(File image) Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Pretoria - The global economic crisis demands a “sharpened radical shift”, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told delegates attending the Socialist International Congress in Cape Town on Thursday.

The 24th Congress of the Socialist International is being hosted by the ANC - marking the first time since it was founded that it was being held in Africa.

In his opening address, Motlanthe said the “global crisis of capitalism and imperialism” was hitting growth, widening social inequality, increasing poverty levels and worsening employment figures.

“It is in the context of these challenges we face as Socialist International [members] that we should locate the ongoing debates.”

The agenda of the congress titled “For a new internationalism and a new culture of solidarity” focused on four themes:

- For an economy with jobs, growth and social protection: the social democratic response to the financial crisis.

- The struggle for rights and freedoms: strengthening representative democracy and gaining new democracies in the world.

- For a common road to peace, sustainability and co-operation: the need to secure multilateralism.

- For a new internationalism and a new culture of solidarity among people and nations.

Motlanthe said poverty, inequality and high unemployment levels were prevalent in developing countries “and now visible even in the First World due to the global crises”.

He was confident the movement would gain a clearer vision “to tackle the debilitating conditions affecting more than half the world’s population” after the congress.

George Papandreou, Socialist International president and Greece’s former prime minister, said the “myth of infallible free markets” had served conservatives well.

Greece might have averted a bailout if the economy had not been robbed by funds being “funnelled to tax havens”, he said. He said $21 trillion (R178 trillion) was hidden in tax havens around the world. There was no “free market” as the market was made for the “powerful”. Whether in developed or developing nations, “citizens are being robbed”, he said.

Pretoria News