Friday, 22 February 2013

Reckless investment another disaster for Africa

This week I was musing about two historical colonial and imperialistic atrocities which reminded me of the death of Chilean democratically elected president, Salvador Allende (1973) and that of the first and democratically-elected PM of DRC, Patrice Lumumba (1961). Both leaders were toppled and killed by CIA.
Allende was killed by CIA just because he introduced what was known as Chileanization of the economy of his country. This meant: he had to empower Chileans to run their economy. By doing so, he was taking a morsel from the hands of foreigners especially American companies. To stop this, CIA brought one of its Americas school graduate Gen. Augusto Pinochet who ruined the country for many decades.
Another casualty of CIA machinations geared by greedy and exploitation of poor countries was Lumumba who was replaced by CIA agent Joseph Desire Mobutu, who, just like Pinochet, ruined DRC for decades. The involvement of CIA in the toppling of two leaders remained top secret for almost three decades. Many people did not know, and would not think, that CIA committed such sacrilegious acts on the democratic elected governments. Ironically, nobody would believe that the US could topple democratic governments and install dictatorial and kleptocratic regimes as it happened in two incident above. This raised the question as to whether the US fights for democracy or it just uses democracy as pretext and cover to secure its hidden interests.
Along with Allende and Lumumba was Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, who was overthrown in 1954 by CIA just because he wanted to buy back the land that was owned by an American company so as to give it back to his landless citizens. Albenz was replaced by Carlos Castillo who also ruined the country. American United Fruit Company (UFCO) owned vast tracts of land which was not cultivated. UFCO used to undervalue its land so as to pay low tax, something our current investors do. Therefore, when president Albenz wanted to buy the same uncultivated land, UFCO found that it’d suffer a big loss. So, it demanded more money than the value it had declared. When Albenz held his horses, CIA decided to dispose him to save an American Company.
The above three incidents remind me to write this as prediction of what is going to happen to Africa, shall currently myopic regime press on with their so-called investment geared by globalization. I can see Africa heading for the so-called economic coalition path with neo-colonialism based on economic exploitation. I am trying to apply history to show how it sometimes repeats itself especially, when those supposed to understand it well fail to do so. Africa, since independence, has been repeating the same mistakes. Our economies still depend on our former colonial masters. Black colonial masters have always been in power to serve white colonial masters. We’re but small and poor banana republics producing what we can’t consume and consuming what we don’t produce like hens. Who could believe that US used to give Mobutu over $1Bn annually to end up in imperialistic and parasitic banks in Switzerland? When it came to Mobutu, the US did not want any litany on democracy of accountability. Many American created dictators came and left without being reprimanded by the “champion” of democracy! Corrupt and kleptocratic regimes are in power in many African countries and US does not preach any democracy to them. Instead of singing democracy, the US is singing free trade and globalization.
Given that the era of dictatorship is gone, currently, the same imperialistic powers are using the so-called democratically elected leaders to ruin and exploit poor countries. In 1995-2005 Tanzania was under Benjamin Mkapa who did everything to see to it that he robbed all public investment. Mkapa offered all profitable firms to investors at a throwaway price. Since then, the country has been cascading to abject poverty despite producing gold in tons. This is but a single example which tells us that if Africa is to go on with the ongoing diabolic investment, chances are that landless Africans will resort into fighting for freedom afresh.
It is sad though to note that many African regimes have been singing the song of investment and globalization without any scientific, fair and safe preparations or measures in place. Many mineral and energy companies are landing multi-billion investments in Africa without paying tax or investing in human development. It recently came to light that some corrupt government officials in Tanzania stashed over $ 300,000,000 in Swiss banks. All this money was deposited to the banks by corrupt foreign investors. What is evident in many African countries is the rise of antagonism between poor citizenry and foreign companies, which have much influence in the upper echelons of power due to the kickbacks they give to venal rulers. Human rights and the environment are gravely abused and the champion of democracy is just watching silently!
I am not trying to avoid sounding like a Luddite especially for those who would wrongly think I’m against investment. Omnishambolic and exploitative investment “no”… “yes” to fair and reasonable investment. Without taking a leaf from the above incidents, Africa is going to cascade even more into neo-colonialism. While rich countries are using their companies to rake billions of dollars from Africa in order to invest in their people. African greedy rulers are selling their people with their resources. We are not allowed even to subsidize our poor farmers or offer social services, especially welfare, as it is in rich countries. They don’t allow us to do this fearing that the prices of our produce will rise and therefore making it hard for rich countries to buy them at low and exploitative prices, as it has been going on since time immemorial.
Source: Afro Spear Toronto Feb., 2013.

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