Africa is rich – in potential mineral wealth, skilled workers, booming new businesses and biodiversity. Its people should thrive, its economies prosper. Yet many people living in Africa’s 54 countries remain trapped in poverty, while much of the continent’s wealth is being extracted by those outside it.
The Honest Account 2017 report calculates the movement of financial resources into, and out of Africa, and some key costs imposed on Africa by the rest of the world. The countries of Africa are collectively net creditors to the rest of the world, to the tune of $41.3 billion in 2015. Thus, much more wealth is leaving the world’s most impoverished continent than is entering it. The report notes that
African countries received $161.6 billion in 2015 – mainly in loans, personal remittances and aid in the form of grants. Yet $203 billion was taken from Africa, either directly – mainly through corporations repatriating profits, and by illegally moving money out of the continent – or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change.
African countries receive around $19 billion in aid in the form of grants but over three times that much ($68 billion) is taken out in capital flight, mainly by multinational companies deliberately misreporting the value of their imports or exports to reduce tax.
One cannot but have reproduced part of the content of the said report, deliberately so, to invoke reaction, if any ever, from the apologists of capitalism and see what this time around their excuse would be towards the continuous plunder and exploitation of Africa’s wealth and resources. Whether once again they think if this is not capitalism at best or not. And hence whether once again ideology does not matter.
I am sure our friends of capitalism, even here in Namibia, must have seen if not heard of the report, which has been on the circuit since May. But expectedly they either have decided to keep mum about it, lest it further exposes the real capitalist system at work. Or lest such exposé let them eat humble pie regarding their position on ideology. Whether one likes it or not, or would want to admit or not, the African elite have a big hand in siphoning off the continent’s wealth and its repatriation to the capitals of the world. What the Sunday Sun columnist of Bongani Factor fame would characterize as “hardcore charlatans creating and/or perpetuating pauperism in the wake of their nefarious schemes and decisions.” A living pointer to this lately in Namibia is the presumed disappearance of millions of N$ from the SME Bank while it is known very well this money has actually been diverted into foreign accounts to be claimed at the appropriate time by its looters.
But strangely, while this has been happening, those at the helm of this institution, and equally those at the helm of those ones that are supposed to be overseeing it, due to their pretended ideological myopia, and their selfishness, have been seeming oblivious to this looting. Still others seem happy and satisfied with the crumbs falling from the tables of their presumed investor partners, who are in essence and practicality no more than looters.
As much as one, as a matter of principle and ideology, cannot agree with the part that the African elite or bourgeoisie play in this plunder, one cannot hide the fact that their big part in this plunder is not commensurate with the crumbs that they receive at the end of the day. But most important, one can only speak of the continent’s impoverishment only because those who are supposed to be guardians of her resources, are the very charlatans presiding over the plunder and looting of its wealth. And this is because they are ideologically blind. To them the multinationals operating in the African countries, including Namibia, are investors who must be welcomed with open arms. Only to plunder the continent, as they have been doing, with the masses carrying the burden of plunder and looting.
Because the bourgeoisie are comfortable with the crumbs falling from the plunder of their continent’s wealth. The modern-day situation of so-called foreign direct investment is no different from that which pertained during the colonial era, with Africa as major, if not sole source of raw materials for the developed countries. That is why the colonising master countries, had been at pains, post-colonialism, to preserve and leave intact the colonial umbilical cord with their former colonised territories so that they can continue to siphon off their wealth. Albeit this relationship is now sugar-coated with different euphemisms such as globalisation and what have you. Africa is in this neo-colonial situation because the African elite would not wish to see it otherwise. Because it is having it easy. And there has been little pretending by the exploiting class, mainly capitalists from the so-called first world, and their comprador African collaborators, at soothing the suffering of the African masses.
The situation being what it is, and has been since African liberation, conveniently the African bourgeoisie has been shunning any ideology. Because surely should the African masses become ideological disposed. Understandably so because only then have chains to be unchained. On the contrary the ideological apologists, who and the African bourgeoisie are one and the same hue, blinded by their own short-lived greed and avarice, have been under the delusion that, unlike the working class and the masses, they do not have any chains to loose with the demise of capitalism. While the very system that they blindly seem to have been supporting, prodding and protecting, is the very same system which has condemned the very people they purport to govern over, to a perpetual state of poverty and squalor. Yet, we are told by the apologists that ideology, post-cold war, is irrelevant to today’s policy-making and societal outlook, whether on the continent, and Namibia as much. Such apologists would make us believe that the state of poverty on the continent, including in Namibia, is either a function of African incompetence, mismanagement, insensitivity and African greed. And has little to do with ideological disposition if not ideological bankruptcy.