Political Smokescreens and the Corporate Barebacking of Africa
English premier David Cameron played the homosexuality card to draw attention to his current flavor of British aid to Africa, but presumably to draw attention away from the fact that the actual amount of aid is shrinking, and perhaps a few other political indiscretions. He probably wouldn’t like anyone to scrutinize how much of the aid still flowing is ‘ghost’ aid, or just a subsidy to British industry and consultancies.
Even less would he like anyone to scrutinize how much money leaves countries like Tanzania, destined for one of those tax havens, most of which are also controlled by Britain, to swell the bulging numbered accounts of wealthy British companies. Of course, some of those companies go bust, but it’s Tanzania and Tanzanians who pay the biggest price.
Now the Tanzanian premier, Mizengo Pinda, is playing the homophobia card, which could draw attention away from any number of political shenanigans. The country has “refused to accept homosexuality because the country wants to safeguard its people’s moral standards”. But is it ‘the people’s’ moral standards that are in need of safeguarding? What about the moral standards of those who have soaked up millions of dollars of aid money every year for several decades?
Will the Tanzanian government ask Britain’s Sun Biofuels, or David Cameron’s sanctimonious government, to compensate the victims of just one of many land-grabbing operations that both governments ably (and, presumably, profitably) facilitated? Or is the moral ‘threat’ of homosexuality likely to cause more poverty, more starvation, more disease and more death than all the corporate thieves currently making off with the country’s resources while Tanzanians starve?
Just a kilometer down the road from where I work there are cut flower production units, famous for producing cheap flowers for rich countries, with the judicious use of cheap labor, sanctioned by various nice sounding schemes, such as ‘export processing zones’, trade agreements, etc. A little further away there’s a Tanzanite operation, famous for keeping costs low by the use of child labor.
In several regions there are gold mines and Tanzania has the third biggest gold reserves in the whole of Africa. But it’s not Tanzania or Tanzanians who get the bulk of profits for these exports, it’s not even Africans. There are also uranium mines, coal, natural gas and various other commodities extracted from the country with the use of favorable ‘regulation’, cheap labor and raw materials, but without the need to pay any more than a few percent to the Tanzanian government, no more than 3% and probably a lot less.
The smokescreen of abortion is used to hide the serious lack of health provision and appalling conditions, especially for the poorest. The smokescreen of contraception aims to hide the use of Africans as a massive market for birth control methods that are considered too dangerous to be used by non-Africans, and there’s the use of illiterate and vulnerable people as cheap research fodder for drugs that are ultimately only affordable to Westerners (and sometimes to Western aid budgets).
There’s even the (so-called voluntary) sterilization of African women, said to be of global benefit, because population control is the favored development paradigm for many of the best funded international NGOs. Mass male circumcision to reduce ‘sexual’ transmission of HIV and other diseases hides the fact that the ‘global health’ industry has no wish to eradicate HIV, or anything else, when it’s so lucrative not to do so.
Are all those who are denying Tanzanians their rights, their wealth, their health and their lives homosexuals? Are all thieves, especially the multinational, state-sponsored ones, homosexuals? Is all the ‘immorality’ one finds in Tanzania so bound up with homosexuality that the issue needs to be raised in parliament and senior politicians need to ‘protect’ Tanzanians from these terrible threats? Politicians aside, don’t Tanzanians realize who is doing the barebacking?
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