Dr Richard Silumbe, the Leadership Movement leader, says only a colonised mind can celebrate aid given to Zambia.
He says Zambians cannot celebrate US $18.1 million USAID funding to Zambia or the International Monetary Fund funding.
“Leadership Movement calls on the government to embrace production through agriculture, mining and manufacturing. Only a colonised mind can celebrate aid given to Zambia. We as a people need to apply our abundant labour and energy on our natural resources, and produce something (products) to offer the world so that we can genuinely get their money as forex. Anything else is slavery and colonialism (dependency syndrome).”
It is important for our country to start working our way with our own resources. Aid alone cannot and will never develop our country – just like foreign direct investments will never lead us squarely into sustainable development.
But toxic as foreign aid can be or abused in recipient countries, is it possible to do away with it? Can Zambia totally do away with foreign aid? When and why do we need aid? Has aid really been beneficial to Zambians or it has instead benefitted the elites? Is there a country that can do without aid of some sort?
We are told foreign aid can be any type of assistance that one country voluntarily transfers to another, which can take the form of a gift, grant, or loan. Most people tend to think foreign aid as capital, but it can also be food, supplies, and services such as humanitarian and military assistance.
As Investopedia explains, “The United Nations requires advanced countries to spend at least 0.7 per cent of their gross national incomes on international aid. Foreign aid is any type of assistance that one country’s government provides to another nation, usually from developed to developing nations. Governments may make agreements with the countries to which they provide assistance. For instance, a developed nation may agree to provide grants to those in need after a natural disaster or during times of conflict, whether they provide any type of capital or humanitarian aid. Or a government may agree to issue loans to an allied nation that experiences economic uncertainty with special repayment provisions…”
Ted Yoho argues that foreign aid can among others help make the world fairer, that “it’s an important tool to reduce poverty, supply sufficient food, supply important medical equipment, restore peace, better access to education, help mitigate the problem of fundamentalism, help improve trade relationships, technological progress in a country might increase, help reduce spread of diseases, make countries independent in the long run, help in infrastructure investments, optimisation of agricultural processes, lead to lower unemployment rates and better job opportunities, important to reach our climate goals and overall improvements in the quality of life of people, including increase in average life expectancy”.
But Yoho warns that part of the money will not end up where it should be – “especially in countries where corruption is still a big problem, significant fractions of money from foreign aid may be used by small political elites instead of handing this money to the general public. Hence, if the money from foreign aid does not benefit the people who most urgently need it, it may not make sense to give away too much money through those aid programmes.”
Further Yoho warns that “Foreign aid is often done with a hidden agenda. Money from foreign aid may be used quite inefficiently. Foreign aid may contribute to higher inflation. Countries who give the money will also gain power in aid-receiving countries. Free market forces may no longer work properly. Smaller businesses may lose their competitiveness. Investors may exploit foreign countries. Foreign aid may not be enough to solve structural problems. Foreign aid can do more harm than good if not implemented properly. Foreign aid may increase global tensions among countries.”
As Barack Obama once told Ghanaians, “Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it’s no longer needed. I want to see Ghanaians not only self-sufficient in food, I want to see you exporting food to other countries and earning money. You can do that. Now, America can also do more to promote trade and investment. Wealthy nations must open our doors to goods and services from Africa in a meaningful way…And where there is good governance, we can broaden prosperity through public-private partnerships that invest in better roads and electricity; capacity-building that trains people to grow a business; financial services that reach not just the cities but also the poor and rural areas. This is also in our own interests – for if people are lifted out of poverty and wealth is created in Africa, guess what? New markets will open up for our own goods. So it’s good for both.”
Foreign aid, therefore, is not bad per se. It enhances international cooperation and development. Our government administration must take advantage of and utilise such aid as international gateways, openings to harness opportunities for Zambia and Zambians. Yes, the giver may have a long term objective to benefit from their aid. The recipient too must be strategic to exploit the benevolence to its benefit.
On the other hand, our government should heed Richard’s counsel on enhancing our own agriculture, mining productions to strengthen our own local capacities to develop our homeland and our people. Aid dependency is poisonous – it leads to laziness. And laziness is the greatest sin of all. It’s a liability at personal and national levels.