Sunday, June 16, 2024

Russia-Ukraine Conflict: A Discussion From The African Desert

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By Isaac Mwanza

Africa Is not for Sale. Africa is open for business not for sale or looting. We must defend what is ours and make sure that no one takes from us what is ours,” ~ Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera

INTRODUCTION

It was a bright summer Tuesday in the Khomas Highland plateau, Windhoek. As the cool breeze from the rising water levels in the Orange River swept across a city with extraordinarily rich fauna, leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) organ on peace and security gathered on 31 January, 2023 to deliberate the political and security situation in the region. While at it, they reiterate the earlier SADC position against the coercive behaviour of the United States of America to use its aid power to hold them at ransom over the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

REACTION TO U.S. LAW ON AFRICA

On 27 April, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives enacted the “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” which, once passed by the Senate, would effectively punish African governments and nationals who work with Russia amid the war in Ukraine.

The law specifically targets Africa in what the U.S. claims to be a law to counter “malign Russian influence and activities” and states its objectives as including “holding African governments and their officials accountable for aiding Russia’s malign influence and activities in Africa.”

The bigger question is why has America decided to enact a law targeting trade relations between Africa and Russia and not make the same law on trade relations between China and Russia? Is it because our African leaders are pawns in this game?

It can be inferred from the decision to enact this law that the Joe Biden administration intends to use its mighty power to force African nations to choose between the USA and the Russian Federation.

That is a glaring expression of the worst form of colonial and imperial arrogance as well as jurisdictional overreach by the leader of the Western alliance.

The law has been opposed by Africa’s regional bodies such as SADC as it seeks to unduly influence foreign policies and trade relations by African countries who either support or refuse to denounce Russia in its conflict with Ukraine.

The African Union is taking a firm and conscientious position of non-alignment to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

For close to a century now, African countries who had been freed from the bondage of European colonialism enjoy strong ties with both mega powers, namely, the USA and the Soviet Union which, after the monumental changes of 1989, reverted to its former status as the Russian Federation.

But America is now attempting to dictate to the developing world, Africa in particular and to the rest of the world at large, that this must change.

Having failed to persuade the world of its noble intentions, the Biden administration is now resorting to economic and military coercion in an attempt to bring about the global political realignment that the U.S. seeks, and which it hopes, will allow it to remain the dominant economic power that it has been since the end of World War II and the resulting economic order.

The Biden administration has placed its hands on foreign aid and sanctions as weapons which they will use, together with its NATO allies, to beat Africa into submission and to crush Africa’s collective sovereign will.

But this pattern by America’s leaders – both Republicans and Democrats – is becoming predictable.

In an address to a joint session of Congress on 20 September, 2001, former U.S. President George W. Bush, Jr., superciliously declared, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

President Bush went on to brand the three countries opposed to U.S. foreign policy — North Korea, Iran and Iraq — as rogue states, “the axis of evil” whom he alleged, had harboured, financed and aided terrorists even though no citizen of these States had ever attacked the U.S.

None of these countries were involved in terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. on 11 September 2001.

President Bush could be forgiven because Republicans are quite well known for bullying other nations and for war mongering.

But the U.S. Democratic Party has always been seen as being more friendly towards Africa especially during the term of its previous Democratic President, Barack Obama.

It is therefore a very surprising development, that the Democratic administration of President Biden, would single out Africa, which also shares longstanding ties to Russia, for punishment under this rather ridiculous law which ostensibly seeks to counter Russian malign influence in Africa.

The decision to enact the law on Africa is ridiculous as it defeats the very idea of national sovereignty which President Biden purports to be defending on behalf of Ukraine.

It can be inferred that this U.S. law on Africa will require African States to surrender their sovereignty in defending the sovereignty of Ukraine. Does Joe Biden and his colleagues in Congress think that African leaders and we in Africa’s sovereign States are subject to America’s will?

