By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
Workers worldwide have said the re-election of Nigeria’s Adewunmi Adeshina as the President of African Development Bank (AFDB) was a victory for Africa, and commended the Bank’s approval of a $10 billion facility to support African countries to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
They called for economic transformation in Africa and decried fuel, energy price increase in Nigeria.
The workers also frowned at alleged corruption in South Africa on issues pertaining coronavirus.
“As African countries gradually ease the lock down occasioned by COVID: 19 pandemic, organized labour has cautioned African governments against a return to socio economic policy measures said to have undermined the continent’s capacity to respond in terms of protection of lives and livelihoods,” the said.
Addressing a virtual meeting of Africa Regional Executive council of IndustriALL Global Union anchored in Johannesburg, South Africa at the week end, Comrade Issa Aremu decried what he called a return to “business as usual” policies of deregulated fuel price and electricity tariff in Nigeria and alleged mismanagement of five billion rand (US$299 million) award of tenders to supply the government with personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.
Comrade Aremu who is also the Vice President of Industriall Global union declared support and solidarity for the resistance of trade unions in Nigeria against fuel price hike and protest against “Coronavirus corruption” in South Africa adding that, recovery of African economy is only possible “through enhanced purchasing power of citizens through lower prices and transparency in corporate and national governance”.
Covid -19 pandemic he observed, impacted negatively on mining sector in South Africa, where some mines shut down completely with some workers leaving with little after toiling in the mines for many years, reduced , reduced working hours and retrenchment in automobile, textile and garment sectors, oil and gas sector in Nigeria and Kenya.
He therefore suggested that what Africa needs under the “new normal” is a radical departure from “the past unhelpful neoliberal economics of liberalization, deregulation and high prices, factory closures and export orientation into urgent diversification, import substitution, re-Industrialization and beneficiation.
“This is the time to re-inflate the African economy as commendably being done by the African central banks in the wake of Covid -19 and not a panicky contraction as wrongly being proposed by some fiscal authorities based on the advice of IMF and World Bank”.
While he said in the coming years, the Bank must deepen partnerships even more with organized labour, civil society as well as businesses. “With the disruptions of global supply chain, AFDB must rise to promote agricultural and industrial revolution in the continent. Global resources must be allocated for real economy rather than bailing out financial institutions. All financial institutions including AFDB must place employment and decent work at the centre of macro-economic policies alongside emergency debt relief to enable African countries to return to the path of development” he said. He also said all AFDB projects must ensure secured Decent full employment to get African youths back to work away from insurgency and ill informed desperate immigration.
In her report the Regional Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, Paule Ndessomin observed that impact of Covid: 19 is not gender “neutral” adding that gender violence during the pandemic deepened. She called for intensified union campaign against gender based violence.
Comrade Paule Ndessomin also called for more investment in communication infrastructure in Africa if the continent will reap the benefits of digitalization.
She said for effective organizing trade unions under the new normal must invest in equipment, devices, software, and data.
“Countries should have infrastructure for telecommunications for us to be able to have sustainable meetings. This remains a challenge in our region because of intermittent disconnections. Sometimes this is worsened by our energy infrastructure that has limited capacity and is often unreliable”.