Kenyan lawyer Professor Patrick Lumumba says it is voodu economics to think that one can beg or tax themselves out of poverty.
And Professor Lumumba says there is new scramble for Africa by the Chinese, noting that their appetite for African resources is almost insatiable.
Speaking when he hosted Prime TV reporters at his office in Kenya, Prof Lumumba charged that the relationship between China and Zambia was not mutually-beneficial because Zambia was not benefiting as much as China was.
He observed that getting loans from China would not lift Zambia out of poverty.
“The government of President Lungu must do that which is in the best interest of Zambia. The evidence that is there suggests to me and others that this is a relationship that is one off unequal’s, and that while we may have visible things in the terms of roads that are being constructed, in the terms of physical infrastructure…the question that we must ask in the long-term: ‘are these going to solve the problems of Zambia and the people of Zambia?’ The world now recognises that the true test of a country’s state is not the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); it is not the Per Capita Income. The world now has a critical question, which is the ‘gross national happiness’ of the people of Zambia. Are young people graduating from the universities having opportunities to be employed? Zambians are asking: ‘is the copper that is being mined, are we getting the right dividends from the copper?’ And the evidence that is available is suggesting to us that there is something that is happening that will not be good in the long-term,” Prof Lumumba observed.
“That is why we are warning leadership that, even as you go, whatever your intentions are, remember the countries have found themselves in this situation. Don’t step on the same land mines, listen to us! We are speaking to you, not because we want to remove you from power, what we have are ideas, receive them, use the ones that are workable and use them, it is you who will have the glory. That is what we are telling the administration of President Lungu and we hope that in his wisdom, like the ocean before, he will receive all rivers because it’s through receiving new ideas that you renew your own. This misguided belief by many African countries that you can beg yourself out of poverty, that you can tax yourself out of poverty is classical ‘vudu economics.’ History has demonstrated times without numbers that countries must harness their resources through value-addition and through trade. It is only in that way that you are capable of lifting yourself from the quick sand of poverty to the higher block of true prosperity.”
He said African politicians were being manipulated by their Chinese counterparts.
“You can have black faces or African faces in the political arena, but they are merely being manipulated. We don’t want China to be the puppeteer and be the puppet. African countries must begin to interrogate the face of China in their economic and political arena. And that is the kind of approach that I intended to take [in my lecture] and of course, it’s what I would have given to the audience. In Zambia, for example, we now have Chinese hookers, why should Chinese hook? Why should Chinese be running pubs?” he asked.
“My view is that, we should enjoy a mutually-beneficial relationship and that can only be achieved if we define our agenda and our goals. There is no evidence to suggest to me that we have clearly defined what we want, that is why we are allowing the Chinese to enter into areas, which we could ourselves be engaged in. That is why we are allowing Chinese labour to come in Africa in areas, which could be preserved for young Africans. That is my concern, am I right? I may not be right, but these ideas ought to be on the table of discussion for purposes of scribing so that if my ideas are without merit, they would be demonstrated to be without merit by force of reason, not by reason of force. And to deny one an opportunity to put those ideas on the table of negotiation is intolerance at its most absurd.”
And Prof Lumumba noted that there was a new scramble for Africa by the Chinese.
The initial ‘Scramble for Africa’, which characterised the Partition of Africa by European superpowers, occurred in the late nineteenth century following the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885.
“One can see the evidence of this in many areas. If you go to countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa and indeed in many other countries in Africa, you see the presence of China, and my fear is their appetite for resources is almost insatiable, which is understandable because of the population that they have to take care of. But if we continue on this trajectory in the next 50 years, the promises that we have made to ourselves under Africa Agenda 2063 will not be realised. You can see that the rise of China is not restricted only to the economic arena; they are also in the fullness of time going to afflict us with their political bacteria and that bacteria may very well inform how we conduct our politics. My view is; engage with China at the level of the economy, but define your interest. Engage with China, politically, but let us define for ourselves what democracy means to us. Engage with China in the arena of security, but not in a manner that undermines our sovereignty so that in real terms, the problem is largely with us,” Prof Lumumba advised.
“Our political leaders are not thinking of the next generation, but are ever-thinking about the next election! The Chinese are thinking for the next generation; they are asking themselves, ‘in a 100 years’ time, how will we relate with the world and with Africa?’ Because if you look at the world quite keenly, there is a sense in which there is a new ‘scramble for Africa.’ There is a new scramble for African resources and China is at the forefront of it. China is prepared, they are moving with the delicacy of a sleepwalker and we are sleeping ourselves, and they will devour us! We can only survive it if we are smart and the sooner we recognise it, the safer we are; it is only that way that we will stop our young men and women from dying.”