Has China’s push for raw materials become a “new form of neo-colonialist adventure” with African raw materials exchanged for low quality manufactured imports and little attention paid with truly developing an impoverished continent?
Quote from Africa/China Relations Article on The Independent
China deals with just about any rogue and unsavoury regime in Africa. It supplies jet fighters, military vehicles and guns to Zimbabwe, Sudan, Ethiopia and other repressive governments. At the UN, China has used its veto power to block sanctions against tyrannical regimes in Sudan and Zimbabwe.
The nature of China’s contracts is most objectionable. They are secured through outright bribery by building presidential palaces (Namibia, Sudan and Zimbabwe) and sports stadiums (Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea). Namibian prosecutors are investigating allegations of bribery and kickbacks on government contracts with China to supply Namibia with scanners at security checkpoints. Nuctech, the Beijing-based manufacturer and headed until 2008 by the son of Hu Jintao, China’s president, is accused of paying $4.2 million in kickbacks to a Namibian front company (New York Times, July 31st 2009, p. A4). Another investigation involves a Chinese contract to build a key railroad link.
Most alarming, the deals are opaque and on barter terms dictated by China. For example, in exchange for oil exploration slots, China will rebuild Nigeria’s dilapidated railway system. But China will supply nearly all the equipment and technical personnel at prices determined by itself. There is no protection against overcharging or cost overruns. As with other projects in Africa, China will supply most of the workers. The potential for exploitation and plunder of Africa’s resources is enormous in such contracts, leading irate African commentators to denounce what they see as “chopsticks mercantilism”. With chopsticks dexterity, China can pick off mineral dumplings with relish in Africa, all to its advantage.
Further, China’s engagement has devastated local industries in Lesotho, Nigeria and Zambia. In Nigeria, the influx of Chinese products has destroyed Kano’s manufacturing sector. In 1982, 500 factories churned out textile products in Kano, but fewer than 100 remain operational today, most at far less than full capacity. In South Africa, the textile union says some 100,000 jobs have been lost as Chinese synthetic fabrics replace cotton prints in street markets across Africa.
Angry Africans are sounding off. In 2007, South Africa’s unions threatened to boycott anyone selling Chinese products. In April 2007, nine Chinese workers were killed in an attack by armed men on an oil field in eastern Ethiopia. In Nigeria, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has vowed to expel all Chinese workers in the area. (Quote from The Independent)
“Bride Price” should be made unconstitutional. That is what Ugandan Deobrah Awori is requesting in a Ugandan court this month. Awori told the court that she tried in vain to stop her husband from forcefully marrying off their daughter, Evelyn, so that he could benefit from the “bride price” she received. The petitioners argued that demand for payment of a “bride price” by the parents of the bride from the groom – a tradition practiced by many communities in Uganda – gives rise to conditions of inequality during marriage. These, the petitioners argued, were contrary to the provisions of the constitution. The full report can be found at this link.
This is a debate that has been ongoing on different fronts. The Sunday Monitor recently did a study on the pros and cons of “Bride Price”. Below is an excerpt from the article done on the subject this week.
Examples of the negative aspects were varied and ranged from the denial of education to the girl by the parents in a bid to extract wealth from her, promoting early marriages and young men borrowing money to finance the bride price hence starting the new family in debts.
It was also noted that a man who fails to pay bride price is often looked at as inferior and in case of tragedy, to such a man in the form of death of his wife, he would be required to first pay bride price before being allowed to bury his wife. The same report noted that bride price has left many men unmarried because they can’t afford it which makes the having of children impossible for them.
Many women may also fail to return to their homes even under improper treatment from the husband because bride price was paid while others fear that their parents may not be able to refund the bride price they were given thus occurrence and continuation of domestic violence.
In the same report, interviewees shared real life experiences of bride price. Some couples revealed that they have been pursued by the bride’s family for failure to pay bride price while many women have been inherited after their husband’s death and some brides families requested for the return bride price after the death of the wife. Widow inheritance and victimisation of infertile women were among the many experiences shared.
On the positive side, it was noted that bride price has stabilised and resulted into loving relationships between the two families. The report also looked at the connection between bride price and HIV. It found out that women or young girls who are forced to get married for wealth accumulation by their parents maybe presented to men who are already infected since their goal(parents) is just to get wealth. It also noted that wife inheritance as well has accelerated the spread of the disease especially where bride price was paid.
Also looked at was the connection between bride price and domestic violence. The result revealed that 99 per cent of the interviewees had experienced domestic violence, mostly the widowed women.
Read the entire article at this link.