oa ESR Review : Economic and Social Rights in South Africa - Food protest in South Africa : ‘them belly full, but we hungry’ - feature

Volume 19 Number 4
  • ISSN : 1684-260X



Cost of livin’ gets so high, Rich and poor they start to cry: Now the weak must get strong; They say, “Oh, what a tribulation! ‘Them belly full, but we hungry’; A hungry mob is a angry mob – Bob Marley and the Wailers

South Africa is a ‘food-secure’ nation, producing enough to feed every member of its population adequately. The painful truth, however, is that more than 22 per cent go to bed hungry (Statistics South Africa 2017: 5; Nkrumah 2017: 1). The situation suggests one of two things: that the policy steps taken by the state are either woefully inadequate in themselves or are poorly implemented. As such, this article sets out to determine which policy actor is best suited to bring about policy change to address the issue of chronic hunger.

One influential category of policy actor is the social protester. Social protestors have used protest to improve their access to key socioeconomic rights, such as health (through, for example, the Treatment Action Campaign), education (#FeesMustFall) and housing (the squatters’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo). However, despite these and other service delivery protests, the right to food has rarely been a pivot around which protesters have sought to pursue reform in South Africa. The article thus seeks to understand the reasons for this lack of activism and to consider how citizens can be mobilised to address food insecurity.

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