Crisis Group report pursuing neo-liberal agenda
The ICG describes itself as an independent group working in the five continents of the world “through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict”. Indeed, the organisation boasts of high level personalities that includes politicians, bankers, billionaires, economists, you name it, it has them.
Unfortunately, this group is dominated by mainly personalities from Western countries at strategic level who, as is now commonly known, want to impose their views on all people around the world. This well financed and politically powerful body evokes the typical Eurocentricism that is imposed on everybody else in the world in the name of solving the problems of other countries.
Annoyingly, these very people who purport to be solving our problems are the very troublemakers as they pursue their economic interests and those of their principals. In reality, this body is a Western-funded entity that disguises itself as independent and belonging to the civil society.
The interesting thing about this body is that it is staffed by former ministers and civil servants of Western countries and is funded by these very governments and yet they still claim to be independent and a non-governmental organisation. This body demonstrates the rigged or fluid definition of NGO.
The World Bank defines NGOs as “private organisations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development”.
Now, how then can a private organisation pursue non-state interests when it is funded by governments? This is critical because the “private” is included in the definition to make clear the separation between the private organisations from government control.
However, 21 Western governments provide funding to ICG. The ICG board of trustees comprises of 46 people from all walks of life. Of those 46, 30 are from the Western countries. Further, of the 30 from the West, 22 are former ministers, ambassadors and even prime ministers. How independent then is ICG especially on Zimbabwe where the bulk of its sponsors are the very governments and private interests at odds with the country’s leadership?
Another critical question to ask is why the organisation is packed with people from the West as opposed to having proportional representation that demonstrates the make up of the world? It seems the West are the ones who have the answers to the world’s problems and yet these are the very same people whose majority of members cannot live up to their social responsibilities such as the longstanding and hard-to-fulfill 0.7 percent of gross national product per year international development assistance that they promised to provide to developing countries.
By the way, the ICG has Stanley Fischer as their senior adviser, the former First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund from 1994 to 2001. He is the same guy who was featured in a touching documentary titled Life and Debt defending the IMF dealings with Jamaica. In that video, we are shown how the IMF’s economic structural adjustment programme ruthlessly destroyed Jamaica’s dairy and beef industries. Jamaican farmers had to throw away fresh milk because the new foreign companies were not buying this milk or the Jamaican beef. Rather, they imported from the United States. Jamaicans ended up substituting fresh cow milk for consumption with powdered milk brought from the US.
Also, the ICG has an international advisory council whose members, both individuals and corporate, are donors. These include multinational corporations like Anglo American PLC, Chevron and international banks such as Credit Suisse and Citibank. The underlying message and the composition of this group demonstrates its neoliberal agenda. This is a group of Western individuals and corporate bodies that scout for markets and strive to shape countries in a way that would be conducive for neoliberal driven globalisation. The ICG character clearly shows who is in charge and whose interests are being pursued. So while this organisation goes about issuing reports, it is tailoring them in the manner it would want events to shape.
For instance, in their report on Zimbabwe, they have made it clear that they want to see neoliberal reforms, which should be acceptable to Western governments.
Who are they? Inevitably, leadership changes will occur but only in the manner Zimbabweans want and not in response to “Western threats” that ICG suggests.
But even if changes are going to happen, it is appalling for ICG to seem to turn a blind eye and even embrace the explanation by some Zanu PF politicians who are reportedly wanting change only because their “personal financial situations [are] motivation for wanting [President Robert] Mugabe out”.
How can the country be shaped in the manner desired by a few individuals motivated by selfish interests as opposed to what is good for the greater number of Zimbabweans? But these individuals know that they stand to gain and would usually position themselves for the advantages that come with such a period.
The report further says that Zimbabwe has the “world’s fastest shrinking peacetime economy” and yet go on to say that the country should be referred to the United Nations Security Council for discussion ostensibly under Chapter VII. How can a country in “peacetime” be, at the same time, a threat to the very peace that is said to prevail?
The report yet acknowledges that such a discussion would be difficult to get a resolution for action. It is confusing why ICG thinks that Zimbabwe is a threat to peace. I think what it wants to say is that Zimbabweans have deep differences internally as opposed to that which warrants Chapter VII.
Even by its own admission, our neighbouring countries and African leaders in general realise the differences in Zimbabwe and have questioned, according to the ICG “why [we] should intervene when Zimbabweans are not standing up strongly to their government”.
Although ICG does not answer this question, in that paragraph, it inadvertently does so elsewhere where it quotes a civil society leader saying that Zimbabweans “will not raise their heads until they have an accountable leadership that will lead them." I have always argued that the opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai are organisationally challenged, and the ICG has further supported this argument.
While I did not explore in great detail the issues that ICG raised in the report, I believe it was more important to shed light on the nature of the characters that produced this report and demonstrate their keenness in shaping the world to suit their economic interests. But they did not do a good job because it is woefully contradictory, predictable and downright Eurocentric. While some issues indicated in the report might happen such as change in leadership, however the philosophical underpinnings of these maneuvers are scary to contemplate – neo-imperialism and Esap!
Kuthula Matshazi is a Zimbabwean journalist writing from Toronto, Canada. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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