Saturday, November 10, 2012

The shell game

Africa is rich is natural resources that are being exploited for big profits, but the money is rarely used for the benefit of the people. Instead it goes to line the pockets of corrupt officials who then often smuggle it out to be deposited in secret offshore bank accounts in the developed world. But if the truth is to be told, it is also the transnational corporations that are doing most of the looting of Africa, and local politicians are small fish in this neo-colonial takeover agenda. The transnationals too have their shell companies where much greater amounts of money flow into undetected accounts.

The world's wealthy countries often criticise African nations for corruption - especially that perpetrated by those among the continent's government and business leaders who abuse their positions by looting tens of billions of dollars in national assets or the profits from state-owned enterprises that could otherwise be used to relieve the plight of some of the world's poorest peoples. Yet the West is culpable too in that it often looks the other way when that same dirty money is channelled into bank accounts in Europe and the US. International money laundering regulations are supposed to stop the proceeds of corruption being moved around the world in this way, but it seems the developed world's financial system is far more tempted by the prospect of large cash injections than it should be. Anonymous off-shore companies and investment entities, whose disguised ownership makes it too easy for the corrupt and dishonest to squirrel away stolen funds in bank accounts overseas. This makes them nigh on impossible for investigators to trace, let alone recover.

 A few years ago rich deposits were discovered at the Marange diamond fields in the east of Zimbabwe. It held out the promise of billions of dollars of revenue that could have filled the public purse and from there have been spent on much needed improvements to roads, schools and hospitals. The surrounding region is one of the most impoverished in the country, desperate for the development that the profits from mining could bring. This much anticipated bounty never appeared. the mines are clearly in operation and producing billions of dollars worth of gems every year, little if any of it has ever been put into Zimbabwe's state coffers. 

Local and international non-governmental organisations say they believe this is because the money is actually being used to maintain President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in power.

Capitalism, the private or state ownership of a country's resources including the labor of its inhabitants who are forced to work within that system for the benefit of the very few is what is the problem. It's a system maintained by force that no one who claims to espouse democracy can support. Production for need with the workers in control and running the means of production for societal benefit: spreading that wealth that under capitalism is concentrated in the hands of the few is the only way to reduce poverty, starvation and deprivation for the many. We are producing plenty of everything that is needed to ensure that every human being on this planet has the necessities for a fulfilling life.

See here

No comments: