Wednesday, May 31, 2017

COSATU Statement on Africa Day - Inspiring the Birth of a New Africa
Today, the 25th May marks the day on which Africa cautiously celebrates the historic moment on which our great forbearers pioneered formation of the OAU to unite, lead and advance the aspirations of the African people, which at the time suffered colonial oppression. This offers the right moment for thorough and rigorous self-introspection and critical reflection regarding our onward journey towards freedom from poverty, oppression and for the sustainable development of its people.

Today, as we mark this day, we are a continent that has made great strides, but equally, suffered setbacks. History proves that no forward march is a straight line, progress and setbacks are linked as part of the onward march to a new and better Africa.

We take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate fellow Africans who have made great strides towards changing their conditions and countries for the better and inspired a new wave of struggle for; peace and justice, democracy, development and good governance. These features indicate the real advances being made towards changing the lives of the people for the better, by the people and workers themselves.

Towards this end, we also welcome the defeat of the Ebola virus and the advances in the fight against terrorism, particularly Boko Haram in West Africa, the promising economic and political changes in various parts of the continent and the new resolve by the people to integrate and unite in pursuit of change as critical hallmarks of a new era for our continent. More solidarity and unity in action is further required in that regard.

As we do so, we are called upon to intensify our various struggle for change by being honest about the current state of our continent and the real reasons behind, particularly;

The plunder and looting of our natural resources and exploitation of workers and poor communities by multinational companies and their local surrogates
The ruthless oppression and abuse of workers and human rights by ruling elites to sustain corrupt and greedy regimes in power
The extreme and grinding levels of poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment on the continent, due to failure of governance, policies, legacies of colonialism and lack of political will to change the structures of our economies
The never ending vicious cycle of wars and conflicts, not without great advances in several parts of the continent
We are not putting forward these facts and figures to lament, but to expose the hard realities and the depth of the work to be done to change Africa for the better. As Africans reflect about their own weaknesses and responsibilities to do what must be done, the world, particularly developed countries, are called upon to do the same, about their role and contribution to the crisis of our continent and its people.

According to Nick Dearden, the director of UK campaigning organisation Global Justice Now, who was previously the director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, "Aid is tiny, and the very least it can do, if spent well, is to return some of Africa's looted wealth.

We should see it both as a form of reparations and redistribution, just as the tax system allows us to redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest within individual societies. The same should be expected from the global "society".

He goes on to say, "to even begin to embark on such an ambitious programme, we must change the way we talk and think about Africa. It's not about making people feel guilty, but correctly diagnosing a problem in order to provide a solution. We are not, currently, "helping" Africa. Africa is rich. Let's stop making it poorer".

A report was released by several campaign groups today, titled, "Honest Accounts 2017. How the world profits from Africa's wealth". Based on a set of new shocking figures to mark this day, it indicates that, "Sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world to the tune of more than $41bn. Sure, there's money going in: around $161bn a year in the form of loans, remittances (those working outside Africa and sending money back home), and aid".

It goes on to say, "But there's also $203bn leaving the continent. Some of this is direct, such as $68bn in mainly dodged taxes.

Essentially multinational corporations "steal" much of this - legally - by pretending they are really generating their wealth in tax havens. These so-called "illicit financial flows" amount to around 6.1 per cent of the continent's entire gross domestic product (GDP) - or three times what Africa receives in aid".

It finally say, "then there's the $30bn that these corporations "repatriate" - profits they make in Africa but send back to their home country, or elsewhere, to enjoy their wealth. The City of London is awash with profits extracted from the land and labour of Africa".

In this regard, the working people of Africa, the worst victims of both the vicious exploitation of our continent and crony elitism by some ruling regimes, have become seized with the crisis facing their continent and in various events have developed programmatic responses that seek to confront the sources of the problem and the networks of patronage, greed, corruption, oppression and injustice against the continent and its people.

In this regard, we salute the perseverance and determination of the fighting workers, women, youth, environmental activists, landless peasants and all the communities of justice that, in various ways are making a contribution daily to change the conditions of their continent and to reclaim our dignity and rights.

Africa will and must change, the people will and must win, wars must end, poverty and hunger must end, inequalities and unemployment must be defeated and the scourge and burden of disease must be decisively defeated. In one word, Africa's cause and the future of its people must triumph.

COSATU, as one of the critical actors, together with our allies throughout the continent and beyond, will intensify its work with all forces committed to real change, unity of the African people and progress towards a new society, free from all the ills that define our present.

We are active participants of the efforts to build a Progressive African movement for change and shall continue to do so in numerous African, civil society and progressive structures on the continent. This is in order to influence and shape a new Africa based on the genuine aspirations of its people and a better future.

The Central Committee of COSATU starting on Monday is a space to just do that, as we assess work done since the last Congress, we shall, equally be building and strengthening the foundations of the new Africa we are striving towards.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794

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