France’s Janus Face? France has allegedly been accused of continuing to force 14 African countries to pay colonial taxes, while simultaneously keeping up its more philanthropic global image by becoming Greece’s second largest European lender.
The Wimbledon 2015 tennis tournament in London won’t distract from Greece’s current financial crisis which dominates the world news. The BBC announced that France is Greece’s
second largest creditor in Europe, after Germany.
In a bid to support Greece through its current debt crisis, France is lending the world’s oldest democracy 43.8 billion Euros. But this seemingly noble financial gesture aside, as the idiom goes, be just before you are generous:
According to Mr Mawuna Koutonin, the peace activist and editor of SiliconAfrica.com: “Through a colonial pact, France continues to extract approximately 500 billion dollars from fourteen African countries each year, by forcing them to pay colonial tax for the ‘benefits’ of slavery and colonisation”.
It is believed that, under the terms and conditions of the agreement set up, the CFA, the Central Bank of each African country, must keep at least 65% of its foreign exchange reserves in an “operations account” held at the French Treasury, as well as another 20% to cover financial liabilities.
The fourteen African countries that France has been holding for their national reserves since 1961 can be listed as follows: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
France will then allow its former colonies to access only 15% of the money in any given year. If needed, they will have to borrow the extra money from their own 65% from the French Treasury at commercial rates.
It is little surprise that France can not only claim to be one of Europe’s leading countries but also can effortlessly afford to lend that amount of money to Greece.
The world mainstream media has been dominated by the Greece debt crisis but very little has been said about how this crisis will impact on Africa (“the food attic of the world”, but sadly portrayed more as ‘the world’s leper’).
French colonialism and foreign policy in Africa was among the ugliest of them all.
In 1958, when the president of Guinea, Sékou Touré, withdrew from the French colonial empire by opting for his country’s independence, the French colonial elite in Paris hit back with an unprecedented act of barbarism.
His country and almost the whole African continent paid and are still paying a heavy price in human, financial, economic and cultural costs.
The French administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country, arguing that it represented “the benefits from French colonisation”.
Approximately three thousand French left the country, packing away all their belongings and destroying anything that could not be moved: schools, nurseries, public administration, buildings and offices crumbled. Cars, books, medicine, research institute instruments and tractors were looted or destroyed; horses and cows in the farms were killed; and food in warehouses was either burned or poisoned.
The aim behind those gruesome and barbarian crimes was to pass on a clear message to all other French colonies, that the consequences for rejecting French rule must be brutal and fatal.
As a result of this, for fear of being killed or the victims of a coup, African leaders are unable to work to promote their continent’s interests, and even after serving the French elite, they will still be accused of corruption and dictatorship and then be overthrown when no longer needed.
French presidents have always been outspoken about keeping former colonies as their safeguard. The tradition has been passed on throughout generations.
We must remember March 2008, when former French President Jacques Chirac said: “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power”.
Even Mr Chirac’s predecessor, President François Mitterrand, said decades earlier in 1957: “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century”.
The war on Afrique Media, the first controversial Pan-Africanist television channel
The world has turned into a ‘global village’: there is nothing to hide anymore, especially with the rise of the likes of Afrique Media, an international independent television .
Very critical of the colonial policy in general, and with the French colonial policy in particular, Afrique Media, in its editorial guideline, encourages the solidarity of Africans worldwide; and this is based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social, and political progress.
As the Greece crisis dominates the world news, the French are still doing their best to bring the
African continent to its knees.
The Quai d’Orsay (the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Headquarters) is allegedly planning the closure of Afrique Media.
The Cameroonian journalist, Armand Roger Biloa Mballe, wrote in a recent article:
“The Quai d’Orsay is putting pressure on the Cameroonian president Paul Biya via the African Council of Media to close Afrique Media TV.”
The reason being that the TV channel broadcasts highly sensitive topics about CFA franc, the mechanisms of the monetary zone of France against Africa, and many others issues , with the aim to tarnish France’s reputation in Africa and worldwide.
Remember Charlie Hebdo? How could France, which claims to be a pillar of free speech by backing a satirical magazine’s right to freedom of expression, then duplicitously plan the closure of an independent TV channel?
CFA franc, a controversial currency
According to the online thesaurus, The Franc CFA, also colloquially known as ‘Franc’, is the name of two currencies used in Africa which are guaranteed by the French treasury. The two CFA franc currencies are the West African CFA franc and the Central African CFA franc.
The CFA franc are two closely-related currencies used by 14 countries in Western and Central Africa.
France’s annual budget contains a line related to the CFA franc called the ‘Account of financial cooperation’ making the account in which African countries from the CFA zone deposit part of their financial reserves useless.
The issuing of a currency used by almost 140 million people in 14 different countries is endorsed each year by the French National Assembly and Senate.
Fifty years after African countries’ independence, the monetary policy of the CFA franc zone remains decided by France, depending on its own interests.
So France hasn’t had its fill of Africa yet, and neither have other industrialised nations. This resource-rich continent is, it appears, no longer seen merely as the ‘food-attic of the world’, but also as the last drop of mineral water needed to quench the planet’s thirst.