Connect with us

News

Coronavirus and conspiratorial dog-whistles return to New Zealand | Coronavirus pandemic

Published

on


After more than 100 days without recording a case of community transmission, New Zealand is once again methodically stamping out COVID-19.  

The nation’s largest city, Auckland, is back in alert level three. Roads out of the city are closed. The remainder of the country watches on from the more permissive alert level two, nervously waiting as a more complete picture of viral spread emerges. 

So far, contact tracing seems to be working, with about 96 percent of close contacts followed up. A total of 154,000 tests have been processed over the past week, an enormous surge after public complacency around testing set in. 

The outbreak was detected on August 11, when four members of a family from South Auckland tested positive for COVID-19. By Thursday, the cluster had grown to 78 confirmed cases, highlighting the speed at which the virus spreads. 

The source of that outbreak – which has seen 133 people linked to the cluster moved into quarantine – has so far eluded authorities. Another case, a maintenance worker at a hotel used for managed isolation, is believed to have contracted the virus from a contaminated surface in the hotel’s lift.

Reports that testing of border and isolation staff in Auckland had not ramped up to levels expected by Cabinet has once again cast a spotlight on what critics call egregious mismanagement of the border and isolation facilities

Regardless, the government, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, moved quickly to contain the outbreak, announcing that Auckland would move into alert level 3 within hours of being informed of the new cases; left to spread unrestrained, COVID-19 infections grow exponentially.  

“Together we have got rid of COVID before. We have been world-leading in our COVID response,” said Ardern last week, while announcing the cabinet’s decision to extend lockdown measures by 12 days. “We can do all of that again.”  

Yet, months-long efforts to discredit lockdown measures have almost certainly contributed to a partial fraying of public patience with the approach. 

Prominent commentators and special interests are at it again, claiming it is time to abandon the country’s elimination strategy, instead “managing” the spread of COVID-19 into communities – just lock away the elderly and the infirm, the commentariat suggests.

Of course, those demanding such an approach belong to a particular class of people, one that can insulate itself from the viral rampage as it overwhelms a fragile health sector and devastates vulnerable communities. 

In the same vein, conspiracy theories and misinformation have proliferated. Fringe groups claim that COVID-19 is a 5G-linked bioweapon and promise to oppose lockdown measures with demonstrations. 

To date, protests have drawn only a scattering of people, in contrast to the online noise such groups generate. That may change.

More alarming are the manoeuvrings of the centre-right, main opposition National Party, which recently attempted to leverage conspiracy and misinformation for political gain.  

‘An interesting series of facts’

The government and health officials have long warned that COVID-19 would return to the country; New Zealanders did not have to look far to see why. In the Australian state of Victoria, rule-breaking by workers from private security firms overseeing quarantines at two Melbourne hotels led to multiple outbreaks.

With a massive drop-off in testing – on July 19, merely eight tests in the community were processed – New Zealand’s health authorities were looking to boost surveillance testing to around 4,000 per day.

On August 11, the director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, received a much-publicised COVID-19 test, an attempt to offset any complacency or stigma surrounding the procedure. In the meantime, Ardern visited a mask-making factory, abandoning the government’s reticence towards encouraging the use of masks.

Later that day, testing discovered that COVID-19 had returned to the country. 

The National Party called a press conference the following day, headed by party leader Judith Collins and her deputy, Gerry Brownlee.  

Citing the Bloomfield test and Ardern’s visit to the mask factory, Brownlee stood smirking. “It’s interesting,” he said. “An interesting series of facts.”   

The implication seemed to be that the government knew for some time that there was a COVID-19 outbreak and withheld this from the public. 

In an environment of heightened fear and misinformation, Brownlee was dog-whistling to the emergent conspirational fringe – those who vow civil disobedience – while more generally attempting to undermine faith in the public health response.

The party quickly walked back the claims. 

Brownlee told the broadcaster Newstalk ZB on August 14 that he had ended up in a “bad spot” and “didn’t intend to create any fear”.   

