The US considers cutting aid to Zimbabwe

So Donald Trump is considering cutting aid to Zimbabwe as well as all African countries.

Donald Trump

About time too. What does the West think it is doing by insisting on sending aid to Africa when the AU itself wants it cut by 75% by 2023? And when increasing numbers of African campaigners and activists are also calling for it to be cut?

(To make it clear, no one including the AU or Donald Trump is talking about cutting disaster relief. That must always be available whenever and wherever it is needed in the world)

The AU’s call for foreign aid to be cut is part of its Agenda 2063 and accompanying First-Ten Year Implementation Plan 2014-2023. That is because it is fully aware aid and loans from the West and China have been a major factor in helping to keep corrupt, oppressive governments going all over Africa. It even helped some of them get into power in the first place.

It is also fully aware that foreign involvement of all sorts, including aid, has been a major factor in keeping extreme poverty going pan-Africa when, had the right policies been adopted after colonialism, it would either have disappeared by now or else be well on the way to being so. In fact, the purpose of Agenda 2063 is pretty much to do now what should have been done years ago to take Africans from poverty to “Western-style” standards of living.

The reason why African campaigners and activists want aid cut is for exactly the same reasons. They, too, have had the sense and insight to see through the myth that is foreign & development aid – especially from the West.

If it was not for foreign aid, Mugabe might have been removed from power years ago. To show you how much foreign support he is getting, in 2015, Western and Chinese aid together added almost 33% to Zimbabwe’s revenue – which, as everyone knows, is a misnomer for Mugabe’s income.

2016-2018 is even worse, with the West and China adding a truly staggering 80% (that is not a misprint) to Zimbabwe’s revenue. If that is not foreign aid helping to prop up a corrupt dictator’s regime, what is?

What the West and all pro-aid supporters need to understand is that, even if ALL the aid and loans are going to help Zimbabweans in need (and, of course, that is hardly ever the case), they are still helping to keep a brutal, corrupt regime in power.

The reason is that if Mugabe had had no foreign aid, the plight of Zimbabweans would have become far worse far sooner – so bad that it might have given them the motivation to do whatever was necessary to remove him and ZANU-PF.

Had that happened, by now they would have been well on the way to recovery.

Because the main reason – the ONLY reason – why Mugabe is still in power is because Zimbabwean citizens have still not had enough of him to take whatever steps are necessary to get rid of him. They might think they have had enough, and many certainly have. But not enough of them to the point of being prepared to take action. As Tendai Ruben Mbofana said, Zimbabweans have been remarkably tolerant of him (

The other point few Africans realise is that Western aid doesn’t come from Western governments, the UN, the World Bank, the IMF or, from another direction, NGOs – they are simply the dispensers of it. The aid they get comes ultimately out of the pockets of ordinary Western citizens, taken in taxes and donations. Given this, is it right to expect them to keep subsidising countries that should be helping themselves? Especially when the UK and USA have their own rapidly-escalating problems of poverty?

That aside, giving Zimbabwe foreign aid, apart from helping to keep Mugabe in power, actually emasculates the ability of citizens to sort out their own nation’s problems. After all, if someone were to keep giving you money to keep going, how hard would you work to sort out your own mess? No, instead of trying to sort it out yourself, you are more likely to go back to your benefactor and ask for more.

Expecting hand-outs was never the way to solve anything. Yet the attitude of many Africans to reach out to the West or China instead of sorting out their own problems has become imbedded in the African psyche from national presidents to ordinary citizens. An example of this is the Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Passmore Nyakureba: “We are mainly a donor-funded economy, and the slashing of funding to [USAID] programs in Zimbabwe, or Africa in general, will spell doom and crisis in the country. So we urge President Trump to reconsider that stance and take into account that the decision might leave a trail of disaster not only in Zimbabwe but other developing countries” (

His words are based on a false premise. Zimbabwe should not now be a “donor-funded economy” because the fact is, it should never have needed foreign aid. Love or hate the Ian Smith regime, at Independence he handed over an African nation with the highest income rates in Africa, with the best education, and arguably the one most fitted to take its citizens from poverty to a Western-quality lifestyle as quickly as possible.

Unlike some other African countries which genuinely have little going for them in the way of economic potential, Zimbabwe is potentially immensely rich. And there is nothing wrong with the country that its own citizens could not put right, and very quickly.

Second, he says slashing foreign funding will “spell doom and crisis in the country”, and “lead to a trail of disaster”. What does he think the situation is now in Zimbabwe? If it is not well into “doom and crisis” and already on “a trail of disaster”, what is?

I applaud his fight for the weak, dispossessed and oppressed in Zimbabwe, but not his short-sightedness in not realising what is the only way for Zimbabwe’s weak, dispossessed and oppressed to escape their plight – a co-ordinated mass movement of citizens – and for promoting that as hard as he can.

I know cutting aid sounds hard, brutal and unfeeling. I know it sounds as if anti-aid campaigners cannot sympathise with the plight of people in desperate poverty. But that is not the case, and the hearts of all decent people bleed to see such oppression, suffering and terrible poverty.

But the point is not to keep feeding the dreadful circumstances some of them are in, but to find ways to get them out of that and into affluence, and to do it as fast as possible. Those ways are there right now, laid out in Agenda 2063.

The other point about aid is that, although some Africans have received often literally life-saving help from it, and no decent person would argue with that, the fact of the matter is that only a tiny percentage of Africans have seen anything of it. It is by no means the panacea of suffering pro-aid supporters claim.

Everyone in Zimbabwe who wants to escape oppression and poverty needs to stop depending on aid and foreign help, otherwise they will stay in repression and poverty for years, if not for ever. And they must stop looking to other people to do the job for them, or blaming everyone and everything else for their plight.

Because it is not Mugabe’s fault.

Nor ZANU-PF’s.

Nor Tsvangirai’s.

Nor the rest of the opposition political parties.

Nor foreign commercial & financial interests (neocolonialism, or Commercial Colonialism).

Nor SADC’s.

And it is certainly not the AU’s, which with Agenda 2063 has given Zimbabweans (and, indeed, all Africans) the solution they need, but they are completely ignoring it.

If Zimbabweans really do want a free society and high standards of living, they need to accept that their solution lies entirely and solely in their own hands, each person taking personal responsibility for what they, individually, can do. It is down to them to fight for themselves, and this is exactly what Agenda 2063 is asking them to do, just as all the citizens throughout the developed world had to do to escape from their oppression and poverty into affluence.

“If we don’t stand up for ourselves, other people will stand on us”. And that is exactly what is happening in Zimbabwe, and across Africa.

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