ORIGINS OF THE POST-APARTHEID VIOLENCE IN AFRICA
by Dan Kashagama
In 1999 South Africa's government was brow-beaten by the European Union to sign the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement TDCA. The TDCA expressly excluded from the negotiations other SADC [Southern African Development Community] states, even though they demanded to be included, and in violation of SADC rules prohibiting unilateral agreements between SADC states with a foreign [i.e., non-african] power.
The TDCA is essentially a reciprocal agreement between South Africa and the EU, in which Thabo Mbeki provides duty free access to 83% of the EU's highly subsidized agricultural products. Considering that the subsidies to European farmers to grow agricultural produce amount to more than the entire annual budget of South Africa (US$40+ billion), farmers in Africa and in the SADC have to compete with subsidized EU products dumped on the SA market. The preferential tarrifs within the SADC are undermined by duty free access to highly subsized EU products.
As a consequence of the TDCA, the agricultural systems in the SADC region not only collapsed, the treaty actually stunted the economies of Africa, and made farming less profitable outside south Africa... this is the main cause of the droughts and food shortages in Southern and Central Africa. The food shortages in Zimbabwe caused by the TDCA then triggered the land claims crisis - and the aftermath of the agricultural strain in Zimbabwe is the current political crisis. This crisis was then worsened in Zimbabwe and Zambia and Burundi, by the destruction of maize production in Tanzania by a CIDA policy that threw 40,000 African farmers off their land [an act that was overshadowed by the white farmers' problems and therefore got no coverage in the media].
The TDCA gave preferential access to the EU market only to those products that are CERTIFIED as originating from SA (the EU has become a significant market for SA because it buys 40% of SA's agricultural exports, and a large percentage of its manufactured goods such as electronics. ..but this has come at the expense of developing the rest of Africa as the main trading partner for SA). The effect of the TDCA has been to undermine regional integration, and to concentrate production and processing in SA.
The TDCA costs hundreds of thousands of jobs region-wide [SADC], and has caused huge cuts in the revenues of the SADC countries (up to 60% for Lesotho in the first year after the TDCA was signed), and it set a bad precedent for the formation of trading blocs in Africa. The EU has played one African regional bloc against another, played one African state against others, using such reciprocal trade agreements, a situation the African Unification Front finds unacceptable and deplorable.
African economic powerhouses (such as Nigeria, Egypt, SA and Kenya) cannot be allowed to continue making unilateral agreements with foreign powers because lack of consultation and cohesion impacts the rest of Africa negatively.
In addition to the bad judgement manifested by the Mbeki administration in signing the TDCA, the SA government has become the largest supplier of weapons and mercenaries across Africa, fueling wars between African states, and pursuing a policy of South African monopoly in which SA firms buy up everything of economic value. The victims of this policy – which Mbeki calls "South African Exceptionalism" – coupled with black empowerment programs that favor only South African blacks while ignoring to empower the people in the rest of Africa who made sacrifices to end apartheid... this all had caused hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes and go work in South Africa where all the TDCA-rules industries are concentrated. Moreover, because many people in SA are also excluded from the enrichment system, an new underclass of desperate people has emerged in the cities and the violence has escalated to the point where it now poses a threat to the future of all of Africa.
Culled from African Front listserv Friday, June 13, 2008