Economic Justice

What is but a small blot to a man’s image, especially one whose ideas had shaped your thinking for as far you could remember? Studying sociology I had become curious about the land question in Africa. Sam you are one of whom it can be said that “ akekho ofana nawe”  (there is none like you). Rest in eternal peace dear brother, colleague, mentor and comrade!!! You planted many ideas and these will live on!

Sometimes despair is the only response. Despair and fury - that mining executives can be so blinded by profits and greed that they cannot see the horror of their ways. Usually, their real views about the workers their companies exploit are kept well hidden by a wealth of PR gurus and communications experts. But just occassionally they speak candidly and then the truth comes out - the truth that they do not care an iota for the men and women who toil in often hazardous conditions to keep them mega-rich.

The ‘conflict minerals’ campaign has been hugely influential, particularly in relation to the DRC. It has focussed attention on how the illicit trade in all sorts of minerals – such as coltan, cassiterite and tantalum – has fomented conflict and facilitated mass human rights violations. However, it has also helped to divert attention away from other mining-related abuses and from the reality that conflict minerals are everywhere – because everywhere you go, mining companies and their paid-up protectors in government are in conflict with local communities.

It has been a month since the release of a damning report into a massively corrupt Angolan-Russian debt deal. A month since it explained in forensic detail how more than US$700 million ended up in the pockets of arms dealers and senior Angolan officials, including President dos Santos. A month since a group of courageous Angolan anti-corruption campaigners used its new evidence to file criminal complaints in Angola and Switzerland.

Sometimes despair seems to be the only response – despair that in 2013, a government can be pushing ahead with a massive plan to produce natural gas without telling the public. Despair that after all the rhetoric about transparency and accountability in the mining sector – a government has been granting concessions to vast tracts of land, including in world famous national parks, without bothering to inform, let along consult, local communities.

So now we know. Isabel dos Santos is 'officially' Africa’s richest woman. In fact, she is the continent’s first ‘woman billionaire’ according to an appalling article on the Forbes magazine website, which was torn to shreds by Louise Redvers, who has lived in Luanda and who actually knows what she is talking about when it comes to Angola – and to the ever-increasing wealth of the dos Santos family.

The US Justice Department has just filed new court papers citing examples of what it calls "gross negligence and wilful misconduct" by BP over the disastrous oil spill at its Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Swaziland is in the midst of such a severe financial crisis that King Mswati III called on all Swazis to do what they can to help the nation. Everywhere you look belts are being tightened. For starters, MPs are facing a 10% salary cut. The elderly are digesting 3 million dollars worth of cuts to their already meagre state assistance. And there better not be any natural disasters this year as the National Disaster Management Agency has had its budget halved.

In another huge blow to the credibility of Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika and his government, the US has suspended a massive aid package, which would have ploughed US$350 million into the country's barely-existent power sector. It is also a devastating blow to the millions of Malawians who would have benefitted from the extra electricity - and a potentially fatal blow to hopes of sustainable growth and development.

Angola’s never-ending president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, gave a very rare TV interview this week. Needless to say, his appearance was keenly anticipated.

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