I lend my support to warnings delivered by our President, Cyril Ramaphosa, of the need for urgent action to get vaccines to Africa, and to nations elsewhere in the south, to fight the deadly Covid-19 virus. He delivered his warnings and demands to the world’s nations in his Special Address at the virtual Davos Conference of the World Economic Forum (see video excerpt here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViY4suoKEGE ).
As quoted by the South African daily, Business Day, President Ramaphosa warned on Jan. 26, ‘We are all not safe if some countries are vaccinating their people and other countries are not vaccinating,’ urging that nations that have oversupplies of vaccines make them available to those who do not have them. This hoarding can have disastrous consequences, as will the continued use of patents by big pharma to restrict production and to overcharge the poorest nations. Speaking on behalf of the African Union, which South Africa currently chairs, Mr Ramaphosa has called for those patents to be released or seized, so that production, and sale at cost, can take place in countries like South Africa, which have the necessary production facilities.
Mr Ramaphosa reported to the World Economic Forum that the AU’s African task team for Covid-19 vaccine acquisition has secured a provisional 270 million doses for the continent directly through vaccine manufacturers. This is in addition to the 600 million doses expected from the Covax initiative. But that is still well short of what is required for the 1.2 billion Africans to receive two doses each.
‘Through its participation in these continental and global initiatives, SA continues to promote the need for universal, fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines’, he said. ‘We all must act together in combatting coronavirus, because it affects all of us equally, and therefore our remedies—our actions to combat it—must also be equal’.
Three months ago, I issued an urgent appeal to then President Donald Trump, calling on him to take bold and decisive action to deal with the twin crises of the Covid-19 virus pandemic and the conditions of starvation that were already beginning to ravage the African continent. Making vaccines available at low cost, with financial aid as needed, is a central feature of my proposal.
I pointed out that the U.S. Presidency, with its vast executive power, has the ability to address these problems with measures that would get medical aid and food to people who need it, and thereby save perhaps hundreds of millions of people facing certain death, as has been warned of, loud and clear, by no less an authority than former South Carolina Governor David Beasley, who is now Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. I made this case once again in December.
The capacity of the United States—working with other nations to supply the medicines and health supplies, as well as the staffing needed to administer them—needs to be mobilised to avert the worst genocide in human history. The power of U.S. farmers to produce needed food stuffs and the U.S. military’s marvelous logistical capabilities to get food and medicine to where it is needed, could be mobilised by the U.S. President. I have since submitted the outlines of a plan to accomplish this and I am working to refine the proposal with a group of experts and others on the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, created by international Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche. (The plan is appended.)
For whatever reason, President Trump failed to act on my proposal, or any proposal, to deal with these crises. As a result, Africa is stalked by mass death on a scale unprecedented in human history. I can say with the assurance of certainty that this is and will be the case if action is further delayed.
There is now a new Administration in Washington, so I must place this crisis before the new President, Joe Biden, and his staff, and say that the world will judge harshly indifference to these crises. The plan I propose offers the new President a chance to do something both great and important. Such is the responsibility that all who take the Presidential oath of office must face and act upon. The Presidency of the United States is the most powerful institution on the planet. The power of the Presidency gives the President a moral responsibility for the well-being of people beyond the borders of the United States. While respecting the sovereignty of nations, the President must seek cooperation to save the lives.
Read the words of a truly great American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, speaking to his fellow Democrat successor across time, who in his acceptance speech for renomination to the Presidency in 1936, said:
‘Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the constant omission of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference’.
Heed this sage advice! I speak not only as a representative of South Africa, but on behalf of all Africans who are calling on President Biden to act now to save lives. Tomorrow will be too late!
The following draft emergency plan has been submitted to the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, and is being worked on. The draft is presented here to stimulate the contribution of additional thoughts.
Emergency Plan to Save Africa (EPSA)
1.0 The President of the United States shall issue a finding of fact that the threat of as many as hundreds of millions of deaths on the African continent from the combined effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and starvation represents a threat to the peace and security of the world. This grave humanitarian crisis thus represents a clear and present national security danger to the United States.
2.0 The President shall therefore declare a state of emergency, which mobilises extraordinary powers granted the Presidency under the Constitution.
3.0 The President shall appoint a cabinet-level Administrator to oversee the implementation of the measures described below, with whatever staffing is necessary, who will report directly and regularly to the President.
3.1 The Administrator shall appoint, with the President’s approval, two Associate Administrators who report to the Administrator: an Associate Administrator – Medical (AAM), to oversee the medical aid effort; and an Associate Administrator – Food (AAF), to oversee the food relief effort.
