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Of chequebook politicking

I remember the first time a colleague suggested throwing money at a problem. The same colleague then went on to suggest that if those in the opposing caucus did not tow our line, then they must be made to remember who wielded the chequebook.

I rejected both of these suggestions at the time, as the money she wished to throw (ek sal jy gooi met hierdie geld) was not our organisation’s money, it was in fact part of a funder’s grant to our organisation for programme work. And that since that chequebook had been entrusted through election by our members to that financial officer, then wielding the supposed power of that chequebook would have been the same as wielding a toy telephone in a Bantustan.

Naturally I have never believed in kowtowing before anyone, whether it is a wealthy family which expects loyalty and obedience in exchange for inheritance (the golden handcuffs) or a wealthy believer who expects special treatment and/or preference in exchange for donations (the patron passengers). I have never given credence to people punting the power and influence associated with dishing out other people’s money.

But when it comes to donors and the donor community, I have a number of questions. Principally these questions centre on the state of human development in their own home countries.

And while a number of wealthy donor nations have large underclasses of immigrants, in whose welfare they have no interest, I’m sure that there are a few first-class citizens in donor countries who need empowerment opportunities as well. So why go to the developing world and make donations when you could redirect all your development and aid work to the people who live in your own countries?

This will enable you to build credibility among your unemployed and/or vulnerable first-class citizens and among your disempowered second-class citizens and residents. And for all you know the gratitude from these people in your own home country will lead to greater citizen satisfaction and increased voter turnout for the politicians who do these things.

And yes we all know that you need to secure trade relations with foreign countries, so simply form an international trade council, and every company or person who exports anything needs to register (for free) with that council, and then look at which countries are your biggest foreign customers and which countries are your biggest foreign suppliers.

And feel free to define “biggest” in as many different ways as possible. Now take each of the biggest trade partners as determined and invite them to conclude a free trade agreement with your country.

What both countries want here is a fixed exchange system, a common monetary, interest rate and fiscal policy, no customs, excise, duties, tariffs, subsidies, visas, permits or any other barriers to movement, trade, communication, exchange and association; of course you want preferential direct foreign investment opportunities for both countries in each others’ countries.

Now if you have 30 such trade partners, then look at how you can group and agglomerate these trade partners so that you can reduce the absolute number of free trade agreements you have in play at any one time, while still making it possible for other foreign countries to join one of your free trade groups, in future.

Now when you go into these countries where you have special status, as a compatriot country, to make direct investments in new or existing businesses, sell products and services to your customers or buy new products and services from your suppliers, think about how your custom (ie the money you spend) is able to assist in the development of that country.

To put it simply, if you are in an extractive industry, then make sure the surrounding community is not being destroyed and polluted by the industry and that instead there are local schools, clinics and welfare centres able to ensure the optimal human development of the local community.

Similarly if you are in a manufacturing industry, make sure the people working in the factories and the people and communities surrounding the production zone are well-protected, are adult labourers and have first-world class working conditions. And why would you want to do this?

Because in essence you have your first-class citizens in your home countries (and these are the people who constitute the social elite), you have your second-class citizens and residents in your home countries (and these are immigrants, the children of immigrants and those first-class citizens who are too poor to lord it over anyone) and you have your third-class and fourth-class citizens in your free trade partner countries — yes, you inherit your trade partners’ people as well.

And this means that the people of the foreign country wherein you trade are just as likely to be grateful for everything you do — because you’re not dishing out donations to people who don’t need it but instead creating sustainable work and expanding the market horizons for all your partner’s people.

And if you were a smart politician, you would do all this and then find a political party in each of your free trade partner countries and — yes — create a holiday club, sorry I mean, a common interest association between all the parties which share your world view — throughout your free trade partner countries.

And between the single malt whisky and the no-strings-attached power sex, you will be able to ensure that your “wealthy” country gains absolute indirect control over the destinies of all of your free trade partner countries (which are all developing countries), without having to make donations, without having to have discussions about ownership vs donorship, and without having to do or say anything that remotely makes you look like you’re guilt-ridden or hell-bent on reviving colonialism.

Companies or people that cause problems and disturb the diplomatic balance of your precious free trade agreements must be hauled before your international trade council, and if found guilty of disregarding the mandate of the international trade council, as indicated above, must be forced to trade via an ethical proxy until such time as the palaver is resolved. Repeat offenders should be nationalised, and for repeat offenders which are already nationalised industries — there is always hara-kiri and seppuku isn’t there? After all, who has the right to undermine the object of political power?

Going back to the moment when I decided that political solvency, autonomy and liquidity were more important than the convenience of being donor funded, I will say that from then to now, it has been challenging to make, earn and generate the money needed to fund the projects as required, from my own honest and earnest labours, but the mere fact that I don’t have to bow and scrape to any OPM jockey (person who rides other people’s money) has made it all worthwhile.

The so called leaders of this world have decided in their infinite idiocy that we as Africa need more donations, more aid and more charity. Actually what we need is the rule of law, human rights for every person, equal opportunity for every person, free trade with and for every market economy and the eradication of all forms of corruption. It seems that in order to roll back the sick legacy of colonialism we have to first remove those self-same colonial behavioural traits which persist among our liberators.