African leaders, Equal partners with Western Counterparts

Speakers at a public forum have called on African leaders to see themselves as equal partners with their western counterparts in the fight against challenges posed by the global financial crisis.

Recapping discussions of the fourth General Assembly of the group, the Co-ordinator of Women for Change, Zambia, Ms Emily Sikazwe, indicated that those who created economies that had led to the world economic crisis did not have the moral ground to decide what had to be done.

She said the global economic situation provided the platform to engage those who claimed that such civil society groups as Social Watch did not have the capacity to discuss issues of climate justice, human rights for all, gender equality, etc.

Social Watch, she explained, had the capacity to foresee that the old economic order could not continue the way it went, and alternatives had to be found.

The economic empires, Ms Sikazwe indicated, had collapsed and civil society groups, which were calling for a change in the way of doing things, had been vindicated.

The Co-ordinator of Social Watch, Uruguay, Mr Roberto Bissio, said Social Watch coalitions in different countries across the globe mobilised, reported and held governments accountable for the promises they made.

He added that at the height of the financial crunch, it was necessary for governments to invest in people, in education, in the poor, and in health, not only because it was ethically right and the fulfilment of commitments made, but it also made economic sense to do so.

He explained that the few countries that were doing that were getting better economically than those that did not.

He stressed that making decisions on economic policies at the international level should have the voice of all the 192 United Nations (UN) members in defining the new rules of the global economics and environmental governance, which should be based on transparency and democratic decision making.

Mr Bissio explained that a group of countries, no matter their power, should not decide for the rest, as that was not the way to ensure international consensus and legitimate global order.

The Co-ordinator of Third World Network (TWN) and the Convenor for Social Watch, Ghana, Dr Yao Graham, noted that economic models generated growth, but the growth had not succeeded in reducing poverty in Africa.

He stressed that although the past eight years had seen economic growth, the collapse of commodity prices underscored the fact that most African countries remained mono-cultural economies, as all it took to wipe out the gains made was the collapse of one commodity.

Dr Graham called for an African regional meeting to build consensus on issues discussed at the global assembly to build a strong voice for Africa in Social Watch to help influence the infant situation African leaders had accepted
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The fourth general assembly reviewed the organisation's efforts, reports, achievements on the economic and social front and determined what areas to concentrate on in future.

The event was meant to bring into public domain issues addressed by the Social Watch during it fourth general assembly in Accra, between October 27-29.

Social Watch is an umbrella body for civil society organisations (CSO), from 60 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Arab region, North America and the Latin America.

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