Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty remains our biggest challenge, not new political parties

So what, if Terror or Shilowa starts a new party or if Allan Boesak walks out, again ? It's all a game- a game of power and money. Yet, everyone seems to be enchanted with the spats within the powerful ruling party, amongst tycoons, capitalists and wannabee capitalists, parading as the friends of the poor. They would even call themselves 'comrades', and act like people serious about an eminent socialist revolution. Either this is case of serious delusion or they try to fool us all. I'm not sure yet which one it is. This is the same kind of feeling one gets when listening to the debates about a 'free' market economy and how we all should simply try harder and push for more economic growth.

In the meantime, in realtime, oblivious of the slick political manoeuvrings or the paint-brushed images, the poor are dying of hunger and preventable disease. Is it possible that these powerful figures have missed the point and failed to see ? No, its not. Recently, the expired political actors (who now try to crawl back), through the 'Towards a 15-year Review', acknowledged for South African context
"Growth has exposed weaknesses ... the increase in the rate of growth does not necessarily result in a reduction in poverty."
Nor had growth reduced inequality, but had rather created a bigger gap between the rich and poor

This is no surprise as most of the countries, south of the Sahara, adhere to the flawed 'free' market dictum that capitalist economic growth will eventually eradicate poverty and bring about equality and peace on earth. It is in this context that the Accra Confession is relevant in stating,
The root causes of massive threats to life are above all the product of an unjust economic system defended and protected by political and military might.

This crisis is directly related to the development of neoliberal economic globalization, which is based on the following beliefs:
unrestrained competition, consumerism, and the unlimited economic growth and
accumulation of wealth is the best for the whole world; the ownership of private property♣ has no social obligation; capital speculation, liberalization and♣ deregulation of the market, privatization of public utilities and national resources, unrestricted access for foreign investments and imports, lower taxes, and the unrestricted movement of capital will achieve wealth for all; ♣ social obligations, protection of the poor and the weak, trade unions, and relationships
between people, are subordinate to the processes of economic growth and capital
This is an ideology that claims to be without alternative, demanding an endless flow
of sacrifices from the poor and creation. It makes the false promise that it can save the world through the creation of wealth and prosperity, claiming sovereignty over life and demanding total allegiance, which amounts to idolatry

This system fundamentally, has its grip over our governments and unless it is addressed, we will have more of the same, poverty, inequality and injustice. It is called for leaders to refrain from feeding into the consumerist lifestyles, from celebrating capitalism, but to acknowledge the role of government regulation, of the voice of local communities in what happens in our back yard, and to democratize financial institutions. For poverty to be addressed in sub-Saharan Africa, local products need to be pushed, locally and internationally through fair-trade practices, stronger government support and subsidies for emerging farmers, land reform in terms of property rights need to be fast-tracked and again government should look into the possibilities of Tobin-tax and bigger spending on education (skills-development) and health. Unless these are addressed now, we will in 15 years again hear the words, this time not from Netshitenzhe, "Despite reduced income poverty and faster growth, income inequalities did not decrease and in some respects increased"

This is a scenario scary....
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