SADC People's Summit Declaration (Lusaka, Zambia, August 2007)

Dot Keet, AIDC Regional Briefs 6/2004

Following a three day conference, in August 2000, of twenty four independent peoples civil society organisations, sectoral networks and coalitions from many sectors and from all the countries of Southern Africa, the following declaration was produced. This expresses the perspectives of peoples organisations from across the region, and calls on other such organisations to endorse these positions on some of the broad economic dimensions of regional cooperation and integration that are being considered by the governments of the Southern African Development Community (SADC); and for other such peoples organisations to join together to add their own proposals and demands in other areas of concern which are all integral to a holistic program of regional development cooperation.

Declaration

“Making Southern African Development Cooperation and Integration a People-centered and People-driven Regional Challenge to Globalisation

As members of community-based development coalitions, trade union and other labour organisations, faith-based social development organisations, campaigning networks for debt cancellation and reparations, alliances against the IMF and World Bank, a women and trade network, development NGOs and popular education, information and capacity building bodies – and as participants in the ‘Southern African Peoples Solidarity Network’ (SAPSN) gathered together in Windhoek on the occasion of the Summit of the SADC Heads of State, 1-7 August 2000, we as

Peoples’ organisations state

  • We are united by our common history of colonisation and mutual support in our struggles for national liberation, as well as our shared experience of the depredations of apartheid and its destabilisation and devastation across the whole region. We are also conscious that we are part of a region enormously rich in human and natural resources which has the potential to become a community of nations enjoying peace and human security, guaranteed human rights and equitable human development. But these aims will only be achieved if peoples organisations give an effective lead to the governments of the region in order that they work together towards this historic goal.
  • We are committed to a vision of a united Southern Africa in which local and community-based development is the fundamental substance of national development programmes. These, in turn, will be strengthened by coordinated and combined programmes of people-based regional development, and the creation of an integrated development community in Southern Africa. Such an integrated region would also be a building block towards broader African peoples cooperation and unity, and could be an effective economic and political base from which to challenge capitalist globalisation.
  • We note, however, that the overwhelming majority of the people of our region are living in conditions of appalling poverty and already suffering the effects of an AIDS epidemic of potentially catastrophic proportions; but that the governments of our countries
    • have for long mainly engaged in rhetorical declarations about national development, and development cooperation and regional integration, with few effective achievements;
    • are mainly concerned with preserving and promoting their own individual and group status, power and privileges, and their personal and aspirant-class appropriation of our nations’ resources; and, for these reasons, are frequently engaged in divisive competition and even dangerous conflicts amongst themselves at the expense of the interests of the people at national and regional levels;
    • are, at the same time, committed to supporting and defending each other whenever the interests and power of the ruling elites come into conflict with the human rights, and the democratic and development aspirations of their own populations; and are using SADC as a self-serving ‘old boys’ club’ for such mutual support;
    • are increasingly responsive and subordinate to external inducements and pressures from governmental agencies in the richest industrialised countries, and their global corporations, banks and other financial organisations, and the ‘multilateral’ institutions dominated and used by them.

    We note also the grossly uneven development within and between the countries of the
    region caused by a long history of deliberate political and economic programs in favour of the needs of South African and international companies, and privileged (mainly white) elites; and that, with the increasing penetration of the region by South African business, the dominant role of the South African economy in the region has not diminished but actually increased since 1994.

Peoples’ organisations demand

  • The Governments of SADC must reject claims that the transformation and development of the regional economy should (and can) be driven by national and regional ‘market forces’ and should be structured to serve and further the business interests of ‘indigenous’ private enterprise and ‘national’ capital in the countries of the region. This applies particularly to South African trading companies, banks and corporations, often operating in conjunction with their international partners, which will reinforce not reduce the inherited inequalities within, and imbalances between our countries.
  • The governments of SADC must desist from their collaboration and collusion with national and international political and economic forces and neo-liberal agencies, particularly the IMF and World Bank, to turn SADC into an ‘open region’ of free trade, free capital movements and investment rights, to the benefit of international traders, transnational corporations and financial speculators. This runs counter to the potential for full and effective, internally-generated and rooted national and regional development.
  • The governments of SADC must provide for the effective participation of organised forces of civil society, and respond to the voices and needs of the people of the region for peace and security, democracy and development; and actively commit all the governments of the region to multilaterally negotiated cooperation and equitable development throughout the region. This must go hand in hand with independent popular initiatives for the empowerment of people in their own organisations and communities and at all levels of the regional community.
  • The governments of SADC must insist upon the illegitimacy of our purported national ‘debts’ and the continuous outflow of our hard-earned national financial resources into the coffers of the governments of the richest industrialised countries, private banks and the IMF and World Bank. Our governments must actively prepare, together with other ‘debtor’ countries like ours – and with the support of international peoples movements against debt – for collective and concerted repudiation of those debts if they are not promptly and definitively canceled. This must be carried further with demands for reparations for the long-standing economic, social and ecological damages imposed by such agencies upon our countries.
  • The governments of SADC must unite and act together with other countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and with democratic forces everywhere, to challenge and replace the currently dominant neo-liberal ideology and globalising capitalist system. This process must be started immediately by dealing with the dominant instruments of globalisation , particularly the IMF, World Bank and the WTO, whose policies and programmes are so manifestly detrimental to our economies, environments, societies, cultures and people.

Peoples’ organisations propose

On trade

Our governments must drop their uncritical embrace of the arguments for ‘free trade’ within our region which are reflected in the SADC trade agreement; and, instead,

  • create a negotiated variable and graduated preferential trade area within and through which to create clear and effective production development and diversification strategies for communities, national economies and the region as a whole;
  • replace the liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation policies in national and regional programmes and create trade and development cooperation agreements for Southern Africa which address region-specific issues and are not predetermined or constricted by ‘compliance’ with WTO terms and trade-related conditionalities, or any similar terms in ‘post-Lome’ agreements;
  • convince the South African government to revise its free trade agreement with the European Union where it is in conflict with the declared priority goals of cooperation and development in the SADC region, including South Africa.

On investment

Our governments have to abandon the futile illusion that foreign investors will respond to ‘positive macro-economic signals’ and an ‘open region’; and that such reliance on private capital will create development; and, instead

  • recognise that capital is a social relation not a neutral and disinterested financial instrument and, as the embodiment of social/class interests, any growth that such capital produces is distorted and incidental to its main aim of self-expansion (or profit);
  • build on the widespread experiences in the countries of the region, and elsewhere, that the free or ‘liberalised’ movement of capital is not conducive to financial stability and sound economic development, and requires strategic regulation;
  • base national and regional investment and production policies on the strategic direction of private national and international capital projects – where and in so far as they are required – for specific selected purposes, and clearly defined periods; but
  • prioritise the strategic mobilisation of inwardly-oriented and more varied and committed internal investment resources including public (governmental), parastatal, cooperative and community resources.

On labour

All the governments of the region have to recognise the vital role that labour plays in all economic projects/enterprises and national economic development, and recognise that governments have to adopt effective social and economic development policies that

  • bring to an end the forced migration of millions of workers in search of employment and survival resources for their families, for this is deeply disruptive of families and undermines community cohesion and stability;
  • tackle effectively and with urgency the dramatic growth of unemployment throughout the region, that contributes further towards the flows of economic refugees across borders and between rural and urban areas within all the countries of the region;
  • develop holistic and integrated urban and rural programmes to enable people to create their own incomes or obtain employment incomes, economic security and social and cultural fulfillment within their own communities;
  • incorporate in such social and development programmes, inter-governmental agreements to deal with the brain drain of precious skills from the poorer to the more developed and well-endowed countries of the region;
  • create economic, political and social conditions that will allow for the free movement of people throughout the region.

