A placard addressing NGO’s role in Zambia
A short version of this article was published in The Land magazine’s summer edition 2015. A PDF of the full version below can be downloaded here:Northern Governmental Organisations.
Northern Governmental Organisations: between the free market and the nation state
Samarendra Das and Miriam Rose
The NGO sector is one of the world’s largest industries. In 2009 there were 3.3 million NGOs (or 1 for every 400 people) in India alone, with money pouring in from Intergovernmental Organisations (IGOs), Western donor agencies and philanthropic funds.
Though some critiques of the big NGOs and humanitarian aid have reached the mainstream media in recent years, the general Western perception is that NGOs are doing important and effective work on behalf of millions of deprived people without a voice.
This article gives an alternative perspective. Based on conversations with grassroots activists and marginalised communities in India and Africa over many years of our work on extractive industries, we draw together the common critiques of advocacy and development NGOs in the ‘Third world’ or ‘global South’ – from their role in dividing and co-opting people’s movements by professionalising activism, to their lack of accountability to the people they claim to represent. We show that, behind the ‘rights based’ rhetoric, NGOs consciously or unconsciously serve the neoliberal interests of donor countries, institutions, and even companies.
modern technology: Australian iron ore being loaded onto ships
12th August 2015. This editorial on the ecological economics and social impacts of the global mining industry was published in the July/August edition of the socialist Hindi magazine Samayik Varta. Please click the link to read it in Hindi or download a PDF version of the article here: Prosperity or plunder? The real story behind the global mining industry
Prosperity or plunder?: The real story behind the global mining industry
Samarendra Das and Miriam Rose, Foil Vedanta
Foil Vedanta is a grassroots international solidarity group based in London. We aim to hold the FTSE 250 UK listed company Vedanta to account by building a global movement of communities opposing its operations, and using scholar activism to expose the real interests behind Vedanta and other mining companies. In 2014 our report Copper Colonialism: Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia, which followed our visit to Zambia, ignited protests and helped change Zambian mining policy.
A history of mining:
Scientists still don’t fully understand how the deposits of precious metal in the Earth’s surface were formed, but the most recent theory suggests that they were brought to the Earth by enormous meteors which smashed into the planet 200 million years after the earth formed (4.3 billion years ago). The earth’s crust is mostly made up of Oxygen (47%) and Silicon (28%), followed by Aluminium (8%) and Iron (5%). Other metals are much more rare; Copper makes up 0.01%, Zinc 0.004%, Lead 0.002%, Tin 0.001%, Thorium 0.001%, Uranium 0.0004%, Silver 0.00001% and Gold 0.000001%. Only a fraction of these percentages are to be found in densities which are economically viable to extract.
In other words, metals are a very rare and very precious resource on our planet, and are completely irreplaceable. However, in 2014, after only a century of industrial scale mining, the speed and scale of extraction of metals has become so immense that most metals are predicted to run out in the next few decades. For example between 1.1 and 1.3 billion tonnes of aluminium has been extracted historically (until 2014), and at the current extraction rate of 40 – 46 million tonnes per year the remaining 8 billion tonnes will be used up in 20 – 40 years.
A two day event bringing international activists and academics together to reflect on academic pursuit and forms of knowledge production, and establish working links between those working against the impacts of neoliberalism, the extractive industries, including damage to communities, ecology, democracy and governance.
Hosted by the Centre for World Environmental History (CWEH) University of Sussex.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or BOOK HERE
Places are limited. Please book as soon as you can. Last booking date is 1 September 2014.
Miriam Rose, Samarendra Das, John McDonnell MP and Richard Solly in the House of Commons
Speakers from Foil Vedanta and London Mining Network yesterday presented evidence in the House of Commons on the criminal behaviour of some London Listed mining companies, and called for better accountability measures and the de-listing of criminal companies. Focusing on contentious UK miner Vedanta Resources, they exposed new evidence of tax evasion, illegal land grabs, displacement, major pollution and water poisoning, as well as the UK’s role in promoting and protecting the company, and called for its immediate investigation and potential de-listing in London.
In a packed meeting hosted by John McDonnell MP in the House of Commons speakers told MPs, journalists, diplomats and members of the public attending that high risk mining companies like ‘the world’s most hated company’ Vedanta Resources are bringing shame on the London Stock Exchange, and demanded better accountability measures and the de-listing of criminal companies. MPs attending were Jeremy Corbyn, Eric Joyce and John McDonnell.
10th March 2014. Over the past few weeks Foil Vedanta’s report Copper Colonialism: British Miner Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia has been creating national level debate in Zambia and even globally. Vedanta’s executives have now flown out to Zambia four times in the last month to try to minimise the reputational damage caused by the evidence presented in the report, including tax evasion, misdeclaring of profits, environmental devastation and abuses of worker’s rights. Following a series of closed door meetings the Government of Zambia has now made a deal with Vedanta which claims that they will not sack any workers and will pay off debts. The truth in this claim in yet to be seen but many other issues remain unaddressed. Primarily, Zambians must demand that the Annual Reports of KCM and the government’s investigation into the company are made public.
This is a compilation of some of the articles covering these issues in chronological order, with a few key excerpts from each one.
03 February 2014. Zambian Daily Nation
Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) has instituted investigations into a report by Foil Vedanta which shows that KCM made $360 million in the year 2013.
MUZ general secretary, Joseph Chewe confirmed having received the report which has since been given to the union technocrat team comprising director of research Charles Muchimba and his deputy Yoya Kumwenda.
The report contains various contentious issues such as how much KCM was bought by Foil Vedanta and how much it makes which the Zambian people do not know about.
The report also shows that KCM contaminated water supply in Helen and Shimulala communities which are located near KCM’s Nchanga mine in Chingola as well as the Mushishima stream which runs nearby.
21st January 2014. In December Foil Vedanta activists made a trip to Zambia to investigate the operations of Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), Zambia’s biggest copper miner, and to make links with grassroots movements, academics, journalists and those in the political system who may be questioning the unjust terms of copper mining in their country.
We were shocked to discover the environmental and social devastation wrought by Vedanta’s operations, and the lack of information held by policy makers and regulators in Zambia on this multinational as well as on wider issues with copper market manipulations, material flows and the real interests controlling their country. This report is a comprehensive account of the origins of, and interests behind the rapid loot of Zambia’s copper resources which is currently taking place.
The Mine Workers Union of Zambia have now launched a full investigation into the evidence in the report, and Vedanta Executive Tom Albanese has been flown out to Zambia to refute the evidence we have published.
Download the report here, or read the full (35 page) report online below.
To download the report click here: Copper Colonialism: British Miner Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia