Stealing Africa

Why Poverty?

Review Questions

~ This film relates to economics in many ways. The idea of the entire movie is that Zambia is being exploited of their own natural resources (copper). The owner of Glencore (who owns the copper mines in Zambia), made millions of dollars when he made his corporation public in 2011. But did this money go to benefit the people from whom he made his fortune? No, rather, it went to benefit his own home town: Rüschlikon, Switzerland. The people of Zambia are dirt poor, and are receiving no tax revenue from the cooper mining operations there.

~ There is a bit of bias in this film. The mainly looked at the issue itself from the perspective of the Zambian, who was poor and spiteful towards the large corporations that exploited them. Not only this, but when interviewing those who represented the Zambians as leaders and those who lived in the wealthy swiss village, they asked their questions rather offensively.

~ Synopsis: Rüschlikon is a sleepy Swiss village with a very low tax rate and very wealthy residents. How is this? One of their residents, Ivan Glasenberg, is the CEO of Glencore, a corporation who operates copper mines in Zambia. But Glencore is producing copper without providing any tax revenue for Zambians. In 2000, copper prices dropped dramatically, leaving Zambia at a loss. They were bailed out by the World Bank and the IMF in 2000 and were forced to agree to sell-off their mines. By the time copper prices rebounded, it was too late for Zambia to benefit. Not only are the people not benefitting financially from the mining of copper, but it may also be dangerous to their health. The copper mining and productions plants can contaminate water supplies and create an immense amount of sulfuric air pollution, which (based on independent research) exceeds the World Health Organization levels. Of course, Glencore denies these accusals. Zambia, with their abundant supplies of a valuable mineral, is out of pocket by the exploitation of its own resources.

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Personal Review

I rather enjoyed this film, although at times it could be a bit slow. It was very informative about the current economic situation in Zambia. I agreed to most of the points made, but would like to see a similar review of the idea from the perspective of those exploiting Zambia. I was thoroughly intrigued by the idea that Zambia could be so poor in the midst of so many abundant and valuable resources.

Product Information

Director: Christoffer Guldbrandsen

Producer: Henrik Veileborg

Production Company: Guldbrandsen Film

Distribution Company: NHK BS1, & Yleisradio

Locations Filmed: Rüschlikon, Horgen, Kanton Zürich, Switzerland, Lusaka, Zambia, Tampa, Florida, USA

Release Date: 28 November 2012


Why did the crash of copper prices cause Zambia to make agreements that they later regretted?

a: Zambia was at a disadvantage in this situation. They were bailed out by the World Bank and the IMF, and agreed to loans that required sell-off of the mines. Beggars can't be choosers, is the saying.

What could be described as ironic in this film?

a: The fact that Zambia has the 3rd largest copper reserve in the world, but is exceedingly poor due to the exploitation of their own resources.