|The Courier N° 156 - March - April 1996 - Dossier: Trade in Services - Country Report : Madagascar (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)|
The second plenary of the Global Coalition for Africa
Given the issue on the conference's agenda - Africa's political and economic future - and its reputation as a platform for expressing frank opinions, the roll-call of African leaders at the second plenary of the Global Coalition for Africa (GCA), which took place in Maastricht on 27-28 November 1995, was certainly impressive: Presidents Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe Ketumile Masire of Botswana, Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, Isaias Africa of Eritrea, Alpha Konare of Mali and Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Antoine Nduwayo of Burundi. Also present were former Presidents Amadou Toure of Mali and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.
If the turn-out indicated anything, it showed how at ease African leaders are now with reforms and underscored the seriousness with which l they view the continuing difficult political and economic situation in the continent.
The GCA, it should be recalled, was set up in 1990 during a conference organised in Maastricht by the Dutch Government in the wake of widespread international concern over Africa's bleak economic prospects. It brings together personalities from Africa and the industrialised world and has been directed jointly over the past five years by President Masire of Botswana, the Dutch minister for development cooperation, Jan Pronk, and former World Bank President, Robert McNamara. Although serviced by a small secretariat based in Washington, the GCA is neither an organisation nor an institution: it is, as already mentioned, merely a platform for frank discussions. Through advisory committees and sub-committees, the Coalition has identified issues for debate from which, it hopes, consensus can be reached on strategies for political and economic reforms in Africa.
Since its inaugural Advisory Committee meeting in Paris in 1991, it has aimed at attracting participation from Africa at the highest possible level. There have been meetings in Kampala, Cotonou and Harare. The turn-out in Maastricht last November was a measure of the success of that policy.
(the title of the Maastricht conference), was organised to review the progress that has been made and to debate what needs to be done to rescue Africa from its seemingly inexorable decline. It took place during a season of African cultural events in the Netherlands and in the week prior to the plenary session, an Academic conference, an NGO meeting and the GCA's fifth Advisory Committee session were also staged.
The keynote address was delivered by President Masire. He told the conference that although there have been positive developments in some countries, Africa continues to cause serious concern, whether over the level of misery and poverty, denial of basic human rights or massive loss of lives and widespread displacement of populations. Given the fact that changes were taking place at a much faster pace than five years ago in international economic relationships, he observed, 'time is not on Africa's side. Consequently, the reform process, which is a prerequisite to Africa's full participation in the global economy, needs to be accelerated and extended to all those countries which are still lagging behind.' The globalisation of economic activities presented new opportunities as well as new challenges for the continent. He invited participants to 'examine carefully the policy implications of Africa's mixed performance and to forge a consensus for international cooperation.'
Three inter-related issues on which Africa's future depends - political reforms, economic reforms and external relations - were examined separately. Each subject was presented by two lead speakers and was then followed by a debate. Unlike the earlier academic conference, which was reportedly marked by acrimony and the characterisation of the GCA by some participants as 'neocolonialist', the plenary was civil and businesslike.
The lead speakers on political reforms were the British minister for overseas development, Baroness Linda Chalker and the speaker of the South African Parliament, Mrs Frene Ginwale.
Baroness Chalker spoke of Africa facing the 21st century at a crossroads. She noted that while Southern Africa was being transformed into a zone of peace and democratic governments, West Africa was descending into chaos with civil wars, lack of political reforms and too many cases of corruption. She referred in particular to the situation in Nigeria and the reaction of the Commonwealth and European Union, both of which have imposed sanctions. Difficult decisions, the Baroness said, have to be taken by those governments which have stalled reforms. They have to accept certain standards of good governance based on legitimacy, accountability, competence and respect for human rights. She emphasised the need for press freedom and eradication of corruption in the continent and expressed her convinction that Africa has the human and material resources necessary to eliminate poverty.
