Year 2000 No. 112, July 13, 2000

What Lies Behind the Government's Concern with "Good Governance" in Africa?

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

What Lies Behind the Government's Concern with "Good Governance" in Africa?

News In Brief
On the Future of the Shipbuilding Industry

International News in Brief
African Leaders Endorse Creation of African Union

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What Lies Behind the Government's Concern with "Good Governance" in Africa?

Peter Hain, the Foreign Office Minister for Africa, has taken several recent opportunities to lecture on the importance of "good governance" in Africa and especially in southern African countries.

His latest theme has been the necessity to eradicate corruption, but this too is nothing more than yet another attempt to facilitate interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and to organise their governments to accept the consequences of globalisation. According to Hain corruption can no longer be tolerated, but he makes it clear that this is "not simply a moral imperative" but one of the consequences of globalisation and the drive for maximum profits. In his view, "Modern capital is so mobile it prefers to invest where corruption does not take a slice of the profits." According to Hain, the central problems facing Africa are those of "governance" and "transparency", rather than the interference and exploitation of Britain and the big powers which has created and continues to create all the conditions not just for corruption, but for the devastation of entire regions and millions of people throughout the African continent.

During his recent visit to the war-torn southern African country of Angola, Hain tried to present himself and the British government as altruistic peacemakers, determined to stop the civil war, which has devastated the country for more than a quarter of a century, eradicate "corruption" and rebuild Angola in the interests of its people. According to Hain what is needed to secure Angola a peaceful and prosperous future is further intervention by the British government and others to strengthen UN sanctions against the unauthorised sale of what are now referred to as "blood diamonds", which are alleged to be funding the armed forces of UNITA, who are opposed to the present Angolan government. The British government is also stating that it will be a guarantor of any peace agreement signed between the opposing political forces in Britain, and by this means hopes to create the conditions for further interference in the future. Of course Hain also stressed that Angola must "end corruption", have "good governance, democracy and human rights", and what he referred to as "a strong independent civil society", if it was to expect British support. In other words it must espouse the politics of pluralism and the values of Eurocentrism and not develop its own independent path. This is precisely the meaning of "good governance" as defined by the British ruling class, and nothing else, just as "peace" for it means the subjugation of subject peoples to big power will.

The question must be asked - what gave Britain the right to intervene in Angola's internal affairs, to lecture that country regarding how it should conduct its politics and gave itself the right to monitor political agreements made by Angolans? It must be said that Angola, which was formerly a Portuguese colony, has suffered even more than most other African countries from outside interference and intervention both during colonial period and since independence in 1975. Potentially one of the world's richest country's because of its abundant natural resources such as oil and diamonds, it is today one of the poorest, dominated by the big powers through the aegis of the UN, IMF and by other means.

The British government has already attempted to establish some control of diamond production in Sierra Leone, now it seems it is pursuing similar aims in Angola, another country where production is not as yet tightly controlled. Angola is also likely to become an important oil producing country and is set to triple its production in 10-15 years to 2.5 million barrels per day and also to triple government revenue.

In the context of the new "scramble" for Africa, the British government is, under the guise of developing a "partnership" with African countries and concern with "good governance", "transparency" and "ending corruption", developing the means for further interference in the affairs of African countries in the interests of globalisation and the plans of the financial oligarchy and big monopolies.

Article Index


News In Brief

On the Future of the Shipbuilding Industry

A summit to help map out a future for the shipbuilding industry in Britain is to be held, it was announced earlier this week. The shipbuilding industry is one of the major British manufacturing industries which are in danger of disappearing or have already disappeared as the capitalist crisis has become a permanent feature and Britain has been transformed from the "workshop of the world" in the 19th century to a situation where the Labour government's best aspiration is for it to be the "inward investment hub of Europe" in its programme to "Make Britain Great Again".

Ahead of the summit, union leaders and shipyard owners are today, July 13, to meet the Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers and the Northern Ireland trade minister Sir Reg Empey. The get-together is reported in the press to be designed to find ways to secure the industry's long-term future.

However, it appears that the government's view of this long-term future is intimately bound up with warship production rather than merchant vessels. Stephen Byers, whose North Tyneside constituency includes Swan Hunter, said in a speech in Scotland, "I appreciate from my first hand experience the importance the loss of shipbuilding has on individuals and communities. I believe we have an opportunity to get shipbuilding in the UK on a sound and secure footing. We are about to embark on the biggest warship building programme of all in the next 10 years, and I want to make sure all yards in the UK have the opportunity to benefit." Under Minister of Defence rules, all warship contracts have to be placed with British yards. An announcement has recently been made that a £1 billion order for three new Type 45 destroyers is to be placed by the Royal Navy, which will retain 5,500 jobs in the industry. Two of the ships will be assembled by BAE Systems Marine, probably at their yards on the Clyde.

T Shipbuilding union leaders welcomed the move. Kevan Curran, regional secretary of the GMB in the North-East, said: "We have been lobbying for this for 18 months and at last we have Government recognition of the potential of the industry."

Article Index


International News in Brief

African Leaders Endorse Creation of African Union

African leaders attending the 36th Summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Lomé, Togo, have unanimously endorsed text for the creation of an African Union, with its own executive assembly, parliament and court, but have not yet fixed a date when such a union would come into force. The creation an African Union would eventually replace the OAU and lead to the creation of a common defence, foreign and communications policy, as well as closer economic ties between all African countries.

The creation of an African Union was previously discussed at an OAU's fourth extraordinary summit in Libya last year, following a proposal from the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and can be seen as an attempt by African countries to strengthen their unity in order to combat the effects of globalisation, the hegemony of the big powers and the marginalisation of the continent. The new President of the OAU, Togolese leader Gnassingbe Eyadema, condemned the growing conflicts, injustice and polarisation that were a consequence of globalisation. He stressed, "In a world going through unprecedented transformation, in which large political and economic blocks are emerging and consolidating, Africa would continue to be marginalised if it does not constitute itself into a solid, united and strong entity, to make its voice heard and prove its ability to be a key player on the international scene." He added, "Following America and Europe but before Asia, Africa will have its union to boost the establishment of an economic community and a common market."

African leaders attending the summit also passed a resolution in support of the proposed new Palestinian state and demanded a moratorium on Africa's external debts, estimated at $360 billion.

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