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A VERY mischievous wrong impression is being created in Zambia that imperialism is synonymous with capitalism.

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This is very far from the truth, although historical developments may indeed convey this notion. The reality is that the two are not the same. Imperialism is a policy or practice by which one country extends its power, influence, or control over other nations, often through military force or economic dominance. 

Indeed, imperialism can be driven by many factors, including the desire for resources, territorial expansion, geopolitical advantage, or the spread of ideology and culture.

The brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine is a typical example of naked imperialism. It has actually been dubbed as plunder of Ukraine resources as about 80 percent of Ukrainian coal deposits are located in the Russian occupied territories for example. Ukraine is forced to import coal from as far as the United States.It is an imperialism of brutal military force that has displayed horrendous brutality, displacing millions as refugees while thousands of soldiers and civilian,s including children have died while infrastructure worth billions of Dollars has been destroyed, all in the name of securing dominance.

While it is true that Ukraine and Russia share a common history of political, cultural, and territory, it is also true that Ukraine has its own distinct culture, language (Ukrainian), and identity, which differs from Russian culture and the Russian language. 

These differences in national identity and language have played a role in the conflict. In fact, Ukraine has a long history of struggles for independence and selfdetermination, often against Russian or Soviet domination. 

This includes periods of czarist Russian rule, the Ukrainian War of Independence (1917-1921), and decades of Soviet control during the 20th century.Seizing Ukraine’s natural resources was one of Russia’s key motives for launching the invasion, Olivia Lazard of the Brussels-based Carnegie Europe think tank has said. She said using force to gain control of strategically important resources was a recurring theme in Russian foreign policy.

“For years we can observe the Kremlin’s push in Africa – via Wagner mercenaries – to have access to a number of natural resources like gold and diamonds, but also a number of different transition materials such as lithium, rare earths and cobalt,” she said.The current struggle is not different. The Ukranians do not want to be dominated by Russia.It is however the scale of murder and pillage brought to Ukraine that has been shocking. Russia has launched a ferocious, savage and brutal attack, mainly aimed at critical infrastructure including power utilities, food and grain stores, apartments and hospitals.Any criticism of the war inside Russia has been criminalised. This is the character of authoritarian rule synonymous with socialism. It is the reason why Ukrainehas chosen liberalism, where freedom of expression is respected.

On the other hand, “Western imperialism” goes back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, when colonies and territories in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania were acquired by Western powers, including Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, and the United States.

This period was followed by exploitation of natural resources, cheap labour, and new markets for manufactured goods. This exploitation remains at the heart of relations between the developed and developing countries.

This unequal relationship continues to characterise our trade imbalance with the developed world which extracts raw materials only to sell us finished products.Our task is to reverse this trend by ensuring beneficiation. No raw materials should leave our borders.



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