Mrs Ginwale dealt, among other things, with the issue of ethnicity which is often cited as a negative factor in democracy in Africa. She found the concept of pluralism in this regard something of a problem, coming as she does from a country where pluralism is often used to denote ethnicity as well as diversity - a concept that nurtured the racist perspective and apartheid in South Africa. She was not against ethnicity per se, Mrs Ginwale admitted. It was the negative use made of it that she deplored. The real challenge in constructing democracy, she said, was how to strengthen institutions within which to create the democratic culture. People were free to exercise their cultural rights and all other freedoms so long as they did not impinge on the rights of others.
As was expected, a long and passionate debate ensued. President Campaore of Burkina Faso pointed out that what African populations needed above all was social peace, even if this meant living in poverty. They also wanted to have such basic rights as the right to life and to free speech. As he spoke, Burundi, Rwanda and other strife-torn countries were not far from the minds of participants and the intervention at this juncture of the former US President, Jimmy Carter, who had just flown in from chairing a meeting of the Great Lakes States, was welcomed.
Mr Carter told the conference that the Heads of State in the region had agreed on a number of important issues; among other things, to ensure that all refugees return to their homes (President Mobutu is said to have given an assurance, in this regard, to stop intimidation in the refugee camps), prevent cross-border raids, help bring the perpetrators of the recent genocide in Rwanda to justice and hold a conference on peaceful co-existence.
OAU Secretary-General, Salim Salim reiterated what the former American President had said. Intimidation was indeed occurring in the camps in Zaire and this needed to be stopped so that the refugees could return home. However, justice has to be done, and to be seen to be done, for the victims of the genocide. The tribunal set up to try those accused of perpetrating it needed resources which the international community should provide. Mr Salim recalled that African countries have always been willing to provide troops for peacekeeping, but have been prevented from doing so because of lack of logistic support.
On the issue of democracy, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe said that while there was general agreement that society must be governed in accordance with democratic principles, he objected strongly to those who spoke of minorities in terms of the right of groups to have their own political parties. 'We must stop the unleashing of undemocratic forces,' he warned. He criticised the campaign being waged in certain quarters in favour of groups such as homosexuals, whom he referred to as 'deviants'. There was no question of Zimbabwe granting political rights to such people, he added bluntly.
Because Southern Africa takes great exception to military dictatorship, it was coming out strongly against military regimes in West Africa, Mr Mugabe explained in answer to Baroness Chalker. He condemned in particular, and 'barbarous' military government in Nigeria and restated his belief in the imposition of an oil embargo against the country. Mr Mugabe stressed, however, that the task of bringing about democracy in Nigeria rested ultimately with Nigerians.
The Zimbabwean President was followed almost immediately by the Nigerian Nobel laureat, Wole Soyinka, who was scathing about the measures taken so far against Nigeria by the industrialised countries. Although the reaction of the Commonwealth to recent executions was somewhat 'cheering', it was 'diabolical' to give the 'murderous' regime two years to change its ways. He did not understand why the measures actually taken did not reflect the moral outrage expressed by the Commonwealth and the EU over the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa. He was sure Western ambassadors who were recently recalled from Nigeria will slip quietly back to their posts. Mr Soyinka insisted that any measures against Nigeria that did not include an oil embargo were bound to be ineffective.
With 'good governance' repeatedly coming up, the Dutch minister of development cooperation, Jan Pronk, who was chairing the session, called for the report of the preceding Academic conference on the subject. What the plenary heard was more moderate and sensible than expected. The academics, a spokeman said, had had to address one simple question, namely, 'whose governance?', taking into consideration the interruptions suffered by African systems of government over centuries due to interventions by European powers. Because the term lacked clarity, and in order to prevent it from being 'hijacked', there was a need for studies to be carried out on good governance by Africans themselves, especially at the local level.
An NGO conference, which was also held on the fringes of the GCA, came to a similar conclusion, the conference was told.
Two African personalities with slightly opposing views on structural adjustment, Dr Kwesi Botchwey, Ghana's former Finance Minister, and Ms Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, UNDP's regional director for Africa, were the lead speakers at this session. However, like everyone else present, they both agreed that reforms were necessary if Africa's economic recovery was to be assured. Where they disagreed was on strategy.
