The Southern and Eastern Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) was established in 1997 with the vision of strengthening Africa in world trade. The broader and specific objectives upon which the outcomes of the activities and programmes can be measured are detailed below.
This section accounts for the outcomes/impacts of some of SEATINI’s programmes. SEATINI recognizes that as an organization centered on research, capacity and movement building, and policy advocacy on issues related to trade and investment, some programmes might have direct and immediate impact while others have indirect and lagged impact that requires strenuous advocacy. The following are some of the successes the organization has had in implementing its activities.
1. SEATINI organized meetings, workshops and briefing sessions prior to the Seattle World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference held in November-December 1999. It helped to maintain contact between Geneva and the capitals and brought in domestic stakeholders in the process of consultations on trade and WTO related issues. SEATINI played a role in the collapse of the Seattle conference as African countries showed they would no-longer take the situation lying down and that they were ready to demand a fair hearing of their concerns in trade negotiations hence they withdrew their consensus from the WTO process.
2. SEATINI organized major African trade meetings in Zimbabwe (Harare), Mauritius and Uganda (Arusha). These major regional meetings brought together African trade negotiators and earned SEATINI recognition to become part of government arrangements in trade negotiations. SEATINI was invited by governments for meetings with government officials and parliamentarians at the national level. The organization went further to sensitize unions and then broadly CSOs. The major outcome is the realization of the negative impacts of the various ‘texts’ of free trade deals by government officials, parliamentarians, and CSOs.
SEATINI became part of government trade negotiating delegation particularly for countries SEATINI is represented. For example in 2003 , the World Trade Organization (WTO) 5th Ministerial Conference held in Cancun (Mexico), SEATINI had 3 members for Zimbabwe and 3 for Uganda as part of government negotiators and for South Africa, SEATINI registered a member as a media person. SEATINI bought phones for the Ministers of Zimbabwe and Uganda to communicate what was happening in the meetings, sending information on positions to the team of negotiators. The result was the collapse of the ministerial conference and that set the tone for the collapsing of succeeding ministerial conferences that did not gave due consideration of developmental concerns of the developing countries. Governments are now asymmetrical about trade agreements.
SEATINI continued to provide technical assistance to negotiators and sensitizing people at national levels building resistance from the grassroots. Momentum was lost since outcomes were no longer passing at the WTO level and countries started to look for the alternatives such as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and regional mega-deals in trade and investment.
The major outcome from SEATINI’s trade negotiations programme under the WTO was a shared perspective across all levels from ambassadors in Geneva to authorities at national levels, unions and farmers on global trade issues. Hence the WTO did not have its own way. Some victories were witnessed such as the amendment of the TRIPs, with Zimbabwe pushing for the health issues agenda through the work of SEATINI. SEATINI’s work therefore continue to be aligned on WTO issues, for example we would want to monitor how the implementation of the TRIPs agreement will impact access to medicines for HIV/AIDS.
Studies and policy advocacy rolled out on the Implications of Trade Related Intellectual Rights on Technology transfer and innovation in SADC helped policy makers appreciate the implications of TRIPs to the regional developmental agenda. SEATINI can claim modest impact that led to amendment of the TRIPs agreement.
3. In the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations between the European Union and the African Caribbean and Pacific countries (EU-ACP EPAs), SEATINI was the only institution given the table for negotiations and was funded by COMESA to participate in the meetings. There was recognition of SEATINI’s work. SEATINI compiled all proposals that African countries had put forward in the WTO negotiations (Compilation of the formal African Proposals to the WTO) trying to benchmark development in the EPAs. The documents show that African countries had formal positions in the WTO and were not mere listeners as perceived.
SEATINI had tremendous programmes on sensitizing CSOs, government officials and parliamentarians on the negative impacts of EPAs. As a recognized institute, SEATINI was called by Parliamentary Portfolio Committees to make presentations to the Parliamentarians. The Zimbabwe Institute of International Affairs also invited SEATINI to make presentations on the impacts of EPAs. Of particular note, the Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and CabinetRetired Colonel Christian Katsandecalled SEATINI to make presentations to permanent secretaries across all Zimbabwe’s government ministries.
