In February, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy funded Jessica Northey and me to go as GPEW representatives to Uganda for the first Eastern Africa Greens Federation (EAGF) strategy workshop.
We joined 30 people from Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda to develop regional cooperation between Green parties and movements. In this part of the world, with the exception of Kenya, Greens are still emerging, though national parties are working hard and are determined to win seats in their upcoming elections.
Each country has its own challenges, both political and practical, including difficulty in getting registered as a political party in Burundi and the jailing of some leaders in Rwanda. It is not easy to build public understanding when both education and communication technology are patchy, and funding basic activities is tricky when GDP per person is less than £100 a month.
However, there was a huge sense of solidarity and shared struggle between our work here and theirs in East Africa. Just like us, they are a grassroots movement working against the odds to raise their profile and push for vital social change.
My favourite part of the workshop was the discussion about values. Participants were interested to hear about our own broad agenda, and came up with ambitious shared principles for their region’s Green parties.
We were told that EAGF is the only cross-border political grouping in East Africa, with most political parties based around ethnic and interest groups. Developing a vision based on a shared positive ideology was almost unique to the Green movement, and it was very exciting to watch it happen.
East Africa is at the forefront of many of the issues we talk about in GPEW – the injustices of capitalism, environmental protection, and struggles by women and minority groups. Supporting the EAGF’s aims supports our own, and we hope to build up long-term links that will strengthen us all.
THE AGREED VALUES OF THE EAGF
- Justice, equity and human rights
- Democracy, accountability and non-corruption
- Promotion of green ideology
- Non-violence, peaceful co-existence
- Integrity and honesty
- Sustainable development