“Slam the doors against racism and open up spaces for the advancement of rights in the times of COVID-19!”
The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) salutes Africa, its peoples, and persons of African descent in the diaspora. We also bow in honour to those who openly embrace the continent as their home, friends, partners and obviously well-wishers on the occasion of the commemoration of this year’s Africa Liberation Day.
The commemoration of this date was institutionalized in recognition and therefore symbolic remembrance and celebration of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on the 25th of May 1963.
The event thus aims in particular to promote unity and solidarity among African people and states.
Racism and racist attacks against Africans, blacks and peoples of African descent wherever they are, has been identified as the focal theme for this year’s commemoration. Indeed, we hold it as true that #BlackLivesMatter still.
In fact, racism impacts gender, generation, demographics, creed, communities and nations. For being a black woman, many of our womenfolk have been stereotyped into seeing and thinking lowly of themselves hence limited growth and advancement.
Young persons, especially persons of African descent aside from being exposed to real threats of arrested development, are construed as lawless and restive persons and therefore easy target for extra-judicial killings.
Extremism, intolerance and violent attacks against persons of other creed/faith considered not national or viewed as of alien community or religion has become a norm in some places. Historical and systemic racism has meant that black nations continue to be exploited, abused, scavenged and ravaged mostly by their former colonial overlords and new imperial powers leaving the people and their economies in squalor, hardship and misery.
These acts of racism and hate must stop! We call on governments around the world to take genuine steps to bring to order those who advance the dispossession, deprivation, discrimination and other injustices that Africans, blacks, brown people and persons of African descents have suffered and continue to endure.
It is common knowledge that these injustices have been systematically engineered and advanced over the years. We are convinced that the same systemic and institutionalised means must be calibrated and recalibrated to engineer the reconstruction of fair and acceptable global race relations.
On that note, we join the global black community in calling on the United Nations General Assembly to ensure the firm establishment of the agreed UN-Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (UN-PFPAD).
Such a forum will contribute to the provision of the spaces for dispassionate debate, analysis and prognosis, as well as suggestions and the mobilization of ideas and means on how to address historical, institutional and systematic injustices that the African people, blacks and people of African descent have been subjected to for over four centuries.
We also want to re-emphasise that racism and racist attacks anywhere and against any people will not be ignored, including during sporting events. As such, we call on the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) to give vibes and vigour to its, ‘No Racism”, message and slogan as the 2022 Qatar World Cup counts down.
Similarly, we have been following the remarkable and steady progress that Qatar is making to advance human and labour rights so that she can deliver a fair and friendly world cup event.
International organisations and political institutions such as International Labour Organisation (ILO), the European Union and even the International Trade Union Confederation and other Global Union Federations (GUFs) have severally lauded the various initiatives of the Qatari government to improve the labour rights situation that Gulf Nation.
It is in that spirit, that we reject the recent attacks mostly from Europe that suggest racism contrary to the claims about human rights concerns. Qatar needs support to continue to improve and not race-baiting.
Concerning COVID-19, though the African continent has so far been relatively spared from the severity of the pandemic as the official death count stands at some 130,000 deaths, the negative impacts on physical, mental health, social well-being; negative impacts on the economy; and the consequent exacerbation of inequalities within and between communities, households and countries are conspicuously on the rise.
The growing debt profile of the continent, which worsened on account of COVID-19-induced borrowing coupled with other “pre-existing conditions” such as the lack of policy space for state interventions; lean and grossly inadequate social protection provisions; private and public sectors corruption, and jobless growth will pose real challenges to socio-economic recovery.
Though the challenges seem formidable, they are, however, not insurmountable. We, therefore, call on our governments to commit to better investment in education, research and development to prevent the continent from being relegated to the mercy of the donors.
Africa needs to expand its ability to manufacture quality, safe, efficacious, and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines, essential health technologies, to guarantee its health security needs.
We know that guarantees for socio-economic wellbeing can be secured. This is why we commit ourselves to continue to rigorously engagement our government at all levels to adopt better governance and administration policies and practices. Respect for human rights as a fundamental pillar will contribute to accelerating the promotion of African unity.
Finally, as we celebrate Africa Day, we pledge our commitment to African unity and integration at all levels. We call on our people and leaders to do the same. It is incumbent on all of us to keep alive and advance the aspirations of our founding heroes and heroines past.
Thusang Butale (Mr)