“Just before France conceded to African demands for independence in the 1960s it carefully organised its former colonies (CFA countries) in a system of ‘compulsory solidarity’ which consisted of obliging the 14 African states to put 65 percent of their foreign currency reserves into the French Treasury, plus another 20 percent for financial liabilities. This means these 14 African countries only ever have access to 15 percent of their own money! If they need more they have to borrow it from the French at commercial rates! And this has been the case since the 1960s.”
The crux of the matter is that these French colonies are only independent in name (sham independence) and have been subjected to an international crime which if not completely disbanded will keep them enslaved forever as Western proxies. It is important for us to start by defining dependency.
Dependency theorists like Andre Gunder Frank, Walter Rodney, Prebisch and others have defined dependency as an explanation of the economic development of a state in terms of the external influences -political, economic, and cultural-on national development policies. Theotonio Dos Santos emphasises on the historical dimension of the condition which shapes a certain structure of the world economy such that it favours the developed countries to the detriment of developing countries and limits the development possibilities of the subordinate economies. This, therefore, entails a situation in which the economy of a certain group of countries is conditioned by the development and expansion of another economy, to which their own is subjected.
What is very disturbing is that this daylight robbery has been legalised and African leaders and their people have been made to erroneously believe that external forces are of great importance to the economic activities within the developing states.
These external forces include multinational corporations, international commodity markets, foreign assistance, communications, and other means by which the advanced industrialised countries can represent their selfish and heinous economic interests abroad. The relations between developed and developing states have a tendency of not only reinforcing but also intensifying the unequal developmental patterns.
Paradoxically dependency is embedded in historical processes which are rooted in the internationalisation of capitalism. It is therefore not surprising that dependency has been diabolically made to appear as a very legal process. This is why revolutionaries like Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Agustino Neto, Che- Guevara and others were ruthlessly eliminated.
Empirical research demonstrates that contemporary underdevelopment is in large part the historical product of past and continuing economic and other relations between the satellite underdeveloped and the now developed metropolitan countries.
This unequal relationship does not haunt French colonies only but the whole of Africa. We have always argued in our instalments that multinational companies picked up the mantle and are exacerbating and stifling Africa’s development. One other thing that has necessitated this under-development of the continent is the colonial legacy of divide and rule.
Francophone Africa cannot undertake policies that are independent for they have always been dictated from France and have become an albatross on Africa’s struggle to unite and improve the African citizens’ social and economic livelihoods. This also explains why the African leaders have allowed demonisation and forceful removal from power of some African leaders while others are hailed “as the good African leaders”.
The major reason is that these treacherous “good Africans” cannot bite the hand that feeds them. What they are failing to comprehend is that the pittance that they are being given as “aid” will never be able to sustain Africa or to lift it to higher level. In other words, some African Judases are keeping the continent in a state of “indentured servitude” while pretending to be in the same political plane with revolutionary and nationalist African leaders at African Union forums.
Another example is that of Zambia whose vast copper resources were not benefiting the Zambian general populace. Dear reader, can you imagine that Zambia realised almost about three billion United States dollars from the copper sales but only around seventy million was remitted to the Zambian government. In such circumstances how can Africa develop from its own natural resources?
At times one wonders why some African leaders do have shut minds that they cannot even see through the whole IMF-centric Greek debacle. There is absolutely nothing that the IMF has done to resuscitate the once thriving Greek economy. Portugal and Spain are also in the same predicament. We also wonder if these African leaders are aware of the mass exodus of Portuguese citizens to Brazil, Angola and Mozambique due to the economic crisis bedevilling their country which the IMF has failed to rescue.
Why are some of our leaders so myopic and parochial? It is beyond dispute that the 50 percent devaluation of the Malawian currency will actually exacerbate its ailing economy. Empirical evidence abounds that devaluation is not the solution to a country’s economic problems. Samir Amin actually argues that devaluation of a country’s currency is a big advantage to tourists and all those who have access to foreign currency.
Zimbabweans can remember how those who had British pounds and US dollars actually benefited immensely from the 2008 economic crisis. South Africa as the economic powerhouse in the region with its robust economy, Angola with its vast oil resources, Botswana with its diamonds and Zimbabwe now recovering from the Western induced economic crisis have all lacked the political will to bail Malawi out of its economic problems.
Our African leaders are continually losing the plot as they are failing to promote Africa’s continental interests as envisioned by the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union. Are the African leaders and their people fully aware of whom their enemy is?
They must become aware that they are fighting against an exploitative system and for them to survive this onslaught they must together understand the objective around which they must unite. What some African leaders are accepting is a culture of political and economic injustice on the continent as well as the crushing of the black men carried to extreme perfection and systematic refinement by the white world.
One renowned scholar, Jose Miranda contends that “The philosophy of oppression, perfected and refined through civilisation is a true culture of injustice . . . which is so deeply rooted in the oppressors themselves and their ideologues . . . capitalist oppression carries with it thousands of years of injustice . . . Africa is a victim of force and injustice.”
The question that requires being reflected on is why Africa is allowing itself to capitulate before this exploitative system, a system that has become institutional, a system that has encircled Africa with immiseration and hunger.
Paradoxically the answer is that not even South Africa, despite being economically sound owns the means of production. Owners of the means of production are the very people who withdrew aid from Malawi. It is a reality that African leaders as well as its citizens must comprehend.
Arguably, as long as we do not own the means of production we will never be able to raise a finger to support our own African brothers and sister who are groaning under the yoke of poverty and multinational oppressive vices. What is worrisome and disturbing is the fact that the money that Africa is getting from the donors is actually part of the money from the continent’s resources.
l Darlington Mahuku and Bowden Mbanje are lecturers in International Relations, and Peace and Governance with Bindura University of Science Education