We live in a world where the moral compass seems to be bent each time it stands in the way of economic gains. Morality is taking a back seat while material wealth is firmly cemented onto the driver’s seat. And we can see this in almost every sphere of our lives, from young graduates making “friendly gestures” to secure a job at a certain company. To foreign governments giving incentives to government officials in order to secure certain tenders.
The East (by that I mean China and Russia) have long been known to be focused on just their best interest when dealing with countries in Africa. I once heard of this ‘joke’ being said the East is as likely to sell ammunition to the government to crack down on insurgency, as they are likely to sell the same ammo to the same uprising. Then, they will sell coffins to both sides of the divide.
The West and their defunct Moral Compass
We all know the saying, ‘the good guy always finishes last.’ Well, over the two decades or so, the West (European nations and the USA) have been getting their ass kicked in as far as trade deals in Africa are concerned.
China, in particular, has been getting the lion’s share of newly formed trade deals on the continent. And economics experts say the trade deals are always skewed in favor of China than any of the African country counterparts in any particular transaction.
No wonder China has been growing in its world ranking, and can now easily lay claim to having the ability to overthrow the U.S. as a Super Power from both an economic and military point of view. Whether that is true or not, let us all hope we shall never have to find that out. As it could only mean the two countries go to military war, and we can all see the devastating effect their current trade wars is having.
What has drawn most African countries to fire dragon, is China’s policy of non-interference. The East typically doesn’t care what political sanctions a country or leaders of a nation have been given by any international criminals court. If it is business, they will do business with anybody.
While the West typically adhere to this moral compass, where they will not do any business with any government or leaders of a government who have been sanctioned. To trade with the West, you must have your house in order. That means, giving your home country’s citizens the human rights as established by the United Nations. Right to marriage (even same sex), right to life, freedom of speech, freedom to worship, etc.
The good guy finishes last
Africa is a big market from both a consumer and producer point of view. The continent has a population of about 1.3 billion people, with a median age of 19.4 years. The continent is also rich in mineral resources such as natural ores, and fertile land. Unfortunately, the leaders of Africa for some reason consistently fail to put up infrastructures and systems to harness their natural resources.
Leading to most countries exporting their natural resources as raw material for further value addition in countries both in the West and East. Now, there is more profit in the trade of value-added goods than there is in trading in raw materials. The West and East are currently in a scramble to secure mining rights and land concession deals across Africa.
For about a decade or two, the East (particularly China) has benefited the most since it adopted a no-interference policy. While the West continuously placed sanctions on governments and/or political leaders on the continent, they deemed to have infringed on certain human rights.
It pays to turn a Blind Eye
There have been numerous crackdowns on oppositions by governments across Africa, to which the West have chosen to pay a blind eye and give a muted response. The West is no longer interested in protecting democracy in Africa, as long as it establishes good trade relations with the government of the day.
Take, for instance, the recent presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo where several international agencies said the polls were not above board. Yet, the US ambassador to Kinshasa, Mike Hammer praised the election as the “first-ever peaceful, democratic transfer of power.”
By doing so, Hammer shocked many independent minds and champions of democracy. He even went against the U.S State Department, which expressed concerns over the electoral process.
The toothless bulldog that is the African Union (AU)
The African Union (AU), which is supposed to be the first stop African agency that advocates for solutions for Africa by Africans, has consistently proved ineffective in dealing with political chaos in member states.In the recent case of chaos in DR Congo, the AU hastily convened a mission to Kinshasa, to promote a negotiated solution to the electoral fraud, but just as quickly abandoned that mission. The AU’s request to delay the announcement of the results by the official electoral body also fell on deaf ears. And why? Because there is nothing the AU can do, especially when the West has given credence to the fictitious results. The AU should be on the frontline advocating for African solutions by Africans, but the organization has consistently not lived up to the expectations. One such example is the move the AU proposed of supporting some African countries removing themselves from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
A case study of West and East paying a blind eye to electoral fraudsThe following are incidences where first and foremost the AU has failed in its oversight mandate on electoral and political injustices in African countries. Followed by the West joining the East in paying a blind eye:
The Burundi government crackdown on opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza run for the third term in office.
The underhand political deal struck by outgoing DR Congo President Joseph Kabila and the newly ‘elected’ President Felix Tshisekedi. It is believed Kabila and his cronies will still be calling the shot, with the new President Tshisekedi as a puppet.
The elections in Kenya since the infamous 2007 General Elections where human rights groups and the opposition have claimed were not above board.
Elections in Uganda, in which President Yoweri Museveni has controversially won some elections, and even went ahead to amend the constitution to extend his presidency that has span over three decades.
Crackdown on dissents by governments in Zimbabwe and Sudan where the population has been staging mass protests against the government of the day.
Nigeria, which is soon set to go for elections and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari has just first the country’s Chief Justice. Someone who could potentially play a key role if the next election, in which Buhari will be seeking a second term, is disputed, and the matter is taken to the courts. The EU, US, and the UK have expressed their displeasure, but many now see that as a lip-service by the West, nothing more.
Any move by the West in Africa is done in response to the EastLast month, the US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, outline the American policy in Africa. But much of it were steps and measures to be taken by the U.S. to counter the growing presence and influence of China (and to a lesser extent Russia) across Africa.
The new US policy in Africa was drawn carefully not to antagonize any bad ruling regimes in Africa, as that will only make such countries give China more trade deals. Since the U.S. does not want that to happen, it will continue paying a blind eye to dictators in Africa with the hope they can do business and whether down the influence of China.