We need help from West - Mabuyane
Western nations must help to rebuild Africa, Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane told delegates at a policy retreat in East London.
Speaking on Wednesday on the need for funding from development agencies for infrastructure development in the province, Mabuyane said their assistance would help address backlogs, reduce the high unemployment and alleviate poverty.
“Our infrastructure landscape was neglected, thus the need to be modernised for it to be responsive to the needs of our people and investors,” Mabuyane said at the three-day colloquium and policy retreat on the official development assistance programme.
“Official development assistance agencies should partner with us to improve socioeconomic infrastructure such as water and sanitation, modern schools and health facilities as these will improve the quality of life of our people.”
He said the province needed development assistance to come up with innovative solutions to turn the provincial economy around through support for small businesses operating in the niche sectors such as tourism, construction, ocean economy, manufacturing, energy, and knowledge economy.
“I want to indicate up front that as a province we are pro development assistance.
“We believe Western nations should assist to rebuild our continent.
“We are in this mess of underdevelopment because of their colonial deeds.
“Poverty levels in our province are still relatively high, with many of our communities still without essential services such as clean drinking water and proper sanitation.
“Inequality persists, particularly in the standard of living of our citizens and even more so in economic opportunities, with the majority of blacks still on the periphery of economic participation.”
He said the province’s agriculture potential had not been fully realised despite the availability of arable land across the province.
Before 1994, development assistance agencies had successfully helped rebuild countries that were in strife on the continent, working with those countries to rebuild infrastructure, provide health care, education, knowledge, food and social cohesion post-conflict.
“We are really in need of the official development assistance to help us take our country to another level.
“However, that developmental assistance should be morally sound and should only be based on the need to uplift the socioeconomic standards of our people and nothing else.
“It shouldn’t be used as another form of colonial management of our affairs.
“I am making this point on purpose because development assistance in many parts of the African continent tends to cause more problems than solving problems.
“It tends to be used immorally to achieve political reasons, thus at times as leaders we look at it with suspicion.
“We cannot be blamed for our apprehensions on development assistance because it is sometimes used for selfish political reasons by those who have the means.”
Mabuyane said US President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine until it investigated former vice-president Joe Biden and his son — his political opponent — was a clear example of immoral use of official development assistance by developed countries, saying countries should not accept such bribery.
He said he was concerned about the net drop of the official development assistance funds to developing countries, like SA, saying this was not helping countries to fast-track development.
He said government must provide leadership to address governance challenges because the province would not attract investments and official development assistance if corruption and malpractice continued in the public sector, and this would affect the development of the province.
“One way of doing this is by strengthening co-ordination within government and other established institutions to optimise aid allocation.
“It is our belief that recipient countries must have a bigger say on where and how development assistance should be used as they are better informed about challenges on the ground than donor countries.
“We also propose a move away from project aid to programme aid as the latter is more sustainable than the former, thus it will yield better value for money for both the recipient country and donor countries,” Mabuyane said.
National Treasury official Robin Toll said his department was working with official development assistance agencies operating in SA to fund a number of development projects like the provision of water, economic development, HIV and Aids programmes and LGBTIQ programmes in the country.
“The money raised through the official development assistance (ODA) is channelled through the RDP fund within the National Treasury and processed to provincial government departments and municipalities to implement programmes specific to the funding.
“But we also want to know which other organisations are funded by the ODA partners and what the purpose is of the funding made to those organisations, what the money is being used on within the borders of our country.”
Toll said the National Treasury aligned the allocation of ODA funds to the budget priorities of government departments and municipalities because ODA funds were used to provide value to the country through the projects implemented and funded by these funds.
USAID deputy mission director Natasha de Marcken said her agency recognised SA’s strengths, such as a strong and stable democracy, strong economy and they worked with the SA government through bilateral relations to help achieve the development goals set out in the National Development Plan.
“We see the leadership role of SA in the region and on the continent as an enabler to help us in the implementation of programmes in the region and on the continent.
“Our portfolio encompasses 110 active contracts, co-operative agreements, and grants totalling $4bn (R60bn),” De Marcken said.
She said one of their programmes was to bring US investors to SA, with the Chicago teacher’s pension fund looking at investing about $200m (R3bn) into the SA economy with a plan to bring US securities funds managers and pension fund managers to explore investment opportunities unique to SA that were not offered by the US economy.
She said her agency had regional environmental and energy programmes such as Power Africa with a goal to generate electricity for 60-million people in the continent.