South Africa: HUNGER IN A LAND OF PLENTY

Food First Action Alert
by Food First
San Francisco, California, United States
Undated, 1986?
4 pages
Type: Pamphlet
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Contents: A History of Dispossession • Bantustans: Underdevelopment As Policy • Apartheid: A System of Labor Control • Regional Destabilization • The Struggle Against Apartheid • U.S. Complicity • WHAT WE CAN DO • Notes • The pamphlet says South Africa is unique; many governments limit political rights and keep their people impoverished, but nowhere is the disparity in wealth or the brutality of repression so extreme as in South Africa; it is the only country that constitutionally denies political rights to the majority of its citizens because of the color of their skin. The pamphlet says the white minority government boasts that South Africa is among the top seven food exporting nations in the world; South Africa annually exports over $1 billion dollars worth of agricultural products, including grain, beef, vegetables and fruits; yet an average of 136 black children die every day from the effects of malnutrition. The pamphlet says the San, often referred to as "Bushmen," were hunters and gatherers who roamed the western Cape. The pamphlet says the Khoi-Khoi, sometimes given the derogatory name "Hottentots;" herded sheep and cattle. The pamphlet says the white settlers soon began taking land from the Africans, pressing them into service and later bringing in slaves from Mozambique, Madagascar, West Africa, and the Dutch East Indies. The pamphlet says in 1795 the British seized control of the strategic food and fuel station at Cape Town, and in 1834 they declared an end to slavery; in response, Dutch settlers trekked inland, seizing the resources of African peoples already settled there; not only did the white settlers take land and cattle, they also began controlling the Africans themselves. The pamphlet says as white farmers grew increasingly dependent on black workers, the government devised ways to force blacks off their own farms and into wage labor for whites; imposing taxes on African land, homes, and even dogs meant Africans had to work for whites in order to pay the taxes; African workers were forced to carry an identity document ("passbook"), making it easier for the government to control their movements. The pamphlet says the reserves, barren land of no interest to the whites, became the bantustans of today; the white government has crowded more than half the country's 23 million Africans onto less than 13 percent of the land; the overcrowding of the bantustans has led to deforestation, overgrazing, and severe soil erosion. The pamphlet says in recent years internal opposition has escalated; a growing number of workers are joining unions opposed to apartheid hundreds of thousands of black school children protest apartheid by boycotting classes and staging mass demonstrations; church groups across South Africa, led by Bishop Desmond Tutu and the South African Council of Churches, are taking a firm political stand. And more and more progressive whites are joining the anti-apartheid movement; the white government has responded to this mass rejection of apartheid with more repression; in mid-July 1985 the government declared a state of emergency which gives the police and military even greater freedom to attack civilians, make mass arrests, and hold prisoners without trial. The pamphlet says despite imposed hunger, regional destabilization, and increased repression, the Reagan administration has tried to shield South Africa from international pressure; Reagan's policy of "constructive engagement''--asserting that friendly treatment from Washington can coax South Africa to move toward democracy-has totally failed. The pamphlet says South Africa receives important capital and technology from several hundred U.S. banks and corporations; Americans have invested over $14 billion in the apartheid economy, and the United States is South Africa's top trading partner; in response to pressure from the anti-apartheid movement, some U.S. companies in South Africa have implemented workplace reforms such as the Sullivan Principles; but since U.S. firms in South Africa employ less than one percent of black workers, no amount of workplace reform will undermine apartheid; apartheid is the institutional cause of hunger in South Africa; without its elimination, there can be no end to hunger. The pamphlet says a growing citizens' movement is pressuring institutions to divest themselves of this stock. The pamphlet discusses malnutrition, the Dutch East India Company, infant mortality, black workers, the Mozambique National Resistance (MNR), the 1913 Land Act, black spots, forced migration, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the African National Congress (ANC), arable land, the white minority regime, the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the anti-apartheid movement, President Reagan, the Southern Africa Media Center, the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), the Washington Office on Africa (WOA), TransAfrica, starvation, hunger, political power, the white minority, white industry, control of labor, the Land Bank, pass law violations, Kevin Danaher, William Bigelow,  elimination of black farmworkers' jobs, divestment, police, and the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Collection: Joel Fischer and Renee Furuyama papers, Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections