Solidarité internationale et luttes sociales en Afrique subsaharienne
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The Lusaka Declaration
Towards an ‘Africa Consensus’ on Sustainable Solutions to the Debt Problem
We are organisations from across the African continent, and we have deliberated for three days about our experiences, values and visions for solving the debt crisis, an affliction that has reversed human development and environmental progress over the past quarter-century.
Our conference is part of a process of Movement-building within and beyond Africa: a Movement against the crippling impact of debt on billions of people across the world, and for a new, people-centred genuine form of development.
Our objectives were to expand upon our predecessors—the Accra, Loom and Gauging Declarations; to begin to establish a new Africa Consensus on debt and sustainable development (to replace the bankrupt Washington Consensus); and to identify demands, strategies and enhanced roles for Debt Coalitions and Jubilee 2000 chapters-and, indeed, civil society more broadly.
We endorse the spirit of the Accra, Lome and Gauteng Declarations in their recognition of the magnitude and unacceptability of Africa’s illegitimate debt, and their commitment to moving beyond debt bondage and abject poverty, towards sustainable development.
We reiterate the call for total debt cancellation, and we insist that creditors and G7 countries cannot be allowed, anymore, to dictate the terms of cancellation. Africans ourselves must determine our own development path. We as civil society have a strong-sometimes-decisive-role in determining the necessary conditions for sustainable development.
The Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative and other debt relief proposals, including the recent proposals from G7 countries (notably from the United States, Britain and Germany), all insist on unacceptable conditions, and entail inadequate amounts of relief. The conditions are invariably associated with the top-down Washington Consensus, which has had such a devastating impact on so many countries these past two decades. Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) and the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) have deepening economic, social and ecological hardships for the vast majority of people on the continent. Enough is enough.
In very practical ways, the case studies we have considered from our colleagues in Uganda and Mozambique have shown the limits to the HIPC initiative, the disastrous effect of HIPC conditionally, and the lack of meaningful debt relief.
Moreover, the so-called Debt Relief Initiatives have not resulted from inclusive negotiations. The Paris Club and the HIPC Initiative are merely processes and frameworks imposed by Creditors on Debtors.
In sum, we reject HIPC and the other current debt relief processes and commit ourselves to expose their fundamental flaws in each of countries, particularly in the run-up to the June 1999 G-8 Meeting in Cologne, Germany. As members of African civil society, we believe we have the standing to speak truth to power, in a way that often our own political leaders lack courage to do, in the presence of overwhelming Northern financial arrogance.
In addition, we commit ourselves to working against localised symptoms of our debt burden and economic process, including war, corruption and other evils that undermine our development processes. We declare that we will intensify our work towards the democratisation of our societies.
Ultimately, however, we insist that debt is a manifestation of the neoliberal world order, the power of international banks to push loans on Southern borrowers without the democratic inputs of parliaments and civil societies, and the disastrous character of the world economy, which charges ever greater prices for imports from the North while paying ever lower prices for Southern exports.
In short, debt is one of the most important instruments of Northern domination over the South and the domination of financiers over people, production and nature everywhere. As part of our struggle to liberate ourselves from this bondage, we make demands for the cancellation of debt as part of a broader struggle to fundamentally transform the current world economic order and transfer power from the political leadership of the rich countries and the economic power of Transnational Corporations an international financiers, and their instruments, notably the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organisation. Likewise, these forces have instruments in the South; namely some of our own technocratic, political and commercial elite who are in the tiny minority of Africans who continue to promote the Washington Consensus.
In the same spirit, we will make reasonable, rational demands for reparations to compensate for the economic, social and environmental damage incurred by our people. These reparations will not be allowed to trickle into our elite’s pockets, but must be directed into rebuilding our societies and environments, and in the process to restoring our human dignity.
We draw strength from the experiences of gains made by civil societies in the world in securing their demands. For example, in helping to end apartheid, in successfully questioning ecologically-destructive projects (such as big dams), in banning landmines, and in halting the Trans-National corporate Multilateral Agreement on Investment, our civil societies have made their mark over the past decade.
We are convinced that the world’s people of conscience are now fully aware of the damage being done by debt to Africa’s peoples and environment. We are confident in linking the conditions associated with current forms of debt relief, to our ongoing suffering. And we are committed to ending such conditions, replacing the Washington Consensus on neoliberal development with an Africa Consensus on genuine development, and adding to our demands the need for the reparations required to assure our society’s ability to meet our basic human needs and to repair our degraded environments.
We commit ourselves to mobilising ourselves at local, national, sub-regional and Africa regional levels. We commit ourselves to strengthening the various tools and instruments of democratic governance in Africa, in order to ensure that our governments finally begin to represent the interests of our peoples. We commit ourselves, to these ends, to strengthening relationships with the progressive civil societies of the South as well as in the North.
Areas of Action
Our strategy to achieving our objectives includes the following principles and action areas.
