Africa: Embattling a continent

When the IMF goes to war

SO the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff has decided to grant Ukraine some whooping USD15,6 billion?

Ukraine is at war with Russia.

A war funded and supplied by America and all NATO countries. As the IMF staffers were clearing the “loan”, NATO was mulling sending one million more shells, including British ones with uranium tips, to Ukraine. All those munitions are coming from NATO’s combined industrial-military complex, and will one day be paid for by Ukraine’s comatose economy in whose name IMF seeks to release the USD15,6 billion.

An arm of the UN

This is the first time since 1945 that IMF — itself a arm of the United Nations — or for that matter any Bretton Woods institution, has released money to a nation at war. The IMF decision triggers other Bretton Woods institutions to chime in with varying amounts and forms of support, amidst the ensuing war. US’ Treasury guru, Yellen visited Ukraine just before this decision, and has since welcomed it. The link between these Bretton Woods institutions and the UN implies the United Nations, a body born for world peace, is now going to war.

Covering the whole spectrum

As stated, IMF is an arm of the United Nations, and a Fund for most nations of the world, 190 at the last count. These include our Zimbabwe, which joined the Fund on September 29, 1980; Russia, Ukraine, China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and many others, in sum running the whole ideological gamut globally. It is not a NATO, much as some of them dominate it. Merely a financial correlative to the whole post-second European conflict wrongly known as Second World War. This means its membership far goes beyond those nations whose views on the Russia-Ukraine war is uniformly reducible to a black-white binary, a pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia binary. To make the point dramatically, Russia which is a full member of the Fund, cannot be against the war in which it is a combatant. Yet by this Fund decision, Russia is financing its belligerent!

In war will-nilly

Repeated votes in the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, have clearly shown the world is divided on this war in Eastern Europe, divided to varying degrees. This is why NATO countries, in spite of their awesome combined coercive muscle, have not been able to frighten smaller countries of the world into voting like a herd. By and large, and against all manner of threats, nations of the world have, on different issues and at different stages, voted by conscience, on principle and out of self-interest. This is what makes this IMF decision baffling: through its staffers’ recommendation to the Board, we now all find ourselves in a war we are not involved, about which we do not want to take sides, towards which we don’t wish or are able to extend financial support and, above all about which we have varying views!

Paying Ukraine’s quartermaster

Remove all the niceties accompanying the IMF decision, the USD15,6 billion one way or the other goes towards financing Ukraine’s war against Russia, with all the 190 nations now vicariously complicit. It is a trite point that Ukraine’s quartermaster has been and continues to be NATO, which is why many commentators justifiably think this is NATO’s proxy war against Russia. The war effort against Russia comes from the industrial-military complexes of US-led NATO. It is commonsensical that the USD15,6 billion goes back to where the arms for Ukraine are coming from, namely to industrial and military complexes of NATO countries. Which means NATO’s total budget in that war includes the USD15,6bn mugged and extorted from all of us, including from poor African countries facing food insecurity from the very war they are now being made to fund, will-nilly! The whole thing makes little sense, except from the point of view of NATO-written global rules of war, and NATO-led arbitrariness on global issues and decisions.

The story of SADC and DRC

For us in Zimbabwe, the whole matter simply ranks grossest. The Fund says it has a obligation to support a country facing aggression and violation by way of an “invasion”. Maybe. Yet we faced exactly the same situation a few years ago here in Africa, when the DRC had its sovereignty challenged by its neighbours, at the instigation of the same West. Sadc, through Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, came to DRC’s rescue. Indeed the correctness of this decision to this day is borne out by the fact that the United Nations has a peacekeeping force there, and is gravely exercised by the resurgent flare-up in Eastern DRC.

Goose-gander paradox

How did the IMF respond then? Well, by sanctioning all the countries which came to DRC’s aid, foremost Zimbabwe. Sanctioning them financially, and morally through a phoney report alleging looting by the Allied countries. The good cops to global peace got criminalised. To this day Zimbabwe does not get any support from IMF, never mind the losses it suffered while upholding the very same principles NATO now touts and parades in Ukraine! Immediately the goose-gander paradox replays: some sovereignties may be violated with impunity; others are defended through will-nilly support from all of us!

