Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Mukoma Ngugi in his article: "African Democracies for Sale" published online on Z-Net warns that some of "the most important threats to democracy in Africa are the international NGOs that are funded by the government of the United States. "

Ngugi writes that these NGOs are "US foreign policy institutions that masquerade as philanthropic organizations of good-will all the while furthering American foreign policy. " He also believes that these organizations are of particular danger to Africa as they are currently operating in over 40 African nations.

Mukoma Ngugi decries this situation as being absurd and by comparison postulates how the reverse would be completely unacceptable to the United States. "To understand the absurdity of what Africans have accepted as a norm, imagine African countries financing a third party in the United States. And in addition they also train student leaders, trade unionists, journalists and the rest of American civil society how to oppose or overthrow the US Government. Americans wouldn't stand for it."

One example of certain international NGOs working against the interest of Africans is the fact that USAID required Zambia to accept Genetically Modified (GM) foodstuffs in order for that nation to receive foreign aid disaster relief in 2002. This required acceptance of GM foods have been shown by Oxfam and other reputable organizations to be harmful not only to local small farmers in Africa but that they could possibly lead to the destruction of local food economies and the creation of a cycle of dependency that could cause more acute starvation in the future. " It was an absurd case of stopping starvation today by creating conditions for more starvation tomorrow."

He finds the roots to this problem in the fact that incumbent African governments have access to all of the state resources such as capital, media outlets (state newspapers, television and radio) and money from foreign and domestic business seeking to gain favors. To offset this advantage opposition organizations are forced to take foreign funds in order to establish and maintain their programs. " But foreign money perpetuates the goals of the donor."

The crux of Ngugi's article is that alternatives to this situation must be found. He posits that there has to be a more fair election process, possibly monitored by the African Union, the African Peer Review Mechanism and the international community to ensure that all candidates, including opposition candidates, have equal access to the media - and through them - the public. Mukoma Ngugi suggests that there should also be instituted campaign finance laws that would make it illegal for any candidate or political party to accept foreign funding and possibly disbursing tax generated revenues to viable candidates as determined by a reasonable process of measurement.

You can read "African Democracies for Sale" by Mukoma Ngugi in its entirety.

And you can find other articles by Mukoma Ngugi on Z-NET

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