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SADC Peoples Summit declaration

SADC Peoples Summit Declaration

15th-16th August 2006 Maseru, Lesotho



We are the representatives of many economic justice networks, social development movements, women’s, workers, youth and small-scale farmers, human rights, educational and environmental organisations, and many others, from across the Southern African region. We have gathered in Maseru under the auspices of the Southern African Peoples Solidarity Network (SAPSN), and with support from Development for Peace Education (DPE) as our host in Lesotho. We have come to hold a People’s Summit to review our situation and share our views on the state of regional development and cooperation. We are here to present our views to the Summit of the Heads of State and government ministers’ meeting in Maseru, 16-18 August 2006.

We have exchanged information on the pressing economic, social and unemployment challenges facing our people in our respective countries. We have been moved by the poetry, songs and dramatic representations of the many crises and forms of suffering of our people, particularly women and children. But we have also focussed our attention on the overall state of the regional inter-government co-operation in these directions, and the necessity for them to respond to the needs and shared aspirations of our people.

Following from our extensive discussions, we support the profound affirmations of regional solidarity and regional development cooperation aspirations expressed in the Peoples’ Declaration at a similar meeting organised by SAPSN parallel to the SADC Government Summit in Windhoek in August 2000.

We note with deep concern that the critical observations made in that SASPN meeting, and in many other similar meetings, continue to hold true. And the important recommendations they made have not been reflected in sound progress on these and other urgent matters.

We are deeply concerned that, in the years since 2000, the economic, social and human rights situations in the countries within our region have become more acute and the crisis of unemployment, poverty and HIV/AIDS, and the non-fulfilment of basic human rights continue.

We are further concerned that international neo-liberal institutions and powerful governments from outside our region continue to intrude into our regional discussions, negotiations and efforts on matters of crucial concern to us.

We are particularly concerned that the EU’s plan for so-called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA’s) with our countries is having the effect of splitting SADC into two groups and undermining the potential for our future co-ordinated regional programmes for mutual economic and social development. We call on all the governments of SADC to reject this divisive plan by the EU which is designed to serve the interests of their own exporters and investors.

We are similarly concerned with the self-serving conditionalities attached by the government of the US to its so-called African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), many of which do not serve the fundamental long-term needs of our peoples, and which erode the economic policy rights and political sovereignty of our countries. This is a very heavy price to pay for the minimal ‘gains’ made in the export access into the US for the exploitative clothing and textile sweatshops in Lesotho and other countries in SADC. Governments must not sign on to AGOA, or must withdraw if they already have.

We commend the governments of SADC, as part of the African Union, for standing firm in the WTO on our rights to protect the agricultural basis of our economies, our small-scale farmers, and the food production and food security of our peoples, and food sovereignty of our countries and region. Governments must also support our agriculture in their domestic policies, and refuse the infiltration of GMOs into our countries, in production or through ‘food aid’. This includes other sanitary and health problems around the movement of livestock.

We see the stalemate in the Doha Round of the WTO as testimony to the effectiveness of the alliances of governments of Africa, with others in the Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, in standing up to the major powers on issues of agriculture, and industrial and services liberalisation. We call upon these governments to sustain a determined defence of our interests and needs.

We call for the same determination by our governments, separately and together, to resist and bring to an end, the intrusion of the IMF and the World Bank and powerful foreign governments into our national policies, especially in the promotion of privatisation of our natural resources, national assets and our public services. Such programs of privatisation, in various forms, have had drastic effects on costs and access for our people and especially women and children, to health, educational, social welfare, water and other basic services as their human rights. Privatisation also impedes the role of public institutions in furthering our national development potential. We call for an improvement in the functioning and appropriate government investment in public institutions instead of privatising them. There must be an end to all privatisation programs, and the reversal of previous privatisations and the growing foreign ownership of our public and national resources.

We are particularly concerned at the collusion of our governments in allowing and enabling the ever-increasing domination of our region by South African companies and South African based transnational corporations using South Africa as their platform into the rest of the continent. In many cases, government leaders in the region benefit from such business operations although they sometimes publicly criticise them.

We further reject plans by the IMF, World Bank, and the powerful governments that control them, to turn Southern Africa into an “open region” to serve the “access rights” for all international exporters and investors into our region. We have a long experience of the damaging deindustrialisation and job destruction effects of such trade liberalisation to the advantage of exporters from countries in the North, and now also from others in the South, particularly China. Trade liberalisation puts further pressures on working conditions and the security and very survival of jobs, adding to the existing totally unacceptable rates of unemployment in our countries.

We are concerned at the lack of commitment by national leaders to fully democratic governance and the guarantee of all the political, economic, social, cultural and environment rights of our people. We condemn growing corruption in the ranks of government and business. We demand full respect for fundamental human rights, and we commit ourselves to maintain our mutual support and build peoples solidarity on these issues in all the countries of our region.

We demand that the SADC governments carry out their inter-governmental negotiations for joint regional programmes of the basis of full transparency, and information dissemination in all local languages, for genuine public consultation and engagement. We commit ourselves to continue monitoring regional plans and programs on these and all issues and to actively express our views and vigorously assert our demands and alternatives to all the governments of SADC, separately and together.

THE SAPSN Secretariat is currently hosted by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, ZIMCODD. For more information please contact SAPSN Secretariat, C/O ZIMCODD, 5 Orkney Road, Eastlea, Harare, Tel/Fax: +263 4 776830