Letters: Concerns over aid with no strings

The Guardian,
Wednesday 19 December 2012 21.00 GMT

Your article (President’s race to reverse Malawi’s fortunes, 18 December) appears sympathetic to Joyce Banda’s demand for aid, apparently without strings, on the Chinese model, as distinct from western aid which is slow to be generated and is tied to human rights compliances. I am sympathetic to this impatience, especially when it comes from an African president, like Mrs Banda, of obvious integrity and in a country in such desperate need. Let us not, however, ignore Malawi’s historical context. Joyce’s predecessor in the presidency, Bingu wa Mutharika, was the one who tied Malawi to China and who created a new dictatorship there on the Hastings Banda model. The Chinese were not bothered about such things. Aid money was diverted into Bingu’s own family, his palace-building and prestige projects, and into luxury hotels in the capital city. “China will decide today. The next day you sign, and work starts,” Joyce says, and one can see the at
traction of such immediacy for this leader in a hurry. But before we in the west give up on the “human rights and governance” conditionalities which sometimes slow down our massive aid-giving, let us remember that the political system that produced Bakili Muluzi and Mutharika in Malawi is still in place, as are some of the murderous thugs who served Hastings Banda’s Malawi Congress party’s horrid dictatorship. I’d be happy for the delightful Joyce Banda not to have to wait too long for her international aid money, but I shudder to think what her successors might do with the freedom she demands.Nick WrightWoodbridge, Suffolk• Interesting to read that Joyce Banda has cut her salary by 30% (to £26,000) and said she’d sell off the presidential jet and fleet of luxury cars accumulated by her predecessor. Is this the same Joyce Banda whose husband was filmed arriving at the five-star Claridge’s hotel in a fleet of luxury cars having booked a floor for himself and his entourage? Marvellous what this couple can do on £26K a year.Mick HallGrays, Essex
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Letters: Concerns over aid with no strings

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