Reclaiming SADC for people’s development

By Thomas Deve

Summary of Key note speech during SADC People’s Summit in Mozambique (August 2012)

In his Key note address, Thomas Deve delivered a brief but powerful keynote address to the audience gathered at the summit. He outlined the 2012 theme in the context of growing frustration from the citizens on their continued marginalization and exclusion from policymaking and ownership of the regions development agenda by policymakers. He outlined five points which the peoples of the regions would want their SADC to be. Deve highlighted that the envisaged SADC is one in which citizens are given meaningful role and recognition in the region’s decision making.

Deve highlighted the nature of the SADC the peoples of the region want as follows;

1. Respect for Human Rights – Deve stated that the SADC liberators of yesterday have become today’s oppressors. He called on the regional block to ensure that all countries fully respect democratic principles and the rule of law. He further called on the regional bloc to investigate human rights abuses in countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and DRC. Deve urged the SADC leaders to reinstate the original mandate of the SADC Tribunal. He stated that the SADC tribunal is an important institution for the protection and promotion of human rights, “To promote good governance and development, the SADC should protect people’s rights to gather and to speak their minds”

2. Free Movement of Persons in the SADC Region – Deve noted that the SADC we want must ensure the free movement of persons in the region. He highlighted that the right to free movement of persons entails the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality. The right to free movement of persons include: the right to enter the territory of a Partner State without a visa; the right to move freely within the territory of a Partner State; the right to stay in the territory of a Partner State; the right to exit without restrictions; and the right to full protection by the laws of a Partner State. He called on the SADC leaders who have not ratified the SADC Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons in the region to do so as free movement is a right not a privilege. Deve stated that the Free Movement of persons will be the true measure of commitment of SADC, as collective, to developing an integrated region.

3. Corrupt Governments and Civil Servants ????? the presenter highlighted that SADC governments are corrupt; he mentioned that the SADC Protocol Against Corruption must be fully enforced. The protocol notes that the serious magnitude of corruption in the region, its destabilizing effects particularly that it undermines good governance. Deve called for the full enforcement of the Protocol as it provides both preventive and enforcement mechanisms and demonstrates some form of political will in the region to combat corruption.

4. Land Grabbing and Resources Extraction in the Region – Deve noted with concern that the ongoing rush to Southern Africa Land calls for the SADC Governments to act quickly. He expressed the mounting concerns about the increasing enclosure of land to promote largescale investments that seriously affect the fundamental rights of the local population and compromise efforts to achieve food sovereignty. He demanded an immediate moratorium on all large?scale agricultural investments such as the Pro?Savanna project in Mozambique.

He stressed that land grabs are prominent; SADC‘s resources are plundered by northern and southern elites. Multi?nationals from the South are making their mark in the region, operating in the same exploitative manner as their northern counterparts.

5. Lack of Consultation by SADC leaders. ? The presenter stated that the SADC leaders are involved in doggy deals without the consultation of the ordinary people. He stated that agreements such as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAS) have been signed without the clear knowledge of the people. He also stated that SADC leaders are involved in signing borrowing agreements with countries such as China. The borrowing bowls which have been extended mainly to the East, has increased the debt for the already overburdened region.

Deve concluded his presentation by stating that: “A discourse on what SADC should look like must be hinged on how to rebuild states that can restore and uphold rights of citizens and communities to control and access natural resources and basic services. There should be objective proposals on how these states can stop corporatization and privatization of basic services such as health, education, welfare, electricity, housing, water and sanitation, and natural resources such as land, water, forests. SADC states must ensure that multilateral trade agreements are consistent with international human rights commitments and treaty obligations and should under no circumstances enter into bilateral or multilateral trade and investment agreements that grant local and foreign investors rights (including the right to sue the state at international tribunals) without any matching obligations. Enacting and enforcing laws on peoples’ right to information coupled with further expansion of critical political spaces for developing and demonstrating alternatives that restore and uphold rights of citizens and communities is essential.”

By Thomas Deve*, ampoule 9 September 2012


SADC heads of states who met in Maputo a few weeks ago were told in no uncertain terms by civil society and social movements that the citizens of region are not happy with the increased incidence of undemocratic governance and impunity of the corporate sector especially in the operations of the extractive industries in southern Africa.

The groups which met in Maputo just two days before most heads of states jetted in, health argued Sadc was no longer pushing for a people-centred development and all the achievements the Summit chronicled annually were just a myth to whitewash the realities of the region’s poor and socially excluded.

