Horn of Africa: aid charade follows predicted famine

FRFI 223 October/November 2011

In September 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 13.3 million people in East Africa were in dire need of food aid, up from 11.3 million in July. Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti are worst affected, but Sudan, Uganda and South Sudan also face food crises. In Somalia, as many as 750,000 people in the southern regions face starvation by January 2012.

 

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Corporate land grabs in Africa

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 222 August/September 2011

The number of people suffering from hunger worldwide is currently estimated to be 1.02 billion: it is a criminal fact that the countries that are the most food insecure are selling off land in order to secure food for other countries, in what has been dubbed ‘the great land grab’. Sudan has agreed that investors can export 70% of the produce that will be created through land grab deals – yet Sudan is the recipient of the largest food-aid operation in the world. In Kenya, the Qatari government has agreed to fund the building of a coastal port in exchange for a lease of 40,000 hectares of land – despite the fact that an estimated 30% of Kenyans currently suffer food shortages.

 

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Anti-racist conference in Durban: Smash racism and smash capitalism

FRFI 163 October / November 2001

You cannot get rid of racism unless you are prepared to fight to get rid of capitalism, a social system that engenders inequality, class division and racial prejudice. This was the message from the Durban Social Forum, a coalition of organisations which came together for the biggest march held during the United Nations anti-racism conference held in Durban recently.

The march marked a turning point in South Africa. For the first time anti-imperialist forces were able, independently of the labour movement and the hegemonic ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance, to pull a crowd big enough to match the marches held during the anti-apartheid struggle in this country. Moreover on 1 September 2001, a day after the Durban Social Forum’s 20,000-strong march, the ruling ANC held its own pro-capitalist and pro-United Nations march with a much smaller turnout. This was a victory for the forces linked to the international anti-globalisation movement; they challenged the bourgeois nationalist ANC regime in the streets and won.

 

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Famine in Niger

IMF policies lead to starvation and death

Across the African continent, a food crisis of catastrophic proportions is again emerging, leaving 16.4 million across southern Africa and 17.9 million in the Horn of Africa in desperate and immediate need of food. In West Africa’s Sahel region, millions are also slowly starving to death. In Niger, the worst affected country, some 3.6 million people are threatened by famine, with 2.5 million, including 800,000 children, on the brink of starvation. The famine has been blamed on a severe drought and an invasion of desert locusts, the worst in 15 years, which devastated crops across the Sahel between August and October 2004. But the catastrophe that exists in Niger today is the creation of imperialism.

Cereal prices have risen sharply since 2000; millet, a staple grain, has doubled in price since last year. It is not food availability but food affordability that is at the root of the unfolding tragedy. There is enough food to feed the hungry in Niger, which exports grain to wealthier neighbours Nigeria and Ghana, but the poor cannot afford to buy it. Some 32,000 children are severely malnourished and with the outbreak of deadly diseases such as cholera, malaria and diarrhoea, children are dying even in feeding centres.

 

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Southern Africa: The rumbling of political discontent

FRFI 205 October / November 2008

On 20 September the African National Congress (ANC) Executive Committee forced the resignation of Thabo Mbeki as President of South Africa. Mbeki’s fall marked the end of a long-running and labyrinthine dispute with Jacob Zuma, ANC President, and came soon after Mbeki’s ‘starring’ role as chief negotiator of a power-sharing deal in crisis-ridden neighbouring Zimbabwe between President Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. By 25 September ANC Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, had been sworn in as a caretaker South African President until elections in 2009, when Zuma is expected to become President of South Africa as well as of the ANC. The rise and fall of national leaders in these southern African states reflects the political pressures building in the region.

South Africa is the largest and most powerful economy in Africa. Yet despite the radical pretensions of the ANC in the post-apartheid era, the majority of its black population is still impoverished. In 1996 the ANC government imposed a neo-liberal economic strategy, led by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, called Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) which espoused the free market and privatisation. Since then, despite annual economic growth, millions still live in dire poverty, unemployment, inflation and inequality have grown dramatically and most of the land is still owned by the white minority. These are the fundamental economic facts that underscore the unpopularity of President Mbeki’s administration and the decision of the ANC Executive that he must go.

 

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