Despite his adherence to classical IMF structural adjustment, Dr Botchwey warned against 'undue haste' in making comparisons between reforming and non-reforming countries and 'drawing causal links between performance and adjustment or the lack of it.' He continued; 'It is important to remind ourselves of the specificities that characterise the countries in this vast region. Too much of what is specific in the experiences of individual countries gets lost in the averages and generalisations.' However, he continued, it ought to be recognised that there had been significant improvements in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
A few had achieved real GDP growth and a reduction in poverty through an increase in basic education. These achievements had not been sufficiently impressive, however, because of high population growth rates, which tended to depress per capita income. Africa, Dr Botchwey said, faced formidable problems of export promotion (its share of world trade shrunk to 1% in 1994), inadequate infrastructure which is constraining development, and foreign investment which had not bean flowing in sufficiently despite new and attractive investment codes.
The former Ghanaian minister said he understood why instability should deter foreign investors from coming to Africa and suggested that the World Bank should instead step in to guarantee investments. As for the relationship between donor and recipient, which is increasingly being seen as paternalistic, he said that it ought to be redefined as one which respects integrity and is based on trust.
Africans, he recommended, should pay greater attention to domestic resource mobilisation and should recognise the connection between population, agriculture and the environment in poverty alleviation.
Ms Johnson-Sirleaf doubted whether the successes of certain African countries were really due to IMF-imposed structural adjustment. She warned African countries against adopting policy measures and reforms that are not consistent with their own agenda and out of line with the Lagos Plan of Action. They should carry out reforms because 'they are the right thing to do, not because they are what the World Bank and the IMF want.'
She also pointed out that in order to fight poverty effectively, there has to be a massive shift in resources away from areas such as debt servicing and defense procurement, to such sectors as education, food security and health.
Ms Johnson-Sirleaf wondered whether African countries were pre pared to do this. As regards foreign investment, she said that if each of the African participants at the conference was prepared 'to invest in productive endeavour' in his or her own country, and live in his or her own country, 'then Africa is on the way to attracting the private investment and the private flows that will foster its development.'
Africa and the world
This theme of self-reliance and endogenous development was taken up by President Afwerki of Eritrea who emphasised that Africa must set its house in order and devise internal strategies for economic growth. 'Africans must stand on their own feet', develop their human resources and technology. He warned that the continent's future would remain bleak as long as it continues to copy foreign patterns of development.
It would only succeed if it embarked on homegrown strategies as Ms Johnson-Sirleaf had said. Africa must find the inner strength to relaunch itself on the path of development, eradicate corruption and establish good governance and accountability.
The continent clearly requires substantial support, but he agreed with Dr Botchwey that Africa must foster a genuine partnership based on respect. A clear distinction, Mr Afwerki said, must be drawn between conditionality and development assistance.
The Ethopian prime minister, Meles Zenewi, on the other hand, did not see anything wrong with conditionality. He could live with it as long as the IMF and World Bank kept out of micro-management.
A large number of African countries, in the opinion of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, are undertaking structural adjustment, not necessarily because they believe in it, but because they are compelled to do so, to have access to funds. Others, he said, were simply doing so for ideological reasons, especially with regard to privatisation.
The IMF's managing director, Michel Camdessus observed that countries which are unable to integrate into the new world economic order risk being totally marginalised. He urged unsuccessful countries to learn from the successful ones, saying that there were certain unavoidable basic truths. To attract investment, a country must function well domestically and remove the environment of uncertainty and insecurity which scares away investors. It must restore and maintain financial stability by eliminating inflation. Mr Camdessus also agreed that Africa needs substantial external assistance - about 70% of its export earnings at the moment. But he was pessimistic that debt cancellation would make much difference. Debt servicing, he said, represented 20% of Africa's export earnings. If these were cancelled the continent would still need external assistance to the tune of 50% of its export earnings.
