SAPSN summit ends with calls to reject EPA
Stanley Kwenda and Njabulo Ncube
Windhoek-16 August 2010-The Southern African People’s Network (SAPSN) summit ended on a high note on Monday in Windhoek, Namibia with a call for regional governments to reject the imposition of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).
The more than 350 representatives drawn from grassroots movements, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, women’s organizations, labour, student, youth, economic justice and human rights networks and other social movements, also urged the regional governments to ratify regional declarations, treaties and protocols on economic and social rights.
“At this point, the most pressing common concerns to all our countries, and the demands of our peoples arising out of the powerful presentations, first hand testimonies and the key demands expressed throughout this summit,” reads part of the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting held amid pomp and fanfare presented in the form of music and dance.
The representatives of the groups demanded, “the ratification and rapid implementation of the SADC Declaration and Treaty and all SADC Protocols on social and economic rights, particularly the original protocol on the free movement of all SADC citizens within their region, including the right of assembly and freedom of expression. “
Furthermore the groups called for the, “rejection of all free trade agreements and especially the EU-imposed Economic Partnership Agreements which are dividing and threatening the very survival and future development of SACU and SADC.”
Issues of human rights violations across the region also came up for discussion with participants expressing deep concerns at the continuing cases in Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
“The full institutionalization of all democratic processes and bodies (including to ensure fully free and fair elections), the guarantee of all human and cultural rights and the protection of human rights defenders and political activists, with particular reference to Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Madagascar, and DRC which is still suffering the effects of war,” read the communiqué.
The Namibia summit was the sixth such occasion of the gathering held under the theme “Reclaiming and reuniting SADC for People’s Political, Social and Economic Rights Declaration,” organized by SAPSN and the local host organization NANGOF Trust.
Several other issues such as the regional solidarity, development, global financial and economic, climate and related crises facing Africa and the world were also discussed.
The lively discussions also witnessed testimonies from commissions speaking on the state of democracy and human rights in SADC countries, on the rights of workers and social and economic protections, on the scourge of unemployment especially amongst youth, and the necessity for affordable education for all, among other issues.