“The way it has been presented has been unfortunate.”   

That explanation is, of course, nonsense: on Tuesday, Brownlee reiterated his claims, again engaging in scaremongering and conspiracy-baiting in the hope of drawing a tiny number of fringe voters to his party. 

There is something deeply unappealing about a grasping politician who puts the personal pursuit of power above public wellbeing. 

The election

On Monday, Ardern announced her decision to postpone the general election – and accompanying End of Life Choice and cannabis referendums – by a month, until October 17.

This, hopefully, gives health authorities time to get on top of the latest outbreak, provides all parties ample breathing room to campaign and reassures the public that the election can be held safely.  

The government’s health-first priorities and Ardern’s compassionate leadership style have generated massive public support since the country’s first confirmed COVID-19 case on February 28.  

Ardern’s Labour Party has consistently polled above 50 percent throughout the pandemic.

Whether voters will punish the government for a number of mistakes and mishaps during the pandemic remains to be seen. Its failures to deliver flagship policies – the ill-fated KiwiBuild real estate project, for example – over the past three years will have little impact.

By contrast, the National Party’s relentless negativity has turned voters away, with the latest Roy Morgan poll putting them on 26.5 percent support. Collins, the party’s third leader in three months, has – like her predecessors – totally misread the public mood. 

Had the party provided constructive criticism of the government’s COVID-19 response, it would likely be in a much healthier electoral position. 

Instead, it mostly went down the path of scattershot criticism and dirty politics: leaking private details of COVID-19 patients to the media and inventing a “homeless man” at a managed isolation facility.

Nothing about Collins’s character suggests that she will be able to, or is interested in, correcting the party’s course. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

News

Year of the Overcomer-Prophet Elvis Mbonye

Published

on

The eagerly awaited first fellowship of controversial Prophet Elvis Mbonye left viewers shocked as he declined to issue his now famous prophecies citing a refusal to settle for the new normal. In an on online service watched by thousands, the Prophet said him prophesying would “ be a concession to gathering online, rather than physically” further stating that it is not the will of God that church should meet online!

The Covid-19 SOPs given by the government and Ministry of Health have heavily impacted gatherings and as a result, ministries with large congregations have resorted to online services. The prophet however insists that this is a ploy to diminish the influence of the Kingdom of God.

He however proceeded to give the Prophetic Word of the year , saying “This is the year of the Overcomers” amidst cheers from those present. He also stated that this would not be a “gloomy” year, probably meaning that this would be a good year. Given that many of his prophecies have actually come to pass, should we pay more attention to him? We eagerly await the prophecies this year.

Continue Reading

News

Kabuleta blasts Media over “COFIT” reporting in new rant.

Published

on

Presidential hopeful Joseph Kiiza Kabuleta has expressed dissatisfaction with the media over what he says was”alarmist reporting” over the Covid-19 pandemic which he calls “COFIT” a term we believe is a wordplay between covid and profit, a view held by many that claims that the disease was exaggerated to maximize funding and corruption. Kabuleta has come to be known for his straight shooting style and admirable command of facts and policy, even being touted as the “smartest candidate” in the race.here is the full statement:

MEDIA AND THE COFIT ENTERPRISE

By Joseph Kabuleta

“Don’t look at where you fell, but where you slipped”
AFRICAN PROVERB

We know where the media fell. They fell when they were caught in the crossfire between opposition politicians and trigger-happy security hitmen; when they were unfairly targeted as they went about their noble duty of covering this explosive elective season. Sadly, some journalists are nursing wounds; others weren’t so lucky.
But it’s important for us to understand where they slipped.

If someone is sitting by the roadside sipping on his brew and he sees a gang of people sprinting past him, as if for their lives, it’s understandable if he impulsively joins without asking questions. But if after nine months he is still sprinting, and has still not asked any questions, then there’s something terribly wrong with him.

