Tuesday, 19 August 2014

When African Prefects pigged out with Obama

                   After African prefects met with US President, Barack Obama, to pledge their loyalty to economic exploitation, we must wait to hear a lot of noises about this “milestone.” If anything, the just ended US-Africa summit epitomizes the big man syndrome that’s been going on since independence. US didn't want to miss the break especially after China proved to be a hard nut to crack.
Looking at how the big man of the big nation treated them, I, automatically, stopped regarding African rulers as presidents but prefects lining up to get into White house and present themselves before the headmaster to show their loyalty. For many, despite such humiliation, it is, indeed, what they've waited for years.
Was the summit about African or her resources?  How’d it be about Africa if at all the champion and teacher of democracy invited stinking dictators such as Theodoro Nguema Obiang? When asked why the US invited Equatorial Guinea’s, Obiang, one officer told Al Jazeera that if they didn’t Chinese’d have invited him. Thus, America’d have lost business opportunities Obiang has to offer.
 Ironically, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe wasn't invited as if Chinese can’t invite and dine and wine him.  Does it mean that Zimbabwe doesn't have business opportunities? Why’s democracy important for Zimbabwe but not for Equatorial Guinea? How can economy grow in Africa without political accountability as it is in the US? Why didn't US embody democracy in its deals? It knows. If she does then won’t be able to plunder as pleased given that the people’ll have a big say in their economies. This is why it makes sense to do business with dictators like Obiang. Was the reason business opportunities or somebody who can easily be fooled and offer those business opportunities at the peril of his people as it is currently in many African countries?
Once again, by inviting Obiang and boycotting Mugabe, the US has shown its true duplicity.  Those who can’t toe the line aren’t wanted just like Mugabe. Human rights activists were infuriated. Lisa Misol, senior business and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch was quoted as saying, “President Obiang is trying to shed his image as the head of a corrupt and abusive government.”  Again, do Human Rights matters before America’s interests? Ask DRC under its former plunderer Joseph Desire Mobutu who’s always a comfy guest at the White House.
The major question we need to ask’s: Will Africa benefit from this summit? The answer’s likely to be no given that Africa didn't benefit from Agoa a few years ago.  Will America’s investment consider vital areas such as infrastructure, human development and parity in business? Bob Collymore, chief executive officer of Safaricom Ltd., East Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator has the right answer as he was quoted as saying in one interview in Washington , “Does America want to invest in infrastructure in roads? Probably not.” If anything, here’s where China scores greatly despite its weakness. Many Chinese companies are busy building roads and dams (however substandard they might be) while American companies want to offer services such as mobile phones, estate agency and whatnot. If china underscores this, chances are that it’ll keep on beating America in the game.
Will African benefit really? Many are worried given that when African leaders went to the just concluded Summit, they seem not to be prepared. One’d hope that the whole issue of equality in business would have been addressed. One’d hope that America’s business protectionism would be addressed. Again, nope, many were chest beating as one offhand president’s quoted as saying, “These resources give a chance for our country to bid farewell to poverty…I want my successor to lead a different country.” Is this realistic or just sweet words aimed at self-pleasing and killing time? Looking at what’s been going on in his country; one wonders if such self-seeker’s really serious.  He might be right that he won’t preside over a poor first family given his tenure allowed them to plunder. When it comes to the county, go tell it to the birds Sir.
Looking at how Africa’s been losing big, one may ask: Were African prefects prepared to negotiate deals or just to show off in Washington, New York and elsewhere?  Are they dancing with the devil or kissing the viper? African needs good results but not photo ops and many bold but empty words like those quoted above regarding presiding over a poor country but rich in resources.
Again, nothing stunned the Obamas like the fashion savvy African leaders displayed. Some went with their spouses, others with their daughters and others alone. Interestingly, the first ladies captivated the media whereby one’d this title, “From high hair to status handbags, Africa’s first ladies use fashion to talk about the past and the future.” The Washington Post had this to write, “If all those bags were authentic, there was at least $20,000 worth of internationally-recognized status on display in the form of satchels and shoppers. “This is how Africa benefited.
Source: Business Times Aug.,22,2014.

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