Peoples’ organisations declare

  • We are committed to deepen and extend our experiences of cooperation and solidarity, our strong sense of mutual recognition as the people of this region of Africa, to build on our joint needs and shared aspirations for the common benefit of our people; and at the same time work to counter any negative or conflictual attitudes towards each other amongst some sectors of our populations.
  • We are also committed to deepen and extend our strategies for cooperation and joint action with other regional peoples cooperation initiatives in the rest of Africa, as well as Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean towards a people-driven challenge to the currently dominant processes and institutions of economic globalisation; that are anti-democratic in their functioning and effects, destabilising of weaker economies and communities throughout the world, creating ever-increasing polarisation, with inequitable and divisive effects amongst peoples, and destructive impacts upon the world’s resources and the global environment.
  • Whether or not our governments accept and act on the above vitally important demands, we as members of peoples organisations from the whole of Southern Africa will continue to pursue these aims and deepen our work in and with existing and emerging mass movements to challenge and change our governments’ policies and strategies; and – if that fails – to change our governments.

Gauteng – South Africa

More than four hundred representatives of Social Movements, stuff labor organizations, economic justice networks, faith and community based and youth organizations, developmental, health environmental, human Rights and other NGOs that work closely with them gathered in Gauteng South Africa to discuss our common concerns and present our Demands and alternatives to the governments of SADC meeting here at this time.

This is the fourth annual SAPSN Summit and it takes place in a period of deepening political tensions within SADC and deteriorating social and economic situations for the majority of our peoples. In this context our discussions focused on our concerns, proposals and demands on the following:

1. Democracy and human rights abuses disrupting and destabilizing our region, with particular emphasis on the gross denial of democratic and human rights in Zimbabwe and Swaziland but also (to other degrees) throughout SADC, especially DRC and Angola. In this context we repeat our demand on all SADC governments to ensure the implementation of full democratic principles and all human rights (including women’s, labor, all NGOs to carry out their work with their people). We demand that SADC governments rapidly ensure that:

– All the people of Zimbabwe themselves are enabled to create the means and find the solutions to the crisis in their country, and SADC must terminate Mbeki’s role as mediator since he is about to become the SADC Chair;

– Apply targeted sanctions on the Swazi royal family, and do not confirm Swaziland’s Chairship of the SADC Organ on Peace and Security until a full democratic regime is established in that country by the people of Swaziland.

2. Poverty and Unemployment continues to devastate our people caused by the neo-liberal market- driven policies of SADC governments and their tolerance and promotion of self-serving corrupt practices in their own ranks. Of the many counter actions that must be undertaken, we demand that SADC:
-Must create regional economic development and diversification strategies to combat poverty and prioritize the creation of decent employment and the right to work.
– Must develop such policies with the active and full participation of the unemployed youth, women, small traders, fisher people and so on.

3. Food Insecurity and Hunger is the other compelling evidence of the growth of poverty in large sectors of our populations and the undermining of secure rural livelihoods. Of the many measure required, we demand that SADC governments:
– Must develop a regional agricultural strategy to secure equitable access to necessary agricultural resources for rural populations especially for women, as they are the main producers.
– Must deal with the skewed patterns of land ownership especially against women, and including extensive privatization of land and foreign appropriation.
must create, in consultation with rural producers, full governmental support for sustainable and organic (not GMOs) food production for family food security and regional food sovereignty.

4. Health crisis and social insecurity are central aspects of the poverty and increasing suffering of large numbers of our people especially the disproportionate numbers of women affected by HIV and AIDS personally and as nurturers of their families and the growing numbers of orphans. This requires free ARVs and special grant and food support. But we also demand that SADC governments
– Must create a regional strategy for universal access to free quality health care as a right for all, especially for the most vulnerable sectors of our people such as those who are differently abled;
– Must stop the practice of government leaders using public funds for health treatment overseas;
– Must ensure the training/retraining of health personnel and their just working conditions and remuneration.

5. Privatization of services, above all health, water and other social services removes these from the people, especially for women and children, and undermines the services provisions that are necessary for national and regional development (such as in public transport and affordable, secure public housing).

In this context, we commit ourselves to further mass campaigns to reverse this privatization, corporatization and commercialization (cost-recovery) policies, and we will pressure SADC governments to create national and regional programmes to ensure free accessible and accountable public services including public housing and free education for all, that are essential for our people’s well-being and human-based development;

6. Debt burdens and aid dependency continue to contradict the obligations of our governments and their responsiveness to our needs, because they are under the control of creditor banks and financial institutions, above all the IMF and World Bank, and donor governments. These constrain or dictate what policies governments can or should follow. Thus we demand that SADC governments:
– Create a combined regional response, in collaboration with civil society, to audit the sources, nature (especially illegitimate and odious debts), scale and their effects on our people especially the most vulnerable sectors such as women;
– reject externally imposed IMF/WB SAP-type conditionalities for ‘‘debt relief’’ or aid; and instead base their criteria on full consultations with their own people;
– put an end to the continual outflow of financial resources through debt payments, and instead demand reparations for these debt payments and the colonial and neo-colonial plunder of African people and resources.

7. Trade deficits and capital outflows are the other forms of financial drainage from our countries. These are created and reinforced by the trade and financial liberalization policies of SADC governments. These counter-developmental policies will be reinforced if SADC governments continue down the road of negotiating so-called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union. Thus we demand that SADC governments:
– must reunite as a region and, together, firmly resist the EU’s recolonising EPAs; instead of maneuvering separately to get EU trade and “aid support” which is splitting SADC apart;
– must recognize that the free trade area they are creating within SADC will further serve to create an open integrated market for EU exporters, investors and service corporations under policies of eternal trade and investment liberalization;
– must recognize that such a SADC free trade area will also serve the expansionist aims and interests of South African companies, not the equitable and more balanced trade development that enables cross-border trade, especially by small women traders;
– must stop the vast financial outflows from our countries and region through international financial speculation (gambling), “legal” investors transfers , and huge transfers overseas of public money through embezzlement by government leaders.

8. Climate Change Dangers and Energy Crises are partly the result of global factors and forces but also result from the policies of our governments colluding with colonial and neo-colonial forces and allowing uncontrolled exploitation of our mineral and other resources. Industrialized countries are responsible for the historical and current global climate change crisis, therefore we demand that SADC governments
– ensure that those responsible assume the proportionate burden, on the “polluter pays principle”, and provide our countries with all the necessary resources towards a low carbon society;
– institutes strong regulations to reduce carbon emissions and pursue sustainable production and consumption patterns, including a regional strategy to ensure universal access to clean and renewable energy, which is a social justice issue;
– Impose environmental responsibility on industries operating our region, and end to dumping of damaging toxic waste affecting our people and workers;
– stop the diversion of land and agricultural production to produce agro-fuels to feed the auto industries and rich countries to the detriment of food production;
– must develop a joint regional energy strategy to ensure effective access to clean and renewable energy resources for us as this is a social justice issue which must not be based on market principles as they are anti-people approaches, and it is uncontrolled transitional corporations that have been the prime cause of global warming with accompanying ecological crisis that will disproportionately affect the poor especially in Africa.

OUR PEOPLES’ RESPONSES AND SOLIDARITY

All these adverse factors are being confronted by most of our people with creativity and courage. But some marginalized and desperate people resort to desperate measures. This is what fundamentally drove the recent escalation of verbal abuse and violent attacks by some elements of the South African population against their fellow Africans from the region and elsewhere on the continent.

We call for carefully planned and just reintegration of internally displaced people resulting from the above deeply deplorable events.

It is also in this context that we participants from all the countries in the SADC region welcome the opportunity to share experiences on our common concerns and deepen our mutual support. Thus we stress that this is a Peoples’ Solidarity Summit and we commit ourselves to make this a real active expression of Solidarity towards each other and a means to ensure that the governments of SADC respond and fulfill the key demands we have outlined here, advance the developmental integration of our region and of the whole African continent.

