Zimbabwe used to be called the breadbasket of Southern Africa. Now, citizens say it has gone from “breadbasket to basket case.” At one time, Zimbabwe exported its surplus food. Now food is so scarce people resort to eating rats and mice.
This lack of food can be traced to a decision in 2000 by Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. President Mugabe seized farm land owned by white farmers and declared it would be redistributed to black residents. It went to his sycophants instead. White farmers were beaten and dozens killed because of the farmland redistribution program. Thousands of farmers left the country completely. Most of the land once used to feed the country sits empty. No one farms it now. Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United States, Machivenyika Mapuranga says the redistribution program is “the greatest thing to ever happen to Zimbabwe.” He says that field mice are a delicacy in Zimbabwe.
At the end of last month, legislation was introduced that would mandate a 51% stake in all publicly traded companies be transferred to native Zimbabweans “disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race.” Recently, as many as 216 business owners have been arrested for not complying with national price controls, forcing business to sell their products at a loss. Gas stations have stopped selling gas. It is only available on the black market, but at five times the cost. It seems they plan to do the same thing to business that they did with farming.
The United Nations estimates at least four million people in Zimbabwe will need food aid within the next year. That is a third of the total population. While the common man in Zimbabwe deals with an 80% unemployment rate, a 10,000% inflation rate and a yearly salary holding steady at Z$200,000 (around $818 US dollars), the elite ruling class drive around in “shiny Mercedes and BMWs.” It is Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” on the Dark Continent. And your tax dollars help to finance it, and more.
In 2005, President Mugabe defied a European Union travel ban and flew to Rome. An Italian official was quoted as saying “Of course we don’t want him here, but we had no choice. International law says he has the right to attend U.N. summits.” Mugabe was not only going to attend, he was invited to speak. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization invited Mugabe to speak at a summit on world hunger. He used the opportunity to blast President George Bush and then Prime Minister Tony Blair. He referred to the duo as “the two unholy men of our millennium” and as “international terrorists.” Tony Hall, the U.S. ambassador to the conference in Rome noted that since 2002, just a little over three years, the U.S. alone had donated almost $300 million in food aid to Zimbabwe, or $100,000,000 a year in food aid to a country that used to feed itself.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated in 2003 that 15% of Zimbabwe’s GDP comes from international aid. Mugabe takes that aid and uses it to reward his cronies and punish his enemies. In October 2002, the International Crisis Group stated the Mugabe regime was “blatantly using food as a political weapon against opposition supporters.” We responded with $200 million more in food aid. That is food you helped to buy and he used to increase his power. Worse yet, in 2006, Tony Blair, George Bush and other G8 leaders called for doubling aid to African nations.
The corruption is not exclusive to Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo claims that African nations have lost $140 billion to looting in four decades.
In 1998, a World Bank statement titled “Assessing Aid: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why” declared:
While the former Zaire’s Mobuto Sese Seko was reportedly amassing one of the world’s largest personal fortunes, decades of large-scale foreign assistance left not a trace of progress. Zaire’s (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) is just one of several examples where a steady flow of aid ignored, if not encouraged, incompetence, corruption, and misguided policies.
This was in a official report calling for an increase in funding The U.S. is the largest donor to the World Bank, accounting for “about 16 percent of the World Bank’s total shares.” It has no control over who the bank loans money to.
William Easterly, a former senior World Bank economist, noted in his book on the failure of foreign aid, pointed out that the World Bank and IMF gave 21 loans to the Kenyan government headed by Daniel Arap Moi. This was when Moi was “running his nation’s economy into the ground and enriching cronies. His current government even includes a cabinet minister who was accused by an independent inquiry of having ordered the murder of another cabinet minister who was a reformer.”
And do I need to mention the millions in aid America has given to North Korea?
Foreign aid is nothing more than an international welfare program. It does not foster radical reforms or positive progress. Foreign aid gives dictators the ability to reward cronies, punish enemies and embezzle millions into nice, fat retirement accounts in Sweden. It gives them the ability to continue repressing the country the foreign aid is supposed help. It props up corrupt governments. And you and I get to pick up the check.
Foreign aid also goes against the Constitution. There is no basis for it in any way. Rep. Ron Paul nailed it when he said:
“Our annual foreign aid bill is one of the most egregious abuses of the taxpayer I can imagine. Not only is it an unconstitutional burden on America’s working families, but this yearly attempt to buy friends and influence foreign governments is counterproductive and actually results in less goodwill toward the United States overseas.”
James Madison, the father of the Constitution, refused to give federal money to individual states in for roads and canals. I can’t believe he would approve of hundreds of millions to men like Robert Mugabe. Nor should we.
It is time to end foreign aid.