An ant looks at history

Looking from the vantage point of an ant struggling up a grain of sand, struggling to see the hooves of giant elephant bestriding the globe to which it is also a deserving citizen, the ant sees sickening double standards in the much-vaunted global architecture which must deliver and protect justice and equality to all peoples, all nations, great and small. The proverbial ant might be small, vulnerable, barely identifiable; yet it has all the bodily parts which the elephant boasts of, little heart, little muscle and small tasks though its own maybe. It is that sense of injury and outrage which makes the little ant wonder for how long it shall continue to live under the tyranny and duplicity of the post-1945 world architecture. Wonder when current Sino-Russian efforts to challenge such an unfair, tyrannical system, might just succeed, to give humanity “a brave new world”.

Signs on the horizon

Good signs on the horizon though. Russia has just told the West all grain passing through the Black Sea it controls must be destined for Africa! 

This followed last year’s duplicity where the West used Africa’s hunger – real or fabricated – to justify grain it needed from Eastern Europe got itself. 

Not even grain worth one full shipload came to the African Continent, in whose name and hunger the grain was pleaded for. Russia, too, has just announced its trade with Africa, Asia and Latin America will be settled in the Chinese yuan. Food and Finance are the two pillars of any new world order. There is hope. Dear Zimbabweans, brace up for major decisions and shifts in a few moons to come!

Let Mexico try Russia

I quite like an argument recently advanced by one western scholar whose name I forget. Asked why it is wrong for Ukraine to choose military membership or even alliances with US/NATO, the scholar responded: Ukraine has and should have all other sovereignties enjoyed by any country in the world; except one, namely the military sovereignty to choose who its partners are or will be, for as long as geography makes it Russia’s neighbour. To buttress his point, this scholar whose name I regrettably can’t recall, asked: would US allow Mexico to go into military bed with say Russia, China, North Korea or Iran? “Let Mexico do that so we see if we won’t see F-16 planes bombing that country in the next minute following such an agreement”, he opined. We don’t need to be speculative about this even. We saw it in Castro’s Cuba, after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. The US would not have USSR missiles a mere 60km from it! That’s what sparked the so-called Cuban Crisis, in reality US aggression.

A Continent under siege

Africa is under siege. Not many see this. Still this does not diminish, let alone expunge, the veritable threat. This week we saw disruptive demonstrations in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia. Namibia was also included, but merely to confuse and hide an otherwise clear picture. In any event, the unrest in Namibia, timed to coincide with US Vice President’s impending visit, was soundly quashed, in no time. Thank you Namibia for showing such swift resolve.

A mother without even spinach

Back to the four points on our giant continent. What do the four countries targeted for the unrest have in common? Surprisingly, three of the four targeted countries have just had elections, all of them adjudged free and fair. 

Tunisia and Kenya last year, in 2022; Nigeria, just a few weeks back. South Africa is set to have elections next year. The so-called cost-of-living, or corruption argument, barely beckons. The whole globe would be in turmoil as I write. Which country is not facing cost of living challenges, and corruption? Which country deserves any cost-of-living related riots than the United Kingdom? The little, great Island – better known in history as our Mother Country – cannot even raise enough spinach for its citizens! We should look beneath surfaces, so we grasp what is driving this latest wave of sponsored instability, which is now falsely wrapped in the dirty napkin of so-called democracy.

President Ramaphosa

Gini’s coefficient index

Well, it takes little to grasp that all the four countries have the strongest economies in their respective sub-regions: South Africa here in Southern Africa; Kenya in East Africa, Tunisia in North Africa and Nigeria in West Africa. 

True, the point gets weaker on Tunisia, which is the fifth largest in North Africa, after Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Libya, going by 2022 data. But something else shores up the argument: Tunisia has always been the powder keg in North Africa, which is why what it lacks by way of dollars, it makes up for by being up there on the combustibility index. Of course another way of looking for a common denominator is to invoke the Gini’s coefficient index: all the four have the most unequal income/wealth gaps in their respective populations, which is what makes them highly combustible. All this is known to Greg Mills of Oppenheimer’s Brenthurst Foundation.