Gauteng – South Africa
More than four hundred representatives of Social Movements, cheap labor organizations, economic justice networks, faith and community based and youth organizations, developmental, health environmental, human Rights and other NGOs that work closely with them gathered in Gauteng South Africa to discuss our common concerns and present our Demands and alternatives to the governments of SADC meeting here at this time.
This is the fourth annual SAPSN Summit and it takes place in a period of deepening political tensions within SADC and deteriorating social and economic situations for the majority of our peoples. In this context our discussions focused on our concerns, proposals and demands on the following:
1. Democracy and human rights abuses disrupting and destabilizing our region, with particular emphasis on the gross denial of democratic and human rights in Zimbabwe and Swaziland but also (to other degrees) throughout SADC, especially DRC and Angola. In this context we repeat our demand on all SADC governments to ensure the implementation of full democratic principles and all human rights (including women’s, labor, all NGOs to carry out their work with their people). We demand that SADC governments rapidly ensure that:
– All the people of Zimbabwe themselves are enabled to create the means and find the solutions to the crisis in their country, and SADC must terminate Mbeki’s role as mediator since he is about to become the SADC Chair;
– Apply targeted sanctions on the Swazi royal family, and do not confirm Swaziland’s Chairship of the SADC Organ on Peace and Security until a full democratic regime is established in that country by the people of Swaziland.
2. Poverty and Unemployment continues to devastate our people caused by the neo-liberal market- driven policies of SADC governments and their tolerance and promotion of self-serving corrupt practices in their own ranks. Of the many counter actions that must be undertaken, we demand that SADC:
-Must create regional economic development and diversification strategies to combat poverty and prioritize the creation of decent employment and the right to work.
– Must develop such policies with the active and full participation of the unemployed youth, women, small traders, fisher people and so on.
3. Food Insecurity and Hunger is the other compelling evidence of the growth of poverty in large sectors of our populations and the undermining of secure rural livelihoods. Of the many measure required, we demand that SADC governments:
– Must develop a regional agricultural strategy to secure equitable access to necessary agricultural resources for rural populations especially for women, as they are the main producers.
– Must deal with the skewed patterns of land ownership especially against women, and including extensive privatization of land and foreign appropriation.
must create, in consultation with rural producers, full governmental support for sustainable and organic (not GMOs) food production for family food security and regional food sovereignty.
4. Health crisis and social insecurity are central aspects of the poverty and increasing suffering of large numbers of our people especially the disproportionate numbers of women affected by HIV and AIDS personally and as nurturers of their families and the growing numbers of orphans. This requires free ARVs and special grant and food support. But we also demand that SADC governments
– Must create a regional strategy for universal access to free quality health care as a right for all, especially for the most vulnerable sectors of our people such as those who are differently abled;
– Must stop the practice of government leaders using public funds for health treatment overseas;
– Must ensure the training/retraining of health personnel and their just working conditions and remuneration.
5. Privatization of services, above all health, water and other social services removes these from the people, especially for women and children, and undermines the services provisions that are necessary for national and regional development (such as in public transport and affordable, secure public housing).
In this context, we commit ourselves to further mass campaigns to reverse this privatization, corporatization and commercialization (cost-recovery) policies, and we will pressure SADC governments to create national and regional programmes to ensure free accessible and accountable public services including public housing and free education for all, that are essential for our people’s well-being and human-based development;
6. Debt burdens and aid dependency continue to contradict the obligations of our governments and their responsiveness to our needs, because they are under the control of creditor banks and financial institutions, above all the IMF and World Bank, and donor governments. These constrain or dictate what policies governments can or should follow. Thus we demand that SADC governments:
– Create a combined regional response, in collaboration with civil society, to audit the sources, nature (especially illegitimate and odious debts), scale and their effects on our people especially the most vulnerable sectors such as women;
– reject externally imposed IMF/WB SAP-type conditionalities for ‘‘debt relief’’ or aid; and instead base their criteria on full consultations with their own people;
– put an end to the continual outflow of financial resources through debt payments, and instead demand reparations for these debt payments and the colonial and neo-colonial plunder of African people and resources.
7. Trade deficits and capital outflows are the other forms of financial drainage from our countries. These are created and reinforced by the trade and financial liberalization policies of SADC governments. These counter-developmental policies will be reinforced if SADC governments continue down the road of negotiating so-called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union. Thus we demand that SADC governments:
– must reunite as a region and, together, firmly resist the EU’s recolonising EPAs; instead of maneuvering separately to get EU trade and “aid support” which is splitting SADC apart;
– must recognize that the free trade area they are creating within SADC will further serve to create an open integrated market for EU exporters, investors and service corporations under policies of eternal trade and investment liberalization;
– must recognize that such a SADC free trade area will also serve the expansionist aims and interests of South African companies, not the equitable and more balanced trade development that enables cross-border trade, especially by small women traders;
– must stop the vast financial outflows from our countries and region through international financial speculation (gambling), “legal” investors transfers , and huge transfers overseas of public money through embezzlement by government leaders.
8. Climate Change Dangers and Energy Crises are partly the result of global factors and forces but also result from the policies of our governments colluding with colonial and neo-colonial forces and allowing uncontrolled exploitation of our mineral and other resources. Industrialized countries are responsible for the historical and current global climate change crisis, therefore we demand that SADC governments
– ensure that those responsible assume the proportionate burden, on the “polluter pays principle”, and provide our countries with all the necessary resources towards a low carbon society;
– institutes strong regulations to reduce carbon emissions and pursue sustainable production and consumption patterns, including a regional strategy to ensure universal access to clean and renewable energy, which is a social justice issue;
– Impose environmental responsibility on industries operating our region, and end to dumping of damaging toxic waste affecting our people and workers;
– stop the diversion of land and agricultural production to produce agro-fuels to feed the auto industries and rich countries to the detriment of food production;
– must develop a joint regional energy strategy to ensure effective access to clean and renewable energy resources for us as this is a social justice issue which must not be based on market principles as they are anti-people approaches, and it is uncontrolled transitional corporations that have been the prime cause of global warming with accompanying ecological crisis that will disproportionately affect the poor especially in Africa.
OUR PEOPLES’ RESPONSES AND SOLIDARITY
All these adverse factors are being confronted by most of our people with creativity and courage. But some marginalized and desperate people resort to desperate measures. This is what fundamentally drove the recent escalation of verbal abuse and violent attacks by some elements of the South African population against their fellow Africans from the region and elsewhere on the continent.
We call for carefully planned and just reintegration of internally displaced people resulting from the above deeply deplorable events.
It is also in this context that we participants from all the countries in the SADC region welcome the opportunity to share experiences on our common concerns and deepen our mutual support. Thus we stress that this is a Peoples’ Solidarity Summit and we commit ourselves to make this a real active expression of Solidarity towards each other and a means to ensure that the governments of SADC respond and fulfill the key demands we have outlined here, advance the developmental integration of our region and of the whole African continent.

“Reclaiming SADC for peoples solidarity and development: Let the People Speak”

Lusaka, find Zambia, pharm 15-16 August 2007

We, members of Civil Society Organisations, trade unions, faith based organizations, student bodies and economic justice networks from the SADC region met in Lusaka, Zambia on August 15-16, under the auspices of the Southern Africa Peoples’ Solidarity Network (SAPSN), to constitute the SADC People’s Summit held parallel to the 27th Heads of State Summit.

We exchanged views on some common trends and issues of concern in the region including the appalling state of governance, democracy and human rights, youth unemployment levels, HIV/AIDS trends, poor health service delivery, gender discrimination, land problems, the debt burden, Economic Partnership Agreements and the Zimbabwe Situation.

We noted with concern that years after the adoption of the SADC protocol on human rights, governments in the region continue to violate the rights of their citizens using draconian laws, harassment and torture of opposition leaders and civic society activists, ban on political rallies, intolerance to dissenting views as well as denial of freedom of expression and association.

We deplore attempts by governments, through introducing NGO bills across the region, to silence the civic organisations’ calls for public transparency and accountability.

We categorically condemn the deportation of over 40 Zimbabweans headed for the SADC People’s Summit on August 14 by the Zambia government and call on the immigration officials in the region to desist from such repressive acts in the future. Further, we deplore the inability of the SADC to act decisively in solving the Zimbabwe crisis and we support the calls for a national constitutional conference to solve the country’s situation.

