Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





South African Catholic activist calls water privatisation a 'sin'

While street protests in South Africa recall images of the fight against apartheid, the current struggle in the southern-most African country is a struggle for the right to free water.

"We are facing another devil," said South African activist Richard Mokolo during a recent Montreal press conference. "The modern struggle in South Africa is against privatisation."

Catholic News Agency reports that demonstrations for the right to free water are held regularly, and it is not uncommon for protesters to be arrested and tortured, said Mokolo. One protester was shot and killed last month by a police officer, he reported.

Mokolo's talk launched the second year of the national campaign on water, organised by the Canadian Catholic Organisation for Development and Peace, the Canadian bishops' development and aid agency affiliated with Caritas Internationalis.

As part of its three-year campaign, called Water: Life Before Profit, Development and Peace is challenging the right of corporations to privatise and control water, stating that water is an essential right.

In the second years of its campaign, Development and Peace is urging Canadians to pressure the World Bank to stop placing conditions on loans to developing countries, which require them to privatize their water management. The World Bank also prevents these governments from using their loans to subsidize the cost of water for its citizens.

Development and Peace and other nonprofit organisations have documented the tragic effects of privatisation. Over the last 20 years, the number of people worldwide who are paying for their daily water supply has more than tripled. In 1980, 80 people were paying for water. By 2000, that number rose to 250 million.

Privatisation of water 'a sin', says Catholic South African activist (Catholic News Agency 29/10/04)

Development & Peace | Water: Life Before Profit Campaign
Pope's speech reflects concern over privatisation of water (CathNews 5/3/04)
Religious urge Free Trade water exclusion (CathNews 2/12/03)
Catholic lobbyist says water reform 'beyond politics' (CathNews 11/8/03)

32 Nov 2004