COMMUNITIES affected by mining activities have threatened to petition government leaders at the forthcoming 34th Sadc Heads of State Summit in Victoria Falls demanding social and economic justice following the increased privatisation of natural resources by governments working with big corporations.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
In a joint statement prepared by some of the representative groups, namely Campesina, Rural Women Assembly, People’s Dialogue and WoMin, the affected villagers said they would propose prioritisation of communities and people, instead of corporations in mining and farming ventures.
“Caravans of African farmers, rural women and mining-impacted communities from Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and other countries will unite with Zimbabwean organisations and movements in Bulawayo to demand social and economic justice, based on the people’s perspectives,” the statement read.
“The Southern African region is faced with ongoing challenges and deepening crisis as a direct consequence of neo-liberal economic policies.”
They said this had resulted in land grabs in almost all Sadc countries destroying peasant farmer families and livelihoods of women.
“Natural resources are increasingly being privatised due to the myriad of investment agreements our governments have entered into with corporations, Western governments and the ‘newcomer’ emerging economies, like the BRICS. Land has been grabbed at a significant scale in almost all Sadc countries and the agribusiness model is destroying peasant-family agriculture, the only proven sustainable and ecologically friendly model that produces most of the food for Sadc countries.”
Extractive sector corporations were also said to be engaged in land and water-grabbing, as well as polluting the soil, air and water that rural farmers relied on to grow food and sustain livelihoods.
“Seeds, our common heritage, are now also within the radar of corporate control and under threat from the proposed seed protocols under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc). The former seek to ease the flow and marketing of commercial seeds in the Eastern and Southern African regional markets and the latter, to harmonise the Sadc region seed policy on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) basis respectively.
“These new laws will, with time, open up the whole region to transgenic seeds, which have found space in South Africa and recently in Malawi. Traditional seeds will be pushed out and smallholder farmers’ use and exchange of such seeds will be criminalised,” they said.