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Editorial
 
“Incompetent and heartless governments put the hammer down on society without any planning or concern for those with few resources. It is one thing for the elite or the middle class to stay at home, work using the Internet, and muddle through teaching their children from home; it is another for the billions of migrant labourers and day labourers, people who live hand to mouth, and people who have no homes. Lockdowns, quarantines, social distancing – these words mean nothing for the billions of people who work hard each day to socially reproduce the world and to produce the millions of commodities; they have not benefited from their work, but they have certainly enriched the few who are now hiding with their wealth behind their curtains, afraid of the reality that made them rich.”
 
So says Vijay Prashad in the weekly newsletter of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.
 
South Africa’s ANC government has been no exception to the manner in which they’ve responded to the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s as if they are oblivious to their over two decades of misrule, mismanagement and corruption facilitated by state power and its extremely conservative neoliberal economic policies. They responded late to the unfolding pandemic and finally took the necessary drastic step of declaring the country in a state of lockdown under the state of National Disaster provision. However, in doing so, its main concerns were the interests of the business community of local and foreign capitalists, with undertakings to subsidise companies and wages. Belatedly and more than a week into the lockdown it made concessions to the informal sector of street vendors and others. However, millions of South Africa’s unemployed, homeless and survivalist unemployed were not factored in at all for support from the state. Considerations for the poor and those who rely on social grants were neglected and at times dysfunctional causing poor recipients to return to unsafe SASSA pay-points. If anything, the pandemic has been the proverbial chickens coming home to roost with it exacerbating and brazenly exposing inequalities forced the government to pay attention to critical social issues that it has neglected for over two decades, such as access to clean water and de-densification of informal settlements etc. As we publish, many of our public hospitals and clinics still do not have all the required equipment such as respirators and materials to care for COVID-19 victims, nor the necessary protective clothing for healthcare workers.
 
Like many left analysts have forewarned, during major crises like wars and pandemics, the ruling class rapidly takes advantage to maximise its gains during and after. Already we saw the supermarkets and wholesalers capitalise on middle-class’ hoarding by pushing up prices while globally major pharmaceutical companies are racing against time and each other to be the first to produce a vaccine against COVID-19. We also note how the government has relaxed regulations in healthcare to enable private companies to profit more while the environmental pollution legislation for toxic sulphur dioxide emissions by SA’s mineral-industrial complex’s companies like SASOL, will be allowed to pollute more and further cause asthma and related lung disease as well as cancer for members of communities who live close to these emitters of poison.
 
Another ministry reinforced the government’s xenophobia by declaring that only SA owned spaza shops in townships would be allowed to operate during the lockdown. Moreover, with ratings agency Moody’s downgrade of South Africa to “Junk” status, Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, was said to be in a celebratory mood after getting the go ahead from the President with “structural reforms” a euphemistic technical term for more reduction in social spending and cuts in the public service, i.e. more attacks on the living standards of the working class and poor in a country where up to 50% of the population is unemployed or underemployed and inequality is the highest in the world.
 
The SA government, unlike others in the world like Britain, Italy and Spain that have taken drastic measures to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on the general population, like nationalising private healthcare and guaranteed income for everyone during their lockdowns,  the SA government has not adopted any extraordinary measures that will provide real relief to the poor. Instead the poorest and marginalised have been forced to endure harassment and violence from the armed forces to respect the lockdown and “social distancing”. The lockdown in SA entered its second week and already the signs are there that the  situation is much worse than initially assumed with the statistics of tests results lagging behind by up to two weeks. With SA’s poor public health system, the unsafe and unsanitary living conditions and worsening general conditions of poverty with limited access to income and food, SA’s working class and poor is in for a nightmare and the country a social catastrophe.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed the weakness and limitations of our working class organisations and supportive NGO’s, after three decades of political degeneration and organisational decline. Moreover, the action that’s key for countering COVID-19, physical distancing and isolation, has by itself made it extremely difficult and nigh impossible for galvanising those worst affected into mass action and resistance. If anything it has proven that no amount of comfortable social media activism will achieve the necessary that will get us closer to a just and equal society. Addressing our weaknesses in the post-COVID-19 period will be our major challenge and task.
 