4.0 The two Associate Administrators shall immediately begin an immediate assessment to determine the full impact of the twin threats of famine/starvation and Covid-19, with the aim of crafting a Plan for the immediate distribution of food relief sufficient to stop the starvation, and medical equipment and supplies, including vaccines, to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the identified populations.
4.1 The Administrator shall within thirty (30) days complete and submit the Plan to the President for his approval. Until the mission is completed, the Administrator shall report directly and regularly to the President on the progress of the Plan.
4.2 The Administrator shall solicit cooperation from all affected nations in Africa. Those that wish to participate positively in the Plan are welcome to benefit from it, at no cost to them.
4.3 All agencies, private and public that might assist in this effort, are to be solicited to collaborate and to coordinate. On the African continent, organisations such as the African Union, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation and other international agencies are expected to play an important role.
4.4 The Administrator may exclude any agency or organisation that, in his or her judgement, does not have the means to fulfill a commitment to the Plan. The Administrator’s rulings can be appealed to the President.
4.5 Should a government decide it does not wish to participate, the Plan will not intervene in that nation.
4.6 The President shall use his power to convoke an international summit, perhaps under the auspices of the United Nations, which shall include the four great powers, U.S., Russia, China, and India, and all other nations wishing to coordinate contributions to the success of this EPSA.
5.0 The President shall order the creation and chartering of a special African Development and Industrialisation Bank (ADIB), funded through the deposit of specially issued U.S. Treasury notes, deposit cash, and other securities totaling $100 billion. This bank shall issue up to $1 trillion in credit for the purposes of the Plan, and of later plans to build food- and health-security infrastructure in Africa.
5.1 The Administrator shall issue to the private sector requests for proposals (RFPs) for the implementation of various aspects of the Plan. Such proposals, if accepted, will be turned into contracts that may be submitted for funding from the ADIB in the form of letters of credit, which shall be discountable in the banking system.
5.2 National governments, as well as companies, agencies, and entities involved in the Plan, may submit requests for either loan credit or outright grants to the Administrator, who will then review them in consultation with the Lending Committee of the ADIB, consisting of the officers of the Bank, including its Chairman, and Board members, who are to be appointed by the President. Decisions as to lending and granting shall be made on the basis of which best serves the mission of the ADIB to implement the Plan.
6.0 The President shall seize all patents for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments developed by American companies and make them the property of the U.S. government. The companies shall be compensated for their development costs and a fair profit.
6.1 The AAM shall then organise, order, and monitor large-scale production of these medicines in the United States and in other countries, at facilities certified as safe and secure by U.S. health authorities.
6.2 The AAM will arrange with the ADIB the payment for production and packaging costs of the vaccines plus a small, reasonable profit. In addition, the AAM shall order the production and deployment of low-temperature storage equipment for the vaccines, where needed.
7.0 The AAF shall make available food from the U.S. strategic reserve in prudent amounts for immediate relief. The AAF will encourage increased U.S. food production to maintain a larger U.S. strategic reserve, to provide international aid in future, should it be needed.
7.1 In addition, the AAF shall seek contracts with American farmers at full parity prices to address the present crisis, favouring family farmers and their cooperatives, over large food cartels.
7.2 Contracts are to be considered as contracts with the U.S. government and shall be discountable in the U.S. banking system, as another source of funds for farmers.
7.3 American farmers shall be provided with low-interest credit from the ADIB to facilitate meeting the terms of their contracts.
7.4 It is understood that it is in the best interests of African nations to develop self-sufficiency in food production and to have national food reserves. The AAF shall work toward the fulfillment of those objectives as the food emergency subsides.
8.0 The President shall mobilise the resources of the U.S. military to help address these crises especially, but not exclusively, to transport food and medical supplies to affected areas quickly and in large quantities, as well as mobilising military medical and other personnel to administer the vaccine, and provide other essential services.
8.1 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can assist in the rapid construction of roads, bridges depots, bases and medical facilities, as well as warehousing and food storage facilities, in affected nations. Ownership of these facilities shall pass to the host nations at the termination of the mission.
8.2 The President shall establish an Africa Volunteer Corps (AVC), modelled on the Civilian Conservation Corps of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, recruiting young people, especially those not currently in school or who are unemployed, to sign up for a specified term to serve in Africa for food relief and medical aid. The U.S. military shall assist in their training, along with relevant medical agencies. Recruits will be transported, housed, clothed, fed, and paid fairly for their service.
8.3 Young people and others can also volunteer to join the AVC to help African farmers modernise their methods of food production. This effort can be coordinated with various farm organisations in the U.S.
9.0 The Plan Administrator shall welcome all constructive suggestions to better prosecute the mission of the Plan.
10.0 This emergency Plan shall remain in effect until such time as the President declares these crises to be ended.
Ramasimong Phillip Tsokolibane is the leader of the LaRouche movement in South Africa