We observe the lack of true democracy in Swaziland and we support the calls for a new constitutional dispensation in the country.

We are disappointed with the little progress made so far in improving the health sector in the region as we underscore the need for urgent actioning by governments towards meeting the Abuja Declaration of 15 percent allocation of the national budgets to the provision of essential drugs including the Anti-Retroviral Drugs. We call on other governments in the region to emulate the government of Botswana which has met the Abuja target in its budgeting process.

We note the importance of land to the livelihoods of the communities and we deplore the unscrupulous evictions of people from their ancestral land, land privatization, and capitalization of land.

We are concerned that debt repayments continue to deprive the peoples of the region essential services and to hamper sustainable development in the region. Despite the debt relief programs undertaken in some of the countries in the region, SADC governments continue to reel under a chronic debt crisis exacerbated by ‘vulture funds’- the so-called predator companies from rich governments which purchase debts owed by poor countries and litigate against the debtor countries with huge costs.

We condemn the legislative and institutional gaps in our countries for addressing internal mechanisms for the debt problems and we call on parliaments in the region to enact legislations around the loan contraction processes and the establishment of institutions that are necessary for effective debt management.

We note with concern the divisive effects of the Economic Partnership Agreements on the region and the neoliberal nature of their content as the December deadline for signing those approaches.

We believe that the EPA negotiations are between unequal partners and that the SADC region stands to lose much more than the promised gains in the process.

We deplore the continued marginalization of women and the youth in decision-making processes across the region as we note the reluctance and piece-meal inclusion of women by governments of the region in political, economic ad social arenas. We emphasize that women’s equal participation
form an integral part of any meaningful strategy towards sustainable development in the region and
beyond.

On the basis of the above factors we demand:

1. All SADC governments to adopt and ratify the SADC protocol on human rights and gender; uphold regional integration as a participatory, people-driven and democratically negotiated process; respect the rule of law; allow free and fair elections; and make all constitutional reforms a consultative process.

2. All SADC governments and peoples to accept duty to de-stigmatise HIV/AIDS, uphold the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and empower them to live positively.

3. Governments in the region to prioritize the sustainable livelihoods of the rural communities, and equity in the land reform processes.

4. Total and Unconditional debt cancellation for all the SADC countries.

5. Governments of SADC to Stop EPAS!

We commit ourselves to continue mobilizing the peoples of the SADC in solidarity with other regions of the continent to contribute to sustainable solutions to the region’s social, economic, and political problems; to engage governments at national levels on regional integration, the Zimbabwe problem, Economic Partnership Agreements, adoption of gender sensitive policies, adequate resources for HIV/AIDS, unemployment for the youth and better working conditions for workers; and to forge active partnership with other actors across the region.

ANOTHER SADC IS POSSIBLE!

Construyendo el ALBA desde los pueblos

ALBA – Alternativa Bolivariana para
América Latina y el Caribe

Una propuesta de Unidad para los pueblos de Nuestra América

El presente trabajo es producto de la recopilación de propuestas de miles y miles de latinoamericanos caribeños que, desde 1997 a la fecha, han participado, discutido, elaborado e investigado sobre la necesidad de alcanzar la unidad de América Latina y el Caribe tal cual lo soñaron nuestros Libertadores: con soberanía, igualdad y justicia social.
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The Role of the State and States in the Processes Towards Development Cooperation and Regional Integration in Southern Africa

by Dot Keet

1. Introduction

Amongst many other analyses and debates, the more extensive awareness of the active role of the state and of states in the purportedly highly successful ‘market economies’ in East Asia and South East Asia is bringing discussion of the role of state back into quite mainstream development discourse.

After years of deliberate ideological discrediting of the role of the state in development, drug and the active dismantling of the state in Africa, even the World Bank is gradually coming around to the recognition of the necessary role of the state, on their argument that this is essential under conditions of underdevelopment and weak market forces in most Africa countries. The belated awakening of the World Bank, and its own interpretation as to what ‘the role of the state’ should be, actually deepen the challenges to independent critical analysts as to their own approaches to the revival of discussions on “the need for a developmental state in Africa” and the long-overdue need to “re-discuss the developmental paradigm of the 1960s and 1970s” (1).

2. National and regional actors and agencies

As has been well documented (2) over the recent decades of unprecedented economic expansion and technological advances under the rubric of ‘globalisation’, this growth has not benefited all economies and all people equally, if at all. In sum

  • The current patterns of global economic growth have been characterised by deepening deprivation for large sectors of the world’s population and sharply increased inequalities, and by the vast and growing polarisation in material wealth and technological resources between the richest and poorest people, social sectors, countries and regions.
  • The current forms and levels of economic growth, of ever-expanding production requiring and stimulating ever-increasing consumption of global resources is fundamentally unsustainable, is creating unprecedented social and environmental stresses and pressures, and posing epochal threats to the equilibrium of the entire planetary ecological system and even the future of humanity.
  • The current processes of global economic growth have been carried out by extensively unregulated
    and deliberately deregulated ‘market forces’, meaning corporations and companies, banking institutions/ investment funds and other financial and economic operators; although backed up by the direct and indirect political ( and military) interventions of their ‘home’ governments, as required.

In this context, alternative approaches would focus on the following key theoretical and analytical, political and practical challenges.

2.1 Policy interventions to counter imbalances and distortions

The inequalities being created in the global economy and through globalisation agencies and processes are also reinforcing gross imbalances within and between the countries of Southern Africa. These different levels of development/underdevelopment are partly a reflection of the different sizes and resource endowments of the respective countries. But these inequalities have been intensified over decades by the deliberate policies of the colonial/apartheid authorities in the region. More recently, internally or externally imposed trade and investment ‘liberalisation’ policies, and other de-regulatory prescriptions, directly or indirectly emanating from the IMF and World Bank, and global re-regulatory neo-liberal requirements set by the WTO, have exacerbated the existing imbalances.

For these countries to be able to tackle poverty and promote effective human, community, national and regional development: deliberate and deliberated programs and policies are required to counter or undo these pronounced inequalities and inequities. At the most general, this would entail

  • investigating and identifying the internal and the external/international causes of poverty and the interactions between these causative sources;
  • identifying and prioritising key geographical areas and social/economic sectors for governmental and inter-governmental attention;
  • directing national and regional economic and social programs to social groups and areas where they are most required;
  • actively (re)distributing production assets more equitably in social and geographical terms within countries and across the region;
  • creating other compensatory programs and dedicated development funds and institutions to promote the above.

Such conscious re-balancing efforts within and between the countries of Southern Africa are essential on the grounds of equity and justice, and social stability. But such targeted redistributive measures would also serve far-sighted developmental strategies to provide the basis for increasing productive resources and improving skills towards producing rising income levels for the majority. Together, these redistributive measures within national entities create self-reinforcing production-and-consumption development dynamics (3), and redistribution across borders within immediate regional communities ensures that such developmental dynamics are wider in scope and deeper in impact.

2.2 Public/governmental agencies ….. and private sector ‘market forces’

The complexities and challenges of such redistributive and corrective or compensatory developmental strategies within and between the countries of Southern Africa are such that they would require the concerted efforts of all possible public agencies, and effective cooperation and coordination between them [see 2.4 below]. This would not be straightforward. But what is clear is that such processes cannot be left up to the blind forces of the market and discredited “trickle-down” effects to deliver.

The well informed, more far-sighted, mutually beneficial and cooperative efforts that will be demanded for (re)distributional and developmental programs towards disadvantaged groups and sub-regions are outside of the modus operandi of business agencies and clearly in contradiction to their very raison d’etre.. Market forces are intrinsically:

  • based on economic competition not political cooperation; on pursuing maximum business advantage, not broader social and socio-economic aims and dis-interested ‘general welfare’; notwithstanding the ‘whitewashing’ and ‘greenwashing’ and similar ‘corporate social responsibility’ projects by some more self-enlightened corporations;
  • require unequal levels of development and uneven labour, health and safety, environmental and other standards and regulatory frameworks in different countries within which to locate and strategically relocate their operations so as to promote their own competitive advantages;
  • and, within the currently liberalised investment regimes and competing pursuit of foreign investment by most governments, it is advantageous for investors to be able to conduct simultaneous investment negotiations with separate governments (and skillfully play them off against one another) in order to optimise their own opportunities and maximise the incentives they are offered by such competing governmental ‘investment promotion’ programs.

