Experts define corporatocracy as a society or a system that is governed or controlled by corporations. That is what is happening in sub Saharan Africa where corporations are growing too strong to be safe. There are no longer any independent countries. They work day in and day out for their corporate masters and governments are bound to fight for their masters at call since they contribute the highest percentage to tax coffers. Out of this working and dying they tend to get less and less benefit and local citizens are shortchanged with small salaries under poor working conditions. What concerns most people in sub Saharan Africa is that the authorities have varying regulations about what agricultural or industrial inputs are allowed and what methods are permitted and they also face different situations regarding challenges that may arise in such agreements. In western countries where transparency is not optional, responsible government departments carefully assess any issues and then explain them to the public and allow people to ask difficult questions but that does not happen in the region known more for conflict, diseases, corruption and poverty. When it comes to corporate dictating elected governments, it is known to public that such matters are dealt with behind closed doors, and the government are reduced to playing second fiddle as they don’t have bargaining power.
The most affected sector by corporates is the agriculture Industry where western corporate giants have been dictating terms to governments like teachers do with kindergarten pupils. After market liberalization took place in Africa in mid 1990s, more kinds of food and ingredients are being imported into sub Saharan Africa, from an ever-wider range of sources from Brazil’s chicken being sold in South Africa to European corn being sold in hunger stricken Kenya. Consequently, food safety risks keep increasing and have almost reached the level of a security problem. This is because corrupt customs officials continue to clear food that does not meet human consumption standards yet the same end up in supermarket and mini shops shelves. Corporations operating in Sub Saharan Africa now have the right to sue governments and other entities in private tribunals or arbitration places mostly in western world where they know their influence will carry the day. A European company last year went to court in London after an African country passed new laws and regulations in food sector. They claimed that country’s new law will stifle the company ability to make profits in the long run.to avoid huge losses, the country parliament had to water down the new regulations. The company earlier this year silently withdrew the case. Talk of corporate coup in broad daylight.
In western countries especially Australia which am familiar with, law enforcement agencies use highly sophisticated tests and equipment operated by highly qualified personnel to legally and justifiably block imports of foreign farm produce that do not meet laid down standards and procedures. That is different from sub Saharan Africa consumers who have continued to experience a series of adulterated processed food, fruits and other packaged edibles scares. Despite the public outcry, such outcomes seem not to have taught any lessons to the powers that be. That is what has made almost all people to completely lose faith in the government’s ability to ensure food safety within and without their countries borders. Its impressive to note that Africans have refused to believe in the benevolent corporate images that big American and European companies have constructed for themselves and now putting more faith on local companies when it comes to food products. If African government departments are going to rebuild their credibility, they should uphold the good-quality image that has taken time to establish for Africa made products and ensure food safety, they should re-think twice before authorizing outside contractors to supply food. The fact is that it will take more than complaints, demonstrations to change the long established cozy relationships between sub Saharan government officials and corporations to bring changes. Africans must work together to monitor their governments and ensure they fulfill their responsibilities to help avoid the nightmare of corporatocracy.