For the past month I have been debating within myself on the behaviour of donors towards our country. The debate has been centered on why are some donors reluctant to fully support the developmental efforts of the current government. I know some will question me why I am talking on this, they will rebuke me because they always want to see the current government of Democratic Progressive Party collapse. But the fact of the matter is whether we agree with President Peter Mutharika, DPP or not we have to wish our country well.
We know donors have always given conditions to their aid and have questioned and raised issues in relation to accountability, governance, human rights and rule of law as a condition to their aid. Though no donor can run away from the same areas as these are the areas which needs ongoing support and building from the same donors.
Many have also argued that continued aid to Africa has made the poor poorer and the growth slower. They claim this insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt laden, more inflation prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher quality investment. But the obvious criticism of aid is its links to rampant corruption. Aid flow destined to help the people end up supporting bureaucracies in the form of poor country government programmes.
But to advance our country economic prospects away from donor aid then we need efficient civil service. But civil service is naturally prone to bureaucracy, and there is always incipient danger of self-serving cronyism and desire to bind citizens in endless, time consuming red tape. And this helps to tell why doing business across Africa is a nightmare. Africa is never in a hurry.
We can debate this and that but our country need donor aid. We cannot pretend that we will move on our own as that is disaster. We are already experiencing negative effects towards that such as unreliable power supply ,people dying due to shortage of drugs in our hospitals contrary from what used to be in Kamuzu’s times, high taxation on citizens, and late payment of government workers salaries just to mention few.
Civil society as actors in development must be urged to join in engaging donors for the interest of suffering Malawians. Civil society is a key sector in shaping policy and national development agenda including protecting the vulnerable. But it is so unfortunate to note that civil society is failing to meet its own responsibility of guiding the nation, civil society seem struggling to adjust and reposition in current environment to deal with national issues.
Let civil society prioritize issues of national concerns such as inflation, hunger, shortage of drugs, insecurity rather than focusing on issues which will bring minimal impact on the lives of Malawians. Right now we need less talk on abortion or homosexuality issues, we need collective efforts to restore our nation. Donors need to be questioned whether they are punishing the current President and his government or aim at punishing already poor and suffering Malawians. The nation need answers!
- Undule Mwakasungula, the former director of Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and now a human rights columnist on Nyasa Times