Dr. Kaela B Mulenga
The interview of Dambisa Moyo, author of ‘Dead Aid’ by Rick Westhead (Toronto Star, July 29, 2012) was headlined: “Anti-Bono Zambian Economist”. In some of our eyes, the rubric could have as well read – “anti-African or “Pro-West/Chinese” economist.
It bogs ones mind that – an African can’t appreciate the crusade that Bono undertook to fundraise to save the starving millions in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere in many parts of Africa. In Ethiopia alone over 4 million people faced starvation.
It is also strange that Dambisa Moyo has failed to appreciate the fact that – the bulk of misery Africans are going through has been caused by decades of colonization and exploitation. The West left no infrastructure to talk of or capable of adding value to raw materials, as an example. And worse still, the West perpetuated the habit of paying minimum prices for our commodities. With low revenues, how could Africans have the capacity to produce consumer goods to stave off Chinese dumping?
Also the Africans should not be blamed for the ineffective public policies Moyo is talking about. Theft and corruption she so much detests, is also driven by the donors themselves or the providers of financial aid be it from West or China. To get favors and good concessions – even Chinese are dishing out lots of cash to bribe officials.
As regards to her newly found friend – China: Dambisa Moyo is not clear as to whether the tendencies of China becoming a “monopolist” in resource and commodity markets is good or bad. The monopolistic power – the behavior of being a price-setter, which China clearly aims for in the resource markets, is nothing but for the sake of dominance and blocking entry for rivals (the West). Yet Dambisa as a believer in the sovereignty of markets is ignoring the harm the monopolistic structure can do to global economy.
Therefore, while the objective of growing the economy to reduce poverty of the masses is noble, fears concerning the Chinese expansionism are real. Hence, no matter how sweet the carrot might be, the Africans should remain skeptical. And indeed, it is expected that the cautious ones will be called names by people like Moyo.