African Leader Thabo Mbeki.

Thabo Mbeki speak to the media at the Guest Ho...
Thabo Mbeki speak to the media at the Guest House in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, July 9, 2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted October 18, 2013

by Jerry Alatalo

Former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki is probably most well-known around the world for his speech “I am an African”. After looking around for more information on the country of Tunisia’s effort to identify that portion of its national debt which is “odious”, debt run up by previous regimes which did not benefit the citizens of Tunisia, and is therefore not the responsibility of the people of Tunisia to repay, I came across Thabo Mbeki.

An economist from the Tunisia region named Dr. Leonce Ndikumana at the University of Massachusetts has written a book about odious debt in nations on the continent of Africa. Google his name and you will find yourself interested in what the man has to say. Mr. Ndikumana’s research and book pretty much confirms the information provided by John Perkins in his book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman“. I have not researched Mr. Ndikumana or read his book. Having read Mr. Perkins book leads me to believe that a significant portion of African nations‘ debt, after a debt audit is conducted, will become identified as odious.

Perkins was an economic hit-man who experienced an epiphany of sorts after the events of September 11, 2001 when, for the benefit of his grandchildren, he wrote “Confessions”. Perkins pointed out the “game plan” of powerful western banks and multinational corporations in regard to dealings with nations and leaders who controlled valuable, and coveted, natural resources. Mr. Perkins would meet with presidents of nations with these natural resources, get them to sign on for World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans in the billions of dollars, and the monies would be used for infrastructure projects like highways, electrical power projects such as dams, transmission lines, water transmission, etc.

This infrastructure spending would benefit wealthy people in the country and western infrastructure companies but did not benefit a majority of the common people in these countries. Importantly Perkins would remind the leader(s) who resisted loans that their predecessor(s) or neighboring country’s leader had refused the proposal of loans and “playing the game”, and that they had died in a plane crash or been removed through a coup. If the leader “played the game” they would become extremely wealthy.

Most took the loans (after considering certain negative consequences) and invariably the nation was unable to repay the loan(s). At this point Mr. Perkins, or a fellow economic hit-man, would ask for what Perkins described as the “pound of flesh”. He would tell the leader that, because the nation couldn’t repay the loan(s), he could arrange for low prices on oil, platinum, or whatever valuable resource the nation had, along with “austerity” measures including reduced expenditures on education, health care, or any of a number of spending programs designed to help the common people of the country.

Those leaders who refused to play the game at that point were then the victims of destabilization efforts to bring about a change of government, to bring in leaders who were more “malleable”. If those efforts failed the military option kicked in and war would carry out the removal of unwilling leaders. This “game” has been on-going for decades around the Earth, most recently in the extreme version, visible wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

A number of nations have been hurt economically through former leaders’ executing government debt through loans from international financial institutions, many times leading to incurring of odious debt, and illegal capital flight from those nations. The United States successfully repudiated the odious debt of Saddam Hussein after the second war in Iraq. Equador, Iceland, Tunisia, Norway and others have gone to certain lengths to identify odious debt through the forming of auditing committees to comb through the loan documents through their histories.

This signals a significant shift in consciousness on individual nations’ debt problems, in the news these days as countries around the world, most notably Europe where large demonstrations of people protest against strict cost-cutting measures, contend with so-called austerity programs, or in the United States, sequester.

Time will show how the effort to find odious debt will play out in the nations of the world where overwhelming debt has led to worsening of the conditions of society.

Africa is not exempt from corruption, austerity and capital flight.

Thabo Mbeki succeeded Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa, the second post-apartheid president in that African nation, serving from 1999-2008. Mr. Mbeki has said that the 21st century is the century of Africa, calling for an African “renaissance”. His message has gained respect all over the continent to the point that a billion people in Africa hold a new and hopeful perspective. The African Union is an agreement among the nations of the continent to work together to create the conditions for mutual assistance to build a better Africa.

After centuries of colonialism, imperialism, apartheid and slavery Thabo Mbeki has spent his time after retirement from politics to speak for the possibilities and potentials of the people of Africa taking their collective destiny in their hands, without any more interference from people outside the continent. Even now he points out that there is still involvement in the affairs of African nations by powers outside the continent. He speaks about the warning that the African Union gave to the United Nations Security Council before the warring in Libya which remove the ruler Qaddafi. The Union warned that Libya will suffer negative consequences if the UN moved on military measures, unfortunately proven correct as Libya is now a failed, anarchic state – their people suffering deprivations and violence many times worse than when Qaddafi ruled.

Thabo Mbeki mentions that illicit, illegal capital outflows from Africa have been, and are, roughly 50 billion dollars per year.

After centuries of slavery, colonialism, imperialism, theft, war and corruption, we can only pray that the efforts of African leaders like Thabo Mbeki leads to the fruits of the continent being distributed and enjoyed by as many of the people as possible. Mr. Mbeki suggests to his audiences that instead of waiting for someone else to take the reins and create the differences in the continent and the African nations, that each man and woman must ask themselves what they can do to make life better in their country and Africa .

Thabo Mbeki has passed the age of seventy and has lived an extraordinary life. As a child his parents were politically active against the centuries old apartheid regime in South Africa. In that police state his parents realized the possibility of one or both going to prison for their speaking for change. His mother and father sent Thabo Mbeki and his siblings to live with relatives in case that situation came about. As a child he was present among men and women who spoke about giving up their lives in fighting to end apartheid and gain freedom.

