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OPINION | 4 ways to achieve financial freedom amid a pandemic
26 April 2021, 3:00 PM

Consumers and companies alike have had to deal with and navigate the liquidity crunch that is driven by the lockdown-induced economic contraction. The efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Africa and internationally resulted in an economic contraction of 7% domestically in 2020.

Due to the efforts associated with the rollout of the vaccination programme in response to the virus, the SA economy is anticipated to rebound (mainly attributable to base effects) by 3% of GDP growth in 2021.

The financial position of ordinary South Africans who may have been a part of the estimated two million people who lost work in 2020, or a reduction in their wage or salary and/ or the closure of their business, are adversely affected by this reality.

Enhancing one’s earning potential,  be it through earnings generated from being employed, running a business or other passive earnings from one’s investment portfolios, is an important enabler to achieving lifelong financial freedom – especially when the right mindset, culture, and portfolio composition are built.

As such, below are some tips on how ordinary South Africans can enhance their ability to attain financial freedom even in the midst of a global pandemic.

You are the asset

The journey to achieving any kind of financial freedom begins with acknowledging that you are the actual asset. In order for you to achieve your goals, you have to be in good health, you have to have a set of unique skills that enable you to achieve your goals, and you have to have a good network of people around you to make this possible. This mindset is crucial because the value creation process in any pursuit starts with the individual. Therefore, set clearly defined goals.

“In order for you to achieve your goals, you have to be in good health, you have to have a set of unique skills that enable you to achieve your goals…” – Ndumiso Hadebe

Acquire a new skill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As industries evolve and companies are beginning to adapt to a climate that is characterised by accelerated digital transformation due to the pandemic, it is increasingly important to invest in acquiring a new skill that is in need in this changing climate. Regardless of the industry that you might find yourself in, new skills are required in the market today. The acquisition of new skills ought to be viewed as a lifelong learning pursuit, as such, a long-term strategy to value creation and financial freedom.

Connect with like-minded people and/ or institutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evaluate your immediate and extended network and explore the opportunities that may exist in the creation of a service, business, or employment prospect that you can pursue that may give you a competitive advantage.

Collaboration is an effective tool to leverage when you have the right composition of people around you who can assist you achieve your financial goals. This includes accessing the right kind of information from people who are experts in the field with respect to financial products that may be well suited for your journey. Start with the end in mind and work backwards.

Take the long-term view

Meaningful wealth creation and management are achieved over a sustained period of time. This therefore means that discipline and deferred gratification, when it comes to certain items, are traits that have to be balanced well with the incentives that drive you to achieve your goals.

Individuals can be able to achieve financial freedom if there are clearly defined goals as these serve as intrinsic motivation. Human beings are driven by incentives that are closely aligned with their goals of self-determination. Therefore, it is important that any journey to attain financial freedom begins with the knowledge of self in this regard.

Finally, you do not know what you do not know. Begin this process with an investment in yourself. Be it knowledge or skills and a value-adding circle of people that can guide you and hold you accountable to your own goals.

Ndumiso Hadebe is a South African Development Economist with a focus on economic and financial inclusion.

Myeni’s body to arrive in South Africa on April 30
25 April 2021, 1:43 PM

The body of Lindani Myeni is reportedly due to arrive in South Africa on Friday. The 29-year-old former KwaZulu-Natal rugby player was shot dead by police in Hawaii this month – after he was apparently mistaken for a robber.

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala made the announcement earlier when he was giving an update on the provincial government’s plans to repatriate Myeni’s body.

Myeni’s wife, Lindsay, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police. There are allegations that the Hawaii police in the US failed to identify themselves as officers when they approached Myeni in the dark and shone torch lights into his eyes.

However, the Hawaii police say Myeni severely assaulted two officers and they had to use lethal force to defend themselves.

Police say that Myeni who lived nearby allegedly followed a woman into her home and took off his shoes. Police also say that when they arrived at the home, he charged at their officers.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard says Myeni exhibited strange behaviour.

“Officers administered first aid to the suspect and the man was transported to the hospital in critical condition. He died of his injuries at the hospital. The three responding officers were also taken to the hospital for multiple injuries,” says Ballard.

“The first officer to arrive has multiple facial fractures, a concussion and injuries to his arms and legs. He remains hospitalised. He has 23 years of service. The second officer suffered multiple injuries to his body, arms and legs. The third officer had a concussion and multiple abrasions to the body, arm and legs. Both officers received medical treatment but have since been released,” she adds.