This week’s articles and video production that follow illustrate all of the above.
 
Aluta Continua.
 
WWMP Editorial Team

 

COVID-19: Reports from the Frontline

SASSA strategy to avoid long queues fails

The strategy by SASSA to stagger payments of social grants fails as elderly and disabled people and shoppers stand in long queues in poor communities.

NUMSA and Golden Arrow disagree about lockdown bus service

Golden Arrow Bus Services claims that it provides an essential service under the state of national disaster regulations.

               COVID-19: SOUTH AFRICA

Food in the time of the Coronavirus: Why we should be very, very afraid

The social legitimacy of the ‘COVID-19 lockdown’ is most likely to run aground unless an urgent plan can be made to ensure that everyone in the country has access to sufficient food. And it’s not looking good.
PLAAS

 

The coming storm in health and state

All the unfinished business of the SA revolution is now outlined against the dark sky of disease; the stalled housing program, indecisive health investment, mass unemployment and declining incomes, rising poverty, and the stark inequality of economy and society.
DAVID HEMSON PUBLIC READING ROOMS

 

What’s up with SA’s Covid-19 infection numbers?

There is something very peculiar about SA’s Covid-19 numbers. The slower increase of cases may be giving a false picture and the wrong impression since testing has not yet begun on a wide scale.
KATHERINE CHILD FINANCIAL MAIL

 

 

The President, the Finance Minister, and the Economists

On 30 March about 76 economists and 29 other academics and experts in various fields of study published an Open Letter to President Ramaphosa on the COVID-19 crisis. They warned of the coming global recession and indicated that the economy could contract by up to 7% and proceeded to appease the push for government austerity.
OUPA LEHULERE KARIBU

 

UIF has R30bn available for Covid-19 income support to laid-off workers

The Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Department of Employment and Labour have launched the new Covid-19 temporary employee relief scheme, which will provide funds to distressed companies unable to pay the full salaries of workers they permanently laid off or sent home temporarily due to Covid-19 and the shutdown.
RAY MAHLAKA DAILY MAVERICK

 

Lest we forget the informal sector during Covid-19

The state must come up with a series of robust interventions that will cushion this segment of our economy before and after the crisis
MMAMOLETJE THOSAGO BUSINESS DAY

 

NUM condemns ‘barbaric’ decision of some mines to remain open

The mineworkers union is angry that some mines will operate during the 21-day lockdown. Meanwhile, some mining companies are paying basic salaries during this period and others are not. Flashpoints for conflict between capital and labour are emerging, as are tensions between the ANC-led government and its political base. And Saftu is also seeing red.
ED STODDARD BUSINESS MAVERICK

 

Two Free State healthcare workers injured after police fire rubber bullets to disperse protesters

The workers were protesting the costs of public transport that have doubled under lockdown regulations limiting the number of people who can be transported in a vehicle. Commuters are made to pay for empty seats in a taxi.
AZARRAH KARRIM NEWS24

 

Covid-19: Are agricultural sector workers being protected?

The Department of Labour says it is cracking down on companies violating safety requirements during the lockdown.
LIEZL HUMAN GROUNDUP

 

A pledge to build unity and solidarity during a global crisis

This virus does not distinguish on the basis of nationality, and all within our borders have a role to play in its containment, and a right to be treated equally under the law.
SHARON EKAMBARAM DAILY MAVERICK

 

Renowned SA scientist Gita Ramjee dies of complications due to Covid-19

Ramjee is remmebered as “a bold and compassionate leader in the response to HIV.”
IOL

Amandla 69
South Africa’s new progressive magazine standing for social justice

This issue offers a series of articles that take a look at the deadly COVID-19 virus from a pro-working class perspective. This issue not only focusses on the Coronavirus but also spotlights precarious work, the threats to the public sector and the Real Jobs Summit.

