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Kangemi Declaration
14 February 2020

We, the participants of the 2nd CADTM East Africa Regional Meeting from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania as well as from Morocco and India gathered at Kangemi, Nairobi in Kenya from 7 to 9 February 2020 do hereby acknowledge and affirm that illegitimate debt is a mechanism used to transfer wealth created by the workers and farmers globally and specifically from the global South to benefit the capitalists and other exploiting classes. We affirm that public debt (both external and internal) weighs directly on the populations of the southern and northern countries since their governments have to draw from the state budget to repay it. Therefore, it involves a massive transfer of wealth from the peoples of the South and the North to the creditors, while the local dominant classes have their cut in the transfer. We are aware that public debt is used as a tool for domination and to perpetuate our dependence, a continuation of neo-colonialism.

We resolve that we will carry on the fight against the capitalist system that creates, perpetuates, exacerbates and sustains inequalities around the region and around the planet through exploitation and domination. The capitalists see both nature and human beings as commodities to be exploited and traded for the maximisation of their profit. The capitalist system perpetuates and strengthens all social oppressions including patriarchy, tribalism, racism, ultra-nationalism, religious fundamentalism, corruption and others. This system uses debt not only as a tool for economic subjugation but also for political domination. In fact, capitalism walks hand in hand with the debt system.

We take note of the direct link between sovereign debts and household debts. The East African governments continue to draw from their national budgets to repay the debts leaving very little to spend on social sectors like education, healthcare, water, food and other social securities. This has forced households in East Africa and, indeed, globally to turn to private borrowing leading into an increase in household debts as the household are compelled to borrow to access services that their states ought to be providing them with, but have failed due to increased spending for debt servicing. We reiterate our call for the cancellation of all forms of illegitimate debt – public and private including microcredit debt, peasant debt, student debt, household mortgage debt and others.

We reject the continued presentation of microcredit as a solution to get people out of poverty since it has had disastrous effects on poor populations in the East African region and in Global South in general. With its abusive interest rates and conditions, microcredit has plunged these people into a debt trap, forcing them to contract multiple loans to pay back for the former ones, and to make huge sacrifices to reimburse them over years and decades. We are aware that women are by far the primary victims of microcredit and we express our solidarity with their struggles against microcredit in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Morocco as well as in all other parts of the world.

We shall struggle against all predatory lending, investment and trade agreements that plunge the ordinary people into a vicious circle of austerity, unemployment and poverty – be these agreements coming from International Financial Institutions, from Global North powers or from emerging powers such as China, Turkey, Russia, Iran, South Africa and India, whose policies have negative outcomes in East Africa. We demand an end to all sorts of illegitimate lending by the governments, International Financial Institutions, Multilateral Development Banks and others that destroys lives, devastates livelihoods and ruins nature.

We affirm our continued struggle against all forms of privatisation including the privatisation of water, education, healthcare, other natural resources, public enterprises and public parastatals in East Africa. Similarly we call for scrapping of all Public-Private-Partnerships that have continued to promote privatisation in the East African region.

We believe that public debt is not bad in itself if they are contracted by the governments to finance the ecological transition, to replace fossil energies with renewable energies that respect the environment, to finance land reform, to finance peasant agro-ecology, to finance climate justice, to finance food sovereignty, to finance drastic reduction of road and air transport and replace them with collective transport, to finance the creation of decent jobs for all, to guarantee decent public services for all and to guarantee the respect of fundamental human rights of everyone. Public borrowing can thus be legitimate if it is used to finance legitimate projects and if those who contribute act in a legitimate way.

We affirm our commitment to immediately start a citizens’ audit of all debts in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania bringing together all social movements and the toiling masses to identify parts of public debt that are illegal, illegitimate, odious, or simply unsustainable. Ordinary people must have the necessary knowledge and power to stop the payment of illegitimate debt and its repudiation.

We call for transparency and accountability of all projects financed by overseas lenders and International Financial Institutions in East Africa and further call on all such projects to be brought under democratic oversight through public participation. The respective parliaments of East African countries must ratify the agreements before they are implemented.

We strive for alternative possibilities like subsidies and grants, zero interest loans without discrimination, socially and collectively managed community projects through Community-Community-Partnership etc. We call for the renewed development of free, high quality, public services and increases in the funds available for social spending.

We call upon all East African citizens to unite in our struggles against the illegitimate debt system, free trade agreements that humiliate and exploit the people, plunder and destroy the environment, push whole populations onto penury and destitution.

We extend our solidarity to all labouring masses caught in the infernal webs of illegitimate debts. We resolve to continue our struggle as long as human beings labour under the burden of the debt system, and the financial and microcredit institutions.