The IMF boss's statement underlined Africa's major problem - that of adverse terms of trade, which prompted ex-President Nyerere to raise the issue of compensation for the continent for agreeing to sign up to the WTO accord which 'everyone knew was to its disadvantage'.
Against this background of decreasing export earnings, a number of speakers decried the decreasing volume of international aid. They noted that only the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands had maintained appreciable levels of bilateral assistance as recommended by the UN. The host country, whose bilateral assistance now hovers around 1% of its Gross Domestic Products, was singled out for particular praise. Given this situation, the current tendency by some industrialised countries to reduce their contributions to multilateral systems of aid in favour bilateral forms, which are seen as less effective, and are invariably commercially tied, was widely condemned.
The conference did not end the debate on Africa's relations with the outside world without examining the issue of corruption, which is having a deleterious effect on the continent's development. Huge sums of money are known to have been illegally acquired by some leaders and laundered in Europe and America - sums acquired through either commissions paid for contract awards or outright theft from the public purse. There was an urgent need, a number of speakers emphasised, for transparency in Africa's commercial dealings with the industrialised countries.
In this regard, Mr P. Eigen of Transparency International gave the conference an account of his organisation's efforts to have governments in the developed world enact legislation against bribery and corruption. It came as a surprise to many to learn that only the USA has such legislation. Commercial bribery, Mr Eigen said, was condoned wittingly or unwittingly through subsidies disquised as expenditure for commercial promotion.
Although the Global Coalition for Africa does not sing its own praises, it has made a tremendous contribution to the changes that have taken place in Africa over the past five years. It was pleasing to learn that its existence is assured, at least for the next five years, thanks to a pledge of continuing support from the Dutch government. Mr Robert McNamara is proposing to retire shortly and the Coalition plans to increase the number of chairmen to six. They will be predominantly Africans and half of them will be women, the conference was told. Augustin Oyowe
by Peter L. E. Jones
Foxy, stinker, earthy, pulping, liquoring... These strange expressions are just a few of the many fascinating terms used by coffee growers and producers all over the world. There is a good chance that you drink and enjoy coffee every day, but what do you really know about the world's favourite drink?
Arabica coffee trees, the first variety known to man, were originally discovered by travelling Arabs on the cool high plateaus of Ethiopia (Abyssinia). These produce a much soughtafter, mild-tasting drink. Robusta, on the other hand, is a native of the hot humid forests of western Africa. It is, as the name suggests, a more robust coffee containing a much higher cluantity of caffeine than Arabica. Robusta is used mainly for instant coffee. Nowadays, both types of tree are cultivated woridwide - in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Wild coffee trees can grow up to ten metres tall but most cultivated trees are pruned to grow no more than head height. Any taller, and picking the ripe clusters of bright red cherries at harvest wouid prove difficult. The sight of an Arabica coffee plantation at flowering time is one that is never to be forgotten. The trces, which are evergreens, are laden with white blossom and the air is filled with the perfume of jasmine. In most places where coffee is grown, harvesting the cherries is a family affair with neighbours also helping to gather the crop. Children are often excused from school to help with the cherry picking.
Pulping is the first of many processes to which the coffee bean will be subjected before becoming the fragrant and aromatic drink that so many people enjoy. This is carried out on the estates by machines dmigned to remove the sweet, pulpy substance found inside the cherries. What remains is two seeds, although these do not yet resemble the coffee beans that most of us are familiar with. Two more skins have to be removed, but first, the seeds have to be dried. This is done on long drying tables which can be seen set up around the houses in the mountainous villages where Arabica coffee is grown. The golden coffee beans are spread out to, dry in the sunlight, before the onset of '' the rainy season. Over a period of several days, the beans lose most of their moisture and the golden outer casing becomes loose and brittle, like parchment in both colour and texture: hence the term parchment coffee which is used to describe the dried beans at this stage.
Some coffee farmers prefer to pulp their own cherries at home on a small hand or engine-driven drum pulper. Others take their crop to a central pulpery. This will use a much larger disc pulper which is usually owned by a cooperative group formed and run by the farmers themselves.
