Multinational corporations and corrupt African leadership

Solly Rakgomo

Solly Rakgomo

Africa is a continent whose people should have been one of the richest in the world however decades of independence has provided nothing more than failed states where people live on less than $2 a day.

Life expectancy in Africa is the lowest compared to what exists in other developing regions. At the heart of this poverty is the symbiotic relationship between Africa’s governing elites and western multinational corporations that exploit Africa’s rich natural resources. The poor state of the majority of African nations can be blamed on Africa’s political leadership and the equally guilty western multinational corporations as well as the global financial institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO which make billions of dollars of profits while majority of Africans live in dehumanising poverty and squalor. These parasites do not only contribute to the destruction and pollution of the environment but also help to steal and hide the money that could be used to help their poor.

When a government in Africa is corrupt, there are also some MNCs and their shareholders who stand behind this government and push it to become more corrupt. Whenever a government becomes autocratic denying its citizens freedoms and rights, there are MNCs behind providing weapons to exact violence against its people. Whenever there is a corrupt politician in Africa stealing money meant for schools, hospitals, roads, and delivery of safe water and sanitation you have a big MNC bank assisting in the transfer of the money to safe haven destinations. This cosy relationship between the political and business elite in Africa and MNCs in Europe and North America does not only affect governance but it is one of the main reasons why economic underachievement, poverty, hunger and instability permeate almost all African countries. The parasites who parade themselves  as leaders of the continent have for over the years colluded and connived with MNC vampires who since the days of slavery have been the main instrument used by western countries to strip Africa of its rich resources and to keep its inhabitants desperately poor.

Global Witness has produced documents that have implicated American, Belgian, British, French, German, Japanese and Chinese firms and business entities. The dirty tactics employed by western governments, the MNCs, World Bank, IMF, WTO are responsible for the demise of the African continent. Western countries led by the US, Britain, France and lately by China, continue to sell weapons to horrible dictators to crash democratic forces throughout the continent.

They continued to finance brutal wars  in Africa ( Libya, Somalia, Ivory Coast, DRC) with the aim of keeping Africa destabilised while their corporations steal the natural resources such as  oil, gas, gold and other precious metals complicit with western media. In a similar vein Global Financial Integrity has demonstrated how western MNCs working in Africa used fraud accounting, tax evasion and other financial malpractices to cheat Africans of the billons of dollars that could be used to develop the continent. IMF and World Bank on their part are in cahoots with MNCs and western creditors to sell their toxic economic policies and poisonous, heavily laden conditional loans to African countries that keep them in odious debts that they spend so much of their GDP in servicing them to the neglect of the human security needs of their people.  Switzerland, hiding behind her discredited illegal financial and banking secrecy laws and infrastructure, continues to play host to more tan $150 billon that is siphoned off from the continent annually by the political and business leaders.

There are nations in Africa whose citizens should have been counted among the world’s richest people but are in fact surviving on less than $2 a day courtesy of corrupt politicians who are managing the countries and their corrupt friends in Europe and America. Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Angola are some of the countries  whose citizens should have enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the world but who are found at the bottom of all the social indicators published by UNDP, ILO, EIA and other major bodies. In the case of Nigeria, its reputation as a failed state is known throughout the world. It started with their leaders amassing the oil wealth instead of using it to build a country in which every Nigerian could be proud of. The leaders signed shady oil deals with corrupt oil companies and then diverted oil revenue into their personal accounts in Switzerland, Monaco, Britain, USA and the Caribbean with the assistance of corrupt banks operating  outside the country.

They inflated the costs of the projects and made fortunes at the expense of the poor people and their country. Military generals staged coups and counter -coups to take their share of what they saw as free money.  Politicians and civilian governments have continued in the same direction. Strongly behind these corrupt politicians are the equally corrupt MNCs like SHELL, ExxonMobil, and Barclays bank who do not only bribe politicians but also assist them in hiding their loot in safe havens to avoid detection. Furthermore, the oil corporations in particular, in their quest to make excessive and unreasonable profits have succeeded in destroying most of the land, rivers, lakes, and ecological services on which the livelihood of the people is based.

SHELL and its counterparts have succeeded in destroying Niger Delta because they pay huge bribes to their symbiotic political friends who do nothing to stop them from destroying the environment and the livelihoods of the people. During brutal Sani Abacha dictatorship, Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corporation was accused of not only destroying the Niger Delta and polluting its land, rivers and lakes but also encouraged Abacha to execute Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni tribesmen for demonstrating against the corrupt dealings of the company. The cost of corruption by Africa’s political elites backed by indifference of Multinational vampires is that in most major cities and rural areas, abandoned children with plates in their hands going from house to house begging for food are visible, fuel shortages and drivers queuing for oil are frequent occurrence in many African countries that boasts of oil and other natural resources. Infrastructure decay is everywhere, graduate unemployment is skyrocketing, African cities are full of unmanaged waste, filth and diseases are rampant as municipalities and health officials struggle to do their best with the near absence of resources. The growing instability, violence and crime across many African countries that has claimed  thousands of lives is grounded in the corruption, poverty, inequality, unequal access to resources, lack of economic opportunities and bad governance pushed on the people by corrupt African governments and many MNCs established in Africa. However one thing that does not usually get mentioned especially in corporate western media is how MNCs operating in African countries fuel the conflicts and cycle of violence through their corrupt operations. The conflict and poverty induced violence would have been prevented if these MNCs have played their roles responsibly.

This is the true nature of the situation in Africa where fabulously corrupt politicians have hooked up with multinational vampires and blood suckers to impoverish the people who have no way to escape their brutal assault.

* Solly Rakgomo is a  graduate student of International Relations

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