Saturday, June 09, 2007

Reasons to be skeptical

Reasons to be skeptical
By Editor
Saturday June 09, 2007 [04:00]

The G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, had awakened great expectations. We wonder if these expectations have been met by the promises made in Heiligendamm. The G-8 has pledged to spend $60 billion to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa. This may sound a big sum of money and a very big promise.

But we know that the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa needs far more resources than this. The new money announced in Heiligendamm is important in the fight against AIDS, but it should be seen for what it is - a small step when we need giant leaps.

It is very clear that the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm has let the goal of halving world poverty slip out of reach. They have not delivered a concrete plan for tackling the crushing levels of African poverty. Millions of African children will continue to die for lack of free health care.

We also know that these promises or pledges are merely promises and pledges; they are not always met or fulfilled. They have become what our people commonly refer to as Leopards Hill Cemetery promises. They promise to turn our night into day but when it comes to doing, they leave us in permanent darkness.

Every little concession, every little aid we have gotten from them has come after a long and gruelling struggle; they hardly give us anything graciously. It takes solidarity struggles by the most progressive people in their countries for them to do any little thing for us. This is not the first time the G-8 has made promises to us which they have not fulfilled.

Despite the hopes raised in Heiligendamm, there is good reason to remain sceptical; year after year, promises have been empty, broken, or full of spin and the practices of many of these countries have been hypocritical. But we can’t stop being hopeful given the crisis threatening the world today; given the need for the G-8 to conclusively attend to the profound political and economic crisis threatening the world.

We have reasons to be hopeful because this summit galvanised many campaigners fighting global poverty, environmental degradation and many other problems facing our world today. We saw thousands of protesters in Heiligendamm protesting against the G-8’s poor record on such issues as these nations have been able to greatly influence international policies to their advantage, often at the expense of our poor countries.
Despite the G-8 countries’ sorry record on these issues, there is need to put more pressure on these governments to honour their promises.

There is no doubt that if these leaders, the leaders of the G-8 countries, want to, they can make their promises into real and effective action. Of course we know that these leaders are not always accountable to the general public’s wishes, and they may continue to seemingly defer to the interest of big business, which is what has characterised these nations in the past. However, it is our duty to make them honour their promises. The 2005 G-8 summit promised a lot of debt relief, which made headline news. But we know that most of it was spin and hype, which did not make the headline news.

The G-8 countries have continued, to varying degrees, with their excessive, unfair, even hypocritical farm subsidies. The world’s richest countries spent just over $1 billion for the year 2005 on aid for agriculture in poor countries, and just under $1 billion each day of that year for various subsidies of agriculture overproduction at home – a less appropriate ordering of priorities is difficult to imagine.
Furthermore, the systematic undermining of African economies, mostly by the rich G-8 nations, has gone on to such effect that if sub-Saharan Africa enjoyed today the same share of world exports as it did in 1980, the foreign exchange gain would represent about eight times the aid it received in 2003. This is what experts are telling us, this is what experts are saying.

There is need for all the progressive people of the world to put pressure on the G-8 countries to deliver on their promises. Yes, there are things the G-8 countries have legitimately asked us to do. For instance, they have stressed the need for us to curb corruption and improve governance. We don’t think our people can be opposed to fighting corruption and improving good governance. Most of our people are committed to delivering on these issues; they are aware of their obligations. But we also need help on this score because part of the corruption our countries experience is perpetrated by their own people and transnational corporations.

Aid is needed in Africa to support social infrastructure, health and education. We really need bigger reforms to make Africa more attractive to investment and integrate it in a beneficial way into the world economy. We shouldn’t forget that there are many promises or pledges that were made in Gleneagles that are yet to be fulfilled. For instance, commitments to a sustained boost to aid, and the pledge to work towards a free trade deal that would remove tariffs on African exports to developed countries have still not materialised.

We need better trade deals for Africa. We should press for an increased share of free trade for our poor countries. But there is need to look at why the G-8 have not fulfilled the previous commitments and they should not be let off the hook and continue to make more empty promises. This will need a strong international campaign by all men and women of goodwill.

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At 3:51 AM , Blogger MrK said...

"Aid is needed in Africa to support social infrastructure, health and education. We really need bigger reforms to make Africa more attractive to investment and integrate it in a beneficial way into the world economy."

What Africa and Zambia need, is to be paid for what it produces. That means that the minerals and natural resources of the country are owned by the state.

Then, it needs government reform, so that most money is spent on services and infrastructure. Money needs to be monitored.

And there has to be land/agrarian reform - land redistribution.

These are the way forward, not 'aid'. Right now, Zambia receives $800 million in 'donor aid', and loses $1600 million because the profits of the sale of it's copper and cobalt do not go to the state.


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