Why Africa’s leaders cannot wait for debt relief

Dianna Games, Business Day (Johannesburg)
July 11, 2005

Examples of government corruption are “always far from the lips of the hand-wringing international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that plead Africa’s case for increased aid, debt cancellation and, well, anything really,” writes Dianna Games, the director of Africa@Work, an events, publishing and research company.

There is often a presumption in debt cancellation/relief arguments that the money saved will automatically go to health and education, she said.

In the case of Malawi and Zambia, many donors withdrew aid in recent years because of economic mismanagement, corruption and a range of other factors.

“But instead of responding by finding ways to kick-start unsustainable, long-term growth, the governments implemented emergency funding mechanisms, such as radical income tax increases, to hold the line until the donors could be courted back – which they have been,” she continues.

Now the African Union (AU) is calling for blanket debt cancellation, which “conveniently relieves it of the burden of having to force its members to abide by tedious things such as good governance and proof of social spending to qualify for it,” said Games.

According to Kenyan writer, Aidan Hartley: “Africa’s leaders cannot wait for the Group of Eight leaders – hectored by Bob [Geldof] and Live 8 into bracelet-wearing submission – to double aid and forgive the continent’s debts.”

They know, said Hartley, “that such acts of generosity will finance their future purchases of very swish, customized Mercedes-Benz cars, while 315 million poor Africans stay without shoes and western taxpayers get by with Hondas.”

Full Story: Buisness Day

Categories: Africa, Odious Debts

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