Capitalism or population (Re: Political Ecology)

Patrick Bond pbond at
Fri Dec 11 14:32:08 PST 1998

> From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at>
> ...When you build houses in the desert, you have to drain water from
> surrounding states hence causing desrtification in places that are
> naturally fertile while diverting water to swimming pools, lawn sprinkler,
> air conditioners, etc. What we are headed toward is cities that will
> eventually strangulate themselves.
This is indeed the problem my town, Johannesburg, represents. Our democratic government's solution is to continue to deny low-income black people even a minimal 25 litres per capita per day of water; to allow roughly 7 times more water to be used for white folks' swimming pools and gardens than black households consume; and so as to supply the thirsty petty bourgeoisie, to drain Lesotho of its water through a couple of megadams and huge tunnels (partly funded by US taxpayers through the World Bank). Attempts to find reformist folk in the Bank's Inspection Panel to raise a stink came to naught, predictably, a few months ago. Just heard on tonight's news that a smaller city a couple of hours from here has a township of 30,000 black residents that has had its water cut off for three months. An intensification of municipal water privatisation lies on the immediate horizon. The rural water projects of our famous water minister Kader Asmal are now around 90% broken down, according to sources inside his ministry, and the reason is that there are no subsidies available for operating and maintenance work. To top it all off, some great comrades in Tembisa township slightly to the northeast of Jo'burg are being denied the right to protest water and electricity cuts at their local municipal office, because a local magistrate judges their march to be a distraction to local businesses operating on Saturday (they'll go ahead tomorrow morning anyhow, with an expected 5,000 of their fellow residents).

The Washington Consensus applied to water is evidently exhausted in South Africa.

*************************************************** Patrick Bond 51 Somerset Road, Kensington 2094 Johannesburg, South Africa phone: (2711) 614-8088 email: pbond at office: University of the Witwatersrand Graduate School of Public and Development Management PO Box 601, Wits 2050 phone (o): (2711)488-5917; fax: (2711) 484-2729 email (o): bondp at

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