Ideally, the cherries shouid be pulped on the same day they are picked. Failure to do so can produce a smelly, fermented coffee bean known as a stinker. A professionai coffee taster, known as a liquarer, wouid detect the presence of a stinker in a brow immediately. Only one stinker in a whole sack of perfect beans is enough to contaminate the batch. As stinkers adversely affect the taste and smell of the final cup of coffee, they have the effect of greatly reducing the price offered to the farmer at the coffee auction.
The drying complete, the coffee farmer can now arrange for his parchment coffee to be sent to the factory for milling. This is usually done by lorry with the vehicles often having to negotiate difficult roads. In many areas, the heavy tropical rains will have bequn, making the journey even more hazardous. Once delivered to the mill, the parchment coffee will be weighed, recorded and stacked, awaiting the milling process.
If you grind a handful of parchment beans in your hands, the 'parchment' comes away easily. You will then see that the beans are covered with yet another skin - this time, a fine, transparent membrane - which isn't so easy to remove. This is called the silverskin. The main purpose of the milling process is to remove the parchment casing and the si~verskin membrane.
Later, the same factory will grade the newly-milled coffee beans according to their size and weight.
Broadly speaking, the larger and heavier the bean, the better the price it will make at auction. Before the milling process can begin, however, the parchment coffee has to be cleaned by special machines that remove all 'foreign' matter. Stones, nails, string and even pieces of metal can mysteriously find their way into the sacks - making them weigh heavier when delivered to the coffee mill weighbridge!
Once cleaned, the coffee beans are ready to be hulled - the process whereby the parchment casing is removed. This is done by centrifugally impacting the beans inside a machine rotating at high speed. The casings are discharged like flying cornflakes, blown from the mill by huge fans. Utilising friction, a machine called a polisher is then employed to rub off the silverskins. What then emerges is the familiar 'naked' coffee bean, now referred to as green coffee. Good quality green coffee has an intense green-khaki lustre. It is very hard to bite and has a bitter taste.
Grading - from elephant' to 'peaberry'
The beans are then graded according to size, a process which involves passing them over vibrating or rotating screens and allowing them to fall through holes of differing size. There are five categories: 'E' which stands for elephant followed by 'A', 'B' and 'C' in order of diminishing size. The fifth grade is 'PB' which stands for peaberry. A peaberry is a misshapen coffee bean in which the two seeds appear to have grown together. They are, nonetheless, capable of producing a fine cup of coffee.
The final stage at the milling factory is where the coffee beans are graded according to their weight. The principle is elementary. A simple machine allows the coffee beans to work their way along an angled and rapidly vibrating surface known as a gravity table. Due to their weight, the heavier beans vibrate up the table and fall through a collecting duct at the top. Medium weight beans follow in the same direction but, unable to make it to the top, they fall off to be collected at the mid point. The lighter beans move downwards to be collected at the bottom of the gravity table. The graded beans are collected and transferred by three conveyors to large storage silos.
Buying orders based on sample coffee sent to the auctions follow shortly afterwards. Specified lots of green coffee are then bagged as ordered, ready for export overseas. Sometimes, a buyer will ask the factory to bulk together different grades of beans before bagging them, to meet a specific customer's requirements.
Every coffee mill has a quality control department known as the liquoring room. Here, samples of coffee are roasted and ground to be infused into a black, sugarless brew. This is tasted (and spat out) by professional liquorers who are responsible for determining its quality.
Most coffee mills do not undertake the commercial roasting and grinding of coffee beans. Generally, the green coffee is exported for further processing at a factory in a different country.
In the international commodity league tables, coffee comes second only to oil. Throughout the world, the industry employs more than 20 million people. And more than four million tonnes of coffee is consumed every year - proving that coffee is still the world's favourite drink. P.L.E.J.
