No to World Bank-Civil Society relations
By Console Tleane, published by African Flame - a newsletter of the African Social Forum
12th December 2004
"There may come a time when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, but I am still betting on the lion."
Henry Wheeler Shaw should have had the feelings of the participants at Saturday's session on engagements between the World Bank and the civil society in mind when he said the above words. Other people had adapted the above quotation to read: "The lion and the lamb may lie side by side, but the lamb shall forever be restless."
The latter reflected the mood in the session more accurately. The restlessness of the participants was evident from the beginning of the session. The session was supposed to consider developments that have already taken place between some civil society organisations, particularly those led by CIVICUS, whose director, Kumi Naidoo, introduced the topic.
Naidoo informed the meeting about a series of consultations that have taken place between the World Bank and civil society. These consultations will culminate in a meeting scheduled for April 2005.
Without a single dissenting voice, participants rejected any dealings with the Bank. The Bank's bad record on the continent and the tonnes of evidence that indict it for the continued poverty of the African people were cited as the main reasons why any engagement will not be meaningful.
The message was clear; there is no way that the ASF would entertain any dealings with the Bank. And those who would like to continue dealing with it will have to do so out of their own accord.
(The 2004 ASF was held in Lusaka, Zambia)