When the Swaziland Economic Justice Campaign (Lijaha Sisu) was founded in April 2011 it adopted the END POVERTY AND HUNGER CAMPAIGN (LIJAHA SISU) as its key priority.

REASONING:

About 63 of Swazis live in abject poverty and this is mostly rural population, and the unemployment rate is at a brutal level of 40whilst HIV/AIDS prevalence is at an alarming rate of 26, which is the highest in the region. The life expectancy is perched at 31 years which is a far cry from that of developed countries which is at 78 years. In 2009, a study conducted by SHIES placed the number of orphans at over 150 000 and a quarter of the country’s population is said to be dependent on food aid.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has impacted heavily on the social livelihood of the country’s populace. Societal safety networks embedded in the traditional extended family have been eroded, giving rise to the orphaning phenomena which was previously considered to be alien to Swazi life.

Such a state of affairs has opened floodgates for other social ills that have lately threatened the lives of Swazis, and with the most vulnerable groups being children and women. Leading in the myriad of problems afflicting Swazi society is abuse and rape, while the effects of hunger and malnutrition also rears an ugly head. In 2000 the country’s leadership agreed to the global goal of reducing the number of undernourished people by half by 2015, which is part of the Millennium Development Goals.

A saddening fact is that these ills are not only confined in the family compound but also spiral into the education system, which has seen the number of children dropping out of school due to financial constraints rising.

If figures of children affected by chronic malnutrition are perched at 40it is therefore imperative that food security assume high priority in the country’s policy framework, and the aim of this campaign is mainly to address this. The policy framework must be people-centred and people-driven.

VISION

A food secure Swaziland that is free from hunger and poverty.

MISSION

To promote effective food, agriculture and natural resource policies through capacity building and partnership with civil society and community based organizations.

GOVERNANCE

The End Poverty and Hunger Campaign (Lijaha Sisu) is a wing of the Swaziland Economic Justice Network, and so the committee will remain that of SEJUN.

Description of campaign

This is a campaign based squarely on a food sovereignty framework that embraces the fundamental right to adequate food. This is a campaign that seeks to fight for agrarian reform and food sovereignty so that all have enough access to land and adequate food. The campaign promotes agro-ecology which is a way of doing agriculture that does away with unequal land access, environmental damage, sexism and the current chemical industrial model of agriculture.

Problems facing our people

Inaccessibility to land.
Lack of food.
Food powerlessness in terms of decision-making with regards to matters of production, and land distribution, preparation and consumption of food.
Degraded environment.
Inadequate social services, eg, housing, water, electricity and health care.
Unemployment and retrenchments.
Discrimination and violence against women.
Abuse of children.
Poverty wages.

Underlying causes:

Like with most African countries, the effects of colonialism still have a bearing on the current lives of the people of Swaziland. Most of the legal framework still borrows heavily on the country’s colonial past, and so are some of the government policies.

The country promotes a free- market system economy, which seemingly is the main driving force for a profit-oriented capitalist system as opposed to a people-centred approach. Government’s neo-liberal policies are the main vehicle for this kind of system which creates a class of rich property owners who gain a leeway towards exploitation of the needy and helpless masses.

The incumbent Tinkhundla (Constituency)-based system of governance in 2005 propagated a constitutional framework which seeks to perpetuate inequality in land access. This is maintained through the protection of property rights for rich land owners. Then there is the contentious chemical industrial model of agriculture which also promotes concentration of land ownership, maximum use of pesticides, single crops and genetically modified foods. All these impact heavily on the overall country’s food security.

What we fight for:

Agrarian reform with an aim to reposes land from the current greedy owners in order to facilitate equitable land sharing.
Food sovereignty, which borrows heavily from a participative approach to decision-making on issues touching on food.
Agro-ecology: a way of doing agriculture that does away with unequal land access, environmental degradation and the inherent racism or sexism in land ownership. This also aims to replace the current chemical model of agriculture.
A socialist system that abolishes class division amongst people, making the achievements of human needs a primary objective of economic activity.
Promotion of basic and better service delivery as a human right which has to be implemented by a motivated public sector. This also aims to do away with the current intensification of privatisation with its concomitant outsourcing of jobs.
The promotion and creation of decent jobs for all, doing away with degrading casual labour. This also extends to the promotion of a fair system of rewarding work.
A living minimum wage for all.
An end, or at least, minimal retrenchments where unavoidable.
A constant focus on fighting sexism and gender-based violence. This is based from the premise that the protection of women and children should be everyone’s responsibility.
An end to neo-liberal or pro-capitalist policies propagated by the incumbent system of governance.

SUGGESTIONS ON WHAT CAN BE DONE

Organise emerging farmers, farm workers, and even farm dwellers so that a space can be created whereby they can be able to discuss their common problems, share experiences with the ultimate goal of drawing up strategies to counter their plight.
Arrange and ensure maximum participation in programmes and protest actions that seek to highlight their plight, with the aim of correcting the wrongs.
Provide training and education so as to enlighten victims on their plight and possible alternatives.
Possible direct action.
Forwarding suggestions to relevant state organs, eg, the legislature, the human rights commission and even local government.
Promotion of a gender sensitive society.
Advocation for or the promotion of agro-ecological system of farming that respects environmental and social justice.
Form alliances and solidarity networks with groups and movements across the globe that share the same objectives as ours. In this category one can think of movements in the likes of La Campesina, the Zepatistar, Mst and Navalange. Solidarity is very crucial, we must position ourselves from the beginning as part of the broader movements and peoples struggles. This encompasses nationwide and trans-national rural movements and as well as linking up with even urban movements fighting against neo-liberal capitalism.

BRIEF CAMPAIGN PLAN

Should always have a problem statement
-Motivation for the particular action taken
Should always break the campaign into components
Build up activities or action to be taken up in the campaign.
Always have a target market (Audience) for a particular activity or component of the campaign, eg, if the action is an issue-based community meeting then the target market or audience would be the community which is affected by the issue in contention.
It is also important for one to know the target audience, ie, one has to be able to place themselves in the shoes of that particular audience in order to establish a relationship so as to facilitate effective communication. This is exactly where research on a target audience comes in. This would help one to have an idea of how the intended message could be received by the audience.
For an example, think of a friend who talks relentlessly about the unmatched beauty of his newly found love. You may have in mind a model look-alike with a thin waistline only to get the shock of your life when you see the direct opposite when you come to visit.
Prior knowledge on the target audience would also come in handy when one embarks on a SWOT analysis.
When: This is a decision about the lifespan of the campaign.
Allocate resources and tasks
Potential partners: This is a group of people who may have the same or similar interests as yours and could be useful partners in strengthening the campaign.
People to lobby: These are the people we must convince in order for our campaign to be credible or even successful.

IN SUMMARY WE HAVE TO:

Identify ourselves and our interests.
Name issues and struggles.
Asses our forces.
Plan for action.

KEY QUESTIONS:

How can we take the campaign to the target audience?
How can we forge links with other forces relevant to the campaign?
How can we mobilize students/youth?
What action or activities to embark on?
Popularisation strategies of the campaign (Communication mix)/proper mix of media and techniques?
Review mechanisms: how do we ensure that the campaign is properly integrated internally (consistent and complementary)? Are there mechanisms in place to monitor progress and to provide alternatives if the campaign does not succeed in reaching its goals?

ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY AND HUNGER NOW!