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Italy loosens COVID-19 restrictions on leisure activities
7 October 2021, 9:15 PM

Italy increased the maximum attendance capacity allowed at cultural and sporting venues on Thursday, continuing its progressive easing of COVID-19 curbs for those who can show documents of immunity from the disease.

As of October 11, cinemas, theatres and concert venues will be able to fill all their seats, scrapping the current limit of 50%, the government said, following advice from its panel of public health advisors.

“Finally all cultural events are coming back to life,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said on Twitter.

The maximum capacity of sports stadiums will be raised to 60% from 35% for indoor venues and to 75% from 50% outdoors.

Limits will be slightly stricter on discotheques and nightclubs, at 50% indoors and 70% outdoors.

There will be no restrictions on museums, where only social distancing rules will remain in place.

However, only those carrying the so-called Green Pass, a certificate that shows if someone has received at least one vaccine and has tested negative or has recently recovered from coronavirus will be allowed entry, and masks will remain obligatory.

Italy has seen more than 131 000 COVID-related deaths since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest tally in Europe after Britain.

However, infections, hospitalisations and fatalities have all eased in recent months as the vaccination campaign has proceeded.

Around 75% of its 60-million-strong population have had at least one COVID-19 shot and 69% are fully vaccinated, figures broadly in line with other large European Union countries.

IFP’s Hlabisa says ANC has made Umkhanyakude municipality in KZN bankrupt
7 October 2021, 9:00 PM

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Velenkosini Hlabisa has urged residents in Umkhanyakude in KwaZulu-Natal to bring the party back in power saying they’ve lived without water for 10 years.

In an exclusive interview with the SABC ahead of the November first local government elections, Hlabisa lambasted the African National Congress (ANC) for its running of the municipality, saying it is bankrupt.

Last year the district municipality said it needed more than one billion rand to get running tap water to all residents in the area.

Hlabisa says the ANC has made the municipality run down.

“Umkhanyakude is a bankrupt municipality and it was run down by the ANC. It is no secret that monies that went into Umkhanyakude were abused by ANC through corrupt activities, which is a known factor in Umkhanyakude. What the people are feeling, the pinch, living without water. To live without water is a very difficult thing and this was brought to the residents of Umkhanyakude by the ANC. All the civil servants should do, should join the people of Goodwill at Umkhanyakude on the first of November and vote for the IFP. Under a fully led Umkhanyakude, the staff of Umkhanyakude has never reached a stage where they are not paid their salaries but this has been accumulating right from the period when the ANC was in charge because that municipality is literally bankrupt.”

Manifesto launch

On the 30th of September,  Hlabisa launched the party’s election manifesto in Durban, saying the party offers the greatest hope to South Africans to escape what he says is the ANC’s failure to govern, deliver jobs and provide people with security.

Hlabisa said the IFP is the official opposition in KwaZulu-Natal and has a track record of good governance.

He outlined the IFP’s ten-point manifesto,  which includes leading with integrity, empowering ordinary people, ensuring food security, partnerships with traditional leaders and making communities safer.

Hlabisa said the IFP can help South Africans escape the nightmare of the ANC’s rule.

“The IFP has been calling for a specialised corruption court to deal with transgressions of the Public Finance Management Act, the Municipal Finance Act. The IFP will lead with integrity to ensure that our councillors understand and abide by the IFP’s principle of servant leadership. We require every candidate of the IFP to sign a contract of good governance.”

Addressing the launch, former party leader Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the IFP will not hesitate to remove councillors who fail to deliver.

“We pride ourselves on fielding councillors candidates who are honest capable and skilled people who understand and accept the discipline demanded by the IFP. We hold ourselves accountable every day because they are our ambassadors they carry the IFP brand in all that they do. We are therefore heavily invested in ensuring that they serve you with integrity accountability and skills. We never hesitate as the leadership of the IFP to remove and expel IFP councillors and even mayor’s if we are not satisfied with their performance.”

The party hopes to retain all ten municipalities under its control and has its eyes on ANC-led municipalities – including the eThekwini metro.

SA removed from UK’s ‘Red List’ as of Monday
7 October 2021, 8:00 PM

South Africa has been removed from the UK’s travel ‘Red List’ that banned almost all travel between the two countries. The decision announced by the UK Government earlier Friday will come into force on Monday.

