NGOs, weapons of “populist/humanitarian” imperialism, now wielded by competing imperialists in the new scramble for Africa

[From the Crusades and in the earliest years of colonialism, conquests and conquistadores arrived with more than guns and swords and armies.  They brought Bibles, and missionaries, and, in time, Christian charities, anthropologists, humanitarians and investors, intelligence operatives of CIA and other varieties.  In time, the restructuring of direct colonial relations into neo-colonial forms introduced by the Ford Foundation, vast arrays of “civil society” groups, cultural programs and comprador governments and training programs for junior officers and police captains.  And these came from throughout the global imperialist system, but unevenly.  Largely dominated by the US, with increasing inputs from Europe, there were parallel NGO-type ventures launched by the Soviets during its waning years, and growing Islamic charities and Jewish charities.  None of which were accountable to the local populations they each claimed to serve and represent.  Now, as the world imperialist system is confronted by ever-sharpening crisis, the US/EU hegemonic bloc is no longer riding securely and unchallengable or unchallenged, and so the growing competitive imperialist powers and blocs-in-formation are bringing similar instruments into the developing fray (which is still largely regional but getting some global features).  Not surprisingly, the ever-growing-imperialist China is opening this field of political and cultural cultivation to match their economic onslaught in Africa and elsewhere.  The ventures described here have not often been clarified, but along with their media work (CCTV) and their BRICS “development” initiatives, it bears watching and giving close attention.  Worldwide, revolutionary forces are learning to keep their distance from these imperialist tools and to carefully guard their independence and revolutionary initiative. — Frontlines ed.]

Africa-China4Challenging opportunity

By Liu Hongwu (China Daily), 2013-04-26

Increased grassroots engagements will help Chinese NGOs blaze new trail

Increased engagements and people-to-people exchanges, especially between non-governmental organizations from China and Africa, have given a new dimension and perspective to what Africa and the rest of the world thinks about China.

Taking a cue from the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, many Chinese companies are spreading their wings in Africa and are fast becoming vital parts for Chinese NGOs.

Chinese NGOs have ensured that their activities are broad-based and cover important segments like healthcare, environmental protection and education. Prominent among them are the China NGO Network for International Exchanges and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. Several national and regional commerce chambers like the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade are also doing projects in Africa. Academic institutions and groups like the Chinese Society of Asian and African Studies are also in the fray.

According to current estimates, there are more than 100 Chinese NGOs in Africa. There are several factors that are unique to these engagements. Continue reading

Patrick Bond on Mugabe’s Repressive Neo-Colonial Regime in Zimbabwe

Will Zimbabwe again regress?

A mid-2011 election announced by Mugabe promises a return to outright violence and poll thievery.

“There was a ZANU-PF that we were part of, the liberation movement, and then there was Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, which is very different. Mugabe is essentially right wing, notwithstanding the anti-imperialist rhetoric.”

Patrick Bond, Bulawayo

November 12, 2010 –  If leaders of a small African country stand up with confidence to imperialist aggression, especially from the US and Britain, it would ordinarily strike any fair observer as extremely compelling. Especially when the nightmare of racist colonialism in that country is still be to exorcised, whites hold a disproportionate share of economic power and state’s rulers appear serious about changing those factors.

But that country needs a second glance. What may seem to some a progressive and brave government is upon closer examination a tyranny whose leader repeatedly acts against grassroots and shop-floor social solidarity, and notwithstanding rhetoric about land redistribution, is ultimately very hostile to its own society’s poor and working people, women, youth, elderly and ill.

“Progress in Zimbabwe” was the title of a four-day conference in Bulawayo last week, gathering mainly academics but also leading civil society strategists. It was organised by University of Johannesburg political economist David Moore and by Showers Mawowa of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) School of Development Studies and the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development.

Said Moore, “For many analysts, the end of progress is signified in the political projects of Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe African Nation Union-Patriotic Front [ZANU-PF] – not to mention the Government of National Unity.” It has been two years since South Africa’s then-president Thabo Mbeki negotiated dysfunctional power-sharing between Mugabe’s junta and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Continue reading