Africa must reject corrupt dictators Sept02

The final Johannesburg declaration emphasises the need to fight corruption and promote democracy and the rule of law, yet it has again failed to make this a condition of receiving aid.

Most sub-Saharan African countries are poorer today than when they achieved their independence. Billions of dollars of aid from the West has not reduced the misery, poverty and the high death rate that these people are forced to accept as their fate. Whilst the donor agencies have failed to identify and solve the problems of the poor, the crooked, corrupt and merciless dictators continue to deprive, loot and kill their people.     

Why do we accept this situation? Why do our leaders continue to do “business”, including the sale of arms, with such corrupt dictators who continue to terrorise their own people? Why do we help sustain their rule when about 25,000 Africans die every day as innocent victims of hunger, disease and war?

A third of Swaziland's population suffers from HIV and AIDs, hundreds of thousands are starving and have no access to the basic needs of life yet, Swaziland’s King Mswati, wishes to buy a £29m private jet for his personal use. How can such an outrageous waste of limited resources be justified?

The World Bank is locked in negotiation with Tanzania for a £28m “grant” to purchase an aircraft for the exclusive use of its President Mkapa. How can the millions of poor people in rural Tanzania accept such waste when most of them lack the basic needs of life?

South Africa, with millions of its people suffering from HIV/AIDS and other fatal diseases, is awaiting the delivery of a £33m private jet for its President Mbeki whilst its citizens die every day because they cannot afford the medication for treatment. How can President Mbeki claim the mantle of Mr Mandela if he forgets that politics should be about public service not self-indulgence? 

I hope that the people of Africa will reject and remove the dictators who deprive and disgrace them. Altruistic pledges of more aid will be wasted until all of us in Europe and beyond have the courage to help Africa in achieving this aim.