In more good news the UK will also now recognise proof of vaccines administered in South Africa, meaning travellers will not have to quarantine on arrival.

It’s the news that many have been waiting for. The decision has been welcomed by South Africans in the UK.

In the city of Bristol, there is a slice of South Africa. The shop Kalahari Moon sells a wide variety of products that provides a taste of home and a chance to hear a familiar accent and see a friendly face.

Lee-Ann Dickinson, who now works here, but only after she used to shop as a customer says, “I used to come in here on my homesick days. You look at the products, and you hear the adverts, and you sing the song and you feel a little bit better and you walk out again and it just keeps you going.”

After months of separation, families and friends in the UK and South Africa can soon be together again.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said he’s optimistic that the United Kingdom will soon remove South Africa from the list.

South Africa, Brazil and Mexico were on the list.

Removing them from it would allow travellers to visit the countries without having to self-isolate on their return.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he had spoken to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the issue.


DA makes about-turn and removes controversial election posters in Phoenix
7 October 2021, 5:14 PM

In an about-turn, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal has apologised for the controversial election posters in Phoenix and has begun removing them.

It comes only a day after party leader John Steenhuisen defended the posters, which read: “The ANC called you racists; the DA calls you heroes.”

Steenhuisen on the controversial posters:

More than 30 people died in Phoenix in attacks that were allegedly racially motivated during the July unrest.

In an interview with SABC News on Wednesday, Steenhuisen said the posters referred to all members of the public who defended their property lawfully during the widespread unrest, while government failed to protect them.

The DA’s mayoral candidate in Johannesburg, Doctor Mpho Phalatse publicly criticised the posters while the ANC and NFP accused the party of fueling racial divisions.

In a statement, the DA’s chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal Dean MacPherson says the party is in the process of removing the posters.

He takes ownership of the message on the posters and says it was an effort on his part to honour the bravery of people who were left to fend for themselves.

McPherson apologised for the hurt the posters caused some people. He says the posters were sanctioned by the party leadership, and points out that the party does not condone vigilante action.

ANC reacts to the posters

Reacting to the DA posters, the ANC’s Deputy Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte said no one should promote criminality and the killing of people.

Duarte in Phoenix as part of the ANC’s election campaign in the area:

” We as leaders, a leader can not promote racism and a leader can not promote that killing another human being as good. Something goes wrong in you when you do that, you lose yourself when you do that so we are asking that community continues with the level of peacemaking and cohesion.”

Combating COVID-19 anti-vaxxers: lessons from political philosophy
7 October 2021, 2:56 PM

Challenging the scepticism and resistance in the public response to the COVID-19 vaccine is deeply important to the state of public health. This is a critical conversation because people are protesting the COVID-19 vaccines not just in South Africa, but globally too.

As a teacher of political philosophy, I think it’s important to dispel the notion that the call to vaccinate is an infringement on acceptable liberal freedoms.

Based on a significant number of years of studying, reading and teaching the works of the world’s most important philosophies, I am of the view that the anti-vaxxer position that being “forced to take the vaccine is an infringement on their liberal rights” is a misinformed stance.

Through a liberal lens that looks at positive freedom versus negative freedom, I want to show how taking the vaccine essentially creates positive (or nett) freedom. Anti-vaxxers against the COVID-19 vaccine may be considered selfish by demanding freedom in an absolute sense. Negative freedom supports the idea that there should be no restrictions or boundaries on any free activity. This can become incredibly problematic when it comes to public health.

For example, think of restricting where people can smoke. These are in place to ensure that the majority of people (non-smokers) are protected from the risks associated with passive smoke inhalation.

In a similar vein, anti-vaxxers should perhaps be reprimanded and regulated for not willingly taking the COVID-19 vaccine. The ethical focus is to promote universal immunisation and positive freedom for everyone in society.

The liberal philosophies that we might use to challenge the “anti-vaxxer’s freedom to choose” position are Jeremy Bentham’s (1789) Utilitarianism, JS Mill’s (1859) Harm Principle and Isiah Berlin’s (1969) reflections on Positive Freedom.

This trajectory of liberal thought over the last 200 years is pivotal to the development of the liberal democratic freedoms we experience today. Let’s unpack the theories a little more.

