August 18, 2003

Onus on us - Mahathir

EZULWINI Aug 15 - Developing countries should put their house in order as they have only themselves to turn to, Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad has said in Ezulwini, Swaziland.
"We, therefore, need to make personal sacrifices, at times, for the benefit of our people," he said giving a keynote address at a dinner hosted for delegates to the Smart Partnership Summit here. "But these are not sacrifices as such as they always come back to nourish us and our people." The Malaysian premier said the developed countries do not really care about developing countries. He advised members of the Smart Partnership to focus on development programmes that are locally tailored.
"We must not be too ambitious. We just have to do what is right within our communities to better the lives of our people before turning to the international community for assistance," he said.
He criticised the developed countries for deliberately impoverishing developing countries using development formulas and ideologies they know would not work and had seen them failing wherever they had been tried. Such programmes include the opening of borders and abolision of trade barriers.
Such arrangements, he said, always work to the advantage of the rich and powerful nations of the West.
He decried the ever-growing disparity between the developing countries and developed countries. This, he said, is a result of the exploitative trade between the two blocs.
"While agitating for the opening of borders in so far as trade is concerned, the rich countries close theirs by putting in place regulations and conditions that make it difficult for products from developing countries to penetrate their markets," he added.
Mohammad further criticised the developed countries for what he called exploitation through foreign aid, which comes with strings attached.
Developed nations use aid to buy poor countries and if they refuse to be bought, the donor nations would use all kinds of threats, including the withdrawal of aid.
The Western news media was not spared an onslaught for supporting their governments in disempowering poor nations: It is used by their respective governments to discredit poor countries.
The premier also criticised this year's US-led attack and subsequent regime change in Iraq, saying that it had only led to misery for the Iraqis. He said this was unfortunate as it came at a time when the Iraqis were still suffering from a decade of economic sanctions.
Earlier, King Mswati III of Swaziland said the summit provided an opportunity for participants to exchange ideas on tackling social, political and economic issues in a relaxed and informal way.
Mswati said the ambition of the smart partnership dialogues in Africa is to make the continent relevant in the global context.
He said Smart Partnership summits bring participants to understanding the value and most effective way of dialoguing.
Two-end products of the 2003 dialogue, he said, would be the creation of empowerment endowment fund, which will make the Smart Partnership movement self-sustainable. This fund will be used for the activities of the movement.
The second end product will be the re-definition of the roles of the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management (CPTM) fellows, some of whom are sitting heads of state, former heads of state and other partners who form an advisory body to the movement. Botswana's former president Sir Ketumile Masire is one of the fellows.
President Festus Mogae was expected to make a presentation on: "Enhancing Progress and New Collective Options" today.
President Mogae is accompanied at the summit by te first lady, Barbara, foreign affairs and international co-operation minister Mompati Merafhe, finance and development planning minister Baledzi Gaolathe and senior government, labour and private sector leaders.
The Smart Partnership movement is for governments, private sector, labour and the news media in a win-win situation. BOPA