Wed, Jul 27, 2016
The controversial documentary, Clinton Cash, is a reason to pause and think through Hillary Clinton’s influence in African politics and what can be expected of her if she gets the top job.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate is a magnet of controversy. Her honesty is doubted just as much as her ethics are. A short documentary, Clinton Cash, screened at the 2016 Cannes Festival put her back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The premise of the film which is a screen adaptation of a book by the same name is that the Clintons are a corrupt bunch. They stand accused of associations with dangerous men who have caused untold suffering in the world because of their selfishness. Though Clinton Cash was written by a decidedly Republican author (Peter Schweizer), it is a reason to pause and think through Hillary Clinton’s influence in African politics and what can be expected of her if she gets the top job.
When she was a senator, Hillary Clinton was one of the first 12 cosponsors to sign on in support of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006. The Act addressed the issue of conflict minerals in a bid to combat the violence which resulted because of the mineral trade as well as human rights and corruption. In strongly worded speeches, she asserted her support for the ordinary citizens of the country, even proclaiming, “We will help you build a strong, civilian-led government that is accountable and transparent.”
Those were just words! When DRC held widely disputed elections in 2011, the State Department she was leading stayed out of it and called it an “internal affair”. The United Nations Group of Experts then revealed Rwanda’s involvement in the DRC but under Hillary Clinton who served as Secretary of State, the State Department “sought to block or delay publication of the damning portion of the investigation”. Clinton Cash establishes a connection between Clinton’s reluctance to act on her words in the DRC and her relations with business people like Lukas Lundin who committed $100 million to the Clinton Foundation through a charity called Lundin for Africa. Lundin’s companies operate in controversial, war torn areas where competition avoids. Adolph Lundin, the founder of the companies had made his money mining in apartheid South Africa even after the United Nations applied international sanctions. The Lundins had entered the DRC by striking deals with then rebel leader, Laurent Kabila who they sponsored in return for mining rights if he ascended to power, which he did. The Act which Clinton had cosponsored was a real threat to the Lundin interests and logically, they would not have wanted to see it being implemented. It would seem the $100 million was enough to stop Clinton from implementing the Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act.
One of Saudi Arabia’s richest men, Mohammed al-Amoudi is said to have made his fortune from his ties with Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi and his repressive government. This same man (Amoudi) committed $20 million to the Clinton Foundation in May 2007. Meanwhile, the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act had been introduced and was then passed that October. The idea was to pressurise the government of the country to be more transparent if it was to get aid from the USA. This pressure to change would have affect Amoudi who benefitted from the status-quo, so he made his move. Amoudi, a man not known for his philanthropy, a man who had been approached by local AIDS orgnaisations for fractions of what he gave the Clinton Foundation but turned them down suddenly became the prime example of generosity. An Ethiopian human rights organisation flagged this in a letter to Bill Clinton, writing, “We have reason to believe that the huge donation to the Clinton Foundation was made on behalf of the Ethiopian government.”
Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State predictably did not change much in Ethiopia. If anything, Zenawi, though famed for his repressive streak was held with high regard by the Clintons, even being called up for Clinton Foundation events. Though the Accountability Act had been passed, Clinton’s State Department continued to give hundreds of millions worth of aid though it was clear that the Ethiopian government was not transparent in its dealings. Amoudi’s Dashen Bank reaped unimaginable benefits from the USAID’s Development Credit Authority. Was this what Amoudi’s $20 million bought him?
In the United States corridors of power, one Joe Wilson commands a lot of respect because of his close relationship to the Clintons. In the first Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, he was vocal and proclaimed Hillary, “easily the better candidate” than Obama. This same Wilson became vice chairman of Jarch Capital, a company with interests in natural resources in countries it expected “sovereignty changes”. This is a politically correct representation of “war-torn” countries. Philippe Heilberg, the founder of the company had said, “You have to go to the guns, this is Africa.” He meant his company would strike deals with warlords. Through its subsidiary, Jarch Management, the company has brokered massive deals taking advantage of the South Sudanese situation. The leaders of the company are quite possibly the grey suits behind the continued conflict in the region. It is this soiled character (Joe Wilson) who was considered a key adviser to Hillary Clinton in her tenure as Secretary of State. How unfortunate!
One of the Clintons’ favourite people is businessman, Gilbert Chagoury. Chagoury’s partnership with despotic Sani Abacha helped him amass much wealth. Nuhu Ribadu who led the anti-corruption prosecution in Nigeria said, “You couldn’t investigate corruption without looking at Chagoury.” He further said Chagoury had helped siphon $4 billion from Nigeria into tax havens. This same Chagoury is then found in history contributing $469,000 to the Clinton re-election campaign in 1996 “on Abacha’s behalf”. The policy towards Nigeria took a dramatic 180 degree turn with an evidently tolerant tone for Abacha being adopted. Chagoury was later convicted for the crime of money laundering during the Abacha administration but the Clintons remained friends with him. In 2009, he even pledged $1 billion to the Clinton legacy project. Such a character who has been at the center of robbing Africa should be the last person the Clintons associate with but not in this case.
One may say some of these relationships the Clintons have are entirely personal but such naivety would encourage Africa to look away as the American leadership strengthens characters who are destroying the continent. Media Matters for America attempted to undermine the findings of Clinton Cash but in the case of Africa, the one argument it proffered was that Clinton was simply continuing with a policy-framework of the Bush administration. This does not make it better! Africa is not going to be comforted by the fact that leader after leader in the United States chooses to support looting dictators, warlords and unscrupulous businesspeople who connive to strip the continent of all it has. This whole business has colonial undertones and the Clintons are the face of this new age of imperialism.
Tatenda is an advocate of cultural identity and African development. Interact with him on http://africanaforum.blogspot.com/
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