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I received an email copy of 'STAMPS SOUTH AFRICA - Keeping in Touch Under the Auspice of the PFSA', (Issue 5, November, 2021). For those unware of this bi-monthly eNewsletter, it is a useful way to stay in touch with philately in South Africa. You are invited to subscribe to it but how to do so is a bit of a mystery as it contains no direct link or even instructions on how to join in order to keep in touch. It is a classic case of preaching to the converted. I daresay if you email the PFSA, someone will get back to you about this.

If you are interested, try: André du Plessis, PFSA, email: 

I enjoyed Dr Jim Findlay RDPSA's 'Food For Thought' article 'Looking Back Over The Last Four Years'. He begins by rightly (I mean correctly) damning the left's "uncompromising communist-style trade union postal strike where the ‘workers’ destroyed their own customer base with a 5-month strike." I remember that well. I was in SA visiting my elderly mother who asked me to go to her local post office at Howard Centre, Pinelands. At the entrance to the PO was a sign that read "Deliveries Suspended, Stamps Still Available". I still do not know whether to laugh or cry! Talk about Chicken and Egg situations where the inedible egg is on the strikers faces.

Now, apparently 210 SA POs are to be closed "because they are not profitable". This is presumably in addition to all the others that have already been merged or closed. The flipside of this that SAPO (the South African Post Office) has a huge property portfolio. There is money to be had from the property and land on which the POs stand, which when sold or rented out will make a temporary but never a permanently big enough contribution to the 'workers' needs for gravy, salaries, pensions and ultimately Unemployment Benefits. Its a mess, well-illustrated by a cover I have that travelled from Kenilworth via Wynberg to Simonstown in 3 hours in 1905, (pre-motor vehicle), a feat which SAPO cannot emulate today. Or could if it tried harder to deliver a service based on customer not 'worker' needs!

Jim makes the point that a "problem associated with the collapse of the postal system is that it is now extremely difficult to collect used modern South African stamps. Courier companies do not use stamps!" Yes, collectors in the UK now have great difficulty acquiring modern used SA stamps. I buy quite a few items from smaller SA dealers who post them with nice stamps on the cover. I sell these to collectors. However, the larger dealers tend to send items by courier who do not use stamps. Couriers are not without fault. I was recently advised that a DHL parcel was coming on a Tuesday before 1pm. However, DHL's policy in the UK is to send the parcel out on the day it arrives in the local office. As a result, an attempt was made to deliver my parcel on the Monday when I was out. I went on-line and rescheduled the delivery, again for Tuesday before 1pm, an option given on the DHL website. Next day I waited and waited. The DHL courier finally arrived at 14.35. When I told him he was late, he blew his top, telling me he was not late, that I had not paid for the service and that I was 'lucky' he was delivering it at all. I gave him a customer-based telling off. He told me "if you have a problem, take it up with DHL!" The poor little love complained to DHL that I had abused him! Yes, we too can have similar problems with entitled 'key workers' in the UK.

Jim also comments on the effect of that the "China Virus" has had on our philatelic lives. I believe that it is perfectly acceptable to call Covid-19 "the China Virus", (which is where it originated, unlike "Spanish" flu). However, we now know that the evasive and ambivalent Dr Anthony Fauci, the USA's top doctor and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, funded risky coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China. Fauci was aiming to achieve "gain-of-function" research where pathogens are manipulated with the aim of making them more infectious in order to gauge their risk to humans. As a consquence, it is probably more accurate to describe the provenance of the pandemic as "the China Virus funded by the USA!"

Finally, 'STAMPS SOUTH AFRICA continues to make the case for our hobby thriving in SA. Perhaps I should return home with my accumulation? It certainly seems an increasingly attractive proposition. Post lockdown in the UK we had our first regional SACS (South African Collectors' Society) meeting in Letchworth that drew in two new members out of 13 attendees. There was a very good feeling at this autumn meeting, probably because nothing, not even Zoom, can replace the company of like-minded collectors. However, my local philatelic society has just dropped one of its two physical meetings per month and replaced it with a Zoom meeting. Covid and eBay have resulted in our monthly local fairs being discontinued for a lack of dealers. This is a big disappointment. On the plus side, regional fairs in neighboring towns are starting up up again, so, I guess, I will just have to travel further afield for my philatelic Saturday escapes.