Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

British aid money in SA
The Guardian has a real go at Blair's Labour party over the use of aid money to persuade South Africa to privatise its public services. The Guardian, somewhat patronisingly, argues that the South African government's naivete (they actually use the word "suckered") has meant that they have accepted Britain's "interference" in the privatisation of our economy with somewhat callous consequences.

The Labour government took South African civil servants on a tour of privately financed British hospitals, and took the private financiers on a tour of South Africa. The South African government, unaware that Britain's private finance initiative rests upon nine separate kinds of public fraud and false accounting, began commissioning its new hospitals and prisons by the same means and from the same British companies. Now, suckered again by a new round of trade fairs and ministerial visits, it has begun to permit foreign companies to move in on its essential public services. Making a bed for them requires "cost recovery" and "marketisation", which is why pre-paid meters are now being imposed upon the people of Phiri and Orange Farm.

It goes on to say:

Britain's Department for International Development (DfID) is plainly breaking the law. The International Development Act forbids it from spending money for any purpose other than the elimination of poverty. It might also have broken the rules forbidding it to link aid money to deals for specific British businesses. DfID funds or has recently funded (it has so far been unable to tell me whether or not the scheme is still current) something called the "British investment in South Africa promotion scheme", which promotes "business-to-business links" between companies in the UK and companies in South Africa. What this is doing inside a foreign aid department, no one can say.

It's worth a read nonetheless...