#Opinion: New Rules on Madagascar and Trade vs Aid

Let's borrow Bill Maher's routine to sort through the confusion in Madagascar:

New Rules:

  • Rule 1: If your whole political shtick is to restore democracy and give the land back to the people, you cannot take 18 months to organize elections, state that the land deal with Daewoo was really quite acceptable and change the constitution so you are eligible to run. It should take less time to organize elections than to build the Empire State Building (13 months). In fact, your sole purpose should be to get elections done as soon as possible.

  • Rule 2: If you are so desperate on getting aid again from "friendly nations" , you cannot demand their respect after threatening to kill them, it's just not appropriate.

  • Rule 3: If you have money to throw an extravagant inauguration party for your debut as a non-elected president, you must have money for rescue and relief in case a cyclone arrive. Well, it just did , 8 died, 3300 are homeless but hey it was a heck of a party

  • Rule 4: There is an ongoing effort right now by international agencies to collect $30 millions USD for rescue effort after cyclone Jade because we were unable to care for our own people. This is unfortunately not the only case of aid being critical for Malagasy. Thousands have lost their jobs since international funds have been frozen. So Madagascar is real life example of what 'd happen if aid were to be stopped abruptly. It is not pretty.

  • Rule 5: An passionate debate is going on the merit of aid versus trade. I personally lean towards the thinking of Ayittey and Co. Yet, this is not an option in the short term for a few countries. Aid might be flawed but it keeps so many people going in Madagascar that I am having a hard time picturing it being stopped cold turkey. Moreover, there are many cases of limited aid going to the civil organisations that proved to be very effective agent of progress. So "smart aid" directly targeted to the civil societies should be encouraged and large funding to the government should be restrained.

  • Rule 6: As for trade, this telling post from a person in Madagascar with insights in the word of privileged traders shows that until corruption is effectively rooted out of businesses in Africa, trades truly benefiting lower classes will always be merely wishful thinking.

  • Rule 7: Finally, if you incite your supporters to march for freedom and democracy, your place is at the front of the march, not at the back, a few miles away from harm. That's how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr did it, that's how Mahatma Gandhi did it. You don't send your people into harm's way when you were not willing to do so yourself. But that's not a new rule, that's a universal "great leader" rule.

Just a reminder for those who don't know him, Bill Maher is a comedian and "New Rules" are a satire :).


  1. what a great post lova. you have really outdone yourself :-) on trade and aid : i wonder what the rice peasants in madagascar are now saying that there is a price cap on their products. what better way to discourage the famokarana...not really sure who is aided in this case. dambisa moyo was at a bookstore near us but we were not able to attend. :-(

  2. Thanks sipakv. Too bad about the book signing, did u still get the book ? I wonder if that would work for the GV book contest :)
    About the price cap, it's still sustainable while Tiko stock can be raided :) , after that...

  3. Just found your blog and your post! Great post... it is so true! Thanks Lova.

  4. you have really outdone yourself

  5. Thanks for visiting toiletgoose and Son.