LETTER: Fundamental change of direction needed
Food security absolutely essential for a functioning society
President Cyril Ramaphosa has rightly stressed that the rioting that has gripped parts of the country threatens to inflict a wave of hardship as economic supply systems are disrupted. Nowhere will this be felt more keenly than in respect of the food supply.
Destruction of shops, blockading of roads and the general aura of threat stands to prevent critical supplies from reaching consumers. This has already happened; the only question is what the scale and reach of the disruption will be. And this is even before the Covid impact of the rioting and disruption of farming operations is factored in.
The impact of this should not be underestimated. A secure food supply is an absolutely essential condition for a functioning society. The privations imposed by the pandemic and the lockdown have done much to deprive millions of this.
SA’s agricultural industry has performed well under difficult conditions; it needs to be preserved. Yet official attitudes vacillate between seeing it as an asset to be treasured and an historical blight to be expunged. Would it be too much to hope that these events will give pause to this?
Ramaphosa also emphasises – as he has done on more occasions that one might care to remember – that the country’s future depends on “greater economic opportunity for all”. This is true. The chaos in the country has deep socio-economic roots. If he is serious about addressing them, SA needs a fundamental change of course. Food, work and investment are intrinsically linked. A respect for property rights – whether from looters or the hands of officialdom – is crucial.
Otherwise we can expect more of what we are seeing now.
Project manager, Institute of Race Relations
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