The Sunday Mail
Retired Major Action Mandingo
THE new Scramble for Africa is unfolding right before our eyes, as demand for clean energy resources and the global race for technological dominance continues at an unprecedented pace.
It has become apparent that global energy consumption will increase sharply over the next few decades, and Africa, with its rich mineral deposits, is going to be a key player in the geopolitical competition for energy resources.
Not again and never again!
As the new Scramble for Africa gathers momentum, Zimbabwe, with its rich and unmatched liberation war history and the pioneering role it played in redistributing land to the indigenous majority, should take the lead in showing Africa that “not again and never again!”
The Second Republic, in general, and President Mnangagwa, in particular, should, without any apology, stand firm in protecting Zimbabwe’s mineral resources and ensuring that Zimbabweans get maximum benefit from their God-given resources.
In addition, the Second Republic, in general, and President Mnangagwa, in particular, should, without any fear, show other African leaders and Africans that in this new Scramble for Africa that it is Africa’s time.
The wolves are already at the door
Africa has to wake up and act fast because events over the past few years show that the wolves are already at the door, salivating as they ponder how to steal and plunder the continent’s resources. The wolves have devised new strategies – they organise summits where they promise to shower Africa with billions of dollars in aid.
In February 2022, the sixth European Union (EU)–African Union (AU) Summit was held in Brussels, where some vague “renewed partnership” between the two organisations was agreed.
The organisations announced what they called an Africa-Europe Investment Package of at least 150 million euros to support the AU agenda.
On the surface, this sounds like an innocent package, but we all know the devil is always in the detail.
There is always a catch.
We all know the EU is panicking because many European countries are seeking to switch from Russian oil and gas through alternative supplies such as those from Africa.
This follows Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.
The United States also launched a new strategy to strengthen its partnership and held a second US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington in December last year.
This was the first such summit since 2014. Russia is going to hold its summit with Africa sometime this year.
The strategic importance of Africa has resulted in all the five permanent members of the United Nations — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US — calling on the G20 to make the AU its 21st member in 2023 under India’s presidency.
Is this sudden love for Africa or it is strategic love to loot Africa’s resources?
On the other hand, Western mining companies and even commodity traders are increasingly seeking alternative supplies of energy from Africa.
Research shows that decarbonisation is becoming a driver of resource nationalism and geopolitical competition in African countries that are home to large deposits of critical minerals such as copper, cobalt, graphite, lithium or nickel.
These Western companies are secretly sneaking back into Zimbabwe because they can see that companies from the East are moving in fast to invest in sweet Zimbabwe.
Africa should know its real friends and enemies As the Scramble for Africa intensifies, the continent should not be fooled or hoodwinked.
History is the greatest teacher, and whenever some African leaders, especially the new crop, feel dazed by the supposed aid packages from the usual suspects, veteran leaders like President Mnangagwa should throw the history book to the table. Africa knows its friends and enemies. The imperialists never change and they mean it when they say: “We have no permanent friends; we only have permanent interests.”
Their permanent interests since the 19th century have been to loot and plunder resources from Africa, and nothing has changed in the 21st century. Let me zoom in on the US.
There is no denying that the US was caught flat-footed by the sudden change of events in the energy sector following Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. It is now in a hurry to gain a strategic advantage in the global economy and geopolitics.
In recent months, the US has been busy at work trying to secure access to Africa’s resources and has devised a number of strategies, including sponsoring puppets, providing military and economic assistance to countries it deems friendly, and investing heavily in resource extraction companies.
Recently, the US-Africa Leaders Summit was held in Washington.
Soon after the summit, the White House made me laugh when it tried to sell Africa a dummy by “emphasising the need to see African countries as equal partners”.
Does the US think this is still the slavery or colonial era where it could make Africa and Africans dance to its tune?
Following a meeting at the summit with presidents from six African countries that are set to hold elections this year, President Joe Biden promised US$165 million to support elections and good governance on the continent. In 2022, the US disbursed US$259 million “for democracy, human rights and governance”. Gullible leaders from Africa are likely to fall for the bait.
The US has really mastered the art of destabilising Africa using money and preaching about democracy, human rights and press freedom.
There will be elections in 17 African states this year. Zimbabwe is among these countries, and just like the US has done since 2000, the gospel about democracy, human rights and press freedom will appear more important than Africa’s minerals.
Some weak African leaders will be made to defend Western concepts like democracy, human rights and press freedom more than their resources.
These African leaders will be promised millions of US dollars and they will mortgage their resources worth billions.
Warning shots fired
A few weeks ago, I was reading a 2008 article by Roger Southall, which appeared in the “Labour, Capital and Society” journal.
One long paragraph really caught my eye.
In short, Southall was giving advice to Western imperialists that, as they have done in the past, they should amplify the rhetoric around democracy and accountability so as to destabilise Africa.
Once Africa is destabilised, the US will then move in and plunder the continent’s minerals.
The template has not changed.
Only time and the actors have changed.
Africa should not be hoodwinked or be fooled by trinkets from the West.
As the new Scramble for Africa gathers momentum, Africa should unite and position itself so that this time, the game is played to its tune.
Africa has the resources that the West wants.
There is no need for Africa to look at the West as the big brother.
Big brother is poor and so he cannot dictate anything.
Zimbabwe has already taken the lead
The Second Republic has come up with laws and policies to protect its minerals. At the beginning of July 2022, Government banned the export of unprocessed granite through Statutory Instrument (SI) 127 of 2022.
Government then introduced Statutory Instrument 189 of 2022 that compels mining companies to pay royalties partly in kind and partly in cash.
In December, Government gazetted SI 213 of 2022, the Base Minerals Export Control (Lithium Bearing Ores and Unbeneficiated Lithium) Order, 2022, banning the export of lithium ore and unpurified lithium salts, except in situations where the producer proved that there were special circumstances.
At the beginning of the year, Government moved a gear up to show that it was taking resource nationalism very seriously when it gazetted SI5 of 2023. CAP. 21:05 Base Minerals Export Control (Unbeneficiated Base Mineral Ores) Order, 2023.
Part 3 (1) of the SI reads: “No unbeneficiated base mineral ores shall be exported from Zimbabwe to another country except under written permit of the Minister given in either of the following circumstances on written application to him by any miner or other interested person.”
Clearly, the Second Republic is making bold moves to protect the country’s mineral resources.
Obviously, this will anger the West, and Zimbabwe should be ready for a serious fight.
Fortunately, this time around, the imperialists know that if they play it dirty in the open, they are the ones who will lose.
They will try to play their games smart and clean, but still with the intention to loot and plunder our minerals.
The imperialists already have puppets to make noise on their behalf in Zimbabwe, and, as we march towards elections this year, they will smuggle in a lot of dirty money under the false guise of promoting democracy, human rights and press freedom.
Local journalists will be sponsored to tarnish the image of the Second Republic, while some learned Zimbabwean scholars will be paid to trash their country.
The Second Republic should be unrelenting.
There is no going back because Africa is waiting to take notes and be inspired. Arise Africa! Arise!