World Cup’s Rural Shadow

When I was on DemocracyNow! last week, I managed, in my own stuttering-at-five-in-the-morning-oh-my-god-I’m-talking-to-Amy-Goodman-and-Juan-Gonzales kind of way to suggest two things about the current World Cup in South Africa. First, as S’bu Zikode told me last week

It is becoming clear that in the world cup we’re going to be excluded but our names are being used to justify the goodness of our country in the world. The country is divided. There are certain people who are benefiting and we are excluded – we want to tell the other side of the story. Some of us are homeless, hungry, don’t have freedom of expression.

In other words, the poor are being used by the World Cup. But the other point I wanted to argue was that World Cup can also, in a clearly asymmetric way, be used by the poor. This isn’t a story that makes it either to the press, or to the analysis about the ills of Fifa. Protests in Durban recently have tried to get the world’s press to shine a light on how apartheid remains, and to provide cover for street marches that would have been illegally shut down in the past. See, for instance, this:

There aren’t just grievances within South Africa’s cities, but outside them too. Here’s a release from a group working on Food Sovereignty in South Africa. I’ve not heard of them before, but I’m looking forward to hearing a great deal more when next I’m there…. More below the fold.

The Right to Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign

07 June 2010

March to re-emphasize the needs and demands of marginalized rural groups in the light of the World Cup.

The needs and challenges faced by small scale farmers in South Africa have not been taken seriously by the South African government. In times of huge government spending on the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Right to Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign (Food Sovereignty Campaign) arranges a march to parliament to remind the politicians of the urgent needs of marginalized farm workers, emerging farmers, farm dwellers and landless people.

Demands are going to be handed over to President Jacob Zuma, the ministers of Agriculture as well as the MEC for Human Settlements. The main demands include land redistribution, an end to the commercialization of water, decent public housing for all, that government supports a move towards more sustainable agro-ecological agriculture and stop the experiments with genetically modified organisms in South Africa.

The demands are not new to the parliament. On May 9th 2008 the Food Sovereignty Campaign marched to parliament to draw on the attention of the politicians regarding the challenges faced by small scale farmers in South Africa’s rural areas. Despite two years of continuous efforts there has been no satisfactory response from the government. The memorandum of May 9th 2008 is thus still valid and the march on June 9th is organized to make sure the demands are met without delay.

The Right to Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign (Food Sovereignty Campaign) is a movement of emerging farmers and farm dwellers in the western parts of the Northern and Western Cape Provinces. The main aim is to achieve food sovereignty by putting an end to the marginalisation, exploitation and inequality responsible for the continued poverty and suffering in South Africa’s rural areas.

If we are not listened to and if the demands are not met we will continue the struggle. In fact we will become more radical and militant the longer government ignores us.

For more info contact:

Danie Engelbrecht 0721915336

Lilian Kriege 0824229984

Craig Jonkers 0781536783

Johan Jantjies 0790277853