Casualties of Global Power
By DARLINGTON CHILUBA
THERE is a curious case of the independence struggle of Angola where the Portuguese colonialists did not hand over administrative power of the country but simply left.
Unlike the British colonialists in Zambia or Botswana where a ceremonial transfer of power signalled independence and the reality of an indigenous government, Angola did not have that.
Portugal, at that time, was going through its own internal fracas which made their continued stay in Angola nearly impossible. This is one version of events.
Nonetheless, the three political movements, namely the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) were left to fight each other and not for the country, per se.
What made the Angolan situation volatile was that their foreign allies provided them with guns than a peaceful roadmap to undo the damage of Portugal’s premature departure.
During that period, the United States of America (USA) largely supported UNITA while Russia, then the Soviet Union supported MPLA.
Consequently, the Angolan civil war became the classic buffet of foreign interests dominating the priorities of normal citizens’ right to peace and normalcy.
The leading movements anchored their visions on foreign Marxist and capitalist philosophies than home-grown Angolan doctrine. Even so, Angola was not the only casualty and victim of the proxy war between Russia and the USA.
Germany is another country that bore the brunt of US-Russia rivalry to the extent that it was split in half: East Germany was dominated by Russia while West Germany was American supported and influenced.
Interestingly, at the same time Angola was being funneled with weapons, less violent options were being tabled elsewhere. The US and Russian governments were engaged in diplomacy to end their rivalry which nearly caused a third world war.
President Ronald Reagan and Mikael Gorbachev led their respective nations to one of the most triumphant victories of human diplomacy when the cold war ended. Germany reunited, but Angola did not.
It is difficult to believe that Angolan complexities were more entangled and bewildering than those of Germany. Could it have been a matter of priority or proximity?
Maybe Germany, being in Europe, was more important and a priority to the global scheme of economics than Angola in faraway Africa and out of consequential proximity.
The truth is only known by the architects of that divisive scheme. That Germany would become one the biggest economies in Europe and the world is a remarkable story of ingenuity and brilliance, but also of deliberate external support.
Angola with its oil and diamonds among other valuable resources did not register such economic success. Those native Angolans, who simultaneously became victims and casualties of external interests were also to blame for their failure to take advantage of their endowment of valuable natural resources.
Those who materially benefitted from the long civil war were excused of all responsibility in this economic stagnation.
These global politics still carry a sense of prejudice that has not been extinguished yet. For instance, a curious scenario occurred in 2008 when four European nations, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain underwent severe economic distress (or recessions).
Despite being more economically stable and rated B+ at that time, Zambia still borrowed at higher interest than Greece or Portugal in the Euromarkets.
The same Euromarkets would later create an impression of sovereign risk for Zambia which forced the country to voluntarily default on its Eurobonds (only) which represented about 35 percent of total debt, to forestall total economic collapse which was possible at that time.
The case of Zimbabwe is another. The independence agreement of that country clearly stated that land would be returned to its indigenous owners after a given period. The value added to that land would be compensated by the British government, through a mechanism of sorts.
This mechanism started in earnest but became a tool by the west to push regime change in Zimbabwe than earnest resolution. In the end, the country still pays the price of punishment for an agreement signed in earnest before 1980; and one it upheld for a long time until the contract date was due.
The global struggle between east and west has always drawn more casualties in foreign states, like Ukraine currently. Some domestic economies have valuable commodities whose demand is either controlled or valued in foreign markets which puts their politics at the mercy of foreign interests and preferences in some cases.
These days, even elections are subtly driven by an external agenda to ensure the safeguarding of those foreign interests. Ashamedly, in this debate, some have been misled to believe that nationalisation is the better option instead of arguing for value share and store in favour of the domestic economy.
The beauty of democracy is that it does not deny the existence of foreign interests but empowers its citizens into participating in decision-making.
In the final analysis therefore, the third republic better prepared Zambia to grasp, resist or nuance the influence of global players.