Reading this booklet will transform your world. Knowing that the necessities of life, such as food security, the highest possible level of health, education, housing, basic public utilities, transport, decent work and a living wage are your socio-economic rights will empower you to defend and exercise them. These rights are entrenched in various international law instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations Charter. In other countries such as South Africa, these rights are enshrined in the Bill of Rights section of their constitution.
Poor governance and corporate-driven globalisation are some of the forces behind the undermining of these rights. Corporate-driven globalisation promotes the interests of powerful multinational companies and those of developed nations at the expense of the developing ones. The effects of corporate-driven globalisation should be understood in the context of the adoption of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) by the government in 1991, and the ratification of various trade agreements such as the SADC Trade Protocol, the COMESA Free Trade Area and NEPAD, among others. ESAP marked a paradigm shift in policy from the state-led development of the 1980s to a market-oriented economic system. ESAP entailed the liberalisation and deregulation of the economy. It resulted in massive cutbacks on government expenditure and support of essential services and basic socio-economic rights, which drastically increased the cost of basic services such as health and education and eliminated support for producers and consumers.
The following discussion, therefore, is a status summary of your socio-economic rights in the wake of globalisation and the current economic crisis. We would like to thank SASK for providing funding for this project. We are also grateful to Alice Mutema, Emmaculate Moyo and Tafadzwa Mahere who updated and edited this booklet as well as Tony Namate who did the cartoon sketches.