The Roots of Crisis in Southern Africa

 
9780865430259: The Roots of Crisis in Southern Africa
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"The crisis in Southern Africa is intertwined with the struggle for world peace and human decency. In the face of increased South African repression, the international community has the obligation and capacity to forge true democracy through dialog and conciliation. To bring about change, we must understand the complexities of the situation. Ann Seidman's extensive new study provides readers this essential understanding. It is must reading for those who seek to effectively support the struggle for the liberation of Black south Africa."
-Congressman Ronald B. Dellums

"Walter Rodney's HOW EUROPE UNDERDEVELOPED AFRICA gave us a thoughtfl analysis of the prooblems faced by people in Africa who are trying to rid thenselves of the remnants of colonialism. Ann Seidman's book is a basic primer which analyzes the impact of neocolonialism. Policymakers and legislators in Congress need to read more of this kind of analysis. The information on the roles of multinationals and their self-justification of the greed that perpetuates poverty and violence in the region is especially useful."
-Mel King (Department of Urban

Studies and Planning, MIT)

"This study is non-apologetic for its common-sensical and challenging conclusions drawn from thorough-going and sensitive analysisi of every aspect of the contemporary Southern African situation. The study is based on extensive research and experience and is presented in clear, straightforward prose. The implications for regional peace, progress and development that the study reveals from its analysisi of internal trends and external involvement are important for us all."
-Willard Johnson (National Co-Chair

of ACAS, National Board Member of TransAfrica)

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Colonial Heritage Decades of colonial rule have left their mark on southern Africa. Over the years, the colonial governments erected institutional structures which impoverished the people and still today render the independent states critically dependent on South Africa.

Even the boundaries of the southern African nations bear witness to the colonial legacy. In their 19-century scramble for Africa, the colonial powers initially carved out countries without regard to economic, ethnic, or geographic realities. Colonial expansion and African efforts to retain some semblance of self-rule divided the vast region into separate mini-economies: the extensive semi-deserts of Botswana and Namibia and the mountainous outcroppings of Lesotho and Swaziland, occupied by a half million to little more than a million inhabitants each; landlocked Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, each with populations of somewhat more than 5 million, situated on more fertile land and including valuable agricultural and mineral resources; and the much larger, oddly shaped coastal states of Mozambique and Angola, ech with populations smaller than New York City. Even Tanzaia, with a population of 20 million and a low per capita income, remains economically small.

The independent countries are not small in land area. Combined, they spread over a territory almost as big as the continental United States and considerably larger than Europe. Overpopulation is not a problem. None of them, even Malawi, the most densely populated, has as many inhabitants per square kilometer as a typical European nation. Nor do they lack resources. SouthernAfrica, as a region, is rich. It boasts some of the most valuable mineral resources in the world. Its fertile agricultural soils and varied climates allow it to grow and export practically every variety of food and agricultural raw material.

The basic problem confronting all these countries is the poverty of the majority of the population, reflected in part by the relatively low per capita incomes.

This pervasive poverty in the independent countries of southern Africa has been caused largely by inherited colonial institutions which denied the majority of the African population control over the rich resources of the region.

To provide a background for inderstanding these causes, this chapter summarizes:

The way the typical colonial state turned over the best lands in southern Africa to a handful of white settlers and companies to produce export crops and minerals, forcing African peasant families to provide low-cost labor; and the marginal changes made by the post-independence governments in the distorted allocation of resources.

The legacy of social disruption, illiteracy, malnourishment, and shortened life expectancy inherited by the peoples of the region.

The impact of the worldwide recession of the late 1970s and early 1980s that - regardless of the widely diverse policies adopted by their respective governments - engulfed the newly independent southern African states.

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