Social movements organize to challenge dominant economic policies, by Joan Baxter, Bamako. (See the web African Renewal).
… The African Social Forum, as it was called, did seem to mark a step towards better organization and coordination among Africa’s social movements on basic development issues. But it was not clear that the participants were as successful in coming up with alternatives to the existing economic order. They had many slogans against prevailing economic policies and problems, and agreed on a firm rejection of “neo-liberal globalization,” but had more difficulty developing a common voice on specific policy alternatives.
The forum’s final consensus read more like a dream than a practical working plan. “Our alternative vision is for a human-centred world,” it read. “The future of the African people lies in the hands of African peoples.” And it expressed “solidarity with all forces in Africa that are committed to the realization of real alternatives.”
Still, the participants at Africa’s first-ever Social Forum, diverse as they were, did come up with a consensus voice calling for the cancellation of the debt, a rethinking of structural adjustment programmes and the “fight against poverty” as laid out by the international financial institutions, and a denunciation of the inequities of the world’s trading system.
On the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the continent-wide development strategy that is being put forth by African leaders, the forum participants were of two minds. One declaration welcomed the initiative, but another was highly critical, charging that its basic character was “neo-liberal” and that it was elaborated without the participation of civil-society groups.
Forging a continental movement: (Read the rest on African Renewal).