Dr. Alex Veit, Dr. Clement Chipenda
Dr. Alex Veit, Dr. Clement Chipenda
Clement Chipenda and Alex Veit analyse South Africa's food policy developments by looking at school feeding programmes and subsidies. Available as a new CRC 1342 working paper.

Their working paper offers a chronological analysis of South African food policy from the founding of South Africa as a semi-autonomous settler state to the democratic revolution.

Drawing on primary sources from archives and secondary literature, Chipenda and Veit compare two food security policies: school feeding programmes and food subsidies. In the period between the world wars, food scarcity and insecurity became an increasing problem, making food policy a fundamental part of the expanding welfare state. Free school meals were an important instrument from which all children benefited until the apartheid regime came to power in the late 1940s. The regime then excluded African children from the school meals.Contradictory at first sight, another food policy instrument remained in place under the apartheid regime from which all, including African populations, benefited and which was even expanded over the years: general food subsidies.

To explain these developments, Chipenda and Veit analyse the figuration of actors and their interdependencies:

  • the dominant, nationalist forces of the white political establishment, which denied responsibility for the welfare of the African population
  • the liberal, democratic, philanthropic and church groups that demanded food security for all population groups
  • industrialists, especially from the agricultural and extractive sectors, who stressed the importance of a healthy, numerous working population.

The dependence of South Africa's agricultural and extractive industries on cheap African labour, may have been the deciding factor, leading to central government regulation and subsidisation of the agricultural and food markets. But Chipenda and Veit point to the "peculiar figuration" of nationalist, capitalist, liberal, philanthropic forces that agreed to act together on food policy, albeit for different interests.

Read the full Working Paper: The trajectory of food security policies in South Africa, 1910-1994. The persistence of food subsidies

Dr. Alex Veit