It’s citizens, not donors who should fix dictators

Tuesday December 01 2020
By Nicholas Sengoba

Like it is with most things in developing countries, the voice of the West or former colonisers is taken with seriousness and reverence. This, especially when that voice is chastising the government on respect of human rights and democracy and seemingly shielding or siding with the weak Opposition. 

Inaudibly, our minds have accepted that our governments are too big, strong and obstinate to listen or take us seriously. But also that the same governments are too small, weak and hapless to ignore Western powers. 

The West in particular is a collection of not only kingmakers, but also the payers of the piper who call the tune. Election years are some of the best times these power relations become vivid. 

When the government, as is the wont, arrest, incarcerates and tortures its opponents for crimes as grave as standing for the presidency, you often hear calls to the ‘international community’ to rein in the errant officials. There are pleas to level sanctions against them including travel bans and seizure of assets.

 They are told that it is the money they donate to the government that is used to buy arms and the training of armed personnel with skills that are used to torture, maim and kill the people.

The European Union (EU) has been very active and vocal in the run-up to the 2021 General Election with condemnation of government for what are called blatant abuses unacceptable in a democratic process. 


The trouble with the over reliance on the so-called international community for the protection of the rights of the citizen is that it provides false hope and security. 

This is counterproductive in that the international community is not exactly a hallowed force whose paramount motive is to see an El dorado of peace, freedom, democracy, harmony and all the spices that go with democracy in developing countries. 

They are majorly about their own interests. Specifically the ones that are pecuniary in nature. Those they get easily from sitting governments. 

This condemnation is posturing as they keep their eyes on the ball. That ball is eventual total subjugation like it was during the colonial period. This is no different from dictatorship. 

To understand this we have to recognise that the world is moving at a very fast rate. Five decades ago you only had the West on one hand battling the Soviet Union in the East in the quest of spheres of influence. It was all about the ideology of capitalism against communism.

Now you have the added weight of the red dragon called China. This dragon comes with money and a hunger and thirst for resources to run its vast factory floors that produce cheap goods. 

These methods of production and goods have rendered many big and renowned industries in the West, redundant. Jobs too have become so scarce and are a major determinant in electoral fortunes of Western governments like never before.  

So the West has to battle with China, Russia, India and South Korea for the soul of Africa as a sphere of influence. The major reasons are two: First, the abundantly available cheap raw materials that are easily acquired as primary products for manufacturing in the West. 

Second, the West has to find a cheap cash cow right in poor Africa. This has come in the form of the aid industry. They lend money to corrupt regimes and make even much more by way of interest in a very shrewd manner. 

For instance, a loan of $10 million will come with cars, computers, furniture and other amenities bought from the donating country. 
The exorbitant salaries and allowances paid to experts and consultants from the very countries are paid right in their countries of origin. Then the dictators and their acolytes steal most of donations and bank them in secret accounts in the very countries that donate the money.

These loans in the long-run do not benefit developed countries significantly, but the borrowers have to pay interest on the loans plus the principal in future. So there are cash cows beholden to the donors who keep donating knowing that in the long-run, the poor countries will not benefit nor be in position to pay back. 

Now almost 20 per cent of the allocations in national budgets goes towards debt and interest payment. The opportunity cost of this is poor provision of social services like health, education, housing, transport, water and security. 

This makes especially young people restless and angry with the establishment. The West then comes in to pacify them with statements condemning the government, but in effect doing nothing to cause regime change. 

Their main motive is stability and peace to continue with this cycle that leads to massive indebtedness and peaceful siphoning of resources. The economies remain productive to the extent of being able to fund repayment of loans with interest.
 It is something bound to get worse and we are getting to a point where we shall not be able to pay back. Then there will be a lien on fertile lands, mountains, lakes, forests, roads, etc. This subtle way of colonisation can only be successful if you have a stable government to deal with.

That is why even with a rigged election, the  very EU will prevail upon the Opposition to accept the result or go to court to ensure peace. They will not force an errant dictator to leave power.
 They will make recommendations and then continue engaging them with small pats on the wrist as they share a bed.
Bad children are the responsibility of their parents, not the rich neighbours. 

Twitter: @nsengoba