Targeting Virgin Soil

US, China, and European Union—all have aging population and mounting debt burdens. They need new sources of cheap labour to exploit and natural resources to plunder, in the next round of primitive accumulation. After losing the Afghan war America needs new pastures badly. So does China, the rising superpower. They are all targeting Africa because this continent has over 1.3 billion people. It is the youngest population of any major region, and three-fourths of its labour force works in the informal sector. It is now a target of major powers. Multinationals keep African workers in mostly low-paying jobs while reserving managerial posts to themselves.

Europe, particularly France is building trade routes through North Africa and down the west coast. In truth France is trying to dominate the economies of its former colonies. China has already expanded its Belt and Road Initiative with billions in investments, mainly in East Africa. For America war or a war-like situation is essential to keep its economy going. For the business bosses in America military follows the money. The USA has a string of 29 “temporary” military bases from Niger to Somalia, and a huge permanent naval base in Djibouti. China also has a naval base only a few miles away, which has the capacity to dock a large aircraft carrier. 'Socialism’ with Chinese characteristics demands their military presence on foreign soil. Much of this is said to be directed at pirates and terrorists. In reality, it serves to dominate the contentious trade routes.

In Africa labour exploitation is already intense, from sweat-shops to mines. The child labour is nowhere so prevalent as in Africa. There are an estimated 73 million child labourers in Africa-1 in every 5 children, the highest rate in the world. South Africa’s African National Congress government, which can sound liberal or even revolutionary, yet works hand in glove with global business players, is a state-of-the art exploiter. It is now engaged in a struggle with the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Communist Party-led federation that has been one of the pillars of its rule, and independent National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. Africa requires very close attention by the progressives across the world because it is now a bone of contention among old colonialists and neo-colonialists.The relative indifference to the 1998-2003 Congo War—which killed millions, grew from the Rwandan genocide, and was fuelled by mineral wealth remains one of contemporary progressive society’s deepest shame.

In Africa the poor are not poor by choice. It is the history of colonialism, apartheid and land dispossession that keep Africans in perpetual poverty. The commodif-ication of land because of offensive by the MNCs has reached alarming proportions. The dark continent, as it is generally called, is likely to witness mass upheavals in the coming days. ooo


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Vol. 54, No. 11, Sep 12 - 18, 2021