The Promota Magazine

Leave Rwanda alone! – Reader’s letter

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Allow me to send in this comment on an article that appeared on the Promota blog “Britain urged to use influence to get tough on Rwanda”. This raises a fundamental question – WHAT IS AID FOR? Is it to improve the lives of ordinary poor people, or is it to socially engineer the kind of governments the West wants? If it is to improve the lives of ordinary Rwandans, then it is working. If it is to engineer democracy upon unwilling governments then that has never worked. I will compare Rwanda to its immediate neighbours, Uganda has a regime that is both tyrannical and democratic in equal measure, up to 70% of the aid is squandered or stolen. Kenya has an oligarchic kleptocracy based on tribal quotas, it has gone from funding 95% of its budget to significantly less at 80%.

The carrot cannot become the stick, no matter how big the carrot is, it cannot be used to beat the errant government into submission. Another fact you must know is the way in which aid is delivered to Rwanda, it is not a blank cheque like Israel gets from America. It is delivered in specifically funded projects in conjunction with the government. For example the government decides to build a school in a specific village that will serve several other villages. The government comes up with part of the money and works with donors to secure the rest. So the school is built, teachers are sent, and equipment supplied, therefore there is no way to pressurise the government without hurting innocent children who would be used as a pawn in a game of power.

The biggest problem I have with this article is that it suggests that change can come from outside and be parachuted down on us. The assumption is that Rwandans are too stupid to know what they want or that they are too oppressed to seek change for themselves. Britain tried this experiment in post-Saddam Iraq, along with America, they tried to impose a system on an unwilling country, the result was the deaths of up to 200,000 people. In the end, the Iraqis found a compromise and are settling down. Has Britain learnt nothing from its imperialist escapades? Rwandans will have to decide their own future and the civil liberties they want, and when they’ve had enough. Otherwise you will drag the African to the river, but you can’t force him to drink.

Name withheld


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