Two of Africa's leading lights in the trade union movement, Hassan Sunmonu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) and Andrew Kailembo, Secretary General of the Africa regional section of the Intemational Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU-AFRO) spoke to the Courier about the changing face of trade unionism in Africa in the wings of the annual meeting ACP/EU social partners meeting, held in Brussels on December 681995.
The wind of democratic change blowing through Africa has opened the door to a re-emergence of free trade unionism. On the other hand, an increase in violations of labour and trade union freedoms by governments has been seen. At the same time, structural adjustment and the devaluation of the CFA franc have set back union attempts to take advantage of political pluralism. Trade unionism was an important element in precipitating an end to one party regimes notably in Mali, Zambia and Malawi, and trade union pluralism has grown with the dismantling of one party systems.
'In this democratisation process, some governments fear the role of the trade union movement. This is particularly so when they see that it is independent and working with a free press, conversing with society,' says Andrew Kailembo, who was elected head of the Nairobi-based ICFTU-AFRO in 1993. It has 44 affiliated organisations in 40 African countries and a membership of 27 million.
Hassan Sunumo renewed a four-year term as head of the OATUU (based in Accra in May 1995. The Organisation claims to represent all trade union tendencies in Africa including the non-aligned. Its Secretary-General is confident that unions will have a strong voice in the continent in future. 'Governments in our countries have become intolerant as a result of the trade union movement leading civil society in a number of countries in demanding the restoration of the people's democratic rights. They used to feel that unions should only deal with bread and butter issues; but every human being is a political animal, and we have a right to air our opinions about the way our countries are run.' He adds: 'Trade unions are saying that they played an important role during the pre-independence period, fighting against the colonial past. Now they want to see that proper democracy is established. When you have democracy, you also have free and independent democratic unions.'
Both umbrella bodies are active in exposing violations of trade union rights and labour freedoms. According to Mr Sunmonu, 'we go to the governments to present the complaints of our affiliates and discuss them with officials. We don't simply attack violations out of hand. There is always another side to the coin. And countries are sometimes very embarrassed when they see the OATUU report on activities.' Both men make a strong call for greater dialogue with the IME and the World Bank on the content of structural adjustment programmes.
Their fears that the 'social partners' are being ignored in the design of IMF and World Bank programmes are also underlined in a recent study by the Brussels-based ICFTU - which has 127 million members in 124 countries - of 13 French-speaking African countries. This study asserts that structural adjustment has set back trade unionism's ambitions of pluralism, as well as progress on labour rights.
The ICFTU report refers to the World Bank Development report for 1995 which says that structural adjustment poses a 'serious challenge'. The ICFTU goes on to recommend 'intervention in labour markets,' to 'reduce the bias against small and informal businesses and agriculture.' Public sector reforms are seen as 'crucial for increasing the quality of services offered' and a 'simultaneous reduction in public employment and a more competitive wage structure' is urged.
According to the report: 'Politicians are again tempted to employ repression in stabilising society so that the requirements of conditionality are accepted unopposed'. The offer of a 'docile workforce' facilitates external investment. It also claims that the 1960s scenario is being repeated. This was when the politicians quest for centralisation to meet the goals of the initial five-year plans first destroyed pluralistic structures in French-speaking Africa. Trade unions, says the ICFTU, were swallowed up and private sector employers marginalised. The state assumed almost complete control of industrial relations.
The report stresses that 'the train of structural adjustment left the station some years ago and workers and their trade unions are on board. Today, the question is not when the trip begins, but where it is going and what route it will take. As political leaders examine (ways) of restructuring labour legislation and industrial relations, as part of an attempt to restart stalled economic growth, they are confronted by the conditions of the international financial institutions.' The study continues: 'Latent tensions have become transparent in the process of drafting new labour codes. Demands for 'flexibility' of employment and working hours have increased pressure in governments to impose fewer restrictions in areas such as employment contracts and procedures, authority of labour inspectors, dismissal for economic reason and temporary work.'
