SADC warned against division

The Southern African People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN) said this in a communiqu’ issued to the SADC Heads of State and Government Meeting held in Maseru, Lesotho, from August 16 -18.

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

SAPSN said it was similarly concerned with the self-serving conditions that the United States government attached to its African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), many of which eroded the economic policy rights and political sovereignty of SADC countries.

It said the conditions did not serve the long-term needs of the people, a price too heavy to be paid for the minimal gains made in accessing the US markets for the exploitative clothing and textile industries of the countries in the region.

“Governments must not sign on to AGOA, or must withdraw if they already have,” said SAPSN.

SADC governments should also refuse International Monetary Fund and World Bank prescriptions to privatise national resources, national assets and public services, it said.

Experience, SAPSN said, had shown that privatisation had drastic effects on costs and access to such services as health, education, social services, water and other basic human rights.

SAPSN also expressed concern at the collusion of SADC governments in allowing transnational corporations to use South Africa as a platform to dominate the region and the rest of the continent.

It also expressed concern at the lack of commitment by SADC leaders to fully democratise their governance systems and guaranteeing all political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of their citizens. The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) represented Zimbabwean groups at the meeting.

SAPSN is a grouping of economic justice networks, social development partners, women’s, workers’, youth, small-scale farmers’, human rights, educational and environmental organisations from across the SADC region.

A similar meeting organised to run parallel to the SADC Heads of State and Governments Summit in Windhoek, Namibia, in 2000 expressed aspirations for regional solidarity and development co-operation. ‘ New Ziana.

August 2006
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