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Most foreign aid is a crime based on a lie

It will come as no surprise to anyone with a 100+ IQ and a modicum of knowledge about how the world works that Robert Mugabe and his murderous kleptocrats have appropriated more that £100 million (US $190 million) in aid sent to Zimbabwe by Britain and the EU.

As that was only to be expected, I cannot say it adds significantly to my loathing of the Mugabe regime. What does fill me with utter contempt is that the people responsible for this utterly predictable outcome still allowed the money to be sent in the first place.

As I have previously argued many times before about foreign aid, to send money for ostensibly humanitarian aims to a nation governed by a tyranny is to become the logistic support arm of that tyranny: insulating the regime from the economic (and hence political) consequences of its actions and thereby indirectly, but in a very real sense, making the regime more likely to survive than would otherwise be the case. That is true even if the humanitarian aid does indeed reach the people and projects it is targeted at.

This however is even worse than that. To send aid to Zimbabwe is to underwrite the tyrannical Mugabe regime directly as according to the latest report, 89% ends up in the pockets of Zimbabwe’s rulers rather than being spent on the humanitarian objectives for which it is intended. Thus not only can the people who sent the money not bask in their delusions that they have at least done good for those who benefit from the worthy projects, they might as well be buying weapons for Mugabe’s police and paramilitaries, not to mention making the bankers and shopkeepers in Zürich rather happy. They are directly supporting the tyrants with large cash injections.

As I disinclined to believe that the people in charge of the governments and agencies in question do not know full well where the money is going to end up, that makes them knowingly supporters of the regime. Which means they are supporting this:

Hilary Andersson, of the BBC’s Panorama programme, reveals how thousands of youths are being taught to rape, maim, torture and kill in Zimbabwe’s terror training camps – and now Robert Mugabe intends to make the camps compulsory for all the country’s young men and women

[...]

A former official with the Ministry of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation that oversees the camps, explained the government’s thinking. “You are moulding somebody to listen to you, so if it means rapes have to take place in order for that person to take instructions from you, then it’s OK,” he said. He was so horrified that he left his job with the ministry in disgust. Rape is just one of the ways camp commanders are able to turn their charges into unquestioning automata. The training methods vary from camp to camp, but the pattern is consistent.

If all that was happening was that the Guardian reading classes were getting a warm fuzzy glow because they were supporting British tax money going to ‘help stamp out poverty in the third world’, then that would be bad enough, given the reality of what this distorting flow of cash really does. But as Zimbabwe slowly morphs into an inept ‘North Korea Lite’, the platitudes and wilful ignorance of some are now directly funding truly monstrous horrors and misery because they are too damn lazy to think the whole issue through.

Of course if our political masters did not know this was going to happen when they decided to send huge chunks cash to a place like Zimbabwe, then they are naive to the point of idiocy and have no business being in charge of vast amounts of other people’s money to begin with.

So which is it?

6 comments to Most foreign aid is a crime based on a lie

  • One thing foreign-aid boosters never consider is the sustainability of the projects their money goes to (on those rare occasions when it does go somewhere other than a numbered account in Switzerland). It’s all well and good to build a nice big dam on the Zambezi or wherever, but what happens when the dam is built, the aid ceases, and there’s no money available for it’s upkeep?

    The point I’m getting at is that there was something extremely sensible about the old British Empire’s insistence that colonies be self-supporting ventures. Foreign aid is not just a bad idea because it tends to be pilfered by kleptocrats, but because it also removes a powerful incentive for local politicians to actually pay attention to the economic viability of the places they’re running, and therefore, to the material well-being of their citizens.

    As I keep saying, if “no taxation without representation” is a good idea, “no representation without taxation” is also well worth remembering – a state with easy access to non-tax income, whether from oil rents or foreign aid, is a state that is under little compulsion to be responsive to its subjects. What opposition there is in such a state can either be bought off with the free loot or crushed with the goons and weapons it can buy.

  • Henry Kaye

    That they are “naive to the point of idiocy” is all too apparent: and not only in their decisions about foreign aid. Surely it is beyond doubt by now that almost all government ministers have nothing but a large ego and a loud voice to support their powerful and influential positions.

    The only circumstances in which I would support foreign aid is if our money is placed in the hands of our people to put into operation the policies that would transform the economies of the benefitting countries. There have to be strings attached that prevent the funds from falling into the hands of the dictators and their friends. Otherwise, let them stew in their own juices.

  • FYI, this story was lifted almost wholesale from The Sprout’s february edition. And the blighters didn’t even give us a name check. The document that the Telegraph mentioned can be found here(Link). You will need to go to pages 57-67. The auditor who gave us the story, made the classic point. “As always they hide it in plain view”.

  • Perry, what you’ve written about Zimbabwe over the past ten years could have been written about the entire African continent over the past fifty. Only the names and countries change: to the old Africa hands, the process is depressingly similar.

  • Foreign aid funds the chief cause of foreign poverty: foreign governments.

  • Jacob

    Foreign aid sometimes funds terrorism (not all of it ends up in Zurich): the EU regularly hands Yasser Arafat in person cash money to pay the salaries of about 100,000 employees of the PA.
    The PM Ahmed Qurei demanded that the money be paid into the bank account of those employees (many of whom are in the “security” organs, and active in terrorism), but Arafat refuses. It has to be paid in cash to him. The EU pays.