Monday, March 11, 2013

(HERALD ZW) Aid fuelling inept governance, corruption

Aid fuelling inept governance, corruption
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 20:26
Reason Wafawarova

For long Africa has been looked at as the world’s arbiter of poverty, and the plight of Africa’s poverty is the basis of the billion dollar charity industry, that despite the glaring fact that Africa’s poverty is nowhere near alleviation.

Kenya’s Kibera is probably the most densely populated slum on this planet, if not the biggest. It is home to more than a million people and the slum is only 2,6 square kilometres.

Life within Kibera is the ultimate definition of poverty, with children playing right inside garbage — most of them with faces littered with mucous and mud.

Kibera’s pathways that serve the purpose of streets are trademarked by a rife stench of sewage, and there is virtually no running water in place.

Just adjacent to Kibera one finds the headquarters for the UN Agency for Human Settlement, and the organisation runs it’s affairs on a multi-million dollar budget.

The UNHCS in its motto boasts about its resolve to “promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.”

The stark irony of it all raises serious concerns about the seriousness of the UN system in general. If there is a country that must benefit most from developmental aid it must be Kenya, having Africa’s highest ratio of development workers per capita, as outlined by author Dambisa Moyo in the book “Dead Aid.”

In Zimbabwe there are over 2 500 civic organisations all purporting to be devotionally committed to the transforming of the lives of Zimbabweans through the power of aid.

Most of these organisations have been politically vocal in the last decade and the civic hoopla in the political arena is expected to be on the increase once again as the country heads for the March 16 constitutional referendum and the July general election this year.

Aid organisations like Oxfam, Amnesty International, Red Cross and Medicines Sans Frontiers each works in more than 50 countries across the world, and each in its own way has attractive goals about ending the suffering of poor people. The nobilities of such goals are hard to dispute.

There is no doubt that giving alms to Africa ranks as one of the greatest ideas of our time, and wealthy philanthropists are portrayed as anti-poverty messiahs worth our praises and honour.

We are told Bill Gates is glorious in mercifulness, and that he does wonders among Africa’s poor starving children. Again this is some nobility for all sane people to highly cherish, and so we comply.

[Except that you can never trust Bill Gates and his population control agenda. - MrK

Hundreds of thousands of people across the world are directly employed to facilitate the giving of alms to the poor in Africa.

Many popular anti-poverty marches are often successfully staged in Western capitals, and the success is based on the pure logic that says such marches are indisputably meritorious in their call for ending poverty in Africa, of course through the giving of aid. Western political parties compete for votes on the merit of the policy of giving aid to Africa — a policy always packaged as a morally intended rescue operation meant to redeem a desperate and perishing people. Incumbent governments in the West are judged by their people on the basis of how much they are reaching out to help Africans.

African governments of today are judged by their people on the basis of how much aid they solicit from Western donors.

As Zimbabwe heads for elections in 2013, Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T openly campaigns on their strategic alliance with the Western donor community — bragging openly that if voted into power Zimbabwe will be Africa’s most aid-inundated country in Africa.

From its formation in 1999, the only way known to run political affairs for the MDC has been the way of donor funding — and to the party’s leadership money by definition comes from donors. To the MDC money is never made but given, and the despicable culture is sickening.

We have on the other hand Zanu-PF which was weaned from the aid culture by isolation from enraged Western countries that could not stand Zimbabwe’s compulsory land reclamation programme of 2000 — a justice driven initiative that saw about 3000 white commercial farmers being forcefully pushed out of vast tracts of land they had colonially occupied — paving way for over 300 000 families of indigenous people that were settled on this acquired land.

The popular land reclamation programme was behind Zanu-PF’s 2000 and 2002 electoral victories — all dismissed as fraudulent by the Western sponsored MDC, of course fully supported in this view by their backers in Western capitals.

Now Zanu-PF is tipped to win the 2013 general election on the backdrop of the highly popular indigenisation policy — a Western criticised empowerment policy that decrees local ownership of the means of production to be at least 51 percent, with foreign ownership limited to 49 percent.

Essentially we have an election that presents the people of Zimbabwe the opportunity to vote between economic freedom and international aid (in reality dependency).

So important is the culture of aid that Western celebrities find it highly meritorious to boost their profiles by publicly reaching out to Africa’s poor.

The moral imperative to share one’s wealth with the poor cannot be disputed of course. This explains the connection between African orphans and Hollywood characters.

It is estimated that over US$50 billion aid money finds its way into Africa each year, despite the undeniable reality that with increasing aid Africa’s poor have become poorer, especially in the last 50 years.

