SASF Regional Coordination Meeting
Friday 14 December 2007
SASF Regional Coordination Meeting Maputo, Mozambique 14-15 June 2007-06-20
The meeting took place in Maputo at the CJE’s office as it volunteered to be the hosting organisation for the ROC meeting and its main aim was to speed up the process of preparing for the SASF meeting. The meeting started without the five comrades from Swaziland because they were lost in Maputo but they will join the meeting later. There were fourteen people attending the meeting on the first day after the arrival of the Swazi comrades and the other comrades put forward their apologies for the meeting.
Day one Report from National Organising Committee in Mozambique As it was announced in the ROC meeting in Malawi that Mozambique will be the next host of SASF 2007, the meeting was eager to hear a report on what has being since 2006 meeting and what plans can be put in place in making sure that SASF meeting becomes a success in taking forward the working class struggle in the Region.
Comrades indicated that they held a very successful Mozambique Social Forum where there was equal participation from Civil Society organisation and trade unions. They want the Social Movements to run with SASF 2007 and but also there has being a movement dialogue with Trade Unions to be part of the organising committee for SASF. In two weeks time there will be an annual trade unions meeting where issues of Regional integration, EPA’s, SADC trade negotiations will be discussed and they will be given the platform to consolidate the issue of SASF 2007. They have discussed the matter with the National Organising Committee (9 different elected organisations) and they have raised keen interest in making sure that SASF 2007 becomes a success but this matter still has to be tabled at the National Council Meetingordinating Committee Meeting (some time in June 2007) to get approval of all the structures or civil society in Mozambique. But in terms of the other logistics, it all depends on what has to be done in the ROC meeting that will inform the tasks that need to be implemented e.g. people are not allowed to march during the week and if we want to march, the programme must cater for such exceptions.
Discussions It was clear from the comrade’s report that not everything was in order in terms of the preparations and the meeting raised a few questions of clarity to get an understanding on the state of readiness. The meeting raised concerns on a number of issues, what are the different roles of different structures e.g. NOC & the NC, what is the state of mobilisation of grassroots organisation in the country, have the authorities being approached, who participated in the MSF and are there any provincial forums besides MSF? Comrades indicated that all the preparatory issues are under control and the major thing that needs to be done is the hosting of the National Council Meeting in June where all the other practical logistics (who will be part of the organising committee, meeting with the local authority, boarder & visa issues) will be dealt with in the meeting. At the moment they are not really concern about informing the government about the event but their country has respect for human rights and the freedom of expression.
Report on WSF Comrade Thomas Deve gave a report from the WSF and all the lessons that could be learnt from the event as he was part of the organising committee and opened it for the meeting for all the comrades who were part of the meeting to make any additions or contributions.
The important lessons were that for any other event or meeting there is a need to have a vision document that will inform the processes around strategy, content, methodology, mobilisation, resource mobilisation, organising, visualising the venue, how accessible is the venue, the role of local & outside volunteers from the Region, the process of registration, planning of the final programme, practical out look of the event, local diversity-does culture come into play (tool of liberation), who will be the constituency, the issue of alternative media & mainstream media, politics of the service providers, communication, human security, accommodation and transport.
Challenges The main challenge about Kenya was around resources being available on time, transport & infrastructure, the role of local & international sector, levels of consultation, failure to make key decisions because of consultation processes, participation of poplar sectors, local mobilisation, media & communication and the issue of catering for sign language.
Achievements It came clear that action & campaigns should go hand in hand, the youth camp was brought within the forum, there was ownership & leadership from the organisers, there was the use of new technology, the secretariat was diverse and the women played a central role. Eventually there were memories that were captured but we needed to be guided by the charter of principles as there were very few right wing organisations in the meeting (armed forces participating in the forum).
Recommendations The issue of how we could save on communication was discussed and how do we keep the momentum of the forums.
Discussions There were clearly conflict of interests from some of the groups that attended the forum and how did the organisers managed to deal with conflict management? What happens when we have leading political groups wanting to dominate the forum or maybe a leading political figure wanting to address the opening of the forum like in Kenya? The organisers don’t have to close the spaces down for particular organisations but can encourage those organisations to hold their own self-activity. The political organisations can hold their own parliaments parallel to the forum but outside the spaces of the meeting. Looking at the international charter of principles, it is clear that political groups are not welcomed to be part of the forum but we can invite progressive left movements leaders to address the opening as individuals or maybe for controversy dialogue series (invite a representative from the IMF or WB to be part of a discussion in one event).
Can we have more of Regional Forum that mobilises all the different parts & sectors of a country and not like in Caracas where it was concentrated particularly in one town? It is important that we make use of the technology we have in mobilising all the popular sectors and allow greater participation from the local people. That will mean lowering the accessibility costs and then allow diversity in a creative manner. But also we need to be able to recognise the difference in governments where our Forums are held so that we can be able to regulate the role of politicians and political groups.
