Thursday, September 19, 2013

Eviction Of Thousands Into Poverty Is Just Another Externality

Africa needs ‘ethical land policies’

By Polycarp Machira from The Citizen

Dar es Salaam. African countries should have ethical economic land policies to save the continent from land conflicts, international land conference was told on Wednesday.
African land needs clear stewardship for the benefit of both current and the future generations. This should put into consideration interests of small-scale farmers by involving them in any decisions made on the use of land. The observation was made by Dr Camillu Kassala from Christian Professionals of Tanzania Research Fellow, Interfaith Standing Committee for Socio-economic Justice and Integrity of Creation, when presenting a paper at a conference in Dar es Salaam.
He said land holds the social-cultural attractions of many African communities; therefore forceful eviction of locals from their land in the name of investments interferes with social identity of people. “There is a lot more that needs to be considered before any decision to evict people from their land is made, but apparently our government does not even give the locals opportunity to express their wishes,” he said.
According to Dr Kassala, the government is never neutral when it comes to acquisition of land by investors and only thinks of how to remain in power.
He accused the government of always working in the interest of influential members of the private sector who often give irrational demands.
For his part, the University of Dar es Salaam lecturer, Dr Ringo Tenga, basing on his previous research, said land grabbing is very much evident in Tanzania as the government tries to downplay the reality.

Same old story. Local people seen as externalities - they get in the way of the few to make money. Tanzania, just one of Africa's many separate countries, is typical of the recent frenzy of land acquisition by foreign agricultural and investment companies, all primarily interested in reaping profit from the land either from food crops for export, from crops for biofuel production or simply investment for future profit. The common thread is disenfranchisement for many small farmers and total loss of home and access to livelihood. The scale is enormous and growing annually - just another part of capital's accumulation process. Nothing but world socialism will put an end to such atrocities.

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