Friday, September 19, 2008

Politics of Poverty

It has come to pass that many countries in Africa that have adopted the 50 percent plus one presidential vote (Constitutions) are being engulfed in political instabilities whenever the political opposition fails to win an outright majority. We saw this happening in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Presidential elections in Africa are conducted under corrupt means—vast amounts of tax payers’ money are wasted in order to dupe the voters. Political hooligans and thugs are employed to woo the voters. Ethnic and tribal loyalties are manipulated during general elections.

The judiciary and electoral commissions cannot be trusted enough (transparent) by the political opposition and the Western election observers. The infighting, tensions anddivisions inside the ANC may only help to highlight the gullibility of politicaltransparency in South Africa. The judiciary feels that Jacob Zumu must face seriouscriminal offences, whereas the ANC supporters and COSATU believe the judiciary is playing games.

The recent outbreaks of xenophobia attacks against foreigners is not a surprise to theWSM—indigenous blacks in South Africa are living under difficult times.Unemployment and urban poverty are on the increase in South Africa.

It is a fact that South Africa is a relatively developed country, but it is surprising tonote that indigenous blacks are experiencing the vicissitudes of urban poverty and squalor.

Economic development brings with it unforeseen social and economic problems.Economic and social reforms are everywhere failing to bridge the gap between the rich and poor. Social uprisings, student riots and ethnic protests have come to epitomise the character of political consciousness in less developed countries.

It is quite evident that the dilemma of land distribution (indiginisation) is so rife in Africa where globalisation has entailed the massive exploitation of idle natural resources (oil and mineral reserves). The recent increase in oil and food prices combined with the so-called “credit crunch” has led many African countries to experiment with the production of biofuels. The production of wheat and sugar cane to make biofuels will be a death sentence in Africa in the sense that it will mean sacrificing the lives of innocent poor workers and peasants who are already experiencing hunger and poverty. Nobody can deny the fact that global warming is taking place in Africa, but what is difficult to accept is whether African political statesmen have the ability and ingenuity to weight the scientific arguments being propounded to arrest the effect of global warming on economic development as such.

The dilemma of income inequality is generally greater in Africa compared with western Europe. Extreme poverty engenders widespread hunger, malnutrition, lack of clean water, death from preventable diseases, inadequate shelter, illiteracy and other less obvious inequalities. The poor have no bargaining power—they have no importance among foreign governments and corporations. A world of free access for all and common ownership is the only way to eliminate poverty.

K. MULENGA, Zambia

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