SEATINI raised enough awareness on EPAs even though governments went on to sign EPAs. Signing was merely political as government officials understood, and were aware and would say that EPAs are not good. SEATINI managed to bring trade issues to the government ministers and such comprehension can be applied to subsequent agreements.
SEATINI helped to build key pressure points through masses of individuals, social movements and community based organizations for governments to reverse most commitments under the SAPS, WTO and EPAs regimes. The solidarity and knowledge possessed by movements can now be harnbessed to resist investments not benefiting communities, corporate power and furtherance of inequalities, poverty and impacts of land grabs.
4. SEATINI has been implementing the trade and health programme and participates in the regional network for Equity in Health in East and southern Africa (EQUINET). SEATINI has led the EQUITY cluster on global engagement raising issues on trade and health, and health diplomacy in relation to heath issues in the World Trade Organization agreements and under debate at the World Health Assembly. SEATINI has produced policy briefs, 6 bulletins and discussion papers on access to medicines published by Carlton University. Theinformation, policy briefs and research papers on trade and global health diplomacy have been used as inputs in trainings and preparatory workshops for the senior officials and diplomats, parliament, civil society and other organizations. Materials produced has become essential inputs for policy, information and training in the East Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA HC).
Bulletins on the implications of trade agreements on production and access to essential medicines has been used in national processes such as policy dialogue on equity in universal health coverage in Zimbabwe. The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe strongly advocated against negotiating intellectual property in the EPAs making extensive reference to SEATINI/EQUITY study on EPAs and Health. SEATINI has also established linkages with Universities such as the University of Toronto under the project on, ‘Health Diplomacy at a Crossroads: Social Justice-Oriented SouthSouth Cooperation in a Time of Global Change’ meant to promote social justice oriented trade and health agreements.
SEATINI also cooperated and supported the Zimbabwe Trade and Health advocate team through the Community Working Group on Health with outcomes that include increased awareness on the importance of access to water for public health; increased profile of and awareness on public health laws and principles and their inclusion in trade agreements by the government, parliament and civil society; and increased articulation of health issues in trade by parliament and civil society.
The work of SEATINI has expanded from trade to show the impacts of trade, globalization and liberalization on a number of social and economic issues from agriculture to health among other social issues. Research work of SEATINI also shows how bilateral investment agreements impact and impoverishes people.
5. The Equator school launched by SEATINI in Uganda in 2004 created a critical mass of people in the region that understand the perspective of SEATINI on trade and investment. Well known international speakers on developmental issues attended the event and these include Professor Erik S. Reinert who authored the book, ‘How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor.’ Other professors from New York and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) attended the event andpresentedduring the school. In 2013, when Prof Reinert came to the Norwegian Embassy, he called SEATINI to discussthe strategies for reviving Zimbabwe.
6. SEATINI had been advocating for the protection of domestic industries and domestic producers (farmers) particularly infant ones and a development agenda centered at the state. When funders’ interest on WTO issues subdued and SEATINI started to have a deeper role on national developmental issues, advocacy has been mainly on the protection of domestic industries and poorly resourced smallholder farmers while pursuing a well sequenced regional liberalization strategy. Since 2013, Zimbabwean industrialists have been saying what SEATINI has been advocating forin the past years. Statutory instrument instigated by the government of Zimbabwe in 2014 and the most debated SI64 of 2016 speaks to issues which have been raised by SEATINI (protection of infant industries and complemental social package to free trade policies). In particular, SEATINI’s statement on EPAs in 2012 that was delivered to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) and statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 are virtually the same.