In sum, “(w)hen market forces are let loose on society, their tendency is to reproduce inequalities and widen economic differences between the lesser developed and the more developed areas” (4). Without countervailing forces and conscious regulatory interventions by public authorities, the markedly uneven social and geographical distribution of growth, and the accompanying inequality and levels of poverty in Southern Africa will be sustained and reinforced.

2.3 ‘Enabling’ states …. ‘regulatory’ states…. or activist and interventionist states

Clearly, it is accountable public/governmental agencies that have to carry out the type of crucial developmental programs [as in 2.1 above, and 3 below] that the private sector is not willing to play, and is not equipped for. However, the latter are still powerful economic players within all the SADC countries, particularly South Africa, and operating across borders within the region. Thus, a key strategic question resides in the relationship between business and government, between ‘states and markets’ in promoting not merely quantitative economic ‘growth’ but the qualitative development programs essential to tackling poverty and ensuring human needs and rights, and social security and stability. Even the World Bank – which for decades energetically discredited and actively dismantled state-led models and institutions in Africa – has been compelled to come around to the belated recognition of the essential role of the state in circumstances of pronounced underdevelopment as in Africa.

However, the challenge to analysts and activists seeking alternative modes and models for development and transformation in their countries and regions is to distinguish clearly between three conceptions of the appropriate role of states. These are all frequently and loosely referred to as the revived “developmental state”, and consciously or unconsciously confused and conflated. Whereas there are clear differences between:

  • states as mere “enabling” agencies providing supportive policies and programs, legal institutions and investment and property guarantees etc, and physical and other infrastructures for the secure and profitable functioning of private sector operators, domestic and international; or
  • states as “regulatory” agencies to ensure the observance by private sector agencies of publicly defined standards of financial transparency and operational accountability or, at a more advanced level, the fulfillment of production, environmental, health and safety, job creation and labour rights, gender frameworks for equity, and other performance criteria and responsibilities; or
  • states as “activist” agencies in and of themselves – within regional inter-governmental structures, or as national or local government authorities [see also 2.5 below], or through public/parastatal enterprises and institutions – as proactive agencies in strategic sectoral planning and implementation, including through public investment programs.

The last options and the role of public agencies underscore the necessity to re-visit the first generation of state-led economic models in Africa (and elsewhere) in order to unpack their underlying economic/political rationale and motivations, their functioning, their achievements and their shortcomings. And, in the latter regard, it is necessary to investigate rigorously and impartially identify whether the sources of their problems or ‘failures’ lay in

  • basic strategic (mis)conceptions and excessively ambitious aims, or more basically in their operationalisation and practical implementation;
  • the relative weight of management weaknesses and other ‘subjective’ inadequacies, or other objective resource constraints and ‘market size’ (that is popular income) limitations;
  • and related to this, the role of internal/national factors, and the impact of external/international economic and political factors and forces.
    Such a comprehensive and rigorous re-evaluation would also have to assess the interactions of all these dimensions and causal factors.

2.4 Inter-governmental negotiations and mutual accommodations

The role of governments is, however, also essential at another and more explicitly political level. Inter-governmental negotiations are the essential means to secure mutually acceptable regional arrangements and agreements between a large number of ‘sovereign’ countries. There are, of course, inherited processes of ‘functional integration’ created by ‘history’, and more recent processes of de facto economic ‘integration’ being created by the independent initiatives of business forces through their own cross-border ventures, mergers and acquisitions and so on. But for intra-regional relations and interactions to fulfill their developmental potential, these have to be based on formal/formalised

  • cooperation – for example in monitoring and dealing with shared water and other common resources, meterological/climactic, epidemiological/disease, environmental/’natural disaster’, and other such processes that are not confined within political borders;
  • coordination – for example in the many inter-linked technical systems and inter-linking infrastructures for national and regional development, especially in road, rail, river/maritime, air and other forms of transport and communications;
  • harmonisation of the rules and regulations, norms and standards governing such common systems and cross-border relations, including in finances and banking, safety and security, labour regulations and human migrations, human rights, health and environmental standards, and much else.

However, inter-governmental agreements have to go much further than cross-border ‘cooperation, coordination and harmonisation’…. towards actual sectoral integrations. This entails modifying or removing complicating political and bureaucratic barriers and boundaries impeding the optimal interactions and coordination, or even the full integration of industrial and agro-industrial production, commerce, trade and tourism, energy generation and distribution, water conservation and distribution, environmental, biodiversity and wildlife management, and much else.

Furthermore, these forms of “market integration” must not be equated or conflated in conceptualisation or in practice with “market-driven” integration. Developmental sectoral integration cannot be left up to market forces. These integrated regional operations entail comprehensive investigation and planning, and detailed negotiations: not only on the technical details but in order to accommodate the economic, social and cultural specificities of the participating countries, their vulnerabilities, their different capacities and levels of development etc. In this context

  • the ‘special and differential treatment’ (SDT) principles for countries at different levels of development, as enshrined in GATT and, in principle, in the successor WTO; and
  • the ‘common concerns but differentiated responsibilities’ between countries with differing financial, technical and other resources; as pursued within the CSD, UNEP and other UN agencies;
    which developing country governments argue for at the global level, have to guide and permeate the negotiations between the countries of putative developmental regional communities such as SADC.

2.5 Complementary and counter-balancing popular and public agencies

Essential as are such high-level inter-governmental negotiations and relations on the regional plane, these are, however, not sufficient. At one level, the immediate challenges, reside in the notable “lack of political will” needed to drive regional agreements and the creation of regional processes and institutions. The slow progress in these spheres reflects the complexities of such ground-breaking programs. But the tardiness in reaching agreements within SADC, and the long delays in ratifying even formally agreed protocols, reflect in large measure the reluctance of national political players to cede crucial – or any – aspects of their countries’ ‘sovereignty’. More literally, the use of the concept of ‘sovereignty’ refers to their own exclusive control over national economic resources and decision-making as bases of their national political patronage/power and privilege. The political paradox is that many such governments are willing to cede large measures of their ‘national sovereignty’ to external forces, such as the IMF/WB, in order to access financial resources. But these same governments jealously resist ceding any measure of their national controls to regional institutions, even were these to be created democratically with their immediate neighbours. This is most notoriously evident in their reluctance to see the establishment of regional human rights frameworks backed up by dedicated regional human rights courts.

The accompanying challenge is that effective developmental programs have to involve different levels of government in each country. Provincial and local authorities are often better-placed than central/national governments in identifying the necessary policies and programs for dealing with the economic, climactic, topographical and ecological, social and cultural features that they share with their counterparts across their immediate political frontiers. These cross-border inter-linkages often constitute ‘real’ geo-economic sub-regions within the overall region. These forms of sub-sub-regional cross-border integration can, through conscious interventions and initiatives, constitute important incremental intra-regional building blocks within the overarching policy frameworks agreed at the national/regional levels. In this way, regional integration is characterised and driven by both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ processes.

There is another aspect to bottom-up processes for regional cooperation and integration. All these governmental authorities at different levels have to engage, in turn, with much wider social layers and organised popular forces within all the countries of the region. And these latter have, themselves, to cooperate directly in and through their social organisations and movements, sectoral and issue-based networks across the borders of the region. In the context of all the above, such wider popular engagement is essential in order to ensure

  • the discussion and formulation of the detailed substance of the targeted social and economic development programs that reflect the real needs on the ground and the problems/solutions that invariably cut across political boundaries;
  • the democratisation and popular identification with regional social and economic programs, which are both the driving means, and the guarantee and very essence of the entire developmental regionalisation project.

