Religious leaders urge respect for Africa’s riches

Rev. Lubaale heads the Organization of African Instituted Churches Phoro: Global Christian Forum

Rev. Lubaale heads the Organization of African Instituted Churches
Phoro: Global Christian Forum

Speaking of the African Faith Leaders’ Statement on Financing for Development, issued following a side event at the 3rd United Nations Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Rev. Nicta Lubaale, general secretary of the Organization of African Instituted Churches, said, the key message from African faith communities is “respect Africa’s resources”.

Lubaale was present at the side event, which brought together representatives of African faith communities, including member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The 3rd United Nations Financing for Development Conference was held from 13 to 16 July.

“Africa is a place blessed with abundance whose wealth has historically been unfairly appropriated by other societies through slavery, colonization, unfair trade and illicit financial flows,” reads the statement.

The statement therefore calls for a “sustained shift in relations in light of shared humanity”.

Participants of the side event also called for an end to corporate tax evasion and use of tax havens.

They endorsed a call for the establishment of an inter-governmental global tax body for the compulsory monitoring and exchange of tax information.

They agreed that ecologically destructive activities must be heavily taxed or prohibited altogether. Financing to help Africa and other regions, they stressed, responds to the challenge of climate change which must be a focus of attention and clearly differentiated from targets to increase foreign aid.

The faith leaders said that to tackle chronic sovereign debt crises, which mostly hurt the impoverished, an international comprehensive, fair and transparent debt restructuring mechanism must be established.

Among the organizations which endorsed the statement are the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa, the World Student Christian Federation-Africa, the Economic Justice Network and the WCC’s Ecumenical Disability Advocacy Network. The signatories also include Muslim, Hindu and Baha’i organizations in the region.

Speaking of proposals in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Athena Peralta, WCC consultant for the Economic and Ecological Justice programme, said, “An important opportunity to fix systemic flaws in the international financial architecture has been lost, as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda has failed to enshrine our calls.”

“Yet it is even more critical for the churches to continue to demand these reforms in the global financial system. It is a matter of life and death for people living in poverty,” she said.

The calls for reform also resonate with recommendations made in two ecumenical documents; the Sao Paulo Statement: International Financial Transformation for an Economy of Life and Economy of Life for All Now: An Ecumenical Action Plan for a New International Financial and Economic Architecture.

World Council of Churches (WCC)