SOUTHERN AFRICA: Churches told financial institutions are too powerful

December 9, 2008

International financial institutions have deviated from their mandate of assisting the economic development of poorer nations through aid, investment and trade and are now controlling their political and economic agenda, a gathering of African churches in the Mozambican capital has been told.


"We as churches and the ecumenical movement urgently need to discern the guiding spirit of economic globalization," said the Rev. Nyansako-ni-Nku, president of the All Africa Conference of Churches, presenting his report to the organization's December 7-12 general assembly in Maputo.

The AACC president said organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization had become so powerful that their political and economic agendas were affecting the livelihood of every human being on earth.

"Our major challenge is how we can promote an alternative world view in which justice in the financial systems, freedom from bondage of debt and that the message of compassion as expressed in the exemplary life and teachings of Jesus Christ, is a lived reality," said Nyansako-ni-Nku, who is also moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon. He presented his report on December 8.

"We are told that the transnational corporations that nearly brought the global economy to its knees are concentrated in one particular street in New York [Wall Street] but have their networks of movement of capital in every corner of the world. And their economies are so large that if one of them is in peril due to corruption or otherwise, governments, especially in the south, could simply collapse," he said.

The AACC president's statement came as the Geneva-based Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, a network of churches and agencies that campaigns for trade justice, warned against attempts to revive talks on trade under the auspices of the WTO.

"An increase in healthy trade would indeed support the global economy," the alliance said in a December 8 statement. "However the WTO's current agenda is limited to an approach of liberalization and deregulation, reducing the capacity of governments or any other public institutions to take action in the economy."

Nyansako-ni-Nku also paid tribute to the Rev. Mvume Dandala, a Methodist from South Africa who became AACC general secretary in 2003 and is stepping down after one term.

"When he came in, he succeeded in re-branding an organization that was moribund," said the AACC president. "He won back the confidence of partners and redefined its raison d'être, as the spiritual pulse of the continent, plowing in the best of his body, mind and soul."

Dandala's successor is the Rev. André Karamaga of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda. He currently works for the Geneva-based World Council of Churches as executive secretary for the Africa region.