Unfortunately for President Biden, Africa and its people may not share the goals which his administration, its NATO and western allies may have set for Ukraine. 

Africa is aware that Russia has genuine security concerns about the adversarial NATO alliance establishing itself on Russia’s south-western border, just as Africa was concerned when the former Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, attempted to establish military bases on the America’s south-eastern coast on the island of Cuba in the 1962 Cuba missile crisis.

Going by previous history of similar military adventurism, Africa has its own misgivings about the U.S. hegemony, as shown in previous articles, which showed that America had been on a similar path in Cuba, Grenada and more recently in Venezuela.

In the Middle East, the U.S. threatens and erodes the sovereignty of the Arab nations by providing billions of dollars in military and other aid to Israel which then acts as enforcer of U.S. hegemonic policies, suppressing Arab states while ensuring that the Palestinian people do not and cannot achieve the sovereign status of a nation.

The U.S. has subtly blocked every attempt by the Palestinians to achieve sovereign nationhood and has used Israel to keep the Palestinian people under bondage while making a big show of its desire for all people to fully enjoy their human rights, self-determination and sovereign status.

The U.S. and EU’s coercive, patronizing and bullying behaviours regarding Africa’s position toward the war in Ukraine, shows utter disrespect of our African countries as sovereign nations who have the capacity to make sovereign decisions. 

It goes without saying, that sovereign nations get to decide who they are going to associate with or not; that is an issue of international law, state policies and principles. America is wrong to use its domestic law as if somehow, the U.S. has universal legal jurisdiction.

It is also unacceptable that the U.S. should use its aid which, ostensibly, is intended to assist recipient poor countries in their development as a weapon of foreign policy, preying on the dependence our African leaders have on such aid in achieving their national development goals.

It is morally wrong for the U.S. to subvert African nations’ home-grown solutions by forcing them to take a position with the U.S. and its NATO allies, over Russia or gagging trade relations between sovereign States.

If the U.S. and its NATO allies were genuine about allowing sovereign nations to decide for themselves who to associate with, they should have applauded our position of non-alignment than coercing African countries by threatening them, using a new law, with punishments for trading with Russia.

It is therefore noble that we must commend their Excellencies, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Namibian President, Dr. Hage Geingob, leaders of Eswatini and Lesotho as well as ministers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique for being loud and clear in endorsing the AU position of non-alignment in conflicts outside the continent and against the U.S. law on Africa.

But it is now important for President Hichilema and other individual African leaders to personally come out and defend their position on this questionable U.S. law than hide behind collective decisions made in boardrooms.

CONCLUSION

The U.S. is known for promoting people’s self-government, free-will and choices. It is a leader in that area. Many of us are attracted to United States of America because of its founding ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness it has espoused over two centuries.

It is therefore not in the best interest of America to dictate on how Africa must make its decisions. Africa must trade with anyone it desires, including the U.S., Russia and China – all of them having been Africa’s all-weather friends.

The coercive and bullying behaviour to stop Africa and its people from deciding on their own, whether to trade or even side with Russia, is an infringement on the sovereignty of individual States and a subversion of the collective will of the African peoples.

It is even more disturbing that U.S. House of Representatives would go so far as to threaten punishment for disobeying America’s foreign policy dictates. Probably, this is being done upon realisation by the West that African leaders cannot do without foreign aid, and they value aid as a panacea to their prolonged stay in power and developing Africa.

[Published by the Zambia Daily Nation, 2023]

19 COMMENTS

  1. These African leaders should stop behaving like domestic workers to the west. Imagine if they all came together and applied sanctions of their own against the US and Europe? These people would declare war. When are they going to learn that it’s time we separated from these bullying thieves.

  2. Africa shall unite against economic colonial bullying.
    Time to start trading and building reserves in baskt f currencies away from USA and Europe. Resul will be true economic freedom, better pricing for its resources and dominant sayin world affairs. Future belongs to Africa. Carve it now the way it benefits it’s people.

