AFRICA DAY STATEMENT: CNRG
Centre for Natural Resource Governance joins the rest of the continent in commemorating Africa Day, a day set apart to celebrate the founding of the Organization of African Unity, now African Union. The 2020 theme is ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and Intensifying the fight against Covid-19 pandemic’.
We acknowledge the devastating impacts of violent conflicts in Africa. Currently there are 15 countries that are either involved in war or are experiencing post war conflict and tension. The wars serve the purpose of creating a distraction, as the countries and their fleeing, displaced citizens are robbed of their countries’ natural resources, easily converted to cash, for personal use and fortunes of ruling parties and their foreign masters.
Today we are celebrating the Day when closer home, a violent insurgency is unfolding in the gas rich northern Mozambique where hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands displaced. This adds to the numerous cases of violence that the people of Africa are facing 57 years after the Organisation of African Unity was formed.
Poverty amidst plenty: However, we note that the biggest form of violence against the African people is structural violence or poverty. Non-military aggression in the form of extreme poverty, corruption, illicit financial flows and climate change are by far killing more Africans than violent conflicts. Poverty is escalating in the context of the paradox of plenty where Africa’s vast natural wealth is benefiting the ruling elites and foreign continents at the expense of the African people. Looting of natural resources – minerals, oil, gas, timber, wildlife and fish have reached alarming levels. In most cases, governments are using security forces to displace their citizens to pave way for foreign companies. In Marange, eastern Zimbabwe, thousands of citizens have been gunned down to secure the financial interests of mining syndicates owned by the ruling elites in partnership with organized syndicates, mostly from China, whilst the living conditions of the Marange people have drastically deteriorated since the discovery of diamonds in 2006. The heavy security and military presence in Marange depicts a war zone.
Gender Imbalance: Silencing the guns will not be realised if women continue to bear the brunt of conflicts and extractivism. Women in the DRC are yet to undergo the healing they need to move forward, having encountered numerous counts of rape from both state security forces and rebels. Zimbabwe is no exception, as women residing in communities that host natural resources in eastern Zimbabwe, (Marange) and coal mining sites in North Western part of Zimbabwe (Hwange) have encountered sexual and physical violence respectively. Elsewhere in the country, land grabbing and pollution have robbed communities and women in particular of their right to food security, the right to live in the clean environment and a decent home. Land grabbing increases the vulnerability of women as traditional custodians of food production systems at household level.
Labour exploitation: We are deeply concerned that in the matrix of international division of labour. Africa remains the main exporter of raw materials whilst the rest of the world adds value to exports and gain phenomenal value out of Africa’s natural resources. No serious efforts are being undertaken to ensure value addition and beneficiation of Africa’s natural resources before exports. For instance, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa accounts for 75 per cent of the global production of cocoa, and yet the continent reaps only 2 per cent from the $100 billion generated from cocoa products annually. Such massive exploitation of African labour and resources contributes to poverty and low life expectancy in Africa.
Climate Change: Climate change is another non-military warfare on the African people. Although Africa contributes far less carbon emissions compared to other continents, it suffers most from the adverse effects of climate change. Incessant droughts, floods, cyclones and fires are on the rise in Africa, killing tens of thousands of people annually. Climate change is also contributing to pestilences and pest outbreaks, such as the locust outbreaks in East Africa, which are threatening food security.
Refugee and migration: The above maladies are worsened by colonial borders which restrict movement of people, goods and services across borders. Majority of Africans are caged in run down economies with high unemployment levels caused by mismanagement, corruption and a deep culture of impunity. Many Africans are held up in refugee camps across the continent on allegations of entering other countries illegally. Appalling human rights record, lack of democratic space and the abuse of security forces by the ruling elites make Africa uninhabitable to its citizens. This has resulted in many Africans to perish as they take the dangerous journeys across the high seas to reach Europe. The continent continues to suffer much brain drain due to bad governance and the reluctance of the African Union to transform itself from being the Trade Union of Presidents to a Union of the African people. Xenophobic attacks against Africans in South Africa remain a recurring scourge which the African Union has not been bold enough to address.
CNRG calls on the African Union to:
- integrate African economies to strengthen Africa’s bargaining powers against other continental blocks.
- raise the standards of governance and transparency to ensure governments are held accountable by their citizens and their peers.
- de-construct colonial borders and ensure there is free movement of people, goods and services across the continent.
- fully implement the Maputo Protocol on Women’s Rights in Africa to ensure that women’s safety and security is prioritised at all levels, as well as creating a level playing field where women play an active role in promoting peace and development in the society.
- put in place measures and conditions that ensure that raw materials do not leave Africa unprocessed, and that our natural resources are of greater benefit to Africans.
CNRG Information Department