• January 23rd, 2019
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How the Bretton Woods use aid for recolonisation


Three years ago Britain and the European Union (EU) threatened to reduce aid to Namibia and South Africa for not signing the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Many novice international relations scholars and politicians were caught off guard, and could not understand the magnitude of the refusal to sign the EPAs. Namibia’s principled refusal to get bullied into an agreement against what it considered its own best interests served as an example for other countries who were initially more willing to give in to the pressure exerted by the EU. A year later - in 2014 - Namibia agreed to sign the EPA. To those familiar with the Bretton Woods system, which gave birth in 1944 to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development - now the World Bank - the manner in which the whole negotiation process was conducted, leading to an agreement to sign the EPAs highlights the gun-boat diplomacy and imperial muscle-flexing in the quest for the subtle recolonisation of Africa. Since 1944, aid became institutionalised in the system of international relations in which countries with higher and lower incomes interact unequally. Financial reliance of developing countries on developed nations is a deep-seated feature of the Bretton Woods system – the current world economic order. This is not caused by too little resource transfers to the developing nations. It is rather the current global market setup, where transfer of resources takes place within a context that every time leads to increasing inequality between nations. Whichever way one would want to define colonialism, it remains a relationship in which the weak are subjected to the authority, dictatorship and control of more powerful people from outside their country. In such a relationship, the coloniser (politically, militarily or economically) is not accountable to the relatively weak (economically or politically) colonised people and may do whatever it pleases, no matter how much the resistance. This is no different to the current relationship between developing countries and the Bretton Woods institutions (the EU, IMF, World Bank, etc.) that dictate to us and impose harsh economic conditions, such as those contained in the EPAs. Our economic weakness, as a result of four centuries of slavery, a century of colonialism and economic exploitation, decades of neo-colonialism, and the consequences of natural forces, such as drought and floods have become necessary tools for the Bretton Woods institutions to recolonise us. This is despite our abundant natural resources. Aid has become a carrot on a stick, dangled in our faces to accept recolonisation, or be whipped into submission. The Bretton Woods forces accept recessions in their countries as natural recessions, but then preach that our recessions are a product of mismanagement and poor planning. The fact, however, is that the structure of our economies is not based on our planning, it is not of our making. This is the product of centuries of imperial and colonial disturbances, which messed up our continent economically. For four centuries our economies were used to prop up and satisfy Bretton Woods demands to make the West and their monopoly capital richer. Our economies were destroyed during the period of slavery, colonisation, neo-colonisation and economic colonisation. The same imperial Bretton Woods institutions taught us that: ‘Rome was not built in one day’. Fact is Rome can be destroyed in one day. If we accept that, then we need to accept that it will take longer to rebuild our economies that have been plundered and destroyed by the imperial West in the last four centuries. There is a huge clash of agendas in the African political arena between the Bretton Woods groups - acting on behalf of international capital on the one hand - and the African states. The bone of contention is and has been about who gets what, when and how in Africa. Their agenda is simple: to maximise profit and its repatriation to the imperial capitals. They do this by owning a lion’s share of the productive assets in Africa and by controlling African economies through the privatisation of companies, especially those that deal in the exploitation of natural and national resources. Since our countries are pre-, pro- and post-capitalist, we are compelled to embrace Western capitalist systems dressed up and sugarcoated as Western democracy, suitable to sustain the capitalist mode of production. We have become addicted to aid, which has done more damage to Africa. It has led to a situation where we are failing to set our own pace and direction of development. It is a tool of coercion for the exercise of power, with little relevance to the lives of the recipients. Development plans are drawn up elsewhere. The post-colonial state is designed to serve the interests of monopoly capital. We need to recapture our destiny and restructure our economic agenda to serve the interests of our people. We need to devise an exit strategy from aid dependency. This requires a drastic change of our mindset, putting our people at the centre of development, and a radical and fundamental restructuring of the institutional aid architecture at the global level. The first appropriate step would be to repudiate aid. * Dr Charles Mubita holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California.  
New Era Reporter
2016-04-29 11:32:21 2 years ago

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