Memorandum of Demands to the Sunday Times and Business Day 7th May 2015

At a historic Food Sovereignty Assembly, from 28th February till 1st March 2015, over 50 organisations representing the hungry, the landless and the exploited of our country – involved in agrarian, water and land transformation, environmental justice, small scale farming, cooperatives, the solidarity economy movement, waste pickers, the unemployed and activists campaigning against increasing food prices – gathered in Johannesburg to plan the initiation of the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign.

We came together at the Assembly through our shared understanding that we have a crisis-ridden corporate and globalised food system that is responsible for worsening social, health and climate challenges, and which is coinciding with increasing state failure in relation to regulating our food regime and ensuring much needed agrarian transformation.

However, the media appears to be playing very little role in alerting the South African public to the scale of the crisis, its causes and its solutions. In fact, newspapers such as the Sunday Times actively promote corporate interests in South Africa’s food system through advertising and biased reporting and analysis. The media can play a crucial role in awareness-raising in South Africa about steering our food system towards a more just and sustainable path. As such, the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign (SAFSC) presents our demands as follows:

Newspapers such as the Sunday Times receive advertising revenue from the food industry (such as Checkers) and hence your perspective on food problems is biased and uncritical of such food industry players. For example, you do not expose or discuss food price profiteering, especially from food staples of the poor.

  • Our demand: Expose how the main companies in the food industry make their profits and its impacts on the poor.

Through advertising and uncritical reporting on the fast food industry the media promotes fast food culture that is causing rising rates of obesity and poor health.

  • Our demands: stop all advertising of fast food, unhealthy foods, sugary soft drinks and so on. Instead promote the necessity of healthy eating choices and when the poor are restricted in their choices and cannot access healthy food, interrogate why this is the case.

The media is not opening up a balanced debate on land and agrarian transformation in our country. It does not entertain the impacts of a lack of land and agrarian reform nor does it provide space to talk about the necessity of land and agrarian reform beyond promoting an industrial and commercial model of farming.

  • Our demands: Open up the opportunity to discuss why land and agrarian reform is so crucial for our country and the voices that are currently struggling for land and agrarian transformation. Report on the alternative food systems that real land and agrarian reform can be a part of giving rise to. Report on the link between land and agrarian reform and the construction of an alternative food system: food sovereignty.

The media does not profile food cultures of the poor, but rather normalizes the food cultures of the largely urban middle class, which is centered around homogeneous food consumption habits promoted by the food industry and its marketing.

  • Our demands: Profile different food types that exist in different parts of our country as part of valuing indigenous, locally produced foods that are more sustainable and do not rely on the corporate food industry and the homogenising food trends that it promotes.