3. Policies, programs and alternative paradigms

Clearly, policies and programs to deal effectively with inherited imbalances and inequities within and between the countries and populations of Southern Africa have to be comprehensive, and collectively created and implemented, and thus have to be located within a very different paradigm to the neo-liberal assumptions which currently dominate the SADC regional project. Over the past half a dozen years SADC has gone through subtle processes of redirection and transformation, giving a more clearly and unambiguous private sector emphasis and market-driven interpretation to the sometimes ambiguous terms and language of the original SADC treaty.

This market-serving and private investment-based approach, backed up by “enabling” regional structures, is most clearly articulated in the latest SADC RISDP (Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan), as well as in the sectoral programs produced in the respective Directorates in the Gaborone secretarial headquarters of SADC. This process of redirection has also been assisted by the highly centralised and increasingly technocratic control over SADC policy-making in Gaborone, and with additional ‘encouragement’ from international ‘expert’, ‘technical’ ‘consultants’ ‘provided’ to SADC, especially under EU regional development assistance (5).

In this regard, the following are some of the key overarching theoretical understandings/approaches and policy frameworks that would distinguish alternative developmental regional paradigm(s) from the now dominant neo-liberal programs being promoted in and through SADC.

3.1 Regional trade facilitation and regulation

The dominant conceptualisation and economic framework of the current SADC project is that it is primarily trade-based and trade-driven, and located within the assumption that the growth of trade is the necessary condition for national and regional development. At the same time, there is a simultaneous parallel strategy, promoted mainly by the US and the EU, to direct SADC away from even this limited ‘economic growth’ function, and turn it into a mainly ‘stabilisation and security’ instrument. This is on the basis of the apparently persuasive argument that no development is possible without regional stability, and on the questionable claim that foreign investment ‘will not come to the region without such guarantees of security and stability’ (6).

Trade does, indeed, have a certain role to play in all economies and there is a need to facilitate such cross border commercial relations. And this must embrace not only large-scale ‘formal’ company-driven commerce but also small-scale, ‘informal’ people-based, and largely women-led cross-border trade.
However, in addition to ‘facilitation’, it is also essential to proactively regulate cross-border trade between the countries of Southern Africa. On the one hand, this requires supportive tariff regimes, although these

  • have to be applied selectively and to vary according to specific criteria and defined sectoral needs;
  • have to be designed as transitional arrangements and conditional upon productive performance, and
  • cannot be conceived by governments, or perceived and relied upon by producers and traders, as unconditional permanent protections.

On the other hand, trade facilitation also requires measures to deal with inadequate infrastructures, inefficient customs procedures, and other bureaucratic impediments and so on. But, even as trade is being thus encouraged, other requirements, targeted policy and practical production interventions [see 3.2 below] are essential in order to tackle the heavy and growing trade imbalances between South Africa and all the other SADC countries. The most contradictory feature of the current SADC trade system is that SADC governments constantly complain about their trade deficits in SA’s favour and are, at the same time, energetically arguing for full regional ‘trade integration’ even though this will inevitably exacerbate such trade imbalances. Such uneven trade flows are widening even under the existing selective and differentiated levels of trade liberalisation being implemented under SADC’s Maseru Trade Agreement. The current thrust towards full regional free trade by 2008 is thoroughly ill-conceived because it will inevitably favour the stronger companies/exporters from South Africa and a few of the other stronger economies in SADC, such as Mauritius (and, until recent years, Zimbabwe). What is more, such import/export imbalances are also adding to the external current account deficits of these countries in South Africa’s favour, which will aggravate the existing uneven levels of development between such SADC countries and South Africa, and reinforce their economic exploitation by SA companies and financial dependence upon public and private South African agencies [see 3.3 below].

3.2 Regional production development and diversification

Even programs of variable and gradual trade liberalisation enshrined within the current regional trade agreement, or alternative future and permanent variable and preferential intra-regional trade arrangements, would not per se produce more equitable results without many flanking provisions [such as in 2.1 above]. There has to be a range of policy and practical pre-conditions and means to improve the ‘supply capacities’ of the weaker countries in order to enable them to take advantage of improved market access into their neighbouring countries. Effective productive capacities are the most fundamental underpinning – flanked by secondary ‘marketing skills’ and other technical capacities – for effective trade, not vice versa.

Improved productive capacities would also have to be structured in such a way as to encourage the redirection of certain sectors of the production within SADC countries towards their own markets and not only towards the regional market. However regionally-oriented production-and-trade is important for more balanced and higher levels of mutual development within the larger combined regional amrket, and especially for selected sectors. This, in turn, would require

  • greater national production development and diversification away from the current focus on a very narrow range, and very similar areas of manufacturing and processing industries in most of the national economies in the region;
  • encouragement of new areas of national ‘specialisation’ or certain agreed forms of ‘division of labour’ between the countries of the region, taking into account local resources and skills, but not confined within or dictated by their current so-called ‘comparative advantages’ ;
  • the promotion of intra-regional complementarities in national production profiles/patterns, reflecting the need to change existing production patterns and ensure wider distribution of higher-value added and employment creating production programs across the region.

Such strategic production coordinations and complementary ‘divisions of labour’ are not simple to devise even within national economies, and this is much more complex between unevenly developed members of a regional economy. Such an approach would have to be agreed through negotiated inter-governmental programs and production restructuring and adjustments, and would have to incorporate the kind of mutual accommodations, and the coordination and cooperation indicated in 2.2 and 2.4 above. This will not be easy to conceive or operationalise, but is the essential basis to create coordinated or combined and complementary industrial, agro-industrial and other regional production strategies (7), rather than taking as immutable givens the wastefully duplicated and competing programs in the same sectors and products between ‘national’ producers.

Similarly, in so far as SADC countries maintain a proportion or specific identified sectors of their production to be oriented towards international trade, this should be based on higher levels of local and national processing and greater beneficiation than currently characterise their predominant, and predominantly unprocessed, commodity exports. This, too, requires proactive production programs and governmental interventions to ensure greater internal returns from higher value added to Southern African agricultural, forestry and fisheries and mineral products and exports, and greater external earnings; and all of which would simultaneously be orientated also towards the generation of greater internal employment opportunities.

3.3 Regional development resources and investment

SADC has long had on the drawing board various financial and investment proposals and draft protocols. Many have not been tabled, let alone agreed. But, even if they were to be agreed and implemented, the more fundamental problem is that they are based on neoliberal macro-economic ‘principles’ and highly tendentious assumptions. Inflexible prior macro-economic targets set within national economies are even more difficult to prescribe and apply to a group of economies at very different levels of development and confronted by differing and difficult production and supply challenges and not merely ‘money supply’ issues and instruments. Furthermore, amongst the many other questionable economic prescriptions, the neo-liberal approach includes the overriding necessity for private investment with anticipated quantitative flows and assumed qualitative gains from both internal and international liberalised capital investment.

Developmental investment regulations – for national, regional or international investors – would, to the contrary, and at the very least, have to be located within an agreed regional financial framework with a joint regional investment code, including

  • conditionalities for capital movements across the borders within the region, and controls on rapid and speculative capital movements into and out of the region;
  • criteria on the levels and time-frames for profit re-investments by all local and international companies operating in the region;
  • requirements for local inputs into such ventures, encouraging the creation of backward and forward linkages to existing or newly stimulated local companies;
  • technology and management skills transfers, labour and gender rights and training, and social and environmental responsibilities, as well as formal accountability and accounting obligations and so on.

Despite much rhetoric by African governments on the necessity to “mobilise internal financial resources” towards greater “self-reliance”, SADC’s approach is heavily oriented towards attracting international capital and facilitating foreign investors’ interests. Even in-so-far-as internal/regional investment sources are targeted, these too are to be encouraged within regional financial liberalisation frameworks. As with trade liberalisation, such regional investment promotion policies will serve the interests of more powerful financial/investment agencies, mainly in South Africa. With guaranteed profit repatriations and capital flows back to South Africa, this will contribute towards further accumulation within South Africa and the further polarisation of growth and benefits towards the richer country, for the more powerful investment entities, and for the already affluent social sectors.

