JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – I am told that when an artist is ready to paint, he washes the canvas first with white paint to prep it. The following will provide the wash on the real story behind the World Summit on Sustainable Development that opened on Monday.
First, the African Continent is rich in gold, diamonds, strategic metals, agriculture, forestry, dams, rivers and tropical plants and animals. But it is a land of contrast as well. The World Gold Council has identified half of the 60 highly indebted poor countries as being gold producers. In Ghana, Guyana and Mali, gold accounts for at least 5 percent of export revenues. In sub-Saharan Africa, gold accounts for 7.8 percent of exports or 2.5 percent if South Africa is excluded.
The Sandton section of Johannesburg basically resembles any modern city in the U.S. such as Santa Barbara or West Palm Beach. Several of the shopping malls could be found in any major city in the United States. The facilities of the convention area complex where the Summit is taking place are unparalleled. None of the previous U.N. mega-conference locations equal the well-designed and sophisticated layout of the Sandton Convention Center.
There is a great deal of uncertainty in the air as most South Africans are extremely concerned with what is happening in Zimbabwe with President Mugabe’s controversial land-reform policies of confiscating the land of white farmers and giving it to landless blacks and family members. Because South African President Thabo Mbeki has not come out against the land seizures, they feel that what is happening in Zimbabwe could become policy here. In fact, there have been numerous cases of land seizures. As a result, the South African Rand has fallen to its lowest level – bad for citizens, but good for foreigners looking for bargains.
Life for most South Africans changed dramatically in 1994 with the communistic takeover symbolized by the election of Nelson Mandela. Before that, they had clean streets, good hospitals and transportation. There were no walls around houses with high voltage wires on top to prohibit wall-climbers. There were no hijackings of your car by robbers and only limited house burglaries. Now all of that is commonplace, including security guards for those who can afford their own personal police force.
As a result, most South Africans feel they are under “house arrest.” Robbery provides many blacks with jobs as security guards in a country that has few available for the uneducated. Now there is reverse apartheid. Blacks are given jobs only because they are black since being qualified is not an issue.
Furthermore, the political landscape here is extremely interesting. Most are not aware that Muslim money helped get Mandela elected. As a result, their power base has been increasing. At least 25 percent of government appointments have gone to Muslims. President Mbeki is an ancestral worshipper, meaning he believes ancestral spirits protect him. Many believe in the magical medicine of the witch doctors that are prescribing sex with virgins as a cure for AIDS. As a result, there is a grave problem with babies being raped. Ancestral worship ties in very well with the pagan Earth-goddess religion that is openly discussed here.
In his opening speech, President Mbeki laid out the future for mankind: ” . . . the goal of shared prosperity is achievable . . . if we have agents of change in our global village.” You can feel it in the air: economic equality for everyone. If the new South Africa is the example of the future of sustainable development, all mankind will be lost and condemned to misery.
Basically this conference is different from all the rest. From the Earth Summit 10 years ago until now, the structure was being put in place. All the previous conferences were struggles as to language and meaning. For the most part, that is all over. Now it is implementation time – putting words into action. In Monterrey at the Financing for Development Conference, it was a pretty flat meeting. The entire document was agreed to before the conference was held. That document basically said, “We need more.”
Here in South Africa, we have an agenda that will basically look to change how you and I live – how much we eat and consume of the Earth’s resources. While you will hear that nothing has changed and that they have not achieved enough, that is wrong. This agenda is very far advanced from what was set up 10 years ago and it is changing the form and structure of government. This document wants to put a value on how much a forest or game park is worth by the kinds of species, birds, trees and flowers contained therein. It is Orwellian in its ideas and concepts of how we will live.
Whether President Bush decides to attend is irrelevant to the agenda. They do not need him, for America has fostered this radical environmental agenda since inception. President Bush said in May, “My administration will adopt a new spirit of respect and cooperation because, in the end, that is the better way to protect the environment we all share – a new environmentalism for the 21st century. Citizens and private groups play a crucial role. Our challenge is to work in partnership.”
The theme of this summit is one of accountability and partnership. That means public-private partnership which is a corporate buyout of government. In a press briefing on Monday, when I asked how many partnerships were humanitarian, charitable and for-profit, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former CEO of DutchRoyal Shell did not answer. When I asked how the role of the CEO was changing as a result of the shared management between government and business, they were silent. What they did say is that eventually both would make money. Basically, that is the name of the game.
Kicking off the conference Sunday was a special opening ceremony. Amid tribal African drumbeats and dance using occult symbolism and worshipping the earth, wind, fire and water, an African storyteller opened with these words, “Africa gave birth to all human beings and is the mother of all human beings.” We can now see the wash of this canvas and the direction the Earth is headed.
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