Mr. Mbeki now calls on the young people of South Africa, and all countries in Africa, to gain a thorough understanding of what the realities are on the entire continent. He calls on all journalists to understand the particular responsibility they have – to tell the people the truth behind the headlines – so that the people can become fully informed and make good choices and decisions.

So that all men and women become agents of change.

****

Related articles

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “African Leader Thabo Mbeki.

    1. Henry,
      I was surprised that I had no idea who Thabo Mbeki was till finding this interview. Evidently he has a degree in economics and advanced degree in African Studies. I guess that shouldn’t surprise anyone. While typing this I’m watching a report about former Bush advisor Stephen Hadley, who was on many talk shows while people were worried about war in Syria, advocating for war, while on the board of directors of Raytheon, whose Tomahawk missiles would have been used. So Hadley is everywhere, while the most influential political leader in Africa-Thabo Mbeki-may as well be non-existent, when we talk of mainstream media. Truth behind the headlines, for sure.
      Thank you,
      Jerry

      Like

      1. Sad but true. This was also an introduction for me and he does seem like a rather interesting person. Caught the Hadley story as well and I don’t think anyone should conceive of the military, Wall Street and D.C. as being separate institutions any longer.Whether the public views this as a good thing or not seems to depend upon how much benefit can be gained from the non-separation of powers.

        Like

  1. I always suspected these backroom deals were taking place.
    “Perkins pointed out the “game plan” of powerful western banks and multinational corporations in regard to dealings with nations and leaders who controlled valuable, and coveted, natural resources.”
    Heart breaking really…let’s hope that the awareness of rampant corruption can make a difference in the world, especially for those that suffer and live in poverty, hunger or war.

    Like

    1. Debra,
      All one can do is speak the truth, the facts will reach a sufficient amount of people, and hope that good changes come. Thabo Mbeki made the point that journalists have a great responsibility to get the facts-the truth-to the people. There are probably many excellent journalists in other countries but unfortunately their stories are rarely, if ever, told on American media. I was astonished to see John Perkins on C-Span a few years back. The internet has made a significant difference when it comes to dissemination of truth(s). Keep the faith.
      Thank you,
      Jerry

      Like

        1. Debra,
          I would be so bold as to say your hope that the tremendous communication taking place among the men and women of the world WILL continue and grow. It is an unstoppable force which is simply meant to be-producing real, good results in 2013.
          Thank you,
          Jerry

          Like

  2. thenacirema

    “Importantly Perkins would remind the leader(s) who resisted loans that their predecessor(s) or neighboring country’s leader had refused the proposal of loans and ”playing the game”, and that they had died in a plane crash or been removed through a coup. If the leader “played the game” they would become extremely wealthy.”

    This kind of sounds like the tactic employed by the Colombian drug cartels back in the 80’s and 90’s and Mexican drug cartels in present day of “plata o plomo” (money or bullet). I guess in some instances the media portrays some as savage drug traffickers and others as savy business men??

    Great article. Articles like yours really shows me the power of the internet. Where if it were not for people like you and sites like this I would have never become acquainted with people like Thabo Mbeki or John Perkins.

    Thanks.

    Like

    1. Hello, Alfredo correct?
      Nice to meet you and thank you for your kind words. My message revolves around finding a way for humanity to conduct business which does not lead to violence and warfare. Such a way of doing business has caused far too much suffering and destruction. It seems like the time has come for humanity to come up with fairer, more just and peaceful ways of doing business where harming others is not in the deals/agreements. Business competition which uses war and killing as a tactic is barbaric and primitive. The people of the Earth can cooperate, help each other and share the world’s resources.
      Thank you,
      Jerry

      Like

      1. TheNacirema

        Yes, correct. You have to forgive me as I am still new to the blogging scene (as you can tell). But, you my good man are a writer I will surely try my best to emulate.

        Best,
        Alfredo

        Like

        1. Alfredo,
          Thanks for the compliment and best of luck to you. Maybe I could help you as I remember starting to blog five months ago. If you are looking for blogs to follow you can go to the reader and enter some search terms to bring up blogs that use those tags. For example, your post about Bolivia and leader Evo (not sure I spelled his first name right) Morales. If you are interested in finding fellow bloggers who post about Bolivia and Morales, type in Bolivia in search box and enter. All posts tagged with Bolivia will come up and you can check out the blog to see if it is one you want to keep an eye on. Type Evo Morales in search box and enter. This will bring up posts that are about Evo Morales. You can check them out. If you are interested in bloggers who post about say… Hugo Chavez, type Hugo Chavez, enter, and recent post about Hugo Chavez will come up and… I would suggest being specific when looking for blogs that write about your interests. Instead of typing World Leaders, type actual names.
          What are you looking forward to writing about?
          Jerry

          Like

          1. TheNacirema

            Thanks for the helpful tips Jerry. WordPress can definitely be overwhelming and a bit confusing, but it just takes a little bit of time getting use to.
            I am not quite sure what I am going to be writing about. I have various interest like international politics, domestic politics, sports, photography, social issues, and various others. I would like to explore them more in writing, so I’ll just let my interest guide me, and see where it goes from there.

            Alfredo

            Like

            1. Alfredo,
              If you haven’t viewed any WordPress tutorials on YouTube there are plenty of them. Best of luck to you and I look forward to reading your future writings. If you have any questions let me know. WordPress has a ton of info / click the “help” tab in upper right of screens and you can access endless helpful information.
              Jerry

              Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s