of all its citizens … Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and them alone.”

Similar racist utterances were common in apartheid South Africa. We argued that a just peace could be reached, and that white people would find security only in a unitary, non-racist, democratic society after ending the oppression of black South Africans and providing freedom and equality for all.

By contrast, Netanyahu’s Likud is desperately courting extremist parties, and abandoning any pretext of negotiating with the Palestinians. His plan to bring an extremist settler party and Kahanist terrorist party into his governing coalition is obscene. His most serious opponent is a general accused of war crimes in Gaza. As long as a repressive apartheid-like regime rules, things will only worsen for Palestinians and Israelis too.

The anti-apartheid movement grew over three decades, in concert with the liberation struggle of South Africa’s people, to make a decisive difference in toppling the racist regime. Europeans refused to buy apartheid fruit; there were sports boycotts; dockworkers from Liverpool to Melbourne refused to handle South African cargo; an academic boycott turned universities into apartheid-free zones; and arms sanctions helped to shift the balance against South Africa’s military.

As the movement developed and UN resolutions isolated Pretoria’s regime, pressure mounted on trading partners and supportive governments. The US Congress’s historic adoption of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act (1986) was a major turning point. When the Chase and Barclays banks closed in South Africa and withdrew their lines of credit, the battle was well-nigh over.

This required huge organisational effort, grassroots mobilisation and education. Similar elements characterise today’s BDS movement to isolate apartheid-like Israel.

Every step is important – pressing institutions and corporations that are complicit in Israel’s crimes and supporting Palestinians in their struggle for liberation. This is not about destroying Israel and its people but about working for a just solution, as we did in South Africa.

It is the duty of supporters of justice worldwide to mobilise in solidarity with Palestinians to help usher in an era of freedom.



Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, South AfricaComments Off on I fought South African apartheid

By Cutting Off Relations, South Africa Has Branded ‘Israel’ With the Mark of Cain

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FILE PHOTO: A child takes part in a rally against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in Cape Town, South Africa, August 9, 2014.FILE PHOTO: A child takes part in a rally against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in Cape Town, South Africa, August 9, 2014.Schalk van Zuydam / AP

Because of the election battle, an important item fell by the wayside that should have resonated here: South Africa has decided to downgrade its relations with Israel to the level of liaison bureau, which will not deal with bilateral relations. Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane, who was recalled to protest the killing of demonstrators in Gaza, will not return. South Africa has essentially severed diplomatic relations with Israel. We’re left with Chad.

One can, of course, take comfort in the arms of the Brazilian president, admire the president of the Philippines, hug the prime minister of Hungary, and take pleasure in U.S. President Donald Trump. But South Africa is not just any country; it’s a symbol of justice, despite all its difficulties, corruption and crime. By cutting off relations it has stamped the mark of Cain on Israel’s forehead.

The Foreign Ministry’s response to the move only illustrates how low Israeli propaganda can go. “It’s a nod toward the country’s Muslim population, because of the approaching elections,” was the unbelievable Israeli explanation for the break. How miserable, how insulting to the intelligence, how ignorant and repulsive that is. It wasn’t the killing of demonstrators in Gaza, or solidarity with the oppressed, or South Africa’s own legacy, just a gesture to the Muslim voter. With pathetic responses like this, it would be better for the Foreign Ministry to continue to disintegrate. We have no need for it.

South Africa’s shameful capitulation to anti-Israel thuggery 
■ ‘Artwashing:’ BDS activists ramp up pressure on Eurovision 2019 in Israel

The severing of relations with the country of Nelson Mandela shouldn’t merely stir up sad thoughts about who Israel’s friends and critics are; South Africa, in a move that generates respect, is teaching Israel an important lesson about instilling the legacy of the past and learning its lessons. By cutting off ties with an occupying, apartheid state, it’s telling Israel: We’ve learned the lessons of our past. What about you?

South Africa's Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane in 2015.
South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane in 2015

The lesson that South Africa has learned is: Never again. In theory it’s similar to the lesson imparted to Israelis from the Holocaust, but actually it’s the opposite. When South Africa says “never again,” it plans to continue battling racism and apartheid everywhere in the world; it isn’t prepared to cooperate with regimes that are racist or apartheid under any circumstances, even if there’s a price to pay.

