Friday, February 16, 2018

Vijay Prashad - As Mining Companies in Africa Make Billions, Children Are Left Illiterate

When I was at school we had to study the book, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, and the book Animal Farm, by George Orwell. I also watched the films 1984 and Animal Farm. Well, if that was communism, I thought, I'm not interested in any of that. Millions of school children were forced to read, One Day in the Life of Ivan, but Aleksander Solzhenitsyn's book, 200 Years Together, has never been in print in the West. 

Despite reading those books one thing I knew for sure, was that I didn't like the British ruling class, the gentry and the way they had treated the third  world. I then I discovered socialism, a system that still embraced capitalism, but more fairly, but my interest, though, was never the trade unions, but in third world politics and how the Western ruling elite ruthlessly exploited those countries.  Poverty in the third world always bothered me.

Many African countries are very rich in minerals but the people remain poor. Western companies corrupt politicians with bribes and then loot the countries of billions. It doesn't seem right that rich people in the West, who's families wealth would have been made by the 400 year slave trade and by colonising countries in previous centuries, can now buy up the world, so that a country in Africa may be very wealthy in natural resources but it is all owned by foreigners.

The West can get to own everything of value in the world, which has has always claimed to be Christian, but that just goes to how how we can lie to ourselves. KV

Vijay Prashad

Zambia is a rich country with a poor population.
A Zambian trade unionist, a veteran of many years of struggle in the copper belt of the country, tells me that the situation is bleak. It is true that the poverty rate is high – unimaginably high, beyond the data available from the government and international agencies. The numbers oscillate between 60% of the population in poverty to 80% in poverty. That means that at least 10 million of the 16 million Zambians live in poverty.
The Global Hunger Index says that Zambia is the country with the third hungriest population. Hunger levels are alarming in the country, as well as in the Central African Republic and in Chad. About half of Zambia’s population and half of the people of the Central African Republic are undernourished.
Last year, Gregory Chileshe of Christians Against Poverty said that the hunger is a consequence of unemployment. The ‘pangs of poverty’, he said, ‘will flatten the people to inhuman conditions’.

Zambia is not a poor country – if you look at its resources. It is the eighth largest supplier of copper to the world. Last year, Zambia produced 850,000 tons of copper, 100,000 tons more than in the previous year. The price of copper remains high. There is plenty of money to be made from this precious resource. The five copper firms that dominate mining in the country have Zambian names, but are not Zambian companies. They are owned by the Canadian firm Barrick, the Canadian firm FQM, the UK firm Vedanta, the Swiss firm Glencore as well as by China’s Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Corporation. These are major mining companies that leech Zambia of its resources and – through bribery – earn the loyalty of the pliant government.

Global Financial Integrity studied five African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda) to show that these countries lost at least $14.5 billion to such financial shenanigans. The UN’s Economic Commission of Africa estimated that the illegal financial flows out of Africa amounted to $50 billion per year. Most of this money vanishes into tax havens.


1 comment:

Matt Franko said...

"Many African countries are very rich in minerals but the people remain poor. "

No shit?