DOWNLOAD PDF AIDC

           COVID-19: INTERNATIONAL

Like Previous Pandemics, COVID-19 Will Shape the Fates of Nations

Nations that are more successful at controlling the disease and minimizing fatalities will enjoy more social cohesion, while those that delay active measures to control its spread will see greater social stress, and a crippling of public faith in leaders and institutions.
RICHARD HEINBERG POST CARBON INSTITUTE

 

China and Cuba’s Medical Internationalism is a Shining Example of Global Solidarity

China sends medical equipment abroad, Cuba sends doctors and cutting-edge drugs, but the US fails to provide its people, doctors and nurses with basic tools and protection.
DANNY HAIPHONG BLACK AGENDA REPORT

 

Western Values May Not Survive the Coronavirus

The current pandemic has revealed that despite overwhelming wealth, scientific advancement and relative security, the Western world has literally been brought to its knees by an unlikely foe: COVID-19.
ALI DEMIRDAS THE NATIONAL INTEREST

 

This is a Global Pandemic – Let’s Treat it as Such

 

The Danger We’re Facing: A Grocery Worker Speaks Out

Grocery stores have been designated a “critical industry” by federal agencies in the U.S. This means they can largely continue with business like normal—and normal was bad enough. An interview with a pharmacy clerk.
CHRIS BROOKS LABOR NOTES

 

Italy Calls General Strike: ‘Our Lives Are Worth More Than Your Profits’

 

Portugal gives migrants and asylum-seekers full citizenship rights during coronavirus outbreak

Full citizenship rights grants asylum seekers full access to the country’s healthcare as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus escalates there.
MIA ALBERTI, VASCO COTOVIO  CNN

 

Life and Death in the Epicenter

With the current pandemic and an economy that threatens to turn into a full-scale 1930s type Depression, the capitalist system has lost its invincibility – septuagenarian Louis Proyect writing from New York.
LOUIS PROYECT COUNTERPUNCH

New York Nurses Are Living A Heartbreaking Nightmare

An account from the frontline, written by a nurse and the president of the New York State Nurses Association.
JUDY SHERIDAN-GONZALEZ LABOR NOTES

 

The Wall Street Journal’s Pitch For Mass Murder

Not even two weeks into an extraordinary response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the upper echelons of capital are wondering whether saving millions of lives is really worth the damage being done to their investment portfolios.
J.E. KARLA CHAMPTION INSTITUTE

 

Workers Launch Wave Of Wildcat Strikes As Trump Pushes For ‘Return To Work’ Amidst Exploding Coronavirus

The economic collapse brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed everything about our lives. In many ways, the growing crisis has laid bare the already existing contradictions which threatened to pull this society into open class conflict.
IT’S GOING DOWN

 

More Than 400,000 Demand Congress Freeze All Rent, Mortgage, And Utility Payments

“Millions are wondering how they’ll pay their rent or mortgage by tomorrow. We need additional emergency action suspending rent, mortgage and utility payments for the duration of this crisis.”
COMMON DREAMS

 

India’s coronavirus lockdown will hit women and migrant workers hardest

A total lockdown, while it may help stop the spread of coronavirus, is likely to have a significant impact on food and nutrition.
NITyA RAO THE CONVERSATION

India’s pandemic lockdown turns into a human tragedy

Migrant labourers feel they have more social security in their villages so the Indian lockdown has seen an exodus of migrant workers to the rural areas, spreading the contagion.
SOUTIK BISWAS BBC

 

Five Actions the Global South is Taking to Confront the Coronavirus

As the pandemic spreads, workers and communities in the Global South are taking action to not only stop the spread, but also to prepare for a post-pandemic world where the rights to healthcare, education, and good jobs are strengthened.
APHEDA

Informal Workers in Timor Leste Take Action to Stop the Spread of Coronavirus

A group of Timorese activists, nick-named the Bucket Crew, have raised money to buy taps to fix to water buckets to create hand-washing stations with soap which were distributed to informal places of work.
APHEDA

 

20 arrested at protest in Quezon City during quarantine

The protesters were demanding food and financial aid. The Philippines has ordered half its population of some 110 million to stay home.
PHILSTAR

 

Social Movements In Times Of Pandemic: Another World Is Needed

Faced with the glaring need for radical and complex transformation, social movements in times of crisis act differently from protests.
DONATELLA DELLA PORTA COUNTERPUNCH

 

Why Women Will Prove More Vulnerable Than Men In This Pandemic Moment Of Economic Crisis

