From Volume 37, Issue 35 of EIR Online, Published Sept 10, 2010
Africa News Digest

Food Price Increases Threaten Unrest Across Africa

Sept. 4 (EIRNS)—A government decision in Mozambique to raise bread prices by 30% led to riots in Maputo, the capital, Sept. 1-3, which resulted in 10 deaths, according to reports, as troops, in some cases, resorted to live ammunition.

Sharp recent increases in wheat and other food prices, resulting from speculative activity, could trigger a repeat of the 2007-08 unrest across Africa. Since African countries are, to a large degree, dependent on food imports, because the globalization policies imposed by the IMF prevent the development of infrastructure and industry, they are forced to rely on exporting cash crops, as opposed to prioritizing food production for domestic consumption. Prices of cereals, sugar, and meat are up over 15% since last year. In addition, Mozambique has recently tacked on a 10% increase of water and electricity costs.

On Sept. 2, the government announced that the price hikes are irreversible, a move which will make it more difficult to calm the situation and restore confidence in the government.

Mozambique has been taking big steps to facilitate development. In addition to recent proposed investments of $13 billion from China, Mozambique has reached agreements to develop additional hydroelectric generating capacity, electrical transmission lines, and a huge mining development. Despite these prospects, the globalized economy has made Mozambique, along with the rest of Africa, extremely vulnerable to food price increases, and Mozambique, in particular, has not fully recovered from the effects of a prolonged civil war.

Strike Wave in South Africa Threatens Entire Region

Sept. 4 (EIRNS)—The deepening global economic crisis has provoked a wave of strikes or threats of strikes in South Africa, Africa's largest economy, as the cost of living is growing faster than earnings for those fortunate enough to have a job. Although some miners' strikes have been settled, others have not, and about 1 million civil servants have been on strike for nearly three weeks, closing schools and crippling hospitals.

The government has adopted a shopkeeper mentality, maintaining that there is no money available beyond what has been put forward in the latest offer, and that it would have to cut something else from the budget if it were to offer more to the striking civil servants. The latest offer still lags behind price increases, according to reports.

In June, the government dismantled its project to develop its world-class pebble bed modular fourth-generation nuclear reactor, saying that it was too expensive. South Africa reportedly had a ten-year advantage in this project.

The strikes, which have shut down some tire and automobile manufacturing concerns, threaten the survival of the government. President Jacob Zuma was elected with the support of organized labor. Since South Africa plays a critical role in the economies of southern Africa, if the ruling party, the African National Congress, loses its traditional alliance with labor by refusing to budge in its battle with the civil servants, the entirety of southern Africa would be destabilized as a result, beginning with neighboring Zimbabwe and Mozambique, both of which have important economic ties to South Africa.

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