When we first went into lockdown in March, it was probably the best course of action because we didn’t know the full extent of the Cofit threat. But in the first 90 days, it was clear to all and sundry that it was never going to rank among Uganda’s top health challenges. And that’s not my opinion.

The Daily Monitor on July 15th quoted Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago Hospital Executive Director, describing the Cofit strain in the country as a mild form of flu which does not require hospital admission since it can be treated at home or in lower health facilities.
“l told Ugandans right from the beginning that the type of coronavirus we expect in Uganda is the mild one. It can be treated at health centre II, III, IV or the district hospital,” the top Medic said.

I read the story with glorious delight supposing that finally common sense, (or should I say science sense) would inform our decisions as a nation. But it’s difficult to know where science stops and politics starts. It’s become clear over the months that Cofit is not just a virus that causes respiratory problems, it’s a lot more than that; it’s a weapon in the hands of politicians that gives them power beyond their wildest dreams. In America, for instance, Democrat Congressman Jim Clyburn said Cofit is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our (leftist) vision” while actress and activist Jane Fonda said that Cofit was “God’s gift to the left.”

Our media could have taken the side of poor Ugandans by showing the immense suffering and death from preventable sicknesses that resulted from the harsh Cofit measures; they could have highlighted the plight of businesses permanently closed and workers rendered redundant and sent back to villages. They could have wondered why truck drivers were testing negative in Kenya and positive in Uganda, or wondered why Cofit deaths only started after Prophet Museveni showed us a macabre lineup of coffins in his address, or why every celebrity who dies since then is ruled as Cofit (no autopsy required)

They could have told us that according to Worldometer, Cofit has a 0.28% mortality rate (or a 99.72 survival rate) and that it doesn’t rank anywhere in the Top 10 of Uganda’s health challenges; they could have told us that a child dies of malaria every two minutes (and Uganda accounts for 3% of the world’s malaria fatalities), which means that more Ugandans die from mosquitoes in ten days than Cofit has (allegedly) killed in the nine months it’s been on our lips.

Ugandans (especially of my age) have lived through real pandemics. As a young man growing up in the early 90s, nobody had to remind me that AIDS was real. Goodness me, I knew it was! And I didn’t need police to force me to wear protection, I knew the consequences. The fact that we are constantly being reminded that ‘Cofit is real’ tells a story of its own.

The media could have asked why Uganda, with one of the lowest Cofit cases or deaths, still holds on to a 9:00pm curfew when Kenya moved to 11:00pm in September, as did South Africa and several countries. The media could have told us that Malawi, Burundi, Tanzania and, recently, Ghana all held successful elections with full blown campaigns in 2020, and we aren’t hearing people dropping dead from Cofit in any of those countries. May be they should have tried to find out if people are dropping dead in Tanzania which altogether ignored all Cofit measures and went on to acquire middle-income status while Ugandans were still in lockdown.

They could have told us about the asymptomatic Cofit patients who were filmed dancing the night away in hospital wards, or of people suffering from other diseases who dare not go to hospital because they fear to be given a fake Cofit label and held for two weeks against their will.

The media could have told us that Cofit deaths across the world have been grossly inflated. Minnesota lawmakers say Cofit deaths could have been inflated by 40% after examining death certificates (according to The Washington Examiner) while Fox News reported that in Colorado 45% of Cofit corpses “were also found to have bullet wounds”.

They could have told us that 22 European countries, all of which had tens of thousands of Cofit deaths, opened their schools in the fall, and there has not been any reported spikes in cases as a result. They could have told us that more people have been killed by security men enforcing Cofit measures than by the virus itself.

Well, they could have…but they didn’t. And that’s where they slipped.

Instead they chose to go down the path of alarmist reporting and in so doing became, inadvertently or otherwise, enablers of Uganda’s trillion-shilling Cofit enterprise. Like Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the media used flowery language to drum up fear by keeping people’s eyes transfixed on swelling numbers while the thieves carried their loot and stashed it away, and loan money was distributed among family members or used in regime prolongation.