It’s not simple to sever relations with Israel. Trump might get angry, and there is still a strong Zionist community in South Africa. But South Africa is motivated by more than just interests.

Israel is the total opposite. Its lesson from the Holocaust is, as Golda Meir put it, that Jews are now permitted to do anything. Generations of young people are sent on trips to Auschwitz that corrupt their souls and rot their consciences. They are told their country must be strong, to live only by the sword, and that the whole world is against it. They wrap themselves in flags, cry and swear to live by power and not to rely on anyone.

FILE PHOTO: A group of Jewish people take part in a mach gathering thousands people through Cape Town, South Africa, May 15, 2018
FILE PHOTO: A group of Jewish people take part in a mach gathering thousands people through Cape Town, South Africa, May 15, 2018RODGER BOSCH / AFP

There is no humane message or moral lesson. That’s why Israel can embrace Rodrigo Duterte, stroke Jair Bolsonaro and admire Trump, or supply arms to all the tyrannical countries in the world and ignore the moral and ethical implications of its foreign policy. That’s for wimps.

When South Africa says “No” to Israel, it is speaking in the name of Mandela, who supported the Palestinians in their struggle and felt a moral obligation to assist them, but also tried to maintain good relations with Israel despite its shameful ties to apartheid. There’s no doubt that today Mandela would also support severing relations. South Africa is also speaking for those exemplary Jews who struggled hand in hand with the black freedom fighters, were wounded and jailed with them, and one can assume are already fed up with Israel. We have almost no such brave moralists who will struggle alongside the Palestinians.

The state of conscience has decided to ostracize the State of Israel. Israel doesn’t care. “Cry, the Beloved Country,” wrote Alan Paton about his country during its dark days. In Israel, there isn’t anyone who’ll cry.



Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, South AfricaComments Off on By Cutting Off Relations, South Africa Has Branded ‘Israel’ With the Mark of Cain

A Foreign Ministry: First stage of Nazi embassy downgrade complete

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SA protests

South Africa has already completed stage one in the process of the downgrading of its embassy to Tel Aviv, and South African ambassador to Tel Aviv, Sisa Ngombane, is back in South Africa, said Minister of International Relations, Lindiwe Sisulu, on Wednesday.

Speaking at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, Sisulu went on to say: “Our liaison office in Tel Aviv will have no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development co-operation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities. The focus of the Liaison Office would be on consular and the facilitation of people-to-people relations.”

DIRCO’s decision to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv is in implementation of a resolution taken at the ANC’s 54th elective conference in December 2017, directing the South African government to “immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office.” The ANC called the resolution “a practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine” and a means to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestine.

Palestinian Authority (PA) ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, welcomed the move. “South Africa represents the values of dignity, freedom and justice, and is fully aware of the importance of its pioneering role in international solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world, especially the Palestinian people. This support will surely contribute to peace and security in our world,” Dajani said in an interview with the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.

Hamas spokesperson, Basem Naim, hoped that the downgrading would eventually escalate to a complete boycott of Israel. “We thank South Africa for the steps it has taken to express its anger at the apartheid policy of the Israeli occupation state,” Naim told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel also welcomed Sisulu’s remarks.

Israel’s lobbyists, however, have warned that downgrading the embassy in Tel Aviv would harm South Africa economically.

According to Na’eem Jeenah of the Afro-Middle East Centre, cutting ties with Israel won’t hurt the country.

“Whether there are any trade implications from a downgrade will depend on how Israel responds. Even if Israel places obstacles to trade between the two countries, the effect will be insignificant. The trade volumes are not significant enough to be of great concern to South Africa. Israeli imports can easily be replaced with substitutes from elsewhere or by locally-developed technology. Israeli technology is not indispensable,” explained Jeenah.

Jeenah also dismissed claims that a downgrade will negatively affect South African Jews and Christians’ ability to travel to Palestine-Israel for religious reasons. “This is nonsensical. This fear can only be realized if Israel denies entry to Jews and Christians.”

