May 18, 2021

At a time of multi-layered crises, when more than ever the world needs excellence in journalism to call to account those in power and to create a citizen voice, our newsrooms globally are instead contracting and the fourth estate is at risk, not least from a “second pandemic” of disinformation created by social media. Wits University’s Caxton Professor of Journalism ANTON HARBER, in delivering the Barry Streek memorial lecture, describes devastation in the news media industry.

Struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni died aged 95. Here, fellow anti-apartheid activist CHERYL CAROLUS pays tribute to an “exceptional, modest” leader whom she says has now put the baton in all our hands.

Covid-19 is a crisis on a crisis – it is a health crisis on top of existing social, economic and political crises in SA. Every faultline is exposed: those with food security, and those who go hungry; those with jobs and the unemployed; those with water and sanitation and those without; those who drive cars and those in crowded public transport; those in well-resourced schools with small classes and those in overcrowded, under-resourced schools; those who use private health care and those who wait in long queues outside under-resourced rural and township clinics. 

Dr Bandile Masuku, Gauteng MEC for health, together with other members of his team, was spotted wearing a mask that expressed solidarity with Palestine. His team were on an official visit to address the Covid-19 infections in the province.

Dear President Ramaphosa,

I hope this letter finds you well, as you help SA navigate COVID-19 and the unintended social impact of the policies you and your colleagues designed to contain the virus. We appreciate your efforts and the goodwill underpinning them.

In May 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic passed its first peak in Europe, over 5,000 researchers at more than 700 universities worldwide put their name to the opinion-piece printed below. It was written by three scholars: Isabelle Ferreras, Dominique Méda, and Julie Battilana and published on 16 May in 41 newspapers in 36 countries, translated into 27 languages. The focus is on “what we are learning from this pandemic around the specific issue of work”.

Long-term public health expert LESLIE LONDON replies to an open letter to the President (published in Notes from the House, April) challenging the ban on tobacco and alcohol sales. He says this step is very much needed to lessen the burden of staff, and patients, arriving in droves at the doors of hospitals full of Covid-19 patients.

Mary de Haas, violence monitor and an analyst from KZN, has written a letter to Cyril Ramaphosa about the lessons to be learned from lockdown. In so many ways it echoes the thinking of many South Africans.

Dear President Ramaphosa,

Housing policy has tended to stand apart from economic objectives and disciplines, sometimes by design and sometimes by default. As a result, it has often hindered rather than helped to improve the prosperity of people and places. In this article by IVAN TUROK looks to backyard dwelling as a more vibrant and viable option in the housing sector than the reactive, staid and formulaic current national housing programme.

CARILEE OSBORNE, the Senior Researcher at the Institute for African Alternatives (IFFA) and Assistant Editor of its flagship journal, New Agenda, warns that austerity measures cannot deliver a country from an economic slump, especially in South Africa where there is severe unemployment, that results in poverty and inequality. The only way to effectively address inequality is through large-scale government interventions, preferably those that generate jobs.

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About Us

Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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