Cosatu shelves food strike plans

Cosatu’s plans for rolling mass action to protest escalating food prices were shelved after a meeting on 25 April between Cosatu, Business Unity South Africa and the government.
Issue date: 23 May 2008

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Cosatu’s plans for rolling mass action to protest escalating food prices were shelved after a meeting on 25 April between Cosatu, Business Unity South Africa and the government.

“We agreed on the fact that the main causes for high food prices are from outside the country on an international level, but Cosatu is still mobilising for rolling mass action and stay-away campaigns should negotiations falter. We have, however, agreed to suspend mass action for the time being,” said Jonas Mosia, Cosatu’s industrial policy coordinator.

However, he said a number of their demands presented at the meeting had not been met. “You must keep in mind that we still have demands in place, such as food price regulation by government. We also demanded the resignation of a number of CEOs in the retail sector, or that they at least take considerable salary cuts. Workers are earning peanuts, while CEOs get exorbitant salaries. But the one thing we all agreed on is that high food prices have reached critical proportions.”

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Grain SA’s Dr Kobus Laubscher attended the meeting on behalf of organised agriculture. While he believes mass action is not a solution, he advocates lateral cooperation. “We decided to form a nucleus committee to decide on a plan of action for the alleviation of the plight of the poorest of the poor.

Asecond meeting is planned for later this month or early June.”t the meeting options such as the reconsidering of VAT on basic foodstuff like chicken and white bread, food coupons and direct grants were tabled. All parties agreed it was imperative that any direct assistance to the poor be monitored closely. – Annelie Coleman

Why malting barley farmers are opting for wheat

According to Rona Beukes, senior statistician at the Directorate of Agricultural Statistics of the Department of Agriculture, farmers in the Western Cape are opting to plant wheat instead of malting barley because of favourable wheat prices.
Henk de Beer, the manager of products at Sentraal-Suid Koöperasie said another reason for the poor intentions to plant malting barley was based on the lower price offered by South African Breweries (SAB). “The price was fixed a month ago, but the Barley Industry Committee advised farmers not to sign,” said De Beer.

SAB is, however, offering malting barley farmers two pricing options. “Farmers can contract their entire crop tonnage at a fixed price offered by SAB, based on a market forecast of local wheat and imported malting barley,” said SAB communications manager Janine van Stolk. “And farmers also have the option to contract a portion of their crop on the fixed price and portion on the new price formula.

The new formula price links local barley to Safex wheat and therefore allows SAB and farmers to hedge prices independently on Safex.” Van Stolk explained that simply put, the pricing mechanism would give farmers the option to either accept a fixed price in a volatile market or to hedge in the market independently to maximise pricing opportunities. – David Steynberg

Relief on the cards for SA’s poorest

Minister of Social DEVELOPMENT,Dr Zola Skweyiya, announced the allocation of R124 million to the African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and to provincial departments of Development, to provide relief to households or individuals facing hardship.

This forms part of the Social Relief of Distress Programme for the 2008/09 financial year, which is a temporary provision of assistance intended for those in such a dire state that they are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs.
he department explained that relief can take the form of either food parcels or food vouchers, while some provinces will be giving assistance in the form of cash. “Social Relief of Distress is given for a short time only, usually up to three months, but sometimes for six months,” the department said.

n terms of the procedure, individual and group applicants are identified and referred to SASSA. The allocation will then be jointly accessed by SASSA and the provincial social development departments on a 50/50 basis, but this is subject to review.

Expenditure will be monitored monthly and adjustments will be made to allocations where necessary, the department explained.Dr Skweyiya has requested that civil society and faith-based organisations assist them in raising awareness of this form of assistance. – BuaNews

Zim burns in post-election violence

Zimbabwe’s post-election crackdown, allegedly orchestrated by police and soldiers of the liberation war, has led to widespread reports of torture, the razing of houses and killing of livestock, perpetrated mainly against people in rural areas suspected of voting for the opposition party. Sergeant Mungofa (not his real name) was sent to rural Matabeleland South Province just days after the 29 March elections.

His eight-member team is alleged to have set alight the homes and food stocks of perceived MDC supporters, leaving a trail of destruction that has forced entire families to seek refuge in the bush or to flee to larger towns and cities. “From the briefs I received from my superior in the province, a lieutenant-colonel, the war is just beginning,” he said. Sergeant Mungofa alleged that his team and others like it had not been supplied with sufficient food rations or money and this had driven them to looting. “We are being forced to raid the people for food,” he said. – Irin News