2nd African Social Movements Baraza themed People Power: Reimagining the Future – Organising for Transformation from 12-14 October 2022 in Johannesburg, South Africa
We are at a fundamental turning point in world history as the world grapples with the critical task of “building forward better” in the wake of COVID-19 and the geopolitical fallout emanating from the Russia – Ukraine conflict. The world’s failure to deal with COVID-19 equitably stands as an ultimate indictment of a global system that prioritises profit over people and ignores the needs of the most vulnerable in society. On the other hand, the present geopolitical reconfigurations threaten to unravel all existing platforms for multilateral engagement with huge implications on issues of fundamental concern for progressives including energy, climate and just transition; economicjustice as well as democracy and political rights.
The moment calls for a fundamental reimagination of the future and a new commitment to organizing for societal transformation. This must be a future based on alternative th in king from the neo-liberal ideas and policy prescriptions that have brought the world to this point of peril. lt must be a future based on people centred thinking that prioritizes human need over greed, guarantees freedoms, equality and equity and decisively steer the world away from the looming climate and environ mental calamity.
There is a big contestation underway already to define and shape the future, including strenuous efforts by elites and those who have always held power to reproduce themselves and give a new lease of life to ideas that have failed to work and brought us to a point of global collapse. We believe that it is important at this time to foreground the search for alternatives in the voices and agency of ordinary people and communities across Africa that are engaged in struggles to solve some of the most pressing questions of our time including climate justice, gender justice, economic justice and political rights. lndeed, history shows us that alternatives emerge from the heat and light of concrete people’s struggles – as demonstrated by workers’ struggles that gave us the 5-day working week; Treatment Action Campaign and the important victories on access to essential medicines; and the Fees Must Fall movement and the significant gains secured around public financing of education – just to name a few examples. Equally, we have seen demonstrable impact of movements and social organizing on the political front with the fall of autocratie regimes and new democratic benchmarks in several African countries.
Given the above context, some of the pertinent questions regards organizing for transformation at this time relate to sustainability of movements; going beyond protest moments and trending hashtags to visioning and movement organizing towards a more just society, movements’ relationship with electoral politics, ideology and political education as well as solidarity in action and the role of funders.