Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Bush's Africa Visit A Danger to Africa
If I were president of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, I’d not invite president George W. Bush of the US. I’d not go chest beating for his tour to my country and region altogether. Show me any country that has benefited from being a good boy to the US - especially under George "Warmonger" Bush.
Last year I wrote an article Dealing with America is No Deal in one English daily-The Thisday. I pored on the situation in Pakistan prior to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto whom I warned to get ready for pricey undertaking. I pointed out that Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharaff capitalized on America’s fear of Al-Qaeda to bless his illegal military regime which took power at the time when the UN had categorically banned military juntas from being legalized after they stage coup d’ Etats. What transpired is history though nasty and bitter for a common man in the streets of Karachi Rawalpindi and Lahore.
Coming back to the over touted visit of President Bush to Tanzania and the region in general, I can foresee African mumbo-jumbos congregating in Dar es salaam to renew their vows to their master. I can see dictators like Yoweri Museveni, Paulo Kagame even Mwai Kibaki whose regimes look at America as their Saviour bowing before the man. Whoever doubts this should find out why Museveni tampered with the constitution and got away with it without being reprimanded by the self appointed champion of democracy of the world-the US. One should also question the success of Kagame’s autocratic regime after overthrowing and jailing the president of Rwanda-Pasteur Bizimungu. Kagame rules like a king, let alone his iron fist on political parties and media. Reports by Human Rights Watch have implicated him quite often. But again America, for reasons known to itself, has paid a blind eye.
Kagame and Museveni invaded DRC where they stole minerals, timber and killed many innocent people. Women were raped and houses torched. As usual America paid a blind eye! Montague, Dena, a Senior Research Associate with the Arms Trade Resource Center of World Policy Institute did a tremendous job on DRC showing how Rwanda and Uganda invaded DRC to steal Coltan-the mineral so much wanted by computer manufacturers.
Let me shed some light on this mineral. Coltan is the colloquial African name for columbite-tantalite, a metallic ore used to produce the elements niobium and tantalum. Mineral concentrates containing tantalum are usually referred to as 'tantalite'. In appearance, coltan is a dull black mineral. The exportation of coltan helped fuel the war in the Congo, a conflict that has resulted in approximately 3.8 million deaths. Coltan is the ore for tantalum used in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, DVD players, and computers. Those interested in knowing much about this plot to ruin DRC by Rwanda and Uganda can refer to Stolen Goods: Coltan and Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo SAIS Review - Volume 22, Number 1, Winter-Spring 2002, pp. 103-118. By Montangue Dena.
To crack the jigsaw behind this and how America comes to the big picture, one should ask himself: where does Rwanda and Uganda sell coltan if not to the US? Like oil to the middle East, DRC is tortured by its minerals. Refer to the massacre of Patrice Lumumba the first Prime minister of DRC by the CIA on 17 January 1961.
Tanzania has big quantities of a diversity of minerals such as gold, diamond and ruby. The Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania the world over. With immense quantities of minerals unexploited, Tanzania has proved to be so lenient and most corrupt as far as investment by foreigners is concerned. Many Tanzanians are still languishing in penury despite their country producing tonnes and tonnes of gold for example. Corruption has been instrumental for foreign countries to rob Tanzania. Edward Lowassa, former Prime Minister of Tanzania, was forced by the parliament select committee to stand down after being implicated in the Richmond scandal; the scandal under which Tanzania was to loose over $ 170 million.
There is yet another scandal- the mother of scandals- known as BoT or Bank of Tanzania in which over $ 330 million were stolen by government officials to finance elections that propelled Kikwete to power. Some observers say the figure is even higher!
What shall Bush’s visit do to Tanzania? One thing is evident: Al-Qaeda will get more reasons to attack the country again (the 1998 victims have never been redressed!) Currently, Somalia has no meaningful government; and rumours have it that Al-Qaeda is operating from Somalia. Hadn’t Kenya been dipped into the post-elections fiasco, chances were that Bush would have been hosted by Kibaki. As fate has it, Kibaki is a shame of a sort. Thus Bush had to skip him and prefer Kikwete who also is the chair of AU.
Those who think that the coming of Bush means an increase in foreign aid to Africa are dead wrong. America does not offer as much money compared to other European countries. The US is the single largest donor of foreign economic aid, but, unlike many other developed nations, Americans prefer to donate their money through the private sector, according to a new report published by a Washington research organization. Of the $122.8 billion of foreign aid provided by Americans in 2005 (the most current data available), $95.5 billion, or 79 percent, came from private foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, universities, religious organizations and individuals, says the annual Index of Global Philanthropy. "It isn’t like in the 1950s when the Marshall Plan and government flows dominated our economic engagement with the developing world," says Carol A. Adelman, Director of the Center for Global Prosperity.
Much of donor funds coming to Africa as aid end up being taken by expatriates from the same donor. If the funds target purchasing corn or any food, again the same will go back to the same donor. The needed stuff will be bought either from the donor country or a place where it has its economic interests as it happened in 2006 when UNHCR received grants for purchasing corn for Darfur refugees.
What then should we expect of Bush’s visit to the region? Many weapons to be sold to Rwanda and Uganda so that they can nourish their Nkundas in the DRC? Shall there be anything to expect, it is Osama.
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He is a Journalist, Teacher, Poet, Human Rights activist and member of the Writers' Alliance of New Foundland and Labrador (WANL)
Source: The African Executive Magazine-Nairobi, February 20. 2008.
Posted by NN Mhango at 04:53