Neo-extractivism & the new scramble for African resources

Neo-extractivism & the new scramble for African resources

Reflections from the SADC People Summit 2016    N.B. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation   In our age of hypercapitalism, characterised by the unbridled expansion of consumerism, the spread of offshore financial centres and the growingly de-territorialised nature of economic actors, the so-called “paradox of plenty” appears to be an inescapable trap for naturally well-endowed countries in Africa. The global resource boom and the explosion of mining activities in the continent, almost totally controlled by transnational corporations (TNCs), is undoubtedly a lucrative business for greedy and aggressive companies which easily find their way into heavily corrupt countries, offering loose regulatory frameworks and consolidated neopatrimonial practices. The access to raw materials and natural resources has been progressively handled to TNCs over the past decades through the shortsighted and Western-centred imposition of what is known as the “Washington consensus”, a series of economic policy prescriptions, laid down by Washington based international financial institutions (IFIs), promoting unrestrained trade liberalisation and financial deregulation in highly indebted developing countries in the global South. Leaving aside the debate around the concept of “odious debt”, and the extent to which is it fair and just for the citizens of those countries to bear the burdens of loans from which they have received no benefits, is it however undeniable that the same international economic architecture, rooted in the neo-liberal dogma of perfect competition and the “invisible hand” of markets maximising common good, has offered the perfect shield for the neo-colonial scramble for natural resources in the South to be used for the prosperity and consumption of the...
Workshop on Alternative Poverty Reduction Strategy: Embarking Society in the Long Walk to Economic Recovery

Workshop on Alternative Poverty Reduction Strategy: Embarking Society in the Long Walk to Economic Recovery

On 4th August 2016, the Alternative Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) Workshop, organised by the Poverty Reduction Forum Trust, in collaboration with the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) and Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Harare. The aim of the meeting was to create a platform bringing together civil society organisations and the private sector to reflect on the on-going Poverty Reduction Strategy Process (PRSP) undertaken by the government, in order to ensure that the voice of Zimbabwean people is appropriately listened, through the development of a parallel, broad-based and participatory platform which yearns to fill the gaps left by the mainstream interim PRSP in terms of transparency and accountability. In order to fully re-engage with external donors and international financial institutions (IFIs), Zimbabwe is now in the process of planning a 2 years (2016-2018) Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, drafted on the basis of country-wide consultations with various stakeholders held between March and June 2016. This paper, whose development is one of the four criteria to be met in order to be considered eligible for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative assistance led by the World Bank, is expected to provide a guiding framework to engage in structural reforms aimed at reducing poverty and promoting economic growth across 5 overarching thematic areas, namely: 1) Social Services, Policies and Expenditures, 2) Agriculture Productivity, Growth and Rural Food Security and Nutrition 3) Private Sector 4) Environment and Climate Change, 5) Strengthening Governance and Institutional Capacity. The primary ambition is to address, in a more effective way, the...

“Hwange: Zimbabwe’s Land Of Fire”

18 July 2017   There is a region in southern Italy, sadly famous among the media as the “land of fire” because of the high presence there of industrial toxic wastes and for the devastating impact of the environmental degradation on its inhabitants. Over 13 800km away is Hwange, which I can affirm with dismay to be its counterpart. Amidst a territory of luxurious vegetation and a tremendously variegated wildlife — home to one of the largest elephants population of the world — Hwange hides a tragic story which has been kept secret for too long behind the smoky hills that surround the town, in stark contrast to the cloudless sky of a winter day. It is a story which dates back to June 6 1972, when an underground explosion occurred in the Hwange Colliery claiming the lives of 427 miners who are now commemorated at the Kamandama Memorial within the same mining site. As the story continues, today presents a tale of poverty, environmental degradation and hydric contamination during the dirty lifecycle of coal extraction, which involves the scratching away of rocks and earth to reach coal seams buried underground — a process that injects vast amounts of toxic substances such as arsenic, mercury, and selenium into the soil and waterways. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is released into the air during the coal mining process and a thick layer of coal dust engulfs the human and wildlife habitats therein in the subtly death grip. Indeed, opencast coal mining is known for its ruinous environmental impact, which degrades air and soil quality, destroying existing vegetation and scarring permanently the...