Stealing Africa

Stealing Africa – Why Poverty

BBC (2012)

Film Review

Stealing Africa is about the Swiss corporation Glencore and how they have been ripping off Zambia’s copper for the last 16 years.

Despite exporting $29 billion worth of copper annually, Zambia remains one of the twentieth poorest countries in the world. The reason? A Swiss company called Glencore that keeps the vast majority of these profits for themselves. Thanks to creative bookkeeping and major tax evasion, Glencore pays less to the Zambian government in taxes than they pay to provide electricity to their mines.

Glencore has an interesting connection to the Clintons. The company was started in the 1970s by Marc Rich, an American white collar criminal who fled to Switzerland in 1983 to avoid imprisonment on money laundering, tax fraud and trading with the enemy* charges.

In 1994, the company changed their name from Marc Rich and Company to Glencore.- in 2000, Bill Clinton pardoned Rich in return for millions in campaign contributions and donations to the Clinton Library.

The Zambian copper mines were a state owned industry until 2000, when the global price of copper plummeted, leaving Zambia unable to repay its foreign debt. Allegedly under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, President Frederick Chiluba sold all Zambia’s copper mines to Glencore and other foreign companies. In 2007, a case in the British high court found Chiluba (who died in 2011) guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

In 2011, a confidential tax audit of Glencore’s Mopani mine was leaked to Friends of the Earth. It revealed that Glencore (with the collusion of Switzerland) was reducing their tax bill in Zambia by rigging the price of copper and fraudulent profit reporting. Following public release of the audit, the EU investment bank suspended further loans to Glencore. Sadly the company persists in their refusal to pay the tax demands of a government lacking the legal resources to take on a gigantic multinational corporation.

The result is a country in which 64% of the population live below the poverty line and residents adjacent to Glencore copper mines suffer major health problems. These relate mainly to the company’s refusal to abide by World Health Organization standards for sulfur dioxide emissions.

Campaigning Against Roundup in New Plymouth

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Last night Green Party MP Stephen Browning and I presented a petition to the New Plymouth District Council Policy Committee asking them to cease spraying Roundup in our streets and parks. Here’s an excerpt from Taranaki Daily News:

Council Asked to Remove Possible Cancer-Causing Herbicides from Urban Areas

There are concerns about the health effects of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller being used in urban areas by New Zealand councils. The New Plymouth District Council is considering its continued use of Roundup in urban areas.

The common weed killer contains glyphosate, a compound which many studies have linked to a raft of health issues, include infertility and cancer, Green Party MP Steffan Browning said.

Browning was campaigning throughout New Zealand to convince local authorities of alternative options to the spray, and to continue to put pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a review of how dangerous it really was to human health.

“We’re really focused on getting it out of urban areas,” he said.

Browning addressed councillors at Tuesday’s policy committee meeting, encouraging them to reconsider the harm they could be doing to their community.

He said there had not been enough independent research into the effects of glyphosate but the World Health Organisation declared it a “probable carcinogen” in March 2015.

Read more here