Critical Response Paper – Stealing Africa Film

Director: Christoffer Guldbrandsen
Producer:  Henrik Veileborg
Produced by:  Guld­brandsen Film


The film stealing Africa was produced under the leadership of a very capable director by the name Christoffer Guldbrandsen together with his producer Henrik. In brief, the topic is a discussion of how the poverty levels in Africa continue to be on the rise despite the fact that the continent is highly rich in minerals. To be precise, the producer used a specific example of Zambia where he conducted an investigation on the fraud that goes on in the copper mines. According to the producer of the film, a good majority of foreign investors in Africa use dubious processes to obtain wealth that benefit themselves and not the countries where they operate. A good case in his film is the use of Glencore Company as an example. The CEO of Glencore company is one Ivan Glasenberg who hails from Ruschlikon village in Switzerland. The village where the CEO hails from is majorly occupied by wealthy individuals and they enjoy very low tax rates from the government. Moreover, the village normally generates a lot of revenues every year than it can consume a fact that is believed to be due to the high revenues generated from the copper mines from Zambia.  The irony in this case is that the villagers from Ruschlikon enjoy low tax rates due to the massive wealth of the village yet the CEO on the other hand does not want to pay taxes in Zambia. Lack of payment of the taxes renders the Zambians to be poor because they lack the social amenities that could have been developed using the tax generated from the copper business. In his film, the producer tries to show that despite Zambia being the third largest producer of copper commodity in the world; it still remains to be one of the poorest nations. Statistics show that sixty percent of the citizens in that nations spend less than one dollar every single day while at the same time close to eighty percent remain unemployed. The poor workers who are employed in the copper mines are poorly remunerated by the rich guys from Switzerland. Additionally, they are subjected to poor working conditions thereby putting their health at very high risks. Finally, the document also touches on the type of tax systems that is created by the multinational companies in Africa that enables them to evade taxation.

The director is very progressive in trying to make sense out of the video. First of all the film begins with the flourishing and flamboyant styles that the villagers in Ruschlikon live in Switzerland. That village is where the CEO of Glencore hails from, and glencore is the same company that owns Mopani copper mines in Zambia.  The producer did mention that the governor of Ruschlikon village reduced tax rates at some point because the region produced surplus of what it needed thereby creating a good environment for business. On the other hand, Ivan and his company are swindling billions of dollars from the copper mines in Zambia yet they do not remit any taxes to the government of Zambia. The resultant effect is that the host government fails to get the revenues that it deserves from the business. Once a government does not get such remittances, running public affairs becomes quite difficult because all governments projects are accomplished through the taxes collected. For instance, provision of health care becomes quite impossible, education standards also diminish and that is how the poverty cycle continues.

In the arguments of the producer, Zambia managed to produce copper that is worth more than twenty nine billion dollars within a span of ten years. The only problem is that the extraction was done by the multinational company but then no taxes were reemitted. If for example the extraction was done by a local firm, the citizens would have benefited so much from such huge amount of money. May be that is one of the reasons as to why the Zambian nationals believe that they are rich but still poor at the same time.

The producer also tries to highlight the cunning side of the multinational investment companies that dupe most of the African countries into monkey business. What most people think is that the developed countries give so much aid to the African or developing nations. On the flipside, the truth is that the amount of money that flows out of the developing nations is far much greater than the foreign aid that flows that flows into those countries. It is therefore high time that the African leaders came up with creative ways of getting into business deals with the multinational corporations. The producer managed to conduct an interview with the former vice president of Zambia, Scott. In his own words, Scot admitted that Africa as a continent is losing so much money due to tax avoidance by the so called multinational corporations. He also asserted that such companies stand to gain from the booming business environments in Africa but they do not help the continent in any way.  Finally, the amount of pollution from such companies causes a lot of pollution that at times exceed the limit required by the WHO. The result is that the citizens suffer from respiratory diseases yet they have no finances to cater for their medical bills.

The director has successfully completed his mission of highlighting the evils that the multinational companies do in the African continent. He has succeeded in showing how tax evasion is costing Africans billions of dollars that they could instead use for developing their own nations.  The only weakness of the film is that the director played no role in ensuring that such fraudsters as Ivan are prosecuted and probably jailed for such huge financial fraud.

In conclusion, the documentary acts as an eye opener to the African continent as a whole and especially to the leaders who sign deals with the multinational corporations. The film highlights the potential that the continent has to get itself out of the abject poverty that has faced it over the years. Governments should have strict measures of ensuring that the multinationals pay taxes.  Similarly there should be strict laws that allow for tough penalties on the tax evaders.

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