A Better Life Is Possible, but Not in a World Dominated by US Neo-Liberalism

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Simphiwe Dada

Tens of thousands of community, trade union, human rights, youth, women, social and economic justice activists in general are in Kenya sharing perspectives and experiences on resistance to corporate-led globalisation.

Under the theme: "People's Struggles, People's Alternatives - Another World is Possible", delegates are debating issues such as HIV/Aids, gender, landlessness, peace and conflict, labour, housing, trade, debt, migration and the diaspora.

From South Africa, representatives from progressive organisations and campaigns such as the Right to Work campaign, campaigns on service delivery and HIV/Aids treatment, trade unions and labour service organisations are also participating in this meeting.

This is the 7th meeting of the World Social Forum and runs from January 20-25.

The previous gathering of the forum was decentralised and the 2005 session took place in Port Alegre (in Brazil). It reportedly drew about 200 000 people and was addressed, among others, by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela - an outspoken critic of neo-liberalism and George Bush.

The forum was organised as a response to the corporate-led and -dominated World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting that takes place in Davos in Switzerland whose target audience is mainly executive members of the state and big corporations. The WEF meeting starts on Wednesday.

The forum defines itself as "an open meeting place where groups and movements of civil society opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism, but engaged in building a planetary society centred on the human person, come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action."

Issues that are being discussed in this gathering reflect the continent's major challenges - the direct result of slavery, colonialism, capitalism and neo-liberal economic reforms through structural adjustment programmes of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Just like the rest of the developing world, many African countries have been coerced into implementing structural adjustment programmes that advocate cuts in public spending, economic deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation among others. These conditions were imposed by the institutions as a precondition for loans as Africa was faced with drought that resulted in huge famine and poverty in the 1980s. …