A one-week meeting of African cabinet secretaries that took place in Lilongwe ended on Friday with President of the Africa Cabinet Government Network (ACGN), Ernest Surrur, hitting at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for allegedly impoverishing Africa.
This is not the first time Breton Woods institutions have come under attack for apparently perpetuating poverty in African countries.
In 2005, a Kenyan researcher, Harold Nyikal, argued that policies enforced on poor African countries through these organisations have chained Africa to continued dependence on western economies for mere subsistence, by preventing self help to the continent’s economic problems.
Such sentiments have been repeatedly made with local observers wondering whether aid can liberate poor countries like Malawi.
And in an interview after the ACGN meeting, Surrur who is Secretary to the Sierra Leone Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, argued that there is no excuse for the poverty of Malawi and other African countries as there are enough brains and minerals that can spur impressive development.
“We keep on relying on foreign advice from foreign institutions like the IMF and the World Bank and that has led us into huge debts, turning us into slaves paying huge interests all the time.
“[These institutions] work among us but instead of building us together, they try to jam our heads so that we keep fighting among ourselves and forget about development while they are milking our resources,” Surrur charged.
The ACGN president argued that the Breton Woods institutions come with the guise of giving grants or loans tied with strict conditions that make it difficult for African governments to make independent decisions.
“We must learn to work within our resources because relying on outside donors will never develop us. Sometimes we have white elephant gifts.
They give you a gift and take from you more than what they are giving you because you rely on them,” Surrur said.
He further accused the institutions of giving African countries advice that only plunges them into more difficulties.
“Our democracy must be tied to our own traditions and our own culture. We are a rich continent. All we need is love for one another,” said Surrur.
Chief Secretary to the Malawi Government George Mkondiwa said the roundtable meeting had come at the right time as Malawi is implementing the Public Sector Reforms which need views from different stakeholders.
“We have done some soul-searching in terms of policies that we make especially that we are changing the way we do business in the public service. For instance, we have had some policies that lacked the financial muscle for implementation.
“After five or six years of implementation, you find that there has been very minimal progress because we haven’t looked at all the facets that would contribute to their successful implementation,” said Mkondiwa
The roundtable meeting that was officially opened by President Peter Mutharika drew participants from cabinets of 14 African countries including Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Rwanda
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