1. Conditions on Debt Cancellation
In the context of an African Consensus for genuine development - NOT the neoliberal Washington Context- we endorse the total cancellation of African foreign debt in order that the proceeds go to meet our society’s basic human needs and restoring our environment. (National processes can determine particular priorities to these ends.) If such redirection of development resources is not the demonstrable outcome of immediate stages of debt cancellation, a mechanism must be developed - probably involving an international human rights arbitration institution (to remove conditionality power from Washington Consensus organisations) to assure that proceeds from cancellation go to meeting basic needs (with no decline in existing resources to this end). A follow up task force will work to take forward activities to more forcefully define the African Consensus, and in addition, to define the terrain of the international mechanism required, to establish more detailed guidelines on beneficiaries of debt cancellation proceeds, and to forge the local, regional and international alliances required to bring this mechanism about.
2. Enhancing Civil Society Capacity
We believed that without a dramatic increase in our own power, we would not succeed. This power comes from more mass education and mobilisation towards effective mass campaigns and actions; more contact and persuasion through the media (Just as we intensify our efforts to achieve press freedoms); and more sophisticated engagement with our governments and parliaments. African civil society organisations have great needs, some material (which are quite obvious and do not need to be dwelled upon - except to say that financing with strings attached continues to be a barrier to our own development) but some that reflect our own capacity to better represent our constituents. For example, in grappling with complex debt-related issues, African civil society organisations needs to priotise research (and training of researchers), better dissemination of information, deeper empowerment of people through information and organisation, and continued attention to desegregation of issues by gender. We believe that our Lusaka Declaration and some forth-coming work in the same spirit should feed intro the south-South process.
3. Reparation and Loans Audits
African civil society realises that Northern Institutions and governments have long dominated and exploited Africa. Some estimates of this exploitation have been made, for example in studies of the damage done by apartheid-caused lending until 1994 conducted by Action for Southern Africa (London). More research is required, and we call upon progressive researchers and academicians to intensify their documentation of the n going and historic ways in which Africa has been exploited, in the tradition of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. As a first priority, additional research on audits of foreign loans (for failed development or structural adjustment projects) will be required, partly to establish co-responsibility of the creditors in very specific ways. This information will help establish how much reparations we can legitimately demand, and will allow us to approach lenders and donors on a bilateral and multilateral basis. In particular, corrupt political leaders, bureaucrats and businesspeople have engaged in systematic capital flight and corruption, and we call our allies who monitor offshore financial flows to intensify their studies of how much Africa’s resources have been raided. In turn, strategies for forcing those in the North who have benefited from Africa’s capital flight - including the major international banks - have a responsibility to provide reparations. Example of previous reparations include Swiss Banks in relation to Nazi German and the Marcos regime in the Philippines, and lands rights reparations for indigenous Canadians and Australians. Led by the South African demand for reparations from banks, which funded apartheid, we will intensify our demand for social justice the more we identify how our continent has been systematically exploited.
4. New International Financial Arrangements
As we develop our African Consensus on genuine development, we in civil society will also more firmly advocate the disengagement of our countries from the IMF and World Bank, whose interest are diametrically opposed to our own. To this end, we commit to starting debates on disengagement and proposing alternatives (and to acquiring capacity to do better research and advocacy to make our case). International aid should be channelled primarily into meeting human needs. In cases where hard currency is absolutely required (for vital inputs that have no local replacements, for luxury goods imports and inappropriate capital-intensive machinery and debt repayments) and where donor’s grants are required, the source of hard currency loans should ideally be interest-free credits with grace terms.
5. Towards Parliamentary Oversight on Foreign Loans
Any approval for new foreign loans should be passed through parliaments, and if this is not already a feature of constitutions or legislature, it should become so. In addition, civil society organisations representing poor and working people should have formal standing in assessing and monitoring these proposed loans, for example through providing submissions to parliamentary committees and engaging in formal evaluations. In general, transparent disclosure of information associated with our debt burdens should become policy and law. Civil society organisations commit to increasing their parliamentary advocacy and doing rigorous, widely disseminated and accessible research to these ends.
6. Towards a Debtors’ Cartel
We endorse the collective repudiation of illegitimate foreign debt payments to Africa consensus sustainable development. However, in view of the failure of efforts along these lines (for example by Julius Nyerere of Tanzania in 1983), we recognise that our political elite may not have either the courage (or self-interest) to establish such a cartel. As a result we make a commitment to linking our arms across the borders to establish not only pressure on our leaders to establish a Debtors’ Cartel, but also include civil society in any negotiations with Creditors.
7. Our Jubilee Ultimatum
If we do not see progress towards the cancellation of Africa’s foreign debt by the end of December 2000, African civil society organisations will ratchet up pressure toward the debt repudiation and Debtor Cartel Options, and intensify our commit to disengage from the international Financial Forces who continue to keep us in chains.
Affirmed by African civil societies working on debt from the following countries, Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Cameroon, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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