  3. We cannot choose between Russia and the USA. We must trade with both. Zambian Govt has problems with debt structuring because of policy shift against China. Now America wants us to have a problem as well with Russa.

  4. Russia is our friend and has been our friend. USA should stop acting like a dictator. Just enforce your sanctions. Your sanctions are not our sanctions. We less interested in the Ukraine war

  5. The friend to your enemy is not my enemy. Between Putin and Biden, I choose to deal with both. Zambia benefited from Russia during times in need

  6. “….We must commend their Excellencies, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema…”
    LOL! Really? That man was coerced by the SADC leaders to make that stance. Bally who is always worshipping the US and Europe and allowed a military office of the US on Zambian soils? That man who opted to vote against Russia at the UN when all other SADC members abstained? That HH must be thanked? The man was probably fuming when everyone decided otherwise. I hope he did not embarass the coutry by first giving his agreement only for everyone to embarass by refusing.

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  7. “.. we must commend their excellencies, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema..”
    LOL! Really? That man was coerced by the SADC leaders to make that stance. HH who is always worshipping the US and Europe and allowed a military office of the US in Southern Africa when everyone around us was opposed? That man who opted to vote against Russia at the U.N. when all SADC countries abstained? That man must be commended? I hope he didn’t embarrass the country by first agreeing only for everyone to embarrass him by refusing.

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  8. we must commend their excellencies, Zambian Presiden HH..”
    LOL! Really? That man was coerced by the SADC leaders to make that stance. HH who is always worshipping the US and Europe and allowed a military office of the US in Southern Africa when everyone around us was opposed? That man who opted to vote against Russia at the U.N. when all SADC countries abstained? That man must be commended? I hope he didn’t embarrass the country by first agreeing only for everyone to embarrass him by refusing.

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  9. What US is doing is like asking someone to chose between a girl and boy child. Takwaba. Russia has been part of us since time immemorial. Our leaders could be captured but policies change. Russia is welcome to Africa and Zambia

  10. The USA is jealous and envious of Russias vast richers of energy and other resources in Russias siberia………..and their proximity to world economic hot spots………..

    The USA can’t even look after its own backyard………..Latin-American with the highest muders and other islands like Haiti which are a mess…….

  11. Excellent. They re targeting Africa coz we all weak. China doesn’t care. America dictatorship is worrying. Sadly HH worships EU & America more than he worships us who put him there; he has no stance of his own.

  12. Mr Know it all is playing chipante pante. You cannot trust him to be part of that resolution. He is a Yes Bwana to bazungus. If he need to stabilise fuel, he should ve asked Russia to but he is afraid of muzungu.

  13. Africa Unite and do away with bullies from the west . There is no freedom without sacrifice, let the bullies go. Just remember that they need our natural resources more than we need their donations which by the way is African money when you come to think about it. Ku kosa otherwise the abuse will go on till Kingdom come.

  14. Immediately we gained independence in 1964, son of the soil Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe made a warning which is becoming louder even in his graveyard, “We should jealously guard our land because if we lose it, God has stopped creating countries.” We no longer have such men in Zambia. The little gods remaining are busy auctioning our country to the West, the highest bidder. We must take it upon ourselves as ordinary citizens to resist that. America and Uk should not tell us whom we must trade with. The monies they give us as aid is the money they made and are still making from our resources.

  15. This is simple. We must enact laws in our constitution that will protect us from such adventures though of course we are sovereign States that can that can champion our own way. We are all human beings, instead of being reasonable, at times we get overboard.
    This is more the reason that we African States WE MUST start to be serious with our governance in Africa. Divided we are, we will been ponies of mighty nations.
    The little powers we have us an African continent, we must start to work together.
    Chiefs in Africa do not visit each other. Why?
    Presidents of Africa, time to put our heads together is now.
    Unofficially on Behalf of HH

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