Myeni is survived by his wife and two children. His wife Lindsay has dismissed allegations that he was a burglar.

Lindsay Myeni in conversation with SABC News:

Death toll from mid-April ethnic clashes in Ethiopia may be 200, official says
25 April 2021, 1:29 PM

The death toll in clashes this month between Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara, in the northern Amhara region may be as high as 200, a senior official said on Sunday, up from previous reports of at least 50.

Residents and officials in Oromiya Special Zone, an area in Amhara with a majority Oromo population, and the town of Ataye said there were deadly clashes in the area on April 16.

“According to information we got from people who are displaced, we estimate that up to 200 people might have died from both zones, but we still need to verify the number,” Endale Haile, Ethiopia’s chief ombudsman, told Reuters.

National elections are due in June and several regions in Ethiopia have been hit by political and ethnic violence.

Political reforms after nearly three decades of tightly-controlled government have emboldened regional powerbrokers, who are challenging Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s party in a bid to secure more resources and power for their own groups.

Endale said that in the region’s North Shoa Zone close to 250 000 people had been displaced by the fighting, while between 20% and 25% of houses in Ataye had been burnt.

In Oromiya Special Zone, another 78 000 people had been displaced in the recent fighting, he said.

Endale said a small town in the same zone had been completely burnt in March but gave no more details on whether there were casualties from that incident.

New malaria vaccine proves highly effective and COVID shows how quickly it could be deployed
25 April 2021, 12:39 PM

Coronavirus vaccines have been developed and deployed in record time, but as global rollout has progressed, too few doses have been made available in low-income countries. It’s a stark reminder that when it comes to infectious diseases, the world’s poorest often get left behind.

This is a problem that extends far beyond COVID-19. In Africa, for example, malaria has probably caused four times as many deaths as COVID-19 over the past year. New research shows that an effective vaccine against malaria could now be closer than ever before.

For the first time, a vaccine has shown high efficacy in trials – preventing the disease 77% of the time among those receiving it. This is a landmark achievement. The WHO’s target efficacy for malaria vaccines is over 75%. Until now, this level has never been reached.

The speed and success of developing COVID-19 vaccines show what’s possible, and should be an inspiration to get this malaria vaccine finished, licensed and distributed. It’s important not just because of the threat malaria poses, but also because investing in vaccines can help prepare us for the next pandemic. Work on this vaccine helped speed the development of the Oxford vaccine for COVID-19 as well.

The World Health Organization estimates there were 229 million cases of malaria in 2019. Globally, malaria’s annual death toll stands at over 400 000, with no improvement in the last five years. Two-thirds of this terrible loss is among African children under five years of age.

Billions of dollars are being spent each year on bed nets, insecticide spraying and antimalarial drugs just to keep the death rate as it is. New technologies are needed, especially as the WHO is targeting a 90% reduction in deaths by 2030.

No malaria vaccine has yet been authorised for use, though the idea of controlling malaria by vaccination has been around for a long time. The first scientific report was from Algiers in 1910. Clinical trials began in the 1940s, got serious from the 1980s onwards and, today, over 140 malaria vaccine candidates have been tested in humans.

But none has progressed to approval and deployment. The science is tough. The malaria parasite is complex, with more than 5 000 genes, meaning it has many different characteristics for vaccine designers to choose to target. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has just 12 genes, and its spike protein was the obvious target for vaccine scientists.

Malaria parasites have evolved with humans and their ancestors over the last 30 million years, not only generating a multitude of strains but also impacting our own evolution, with gene variants that lessened the effects of malaria being passed on over time. Worse still, these parasites generate chronic infections in millions, suppressing the human immune response that a vaccine tries to generate.

New success with a new vaccine

But progress on malaria vaccine development is accelerating, as illustrated by a new report from a multi-national group of researchers, including myself, published in the Lancet. The team of Professor Halidou Tinto, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, studied the new R21 malaria vaccine in 450 children – the key population where a vaccine is most urgently needed. They found it to be safe and have unprecedented efficacy in those aged 5-17 months.

In this controlled trial, 105 of the 147 children who received a placebo contracted malaria. But of the 292 who received a dose of the vaccine, only 81 contracted the disease – surpassing the WHO’s 75% target for protection. A phase 3 trial – to test the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in a much larger number of people – will start in four African countries in late April 2021, aiming for accelerated approvals if successful.

