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Keep your gay England, we keep our Godly Zimbabwe

18 Nov 2011 at 04:23hrs | Views
Africa in the 21st century is still viewed by some myopic Western leaders as a continent that cannot survive without breadcrumbs from northern donors. It is pathetic and an insult to every African on the continent when our leaders are told to embrace homosexuality by a misguided British Prime Minister who still thinks the black man in Africa is blinkered. At times power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The history of foreign aid can be traced back to the period after the Second World War. Much of Europe had been ravaged by war and the United States of America through the Marshall Plan, was very instrumental in providing aid for the reconstruction of Europe. The USA spent US$12 billion in the European Recovery Programme (ERP). Much of this money was in the form of grants from which no repayment was expected.

Thomas Bailey hailed this ERP as the economic blood transfusion which took the Europeans off their backs and put them on their feet. If Cameron was talking of such type of aid then Africa would have given him an ear.

The British premier sees Africa as a place full of miserable destitutes whose empty bowels need the benevolence of the white man to fill. Such thinking actually comes from sheer ignorance of the power that the continent now wields in terms of tapped and untapped resources. Africa sitting on such huge deposits of minerals is told by a leader of a country without a single diamond mine to enshrine gay rights or risk losing aid.

The Marshall Plan which was designed to aid recovery in Western Europe after the Second World War successfully achieved its mission of enabling the European countries to expand their post-war economic bases and we are yet to hear of an African country which after receiving aid from the British government ever developed to the level of Europe.

David Cameron's false democracy is not centred on aid but on Aids. He should wake up from his deep slumber and realise that the sun now sets in Britain.

The head of state and government, President Mugabe once told the former disgraced British premier Tony Blair to keep his cold England. As part of the 99, 99 percent of progressive Africans we reiterate the same statement to Cameron to keep his gay England.

The British have always capitalised on the economic poverty and political weakness of some African countries to advance their own selfish interests. They have always used foreign aid as one of their principal economic instruments to impress and win over countries in Africa to their neo-liberal side.

They have always been undertaking a strategy to put themselves front and centre on the stage of African politics and international relations. The disappearance of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s signalled not only a radical shift in the global power configuration in favour of the Western alliance (USA and EU) but it also triggered off democratisation demands by the West on Africa based on their national interest.

From the 1990s onwards the North could now afford to attach explicit political and institutional conditionalities to its aid without fear of losing most Third World countries to communism. Foreign assistance as an instrument of state craft was now being applied by Europe and America on several African countries as to induce compliance and to show progress towards democracy and human rights.

Foreign aid became closely tied to stabilisation and structural adjustment policy changes and to other socio-political concerns. In other words, Western foreign assistance was made to reflect progress towards market liberalisation and democratic reforms, which would serve their national interests quite well.

These conditionalities marked a new form of colonialism which Nkrumah, clearly described as "neo-colonialism", whereby a country has all the trappings of independence, yet its economy is controlled from abroad. The West therefore designed policies which specified that in their foreign aid allocations they also took their own national interests into account. These interests included maintenance of spheres of influence, political or military alliances and promotion of their investments and exports.

This ensuing asymmetry of domination and dependence has virtually characterised the relationship between Africa and the West. Aid has provided the North with the opportunity to intervene and influence the socio-political and economic life in most African states. Through project support, the West has been able to control indirectly the direction and pattern of Africa's development process via country development programmes and no wonder Cameron brags that he will withdraw such funding. A closer look at foreign aid in Africa reveals that the North has not only fashioned the structure of the aid relationship but it also determines who should get what, when and how. Africa's high degree on foreign assistance has translated itself into almost total surrender of national sovereignty.

Moreover, the African state's excessive dependence on foreign aid has gradually eroded its capacity to design and implement policies and strategies that will enhance indigenisation thus promoting economic growth.

In the absence of credible policies and effective institutions on the continent, the West has increasingly usurped the role of policy management eroding socialist policies which would have empowered the masses.

Any policy that intends to give Blacks a share of their country's resources does not get any funding from the West. Such policies include those of indigenisation and economic empowerment.

Foreign aid has actually decreased national control and increased donor control over the political and internal economy of most African states. Aid is used more as a realist stratagem to advance the interests of the aid giver at the expense of the recipient country.

The whole issue of aid, whether for humanitarian or developmental needs, is anchored on the belief that the West has the legal right to dictate to Africa on who should benefit from such false philanthropism.

Foreign aid is now being openly used as a strategy for exploitation and external control of Africa. The economic inequality among different actors in the global political economy has translated into an uneven distribution of opportunities.

Side by side with the social and political inequalities is the inability of the poor and weak to determine how foreign aid should be used since the aid regime is usually a monopoly of the powerful Western countries.

As we have always argued in our articles, the push for gay rights is yet another renewed camouflaging tendency of the foreign aid regime used by the Western powers to create governance structures that are conducive for the exploitation and external control of weak African states.

In the name of human rights Britain and its allies want to restore and consolidate what was once achieved through the strong political administration of colonialism.

Development assistance in Africa has tended to supplant local capacity, undermine local knowledge and institutions. Recipient countries have been made more vulnerable and dependent on aid. Western aid projects, plans and programmes should be derived from Africa's development and cultural priorities and should not be an expression of an attitude by these donors that they know better, they lecture and Africa listens, they know and recipient countries learn and they take care of the things because Africans cannot.

Aid that undermines the continent's capacity and sense of ownership of policies and programmes cannot support sustainable growth. It perpetuates dependence.

Western development assistance should be driven and guided by Africa's development priorities and capacity building strategies. Foreign aid that does not have a clear path to sustainable capacity building and growth is of little or no value. African governments should out rightly reject such foreign aid. Britain and her allies should stop pushing blueprints for development written at their headquarters. They should move away from supply-driven projects and tied aid. Sometimes these projects have had temporary successes at the micro level but have been irrelevant and thus a waste of scarce resources at the macro and sectoral levels.

If Cameron's aid is sincere he should not impose his idealistic blueprints of good governance and human rights written in London. Democracy also needs to take in an African component if it is to remain viable on the continent.

Imposing alien gay rights on a continent that still values its cultural norms will always be met with stiff resistance from various sections of African society. Democracy is a process and in each process there are likely to be positive and negative aspects. A relationship based on mutual interest and not exploitation should be forged.

International politics has changed quite a lot in the twenty-first century and if the Western governments do not engage in genuine partnership with Africa on an equal footing, then the continent may consider other options such as India, China or South America. Politics is all about a struggle for power and scarce resources.

Bowden BC Mbanje and Darlington N Mahuku are lecturers in International Relations, and Peace and Governance with Bindura University.

Source - zimpapers
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