A different development approach would not only seek to regulate and achieve a more balanced spread and greater qualitative returns from private investment. It would also conceive of development resources as embracing much more than only formal capital sources. Such development resources would be seen as including national(ised) natural resources, above all land, forests, mineral and maritime resources, as well as human/skills resources. And, in this, it would mobilise and prioritise public over private investment. Although orthodox economic theory deplores the supposed effect of public investment in ‘crowding out’ private investment, the opposite is actually the case under conditions of weak private investment, and in the context of active and urgent development requirements. Public investment appropriately planned can play the vitally important role of ‘leading in’ private investors’, either in joint PPP (public-private partnership) ventures, or through the creation and implementation of specifically state investment programs per se.

Furthermore, from the perspectives of progressive developmental NGOs, trade unions and other popular organisations, the more appropriate and genuinely ‘public’ role of public investment would be located within democratically and transparently negotiated processes, creating more varied and more inclusive public-public partnerships. These would be

  • between the respective – and properly accountable – inter-governmental financial agencies, such as regional development funds/banks
  • between national parastatal enterprises and institutions and other appropriately democratised and transparent public funds/trusts, and
  • between all such public agencies, on the one hand, with ‘public’ cooperatives, worker/employee collectives, community-based and other forms of popular collective productive self-organisation, and other joint development initiatives.

But equally significantly, the mobilisation of such diverse internal and public development resources would create greater self-reliance and would reduce external dependency, vast capital outflows and continuing international exploitation. This could contribute towards changing the nature of the current deeply exploited insertion of African countries into the global economy. This, in turn, would contribute also to changing the nature of that economy. But this poses broader questions about the relationship between regionalisation strategies and ‘globalisation’.

4. External counter-pressures against regionalisation strategies

Although developmental regionalism would aim to

  • achieve a greater degree of internal self-sufficiency, and higher levels of self-reliance in investment resources and in productive and even technological capacities;
  • encourage the redirection of specific sections of national production towards supplying local and regional needs and markets ; and
  • facilitate the redirection of major proportions of national commerce and trade towards nearer and more accessible regional markets;

none of these aims suggests a total self-sufficiency let alone autarchic development. The aim would be to reduce external dependencies and avoid dangerous susceptibility to external economic and political pressures and their excessive exposure to external economic shocks which have disproportionate negative effects upon them and over which such countries have little influence.

The point to emphasise is that a strategically conceived, state-led, publicly regulated and protected economy is not the same as a “closed economy”. This latter is what proponents of one open neo-liberal globalised economy insistently and aggressively argue; even at the slightest indication of intentions by any governments to introduce policies that would in any way impede the unfettered operations of transnational exporters and investors. The counter-argument to such forces is that the ‘single, integrated, open global economy’ is a theoretical construct and ideological instrument. Furthermore, it is contradicted in practice by the selective protectionism within, and the fiercely mercantilist rivalries between, powerful national economies and/ within their regional power bases. And these inconsistencies operate simultaneously with their insistence on extensive liberalisation and openness in weaker or competing economies. Furthermore, there is a world of difference between

– on the one hand, the exclusionary protectionism of the strong against the weak, especially where the latter have some small areas of relative strength; and,
– on the other hand, the protective policies of the weak to defend themselves against the strong.

In the context of selective (if often skillfully disguised) protectionism of the strong and their simultaneous aggressive liberalisation demands on others, both national and regional strategies between developing countries in Africa (and elsewhere) face a number of multilateral, bilateral and ‘regional’ counter pressures and constraints.

4.1 Multilateral constraints against regional agreements

Any regional agreements or intra-regional trade and investment preferences between cooperating economies that “discriminate” against external actors are energetically opposed by neo-liberal theorists and institutions.

The IMF and World Bank’s “open regionalism”

The IMF/WB, for example, argue energetically for “open regionalism” to allow all international players equal access into such regions. Attempts to create preferential trade arrangements between member countries within regional groupings are depicted as being “discriminatory” against international agencies, as raising unacceptable ‘barriers’ and ‘market distortions’, and as creating self-defeating “trade diversion”. This central formula from classic liberal economic theory fails to recognise that
– what is depicted as being “trade diverting” from the point of view of international players can be actively “trade creating” for weaker players given appropriate developmental preferences within their own national economies and regions; and
-? conversely, trade liberalisation policies, that are viewed as being “trade creating” from the point of view of powerful international players, may be destructive of the production and trade prospects and potentialities of weaker players within less developed countries and regional groupings.

Furthermore, the so-called “efficiency” gains from trade openness, and claims about ‘consumers interests’, are off-set in broader economic and societal terms, and contradicted by

  • the quantifiable costs in the job losses and ever-increasing financial outflows that accompany such liberalisation, and
  • in the much greater qualitative ‘costs’ in lost social development options and economic and social transformations.

In this context, measures that are condemned as being unacceptably “protectionist”, from the point of view of globalist agencies and neo-liberal theorists, should to the contrary be defined and defended as “protective” or “supportive” within developing economies and regions. The related internal – national and intra-regional – issues revolve around the levels and forms, the developmental requirements, and conditional time-frames attached to such protective/supportive policies for national/regional and local producers [as outlined in 3.1 above]. But these complex internal issues do not and must not reside within the remit of the IMF/WB to decide or dictate.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The WTO’s similar “anti-discrimination” conditionalities and the coverage and time constraints it places on regional projects are enshrined in its notorious Article XXIV on Regional Trade Arrangements (RTAs). This clause prescribes what is ‘permitted’ for governments to implement within RTAs. These are viewed as being unfortunate departures from the drive to reinforce and advance the single integrated global economy. Thus any RTAs favouring regional members have to be seen to be temporary exemptions, and have to move within a prescribed period towards becoming full open free trade areas (8). Article XXIV also requires that such agreements have to cover “substantially all” trade in order to prevent unacceptable ‘protectionist’ exemptions and exceptions for specific sectors or products.

The WTO’s Article XXIV also carries negative implications for specifically intra-regional trade arrangements by restricting the time frames to ten years within which these can be sustained. This a priori limit constricts the flexibilities and adjustments that may be required within regional programs as they progress, since these cannot be predicted in advance. Similarly, the high levels of product coverage for such rapid tariff liberalisation also contradict the need for differentiated and variable tariff reductions for different products and within differing economies within regional groupings, according to their own calculations and identified priorities and sectoral sensitivities.

The even more questionable issue about Article XXIV is that it is utilised to impose such terms on intra-regional arrangements as if they are merely ‘trade’ agreements. This ignores the fact that regional integrations between developing countries are multi-dimensional processes. Within such multifaceted regional processes -including political, financial, economic, environmental, social and cultural dimensions – trade arrangements are not the only, or necessarily the most important, aspect [see page 6-7 above]. Specifically trade aims and interests have to be evaluated, related and accommodated within a much wider range of intra-regional agreements. At times, mere ‘trade’ aims or interests have be part of compensatory sectoral ‘trade-offs’ or concessions by one government in relation to other sectoral needs of another neighbouring government and in the interest of promoting broader balance, stability and greater equity. It may, for example, be necessary for South Africa to make trade concessions to other weaker SADC countries ‘in return for’ access to their water resources. Conversely, weaker countries could provide or withhold trade or investment access to South African companies in return for improved financial and technical support from South Africa, and so on. Such ‘trade-offs’ between intricately inter-linked neighbouring economies are both necessary and more feasible than between the highly developed rich countries elsewhere in the world and what they see as distant lesser and least developed countries with little influence or direct leverage over them (9) .