Scientists in four continents contributed to the design and testing of this promising vaccine. Design and early development took place at the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, where malaria vaccine clinical trials have been pursued since 1999. “Challenge” studies in Oxford, Southampton and London, where volunteers are deliberately infected with malaria by mosquito bites to test vaccine efficacy, highlighted the potential of the R21 vaccine. An adjuvant component for the vaccine is required and provided by Novavax, a biotechnology company in the US and Sweden.

Manufacturing of the vaccine is ongoing at the world’s largest vaccine supplier, the Serum Institute of India. This malaria partnership was already in place last year when COVID-19 struck, allowing us to pivot rapidly to manufacturing the Oxford coronavirus vaccine. (The method it uses for delivery, a chimpanzee adenovirus called ChAdOx1, is a technology previously tested for use against malaria.) Having this collaboration already in place, even prior to our partnership with AstraZeneca, helped the Indian company accelerate its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing such that today it is producing more doses than anywhere else.

Could the same rapid, large-scale production happen for malaria vaccines? Maybe, but there are risks. Another promising vaccine candidate – from GlaxoSmithKline, called RTS,S – hit safety issues in its major phase 3 trial five years ago, and this has delayed its approval while further large-scale assessments take place.

Financing will also be required for malaria vaccine deployment, but with the low-cost large-scale manufacturing capacity in India available, an inexpensive widely accessible vaccine should be achievable. However, as COVID-19 is increasing in several parts of Africa, this could potentially impact the R21 vaccine phase 3 trials that are starting soon in Mali, Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Kenya.

The UK has long been a force in global health research, and fighting malaria is a flagship activity. Funding has been hit hard by this year’s reduction in the overseas aid budget. But COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of maintaining capacity in vaccine research and development, as well as the feasibility of moving more quickly than ever before to vaccine approval and supply.

One lasting benefit of a terrible pandemic might be a quicker route to a malaria vaccine and a safer future for children in some of the world’s poorest countries.The Conversation

Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Myanmar people slam ASEAN-junta consensus to end violence
25 April 2021, 12:24 PM

People in Myanmar on Sunday criticised an agreement between the country’s junta chief and Southeast Asian leaders to end the violence-hit nation’s crisis, saying it fell short of restoring democracy and holding the army accountable for hundreds of civilian deaths.

There were no immediate protests in Myanmar’s big cities a day after the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Jakarta, Indonesia, that agreed to end the violence but gave no roadmap on how this would happen.

But several people took to social media to criticise the deal.

“ASEAN’s statement is a slap on the face of the people who have been abused, killed, and terrorised by the military,” said a Facebook user called Mawchi Tun. “We do not need your help with that mindset and approach.”

According to a statement from group chair Brunei, a consensus was reached on five points – ending violence, constructive dialogue among all parties, a special ASEAN envoy to facilitate the dialogue, acceptance of aid and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar.

The five-point consensus did not mention political prisoners, although the chairman’s statement said the meeting”heard calls” for their release.

ASEAN leaders had wanted a commitment from Min Aung Hlaing to restrain his security forces, which the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) says have killed 748 people since a mass civil disobedience movement erupted to challenge his February 1 coup against the elected government of AungSan Suu Kyi.

AAPP, a Myanmar activist group, says over 3 300 are in detention.

“Statement doesn’t reflect any of people’s desires,” wrote Nang Thit Lwin in a comment on a news story in domestic Myanmar media on the ASEAN deal. “To release prisoners and detainees, to take responsibility for dead lives, to respect election results, and restore the democratic civilian government.”

Aaron Htwe, another Facebook user, wrote: “Who will pay the price for the over 700 innocent lives.”

The military has defended its coup by alleging that the landslide win by Suu Kyi’s party of November’s election was fraudulent, although the election commission dismissed the objections.

The ASEAN gathering was the first coordinated international effort to ease the crisis in Myanmar, an impoverished country that neighbours China, India, and Thailand, and has been inturmoil since the coup. Besides the protests, deaths, and arrests, a nationwide strike has crippled economic activity.

Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG), comprised of pro-democracy figures, remnants of Suu Kyi’s oustedadministration and representatives of armed ethnic groups, said it welcomed the consensus reached but said the junta had to beheld to its promises.

“We look forward to firm action by ASEAN to follow up its decisions and to restore our democracy,” says Dr. Sasa, spokesperson for the NUG.

Besides the junta chief, the leaders of Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Brunei were at the meeting, along with the foreign ministers of Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines.

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