What the philosophers have to say

Let me start by addressing the philosophical dilemma of the anti-vaxxer’s “freedom to choose”.

The need to maintain individual freedoms is the most important mandate of the modern liberal state.

Today’s liberal democratic understanding of freedom (with acceptable restraint) was an idea first conceived over 200 years ago. In political philosophy, Jeremy Bentham’s (1789) Utilitarianism suggests that policies should be created to provide the greatest amount of felicity (or happiness) for the largest portion of society.

This forms the crux of the conversation surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations.

Read more:
South Africa’s immunisation record risks being dented by anti-vaccination views

Presently, it is understood that for the sake of public health and the “common good”, all citizens should take one of the certified COVID-19 vaccinations. The reason for this is that it will create a greater nett freedom for everyone in that given society.

The alternative is absolute and unrestrained freedom not to vaccinate, which puts pressure on our common freedoms and could prolong lockdown measures.

Continuing this theme on a positive application of freedom, J.S. Mill (1859) provides us with a sophisticated ethical proposition, the Harm Principle. This principle suggests simply that we should be free to pursue our individual will, as long as it does not cause harm to someone else.

Whereas it may be an indirect influence, this principle nestles neatly into the ethical position held by many laws and policies passed in liberal democratic societies.

Many countries, including South Africa, have used it in public smoking legislation for instance, by regulating smokers to confined areas in public so that they do not bring harm to non-smokers.

This leads us to ask the same questions about the freedom of movement of unvaccinated people in public. It is unquestionable that someone who refuses the COVID-19 vaccine could effectively bring harm to their broader community. The science is clear on this, crowded hospitals all over South Africa are reporting that almost all COVID-19 related hospitalisations are presently coming from the unvaccinated portion of society. This creates a further detriment to the implementation of positive freedom in society.

Isaiah Berlin’s (1969) thoughts on positive freedom best diagnoses the dilemma of the anti-vaxxer, as it allows us to ponder their desire for the unrestrained “freedom to choose”.

Absolute and unrestrained freedom is also known by theorists as negative freedom. While negative freedom may sound enticing, it could be severely detrimental to society and communities if applied strictly. It is acceptable in a progressive society that we accept limitations on our freedom, so as not to infringe on the freedoms of others.

Read more:
Compulsory COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria? Why it’s illegal, and a bad idea

It is important then to convey that the verifiable science on vaccines should not be politicised further.

There is also a link to be made between the African communitarian philosophy of Ubuntu (Humaneness) and positive freedom. Ubuntu remains somewhat of a clichéd call to civic nationalism and the fostering of a mutual help society in a fractured South Africa.

However, the isiZulu phrase, Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, (I am, because we are) proves an important building block in society. “I am because we are” simply implies that: I am part of my community, where the good I do reflects back onto the society. This can be incredibly significant in the face of vaccine scepticism and anti-vaccination ideas.

South Africans in particular should heed the call of Ubuntu to mobilise toward vaccination, as it advocates for the “common good” and encourages communitarian benefits for broader society. This in turn promotes positive freedom.

What it adds up to

There are many debates to be had in an evolving society where freedom of speech and choice will take centre stage. But, in my view, the COVID-19 vaccination shouldn’t be one of them. Armed with ideas such as utilitarianism and the harm principle, the application of positive freedom might see many liberal democracies eventually prohibit the anti-vaxxer’s spread of misinformation and protests against vaccination.

Read more:
Why COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory in South Africa

It is imperative that citizens are made to understand that this is a matter of public health, the science is verifiable, and that 99.9% of the global medical community backs the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Hence, getting vaccinated is for the “common good” of society and promotes the more desirable aspects of positive freedom.

There is no time to delay

South Africa is a tinderbox for COVID-19 outbreaks and potential virus mutation. Embracing positive freedom’s emphasis on utility and minimising harm, while emphasising the communitarian benefits of vaccinating, provides a clear imperative for action.

The country needs to vaccinate as quickly as possible so that its people can return to some semblance of normal life. A life where all can freely pursue their goals, remaining mindful that freedom without reasonable restraint will inevitably bring harm to others.The Conversation

Giovanni Poggi, Lecturer in Political Science, Nelson Mandela University

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



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