By Patience Nyangove
THE dependency school of development argues that a nation can only prosper using aid from developed Western countries.
History has proved otherwise, because Western aid is accompanied by conditionalities, which are detrimental to the developmental aspirations of the South, as well as their holistic independence.
This has far-reaching consequences on the poverty-stricken societies.
On humanitarian grounds, aid is essential as it uplifts the socio-economic status of the people in all societies but more often than not, the conditions that come tied with the aid threaten the sovereignty of the recipient nation.
The provision of foreign aid has become a leeway for sabotaging the sovereignty and integrity of developing nations, mostly those in Africa, Latin America and Asia as it comes with "strings" designed to serve, protect or safeguard and promote the interests of the donor organisations or countries.
Western countries, such as Britain and the United States, have over the years imposed themselves on developing countries through economic structural adjustment programmes (Esaps), and these have brought more harm than good to developing world economies.
In 1991, the IMF and World Bank prescribed the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme for Zimbabwe which required the Government to cut expenditure on non-productive social services such as health and education; open up its markets and reduce public and private sector budgets through retrenchment.
Years down the line, the country is still bleeding from these neo-liberal policies. Some of the effects of Esap and its surrogate, the Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (Zimprest) which succeeded Esap in 1995, include unemployment and hyperinflation.
Similar problems were also noted in other countries but no meaningful achievements were made.
Various studies have shown that, contrary to general claims, many countries did not derive very positive macro-economic outcomes. Brazil, Zambia and Argentina*s economic growth rates, for example, declined following the programme*s implementation, while the inflation rates in these countries remained high.
The skewed IMF and the World Bank prescriptions have been criticised for retarding the growth of developing world economies.
When the Government started the land redistribution exercise in 1999, these international financiers severed lines of credit to Zimbabwe over political and economic differences.
The Government ditched the IMF/WB prescriptions, but not before they had caused untold suffering to the people and slowed down the country*s development.
About four years ago the World Bank admitted that Africa*s limited progress was as a result of ill-advised interventions and policies by the Bretton Woods institutions and other donor organisations.
In an unusually candid and self-critical assessment, the bank noted that most of its prescriptions have left the continent poorer.
In a recently published report, "Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?", the bank highlighted that structural adjustment programmes have played a central role in pushing the continent towards sweeping economic liberalisation and reduced government activity over the past two decades.
In Zimbabwe the introduction of the World Bank- initiated economic reform programmes is, to a large extent, responsible for the current state of the economy.
Most of the liberalisation policies were introduced without any supporting strategies, particularly for the poor and marginalised segments of the population.
This left the majority of the people vulnerable to the harsh effects of the Saps.
The report noted that short-term reforms had failed dismally to address some difficulties underlying institutional problems and in some cases may have worsened them.
Other countries, including Zimbabwe, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania built up high domestic debts partly because their financial markets were hastily liberalised before fiscal deficits were brought under control.
In a bid to cover up failed economic policies, developed countries then strengthened foreign aid to "appease nations", a situation that is unhealthy to countries keen on revamping their economies with minimum interference.
In many countries foreign aid has been known to create a culture of dependency, whereby some people no longer see the need to work to earn a living because they will be receiving food aid for free almost on a monthly basis.
A local political commentator, Mr Augustine Timbe, said that the donor system distorts the value system of a nation.
"The negative aspects of donor aid outweigh its positive effects. The donor system distorts the value system of a nation.
"For instance, if a Government wants its people to be work-oriented and patriotic and make do with little resources in order to develop the country for a better tomorrow, they maybe influenced to take a back seat because everything will be provided for them freely at their doorstep.
"Foreign aid has also an unfortunate effect of destabilising the peace and security in a country in that it creates a negative attitude by citizens towards their Government. These donor countries or organisations can influence the political, social, economic issues in the recipient country," he said.
Mr Timbe said, instead of relying on donor aid people should rely on self-sacrifice and home-grown solutions in order to overcome their socio-economic problems and the Government has been very clear on that.
He added that there was no country without problems the world over, but it was solely up to the nationals of these countries to solve them amicably in a manner which advances the developing needs of the nation.
"There should be trade, rather than donor aid-oriented, and emphasise production of our resources."
An agro-economist, Mr Jonathan Kadzura, was recently quoted in a local paper urging the Government to allow Zimbabwe*s economy to develop at its own pace rather than accept conditional loans from the IMF and WB as this would result in the institutions controlling the rate at which the country develops.
He said Zimbabwe should avoid falling into the same trap as some countries where these institutions had intervened to the extent of forcing regime change.
The institutions achieved their goals because of the financial assistance they offered these countries, which enabled their policies to override home- grown solutions.
"We should all rally behind the home-grown monetary policy that has been introduced by the central bank that has managed to bring stability in the economy and a development that has also been positively acknowledged by the IMF and World Bank," Mr Kadzura said. http://www.zimbabweherald.com/index.php?id=37557&pubdate=2004-11-09