HARARE, Zimbabwe — Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the Southern African Development Community, has spoken out against dependence on foreign aid, cautioning that over-reliance on external funding threatens sustainable development in Africa.
However, his comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Mugabe is widely considered a dictator, and his ill-advised redistribution of white-owned farms to untrained blacks is why the country faces chronic food shortages. On top of that, Mugabe’s general mishandling of the economy — including foreign aid — is one of the main reasons that more than 80 percent of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line.
To make matters worse, Mugabe is also being investigated by his own organization, the SADC, for his alleged use of violence and vote-rigging to stay in office since 2000.
But none of this has stopped Mugabe from fiercely advocating for independence from much-needed foreign aid.
About 60 percent of SADC’s programs are funded by external agencies, thus prompting Mugabe’s remarks at the opening of the two-day summit for SADC.
“How can we proudly claim SADC to be our own organization when close to 60 percent of our programs are externally funded?” Mugabe asked.
“Our continued over-reliance on the generosity and goodwill of our cooperating partners tend to compromise our ownership and sustainability of our SADC programs,” he said.
With the review of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Program underway, Mugabe urged a paradigm shift in the group’s overall strategy.
Specifically, Mugabe believes that the natural resources held by SADC — which includes 15 South African nations — are more than enough for them to become self-sufficient.
After signing Uganda’s maligned anti-homosexuality bill into law, Museveni boldly stated that, “Uganda is a rich country that does not need aid, because aid is in itself a problem.”
– Sam Hillestad