The waves societies choose to ignore at their own peril: face masks are the new ‘Heil Hitler!’

Johannes Wessels
@johannesEOSA1

In the last months of the Year of Covid-19, the world experienced a massive resurgent wave. It wasn’t a wave of deaths by coronavirus, but a lockdown tsunami engulfing individual and civil liberties. The excess deaths caused by governments’ decisions to relegate non-Covid health issues to the realm of non-essential treatments, also become more and more visible for those who have eyes to see and those who have ears to hear…

Another heaving wave – poverty due to the swelling unemployment and enterprise demise that the lockdown measures and the autocratic disruption of economic life brought about – also gained momentum. The impact thereof is certain to dwarf that of the virus itself.

If the worldwide death toll of 1.359 million attributed to Covid-19 is divided by the daily average global death toll of 158 085 (for 2019) and one fills the annual calendar according to deaths by cause, the feared pandemic with its vicious waves is closer to a ripple than a tsunami. EOSA developed a Cause of Death Calendar that shows:

Continue reading “The waves societies choose to ignore at their own peril: face masks are the new ‘Heil Hitler!’”

Lock-down is international “worst practice” but Ramaphosa (and key business leaders) maintain it’s the solution

Day 132 after registering the first 100 Covid infections in SA made it clear how unsuccessful the lock-down has been: South Africa’s number of Covid infections/ 10 000 of the population despite the world’s harshest lock-down with a curfew, mandatory face masks and an alcohol ban passed that of a country that has never implemented lock-down, never made face masks mandatory and would have continued to buy South African wines were it not for the SA government that had banned the transport (and therefore export) of wine. (Figure 1)

Like that legendary village in Gaul ( home of Asterix and Obelix) held out against the might of Caesar’s Rome to maintain local culture, Sweden kept the constitutionally protected rights of its citizens intact (freedom to move, associate and work) whilst most of the world capitulated with lock-down measures before the might of fear brought about by flawed modelling of the Covid threat.

South Africa’s government early on sacrificed these rights, transforming its citizens to subjects, all “to ensure that the infection curve would be flattened to get ready for the Covid storm”. Figure 1 clearly shows how the curve was flattened, but today we know that it was not utilised to ensure Covid-ready hospitals with well-motivated staff serving sufficient beds in ICUs and care centres equipped with ventilators and required equipment.

The BBC had shown the world that the “flattening of the curve” was not used for that, at least not in the Eastern Cape.  The Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, however disputed the BBC findings, stating that, apart from the fact that the EC hospitals:

  • should follow medical waste protocols;
  • require more beds;
  • needed more nursing staff;
  • had to procure more ventilators, and
  • should get rid of blood on the floor and the rats,

the province was ready for the Covid crisis.

Easier to exterminate hospital rats than tender rats?

Mkhize made no mention that these problems were probably linked to the government’s continued feeding of the tender rats.

Quicker than what a minibus taxi can skip a traffic light, Andile Ramaphosa of Bosasa fame had convinced FNB to sponsor a R6 million contract to install Perspex shields and sanitise equipment in Gauteng taxis. He claims he is not personally benefiting from the contract awarded to SDI Force (an NGO).

Continue reading “Lock-down is international “worst practice” but Ramaphosa (and key business leaders) maintain it’s the solution”

The resilience of some small towns in the Karoo

A new article in the Journal of Arid Environments (see reference below) examines the ‘Small Town Paradox’ in eight small towns in the Eastern Cape Karoo. Normalised data (enterprise numbers per thousand residents) and estimates of enterprise richness were used in the comparisons. Willowmore, Steytlerville and Jansenville outperformed Aberdeen, Hofmeyr, Steynsburg, Venterstad and Pearston in terms of total enterprises per 1000 residents as well as enterprises per 1000 residents in the tourism & hospitality services and agricultural products and services sectors. In fact, in some measures these towns even outperformed the larger towns of Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Somerset East and Middelburg. Over some seven decades, the enterprise richness of Willowmore, Steytlerville and Jansenville increased (like those of the larger towns) whereas the enterprise richness of the other five small towns decreased. Hausmann et al. (2017) postulated that productive knowledge is a main determinant of the wealth/poverty of nations. I think this is also true for towns and used enterprise richness as a proxy for the levels of productive knowledge in the towns.

The resilience of towns is now a hot scientific topic. It refers to the ability of towns to respond successfully to adverse changes. Some do it well and some not; hence the ‘Small Town Paradox’. The decline of agriculture, particularly wool farming, in the Karoo stressed many Karoo towns. The study was done to determine if resilience was present in the Eastern Cape Karoo. It was.

The article demonstrates two important issues: 1. There are useful measures whereby the strengths/weaknesses of the entrepreneurial development of South African towns can be compared. 2. Productive knowledge is probably an important component of the resilience of South African towns.

References

Toerien, DF (2018) The ‘Small Town Paradox’ and towns of the Eastern Cape Karoo, South Africa. Journal of Arid Environments. Available free of charge for a limited period at:
https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1WwV0Vu7-m4sz

Hausmann, R, Hidalgo, CA, Bustos, S, Coscia, M, Chung, S, Jiminez, J,  Simoes, A & Yildirim, MA. (2017) The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity. Center for International Development, Harvard University.

Fragmentation of South Africa: Is the ANC succeeding where the NP failed?

Remember, South Africa as a unitary state is a recent experiment and the jury is still out to assess its success or failure…” These words by Lawrence Schlemmer, one of the foremost analytical minds in SA during the latter quarter of the 20thC are today far more relevant than when he uttered them in 1996 when we were enjoying a drink whilst waiting at the late Jan Smuts Airport on delayed flights. Having just read Jacques Pauw’s The President’s Keepers I was starkly reminded of Lawrie’s words.

Lawrie Schlemmer

South Africa is unravelling…

I had the privilege of meeting Lawrie when he was a strategy advisor to the Urban Foundation in the years 1987 onwards. His sharp intellect and wit made him an impressive debater. He was totally independent – apart from his utter dependence on nicotine.

Continue reading “Fragmentation of South Africa: Is the ANC succeeding where the NP failed?”

Of people and enterprises in South African towns

Western CapeOrderliness in enterprise development in South African towns has been observed as statistically significant correlations between different characteristics of South African towns. One of the first correlations noted was a statistically significant positive relationship between the population of South African towns and the number of their enterprises. This was observed in the Free State, the Northern Cape, the Western Cape (see graph) and the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve. In fact, towns in the Eastern Cape Karoo exhibited such relationships over a period of a century. One can conclude the relationship is ubiquitous in South Africa. Continue reading “Of people and enterprises in South African towns”