Evidence was provided in the form of testimonies from communities and research material that pointed to a region in crisis and urgently in need of salvation given challenges the groups had identified, like climate catastrophe, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, dominance of corporates in the energy sector, extensive land grabbing by corporates and governments collaborating actively with traditional leadership, the subsequent displacement of communities, increasing food insecurity and the irreparable damage to ecosystems.

Over the years, the same groups had been telling Sadc leaders of the dangers arising from growing inequalities, the negative impact of patriarchy, increasing violence against women and children, decline in health and education service provision and standards, deprivation of sustainable livelihoods, continued recolonisation through for example bilateral agreements like the Economic Partnership Agreements and shady deals with the Brics countries.

They added very important issues which the heads of states shy away from but are affecting the ordinary people negatively everyday.

These broadly fall under the continued violations of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, excessive dependency on export oriented economies and finally, the continued dominance of the free market dogma and ascendancy of neo-liberalism.

The more than 250 representatives of grassroots movements, community-based organisations, peasant and small farmers movements, faith-based organisations, women’s organisations, labour, student, youth, economic justice and human rights networks and other social movements who had earlier on gathered at the Mumemo centre, in the Maracuene district of Mozambique under the banner of a People’s Summit, were allowed to march into the capital city of Maputo under police escort to handover their demands to the Sadc executive secretary Tomas Salamao.

The banners they carried and sporadic speeches people made during the march were reminiscent of the anti-colonial struggles where the main actors passionately mobilised people on the basis of emotive issues, wretched conditions they found themselves directly attributed to colonialism and the need to organise against unjust systems.

This is one of the few demonstrations I came across in the region where it was being openly highlighted that Sadc leaders should not forget the values of the liberation movement and anti-colonial struggles which emphasized that a free people should enjoy fully their political, social, economic and cultural rights and an ethical state should guarantee the maximum conditions for this to be realised.

Far from just chronicling the failures of the region’s leadership, the groups spokespersons said Sadc states should deal decisively with systemic issues that have generated inequality and enclaves of progress leaving the majority of women, young people and children in particular to suffer disproportionately in environments where violence against them is becomes the norm rather than the exception.

“We will march all the way to reclaim our freedom and make sure that the majority of people in Sadc enjoy their rights” says Graca Samo of Forum Mulher based in Mozambique.

“If Sadc states are to be genuinely integrated and its communities are united, time has come for the Sadc leadership to go back to the people and be informed by their day to day realities as this is critical in identifying correctly the needs of the social excluded and the marginalised whose voices are not being heard by policy makers and politicians who head governments in Sadc” says Patricia Kasiamhuru from the Southern African People’s Solidarity Network.

Joy Mabenge from Zimbabwe reminded Sadc governments that the people will take over if their needs are not met as was the case when the oppressed in southern Africa committed themselves to the national liberation struggle.

“The people will take over if their human rights are not respected and their resources are continuously mismanaged,” he said.

Farmers from Maracuene and neighbouring rural areas of Maputo highlighted that they were working very hard to feed the nation, but were now perplexed by new developments where land was being given to multinational corporations who pursue profit and not food sovereignty for the people.

This type of land grab is being experienced in Sadc where a number of government policies are pushing for the aggressive expansion of cash crops at the expense of food crops.

“Cash crops divert water and key resources from sustainable development because this is where big corporations dominate sovereign states and agriculture through the provision of seeds and fertilizers,” it was noted.

Sadc leaders were being told in their face that they must listen to the voices of their people.

People did not mince when it came to condemning states that were not meeting people’s needs.

Laurinda Makuyane from the Rural Women’s Forum in Mozambique noted that mothers who strangle or dump their babies are put behind bars and the law is very clear on this, but no one takes similarly harsh steps when states fail and kill their people.

She called on the people to unite and defeat these oppressive governments that behave like monsters who devour their own children.

“Who is arresting these governments? Where is the justice? God is watching us!” she queried and cautioned.

The People’s Summit focussed on the impact of imperial domination in Sadc land rights, extractive industries, energy crisis, lack of access to clean water, quality health and education facilities, women’s rights, the landless, reclaiming people’s sovereignty over resources and finally building a people’s movement for a people’s Sadc.

*Thomas Deve is a dedicated pan Africanist and a renowned social and economic justice activist based in Zimbabwe. Send your comments to


Source: Daily News Zimbawe