Saturday, September 17, 2005

Posting on a quiet saturday night. There is now almost ideal weather here: hot and sunny in the day, cool at night. Only down side is it is v. windy so no-one goes out much. Soon it will be hot and steamy all day long...

This post is about contradictions between word and deed, promises and actions - which, when they are intentional, we call hypocrisy.

First off is the Mozambican state. Heinously, turgidly corrupt in pretty much every corner, and at every level (but most of all at the top), a new hope was breathed through the country when the new President took power at the beginning of 2005, on a strongly anti-corruption platform. I and many Mozambican commentators were sceptical - how could a guy straight from the heart of the single-party old guard, who was chosen by them as the "prince-in-waiting" to the previous president over reformist candidates, suddenly turn and cut off the hands that fed him? Not to mention that he does very well himself, with his many business interests, out of his exalted position.

Well, sad to say that the results are as we feared. Despite a lot of rhetoric and some public excoriations of low and medium-level officials, the big fish who EVERYONE KNOWS are up to their necks in shit, have been left basically untouched. That is, those Ministers, Senior Civil Servants and high heejins in the party who have, by hook and crook, reached the rank which Mozambicans call "The Untouchables", go on just as before. At the very worst they will be retired from their main jobs and given a slightly less-prominent post elsewhere in the Nomenklatura.

But the worst happened just this week. In a classic piece of doublethink, the government "upgraded" the national Anti-Corruption Unit to a a Cabinet-level Agency, supposedly to "strengthen the fight against corruption. Days later, they announced that with the change in name would come a change in management. Out went the old director, a crusading judge famed as an "iron lady" for opening cases even against untouchables. In came a lickspittle apparatchik, famed only for "burying" three of the country's most famous cases of blatant corruption and political murder, so that they never got to court.

No-one was fooled, of course - but NO-ONE can do anything. To all intents and purposes, Moz is still a one-party state, and the only people who count outside the party - the IMF, World Bank, and the Aid departments of the industrialized world - don't give a sh*t about corruption because Moz is a poster child for bending over and taking their Macroeconomic reform just as its told. I

OK, second on the list is the recent UN super-summit, billed by many as "make or break" for this sucessor to the ill-fated League of Nations. If you read this summary by the BBC of what did and didn't get agreed, you can see that pretty much every "tough" question was just dingied by the big players. Especially the Big Player of A. No surprises there then.

Finally, something a lot of people have been asking me about: the G8 summit. Click here for a great little document by WDM (World Development Movement, a campaigning group I was in for a long time until I jumped off to Moz), comparing the big headlines which were recently spun at the end of the conference, to the nitty gritty details. Not very happy reading, except for the debt cancellation. But even that is overshadowed by the failure to end "conditionality" - the terrible practice whereby countries who want to get rid of an immediate problem (debt) have to mortgage their long-term future by adopting detrimental economic and social policies, especially in the area of industrial policy (aka you can't have one, multinationals will build all the factories) and trade policy (aka you can't have one, multinationals will sell you everything).

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