How far are you with the Climate Justice Charter and what are the main achievements on the ground in regards to the People's Food Sovereignty Act?
Basically, the Climate Justice Charter comes from the food Sovereignty Campaign. So, apart from the fact that we delivered the charter to Parliament on October 16 2020, which was a national day of action to end hunger, and we gave them one year to adopt it, the charter is also an embodiment of the significance part of the country such as trade unions, children’s movements, religious movements farmworkers and small-scale farmers, among others. We come out with the first phase which is to have a common vision to institutionalizing it through the Assembly. It will be a year since we have been to the Assembly to present it and we will be back on April 22, 2021.
Among the achievements that have been made along the years include the fact that we have been able to bring climate science to the fore; we have led the basis for convergence whereby we have built a strong climate movement; and we have also built a layer of activists from groups such as unemployed people, waste pickers and school-going children. We developed a set of capacities to empower them and we have made numerous training and developed tools for activists to start from below. Even during Covid-19, we made public training online.
How is your advocacy against big food corporations?
We are fighting directly against hunger through demonstration. We have made protests outside of supermarkets exposing the high food market. We demonstrate during «Bread day» and send a memorandum to all food markets to protest against the poor food given to poor families.
We have made direct action through demonstrative alternatives like gardens in order to show another way of living. The more we feed the people, the more we are challenging big food corporations. We share natural seeds and develop our research and advance on the Food Sovereignty Charter. It shows its power. As long as people are trying to make money with food, hunger will still exist.
Earlier in 2019 when cyclone idai devastated three African countries namely Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, you mentioned that there is a failed climate response in Africa. Almost two years after that disaster struck, do you still hold the same view or have things changed overtime ?
When that disaster struck, the affected governments failed in their response such that poor people, mostly women and children, were affected hugely. The countries were thrown off balance. It was catastrophic and a humanitarian crisis. Two years later, it’s far not clear what the affected countries learnt from cyclone idai or the cyclones that have followed thereafter, particularly for Mozambique. And to emphasise how African countries have got a failed climate response, we have an example of South Africa whereby a national disaster caused by drought was only declared in 2018, four years after the country was hit by massive widespread drought.
When people talk of responsibility for climate change, much focus is usually put on the global north which historically is considered as home of more polluting countries. But what does climate justice look like in the context of only African countries and their communities ?
At a global level, it must be understood that a few countries in the global North have made money from fossil fuels and carbon use and these must indeed pay the price. In the global South, countries who contribute to emissions such as China, Brazil and several others in Africa must also pay the price to women, children, the urban poor, small-scale farmers and anybody who is in poverty due to the effects of climate change. At the national level, it is important to have policies and just transitions that benefit these people.
Others have said people should go to Mars and live there because Earth is no more safe to live as it is heavily polluted. On the other side there is this issue of Climate justice and saving the world to be a better place. What is your comment on these two issues ?
Earth must be protected. Going to Mars is not for all, it is for capitalists. For example, if Elon Musk would use his wealth to protect the earth, the climate problem can be solved. But he is using his technologies to make money instead. So, we must not be hood-winked with these technical junkies whose goal is to make money. We must fight for climate justice. There is this politics of many against minor and we need to stand for the many who are suffering because of the minor.
Back to food systems. How different are the previous food systems and the one you are advocating for in the charter?
Previous life was good in the 17th Century as there was no pollution, humans were part of nature. They did not take what they did not consume at that moment. Agriculture changed face after World War II when America industrialised it. Food industries made food to become a business and started to control the food system. If we want to survive, we must end this food system. As long as food is a commodity, it will not serve humanity. We should build an alternative food system which will allow farmers to not use chemicals as well as to not use modern seeds. The globalised food system is too catastrophic for the African continent.