By J. Yanqui Zaza
“All warfare is based on deception,” says Sun Tzu in his book called “The Art of War.” Sadly, in business, deception is the rule, and not the exception. And so big business, deceptively, does not only siphon $192 billion out of Africa yearly, but it also accuses the victim (Africa) as the perpetrator, says Mr. Martin Drewry, Director of Health Poverty Action. He added that big business siphons about 95% of the $192 billion illicit financial outflows out of Africa yearly, while African officials are responsible for only 3%; this is the statistics obtained from the Report by the African Union’s Illicit Financial Outflows From Africa Commission, headed by the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki.
Yet, “…citizens in donor countries…” continue to ask, “…why are their governments doling out money to corrupt African governments…” even though each African citizen, unwillingly, gave “…$62 per capital to the rest of the world each year…” Mr. Drewry stated. Also, Adam Davidson of the New Time Magazine, apparently unaware of the Commission’s Report, indirectly blamed Africa as the source of corruption. He stated, incorrectly or deceptively, that the creation of anti-poverty institutions (i.e., the World Bank), and the investment of “trillions of dollars on aid to the world’s poor,” has not reduced poverty in Africa.
Is using deception to hurt someone while at the same time blaming the victim a new game? Certainly not. Stealing $192 billion from Africa yearly, and at the same time claiming that Africa is corrupt, is an economic arrangement that mirrors previous deceptive economic arrangement such as slavery. Slave masters were cruel and got rich from the labor of black slaves. Yet, they stated that slavery was necessary in order to save the victims from self-destruction. The “…Southern plantation owners defined slavery not as an institution of a brute force, but of responsible dominion over a less fortunate, less evolved people.”
But nowadays, instead of using the old ways (slavery) to make money, multinational companies have employed “…global financial system in which economic calculus… determine where money flows” or would determine who gets rich, say Davidson. So, according to Mr. John Perkins, in his book called “Confession of an Economic Hit Man,” the C.I.A does offer two choices to African leaders: institute crony capitalism in exchange for bribes or get killed. Yes, William Tubman of Liberia, Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc. accepted bribes and facilitated the exploitation of their countries for 27 and 32 years respectively. On the other hand, Perkins says C.I.A. did kill those leaders, for example, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, who rejected bribes.
Bribing officials or killing nationalists does not only benefit big business such as Liberia’s Firestone Rubber Plantation Company, but it also benefits governments of advanced countries. For example, Akron, Ohio would not be hiring many U.S. workers to process latex from Liberia, if Liberia did build its own tire factory. Also, by Liberia-Firestone paying $3.19 to a worker to tap 600 trees per day, and paying $2.00 per acre for one million acres, Firestone’s parent and U.S. government benefit from lower cost of operation in Liberia. In Guinea, the iron ore mining company remitted $48 million to the government from the $1.4 billion earned in 2011.
These minuscule amounts in royalties and taxes remitted from big business cannot finance the needed social programs. Most important, a significant portion of big business’ products will not be sold if African governments did not borrow money. That is part of the reason why advanced countries do not only encourage African countries to obtain more debts, but they disguised some of the loans as aid (i.e., once the rate is less than 7%) in order to disarm anti-loan advocates. For example, Ghana’s debt has ballooned to $24 billion in 2014, even after its $5 billion debt was cancelled in 2005.
Such a huge debt along with the indirect ownership of lucrative natural resources has forced African countries to transfer utility entities such as Liberia National Port Authority, etc. from governments to crony capitalists. Furthermore, to ensure that future African leaders will not re-negotiate any of these flawed and, or illegal agreements, multinational companies have coerced African countries to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). For more information on the WTO, read an article called, “World Trade Organization: Favors Flawed Oil Agreements”
Members of Mr. Thabo Mbeki Commission believe that certain market-oriented policies can reduce the $192 billion illicit financial outflows from Africa. Unfortunately, many of these recommendations did not prevent excessive greed such as the 1637 tulip madness, 1716-1720 speculative bubbles, 1929 to 1940 economic depression initiated by Wall Street speculative transactions and the 2008 crisis. But even after the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Sections 1502 and 1504 in response to the 2008 financial debacle, Bernie Sanders (i.e., a democratic presidential candidate) says the economic system is working against the poor, according to his article called (To Rein In Wall Street, Fix the Fed-Why are bankers allowed on the board of their own regulator?).
In addition to the Commission’s recommendations, individuals, civil society organizations, including Health Poverty Action have put their recommendations forward. Mr. Martin Drewry, Director called upon politicians of the United Kingdom to accept the truth that the world steals $60 billion from Africa yearly. He stated that Africa is not poor, but a combination of inequitable policies. Huge disparities in power and criminal activities perpetrated and sustained by wealthy elites are keeping Africans poor. It is time for the British government, politicians, media, and NGOs to stop misrepresenting our generosity and for the UK to close down tax havens, end the plundering of African resources by multinational companies, etc.
The call should not be directed at those who have interest in exploiting Africa. This is because profit-making entities or chief executives don’t worry about lying or harming society. The World Bank Study published in 2013, which disclosed that poverty decreased in Latin America from 38% to 28% from 2005 to 2012, and also, that the size of the middle class grew from 103 million to 152 million, should be the case for analysis. It is clear that Africa’s 21th Century slave system or market oriented policies will not transfer the profits of Africa’s resources from companies (i.e., de facto owners) to the coffers of the governments. Africans can generate adequate revenue by controlling their own lucrative resources such as diamonds gold, etc.
Happy New Year