Thus simplistic sweeping regional liberalisation offensives imposed from the outside constitute pre-emptive challenges to multiple programs for regional cooperation and development and would have to be actively countered by African and other governments if they seriously aim to create complex, comprehensive and flexible regional development and integration programs

4.2 Specific counteractive bilateral and ‘regional’ agreements

The terms posed within the WTO’s RTAs and other WTO trade and trade-related agreements are also now being actively invoked, and carried even further, by powerful international players in the bilateral and ‘regional’ agreements that they are trying to foist upon individual countries and regional groupings in Africa (and elsewhere). The most significant of these are:

The US’ African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA)

Washington is enticing individual African governments into comprehensive bilateral agreements with the US under the umbrella of its so-called the African Growth and Opportunities Act. In return for (some, conditional and qualified) improved access into the US market, dozens of African governments have signed onto a package of policy undertakings on

  • trade and investment liberalisation and the rights of entry, operations and exit for foreign capital,
  • guaranteed foreign property ownership and enhanced intellectual property rights in their countries;
  • opening up of foreign corporate access to privatised services, infrastructures and natural resources,
  • the opening up of government procurement to the same, and much else.

Furthermore, these demanding AGOA terms go beyond economic conditionalities to include security and foreign policy undertakings to Washington. In addition to the dangerous national implications of such extensive economic and political undertakings, AGOA is diverting the attentions of such African governments away from alternative strategies and orientations to regional markets. This is also effectively tying their hands in advance of any possible regional agreements that might run counter to such external commitments. In the eyes of Washington strategists, AGOA also offers the possibility, through such bilaterals, to gradually ‘integrate’ the whole of Africa into one vast free trade area with the US (10).

The EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)

The European Union is, similarly, promoting its offensive interests in relation to most African (and Pacific and Caribbean-ACP) countries through its so-called Economic Partnership Agreements, which are supposedly aimed at supporting regional cooperation and development between these countries. On the one hand, the terms of EPAs don’t go as far as AGOA (11). On the other hand, EPAs include promises of financial and technical assistance and other ‘partnership’ terms that Washington adamantly eschews. However, the fundamental thrust of the EPAs is towards reciprocal trade liberalisation between the gigantic EU and groupings of the minute ACP economies. EPAs also incorporate many WTO and WTO+ demands similar to those of AGOA. The liberalisation thrust of these EPAs holds out serious threats against the surviving industries in ACP economies, against their small agricultural producers and against their own intra-regional cooperation programs.

In fact, Brussel’s EPA offensive has already undermined regional integration in Africa by splitting SADC in two. This is building on and aggravating the already existing multiplicity of overlapping and competing regional groupings, especially in East and Southern Africa. The EPA processes and outcomes are actively intervening into and re-configuring existing African regional groupings. This has not only divided SADC – from which five members states have been hived off to join a newly contrived East and Southern African (ESA) negotiating group – which is not even a formally constituted region in itself. But the ESA initiative is also dividing COMESA (the Common Market of East and Southern Africa), which the EU had long favoured as the most appropriate model for liberalised trade integration in Africa. It is also overriding and undermining the East African Community (ECA) whose differentiated intra-regional trade strategies and Customs Union face being confounded and contradicted by separate and individual reciprocal trade liberalisation being negotiated by some of its member states with the EU.

Above all, by reinforcing the traditional orientation of these countries towards the EU, rather than towards other African regions and other regions of the South, the EPAs are also reinforcing the dependence of such countries upon the EU, threatening the possibilities for the kind of regionally driven and regionally focused alternative development strategies that African governments should and could be pursuing. As the SADC preparatory review of the proposed EPAs states, these agreements with the EU will “compete with the regional processes by reinforcing the economic linkages of the sub-region with the EU to the detriment of the local partnerships”.

South-South FTAs

It must also be noted, however, that many of the stronger ’emerging’ economies/countries of the South – such as China, India and Malaysia – are also promoting their own interests in relation to weaker economies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Opportunistically expressing this in terms of promoting ‘South-South’ relations, they are in fact, using the theories of ‘trade-driven growth’, and the purportedly win-win advantages of bilateral free trade agreements, to encourage weaker countries, especially in Africa, to enter into individual/bilateral trade and investment agreements with them. The disaparities in levels of economic power between such ’emerging’ economies and most other ‘developing’ countries may not be as great as those between the most highly industrialised economies and the developing countries. Nonetheless, the gains from South-South free-trade are very imbalanced and under conditions of liberalised trade and investment agreements the greater advantages will undoubtedly accrue to the stronger.

5. Systemic challenges of regionalisation against ‘globalisation’

The broadest global or systemic strategic challenges facing more effective, self-sustaining and independent regional development projects between countries in Africa reside in three main overall questions

  • What would be the appropriate areas, levels and forms of relations with other external economic entities/institutions and other regional groupings ?
  • What are the challenges posed to alternative regional development strategies by the current globalised economy per se ?
  • And, conversely, what are the challenges that regionalisation strategies pose or could pose to unfettered, sweeping ‘globalisation’?

The earlier visions, from the development era of the 1970s, for regional regroupment and development programs within and between African economies were that these would allow for an – advanced or relative or transitional – “de-linking” or “disengagement” from the internationalised capitalist economy (12). Within the even more advanced forms of capitalist globalisation and profound systemic challenges today, current arguments and proposals revolve around

  • “selective strategic engagement” with/in the global economy and with global forces from positions of greater collective economic and political strength within regional groupings, in order to improve gains and minimise disadvantages;
  • “strategic re-positioning” in relation to the global economy, with a view to contributing towards the gradual erosion of the hegemonic system, and the creation of de facto processes of incremental “de-globalisation” through regional and inter-regional alternatives within and between strategic regional groupings of countries of the South;
  • strategic redirection and refocusing of national economic activities within regional groupings, and even at very local levels, and particularly the redefinition and actual reduction of international trade, as part of a broader systemic response to the challenges and planetary threats posed by the currently dominant global paradigm and globalised economic system..

This is a modified version of a paper written for the Institute for Global Dialogue’s Workshop in March 2007 on ‘poverty eradication and development’ within the Helsinki Project. The original paper and others are due to be published in full by IGD as ” Poverty Eradication Strategies in Southern Africa as a contribution to the Helsinki Process”, ed Michelle Pressende.


Notes

(1) See e-mail mimeo report by Michelle Pressend Institute for Global Dialogue, November 2006, on the meeting within the Helsinki project that took place in Dar es Salaam in April 2006.

(2) UNDP annual Human Development Reports, and UNCTAD’s annual Trade and Development Reports, as well as academic analyses by eminent economists, including nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, Dani Rodrik of Harvard University, Ha Joon Chang of Cambridge University, and NGO’s such as TWN-International, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth-International, Action Aid International and many others.

(3) or what orthodox economics refer to as “rising effective demand”.

(4) Prof Rok Ajulu , “Revisiting regionalism in SADC”, mimeo, paper presented at FES-IGD workshop, Johannesburg, October 2006.

(5) Aware of this concerted neo-liberal transformation and the diversion of SADC away from even its earlier developmental promise and potential, the Peoples Summit parallel to the 2006 SADC Heads of State Summit, was entitled “Reclaiming SADC for Peoples Solidarity and Development Cooperation”.

(6) Whereas, of course, the evidence is clear that investors go where the resources are, and where maximum investment returns are available. This is regardless of any other considerations such as peace and stability except in narrow and self-serving terms on the guarantee and protection of their economic operations and their property and financial transfer rights.

(7) Such regional complementarities and coordinations would have to be very different to the cross-regional ‘chains of production’ referred to in conventional economics, which could resemble in form and effect the transnational ‘chains of production’ being created across the world by global corporations

(8) Any interim customs unions may, similarly, only create common external tariffs if these do not unduly raise such border defenses beyond a weighted average of all the external tariffs currently in operation in the countries participating in such regional arrangements.

(9) Other than ‘moral’ persuasion and appeals…. or the migration and environmental ‘threats’ posed to the rich by the desperate survival struggles of the poor.

(10) Along the lines of the FTAA with the whole of Latin America that has been thwarted.

(11) Which includes ‘security’ undertakings and commitments not to act counter to US international policies !!

(12) See Dot Keet “Globalisation and Regionalisation: contradictory tendencies, counteractive tactics or strategic possibilities?”, Occasional Paper #18, Institute for Global Dialogue, Johannesburg, April 1999.


Dot Keet is a research Associate of the Alternative Information and Development Center, Cape town, South Africa, and Fellow of the Transnational Institute.