|Montreal, November 9, 2002 / No 113|
by Harry Valentine
African leaders attending the recent World Summit on sustainable development, held at Johannesburg, South Africa, seemed quite anxious that the Canadian Prime Minister make a commitment to ratifying the Kyoto Accord.
If they have nothing to gain from Canada committing itself to the Kyoto Accord, they would have no reason to care either way as to whether or not Canada committed itself to the accord. The mere act of African leaders being anxious over what should rightfully be a domestic Canadian matter, raises the suspicion that they may know something about the accord that the mainstream of Canadian citizens don't know. They seemed especially jubilant when the Canadian Prime Minister promised that the accord would be ratified by the Canadian parliament. What was the reason for this enthusiasm?
The legacy of political behaviour in the economic development of post-colonial Africa was written up over a decade ago in a book entitled Africa Betrayed, by Dr. George Ayittey, originally from Ghana and who was teaching at the American University in Washington, D.C. Ayittey spelled out how African despots and dictators, some of whom held Swiss bank accounts, had pillaged and plundered evolving African economies to the point of virtually bankrupting their national treasuries. His book tells how dictators had caused Africa's worst famines, such as the one in Sudan during the 1980's.
All through that famine, water kept flowing through the Nile River, downstream into Egypt which remained self-sufficient in food production. Throughout the Ethiopian famine which followed, Lake Tana, which is in the Ethiopian Highlands and which feeds into the Nile, was full of fresh water. During the Tanzanian famines which occurred under communist ruler Julius Nyerere, Lake Tanzania remained full of fresh water. Canada had supplied Nyerere with foreign aid during that era and a former Canadian Prime Minister even toasted him as "Mwalimu" or "Wise Man!"
At the present day, Malawi has a famine despite 30% of Malawian territory being a fresh water lake, Lake Malawi, that is full of water. Malawi's government policy of choosing which crops farmers will grow, denying them freedom of choice as to the use of their own land, is a contributing factor to the famine. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, a virtual famine has been caused by Robert Mugabe's farm confiscation policies.
Elected Canadian leaders believe that Canadian foreign aid buys Canadian government influence at high government levels in developing nations. Despite receiving Canadian foreign aid, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe told nations like Canada to "mind your own business" very bluntly and very directly, in matters pertaining to his genocidal policy of confiscating farms and handing them over to his relatives and supporters. Other African political leaders have at least been more diplomatic when essentially saying the same thing. Yet the Canadian government chooses to increase its foreign aid commitment, as mentioned in the recent throne speech.
Privately funded economic development does not flourish across Africa because of the political and economic climate created by African leaders. They are still committed to state control of the economy, while co-operation from their subordinates increases in proportion to the magnitude of the goodwill payment (bribe). During South Africa's apartheid era, the United Nations undertook a study on annual per capita incomes (by racial group) in Subsaharan Africa. Despite the putrid obscenity of the obnoxious apartheid system, the UN report's figures revealed that black people living inside South Africa under that oppressive system actually earned a higher per capita annual income than their fellows living elsewhere in black ruled countries.
It was the political behaviour of black African leaders such as those described in Ayittey's book who ultimately revealed that the vile and deplorable apartheid system actually had some redeeming merit. At no time prior to the end of apartheid did South Africa receive any Canadian foreign aid, while several other African nations whose leaders (like Tanzania's Nyerere) held political prisoners, did receive such aid and on a regular basis.
All the way to the Swiss bank
Canada's ratification of the Kyoto Accord could have some African leaders laughing all the way to the (Swiss) bank. Former Zairean leader Mobutu Sese Seko and former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda were among the African leaders believed to have held Swiss bank accounts. An independent study as to what percentage of foreign aid (from Canada) ended up in such accounts would be quite revealing.
Ratifying the Kyoto Accord may force Canadian oil companies to leave Alberta for greener pastures elsewhere in the world. One such pasture is Africa's west coast region between Nigeria and Angola, which is believed to hold high oil reserves. Not only will African politicians and officials be receiving extra foreign aid from Ottawa (mentioned in the recent throne speech), they may also look forward to receiving extra money from Canada for trading Kyoto credits. This will be in addition to the goodwill payments and oil tax revenues those in the oil region may expect to receive from any Canadian oil companies who come to drill for oil.
Some of the African leaders and officials couldn't even contain their glee before the TV cameras at the Johannesburg summit, after the Canadian Prime Minister promised that Canada will ratify the Accord. But the last thing Canadians need is a program whereby their government commits large sums of money to corrupt African leaders, in exchange for Kyoto credits.
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