THE first week in March, and 343 days into the national lockdown, we are now at alert level 1 and most restrictions have been lifted or, at least, eased. Mask wearing in public along with social distancing restrictions are still in force. Alcohol trading hours have been extended, gatherings are still limited but crowd sizes are now larger and there is a chance the economy will pick up once more. Remember, we were downgraded to junk status before the pandemic and things have only grown worse since then. However, the rest of the world is in a similar boat and so we will have to wait and see how quickly other countries respond to the financial crisis, and take some lessons from them. The scientific community has been warning that Covid-19 will be with us for a long time and it might even become an epidemic, meaning the virus will remain among the population for an indefinite period, much the same as influenza and colds are always with us. Mass vaccination is being promoted as the only way to proceed, but many people, including on TotT’s Facebook page, have expressed doubts about the vaccine’s efficacy and are suspicious about what it actually does, and how its development has been so rapid. Almost everyone on the planet has received a vaccination of some sort of another; whether booster shots in infancy to help strengthen childrens’ immune systems to fight diseases like smallpox, polio and tuberculosis (TB), or later the MMR shot for measles, mumps and rubella. There are also immunisation shots for hepatitis B, diphtheria and meningitis, and before travelling to certain countries it is necessary to vaccinate against yellow fever, malaria and other diseases. But none of these diseases is comparable to Covid-19, and the vaccines for them took years and even decades to develop.
WATER is still a major problem in our area and many other places in the Eastern Cape. Water is somehow available again in many places that have been without for a considerable time and we are unsure where it comes from. Where is the 2Ml per day Seawater Reverse Osmosis plant that was initially planned for January/February and now might only be fully operational by sometime in April. And why all the delays? Why has the plant site been moved from Wharf Street to close to the sewage works? These and other questions are highlighted in our front page story and will be discussed further in weeks to come.
HOW many political figures are under investigation at this time? Too many, and the list includes President Cyril Ramaphosa (CR-17 debacle), former president Jacob Zuma and public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Then we have the reaction of lawmakers after Eastern Cape Judge president John Hlophe last Friday threw out the corruption charges against ANC MP and former national security minister Bongani Bongo, for allegedly attempting to bribe a parliamentary law adviser to derail a probe into state capture at Eskom. Zuma is refusing to attend the state capture inquiry despite a constitutional court ruling compelling him to do so. If we allow these issues to continue we might as well throw our much cherished constitution away. Action taken against those who break the law or subvert it in any way should be dealt with immediately and sentencing should be appropriate to the crime, irrespective of political affiliation.
OUR heartiest congratulations to everyone celebrating a birthday in the week ahead. Best wishes for many more especially to Carole Christie, Peter Francis, Gwen Venters, Ruleen de Witt, Sue Neame, Sanelle Fourie, Jimmy Neave, Dawn Frederichs, Zola Kerr, Trenton Webster, Linda Clur, Blake Brent, Kathy Clayton, Kaine Heny, Dean Morrissey, Richard McGhie, Yolande Stander, Ivan Schafers, Ken Butler, Elsabe Wiseman, Stella Reijman, Natasja Pawley, Noel Anderson, Angela Rowe, Lillian Scheepers, Wade Mitton, Betty Rivett, Ella de Wet Steyn, Christen Booth, Amelia Hanstein, Maureen Edlmann, Ivor Gray, Maureen Walker, Gisella Brickhill and Pam Berman.
BUSINESS anniversary congratulations with wishes for continued success to the following firms – Pam Golding Properties Port Alfred, Total Sports, Miladys, Standerwick Nursery, Nature’s View Farm Stall (on the way to Fish River).
AFTER a brief upsurge of our currency was experienced, we all knew the bubble would burst as the realities of our crippled economy were realised. Junk status is not an enviable place to be, particularly when we are seeking funds from international investors. As Saudi Arabia cut its oil production in February and the US attempts to catch up with the demand, the government has imposed an increase in the fuel and road accident fund levies as from April 7. This is in-line with inflation. But the really bad news is that fuel prices increased at midnight on Tuesday by a whopping 56c and 54c per litre for 95 and 93 octane grades respectively, diesel by 47c and 45c per litre for 0.005 and 0.05 respectively, and illuminating paraffin by 40c. With last year’s figures shown in brackets for comparison, at the time of going to print, the Rand was trading at R14.94 to the Dollar (R15.32), 20.92 to the Pound (R19.58) and R18.11 to the Euro (R17.10). Gold is trading at $1,727.27 per fine ounce ($1,640.45), platinum at $1,193 .00 per ounce ($967.28) with Brent Crude Oil at $64.42 per barrel ($54.82).
SPECIAL thoughts and prayers are with all who are not well, having or have already had tests, operations and treatments. Sterkte Roy Potter, Andrew de Vries, Jenny Groenewald, Jan Haig and Lesley Stevenson.
BEST wishes and congratulations to all couples celebrating a wedding anniversary, especially Kevin and Karen Kelly.
THOUGHT for the week: “First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.”
BEST regards as always,