And the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994 had a 'profound effect on wage earners and further undermined union credibility.' Trade unions were taken by surprise as no consultations had taken place prior to the devaluation. There were initial protest strikes and demonstrations in Benin, Burkina, Gabon and Niger. Other unions held meetings and demanded wage increases ranging from 35% in Chad and 50% in Burkina, Mali, Senegal and Togo, to 100% in Gabon.
Whereas Andrew Kailembo speaks about the need for the IMF and the World Bank to engage in dialogue with social partners, Hassan Sunmuno regrets that the 'African alternative' to structural adjustment, endorsed by African nations in 1989, has never been implemented. 'What we are saying is that the World Bank is not restructuring in the right way because it is not involving the social partners. We believe there should be dialogue with the social partners,' he asserts. 'We criticise the World Bank in countries like Chad and Senegal because they have tried to impose expatriates on the governments who then encourage them to water down or abandon their labour laws. This is the business, not of the World Bank, but of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which is the specialised agency for labour legislation.' This year, the ICFTU has organised seven structural adjustment workshops in Ghana, Chad, Senegal, Gabon and Uganda. Participants have included Ministries of Finance and Economics, representatives of civil society and officials of the World Bank and IMF.
'Why,' asks Mr Kailembo, 'should the Ugandan government announce that it is going to retrench 10 000 people, without ever discussing the matter with the social partners? The key question is how you retrench. There should be a safety net for those moving into the informal sector, so that they have something to live on. If you retrench overnight, you create chaos. In the African continent, where you have no social security, if you take away one person's livelihood, you are effectively retrenching 10-20 people.' He claims that the IMF and the World Bank are now beginning to take note of their concerns.
Mr Sunmonu stresses the African alternative: 'What does structural adjustment mean?' he asks. 'Well, it certainly means sacrifice but how can we share the fruits of that sacrifice equitably. At present, less than 2% of the people - who have not made any sacrifice - are reaping 98% of the fruits.'
Both organisations are committed to wide-ranging education schemes, not only about trade union freedoms and labour rights, but also on economic integration in Africa. The OATUU is holding worker education programmes based on popular participation, empowerment, accountabilty of leaders, human and trade union rights, economic and social growth, and the pillars of the Treaty of the African Economic Community adopted in July 1990.
Hassan Sunmonu advocates human resource development and capacity building for unions in each country and talks about organising a sub-regional seminar winding up with a continental meeting. The ILO has pledged funds for three such meetings in Nigeria, Tanzania and Guinea bringing together trade union leaders, general secretaries of affiliates, women's organisations and research and education officers. 'We are also pushing African governments to develop the necessary political will for the integration of their economies through the establishment of the African Economic Community', he says.
But his organisation has ambitions too of being a 'creator of employment' through such things as investment in small and medium-sized enterprises. He points out that in Tunisia, for example, one affiliate owns an insurance company while another runs a hotel.
The organisation is hoping to attract EDF backing to build a new African Labour College in Ghana and a new Secretariat. The Chinese government has already offered some funding.
Both men feel Europe can also directly support labour rights in Africa by linking it with trade. The idea is that if labour standards are not respected, sanctions may follow - the much discussed 'social clause' to trade agreements. 'We think the EU could help us by sanctioning countries where trade union rights are not respected', argues Mr Kailembo.
Hassan Sunmonu notes, on this issue, that 'difficulties will arise over who is the accuser and who is the judge. You need a mechanism akin to that of the ILO, where, if a government breaks the rules, you can make a complaint about the violation, and there is a committee which judges the case on the basis of international labour standards. We want transparency and justice, and the application of universal standards in areas such as the use of child labour.'
Both men talk animatedly about the future and echo the thoughts set out at the end of the ICFTU study. This says that 'Africa is on the threshold of a new political, economic and social era where trade unions can once again play the positive role they once enjoyed in the struggle for independence. If the challenges of this altered environment are to be met successfully, a new vision is needed to guide the leadership, allowing for workers to go beyond past restraints in forging an innovative, truly African style of dynamic trade unionism and industrial relations. D.P.