July 7, 2005
In the lead up to the recent G-8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, the UK’s BBC News published a series of commentaries written by Africans on debt relief, foreign aid, corruption and other related issues.
On the subject of aid, Ugandan radio journalist Andrew Mwenda wrote: “For the last 40 years, Africa’s been getting more, not less, aid – we’ve received more than $500 billion. But we are getting poorer not richer.”
Foreign aid, said Mwenda, “enriches politicians, bureaucrats and aid workers, whose
consumption fuels inflation.” The Ugandan government, for instance, is receiving so much foreign aid, he said, the economy was unable to absorb it.
With so much of Uganda’s budget in the hands of foreign aid donors, the power of Ugandan voters to hold their government to account has been usurped by international creditors, said Mwenda. “In this way, foreign aid undermines democracy,” he said. “Foreign aid does not help the poor out of their misery – it exacerbates their problems and prolongs their agony” and, said Mwenda, “taxpayers in the west should not be asked to pay to keep corrupt and incompetent governments in power.”
Angolan civil rights activist and tribal leader Rafael Marquez in his commentary for the BBC said Africans should not expect good governance “to be delivered to us on a plate”. Africans, he said, had to fight for democratic modern governments, with western-style
checks and balances, that could represent them on the global stage. Africans need governments that serve “the people and not the interests of western powers and government officials,” said Marquez. “But we also need to adopt a modern democratic system, to learn as it clashes with our traditions, to master it and make it our own.”
Veronique Tadjo, a South African-based writer and artist, in her commentary said if there was one thing Africans must sort out “on our own, it is going to be leadership”. Although, she added, “too often the West itself has been implicated in our corruption scandals. In this sense, the West must clean up its act and stop compromising African leaders.”