Andrew Mitchell addresses senators on donor perception

British Member of Parliament Andrew Mitchell has advised African countries to address conflicts and ensure proper accountability as benchmarks for donor aid.
Senate President Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo (L) and UK Conservative’s Andrew Mitchell at Parliament yesterday. The New Times/ J. Mbanda.
Senate President Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo (L) and UK Conservative’s Andrew Mitchell at Parliament yesterday. The New Times/ J. Mbanda.

British Member of Parliament Andrew Mitchell has advised African countries to address conflicts and ensure proper accountability as benchmarks for donor aid.

Mitchell was addressing Rwandan senators and other officials at the opening of a three-day conference dubbed, “Development Partnership–A Donor View”, in Kigali yesterday.

The former UK’s Secretary of State for International Development said development cannot take place unless there is conflict resolution, adding that it was one of the main reasons he came to Rwanda to learn how the country managed to recover from the dark past and progress economically.

“We understand today that because of modern communications, our generations, working together, have a chance to make real progress on development and tackle the great variations of opportunities and wealth in our world as never before,” Mitchell said.

“If you look at Rwanda in the last five years, a million people have been lifted out of poverty which is a remarkable achievement. Now the international community working together has the power to do that in many parts of the world because we know and we agree on what works and what doesn’t work,” the UK Tory added.

Changing scope

Unlike today where aid is more focused on development, he added, previously, the donor community only released the funds on the basis of geo-politics where donors would dish out funds just to keep recipient countries in their ‘camp’.

Such camps, Mitchell said, included one of the Soviet Union, which would give funds to countries such as Angola and Tanzania, and on the other hand, there was Western-oriented camp.

“Those days have gone; it’s our generation now that has the centre ground. We can now do things that we could never do before,” he said.

Mitchell also told the senators that in the end, people are able to lift themselves out of poverty through economic development and workings of the private enterprises.

This, he said, is another perspective from the donors’ view.
“The other perspective is that the donor should be able to explain to the taxpayers what the money they are spending is achieving and that, of course, is an incredibly important aspect,” Mitchell said.

“In Britain, we have managed to hit our central target of 0.7 per cent aid target of gross national income. The taxpayer has to be persuaded that such money is justified,” he added.

According to Mitchell, aid matters to Britain and it is not just a handout to the beneficiaries.

“We in the UK benefit from it as well. That argument relates to tackling conflicts and creating wealth and economic development because economic development is for our benefit as well as your development. Countries that increase their degree of trading they trade with people and they trade with us. This is why we equally stand to benefit which makes us more prosperous and also tackling conflict makes us safer,” said Mitchell.

Senator Tito Rutaremara said the philosophy of aid is changing with time.

Before 1960s, Tito said, the philosophy of aid was to give the poor people Western civilisation and help people suffering and from dying of hunger.

“But now it’s good that the philosophy has changed to development. If we are pro-development, we will be a consuming market but our concern is, do all donors understand it this way, do they know that it’s not help for now but for the future so that the market is expanded? And why is aid used as a political pressure tool?” Rutaremara asked Mitchell.

In his response, Mitchell said he believes all donors are moving toward the same understanding about aid.

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