Stealing Africa’s wealth and stashing it in the West

Ensuring Socio-economic Justice

Dr Mustafa Bothwell Mheta

Rabi' al-Awwal 03, 1442 2020-10-20

Daily News Analysis

by Dr Mustafa Bothwell Mheta

Africa is losing nearly $89 billion a year in illicit financial flows through tax evasion and theft.

This is more than what it receives in development aid, a new UN study shows.

Published on September 28 in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 248-page report, it is the most comprehensive to date for Africa.

It shows an increasing trend over time and is higher than most previous estimates.

Who is doing the stealing and where is this money going?

Why is it that Africa is given little in aid, yet much is pilfered using such devious means?

Should this not be called a scam by western countries with the aid of Africa’s corrupt bureaucrats and politicians?

The report indicates that nearly half of the total annual figure of $88.6 billion is accounted for by the export of commodities such as gold, diamonds, and platinum.

For example, gold accounted for 77 percent of total under-invoiced exports worth $40 billion in 2015.

Understating a commodity’s true value helps conceal trade profits abroad and deprives developing countries of foreign exchange and erodes their tax base, UNCTAD said.

There are probably many other ways of stealing.

The truth is that such plans are devised by the former colonial rulers with the help of bureaucrats in Africa.

This reflects extreme selfishness ignoring the plight poor African masses that live in abject poverty.

What help is it to be told that we live in a country with the world’s highest deposits of diamonds when this does not benefit the people?

The report calls Africa a “net creditor to the world”, echoing economists’ observations that the aid-reliant continent is actually a net exporter of capital because of such fraudulent practises.

It is a shame for Africa.

The elites and African ruleers have abandoned the people and are dining with their former colonizers.

They are in cahoots with those that are shamelessly plundering peoples’ resources.

Many African rulers are in power through the help of the imperial/colonial masters. They are, therefore, obedient to them.

“Illicit financial flows rob Africa and its people of their prospects, undermining transparency and accountability and eroding trust in African institutions,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.

The constitutions in most countries, written with guidance from the imperial/colonial masters have no checks and balances, hence no accountability.

These constitutions serve not the people but the political thugs in power.

Junior Davis, head of policy and research at UNCTAD’s Africa division, told Reuters news agency the figure was likely an underestimate, citing data limitations.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) offers a good example.

Looting has been going on in the Congo since independence.

The Congolese have been under perpetual strangulation by a combination of both the imperial powers and the compromised local rulers that seek to serve the interests of their western masters.

Ever since the people of Africa encountered Europeans 500 years ago, Africa has given everything. The west still wants more.

Where would the western world be without Africa? They take everything from Africa: cocoa, timber, platinum, gold, diamonds, and oil.

Many western countries have no natural resources and are completely dependent on Africa.

Yet one hears their arrogant claim that Africa needs them.

Tackling the illicit flow of money is a priority for the UN. The General Assembly adopted a resolution on this in 2018.

The report urges African countries to draw on the report to present “renewed arguments” in international forums.

By asking rulers that are committing these crimes against the people of Africa to police themselves, will achieve nothing.

As for the destination of this stolen wealth, the UNCTAD report is clear: it goes to western countries.

Apparently, these are the same countries that pretend they are Africa’s benefactors.

They rob Africa and then return a small percentage of that stolen money as ‘aid’.

There is need to examine this so-called international system which is built on unfair practices and crookedness.

There is also need to start asking tough questions and hold the rulers accountable for the theft of natural resources.

If the west is really serious about ending corruption, why do they allow illicit money stolen from Africa to find safe havens in their countries?

Why don’t they return this money back to their countries of origin?

Or, arrest these corrupt rulers when they fly into their capitals to enjoy the money.

The west’s talk of anti-corruption is hypocritical.

They are not sincere at all; it is just a show they put up to fool the African people.

Opposition parties on the continent are not playing a constructive role either.

They fight only to grab power and continue doing the same thing: enrich themselves, their families and their friends.

We do not see any change even when power changes hands because the status quo remains.

Dr Mustafa Mheta is Researcher/Head of Africa Desk, Media Review Network, Johannesburg

Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use
Copyrights © 1436 AH
Sign In
Forgot Password?
Not a Member? Signup