While there might be no direct acknowledgement of the use of SEATINI’s material and consideration of SEATINI’s input, policies that are aligned to SEATINI’s advice and policy perspectivespoint towards SEATINI’s contribution through research and policy advocacy. It is important to note that SEATINI receive important documents from government ministries and departments such as the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to comment and submit inputs a reflection of the impact and recognition of the organization.
7. SEATINI played a critical role through research and policy dialogues linking access to natural resourceswith foodsovereignty and livelihoods. Through research and dialogue forums, community development was enhanced as small groups of farmers were capacitated to stand up for their rights, deciding what to grow and where to sell their excess farm produce. Movement building initiatives at national and regional (people’s Summit) helped to build confidence of communities and strengthened solidarity amongst activists in Zimbabwe and the region.
8. SEATINI is part of the social movements that lobbied the UN to change its position on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) from the responsible investment principles, that had enabled them to operate with impunity gravely disregarding human rights in developing countries, into specifically legally binding measures. SEATINI worked closely with its partners on rural investments and made the affected communities to be courageous and government started to acknowledge the sins committed by TNCs.
9. The impact of SEATINI’s work can also be inferred from the usage of SEATINI materials by other constituencies. SEATINI was invited by AGS to attend Southern Africa days in Sweden and make presentations on EPAs in 2011. Rangarirai Machemedze gave a lecture at the University of Orebro1. SEATINI also undertook research on the impacts of EPAs on livelihoods in Southern Africa under the support of AGS. The report was published in 20112. In 2016, Emilia Haatendi (Centre for the Development of Women and Children) quoted SEATINI’s research when making a presentation on the effects of liberalization and property rights on seed and food sovereignty at a workshop organized by the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZiLAN) to discuss the effects of contract farming.
10. SEATINI has undertaken research informed movement building initiatives meant to build awareness of economic constituencies on the source of their socio-economic challenges and strengthening the movements to claim favorable policies. Constituencies engaged over the years include farmers, unions, vendors and informal producers. Farmers realized how buyers control the supply chain through contract farming, starving the markets of key inputs and making financially self-sufficient farmers to rely on contracts. Farmer movements and associations started to demand freedom from contract farming, regulation and contract transparency. Farmers are also now advocating against cheap imports and liberalization of trade.The organization helped grassroots movements seeking recognition by the state and easing the legal environment or seeking protection against foreign competition. SEATINI’s work with vendors in partnership with Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) between 2015 and 2016 led to the organization of individual vending organizations under the Consortium on Informal Sector Organizations which was meant to improve coordination of vendors and strengthening their voice on issues of concern.
11. SEATINI’s work in collaboration with Lower Guruve Development Association (LGDA) and Action Aid on the cotton campaign in Guruve and Mbire strengthened the voice of farmers and enabled alternative marketing channels. In Mbire, instead of farmers marketing individually, they united and were able to bargain for better cotton prices. The programme that was also supported by Action Aid’s programme on trade justice enabled farmers to interact with policy makers and air their views and concerns on cotton and livelihood issues. Farmers in Mbire, and LGDA applauded the programme as some of their concerns were addressed by the policy makers. Farmers recognized the relevance of unions hence the Mbire Farmers Association was strengthened.
12. During the constitution making process SEATINI provided talking points and mobilized for the recognition of trade as a profession. The talking points produced by SEATINI were utilized by the Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA), to advocate for freedom of profession, occupation and trade. Hence the Zimbabwean constitution Chapter 4 section 64 provide for freedom of profession, trade and occupation.
SEATINI’s dream for a future world is one without war and violence. It is one where nobody needs to go hungry or thirsty, or without clothing, shelter, clean water, ample sources of energy, good health and education, and the higher pursuits of knowledge. It is a dream of a borderless world, where people move freely between climes and cultures, and where social structures, inclusion, culture and dignity give more status than consumer goods. It is a world where the benefits of the phenomenal advancement of science and technology are available to all, where these are applied to satisfy all the reasonable and sensible material needs of the world’s populations, where survival, access to basic needs and dignity are not dependent on paid labour
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