According to Jeenah, Venezuela and Bolivia are useful examples. “Their Jewish populations continue to enjoy normal ties with Israel, and the Chavez government even secured Jewish religious sites in 2009, protecting the country’s Jewish population from protests against Israel’s 2008-2009 Gaza massacre.” This, Jeenah argues, is the kind of responsibility that the South African government should also adopt. 



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Protests in Nigeria, South Africa in support of Palestinian rights

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Hundreds took to the streets in the south-western Nigerian city of Iwo (Osun State), in a march organised by Nigerian Friends of Palestine on 30 March, 2019 [File photo]

Hundreds took to the streets in the south-western Nigerian city of Iwo (Osun State), in a march organised by Nigerian Friends of Palestine on 30 March, 2019 [File photo].

Nigerians and South Africans joined tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in commemorating the first anniversary of the Great March of Return and Palestinian Land Day on Saturday.

On Saturday, hundreds took to the streets in Iwo, in a march organised by Nigerian Friends of Palestine. “Until freedom is attained we will remain committed to the Palestinian cause,” spokesperson Daood Imran Molaasan told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.

Today, we are defending a just cause and we need not be Palestinians or Muslims to do so

he added.

Other Nigerian rights activists and Muslim scholars have hailed Palestinians for resisting the occupation by Israel.

“The Palestinian struggle is about the existence of a generation of people who keep fighting, and they must continue to sustain the struggle until justice is achieved,” said Nigerian author and veteran broadcast journalist, Abdur-Razaq Abdus-Salam.

READ: South Africa to downgrade Israel diplomatic mission

South Africans also gathered at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg for a tree-planting ceremony and protest organised by the Palestine Solidarity Alliance to commemorate Palestinian Land Dayand the anniversary of the Great March of Return on Saturday.

Over 260 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army over the last year during protests that aim to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Palestinians are protesting calling for an end to the 12-year Israeli siege on the enclave and to return to the homes from which their families were forcibly displaced to make way for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

READ: Nigerian Muslim body calls for sanctions on Israel



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Trump orders Pompeo to ‘closely study’ South Africa’s land expropriation

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Trump orders Pompeo to ‘closely study’ South Africa’s land expropriation
US President Donald Trump has expressed concern over the fate of white farmers in South Africa, where the extremely controversial land redistribution reform might leave owners without their properties or any compensation.

“I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers,’” Trump tweeted.

The South African government this week has reportedly moved to seize two farms from owners who refused to accept the government-set compensation, triggering panic among landlords and investors.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews

Local media reported the properties in the northern province of Limpopo became the first to be seized as the government pushes to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. While the government valued the land at 200 million rand ($18.7 million), Akkerland Boerdery, the hunting company that operates the farms, said they are being offered just 20 million rand ($1.87 million), which they have refused to accept.

This week’s seizures reportedly mark the first instance in which the government is expropriating land “in the public interest”without compensating owners with its full market price.

Land for sale in the Western cape area of South Africa © Education Images/UIG

South African state-owned Land Bank has warned of the massive economic burden for the economy, that may even trigger a default, if the farming sector and agri-business loses confidence and stops investing and paying off debts. If reforms to the constitution are introduced and the bank’s rights as a creditor are not protected, it may cost the economy 41 billion rand ($2.8 billion) in a bailout, the institution said.

The recently elected president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who repeatedly pledged to act more aggressively in redistributing white-owned land to the long-oppressed black population, disregarding a “willing seller, willing buyer” policy that was adopted after apartheid ended in 1994. Statistics show that white owners still control some 72 percent of farmland in South Africa, despite constituting only 9 percent of the population.

While Trump bemoaned the “large scale killing of farmers,” homicide rates in South Africa are at 20-year low, with 47 farmers killed in 2017-18, according to a recent research by one of the country’s biggest farmers’ organizations AgriSA. A peak in attacks was registered in 2001-2002, when 140 murders took place. Murder statistics, however, diverge, with civil rights group AfriForum saying 84 were killed in 2017 alone.



