Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

G8 Summit

African leaders from 6 countries are in Georgia hoping for whatever crumbs they can catch from the G8 table. It is highly unlikely that they will come away with anything new. The G8 is simply not interested in Africa's problems, well let me rephrase that - their only concern is promoting their own interests on the continent. Just as we see in Iraq, the motivation is geopolitical, and to some extent that means oil, and peacekeeping in so far that it's Al Qaida related. Africa is viewed by the US as an important alternative source of oil - the continent supplies 8 percent of world output and is considered to be one of the main new exploration areas. Not to mention coltan, timber and minerals among other natural resources. Australia and Africa are the world's two main coltan producers, I guess in a country with strict environmental laws you might not be able to get away with mining in an area that is home to the world's last few remaining gorilla's. If Africans have hopes for this summit they are certain to be disappointed. I sometimes think that it suits the west to have Africa in disarray. Conflict, undemocratic and corrupt regimes, and lack of political structures mean that resource extraction is cheap and profitable, and large corporations can operate with impunity, neither having to declare monies paid to operate or follow environmental regulations. This from a report by British NGO RAID (Rights & Accountability in Development) published in 2003.

"The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is emerging from a devastating five-year war
that is estimated to have cost the lives of more than three million people. Multinationalcorporations have been accused of helping to perpetuate the war and of profiteering from it. In February 2002, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, promised to clamp down on companies that fuel resource wars in Africa and called for stricter adherence to the OECD Guidelines as a means of ensuring that companies behave responsibly in conflict zones."

I don't believe that the G8, led by America, has the political will to effect meaningful change on the African continent. America went to war with Iraq on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction and to rid the world of a cruel and evil dictator. In doing so they have proved that they are indeed the global superpower with the capacity to organize, and to harness both manpower and financial resources in order to wage war. According to the US this was done in the name of spreading freedom and democracy, and to prevent the hypothetical possibility of millions of people dying as a result of Iraq's WMD's. Prior to the war the west enforced sanctions against Iraq rather than conduct business with an undemocratic regime. The same unfortunately cannot be said about America's policies towards Africa. The US doesn't have a problem with their oil companies operating in Equatorial Guinea or other corrupt, dictator-led African countries. The US did nothing to prevent genocide in Rwanda, and does nothing to prevent the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of people going on right now in Sudan, Somalia, the DRC, and recently in Nigeria. Well over half a million people died in Rwanda, is this not mass human destruction? Why does America not act - maybe it's because countries have interests and not morals. It was in the US's interest to exert it's influence in Iraq, it is not in their interests to promote stability in Africa. This is not to say they are not doing anything, but it seems whatever they give is usually too little and too late. If the US is so intent on spreading global democracy why is Africa being left out of the picture? Why for example, are they lobbying at this G8 summit for Iraq's debt to be dropped so that the money can go into reconstruction efforts, and not doing the same for African countries?


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