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Malawi: Time to bite the bullet

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We are a nation struggling to shake itself off from the whims of poverty. And it appears that the more we shake ourselves more, the more we are sinking into the quagmire of excruciating poverty, leaving most of our people living a life without hope.

This is certainly 51 years after independence, 51 years of continued aid provided by foreign nations whose name keeps changing from donors to development partners.

It is time we are never worried that donors’ taps are drying. It is time we are worried that we have been unable to wean ourselves from the donors.

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It may not be a crime to argue that to a great extent we have been unable to develop as all the aid channeled to us has been curved in the developmental policies of the donors and not us the people of the land.

There has been a lack of an umbilical connection of the imported policies on the common man who is expected to be the beneficiaries of the projects being funded.

Simply speaking, the moment the donors hand over their project to the locals, the project dies.

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Africa, Malawi in particular, has to move away from the slumber of donor dependency. Any aid sent to us has almost impossible conditions attached to them that do not take into account our local situation.

It is now time that Africa begins to embrace some sentiments and policies that Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso advanced. What Sankara said about Burkina Faso can also apply in totality to Malawi.

In Sankara’s own words; “Our country produces enough to feed us all. We can even produce more than we need. Unfortunately for lack of organisation, we still need to beg for food aid.

This type of assistance is counterproductive and it has kept us thinking than we can only be beggars who need aid…we must produce more because the one who feeds you usually imposes his will upon you.”

It is necessary now to realise that the development of Africa and Malawi in particular is not to be under the mercy of developed western or eastern economies. The development of Africa can only take shape with our own hands. We have to develop policies that our people can appreciate and support and be part of.

T h e United States of America has its own problems and it doesn’t solve them with policies developed by Africans in Africa. If one has any doubt, as Professor Patrick Lumumba says, look at Haiti, a country that is very close to the USA yet remains among the poorest in the world.

Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, in her book entitled Dead Aid clearly stresses that the notion that aid can alleviate systemic poverty is a myth. Millions in Africa are poorer today because of aid; misery and poverty have not ended but increased. Aid has been, and continues to be, an unmitigated political, economic, and humanitarian disaster for most parts of the developing world.

Millions of our countrymen are daily sinking deep into the sea of poverty. It is home grown policies spearheaded by Sankara that saw Burkina Faso becoming food sufficient, millions of people immunised against polio, millions of trees planted to combat desertification, rail line laid with the Burkinabes own bare hands, civil servants putting on clothes woven from cotton planted by locals and tailored by locals.

As Sankara said, we must accept to live the African way. It’s the only way to live in freedom and with dignity.

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