Russia-Africa ‘Shared Vision 2030’: Alternative to Neo-Colonial Pillage
By Matthew Ehret - 28. October 2019
A long night of suffering has kept one of the richest continents on the globe in a state of virtual dark age for over a century. Although the age of science has given humanity the means to access the highest standards of living in world history, 2019 has seen 15 000 children die of preventable deaths every day (illness, starvation and murder) with half occurring in Sub Saharan Africa. In a world of advanced energy technology, only five of 54 African countries have access to 100% electrification and all are North African.
Africa’s dark situation was never due to simplistic terms like “corruption” or “incompetence”, nor was Africa ever “culturally incompatible” with western technology as some racists have taught in social science classes. The truth is that Africa was never given true independence as is popularly believed. Sure there was nominal independence, but the economic independence needed to become sovereign nations on the continent was never granted by the empire.
This is why the growing presence of nations such as China and Russia on the continent are increasingly seen as beacons of hope for a new generation of Africans who recognise in this Eurasian alliance an opportunity to capture the future they were robbed of over half a century ago.
The Russian African Summit in Sochi
A watershed moment in this systemic change has occurred with the first Russia-Africa Economic and Security Summit in Sochi (Oct. 23-24) co-chaired by President Putin and Egypt’s President el-Sisi, featuring 50 African heads of State alongside 3000 representatives of business, government, and finance. This summit was the first of its kind, and followed hot off the heels of China’s first China-Africa Economic and Security Summit which was held in July 2019. In the past two years, 40 African states have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative which has scared many imperially minded technocrats in the west.
In an interview leading up to the Summit, President Putin beautifully echoed the Chinese philosophy of win-win development for Africa:“We are not going to participate in a new ‘repartition’ of the continent’s wealth; rather, we are ready to engage in competition for cooperation with Africa, provided that this competition is civilized and develops in compliance with the law. We have a lot to offer to our African friends.”
While it does not have the same level of investments as China (which leads the world with $200 billion/year), Russia’s investments have quadrupled since 2009 now clocking it at $20 billion/year and growing with a focus on rail, energy diplomacy, education, culture sharing and military assistance. Russia is currently building Egypt’s first nuclear reactor in El Dabaa, and is negotiating with several other nations such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya to go nuclear which will end the policy of technological apartheid imposed onto Africa for decades. Russia has announced the construction of an Africa Center of Excellence and Nuclear Power in Ethiopia and the Russian Academy of Sciences announced branches opening up across Africa. A vital driver for development, Russian Railways is working to construct trans-border and intra-border rail in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt and East Africa (just to name a few). During the summit, Russia announced a cancellation of a $20 billion African debt as an act of goodwill.
President Putin pointed out the elephant in the room when he said: “We see a number of Western states resorting to pressure, intimidation, and blackmail against governments of sovereign African countries. They hope it will help them win back their lost influence and dominant positions in former colonies and seek—this time in a ‘new wrapper’—to reap excess profits and exploit the continent’s resources without any regard for its population, environmental or other risks. They are also hampering the establishment of closer relations between Russia and Africa—apparently, so that nobody would interfere with their plans”
Unlike the west, Russia has the advantage of having encouraged African development during the dark days of the Cold War and is thus infinitely more trusted than the west, whose positive attempts to genuinely help Africa develop (as seen under the leadership of John F. Kennedy, Italian Industrialist Enrico Mattei or President de Gaulle) ended with either assassinations or coups.
Some may call Putin’s words anti-west hyperbole, but a comparison of the quality of investments Russian vs American into Africa demonstrates the two opposing intentions referenced by Putin.
The Trap of Conditionalities
Where US Aid, the World Bank and IMF have poured billions of dollars into Africa over decades, standards of living, and stability of those recipient nations have only plummeted. This is the opposite result one would expect from such “generous” behaviour. Why?
