Today (25 May), Africa celebrates 60 years since the inception of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union (AU). The organisation was created in 1963 in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) with the vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”.
These 60 years of African trajectory have been characterised by ups and downs. Whilst all African countries achieved independence, economic freedom remains unachieved. The continent continues to fight against legacies of imperialism, colonialism and apartheid. It has faced health pandemics, such as Ebola and Zika, which left several countries insufficiently prepared to face COVID-19. Throughout these battles, Africa has embodied the values of its longstanding principle of Ubuntu. Where governments were weakly positioned to provide health, economic and social relief, closely knit communities and community-led organisations worked tirelessly across Africa to ensure that to get through this together.
The spirit of Ubuntu has also inspired the Africa Group at the United Nations to take leadership to pass a resolution on international tax cooperation at the UN General Assembly, which will pave the way for a UN Tax Convention to end tax abuse by multinational corporations and the wealthy, and establish inclusive and democratic global tax governance. This is also a reflection of the growing demand to end the colonialist global financial architecture.
The statement published on this Africa Liberation Day by the Fight Inequality Alliance (FIA), of which the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ) is a proud member, signifies solidarity with African women and men who continue to fight so valiantly for economic and tax justice.
Here are some messages from GATJ’s members and partners in the continent:
“The overhaul and remaking of our broken global economic system is now more urgent than ever. We’ve never been afforded a seat at the table, our resources remain exploited to build the table and benefit its occupants. The actions of many African countries to not only remake the table but put forth a new agenda have been exemplary. The youth, women and girls of Africa and the Global South at large have a lot to gain by the continued solidarity of the African Group. We have to collectively push for the future envisioned 60 years ago in Ethiopia.”
Riska Koopman, global policy advocacy and campaigns coordinator at GATJ
“The decolonisation of Afrika depends on Afrikan solidarity. Therefore on this 2023 Afrika Liberation Day, we at African Parliamentary Network on Illicit Financial Flows and Tax (APNIFFT) wish to salute the effort of solidarity shown by the Afrikan Group at the UN. The struggle against illicit financial flows and tax justice are pivotal milestones in the journey of decolonisation. May the spirits of colonial resistance imbued in Lumumba, Sankara, Biko, Nehanda, Njinga Mbande, Mekatilili, Labotsibeni and many others continue to strengthen our resolve for a free, united, economically viable, non sexist Afrika!”
Dr. Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala, chairperson of APNIFFT
“Africa has suffered for several centuries, its most precious resources were robbed to contribute to the development of the West. We cannot forget slavery, colonialism, and the continued subjugation of the continent to serve the development interests of rich countries. For Africa to cushion itself against the scourge of poverty, inequality, conflict, wars, authoritarianism, and climate induced disasters, the reform of the lopsided global financial and tax framework is critical. The world has an opportunity to reset and genuinely address the historical and current development injustices and the UN’s leadership of the equitable global tax reforms offers the opportunity to show such commitment.”
Mukasiri Sibanda, coordinator of the Stop The Bleeding campaign
“Africa’s moment is here. In the face of adversity, She has stood strong and fought for Her people. She has rejected the debt proposals by calling for a complete review of the debt and financial architecture; She has dismissed the Bretton Woods system as not fit for purpose; and she has challenged global tax rules away from elite European countries to the democratic space of the United Nations. Freedom is coming! Africa is a rule maker!”
Jason Braganza, executive director of AFRODAD
“The only way we can attain ‘an Africa, whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth’, as envisioned in Agenda 2063, is to have an international tax system that ensures that African countries participate and benefit from their resources and valued created within them to invest in social and public sectors. We commend the African Group for insisting on and championing international cooperation on tax matters where we shall have equal say on how taxing rights are shared among states within the UN Framework.”
Allan Murangira, team leader at Youth for Tax Justice Network