An official of South Africa’s Foreign Ministry, Clayson Monyela, says South Africans and private institutions have been “generously” donating money and other resources to relief efforts in East Africa.
“The response in particular to this campaign has been overwhelming. Government is really appreciative of the general manner in which the South Africans are responding,” said Monyela.”We are quite humbled by the generosity shown by South Africans in order to help fellow Africans in the Horn who are desperately in need of assistance.”
South Africa recently mounted a media blitz to raise money for a government-established relief fund, as well as for medical supplies and non-perishable foods for the hungry. The government has tried to widen the reach of the campaign with social media like Facebook and Twitter.
“Government has committed a couple of millions of rands to the initiative. We are also getting ordinary South Africans to contribute and pledge their contributions to the fund,” said Monyela. “The private sector is also responding [with] money as well as the goods that are needed to help.”
Monyela said his government will continue its relief efforts.
“A plane took off this [past] weekend to deliver some relief aid to that part of the world,” said Monyela. “In about a week or two, we will be putting together everything that has been collected and we will also be in a position to send another batch of supplies to the Horn of Africa.”
Critics say the African Union has been ineffective in finding ways to address the famine, a charge Monyela denies. However, he said the continental body faces the challenge of resolving Somalia’s political crisis.
It has not had a strong government since the fall of Siad Barre nearly 20 years ago. Analysts say that, and the presence of rebels who deny that a famine is taking place, are contributing to the problem.
“One of the immediate challenges the African Union [has to deal] with is the political situation in Somalia,” said Monyela. “Once that is sorted out, you will then have… institutions of governance that will respond to, among other things, the on-going challenge of famine.”