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Zambie : Trade unions march for debt cancellation in Africa

D 14 avril 2024     H 05:00     A ITUC-Africa     C 0 messages

On 21 March over one thousand workers marched in the streets of Lusaka, Zambia, calling for sovereign debt cancellation and an end to illicit financial flows.

The march was part of the activities of the ITUC Africa’s 14th New Year School, which had over 200 participants from 31 countries. The demands in the petition, received by Brenda Tambatamba-Zambia’s minister of labour and social security, included calls upon African governments to implement debt management policies that are pro-worker, promote gender equality and are sustainable. The policies should also promote progressive domestic resource mobilization and gender responsive tax policies.

The participants included IndustriALL affiliates from several African countries and the IndustriALL Sub-Saharan Africa regional office and took place 19-22 March under the theme : advancing Africa’s transformation agenda – mobilizing for tangible trade union collective action.

The school composed of panels, plenary sessions, and commissions. Speakers were from the International Labour Organization’s Bureau for Workers Activities, academics, civil society organizations and trade union organizations.

The New Year School’s dialogue included strengthening inter-union cooperation and organizing, developing strategies against illicit financial flows, promoting social protection, optimizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for African industrialization, local manufacturing, decent job creation, and skills development, campaigning for a Just Transition to renewable energy and green jobs, gender mainstreaming, and union leadership training on sovereign debts and debt cancellation.

Other discussions were on Africa’s labour market landscape, organizing innovation and collaboration, and insecurity and coup d’etats in Africa as threats to human and workers’ rights and democratic governance.

At US$1.8 trillion, the sovereign debt constitutes close to 23 per cent of the continent’s combined Gross Domestic Product(GDP) and is unsustainable and disconnected from the African development priorities, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

ITUC Africa is part of the stop bleeding campaign to stop illicit financial flows – illicit capital flight, tax avoidance and evasion, trade misinvoicing, corruption, money laundering and other criminal activities. The campaign is being conducted in cooperation with civil society organizations.

According to UNCTAD, illicit financial flows are estimated to be over US$88 billion per annum and deprive African countries of much needed resources to end poverty and promote industrialization.

ITUC Africa and IndustriALL are in cooperation on the African Industrialization campaign and on union engagement with the AfCFTA.

Martha Molema, ITUC Africa president said :

“The burdensome weight of national debt, the deficiencies within the global financial architecture and the looming climate crisis are reasons why debt should be cancelled.”

Rose Omamo, ITUC Africa deputy president and IndustriALL vice president said :

“It is necessary for Africa’s debt to be cancelled to stop the bleeding of African economies. With its mineral resources, Africa should be the richest continent. However, with illicit financial flows, Africa is unable to use its mineral resources for development. This explains why trade unions are campaigning for debt cancellation and an end to illicit financial flows.”