Yesterday (August 16th 2012) the beautiful coastline of Maputo was covered with a sea of green t-shirts. As the city welcomes Southern African heads of state arriving today for the SADC (Southern African Development Community) Summit, the people decided to respond by taking to the streets and marching for their rights.
People gathered yesterday morning, most of them wearing bright green t-shirts to represent the life-sustaining gifts of the land and the environment, and marched almost 5 kilometres along Avenida Marginal to the Chissano Conference Centre where the SADC talks start today.
The marchers held high their placards with powerful messages such as ‘Africa is not for sale’, ‘No to biofuels, stop land grabbing’, ‘Enough with intentions, we want actions, for the right to land, water and food sovereignty’, ‘Are we eradicating poverty, or the poor’, “Land-grabbing = Plantations, dams, mining’. Another banner demanded: ‘There is nothing about us Without US’, showing the need of the people to be involved in the decision-making that affects their lives. At the end of the march, a few representatives then went to deliver to the SADC the Peoples’ Summit declaration “Reclaiming SADC for Peoples’ Development”.
For the past 3 days, activists from social movements and organizations from Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have participated in the Peoples’ Summit of the SADC 2012. The Summit brought together farmers, fishermen, landless people, rural and industrial workers, rural women, feminist movements, and social and environmental activists.
There was consensus that the immense power that multi-national corporations (MNCs) exert over government and even community leaders is a major concern. Farmers raised their voices against land-grabbing, against GMOs, and for access to water, etc., during the Peoples’ Summit. Participants asserted: “The people will take over if their human rights are not respected and if their resources are continuously mismanaged.”
“Cash crops divert water and key resources from sustainable development because this is where big corporations dominate sovereign states and agriculture through the selling of seeds and fertilizers”
“Fishermen are realising that their access to the sea or rivers have been cut off and they are faced with newly-built fences – which seriously affects their livelihoods.”
The outcome of the meeting was the declaration of the concerns of the development path that the SADC is taking with undemocratic governance, impunity of corporates in extractive industries, exploitation of natural resources, dominance of corporates in the energy sector, increasing violence against women and children, displacement of communities by MNCs with active collaboration of SADC governments, increasing food insecurity, damage to ecosystems, wrong choices concerning energy policies such as; more fossil fuels, problems of mega-infrastructure including dams and mines, growing inequalities, and the continued violations of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. Mozambican organisations such as UNAC (National Farmers’ Union), Women’s Forum, Justica Ambiental, Peoples’ Dialogue, Livaningo, and others have been involved in this process.
More photos from the march:
Thank you to all who participated and helped make this possible!
More information about the People’s Summit: http://sadcpeoplessummit.org/thepeoplessummit/