Moeletsi Mbeki: "Architects of Poverty"

Taking the title of his book (Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing) for instance, since when is capitalism regional or racial and/ or for that matter ethnically, racially or continentally defined as Xhosa, Zulu, Tswana, Sotho, Swahili, European, Indian, American, White or Black mode or type of capitalism. What is the meaning of the term African Capitalism? And just for interest sake, what will be the defining or discriminating issue(s) of these modes or types of capitalism? The number of females who have invested in it? And if there is African capitalism there should also be an Indian capitalism, Chinese capitalism etcetera and in the individual cases what are the defining and discriminating factor(s).

For starters there is only capitalism not African capitalism. To claim Africanism stinks of (white) stereotyping and cliché which basically emanates from white reactionaries. Further regarding the claim that Africa in its development efforts has received a lot of assistance from the West but to no avail Moeletsi should know that unlike what he professes the West really has not done much to assist the African countries. African initiatives once they do not coincide with Western interest are always sabotaged or schemes are put in place to remove initiators of such initiatives.

Western detractors of African efforts and Western exploitation of Africa always cite the rise of South Korea from the 1960’s when its economic strength was equal to that of Ghana. What they forget is that in the move to contain communism in Asia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and others were given a Marshall Plan type of assistance such as preferential trade arrangements, direct capital and aid injections. To cite just one such measure, South Korea, in its reconstruction, post partition, received much more American direct financial injection than all the combined cash/investment that has been injected into the whole of Africa. We can remove Egypt and Morocco from this aggregate who, again, receives support for political reasons.

The example given by Moeletsi of African incompetency has a tinge of reactionarism. Factually he cites dormant factories that are to be found in Zambia. Dormant factories are not found in Zambia alone, they are found in Tanzania, Nigeria, etcetera and they are not due to Black or African incompetency but due to the 1980’s Structural Adjustment Policies of the Bretton Wood Institutions, an extension of the Washington consensus. Basically they are monuments of failure and evil designs of the Structural Adjustment Programs.

Africa was forced to privatize and liberalize all aspects of their economy be it agriculture or industry. Furthermore African States were forced to stop subsidizing the nascent young economies which truly speaking needed to be protected and nurtured. Of late Africa cannot feed its self and this is due to a multiple of reasons the major one being the forced scrapping of subsidies on agricultural inputs. Again this was forced through the neo-liberal economic policies of globalization and thus Structural Adjustment Programs.

African agriculture has been forced to exist and survive in a globalized environment that is dependent on Western inputs which are not affordable to the peasants and is unaffordable without government intervention through subsidies. That is the source of collapse of the Africa agriculture. I will say nothing of the effects that subsidy of western agricultural sector (subsidy to a tune of one billion dollars per working day) has had on African Agriculture).

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