The looting machine

via The looting machine – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 31, 2015

The curse of Africa’s resources has become the blessing of the liberation struggle predatory class in partnership with foreign predators.

Investigations correspondent at the Financial Times, Tim Burgis, has just published a book titled The Looting Machine. It is a kaleidoscope of the penury of Africa caused by a coalition between an international predatory mafia and African Presidents and their predatory coalitions made up of the army, intelligence services and state institutions that are raping Africa’s resources at the expense of citizens and economic development.

It is a shocking saga of the deliberate underdevelopment and theft of Africa’s resources by the very individuals who claim to have liberated Africa from colonialism. In fact, in Zimbabwe we are slightly better off than most other African states because the English colonialists left a functioning infrastructure behind which we have done our best to destroy. In other countries such as the Portuguese colonies, I hear they even took light bulbs with them as they left.

The looting machine is a well-organised and well-orchestrated partnership between China and the African liberation struggle elite who initiate resource-based exploitation projects in Africa fronted by Western consultants and middlemen with contacts in Africa’s highest offices and families of the elite robbers.

From the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Angola, to Niger, to Zimbabwe, nearly every African country has been duped by smooth-talking politically-connected corporate criminals who peddle resource deals which significantly undervalue Africa’s resource endowments; pay huge sums of “facilitation fees” through a network of fronting companies with dubious credentials and opaque shareholding structures. Billions are subsequently transferred to Asia and other secret tax havens at the expense of Africa’s development.

This same template was used in the case of the Marange diamond discovery where the World Bank estimated that Zimbabwe lost close to $12 billion through illicit financial flows and murky deals that benefited the Zanu PF predatory cabal.

China is the main culprit where African resources are being exchanged for infrastructural project development. We now even have a case where China, through its vast reserves and investment banks, is buying out former colonial resource companies all over Africa and transferring vast amounts of resources to China cheaply.

In return they will build roads, railways and military schools and even provide food aid as if theirs is the concern for Africa’s development and poverty, yet it’s really all about them. It is a fact that China has a plan for Africa’s resources while Africa like a dumb prostitute has no plan for China except to fill the coffers of a predatory elite.

No surprise therefore that whenever there is a huge find of new resources in Africa, China is somehow involved and there is a scramble by politicians to feed off the trough through facilitation fees that never reach the treasury. The resource curse, as we know it, is being fed through theft by a partnership between an international predatory cabal and Africa’s leaders.

In Zimbabwe, the looting machine is alive and well. This of course does not only apply to resources, but a number of development projects that would benefit our economy are on hold sitting at some minister’s desk because they want a cut for doing nothing.

In addition, the continuing food shortages in Zimbabwe ironically present money-making opportunities to the rent-seeking class of politicians who are literally benefiting from their incompetence and mismanagement of the economy. It’s a vicious cycle of greed fuelled by trading opportunities that are as a result of food shortages created by the disastrous land policies of this government-they are profiting from the poverty of the masses.

The private sector is also a culprit and complicit in fuelling the looting machine. In Zimbabwe, we have several allegedly successful private companies whose success is only because they have capitulated to political demands and will lavish those in power with gifts and fake loyalty for money. That is the nature of post-colonial Africa and no country is immune.

In such cases where governments are able to plunder illicit funds from resources, dictatorships are strengthened and entrenched because they need no longer be accountable to the people.

In fact, secret resource-based revenues prop up dictators and their cronies and they therefore are not accountable to the electorate nor do they need them. As a result elections become a farce to create a fallacy of democracy. That is our problem in Zimbabwe. The curse of resources is the blessing to the dictator and his cabal which includes foreign predators.

An interest point raised by Burgis in his book is that the liberation struggle elite are using exactly the same methods used by Cecil John Rhodes to subjugate Africa and its resources.

They claim to be our liberators and yet by their very nature they are greedy, uncaring and defiled. The cries against colonialists are therefore devoid of any morals whatsoever.

Clearly in Zimbabwe we have work to do to dismantle the looting machine and deliver development to the masses. That will be a difficult thing to, do but we must continue to fight on.

The reason why Zimbabwe is failing to unlock its vast mineral resource potential and utilise its land assets to produce enough
food is not because of failed economics, but rather because of the looting machine that thrives in chaos.

There is no contestation therefore that as long as those who preside over this looting machine hold political power, Zimbabwe will not rise and yet we the new generation have the responsibility to do what we can despite the risks.

The insatiable hunger for power and money by the Zanu PF predatory cabal and its cronies is our curse that can only be purged by us the people.

Our “liberators” have become thieves and oppressors in partnership with the very imperialists they condemn in public.

It’s unacceptable.

 Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on


  • comment-avatar
    P Svosve 7 years ago

    It is clearly evident to those who lived in both the Smith regime and Mugabe regime that Mugabe: is ten times more cruel, Mugabe does not work, intolerant, thinks Zimbabwe belongs to him personally, that anyone with an idea that is different from his is an enemy, is not accountable to anyone… the list goes on! It’s time for him to change…

  • comment-avatar

    Vince is frothing a bit here and his article is somewhat incoherent.

    It is true that The Dictators are ripping off their own countries. It is also true that China is taking advantage of their greed and stupidity, but China can also be a good deveopment parter if handled corectly.

  • comment-avatar
    David 7 years ago

    Kwv, Vince is not frothing. He is on target. Mugabe and his ilk have robbed Zimbabwe blind and the Chinese are not here for philantheopy. We need liberating from the liberators. Not really much else to be said. It is now just a matter of time.