Recently in Moscow, Russia
THE former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in 2012 ‘warned’ Africa to consider partnerships with more ‘responsible’ countries like the US and the rest of the West and not with ‘exploitative’ countries like China, Russia, Brazil and India. Sadly there are some Africans that seem to agree with this notion and do not see these emerging new powers as allies. One African Ambassador in Moscow, during their meeting with the current Chairman of the African Union (AU), President Robert Mugabe asked if China’s relationship with Africa was not an exploitative one. To those in the know, the irony was apparent. Today France, one of the so-called responsible countries, still collects colonial tax from 14 of its former colonies. The 14 ‘republics’ are expected to pay the former colonial master for the benefits of colonialism and slavery like the buildings that France constructed and the general modernisation programmes that France undertook in the colonies. In fact, France has the first right to ‘buy’ any natural resources found in the land of its former colonies because it owns that resources. Only after France has had its fill or is not interested are other countries allowed to seek to be partners. And another ‘responsible’ ‘super’ power, Britain brings investments and aid that come with a load of strings attached. For instance, when Malawi decided that as a sovereign nation they did not want to recognise homosexuality as a fundamental right, they found themselves in murky waters. It is said about 60 percent of Malawi’s budget was funded by the British and Britain cut off aid. That was the time President Ngwazi BinguWaMutharika died in 2012. In Zimbabwe when the black people suddenly decided they had enough of Britain and America dilly dallying on the issue of land reform and took back the land, the country suddenly found itself under economic siege. Africa in its business dealings with the West has learnt that these are not partnerships of equals, but the relationship of the horse and the rider. Organisations that deliver ‘aid’, ‘support’, ‘investment’, the Bretton Woods institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and The World Bank, are nothing, but Western loan sharks, Africans now realise. Nothing good has ever come out of them. No country that has adopted policies from these ‘development’ partners have prospered. Their structural adjustment programmes have broken more economies than replenish them. Thus when President Robert Mugabe met with African envoys in Moscow, he emphasised the importance of the relationship that Africa is building with the China, Russia and other members of the BRICS. It is a relationship premised on mutual respect, equality and is a true partnership. The nations by virtue of never having been colonial powers have come to the African table with no airs of superiority or arrogance “We should look at the principles of the government that wants to help us,” President Mugabe said. “The Western way is not the only way.” And the South African President, Jacob Zuma expressed similar sentiments. In an interview with Russian Television, he said Western ‘colonial’ states are not interested in Africa’s development, but its natural resources. “The Europeans came to Africa to colonise us in the 19th century and they have been taking our natural resources ever since,” he said. President Mugabe made it clear that it was time the so-called superpowers stopped abusing their ‘power’ when dealing with Africa. “We are people with abundant love and welcoming, but let not the world take advantage of that,” he said. Russia’s partnership with Zimbabwe will be different. The two countries’ relationship goes way back to the Second Chimurenga. “When our country celebrated its independence in 1980, we paid tribute to the support of the Soviet Union and China, who helped us in our liberation.” the President said. During his meeting with President Mugabe, President Vladimir Putin drew attention to the bilateral agreements between Zimbabwe and Russia affirming their continued support. “We are always looking to continue developing our relations on new foundations, adapting them to today’s demands while at the same time making full use of the positive legacy from the past,” President Putin said. “For this reason, we must work together,” President Mugabe echoed the sentiments. In 2008, Russia together with China vetoed a United Nations (UN) resolution against sanctioning Zimbabwe. Russia has cancelled almost US$11, 2 million African debt accrued during Soviet Union era. Currently, the Russians have entered into a multi-billion-dollar platinum project in Darwendale with Zimbabwe. The major difference between Russia and many other countries is that it does not lack natural resources needed for its own industrialisation. With the sanctions placed on Russia’s energy sector, Russia faces a depletion of commercially comfortable deposit reserves. Russia, according to pundits, has preferred to invest in already established players as development of new deposits may take 10 or more years to design and put into practice, a time it does not have as it reels under sanctions imposed by the West. While the Russian industry lack certain minerals such as manganese, chromium, bauxite which are abundant in Africa, the country’s economy is not critically dependent on African resources Russia exports weapons and technology to Africa that other countries in the West are not ready to share with the continent. Hence Russia brings a special kind of partnership, a responsible one, not based on greed and selfishness, but mutual respect.