/ 1 September 2017

Letters to the editor: August 28 to September 1 2017

The Life Esidimeni tragedy serves as a reminder of our country's health inequity
The Life Esidimeni tragedy serves as a reminder of our country's health inequity

Health equity is our responsibility

Despite South Africa being an economic power on the continent, the nation’s $294.8-billion in gross domestic product masks the poverty and travails of masses of South Africans.

This wealth remains highly concentrated — 95% is in the hands of only 10% of the population, according to research by the University of Cape Town.

The government can’t afford to continue resting on its laurels. Inequality is growing and, if not arrested, the nation is headed on a self-destructive trajectory. Gauteng’s Life Esidimeni tragedy in which more than 100 people lost their lives and #FeesMustFall protests serve to highlight the unjust socioeconomic, political and institutional circumstances.

All the above reflect profound imbalances in the distribution of power and resources. Out of all the social expressions of inequity, health inequity seems to be at the forefront.

Who is assailed the most by the leading causes of death in South Africa? Which provinces have a disproportionately higher share of “diseases of the poor”? The 2015 Statistics South Africa report on mortality and causes of death shows that low-income communities and the predominantly rural provinces are most affected.

South Africans’ daily, lived experiences of poor access to health services, education and even nutrition are not only potent in themselves but are linked to underlying structural drivers, or social determinants, of ill health. The World Health Organisation has said that addressing the social determinants of health is the key to “closing the [equity] gap in a generation”.

Government is the key player but the responsibility is on all of us. — Bernard Mutsago, health policy researcher, South African Medical Association

Post Office is a deep, dark hole

The South African Post Office is in a mess with massive delays in delivering incoming international parcels. Post Office employees have informed addressees that they can expect to wait six weeks or more for the delivery of airmail parcels. In some cases, this wait may stretch to three months.

There is a mountain of unprocessed mail in Johannesburg and the Post Office lacks the necessary staff and funds to process it.

I made a purchase from a supplier in England. The parcel was registered as airmail and sent on July  14. It left England two days later. It then sat in a mailbag at OR Tambo International Airport for three-and-a-half weeks until August 10 when the bag was finally opened and the parcel scanned into the postal system. It languished a further six days before arriving at customs on August  16. For the last five-and-a-half weeks, the parcel has sat in customs.

Another parcel, an eBay purchase with an estimated delivery date between July 30 and August 3, was registered and sent by airmail from England on July 26. This parcel remained bagged at OR Tambo International until August 8 when it was scanned into the system. It has not passed through customs and it is August 22.

I am awaiting other items and not all are registered, so I am concerned about whether I will receive them.

I am talking about the national mail carrier, not some fly-by-night, upstart courier. Can nothing be done to make the Post Office deliver on its manifesto — to be “accountable” for its actions/inaction? The current situation is a disgrace and an embarrassment. — Grant Christison

The colonial model must be addressed

I watched the South African film Krotoa recently and left feeling deeply disturbed.

Krotoa should address the major issues requiring action in our country: the land issue, Khoisan identity, colonial genocide and the institutional racism that flows from colonial supremacist attitudes that are still prevalent. The issue of the rainbow elite is captured through the capitalism and classist narrative in the movie. This allows a nominal demo-cracy for the rich but no justice for the poor and has become, in fact, no less than phase three of colonialism, after the British and Afrikaner phase up to 1994.

For me, it is shocking that the film presents more of the colonial-centric narrative about how settler colonists were established in Cape Town.

I am disappointed that Krotoa has not received wider coverage in the press and I urge your reporters to address this. I do not have these skills but we really need to start focusing on how we all got into the situation we find ourselves in starting with Hoerikwaggo (the Khoi name for Cape Town) in 1500.

The British and Afrikaner community remains largely seduced by the colonial narrative and it is time that we all discussed the actual facts. The indigenous Khoisan experienced genocide at the hands of Dutch then British governments and up to now successive governments have been based on the threat of violence and loss of life.

Even Afrikaner Capetonians, who have Khoisan DNA, feed into this, showing how well this narrative has succeeded.

Until we address the issues resulting largely from the colonial model we can’t proceed to build the country we so wish for. — Michael Pickstone-Taylor, Franschhoek