Globalisation, Privatisation and the Zambian mining industry

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Zambia provides a microcosm view of what happened during 'globalisation' and 'privatisation'. It may be a small landlocked country in Central/Southern Africa, but the policies it is subjected to are drawn up thousands of miles away.

By the way - a small detail, but a telling one. Nathan Mayer Rothschild & Sons is the bank and flagship of the richest family on the planet, the Rothschilds. They financed the colonisation of Southern Africa, including Zambia, by financing Cecil John Rhodes and his British South Africa Company (BSAC). How telling then, that NM Rothschild & Sons was the bank that also handled the 'privatisation' of the Zambian mining industry, including Konkola mine. (Source: the Zambian Privatisation Authority - i quote: " The bids will now be evaluated by ZPA, ZCCM and their advisors Clifford Chance and N M Rothschild and Sons, and the preferred bidder for each package will be announced as soon as possible. "

Also, " Upon the successful conclusion of Stage I of the Privatisation Process and the commencement of Stage II - as described in the Phase I Privatisation Report for ZCCM, dated April 1996, prepared by NM Rothschild & Sons ("the NMR report") ").

Question: to which degree is the massive Rothschild fortune (at least $21 trillion - bigger than any country or economy, including the United States) behind the very concept of 'globalisation' and neoliberal ideology?

Dr. Alastair Fraser is also a co-auther with Prof. John Lungu, of "For Whom The Windfalls - Winners & losers in the privatisation of Zambia’s copper mines", on the windfall profits tax on copper.

His new book - from

Zambia, Mining, and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust on the Globalized Copperbelt (Africa Connects) [Hardcover]
Alastair Fraser (Editor), Miles Larmer (Editor)


“The scholarly research that has gone into this book shows the critical importance for Africa to secure control over both its natural resources and the financial, managerial, and technological support structure to harness those resources. The moral of the story behind Zambia’s copper industry is that if assistance is needed from outside, it must not be part of a donor driven aid package.”—Yash Tandon, author of Ending Aid Dependence

“Although previous calculations had estimated that Zambia’s copper will be exhausted by 2020, thanks to new technologies, it is now estimated that there is enough copper that can be mined profitably until almost the end of the present century. Hence, notwithstanding current attempts at diversification of the economy away from mining, Zambia’s mining sector, including copper, cobalt, and gem stones, will continue to act as a principle engine of growth and development for quite some time to come. This reader provides a comprehensive coverage of the historical, economic, political, social and technological issues relating to mining in Zambia. It makes for compelling reading for students of development and compulsory reading for those interested in Zambia’s mining sector.”—Venkatesh Seshamani, Professor of Economics, University of Zambia

“The contents of this excellent collection will alternately enrage the reader with its documentation of the astoundingly unfair conditions of the privatization of Zambia’s copper mines which have so far succeeded in preventing any fair distribution of the economic benefits of the post-2004 boom in copper prices, and bring hope with its insightful accounts of the determined struggles by Zambian people to change this iniquitous situation. This book is a wonderful contribution to the rich literature on the Zambian Copperbelt which has for so long been a testing ground for the complex inter-relationships between mineral dependent economic growth, global forces, internal development trajectories, and political and social change in developing countries.”—Deborah Potts, Cities Research Group, Geography Department, King’s College London, UK

“Zambia’s copper mines are back in business…in a very different world with increasing varieties of capitalisms. Zambia now has to relate to the BRICs and not the NAM; to a China of the Olympics rather than Tazara. But the developmental vision of such novel resource governance remains almost as problematic as when Cecil Rhodes had a dream. A new, engaged generation of analysts examine local to global prospects at the turn of another decade and era.”—Timothy M. Shaw, Professor and Director, Institute of International Relations at The University of the West Indies

“The scholarly research that has gone into this book shows the critical importance for Africa to secure control over both its natural resources and the financial, managerial, and technological support structure to harness those resources. The moral of the story behind Zambia’s copper industry is that if assistance is needed from outside, it must not be part of a donor driven aid package.”—Yash Tandon, author of Ending Aid Dependence

“So-called policy reform in Zambia, driven by the World Bank and the IMF, was a scandal that deindustrialized the economy, impoverished the Copperbelt, and fostered rampant corruption. Fraser and Larmer’s Zambia, Mining and Neoliberalism offers the definitive analysis of this sorry tale.”—John Weeks, Professor Emeritus, SOAS, University of London, UK

“Fraser and Larmer’s book Zambia, Mining and Neoliberalism: Boom and Bust in the Globalized Copperbelt is perhaps one of the best books to be written on the Zambian copper industry in the last four decades. This collection of essays analyzes the contemporary political economy of Zambia’s copper industry and locates the struggles for the control of the country’s mineral wealth within the context of globalized capitalism. Rich in empirical detail, this book provides a fresh theorization on the problems faced by resource-dependent economies in negotiating favorable terms from their mineral wealth when faced with pressures from foreign multinationals on one hand and local communities on the other, under an uncertain international economic environment. This is a remarkable, ground-breaking contribution to the literature on African development in general and mining development in particular, as it uses the Zambian case to illustrate the difficult choices that political leaders have to make and the pressures they face in trying to realize realistic returns from mineral wealth. It should be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how global capitalism impacts the negotiating power of resource-rich developing countries and how mineral price volatility has constrained the space for political leaders to extract attractive concessions from multinational corporations with negative effects to their populations.”—Neo Simutanyi, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Lusaka, Zambia

“This uncommonly tight, timely, and intellectually sharp volume sets the recent history of boom and bust in the Zambian mining economy in a longer historical timeframe. Its key contribution lies in demonstrating precisely why neo-liberal orthodoxies have served Zambia so poorly.”—Paul Nugent, Professor of Comparative African History, University of Edinburgh, UK
Product Description

This book paints a vivid picture of Zambia’s experience riding the copper price rollercoaster. It brings together the best of recent research on Zambia’s mining industry from eminent scholars in history, geography, anthropology, politics, sociology and economics. The authors discuss how aid donors pressed Zambia to privatize its key industry and how multinational mining houses took advantage of tax-breaks and lax regulation. It considers the opportunities and dangers presented by Chinese investment, how both companies and the Zambian state responded to dramatic instabilities in global commodity markets since 2004, and how frustration with the courting of mining multinationals has led to the rise of populist opposition. This detailed study of a key industry in a poor Central African state tells us a great deal about the unstable nature and uneven impacts of the whole global economic system.

MrK's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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