British aid not charity

It’s a classic case of contradictions. On Tuesday the European Union extended sanctions on Zimbabwe by one year. This was largely because of “an in-depth assessment the UK and its EU partners ha(d) unanimously agreed to”. At the same time Britain decided to increase aid to Zimbabwe to 100 million a pounds a year. The reason - this is a “reward” for improved democratic reform.

The issue of sanctions on Zimbabwe has been a bone of contention in Zimbabwe and in the European Union itself. Some EU countries think that Britain is using double standards by calling for continued sanctions on Zimbabwe while at the same time it continues its grip on the country because there are still more than 400 British companies in the country. Britain is therefore enjoying the best of both worlds, keeping its investments in Zimbabwe but at the same time shutting out competitors from its European partners.

A 100 million pounds is a lot of money to give in aid. It is three to four times the size of most government departments, but this money is not going through the government but through parallel structures that can be a threat to government. The money, therefore, builds political patronage for the British. It is not charity. They are buying loyalty in anticipation of a good return some time in future, hopefully after free and fair elections and a “legitimate” government.

Thirteen years ago we published a story about the basic aims of British Aid to Zimbabwe.

There is a very good shone saying that aptly raises serious questions about this kind of behaviour: “Inyasha dzei kupisika mwana wemvana madzihwa”. (Why does someone feel so much pity for a single mother’s child).

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