1 July 2002

Southern Africa: 'We Won't Solve Capitalism Evils'

Johannesburg — WE are not going to solve the general evils of capitalism or unfair trade at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD), said South Africa's environment minister Vally Moosa last week.

Addressing Southern African Development Community (SADC) region editors at a media conference on the coming WSSD slated for Johannesburg, Moosa said while the issues of the world economic order and the unfair trade between the developed and developing countries would come up, it would not be possible to resolve them.

"It is true that these evils will not be immediately solved at the summit, but the WSSD will help address those other pressing issues which we can solve," he said.

Moosa said the world was faced with several problems which would not all be solved at the much publicised WSSD but there was need for the developing countries not to give up their fight.

"We have several challenges. We have got one single country, the USA, ruling the world, yes this is unfair," Moosa said.

"The same US wants to dump genetically modified crops in Africa but we have a problem, our people are dying from hunger. The only way we can fight this is as a club (unity)." Moosa cited as among other major challenges, the developed countries' failure to give Third World nations access to their markets.

He cited the issue of subsidies to farmers in developed countries as adversely affecting the developing nations' agriculture sectors while donor aid was not helping the situation. "In fact a recent study has shown that for every dollar that developing countries receive they lose US $14 billion in trade barriers," said Moosa, quoting the Time magazine.

However, Moosa expressed confident that some sound implementation plans would be reached at the world summit slated for Johannesburg in August to help the nations in the world attain the global targets of halving poverty levels by 2015, including access to basic education and water. But civil society leader and researcher Oupa Lehulere, commenting on the minister's statement expressed concern that very little tangible results would be achieved as long as enforcement and implementation of the resolutions was not sound.

"To what extent does the United Nations have jurisdiction over the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, we know that it has none," Lehulere said. "Whatever will come out of the summit has been mortgaged to what the IMF and the World Bank will decide." Lehulere said his assumption was based on past experiences.

"Fine, Japan may have finally ratified the Kyoto Treaty but the USA is likely to stay out of most of these treaties and will continue polluting while trading this off with other activities," said Lehulere.

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