Why do rich countries borrow from poor ones? It’s abnormal!

Thursday January 20 2022
Debt EA

Our country is bleeding with natural wealth and even natural gas has been classified as clean energy by the European Union and we have trillions of litres ready to sell. Why should we be borrowing?” ILLUSTRATION| NMG


Since the year began, I follow news from isolation due to an attack of the Omicron variant. I don’t believe it is mild as for me it has been hell, and I shudder to imagine how those who were hit by Delta felt before they died or recovered.

Omicron has also been described as nature’s answer to the Covid-19 pandemic. In nature’s processes that have been shaped over a billion plus years, species which become a menace to others are taken out quietly by Mother Nature. It appears she has sent the Omicron to give herd immunity to homo sapiens so that the earlier, nasty versions like Delta don’t win, even though the threatened species — man — is also dangerous not only to other species but also to the planet.

In isolation, a WhatsApp group of isolated patients was formed (there must many of such across the world) and members in the region who are avid news consumers started talking. The cracks in Tanzania’s ruling party CCM that grew wide enough for the Speaker of Parliament to fall through despite his constitutional independence of the Executive entertained our members, as did China’s announcing its offer of another $40 billion to lend African countries. Our isolated members got busy debating.

One Kenyan patient sneered: “And they accuse us guys of campaigning for a full year before elections; now what business did the Speaker have pulling strokes that undermine the president’s re-election a whole four years before the polls? That is being offside kabisa!”

A Tanzania patient hit back: “The Speaker was raising a legitimate concern of auctioning our country to international money lenders! Our country is bleeding with natural wealth and even natural gas has been classified as clean energy by the European Union and we have trillions of litres ready to sell. Why should we be borrowing?”

But the Kenyan patient would not let him off easily: “You must be one Magufuli’s yatima (orphan) who don’t want to admit that even he was borrowing.


A Ugandan patient stepped in to calm the tempers: “To borrow or not to borrow, that is the question. The Tanzanians can go for some of the $40 billion our Chinese brothers are offering so easily. They are not as stringent as the West.”

The Tanzanian patient was infuriated: “What do you think we are? A bunch of flies that just swarms to wherever there is dead meat? How can we borrow when we are not the ones initiating the process? Do you know what happens to such flies? They get buried with the corpse!”

The Kenyan patient was more practical: “There is no need to argue; let us bet that by the end of the financial year — after all it is synchronised all over East Africa — all our governments will have swarmed to the Chinese like flies begging for a chunk of the 40 billion, even though it wasn’t in their plans. Let us bet Ush10,000.”

The Ugandan patient was flabbergasted. “What is ten K? It will all be consumed in transfer charges!”

The Kenyan patient clarified: “But ten K is a $100! Or you thought I was talking about your shillings which resemble Zim dollars?”

The Ugandan patient conceded: “Well, a $100 is Ush360,000 and over Tsh200,000”

In the end, the Ugandan patient declined to bet and only the Kenyan and Tanzanian did. They agreed to transfer the money to the Ugandan, who on July 1 will send the $200 to the winner if at least three of the East African countries will have sought loans from China or not.

A patient whose name was hard to attach to a nationality and whose phone number had a code from outside the region suggested that they should close all schools of economics at African universities because they are not serving any useful propose. “You guys produce very good scientists who make ground breaking innovations and research findings. But you don’t have any economists. The economics PhDs in your governments are like mere clerks for the foreign lenders, implementing what the lenders dictate. Why do your rich countries borrow from poor countries? It’s abnormal!”

The Tanzanian agreed: “That is why the whole system is bound to fail, because it is against the order of nature.

‘‘In nature, nobody develops by borrowing because that is against nature. Borrowed organs are incompatible with the host. So an economic Omicron will emerge and destroy the borrowers for insulting what nature gave them by begging as if they are poor yet they are rich”.

Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail:[email protected]