Lessons from Southern Africa Social Forum (2006) by Comrade Paul The organising of the 2006 meeting started three months after the Harare Forum and it happened after the brainstorming ROC meeting eleven months before the meeting. There were a lot of interaction with the previous hosts and it allowed the locals to have enough time for preparing. But like all the other events, different commissions meet to map a way forward for resource mobilisation, media etc but all those were never implemented by the ROC. This left the hosting country to move ahead without the ROC as the members failed on numerous occasions to meet their deadlines after all the empty promises. Another dilemma was the acceptance of funders to donate funds in principle but back down at the final stages of the event or others would deposit the funds after the event. Locally, another issue was the mobilisation of human resource within the country as many people disappear without implementing all the agreed activities leaving it to be a one man show. So it is important that the comrades can be able to develop a full time core group of activist who will run with all the tasks because everything might be okay when it comes to the plan but practically there might be fundamental challenges. There are issues of the aftermath of the event where comrades need to deal with the liquidation, evaluation, financial & narrative reports writing and report backs to the ROC & donors.
Discussions It is important to pull on the experienced comrades from other structures like African Social Forum (ASF) to assist in terms of resource mobilisation but all the other processes. The role of the secretariat needs to be discussed so that it can be clear that it is organising for the ROC or the hosting country. Another role of the RS must be to empower the hosting secretariat but also implement other projects in between the forums. It can facilitate the linking of SASF with ASF and the WSF.
Day Two Planning for SASF 2007 It was important for the meeting to have a plenary session on the planning of the SASF 2007 as not all the members attended the meeting but also it will clarify some of the issues raised about the readiness of Mozambique. Comrade Viriato requested to the house that another comrade should chair the meeting so that we can be able to do justice to the skeleton plan. There were no objections early from the house to that suggestion and comrade Nerisha was given the task to chair the meeting. The meeting discussed in length some of the unclear issues in terms of the proceeding of the meeting and the planning of the forum in the absentee of comrade Viriato who was seen as a key person in having authority to make decisions. It was not clear on the structures that are in place in Mozambique in terms of who is doing what role and who is responsible for the event? The comrades need to make it clear what is the role of the NC, NOC and who is the hosting organisation for ROC & the SASF? If there is no structure, then the Mozambique comrades must sort out its house so that many tasks can be implemented. The comrades indicated that CJE is playing a hosting role for the ROC meeting and that there is no secretariat for the SASF in Mozambique. It will be elected in the next big NC meeting in June and all the structures will be made clear to ROC. Swazi comrades also raised the issue of the chairing of the meeting because if Comrades in Mozambique are not chairing the meeting. Then they have to chair the meeting as the country that will be hosting the next Forum meeting as it was agreed in the ROC meeting in Malawi. Eventually after going through half of the discussions on the agenda, the house agreed that we need to get an assurance from the Mozambique comrades that are ready to host the meeting and that Swaziland comrades must then deputize the chairing of meeting. The meeting agreed in having commissions (content & methodology, resource mobilisation, media & mobilisation, youth, culture and logistics).
1. Content & methodology: • Tasks: they need to deal with the programme, thematic cluster, and vision document or concept paper of SASF 2007. • Themes Discussion What are the issues in the Region or struggles taking place? • There are factors to be considered when choosing some of the themes for the forum like what the state of affairs in the Region is, what must be the vision document for the forum and who take tasks? • We need to assess how neo-liberalism agenda is surfacing in the Region in the form of EPA’s, Regional integration, migration & xenophobia, cross boarder trading and HIV/AIDS. There was a discussion in making sure that we reaffirm the Social Forum as a space for regional struggles against neo-liberalism • Thematic Areas: Democracy & governance (civil society governance, corruption & the constitution) Poverty eradication Land, informal settlement and housing Regional integration (trade justice) The Nature & role of the state Gender Youth Debt Media & globalisation Liberalisation Alternatives to Globalisation Education The Role of culture Privatisation of the public sector (health, water, electricity) Food sovereignty Sports & politics Social security Participatory Budgets Labour issue (farm workers)
• They can use the existing charter of principles & the concept paper as a guiding document but in terms of the autonomous activities: the comrades can send out a draft paper and organisations will then have to make an input to the paper. • Human resources Comrades: Veriato, Sarah, Fernando Curasse (Action Aid Mozambique) and Thomas. • Deadline: the comrades will have seven days to come up with a draft and fourteen days to finalise the document.
2. Resource mobilisation • Tasks: they are responsible for the fundraising ( drafting a financial proposal for the Region in terms of the solidarity funds for all the countries) • The have look at the vision document to include all the funding costs like publicity, ROC meetings (August during the Peoples Summit in the SADC meeting in Lusaka and a final meeting in October before the SASF in Mozambique) and the issue of the ROC volunteers. • Comrades from Mozambique have to draft a proposal fundraising so that they can be able to deal with issues of personnel, event hosting, consultation meetings and solidarity funding for local activities prior to SASF. • Human resources comrades: 3. Media & mobilisation 4. Youth 5. Culture 6. Logistics (host country working committee or the secretariat).