As of 30 January 2021, more than 102 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, and over 2.2 million deaths attributed to the disease. Given that the knowledge and resources exist to reduce the number of epidemics and minimise the possibility of them becoming pandemics, the vast majority of these deaths can be considered premature. Little wonder then that some people think ‘It is time to impanel a citizens’ tribunal to investigate the utter failure of the governments of Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Narendra Modi, and others to break the chain of the infection of COVID-19. Such a tribunal would collect the factual information that would ensure that we do not allow these states to tamper with the crime scene; the tribunal would provide the ICC with a firm foundation to do a forensic investigation of this crime against humanity when its own political suffocation is eased’ (counterpunch.org, 22 January). Supporters of this approach take the short-sighted view that the prosecution of a motley crew of misleaders is enough. They are but temporary pustules on the ever-hungry, profit-chasing beast whose tentacles reach across the world.
Master of puppets
The vast majority of the working class fail to see the beast and blindly support capitalism. None of them can escape responsibility for the consequences. For the power wielded by the rulers of world capitalism is a reflection of the political ignorance of the working class everywhere. It is absurd to blame misleaders, particularly those elected by millions of us. The depth of that ignorance was shown recently when after four years as president of USA Inc., the cockwomble Trump received more than 74 million votes. Tanzania’s equally odious President Magufuli also got there with our support. It was reported that he recently stated ‘. . . that no lockdown was planned because God would protect people from COVID-19 while homespun precautions such as steam inhalation were better than vaccines. ‘Vaccines are not good. If they were, then the white man would have brought vaccines for HIV/AIDS,’ he said in a speech in western Tanzania, contradicting the global scientific consensus and advice from the World Health Organization (WHO). Tanzania has officially reported a total number of 509 COVID-19 infections and 21 deaths, WHO data shows, but it has not updated the figures for more than six months. ‘We Tanzanians haven’t locked ourselves in and we don’t expect to lock ourselves down. I don’t expect to announce any lockdown because our God is living and He will continue to protect Tanzanians’ …’We will also continue to take health precautions including the use of steam inhalation. You inhale while you pray to God, you pray while farming maize, potatoes, so that you can eat well and corona fails to enter your body. They will scare you a lot, my fellow Tanzanians, but you should stand firm’ (yahoo.com, 27 January).
Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa (1999-2008), once compared AIDS scientists to Nazi concentration camp doctors and viewed black people who accepted orthodox AIDS science as ‘self-repressed’ victims of a slave mentality. He saw the ‘HIV/AIDS thesis’ as entrenched in ‘centuries-old white racist beliefs and concepts about Africans’. Mbeki promoted alternative remedies such as vinegar rather than antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) which saved the state’s funds at a cost of up to 365,000 lives. Winnie Mandela to her credit ‘… said to president Mbeki: ‘Why are ARVs not toxic for the members in Parliament who are taking them but toxic for the poor?’’ Members of the 99 percent have also called for him to be tried for crimes against humanity. Others, less myopic, have pierced the miasma of misinformation: ‘The working class all over the world have far more in common with each other than they do with the bourgeoisie in business, politics and the media within their own borders. Covid-19 has taken millions from us – but we cannot allow the global bourgeoisie to play their divisive games using nationalism, or narratives of political catastrophe to fool us. Let us not side with our countries or one flavour of politician – let us unite in the class war – and let us see through the luxury the political, media, and business bourgeoisie enjoy for what they really are – scared and incompetent’ (rt.com, 28 January).
Social justice or socialism?
In an open letter to South Africa’s current president, billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa, entitled ‘Maybe there should be different laws for the ruling elite and ordinary citizens’ (news24.com, 25 January), Dikeledi Molatol, a ‘social justice activist’, writes: ‘Perhaps what should happen, Mr President, is that you and your Cabinet must just consider declaring special laws and regulations for elites and your fellow politicians in the ANC, and different ones to govern us, ordinary citizens. In that way we will stop being under the illusion that we are all equal before the law and all committed to combatting this pandemic.’ King Zuma has his palace and shares responsibility for the Marikana massacre with Ramaphosa. Anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of the ANC: ‘They stopped the gravy train just long enough to get on themselves.’ He went on describe the Zuma administration as ‘worse than the apartheid government’ and that he would ‘pray for the downfall of the ANC.’ South Africa today is the most unequal society in the world – economic apartheid persists for millions. ‘How many more presidents will come and go before the billions see that you cannot change the nature of the capitalist beast, and as long as we continue to feed it, war and want, pestilence and famine will persist?