Thematic Focus

Economic Justice

Building on existing work of network national focal points across the region, SAPSN will continue with this strategic thematic area, as identified at inception in 1999. Economic justice is a core building block of SAPSN as it sits at the center of tackling structural causes of poverty, marginalization, exclusion and intersecting inequalities across gender, sex, religion, race, ethnicity, age, class, income, disability and geographical location, among others. Equitable access to quality public social services such as health, education, sanitation, shelter, clean and usable water, as well as means of production such as land are at the center of mobilization, campaigns, and the regional movement SAPSN has been building for more than a decade and half. Key big issues to program around include:

a) Tax Justice

b) Trade and Livelihoods

c) Public Finance Management: Debt, Tax Justice & Illicit Financial Flows

d) Cross Border Trading

Institutional Strengthening Internal Governance

SAPSN institutional arrangements are articulated in a 2003 document entitled “Summarized SAPSN Guiding Principles”. The document lays out structural issues, network processes and membership. The governance structures include the Coordinating Committee, General Assembly and the Secretariat. One element of the structure, the secretariat, which was hitherto based on a rotation model, was reviewed by the regional coordinating committee sitting as part of the strategic retreat and a decision for immediate implementation was taken – to cease the rotation and adopt a permanent secretariat, with a time frame of a maximum of twelve months given for this change to take effect. This change will call for a revision of several aspects of the Guiding Principles, which process will take place and will be finalized during 2018. The process will agree on the host country, institution and the nurture of the secretariat, which is a product of the strategic direction the network has chosen for the next 4 years. A back-up document “Revised SAPSN Guiding Principles” will therefore be produced to redefine structural issues, membership and network processes.

Movement Building

The major drivers of the solidarity that defines SAPSN are organic struggles that connect the regional citizenry through community based, national and regional people’s movements. The force that is SAPSN is heavily dependent on social movements and alliances mobilizing to challenge rising inequalities, structural causes of poverty and injustices, including violence and political oppression. Social movements are the base for SAPSN. Through this strategy, SAPSN will deliberately work to re-build the capacities of various social movements organizing, defending and claiming people’s rights. Participants at the strategic retreat observed and agreed that there is need to audit the state of social movements in different countries with a deliberate view to re-booting them on many fronts, including capacities to organize, structural issues, resource mobilization, framing of issues and alliance building, among others. Pathways to programmatic interventions under this strategic pillar include:

a) Capacity Building of Existing Social Movements

b) Nurturing and growing nascent and new movements

c) Peer Leaning & Exchange

d) Amplification of sectoral voices

e) Campaigns & Mobilization for Collective Action

Natural Resource Governance

Over the years, the norms, institutions, and processes that determine how power and responsibilities over natural resources are exercised in southern Africa has been on the spotlight. Although oil, gas, mining and agribusiness have the potential to take millions out of poverty in southern Africa, the converse has often been true, with most resource rich communities locked in conflict and confined to abject poverty. Improving natural resource governance, in particular by improving financial transparency in the extractive industries, remains a crucial step to ensuring citizens can hold their governments accountable for resources communities are custodians of, at the same time ensuring corporate accountability. Key programming pathways identified under this theme include:

a) Extractives and Mining (Inc Oil, Gas and Coal)

b) Land Access and Management

c) Ocean Grabbing

d) Agriculture & Food Sovereignty

Democracy, Human Rights & Governance

In southern Africa, like in many parts of the world, repressive and undemocratic regimes are stepping up their assault on the political and democratic space for social movements, civil society and activists to organize. Whereas the SADC regional block’s response to conflict countries or crisis hot spots in the region such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique and Madagascar has been slow and more aligned towards protecting the regimes of the day, new forms of people’s resistance are emerging to reclaim human rights and challenge unjust power. It emerged from shared experiences and subsequent conversations at various SAPSN convened SADC People’s Summits that a coordinated and stronger than ever social movements and civil society voice is needed to develop and strengthen solidarity networks across borders, which allows the different social movements and activists, civil society organizations and NGOs, and other non-state actors to run organically connected campaigns when democracy and social justice is under threat in individual countries and by extension in the sub-region.
This thematic area has hitherto, not been integrated into SAPSN’s work, thus this represents a strategic shift aimed at building a full circle type of solidarity informed by the principle that there cannot be economic justice without robust systems and strong institutions fostering peace, security and political freedom. Big issues informing programming pathways under this theme are:
a) Democratic Elections & Political Processes
b) Rule of Law and access to justice
c) Transparency & Accountability of Public Institutions & Administration
d) Corruption (across the spectrum)