Africa’s wealth is developing foreign nations, and in some instances it is such looted money that sponsors Africa’s civil wars, further trapping Africa in a vicious cycle of poverty, civil strife, diseases, hunger, corruption, and moral decadence.
THE story of Africa’s perennial socio-economic and political problems cannot be complete without making reference to a scripture in the book of Proverbs 13:23 which says, A poor person’s farm may produce much food but injustice sweeps it all away. Indeed, Africa, though endowed with vast mineral wealth and other resources which are envied by the world, today remains the world’s poorest, and just as slavery and colonialism bled Africa of its resources and riches, corruption today is with the same intensity robbing Africa of its wealth, transferring it to the developed north.
On June 24-28, 2015, I was in Geneva, Switzerland to attend the Global Ethics Forum, which ran under the theme, Responsible Leadership: The Value of Values, and I had an opportunity to talk to one Swiss gentleman over lunch.
Seeing that Switzerland is a highly developed country, I asked him what resources Switzerland has that have propelled its advancement. Fascinated by the question, the man gazed at me intently, then said, “In Switzerland we don’t have any natural resources to talk about like you guys from Africa, but we are very good planners. Switzerland has over the years built a banking system that has been able to attract ‘free’ funds from around the world, particularly from Africa, and this is the money that we use to develop our economy”.
The response was quite frank and candid.
Indeed, Switzerland has for more than half a century become famous for receiving proceeds from corruption, tax evasion, fraud accounting, money laundering, and as a staunch ally of corrupt African leaders, thanks to its banking secrecy laws.
Africa, without doubt is at the mercy of foreigners and its own sons and daughters who in their various categories as heads of state, government ministers, bureaucrats, wealthy businessmen, and politicians are plundering it’s wealth and stashing their loot in foreign lands, money which Africa end up borrowing at very high interest rates for budget support. By default, Africa’s wealth is developing foreign nations, and in some instances it is such looted money that sponsors Africa’s civil wars, further trapping Africa in a vicious cycle of poverty, civil strife, diseases, hunger, corruption, and moral decadence.
And, in the melee of this centuries old plunder of Africa, just how nauseating it is to see African leaders being paraded by emerging economic powerhouses of Asia such as India and China whose craving for Africa’s raw mineral wealth is very apparent given the speed with which their economies are growing, and, a courting that’s clearly reminiscent of Adam and Eve being deceived by the serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit.
It is disheartening that more than 50 years after independence, Africa still prides itself in trading its vast mineral wealth in its raw form without value addition. Africa is selling its birthright for handouts, for food, and for a song!
Not that Africans are lesser human, or of less intelligence than other races in the world, but there is an apparent lack of wisdom in Africa. Certainly, it isn’t far-fetched to conclude that Africa’s misery is a result of a dangerous, ruinous and warped mindset, and a misplaced value system. Generally, people in Africa preoccupy themselves with achieving personal gratification without any sincere and considerable regard for the common good. People focus on the “here and now” not the future. Africa has a corrupted mindset that views positions of power and influence as vehicles for personal aggrandisement, not for serving as mandated.
Because of lack of wisdom, Africa continues to be a willing appendage in the plunder of its own wealth.
When corrupt African leaders stash their loot in foreign banks, what they fail to realise is that it is this same money that can be used to fund a rebellion in their own backyard, which will subsequently drive them out of power, thus weakening their ability to reclaim their loot when they are no longer in power.
In the late 90s, it was reported that Mobutu, the former long serving ruler of the then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, stole more than US$5 billion, stashed it in foreign banks, but 18 years after his demise, only a paltry $8 million has been recovered, and the rest they can’t get it because of legal bottlenecks imposed by nations that benefited from the loot.
Since oil was first discovered in Nigeria more than 50 years ago, reports say over US$400 billion have been realised from its sale but today the majority of Nigerians continue to live in abject poverty and the country has nothing to show for it, the same with many other African countries endowed with enormous mineral deposits.
While the majority of Africans live in squalor with no access to health, clean water, electricity, housing and even food, the African Union reports that Africa is losing US$150 billion per year through corruption, a figure that is equivalent to 25 percent of Africa’s gross domestic product, with most of that money stashed in foreign banks.
And, it’s no secret that multi-national companies with investments in Africa take advantage of Africa’s rampant corruption and weak governance practices to understate and falsify their profits, indulge in smuggling, falsify invoices, tax evasion, including paying kickbacks and bribes to public officials.
They route billions of dollars out of Africa to “safe havens” in foreign lands after trading Africa’s gold, coal, oil, platinum, diamond, copper, timber, uranium etc, and they do it with reckless abandon knowing Africa cannot protect its own wealth, and that Africans themselves drool over this gang rape of Africa, content to do the machete job by pinning Africa down while foreigners exert the penetration.
Chiadzwa in Manicaland is crying out, bleeding, and demanding a return of its birthright, wrestled out of its bosom by foreigners in collusion with their crude and nefarious local surrogates.
Certainly, it is time Africa must call itself to order! Africa needs wisdom and a change of mindset. Proverbs 8: 1-3 says, Listen as Wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice! On the hilltop along the road, she takes her stand at the crossroads.
By the gates at the entrance to the town, on the road leading in, she cries aloud, I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people. You simple people, use good judgement. You foolish people, show some understanding. Listen to me!