The Land Is Ours a landrights campaign for All
1. A legacy of colonialism & imperialism?
The original motives for the colonial mission were plainly expressed by Cecil Rhodes, the ‘founder’ of Rhodesia. “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories”. [From “The Ecologist”, 1992]
Post-colonialist Africa, characterised by land areas previously divided by colonial rulers into territories on a map, has since World War II witnessed a legacy of civil wars, military-coups, and crises of disorder and chaos. Blame for this “disorder” can be largely put at the door of continued imperialist interference in the domestic politics of countries, (for e.g. whereas the cold war situation saw political destabilisation in country after country throughout the African continent, such as in Angola, where the US financed the Unita rebels while the Soviets funded the MPLA government, post-war interference has been just as telling, for instance the current situation in Central Africa of the US’ backing of Uganda and Rwandan rebel insurgency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo owes much to the battle between US and French multinationals for control over the region’s vast mineral wealth). Every ruler knows that as soon as the profit margin of the transnational giants starts to fall, an ambitious army officer or chief of some oppressed tribe will be found to replace them. Thus they are driven to ever-greater excesses of brutality to ensure the constant supply of profits.
The entrenchment of power relations between the bourgeoisie and the working class/rural proletariat, has encouraged a proliferation of conflict and tension in relation to state power and ethnic division, which in terms of the latter, African elites have exploited and used as a means of mobilising support for the contestation of power and resources (Ref. “War & Conflict in Africa: A Bird’s-Eye View“, by Kwesi Kwaa Prah, 2000). Notwithstanding all of this, the other obvious key-part of the neocolonialism process which works in tandem with this expansion of warlordism under the wing of multinational collusion, is the continued exploitative economic relations between the North and the South.
The so-called “Third World debt” (the accumulated compound interest on non-existent capital which – in Africa – was paid to corrupt leaders) and the continued carrot of debt-cancellation which is used as a bargaining tool to enforce neoliberal structural adjustment policies, has resulted in the dependence by many poorer nation economies on the export of a narrow range of a few primary products, products which suffer from spiralling terms-of-trade due to this very reason, which ensures a steady supply of cheap raw materials into the western marketplace. The North’s capitalist advancement (led by the USA) occurs at the expense of the Neo-Colonial state, a process which is sustained by the fierce worldwide market penetration of multinationals facilitated by the colonisation of neoliberalism and the global free trade architecture of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade). With the encroachment by multinationals into global commodity markets (500 of whom now control 1/3rd of world trade), it is safe to say that world market prices are largely set in the stock exchanges of the North (by 1999, 66% of developing country exports were destined for developed country markets in the USA, Europe and Japan). Meanwhile, financial deregulation due to the removal of barriers-to-entry to financial speculation as enforced by the imperialism of global institutions (eg. the International Monetary Fund & World Bank) has occurred around the world, with the hijacking of these institutions and the World Trade Organisation having taken place largely to serve the interests of those countries in the North. The sophisticated use of structural adjustment policies by the IMF and World Bank has ensured that the neocolonial process has been both systematic and widespread. Meanwhile, the indebted nations of the south continue to see greater outflows of money than inflows due to the continuation of their debt-repayment schedules largely to the multilateral banking institutions, as well as ever-shrinking export revenues.
In short, the World Bank, IMF and the corporate negotiating mandate as rubber-stamped through the World Trade Organisation effectively ensures a continued flow of profits for the multinational corporations and shareholders of related financial interests residing in the North.
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