The world’s political and governmental structures, economic systems, international connections, women’s and men’s rights, and social structures and relationships have all seen significant changes over the past 500 years. However, the marginalisation of the poor and powerless worker has not yet alleviated. Throughout recorded history, industrialised nations and cultures have thrived from the free or cheap labour of conquered territories or the oppressed worldwide
But these so called “under-developed” nations are now in no mood to remain under the thumb of the Western nations as they are taking steps to counter the West’s unjust moves. Democratic Republic of Congo has just joined the league of these nations when it slapped a Swiss-based company with mining charges.
According to recent reports, the Swiss-based mining company, Glencore, has said it will pay $180m (£147m) to the Democratic Republic of Congo to settle corruption claims. The agreement covers an 11-year period from 2007 to 2018.
It is the latest in a series of corruption cases which has seen Glencore agree to pay out more than $1.6bn in fines this year.
Glencore is one of the world’s largest commodity-related companies, employing around 135,000 people in more than 35 countries. In May it admitted bribing officials in several African nations including DR Congo. There have been various investigations into the miner’s activities in the DRC between 2007 and 2018 which uncovered evidence of bribery. (DRC).
Be clear, the recent steps by the DRC government are part of a broader policy shift among various African nations to regulate the nefarious practises of Western MNCs. Recently, a court in Burkina Faso found two executives working for Canadian mining firm Trevali (TV.TO) guilty of involuntary manslaughter after a flood disaster at its Perkoa zinc mine in April killed eight miners.
You see, beginning in the 16th century, exploitation by powerful imperialist western nations became the new world order, resulting in the pervasive exploitation of native populations and the inhumane treatment of millions of people. Even while much has changed since then, the industrialised world’s continued exploitation of workers from the so-called “third world” countries haven’t changed.
The writings of the great European Enlightenment thinkers, like John Locke and others, acknowledge the fundamental equality of all individuals. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of Human Rights also affirmed that all men are created equal. Unfortunately, today, the Western countries, think that only they are entitled to these rights and not others who they regard to be less civilized than themselves.
Western MNCs’ predatory tactics prevent developing nations of Africa from sharing equitably in the benefits of their own natural resource wealth, which eventually jeopardises their efforts to pursue emancipatory economic and social development policies.
Don’t be hoodwinked; the exploitation by Western nations is pervasive throughout the African continent. In numerous African nations, incidences of employees, including pregnant women, being transported in open trucks, resulting in accidents and fatalities, are quite frequent.
The fact that penalties are rarely imposed on foreign multinational corporations that violate their respective country’s national labour code is one of the objections raised by many common people in Africa. Corrupt government officials frequently brushed aside the Western firms’ unethical practises. But this is no longer the case. African governments have begun recognising the unscrupulous role that multinational corporations undertake on their territories.
Earlier, it was customary to see how susceptible most African regimes were to MNC influence. However, recent instances of nations resisting the might of Western corporations would not only prevent the servitude of Africans by these enterprises but would also significantly contribute to safeguarding the national interests of African states. Make no mistake: in the geopolitical sphere, African success stories will soon become a common occurrence.