30 January 2013

South Africa: Nehawu Is Disturbed but Not Shocked By the Report That Shows That 12 Million South Africans Are food Insecure

NEHAWU is disturbed but not shocked by the results of a five year study, by the University of Cape Town's African Food Security Unit Network, that shows that 12 million South Africans go to bed hungry every day.

Since the 2007-08 global economic crises; this country has been struggling with rising food prices and more people have become susceptible to hunger. According to the 2010 UNDP report, 44% of workers in South Africa live on less than R10 a day meaning that they can barely afford a single loaf of bread a day.

This situation has been aggravated by a steep and relentless rise in the cost of water, fuel and electricity.

The proposed Eskom's 16% annual tariff adjustment over the next 5 years will worsen the situation.

This state of affairs, if not averted, can only result in instability and potential unrest in the country.

What is obvious is that the time for the immoral excess that we saw in the mining and agricultural sectors; where managers and bosses have been feeding while the workers go hungry is unsustainable.

Government's failure to address the question of rural development and land reform is at the centre of this mounting problem.

The report shows that it is not only rural people that are affected but also city dwellers face starvation and malnutrition. This can be attributed to the fact that most rural people are forced to move to the cities because of poverty.

The scarcity of jobs puts a huge strain on the available resources and also results in government's misallocation of capital because of rapid geographical relocations and an uneven population growth.

South Africa with a population of 50 million is reliant on about 8000 commercial farmers and small scale farmers that produce 80% of our maize for their food security. These farmers also prefer to export their produce, therefore forcing South Africans to pay inflated prices or to import basic food supplies.

The report shows that 77% of households surveyed were either moderately or severely food insecure.

This puts into focus the debate around labour brokers, minimum wage and a new remuneration policy for public servants. This report makes a mockery of the widely held myth that is perpetuated by the national treasury that public servants are overpaid.

These very same public servants take care of more than {5} five members of their extended family with their meagre salaries.

NEHAWU is calling for the implementation of the basic income grant that will accommodate the millions of unemployed young people who are left to starve because of unemployment.

Our government needs to adopt a sense of urgency in putting into motion the policies and programmes that will help the nation achieve the proposed second phase of our transition.

It is obvious that unless there is decisive action from government; we are unlikely to reverse the looming crisis.

The protests that we have already seen in response to poor service delivery are likely to escalate if we do not arrest this situation as a nation.

We are likely to experience food protests unless we act decisively to address the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Office

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