IMF, World Bank, China: No free lunch — Part One


THE need for resources and markets, especially by the North, has seen developing countries become semi-proxies as developed countries fight for dominance and attempt to outwit and out manoeuvre each other.
Talk of neo-colonialism has been gradually dying down, not because the threat has been addressed, but because countries and governments of the South have surrendered to the fact that aid comes at a cost and that cost is dancing to the tune of the piper.
In Zimbabwe, more donor funds are channelled towards advocacy work on matters to do with democracy, human rights and civil liberties in comparison to developmental work that includes clean water, education and infrastructure, among others.
The ‘heroes’ recognised by donors in developing countries are those who stand up against local governments, not those who are pushing for developmental projects, poverty alleviation initiatives and economic, among others.
There have been noises made about the emergence of China as an alternative to Western aid.
The global media has been quick to accuse and allege that China is attempting to colonise Africa.
China has been accused of issuing loans and trading with the developing world without attaching strings that have a direct impact on ‘democracy’ to those it lends funds.
The people of the South are misinformed about the Chinese and have began to see Chinese investment in negative light.
The irony in all this is that countries, such as the US, which are at the forefront of warning Africa against China, are some of China’s largest trading partners, not to mention the pesky matter where China holds a significant chunk of the US debt.
The characterisation of China as some form of bad lender is intended to keep African countries hooked onto Western aid, especially that which comes from the Bretton Woods Institutions.
However, what the media tries as much as possible to hide, are the failures by these Institutions to bring meaningful development to Africa.
In 2000, director of the Jubilee 2000 Coalition had this to say;
“The World Bank has been doing little or nothing to bail Africa out of its economic woes and thus requested for its scrapping. The aid intended for development is sometimes used for debt repayments to the International Financial Institutions. Worthy of mention here is the part of the US$10 million in British aid funds to war-town Sierra Leone which was recently used for the repayment of the country’s debts to the IMF and the World Bank debtors. Western tax-payers expect their aid to be used for development, for building hospitals, providing clean water, sanitary facilities and paying school teachers. Tax-payers in developing countries hope that their taxes will be used to finance development. Why should elected politicians in the G-7 nations agree to use tax-payers’ funds to finance the IMF and World Bank when these institutions already have healthy reserves?”
The notion that International Financial Institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank, are there to ensure the economic development of nations such as those in the global south is laughable.
The policies and conditions of aid and funds from the IMF and WB have, more often than not, caused immeasurable suffering in developing countries.
These institutions are used by the developed world to further their national interests and economies.
The Brookings Institution is said to have observed that: “The United States has viewed all multilateral organisations including the World Bank, as instruments of foreign policy to be used in support of specific US aims and objectives…US views regarding how the world economy should be organised, how resources should be allocated and how investment decisions should be reached were enshrined in the Charter and the operational policies of the bank.”


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