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Not yet Uhuru as long as interests of capitalist economies persist

New Era, Namibia

Not yet Uhuru as long as interests of capitalist economies persist

21 September 2012

By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

It cannot be Uhuru yet for Namibia and its partners, or should one say fellow downtrodden countries united in the economic bloc of the African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) countries.

In fact, it is a misnomer for the ACP to be referred to as an economic bloc because if there is one thing that unites these countries, it is more their exasperation and desperation within the hackneyed relationship with the European Union, a capitalist union.

More than anything else the ACP countries’ involvement in this structure was more a matter of survival and pandering to the whims and dictates of the former capitalist colonising countries.

The ACP countries had thus been united in this bloc, essentially a bloc of former colonised countries hoping at best to get crumbs falling off the dinner tables of their former colonizers, which had structured this so-called relationship to remain what the former colonies had always been during the colonial times – suppliers of cheap raw materials to their industrialised or industrialising so-called partners.

Thus never was the EU-ACP economic relationship meant to be more than what it has been pretended and ‘pretexted’ to be all these years since the dawn of liberation in the ACP countries and the birth of the ACP-EU – the so-called newfound economic relationship.

Rather than the ACP countries flexing their muscle vis-à-vis their European counterparts, they have been no more than beggars. And to all intents and purposes this is what they remain even in this age of pretence at equality of all nations, especially in the South and North.

It is a euphemism to refer to the European countries as partners of the ACP countries because from its very inception it has been a big lie that such partnership was hatched with the best intentions of nurturing the ACP countries towards development, and particularly the industrialisation of the ACP countries.

Despite the pretence at industrialising the ACP countries, back in 1985 when the ACP-EU economic relationship became ten years old, there was little to show in terms of this relationship, be it in terms of meaningful trade relations, and let alone in terms of the industrialisation of the ACP countries.

In fact then it was obvious that the ACP-EU relationship was a matter of shattered dreams as far as the ACP countries were concerned.

With close to 50 years now of this ACP-EU economic relationship, I challenge anyone to convince me if the ACP countries have benefited in anyway in terms of industrialisation other than this economic relationship continuing its symbiotic self of the ACP countries being sources of raw materials to their former capitalist colonisers.

That is the context in which the recent supposed victory by the ACP countries vis-à-vis the countries united in the EU should looked at.

The best that has hitherto been happening is to make the ACP countries continue as convenient sources of cheap raw materials. One needs look no further than to the recent report in The Villager on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Namibia quoting the World Bank as stating: “Mining and processing minerals like diamonds, uranium, lead, zinc, tin, silver and tungsten is among the major arousing interests for investors in Namibia.”

Thus, could the ACP-EU economic, and if you like, political relationship, realistically be viewed in a different context than the continuing exploitative order between the South and North with the South if anything at all a cheap source of raw materials?

Despite sugar-coated utterances and pretences of goodwill and presumed equal partnership, indeed since the old days of all the preceding conventions, starting with the Arusha, Lomé and subsequently the Cotonou Agreement which has culminated in the so-called Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the bone of contention currently with the EU, one cannot condone the capitalist-inspired structural nature of the relationship between the South and North and thus between the ACP and the EU.

This structural advantage in favour of the developed countries is a reality that has been visited many times upon us, and our politicians and socio-economic architects by the writings of such African leading economists and commentators such as Daniel Nabudere.

However, ACP politicians, policymakers have seemed oblivious to the illusions of such relations between former colonisers and former colonised, which have never been equal and have never been designed in the interest of the developing countries but in the developed countries’ own interests who have their own kind to care of before they can think about undeveloped souls in far-flung outreaches.

Unless there is a hidden intertwining of their own interests and that of their own fellows in these outreaches! Thus, it is just too premature to talk of victory or Uhuru just because the European Parliament voted in favour of extending the deadline for Namibia to sign the EPA.