The answer can be partly be found in the shift towards IMF/World Bank conditionalities which grew out of a monstrous paradigm shift that occurred in the 1950s-1970s. Where leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt and his ally Henry Wallace envisioned an industrialized Africa liberated from colonialism, the Bretton Woods instruments they created to provide long term low interest loans internationally were cleansed of anti-colonial leaders and replaced with deep state tools early in the Cold War ensuring that any credit issued would be tied to deadly conditionalities as exposed by John Perkins in his book Confessions of an Economic Hitman.
Under this neo-colonial formula, Africa was allowed to get money. But those dollars would no longer be “permitted” to be invested into genuine nation building or advanced technological progress as Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah or Thomas Sankara intended. Only “appropriate technologies” such as windmills or solar panels were permitted. Small wells were ok, but major water/energy projects like hydroelectric dams or Great Manmade Rivers were not allowed. Certainly no nuclear power was permitted (unless you happened to be an apartheid state run by white racists of course). Oil drilling and mining investments were ok, but only if foreign companies like Barrick Gold or Standard Oil did the work and none of the revenue or electricity benefited the people. Without the means of producing real wealth (defined as combination of material, intellectual and spiritual growth), Africa’s productive powers of labor collapsed with their sovereignty and the debts only grew.
Hysterical Neocons Lash out
It is no secret that just as China began outpacing the Americans in African investment in 2007. Rather than acting intelligently to increase genuine infrastructure funding as the Chinese had done, the US Deep State not only continued its outdated debt-slavery practices, but created AFRICOM as a military arm across the continent. Ironically AFRICOM’s presence coincided with a doubling of militant Islamist activities since 2010 with 24 groups now identified (up from only 5 in 2010) and a 960% increase in violent attacks from 2009-2018. Just as western lending has caused a pandemic of slavery, so too has western security forces only spread mass insecurity.
The fact is that the neo cons infesting the Military Industrial Complex have openly identified both countries as co-equal enemies to the USA and understand that this alliance represents an existential threat to their hegemony. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation last year, former National Security Advisor John Bolton said (without blushing): “The predatory practices pursued by China and Russia stunt economic growth in Africa; threaten the financial independence of African Nations; inhibit opportunities for US investment… and pose a threat to US national security interests.”
His words were bolstered by acting head of AFRICOM Thomas Waldauser in Feb. 2019 “To thwart Russian exploitative efforts, USA AFRICOM continues to work with a host of partners to be the military partner of choice in Africa.”
Luckily for the world, Bolton and Waldauser were both flushed from their posts by an American President who has chosen to ally with Russia and China rather than risk World War III. However, the dangerous ideology and deep state power structure they represent is not yet defeated, and with Trump’s intention to pull troops out of Syria, these psychotic forces are as dangerous as ever.
Matthew J.L. Ehret is a journalist, lecturer and founder of the Canadian Patriot Review.
Trump’s Vision for Africa: the 1960s
By Wayne Madsen - 26. July 2019
Although Donald Trump can barely place a single country in Africa, his few utterances on the continent have yielded what can only be described as a nostalgia for the 1960s. It was a decade that saw three white minority-ruled governments ruling in South Africa, Rhodesia, and the South African territory of South-West Africa. All three white-ruled entities practiced varying degrees of apartheid. This was accomplished through economic, social, and political means.
In January 2018, when Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries,” he was relishing the time when apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia, and South-West Africa were considered a pro-US bloc in southern Africa. The links between southern Africa’s exiled black African liberation political parties and movements to Communist- and Marxist-ruled nations, in the minds of Trump and his equally right-wing father, Fred Trump, Sr., made South Africa, Rhodesia, and South-West Africa model nations in the eyes of the Trumps.
Trump’s sympathies for the apartheid countries were crystal clear when, on August 22, 2018, Trump tweeted: “I have asked Secretary of State Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.’”
The South African government was keenly aware that Trump was using a trope from the apartheid era. White South African prime ministers, including John Vorster and P. W. Botha were fond of warning their own constituencies, as well as the West, that if blacks achieved majority rule in South Africa, white farmers would be massacred and their land expropriated. These were fear tactics, pure and simple. Mr. Trump, caught in some sort of time warp, continues to believe the apartheid propaganda.
