For the first time in its 52 years of existence, Botswana has become an “enemy” of the United States and in future may not get any assistance from the latter.
On December 22 last year, Botswana joined 127 other members of the United Nations to vote in favour of a non-binding resolution calling on the US to reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Appearing before a joint session of Congress to deliver his first state-of-the-union address last week, President Donald Trump said that some of those nations had collectively received $20 billion in US assistance in 2016.
“That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to friends of America, not enemies of America,” Trump said.
It is yet unclear what Botswana’s share of that assistance was but since 2008, its net official development assistance (ODA) from all donors has been steadily declining. In that year, the total ODA from overseas benefactors jumped from $105 million to $723 million. In 2009, the ODA from all donors (not just the US) dropped to $282 and has been declining ever since: $155 million in 2010, $1199 in 2011, $73 million in 2012, $107 million in 2013, $99 million in 2014 and $66 million in 2015. That pattern suggests that the ODA would have declined further in 2016.
Part of this decline had to do with the actions of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, a half-African politician who neither had a vision for Africa nor did as much for it as his predecessor, George W. Bush. The latter actually did more for Africa than Bill Clinton and Obama combined. Under Bush, the total development programme of the US Agency for International Development – excluding food aid and emergencies for civil wars – went from $1.2 billion to $7 billion, representing a 600 percent increase. Bush’s started the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief ÔÇô a programme to provide antiretroviral treatment and care for HIV/AIDS patients primarily in Africa that has saved millions of lives.
Never having read Malcolm X (“America’s only friends are those that she can buy”), Trump doesn’t appear to understand why the US gives foreign aid. The aid is primarily designed to advance America’s foreign interests, not to help foreign nations solve developmental problems. If America still wants to set up its Africa Command base in Botswana, it will have to pay for that favour under the guise of giving foreign aid. The idea of foreign aid from the west is itself a fallacy because for every dollar of ODA that developing countries received over the 10-year period (2003-2012), $10 left in the form of illicit financial flows (IFFs). A joint study conducted by the African Development Bank and the Global Financial Integrity found that between 2000 and 2009, some US$30.4 billion per annum flowed out of Africa, mostly in the form of IFFs. Over the longer period of 30 years calculated from 1980, the resource drain through this method was between US$1.2 – 1.3 trillion.