Posted in USA, South AfricaComments Off on Trump orders Pompeo to ‘closely study’ South Africa’s land expropriation

NDP MPs must stop being ‘friends’ with the Nazi regime

NOVANEWS

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NDP MPs must stop being ‘friends’ with Israel

By Yves Engler 

Is it appropriate for NDP Members of Parliament to be working for “greater friendship” with a country that is killing and maiming thousands of non-violent protestors?

Would it have been appropriate for any elected member of the party to be a “friend” with South Africa’s government during the apartheid era?

Victoria area MPs Randall Garrison (left) and Murray Rankin are members of the Canada Israel Interparliamentary Group (previously named Canada-Israel Friendship Group).

Garrison is vice-chair of a group designed to promote “greater friendship” and “cooperation” between the two countries’ parliaments.

The chair of the group is York Centre MP Michael Levitt, a former board member of the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund, who issued a statement blaming “Hamas incitement” for Israeli forces shooting thousands of peaceful protesters, including Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani.

The Interparliamentary Group is one of many pro-Israel lobbying organizations in Canada. In conjunction with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee, the Interparliamentary Group has hosted wine and cheese lobbying events on Parliament Hill. Three hundred parliamentarians and parliamentary staff attended their 2014 “Israeli Wine Meets Canadian Cheese” gathering in the East Block courtyard.

The group regularly meets the Israeli Ambassador and that country’s other diplomats. Representatives of the Group also regularly visit Israel on sponsored trips. For their part, Garrison and Rankin both participated in CIJA-organized trips to Israel in 2016.

The Interparliamentary Group works with its Israeli counterpart the Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. In 2016 the Group sent a delegation to the Israeli Knesset and last year they organized a joint teleconference with Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group co-chairs Yoel Hasson and Anat Berko.

Last month Hasson responded to Meretz party Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg’s call for an investigation into the Israel Defense Forces’ killing of non-violent Palestinian protesters by tweeting, “there was nothing to investigate, the IDF is doing what’s necessary to defend the Gaza border.”

Chairman of the Zionist Union Knesset faction, Hasson opposed the UN resolution on a Palestinian state. When the Knesset voted to strip Arab MK Hanin Zoabi of parliamentary privileges for participating in the 2010 Gaza flotilla Hasson and MK Carmel Shama “nearly came to blows” with Zoabi and her fellow Balad party MK Jamal Zahalka. Hasson later called Zoabi a “terrorist”.

Berko is even more openly racist and anti-Palestinian. A Lieutenant-Colonel in the IDF reserves prior to her election with Likud, Berko openly disparaged African refugees. In February Israel National News reported, “Berko said that the MKs should see the suffering that African migrants have caused South Tel Aviv residents before jetting off to Rwanda” to oppose an effort to deport mostly Eritrean and Sudanese refugees to the small East African nation.

In January Berko co-sponsored a bill to bypass a High Court ruling that Israeli forces cannot use the bodies of dead Palestinian protesters as bargaining chips. The aim of the bill was to make it harder for the bodies to be given over for burial, which should happen as soon as possible under Muslim ritual, in the hopes of preventing high profile funerals. In a 2016 Knesset debate Berko make the ridiculous claim that the absence of the letter “P” in the Arabic alphabet meant Palestine did not exist since “no people would give itself a name it couldn’t pronounce.”

In response Richard Silverstein noted, “Apparently, the fact that the word is spelled and pronounced with an ‘F’ (Falastin) in Arabic seems to have escaped her. It’s worth noting, too, that according to her logic, Israeli Jews do not exist either, since there is no letter ‘J’ in Hebrew.”

Garrison and Rankin must immediately withdraw from the Canada–Israel Interparliamentary Group. If the NDP MPs refuse to disassociate themselves from the pro-Israel lobby organization, party leader Jagmeet Singh should replace them as (respectively) NDP defence and justice critics.

Israel’s slaughter in Gaza should lead to an end of the NDP’s anti-Palestinian past.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Africa, ZIO-NAZI, South AfricaComments Off on NDP MPs must stop being ‘friends’ with the Nazi regime

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