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AFRO-NETS> Place People Before Profits and Power

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> Place People Before Profits and Power
  • From: Claudio Schuftan <aviva@netnam.vn>
  • Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 07:53:01 -0500 (EST)

Place People Before Profits and Power
Source: <pambazuka-news@pambazuka.org>


Statement to the SADC-EU Ministerial Meeting, from the SADC-EU Civil
Society Conference

3-5 November 2002, Copenhagen, Denmark and the Civil Society meeting
in Maputo 5-8 November 2002

We share a common vision of an equitable society that cares for all
its members, that strives continuously to enhance their socio-
economic rights and political freedoms, and that places people not
profit or power first. We also share a common vision of meeting in a
partnership of equals, not shackled by exploitative relations.

We see development as a people-driven and a people-centered process.
We struggle for this development in the context of severe inequali-
ties of economic and political power inherited from previous colonial
relationships and the damage done to regional development and inte-
gration by apartheid. This adverse context also includes non-
democratic governance, lack of media independence and limitations in
the freedom of the civil society in some countries.

We believe that these unequal relations have been perpetuated by in-
ternational institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO and eco-
nomic structures of dependency, including the debt trap and unfair
trade relations. We believe that they are being abused to secure the
unilateral imposition of trade liberalisation, privatisation and
maximum repayment of debts. These processes undermine regional ef-
forts to define alternative development frameworks, to pursue re-
gional integration and to address structural problems of production
and sustained resource management.

The current famine in Southern Africa demands an urgent response. As-
sistance must be provided with due sensitivity to the danger of rein-
forcing dependence. In the longer term, lessons must be learned about
the local and international policy failures, which have contributed
to famine. The right of developing countries to pursue policies aimed
at securing food security must be defended against inappropriate in-
ternational policy advice.

Internationally supervised structural adjustment has failed to pro-
mote African development. This has been exacerbated by mismanagement
of official development assistance, poor domestic governance of as-
sets and the corrupt practices of public and private officials asso-
ciated with development projects.

Any recovery plan must clearly identify the failures of past condi-
tions attached to aid, loans and investment and adopt African propos-
als for people-centered development. Adjustment policies are mainly
concerned with raising external resources, appealing to and relying
on external governments and institutions. In addition, they are
driven by African elites and drawn up by the corporate forces and in-
stitutional instruments of globalisation, rather than being based on
peoples experiences, knowledge and demands. A legitimate African pro-
gramme has to start from the people and be owned by the people.

The HIV-AIDS pandemic
Because HIV/AIDS affects women with household responsibilities and
the young and economically active sections of the population, the
epidemic has devastating implications on production and economic
growth. It is already putting an unbearable burden on social services
and reversing hard-won development gains. The HIV/AIDS pandemic
represents an immense obstacle to reaching the national poverty re-
duction targets and development goals agreed upon at the United Na-
tions Millenium Summit.

We call on EU Governments to: (omitted for brevity; see original) We
call on the SADC Governments to: (omitted)

Debt and reparations
Debt repayments are having a crippling effect on the ability of Gov-
ernments of the region to implement development programmes, invest in
health and education and cope with the devastating impact of the
HIV/AIDS crisis. The failed policies of the structural adjustment do
not provide a framework to tackle the special nature of Southern Af-
rica's debt.

Apartheid-caused debt: (omitted)
Given that these apartheid caused debts served a criminal system we
call on the EU Governments to:
- Accept that all apartheid caused debt is illegitimate and illegal;
- Recognise that their corporations and banks aided and abetted
apartheid and reaped profits from it;
- Recognise that the peoples of Southern Africa therefore are enti-
tled to full cancellation and reparation for apartheid-caused debt.

Structural adjustment caused debt
We call upon the EU to recognize that dependency by SADC countries on
international financial institutions is caused by falling commodity
prices of African exports, lack of access to markets in the EU and
the USA because of protectionism and agricultural subsidies, and re-
ductions in official development aid.

We believe that access to essential services, such as health, energy
and water, are basic human rights and should not be subject to priva-
tisation and profit, thus falling outside public control. The priva-
tisation of such services and needs only serves to widen the gap be-
tween the rich and the poor, to increase the gender gap and to impact
unfairly on women and girls who are the first to lose education and
health services when user fees are introduced. Privatisation ignores
the question of people's ownership and control of resources, while
benefiting big capital.

We call on the EU and SADC Governments to:
- stop using privatisation as a pre-requisite for granting develop-
ment assistance and access to trade, especially as applied to the
conditionalities imposed through the activities of the IFI's and the
- ensure that any implementation of Public-Private Partnerships
(PPPs) remains under public control and ownership, and ensures access
to affordable services by the people;
- stop using development funds to promote private sector delivery of
- commit to pursuing, with the full involvement of civil society,
comprehensive economic and social impact assessments prior to the im-
plementation of any privatisation initiative;
- explore alternative strategies to upgrade public services, includ-
ing gender budgeting, while keeping them under public control that is
accountable and transparent;
- scrap failed cost-recovery policies on basic services and implement
cross-subsidisation and budget subsidies;
- recognise that privileged elites, companies and countries are driv-
ing and benefiting from privatisation.

Further details:

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