The Quest For Alternatives In Southern Africa: An ANSA Initiative



  • At political and social level, a people-led strategy (as opposed to IMF-WB-WTO-donor-led).
  • At the economic level, an alternative production system, one that is based on domestic demand and human needs and the use of local resources and domestic savings, that is autocentric development (as opposed to the present system that is dominated by an export-oriented strategy, based on foreign investments and ownership).
  • Grassroots-led regional integration (as opposed to the current fragmentation of the region by the Empire).
  • A strategic, selective delinking from neo-liberal globalisation (as opposed to further deepening of integration within the existing iniquitous global system), and preparing for leveraged negotiated relinking in a restructured and transformed global production and distribution system.
  • An alternative policy on science and technology based on harnessing and owning the collective knowledge and wisdom of the people (as opposed to the present blind emulation of techno-science of the empire).
  • A strategy of alliance and networking with national, regional and global progressive forces (as opposed to the present system of co-optation of social forces in the capital-led globalisation process).
  • A strategy with a politically governed redistribution of the wealth and opportunities from the so-called formal sector in society to the informal sectors (as opposed to the present system of misallocation of resources, and the integration of the informal sectors through their providing cheap inputs and a reservoir of semi-employed labour).
  • A strategy where women’s rights are in focus as the basis for a healthy and productive society (as opposed to the present system based on the exploitation of women labour).
  • A strategy where education addresses the needs for sustainable human development, and which is aimed at improving the technical and managerial as well as research and development skills of workers (as opposed to education for a bureaucratic and academic elite).
  • A strategy where peoples’ mobilisation , visible demonstrations &  open hearings in support of the evolving ethical and developmental state, are seen as embodying the democratic strength of the society (as opposed to the present system, where mobilisation is seen as a threat to the existing system, and where the representative democracy can sign away the future rights of people).

While many of the Southern Africa countries have enjoyed positive growth figures over the past three decades, much of this growth has been erratic, Jobless Growth, ruthless, voiceless, rootless and futureless. IMF and World Bank policies under structural adjustment policies have fallen far short from the expectations that were built at their design and implementation. These drastic negative impacts have been further exacerbated by the current global economic, financial, food and climate crises. These crises also serve as indicators to the failure of neo-liberalism to result in human centred growth and development. It is now generally agreed that the neo-liberal paradigm has failed the people. Poverty has not only been entrenched buts has also deepened. There has been much talk about an alternative paradigm, but for a long time no action has been taken to develop such an initiative. It is against this backdrop that the Alternatives to Neo-liberalism in Southern Africa initiative (ANSA) was founded in 2003. This reading covers two aspects: first, it looks at the proposed alternative development paradigm or framework that responds to the quest for alternatives in Southern Africa and then secondly, the ANSA strategies for ensuring that this alternative paradigm taken across Southern Africa and beyond:

An alternative development paradigm

Globalisation is presented today as something from which one cannot escape. It is compared to gravity and to resist it, is seen as going against the grain. If one was to accept this, then of course ANSA has no basis. Fortunately, there is nothing inexorable or inevitable about globalisation, as ANSA argues, globalisation is a policy response of the capitalist nations in crisis with beginnings that go back to the mid- 1970s. It is a self serving myth perpetuated by the Empire (imperial nations) through systematic media disinformation and fatuous academic discourse. It then follows that there must be an alternative. A new vision, a new refinance, knocks at the door of Africa’s future, which leads-not through mainstreaming development into the vortex of globalisation- but into a human rights centred, people directed, humane and inclusive global society that emerges, once again out of the heart of Africa. ANSA argues that the goal of all development is to enhance human-centred values and the social welfare. It is customary to categorise human rights on three levels: the political or civil rights (blue rights), economic rights (red rights), social and cultural rights (green rights). Nonetheless, a human rights approach on its own will not be effective there are powerful vested interests and certain power configurations at the national, regional and global level that need to be challenged to bring about necessary change. Besides, while a human rights approach is a useful starting point, important issues of distribution of welfare and economic well being within and between nations remains a significant aspect of the overall value system. ANSA demands that in additions to a human rights approach, any development approach should include a livelihood approach to human rights, because human rights are not simply individual rights, but also community and national rights. An important ingredient of this is the right to national self-determination, enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Also important is the right of communities at the local level to determine their own lifestyles, destinies and control over the technology and norms of production and reproduction central to their livelihoods within the broader parameters of the national and global environment.

A people oriented strategy needs to address issues of concern to the people such as land reform, food security and sustainable livelihood district by district, village by village. It is also paramount that any alternative strategy addresses the question of agency of change. The issue of agency or the motive force has to be integrated in a holistic manner into the development strategy itself. Many have proposed that a development or interventionist State to be the agent for change, however, ANSA argues that such as State does not fall from the sky! The people at grassroot level have to transform existing States in Southern Africa and turn them into independent and truly developmental, accountable and ethical States. It is not a single event nor is it an academic exercise but is an ongoing daily struggle!


ANSA is not a grouping, a political party or a movement. ANSA is a non-partisan, facilitation project, the function of which is to act as a focal point, guide and act as a catalyst that stimulates people, institutions and movements in the region and beyond to join hands and forge alliances (with progressive individuals, unions, churches, youth and women groups, social movements) in a common pursuit of an alternative to neo-liberalism.

Based on the above analysis and guided by ten principles (see box 1), the intention and purpose of the ANSA initiative is therefore to create awareness and a common vision for human-centered development in Southern Africa, which culminates in the development of a mass movement which demands implementation of alternative development strategies against those being driven by the neo-liberalism strategies.

A full version of the ANSA Alternative Framework which proposes alternatives for several socio-economic sectors which include: education, health, trade, agriculture and rural development, science & technology, culture, gender and manufacturing is available in the ANSA resource book.