In response to Trump’s tweet, the government of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hit back at Trump: “South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.” It turns out that Trump got his idea that the South African government was seizing land from white farmers from the disreputable Fox News. As for the claim that white farmers were being killed, that bit of bogus information came from a far-right group called AfriForum, consisting of mainly Afrikaners in South Africa and abroad.
The AfriForum disinformation about white-owned farms and farmers in South Africa was picked up by Trump through Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s father, Dick Carlson, was President Ronald Reagan’s chief propagandist as the director of the US Information Agency (USIA), since closed down. During 1985 and 1986, Dick Carlson ensured that a steady stream of right-wing propaganda emanated from the Voice of America, the anti-Cuban Radio Marti, and other platforms. This included support for apartheid South Africa. Other top Republicans involved in pro-South African propaganda included disgraced Republican Party lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Republican activist Lewis Lehrman. In 1985, USIA and the Voice of America, at Carlson’s direction, highlighted an anti-Communist summit meeting held in Jamba, Angola. The summit, called the “Jamboree in Jamba,” was attended by Abramoff, the Angolan UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, Nicaraguan Contra leader Adolfo Calero, Laotian Hmong leader Pa Kao Her, and Afghan Mujaheddin leader Abdul Rahim Wardak. Also present was Reagan National Security Council official Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, as well as South African and Israeli representatives. The South African Defense Force provided the security for the summit. Based on the success of the Jamba summit, the Republican right-wing even had hopes of restoring a proto-colonialist administration in Mozambique, the former Portuguese colony. By attempting to create a RENAMO-led government in Mozambique, the right hoped many Portuguese exiles could return to Mozambique to hold key positions in government and commerce. This, of course, was the same thinking behind the right’s support for Savimbi’s UNITA forces in Angola, also a former Portuguese colony.
One of the US groups backing the apartheid South African government was the Committee on the Present Danger, a fervently anti-Communist group. Extinct since the end of the Cold War, the Committee recently enjoyed a resurgence in Washington under the auspices of Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, and former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich.
In the 1980s, it was clear that far-right elements in the Reagan administration were trying to shore up white-rule in South Africa, prevent total black rule in South-West Africa, and roll back rule by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe – the former Rhodesia. The racist right-wing in the United States had hoped to prevent Mugabe from coming to power in June 1979 by backing the creation of a post-minority rule country called Zimbabwe Rhodesia. The use of the name Rhodesia was a concession to the white minority in the country, which, upon unilateral independence in 1965, was headed by Prime Minister Ian Smith. Smith was a hero to the far-right elements in the United States, including the Ku Klux Klan. Smith and his allies in South Africa decided the best way to maintain the status quo was to form an alliance with Rhodesian tribes opposed to Mugabe, including Ndebele leaders like Joshua Nkomo.
The first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Rhodesia was Bishop Abel Muzorewa, who, like Mugabe, was a member of the northern Shona tribe. Muzorewa was an opponent of Mugabe as were other officials in the short-lived Zimbabwe Rhodesia, sometimes called “Rhobabwe.” Smith continued in the government as a minister without portfolio. White Rhodesians continued to serve as ministers of finance, justice, agriculture, and finance. When Britain re-established control over Zimbabwe Rhodesia and changed its name to Southern Rhodesia in December 1979 the writing was on the wall for the white-black coalition government. In 1980, Mugabe became prime minister of Zimbabwe. In the subsequent years, many white Rhodesians fled to South Africa, the United States, Canada, and Australia.
In 2015, Dylan Roof, the US white supremacist who massacred African Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina church, appeared on a website called “The Last Rhodesian” wearing a jacket emblazoned with the flags of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. Rhodesian expats have also been involved with several racist groups around the world, including Australia, Canada, Britain, and New Zealand. Donald Trump has rekindled hope among these stubborn nostalgists for white rule in southern Africa that what once seemed impossible is now quite thinkable: white-dominated governments in Harare, Pretoria, and Windhoek.