The recent joint television news bulletin, and the adverts that followed, were the peak of hysterical reporting. “Zuukuka Tusaanawo” (wake up, we are perishing) screamed an advert featuring top media personalities. What a load of……(fill in appropriate word).

Remember, all the tyranny we have witnessed in this season has been done in the name of Cofit, and such sensationalist reporting justifies it; it gives dictators like Museveni the perfect pseudo-moralistic cover to unleash their most despotic fantasies while actually pretending that it’s for the good of the people. Unfortunately, the terror has now spread to the very media people whose hyperbole enabled it in the first place. There is such a thing as the law of cause and consequence, after all.

Instead of the media walking out of pressers and threatening to boycott government functions, let them threaten to stop all Cofit reporting. Museveni himself would come running with chocolate in hand.

If the president extended curfew by just two hours, for instance, he will have put as many as 200,000 Ugandans back to work especially in the hotel, restaurant and entertainment industries; but he doesn’t care, and sadly neither do many middleclass Ugandans who suppose that it’s their moral obligation as responsible citizens of the Global Village to fret over Cofit just because their ‘fellow citizens’ in Europe and America are doing so. Of course they can afford to do that because their corporate jobs have, for the most part, insulated them from the devastation of the government-instituted Cofit measures. They can enjoy working at home, beer in hand, as they listen to CNN and BBC and still expect the full complement of their salaries at the month end, and that makes them feel every bit like ‘their brothers’ overseas.

Such aspirational conformists are more likely to be offended by my stance on Cofit because they haven’t traversed crook and creek of this country and seen the damage reigned on this fragile society; not by the virus, but by the measures supposedly instituted to mitigate it.

You see, perhaps the most enduring damage this regime has done to our society is creating a three-part hierarchy of class and needs. At the zenith are a handful of connected ‘1986 generation’ and their families who feel entitled to all power and wealth. Beneath is a small (and shrinking) middleclass, and at the bottom of the pyramid is a mass of peasants. Every society, to various degrees, is ordered in the same fashion, but what makes Uganda unique is that the megalomaniacs at the top don’t give a nickel about the plight of the middleclass and the middleclass in turn don’t care a bit about the quandary of the peasant. The charlatans at the top will impose punitive taxes on the middleclass, then dip into NSSF coffers at a whim to share out their savings, and no one can stop them.

And the middleclass Ugandan, armed with his medical insurance, and safe in the knowledge that his wife is unlikely to die in child birth (20 Ugandans do EVERY DAY), and his children are very unlikely to die of malaria (20 do EVERY DAY), or from malnutrition (thousands do every year), will go around trumpeting Cofit because it’s more relevant to his status than malnutrition or malaria.

I could just as easily go down that path. I could also close my eyes to mothers failing to get breast milk because they can only afford half a meal a day (black tea with a piece of cassava), and the malnourished babies that emerge as a result; I could close my eyes to the teenage girls that were given out in marriage because schools closed, or those given out to meet family needs; I could ignore the fact that our president is opening 5-star markets in cities which have 1-star referral hospitals; I could also choose to look the other way and enjoy my middleclass lifestyle, but as an aspiring leader, I cannot.

As a leader, my aspiration is to remove the privileged/entitled class, to expand the middleclass (and their income), and to shrink the peasantry; but mostly to blur the lines that separate each category.
It doesn’t bode well for our country if the average Corporate Ugandan knows more about racism in America than about extreme poverty in Teso or Busoga because that disqualifies him/her from the solution to those local problems.

And finally, I have come to the realization that the biggest pandemic afflicting our country is poverty and the virus that causes it is called M7-1986. Vaccination against it is January 14

Continue Reading

News

Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge

Published

on

Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

STATEMENT
Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.

ChangeYouCanTrust

CountryBeforeSelf

Continue Reading

Trending