I hope, instead of returning to normalcy after covid-19’s retreat, we recognize that our survival as a species depends on changing almost everything, including how we produce what we need and how we reproduce ourselves as fully human beings.
REBECCA GORDON TOM DISPATCH

 

The coronavirus crisis shows we need an entirely new economic system

In response to this crisis the U.K. government has to do nothing less than take command of the economy. But it doesn’t know how to. It’s not just a question of lacking education and experience in crisis management; it’s a question of ideology.
PAUL MASON NEW STATESMAN

 

Ireland: Private Hospitals Will Be Made Public For Duration Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Private hospitals will act as part of the public health system for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Some 2,000 beds, nine laboratories and thousands of staff have been drafted into the public system.
THE JOURNAL

 

Revolutionary Change And COVID-19

The genie has escaped from the bottle, revealing the deep injustices and cruelties that are embedded in US capitalism and its warped relationship to the peoples it rules, and the world.
MARGARET KIMBERLEY BLACK AGENDA REPORT

 

Media Struggle To Defend Washington’s Cruelty Toward Venezuela And Iran

The mainstream media accepts the IMF’s excuse that lack of “clarity” over Venezuela’s “rightful leader” prevents it from giving the country coronavirus aid–even though in 2002, the IMF rapidly offered aid to a short-lived coup government.
JOE EMERSBERGER FAIR

 

‘The Strike Wave Is in Full Swing’: Amazon, Whole Foods Workers Walk Off Job to Protest Unjust and Unsafe Labor Practices

Between 50 and 200 employees at an Amazon warehouse in New York walked off the job Monday, days after at least one case of coronavirus was reported at the facility.
CITIZEN TRUTH

‘Without Us, Instacart Will Grind to a Halt’: Delivery Workers Threaten Strike Over Hazard Pay, Safety Measures Amid Outbreak

“Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart would be nothing without the laborers they treat so poorly—people now deemed ‘essential’.”
JULIA CONLEY COMMON DREAMS

               AND IN OTHER NEWS: SOUTH AFRICA

Killing the Holy Ghost: Inside the R145bn plan that would destroy the Limpopo River   

A businessman wanted by Interpol would do a deal with the South African government to build an 8,000ha Special Economic Zone on the river’s southern bank. The dealmakers would keep many secrets from the ancestral claimants to the land, including their unholy plans for a coal-fired power station.
KEVIN BLOOM DAILY MAVERICK

 

Who can unions admit as members?

NUMSA wished to represent workers in a company in the packaging industry, but the Constitutional Court said it can’t.
OHENE YAW AMPOFO-ANTI GROUNDUP

               COVID-19 IN ISRAEL / PALESTINE

Coronavirus in Gaza: Just 40 ICU beds for two million people under siege

Everywhere, medics are asking themselves whether they will be brought to their knees by Covid-19. They don’t ask themselves that question in Gaza. The health system there already is on its knees – by design.
DAVID HEARST MIDDLE EAST EYE

 

Israel Confiscates Tents Designated For Clinic In The West Bank

As the whole world battles an unprecedented and paralyzing healthcare crisis, Israel’s military is devoting time and resources to harassing the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank, that Israel has attempted to drive out of the area for decades.
B’TSELEM

               AND IN OTHER NEWS: INTERNATIONAL

Top U.S. General Resists Trump Administration’s Efforts To Provoke War With Iran

A brave U.S. army lieutenant general may be risking his career to resist Trump administration efforts to provoke war with Iran.
©MONDOWEISS

 

‘Forced Labor’ Stories On China Drive Cold War PR Blitz

A new wave of media reports on Chinese forced labor relies almost entirely on a series of dubious studies by purportedly “independent” think tanks backed by the West’s military-intelligence apparatus.
AJIT SINGH THE GRAYZONE

              CULTURE

I will make you pay

A review of two biographies of Winne Mandela, The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela by Sisonke Msimang and Truth, Lies and Alibis: a Winnie Mandela story by Fred Bridgland. mind the paywall.

HERIBERT ADAM LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

 

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DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is intended to serve as a channel of special and alternative news, information and knowledge source for all those interested in issues relevant to promoting political, social and economic equality and the eradication of poverty. The articles contained herein are obtained from various electronic media platforms and do not necessarily reflect the views of WWMP.