Shut-downs were invented here

Shut-down demonstrations are not new to Africa, least of all to us here in Zimbabwe. Arguably, violent shut-down demonstrations were invented here in the Land of Munhumutapa, soon after our Land Reform Programme of 2000. Invented by the made-in-the-West opposition let loose upon us here. 

We grew up under their shadow, and outlived them, happily. Of course when we struggled against them, Africa paid no attention. It is hard to resist a smirk of cynicism! What is new and unusual about this latest wave of shut-down demonstrations is their apparent spread on the Continent, and synchronisation. It was like Africa was observing a United Nations day! Why was this so? Who was behind this grand plan? Above all, who are the intended targets, then, now and future?

Protecting global capital

Never should we forget that after the so-called Arab Spring, Africa’s Spring was supposed to be the sequel. It did not happen, much to the chagrin of the West. The same way the revolutions in Eastern Europe left Africa fairly unscathed, again to the disappointment of the West. The plan this time around was to ignite the continent, using not its weakest links, but its strongest sub-regional nodes so the fires would spread outward, riding on some furious harmattan. All the four targeted countries provided insoluble contradictions, however. South Africa raised the ogre of frontal attack on global capital, as happened last year when looting broke out. The West could not countenance it. This is why President Ramaphosa brought out the military, to the West’s surprising demureness. Imagine if it was Zimbabwe, with painter cascavels rolling down Samora Machel?

Bulking election results

Similarly, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia have some of the largest multinationals. In the case of Kenya, here was a freshly-mandated President facing a challenge to his authority, by way of a demonstration led by a man he had defeated, Raila Odinga! How would such a turn of events be justified without raising deep questions on the value and utility of Western-supervised and endorsed elections in birthing legitimate governance structures in the aftermath? Nigeria was even worse. Not only had a winner emerged; his rivals proceeded to be punished in lower elections which followed, thus confirming justness, freeness and fairness of the President-elect’s win.

Africa, too, must be embroiled

At face value, all looks jumbled up, madness without reason. Yet there is reason. At two levels, at the very least. First, Africa must not enjoy relative stability, and an opportunity for recovery and growth, when its “mother” Continent and “master” Race – Europe and the West – are in turmoil. Such a respite by lesser beings makes Africa less obeisant, less obedient, as is already showing at UNGA voting instances. Africa is proving truculent, too confident and truculent for the subservience it is ordained to play in world affairs. Not helped by South Africa which made the abominable decision to hold joint military exercises with Russia and China. Caliban the native, is demanding control of his mother’s Island, and Prospero the shipwrecked occupier, is not amused, and will not have it! When the West coughs, the rest of the world, moreso Africa, must catch Covid-19! If it won’t through air-borne pathogens, why not introduce them into its body?

Recounting after a false 2

Second, there is in the West a belief that Africa is now ripe for a “second generation” and “second revolution” of and by yuppy Presidents respectively. 

I put “second” in quotation marks because that figure was invoked much earlier, to describe post-1989 wave of changes that swept the Continent and rest of the world then. Of course when all that generation of leaders to emerge on the smouldering ruins of 1989 – best personified by Zambia’s late Chiluba – collapsed in utter failure and despicable venality, the West decided on another recount. This is where we are, with the West agitating for “yuppy” Presidents to run the affairs of a Continent, itself with the oldest human sample! 

So you have a wayward yuppy called Malema in South Africa, a good one called Obi in Nigeria, another good one called Bobi Wine in Uganda, and resurrected ones in Kenya and Tunisia. 

Here we know who fits this bill and expectation. Little boys who typically reduce the serious business of running a country into a game for infants. Except that’s how we are viewed by Europeans and in the West: boy-men! Does it have to be literal? 

This broad point appears to answer the rest of the questions I raised. Beware the ides of March, my Africa; the ides of August, my Zimbabwe! My bray for the week!

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