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Neo-liberalism and the scramle for Africa

By Ben Uugwanga
Mark Dawe quoted in the Namibian newspaper stated (Duddy 2012) that Government's blanket issuing of ownership of most minerals and metals to the state owned Epangelo Mining Company will reduce exploration in Namibia in the short run and will shrink or eliminate the mining industry in the long term, he warned, as speaking at the Chamber of Mines of Namibia at its annual general meeting.

The above statement by Dawe is typical rhetoric from free market evangelists who would like to maintain the current status quo for the benefit of the capitalists.

In essence it should be noted that the world is inter-depended and that the move by the Namibian government to own strategic resources is a progressive direction towards a new paradigm shift and is driven by the need to ensure that the Namibian state on behalf of the Namibian people control, own and manage strategic resources in the resolve to address poverty and inequalities. This paradigm shift is crucial and all African governments should emulate it to get rid of among others the exploitation of African wealth without the actual benefits.

Wealth during colonial times benefited the capitalists and their home economies while living the indigenous people who own the wealth extremely impoverished.

With independence western jurisprudence failed to pay reparation and secure the ownership of the plundered wealth to its rightful owners.

This underline the fact that neoliberal capitalism has had its time and it has only itself to blame for failing the world's poor. Even to this end with the amount of innovation at hand the gap between the rich and the poor has widened greatly under neo-liberal capitalism as 10% control 90% of the wealth and 90% control 10% of the wealth. In addition the collapse of the world economic system to date has proven that private banks in cohorts with capitalists institutions have failed the world immensely when much of the government bail outs extended to them were paid out as benefits in million of US Dollars to executives who have failed in their duty to resuscitate a collapsing order.

Given the above the view that the free market economy is sacrosanct and perfect has shown its flaws. To understand the free market system which is a twin of the neo-liberal agenda does not need one to be a PHD holder in economics or to be a financial expert. The fact remains that capitalism is failing the world and is responsible for asymmetrical development; poverty; exploitation of the Third World without offering reparation as in the case of the Marshall Plan which was extended to war ravaged Europe by the United States of America after World War II. The argument that holds water thus far is that the wealth of individual countries should benefit them and not be exploited to benefit metropolitan economies which control the marketing, pricing and ownership of resource for their own benefit.

The whole is greater than its parts. This also means that from a world system thinking perspective capitalism ensured that through the neo-liberal ideology the bourgeoisie's class interest had to be promoted by a hegemonic class in the form of consultants, academics, policy makers, the media, the military, the intelligence who get rewarded for lining up the pockets of the elite class.

In this case popular opinion and the structuring of thoughts and perception is entirely made to tie in with the capitalist mindset so that any inclination towards arguing for an egalitarian world order is classified as taboo. As such neo-liberal capitalism should not swallow up the poor and reduce them as beggars at a rich man's table. After all the wealth in a country belong to all and government has the moral right and obligation to argue for its control and ownership by the state in order to address socioeconomic developmental issues through a welfare oriented system.

This approach of self-empowerment will result in government being able to radically address poverty that is a thorn in the flesh of the Third World which systematically reduced the poor to a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which is not there.

This opinion piece does not call for the wholesale removal of capitalism.

However, it challenges the greed, hypocrisy and the moral emptiness of the system. On the other hand there are positive aspects brought about by the neoliberal agenda such as work ethics, the right to obtain value for money, the promotion of innovation which the public led institutions can borrow to beef up their efficacy. At the same time I argue that there is nothing wrong under the new paradigm shift for individuals to be accorded with the right to run own businesses provided these businesses pay tax and do not stifle innovation or promote class inequalities. However, a balance should be found in empowering people economically through self-empowerment entrepreneurial ventures that do not compromise the moral fibber and the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number.

Other lessons neo-liberal capitalism has provided are the respect for human rights. This right has to be accompanied by the guaranteeing of economic rights to the poor. Secondly, neo-liberalism can be credited for the promotion of a critical mass that builds on strength and reject tools and analysis that are flawed for the fact that they represent individualism, self-glorification and community disprogress.

Thirdly, neo-liberalism should be hailed for the promotion of transparency, meritocracy, empowerment, accountability, inclusiveness, good governance and partly human development.

The Way Forward Since the whole is greater than its part the world needs a new architectural order that does away with the deception provided by a western cultural, economic and political megalomania. Interest groups sponsored by the neo-liberal ideology must be shamed and exposed for who they are as in most cases they are hypocrites when fighting for equity, ecological self-sustainability, human development and spiritual progress. The global financial system should be overhauled and restructured while Africa should speed up the process of having one currency based on the gold standard and considerate of the value and worth of African resources.

The current global financial arrangements deliberately favor the western hegemony which draws benefits through the purchase and sale of commodities on the world market. This translates in Africa being unable to rake in the expected returns that are representative of the economic worth of her commodities. Any movement towards a one world currency should enable all to benefit equally from the financial and trading system.

At the same time the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, The World Trading Organization and the United Nations should become entities that move towards securing the integration of the Third World in the global economic system by means of promoting technical extension support; promoting peace building systems; promoting cultural self-preservation; combat economic plunder and exploitation of vulnerable nations and promote win-win solutions; counter ecologic disprogress and promote human development.

African unity is essential and distracters of this vision should not be permitted to succeed in their counter revolutionary agendas. At this point the Pan African Youth Movement and its affiliates should be commended for being at the fore front of championing the case for Economic Rights for Africa under the new crop of Economic Freedom Fighters and progressive intellectuals.

The world needs to create a new functional world system able to provide for all in line with the Millennium Development Goals. In this case a global front of lobbyists and change activists should enter the policy making arena in a united front with the developing world to advance the interest of the marginalized and pauperized.

At the same time policy makers, technocrats and agenda setters in Africa and the Third World should have their voices heard at local, national, regional and global forums to change and destroy the mindset that the planet should be asymmetric while in the real sense it has enough wealth and resources to transform the developing world in a knowledge economy.

Equally, avant garde policy reforms are crucial and needed at international level to amend international conventions, protocols, and policy instruments that promoted corporate greed; militarism; plunder Machiavellian capitalism with the view to move towards a world order that provides equity and human progress.

Key to the Third World's survival during this period of uncertainty is to for the youth to value the best practices of their cultures; value education and training; value history and embrace Christianity in order to overcome personal and ideological obstacles in the form of hedonism leading to a lost generation promoted by Music Television (MTV) enticements among others.


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