Dead Aid or Wrong Approach?

Published on 1st November 2009

The good analysis by Helmut Danner on Dambisa Moyo’s book can not pass unapplauded. It was nice and educative so to speak. I am not going to revisit the same, thanks to the good tour Danner did.


Dambisa’s book “Dead Aid or Wrong Approach?” against the odds, is the recent work from Africa that positively captivated the world. Though the idea is not new, it adds up.In a nutshell, let me add a few points. Much of the moneys offered as aid are squandered by rulers.


Donors’ money is either used to do globe trotting or is used to convene pantomime elections that scoop a lot more money. When ‘winners’ are declared, they steal, abuse office and consent to exploitative and misleading policies that enable western companies to rob Africa of her wealth. It recently came to light that mining companies in Tanzania give not only give false information with regards to the amount of minerals they dig, but also cause a great environmental abuse.  If such offences were committed in the developed world, the perpetrators would end up becoming bankrupt and their contracts revoked.


Any African will tell you that aid is meant for rulers and if it is stopped, only rulers will be in trouble. Take, for example, the money that is channeled into supporting the budgets of African countries and compare it to the expenditure of the same as opposed to development programmes. You will see the rationale. Budgetary support money ends up being abused by rulers. They use it to pay their private armies and party carders in order to remain in power (not to mention their gargantuan governments made of their cronies and relatives). This is why the budgets of the ministries of defence have been dubiously kept a top secret in Africa.


In 2005, Tanzania Central Bank was robbed by the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) at the tune of over $ 500,000,000. This is a huge amount for a poor country like Tanzania. The money was spent on bribing voters. Although evidence has been adduced to this effect, donors have turned a blind eye given the current regime, as the former one, allowed Western companies to massively steal minerals and land lucrative tenders. The same donors offered money for the charade elections.


When it comes to the loans they extend to poor countries, the common man in the street pays them in future as he is forced to droopily bow before robbery as we see in investment in Tanzania currently where much wealth is robbed as the citizenry cascade into abject poverty.


What’s more, aid money is given by the left hand but it ends up being snatched by the right one! To muse on this, try to imagine how bigger and extravagant governments- in Africa compared to donor countries- are. Refer to the sacrilege that came to light recently whereby in Kenya, most ambassadors and high commissioners are kins of a ruling kit and caboodle.


Aid has neither solved Africa's problems nor  spurred expected development levels as Moyo observes. This can be easily seen on how the recipients have become chronic beggars and dependent. In fact, much of the money is stolen by thievish rulers to end up being stashed in Western banks. Refer to Mobutu Seseseko, Sani Abacha and Nigeria respectively.


The other venue that used to be effective and reliable as far as utilizing aid is concerned was by the way of channeling it through Non Governmental Organisations. But recently things have changed. Government agents have invaded NGOs and are getting away with it. Imagine. What is an NGO manned by the first lady for if not to scoop this generously given money? Sadly, donors favour these NGOs in order to entice and induce the big man in the state house. This is the breeding ground for corruption. Why should a president’s spouse form NGOs only after her hubby ascends to power?


I fully support Moyo when she says that free market based on socialist values is the way forward. Such a proposal needs courage of the mad at this time where capitalism is everything. Was it admitted due to the shake up that resulted fromthe global credit crunch? Is it welcome simply because the world now needs more cash than democracy? This is when China comes in.


Though we’re told currently that  we are under globalization and free market, this concept is a hoax and the beneficiaries are but Western countries whilst Africans lose.Terms of trade are not uniform. Again that’s where China makes more sense to do business- despite its hidden repercussions in the long run. Given that it is geared by profit, China may turn out to be as destructive and exploitive as the West is. How one is going to avert this depends on how one utilizes this competition between West and China.


One thing that demeans China’s reputation is its fake and substandard products. China, like India, exports its people to plunder other countries and sends back home the loot. Currently in Angola and Tanzania, Chinese are doing businesses that are supposed to be done by locals.


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