Related Stories By Gibson Nyikadzino Published: 20120305
How Aid Weakens Africa

Controlling aid to Africa, whether financial or humanitarian, has become a favourite gesture among members of the imperial European Union (EU) bloc.

They give aid, withdraw aid, give conditions for things that the African states need, and even when the situations are inexplicable by the terms “disaster and tragedy”, they will help, but conditionally.

There are vast differences between being generous, benevolent, philanthropic and magnanimous, which seem to surpass them all.

Is Africa in such a horrible situation that those who wish to “help” attach conditions on the “help” that is being given to what we are often incorrectly told is world's poorest continent?

Late last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that his country would withdraw its aid if African countries continue to be rigid and fundamental in their moral beliefs by failing to approve of homosexuality.

For once, we have seen quite some spine from Africa's leaders in response to this threat – but whether or not the continental leadership will stand by their word remains to be seen.

President John Atta Mills of Ghana has been one of the most forceful in Africa in telling Cameron to keep his “aid” if it comes with such conditions.

Ghana’s National Budget has a US$144 million input from Western nations and donors.

But Atta Mills has boldly told Cameron that “if it means we have to sacrifice our morals with money, I urge you to keep your money”.

Many African countries fear losing aid that comes in the form of what is often called General Budgetary Support.

But there is life after losing aid that comes with such strings attached.

Malawi has been feuding with Britain for nearly a year now and there have been attempts to foment civil disobedience in the hope that this will lead to regime change in the Southern African country.

President Bingu wa Mutharika last year expelled Cameron's ambassador after the latter made remarks that were deemed insulting of Malawi's leadership.

The UK responded by expelling Malawi's top envoy in London and cutting aid to the country.

Allies of Britain immediately followed suit and this has seen civil society calling for Mutharika to go, so that Malawi can continue accessing aid.

In essence, they are saying African countries must grovel and demean themselves just so long as they get a few peanuts thrown their way.

Mutharika thinks not and Malawi has not collapsed!

Once upon a time in 1895 playwright Oscar Wilde suggested it was proper for “Adam to marry Steve”.

He was immediately imprisoned and died a few years after his release.

The first gay marriage in Britain was in 2003, a good 108 years after Wilde had been imprisoned. But this same West today wants Africa to recognise gay marriages.

If African countries ever decide to recognise “gay rights”, it should be of their own volition rather than as an act of cultural imperialism tied to conditions for getting “aid”.

The problem lies in the laziness and lethargy of Africans themselves.

When I last checked, no continent on Earth had an abundance of natural resources such as Africa's.

No region had as huge a workforce of young men and women, full of energy and ready to develop the continent if only given the opportunity and resources to do so.

But our leaders are content to sell raw materials to foreign multinational firms and then collect a pittance in taxes.

They are content to get petty bribes from these corporations and look the other way as they pillage Africa's resources.

The result is that our governments fail to mobilise resources to develop infrastructure, provide social services, create jobs and foster local entrepreneurship.

Instead, the governments then have to ask for “aid” from the very same countries that have companies that are exploiting the best of our natural resources. “Africa should get more aid,” the Europeans say, and this has led African governments to abdicate their responsibilities.

If aid therefore makes governments abdicate the responsibilities they should have for their citizenry that is brutality in its highest sense and degree.

There is no reason why Africa should ask for aid when it has such a preponderance of natural and human resources. Because of aid, African countries are debt-laden, inflation-prone, and unattractive to higher-quality investment.

Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster.

There is need for the people of Africa to impress upon their leaders that they will not accept such abdication of duty premised on begging for aid.

Africa must end dependency on Washington Consensus institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, as such dependencies are addictive and lock countries in ever greater dependency. Aid is like a narcotic, and we must quit it cold turkey.

Africa should stop viewing itself as a continent of victims; it is time we took control of our own development.