From 2000 there are many African countries whose economies have been shrinking despite a continued increase in the number of donor agencies setting bases in these countries.

We have a crippling aid culture that has left African governments more corrupt, and has resulted in African countries being more debt-laden, more inflation prone and highly unattractive to investment targeted at value addition.

The continent remains the world’s attraction number one for raw material extraction investment.
We are a resourced continent that is contented to see shiploads of raw materials leaving Africa for foreign destinations like China and Europe.

We are more than happy to receive some of the end products from our own raw materials as humanitarian aid from foreign donors.

It is so enraging to see a Westerner showing a cell phone to DRC children — and all of them so mesmerised to see for the first time this coltan product — coltan being a mineral literally stolen from their country. Our governments in Sub-Saharan Africa prefer to impress aid givers in the West than to undertake the tedious challenge of growing economies.

This is the disaster that has befallen Africa.
Aid does not create meaningful employment, and with the continent’s under 25 making up over 60 percent of the continent’s population, the economic prospects for these youths remain a major worry.
As author Dambisa Moyo writes, “Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster.” It is not a brilliant political idea to take unemployed youths for granted.

As stated earlier on, it is next to impossible to dispute the moral imperative for humanitarian aid, especially in emergency situations like natural disasters and wars, and far be it from this writer to demean the good intentions of those who genuinely extend the humanitarian hand to the vulnerable.

While humanitarian aid is always morally plausible, it must be noted that it is no panacea to ending the suffering of poor people. Alleviation of immediate suffering is not in itself a way to end poverty, and the nature of aid as received by Africans is not to end Africa’s poverty. Instead it is aid designed to perpetuate poverty as driven by dependency in Africa.

Aid to the African continent today is like an anaesthetic meant to silence the screams of a continent being raped.

We are pacified by aid as foreign corporations literally feast on our natural resources.
The lines of credit and grants that African political leaders die to access from the IMF and the Word Bank are today the greatest undoing to Africa’s economic growth. Indeed billions of dollars flow into the coffers of African governments each year, and yet it remains an indisputable statistic that 400 million Africans live on less than a dollar a day — a figure way bigger than Europe’s entire population.

The much-applauded debt-relief campaigns, or Tendai Biti’s favourite Bretton Woods programme, the Highly Indebted Poor Countries scheme have not helped the African cause.

Every debt relief so far granted has been swiftly followed by a fresh infusion of fresh debt and more crippling aid. This is exactly what Finance Minister Biti was clamouring for when he embarked on his disgraceful campaign to have Zimbabwe apply for HIPC status in 2009. Today Africa collectively pays more than US$25 billion a year in debt repayments — largely to service only the interests of loans accrued over the years.

The figure is far higher than what the continent spends on education and healthcare each year. We service better our debts to Western institutions than we do the education and healthcare of our people. It is sad that Africa’s current leadership is so hopelessly addicted to this deadly drug of aid that there is virtually no hope that Africa will soon depart from the insidious aid culture to genuine economic growth. Aid promotes inept governments, laziness, corruption and a sorry sense of dependency. The bloated bureaucracies of Africa feed off the stream of aid. The countless people working in the obscenely rewarding non-governmental sector are a direct product of the aid culture, and they are of no use to anybody regarded as a victim of poverty.

It is the aspiration of every African university graduate to land a job with the most rewarding donor-funded non-governmental organisations, and it is almost indisputable to rank the charity industry as the most financially rewarding career in Africa today. Even the UN agencies are regarded as a highway to unmitigated wealth. Western agencies, the IMF and the World Bank have all been complicit in Africa’s corrupt culture that has been openly fuelled by aid. In 2002 the African Union estimated that corruption was costing the continent US$150 billion per year.

Cases of aid-related corruption include Mobutu’s Zaire, Chiluba’s Zambia and Muluzi’s Malawi, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, and Kenya, among other African countries. Inadvertently or intentionally, one can always take their pick, but what cannot be disputed is that aid fuels corruption in Africa.

The governments that rely on aid evidently lack policy initiative, are largely unaccountable and they only seek to please their donors — often forsaking their own people and leaving them to languish in misery.

In Africa our governments shamelessly gather to announce national annual budgets made up of an average 40 percent foreign aid, with many countries ranging well over 75 percent aid money in their annual budgets. At one time Ethiopia had 90 percent of its annual budget coming from foreign aid, and in 2008 Ghana’s budget was 70 percent foreign aid.

It is high time Africa gets serious with initiatives to come up with meaningful investment policies that lead to the continent benefiting to the maximum possible from its own resources.
Africa we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia. Feedback: reason@yahoo.co.uk or visit wafawarovawrites.com

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