A similar situation was attempted by promoters of white rule in South-West Africa. In 1977, the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance formed a de facto government in Windhoek led by Dirk Mudge. Mudge, an Afrikaner, governed with the support of South Africa and representatives from various ethnic groups, including the Ovaherero, Coloureds (mixed race), Tswana, Damara, a few Ovambo, Caprivians, Nama, Kavango, San, and White Afrikaners and Germans, the latter concentrated on the coast around Swakopmund. The United Nations refused to recognize the Turnhalle government, opting for the exiled South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) of Sam Nujoma, which was heavily supported by a majority of the Ovambo people. The attempt by whites and their allies to prevent Nujoma from becoming president of independent Namibia ultimately failed.
Thanks to social media, a de facto alliance of exiled white Rhodesians, South Africans, Nyasalanders (now Malawi), and Namibians, along with racists in Europe, North America, and Australia, see – with Trump as president of the United States and the equally racist Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil – an opportunity for them to set the calendar back to the 1960s. Just as minority white leaders like Smith, Vorster, Botha, and Mudge attempted to seek alliances of convenience with various African ethnic groups to maintain ascendancy – the Ndebele, Zulu, Venda, Tswana, Damara, and Ndau, among others – Trump, Steve Bannon, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and about a dozen hard right Republican members of the US Congress are hoping to restore de facto white rule in southern Africa.
Since Trump’s “Make America Great Again” trope has become a racist mantra, so, too, have merchandise bearing mottos like “Make Zimbabwe Rhodesia Again,” “Make Afrikaners Great Again,” and “Make Namibia German Again.” Some whites with roots in Malawi, where the second largest city is Blantyre – named after the town of Blantyre in South Lanarkshire, Scotland – would not mind it if they again enjoyed high positions of influence in the country formerly known as Nyasaland. Some of the descendants of the 75,000 whites who formerly lived in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, also pine for the days when whites ruled the country. Afrikaner nationalists also recall with fondness the desire of apartheid South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd wanting to turn Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Basutoland (now Lesotho), and Swaziland (now eSwatini) into South African ruled dominions.
Creation of a South Atlantic Treaty Organization (SATO) has long been a goal of neo-conservatives like John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser, and Elliott Abrams, Trump’s “special envoy” for Venezuela. In March 2019, Trump, restarting this goal of the Reagan and Richard Nixon administrations, said during the visit of Bolsonaro to the White House, “I also intend to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally, or even possibly—if you start thinking about it—maybe a NATO ally.”
Pleased with the 1970s success of Operation Condor, an intelligence alliance of Latin American military dictatorships that targeted for assassination and arrest leftists in South America and beyond, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger foresaw a military alliance of the Condor partners of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, along with apartheid South Africa and the United States, as firmly extending US military control over the south Atlantic region. Kissinger’s plan for a SATO continued under Reagan. One Reagan administration policy paper was titled “The Security of the South Atlantic: Is It a Case for ‘SATO’–South Atlantic Treaty Organization?” Just as with Trump and Bolsonaro today, in 1984, Reagan and Brazilian President João Figueiredo, Brazil’s last military dictator, had talks on the formation of SATO.
Influenced by the neo-cons in his administration, Trump was recently asked about Africa policy. Trump responded, “We’re looking at Zimbabwe right now.” Just as with the right-wingers gathered at the Jamba Jamboree in 1985, Trump and his racist supporters are looking at Zimbabwe in order to restore something akin to Rhodesia and get the ball rolling on the restoral of white rule and privilege throughout southern Africa and forcing many blacks back to their rural tribal kraals. Trump’s neo-con allies may seek to create a SATO, but the racist elements in Washington want it to be a military club for white governments. Those who sacrificed so much to eliminate the scourge of apartheid and colonialism from southern Africa should be on constant guard against the plans of Trump and his southern African and Brazilian allies. The United States under Trump is a distinct neo-colonialist enemy of the black African people.
Wayne Madsen - Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club