Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Hearing all the voices

As someone who works in and believes in the potential of the aid industry, it is very difficult to take some opinions seriously. But should we be paying more attention to the other side of the story? In particular, should the voices out of Africa that decry foreign aid dependence as a form of colonialism be taken more seriously? While many people are celebrating the actions of new Malawian president, Joyce Banda, this voice out of Zimbabwe gives a different perspective.

Events dramatically unfolding in Malawi on the backdrop of President Bingu waMutharika's sudden death point to a nation that is addicted to foreign aid and gradually sliding back to donor dependency. Actions by the incoming leadership vividly show they are struggling to restore the country's ties with its Western donors. This is understandable considering that the country exclusively relies on foreign aid to cover 40 percent of its budget.

But what is most worrying is that the people seem to be oblivious of the folly of depending on foreign aid to sponsor their economy. Recently their economy nose-dived after foreign aid donors unceremoniously withdrew their assistance when the country's late president got embroiled in a diplomatic tiff with Britain...
The snooty imperialists were brazenly showing that through their disempowering aid, Malawi was now practically under their control. In other words, they have managed to successfully subvert Malawian sovereignty and territorial integrity. The imperial powers have managed to use their economic clout to literally force Malawi onto its black African knees.

The crafty Westerners have not designed foreign aid purely out of benevolence but as a shrewd way of retaining their stranglehold over their former colonies as well as protecting their sprawling world-wide imperial interests.

I don't agree with this piece. In fact, I am extremely weary of this particular position on the commentary spectrum but is it a voice that has been unfairly shut out of the aid reform discussions simply because it's nasty to the West?  Or is it simply grandstanding by groups who are bitter that they don't control the money but have no practical alternative solutions?

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