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Subject: wwnews Digest #781
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 12:32:35 -0500

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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 12:22:39 -0500
Subject: [WW] Capitalist Greed Behind Aborted Coup in Africa

Capitalist greed behind aborted coup in Africa

By Monica Moorehead, Workers World, 25 March 2004

Zimbabwean officials have announced that they will bring legal charges against 67 mercenaries detained March 7 after a plane full of the professional killers and their high-tech equipment touched down at Harare International Airport.

The leaders of the mercenaries have admitted that they were flying from South Africa to a secret military base in Cameroon, with the objective of kidnapping the president of nearby Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema. They intended to replace him with a leader of the Spanish-based opposition, Severo Moto Nsa. Equatorial Guinea is a former colony of Spain.

The mercenaries included South Africans, at least one of whom holds British citizenship, Angolans, Namibians, Congolese and one Zimbabwean, according to an official of the South African Foreign Ministry. The Toronto Globe and Mail reported on March 16 that “all were reportedly carrying South African passports, and are said to be ex-South African military or police personnel.”

Since the downfall of the apartheid regime, its former operatives have been a thorn in the side of the South African coalition government, dominated by Black representatives of the African National Congress. The South African government is reported to have tipped off Zimbabwe about the group's arrival. It says they will be tried in Zimbabwe, although South African law does allow for citizens arrested in another country to be transported back to South Africa.

Since these arrests, the big-business media have focused a lot of attention on the so-called corrupt nature of the Nguema government in Equatorial Guinea. But the United States, Britain, Spain and other imperialist governments have installed and supported many reactionary puppet regimes around the world.

Executive Outcomes, a British-based firm that provides mercenaries to private corporations, was an integral part of this ill-fated operation. According to the March 14 Sunday Herald of Harare, “The firm's latest planeload of mercenaries included many former personnel of the notorious 32 Buffalo Battalion of the South African special forces and Civil Cooperation Bureau, which was responsible for the deaths of several anti- apartheid activists.”

It has been confirmed that U.S., British and Spanish intelligence agencies are the masterminds behind the aborted coup, on behalf of big- business interests. The British citizen arrested was Simon Mann, “an ex- Royal Scots Guard and troop commander with the British Special Air Services. He also has a lead role in Sandline International, a murky company with oil and mining interests, and ties to U.K. intelligence services. Sandline absorbed Executive Outcomes in 1998. Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi says Mr. Mann was offered $2.3 million and oil rights in Equatorial Guinea for the plot.” (Globe and Mail, March 16)


When these arrests first took place, there was justified suspicion that the United States and Britain were attempting to remove Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from office. It is no secret that President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair are close cohorts in their efforts to economically and politically destabilize Zimbabwe.

They hate President Mugabe because he has publicly sided with dispossessed Black farmers who are seeking to regain ownership of the arable lands stolen by white commercial farmers over many decades of racist colonialism.

Bush and Blair claim that Mugabe stole the presidential election in 2002 from opposition forces that the West supported both financially and politically. Observer teams from Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa, however, stated that Mugabe won a majority of the votes fair and square.

Why were the mercenaries targeting a small country like Equatorial Guinea? Certainly one reason is that the imperialist secret agencies felt they could take advantage of the geopolitical situation. But the motive lies in the greedy nature of imperialism.


EG is one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. It was a colonial possession of Spain for 190 years until its formal independence in 1968. Its population is less than 500,000; life expectancy is 50 years for women and 48 for men. The average yearly income is $700. (World Bank, 2001)

EG's territory includes the island of Bioko off the coast of neighboring Cameroon. Its capital, Malabo, is located there. Large deposits of oil and natural gas were discovered off Bioko during the mid-1990s. As a result, EG has become the third-biggest producer of oil in Africa, after Nigeria and Angola.

The abundance of oil has meant very little for the people of EG. In fact, as in the rest of Africa, the minerals and wealth are being sucked out by Western multinational corporations headquartered in the large imperialist countries.

The theft of Africa's natural resources under colonialism and now neocolonialism—in which these countries' economies are controlled through debt and “structural adjustment” programs devised by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank—has kept this long-suffering continent from economic development and, along with it, true independence.

The biggest exploiters of EG's oil are all U.S. companies: ExxonMobil, Chevron Texaco and the Houston-based Mara thon Oil. The United States buys 28 percent of the country's exports—mostly petroleum products. Spain buys 25 percent. (, March 12)

The imperialists could not care less that the majority of the 600 million people on the African continent suffer from poverty, HIV/AIDS, civil wars and illiteracy. Any government corruption and mismanagement stem from having local economies undermined and destroyed by imperialist greed for profits.

Right now, the Pentagon is sending troops into all parts of Africa, especially the north and west, under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda and “terrorism.” In truth, the most important reason is to protect the economic domination of U.S. foreign capital against its rivals in Europe and Japan.

Whether through open colonialism or setting up neocolonial puppet states, today's imperialist powers got rich through the plunder and super-exploitation of Africa as well as Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The masses in those developing countries need international, revolutionary solidarity from the workers in the imperialist centers, especially through the demand that the exploiters pay long-overdue reparations for their theft.