What awaits Africa in Trump administration?

Any scholar or writer will tell you that there is no leader as unpredictable as Donald Trump, the United States President-elect.

Source: What awaits Africa in Trump administration? – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 21, 2016

Develop me: Tapiwa Gomo

He is one of the biggest flip-floppers of our times, much more than those who have graced our national political podiums.

Trump has contradicted himself on every policy issue to the extent that he became a major provider of material for comedians during his presidential campaign.

Capricious as he may be, Trump is certainly going to be the most powerful man in the world, come January 20, 2017.

And that comes with huge policy responsibilities that transcend the US borders, with implications on our lives here in Africa.

The misogyny, xenophobic and racist narratives churned out during the presidential campaign trail will most likely translate into policy positions, as he seeks to make the US great again.

Some global leaders have been anxious since he was elected the next US President.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has broken the ritual by rushing to Washington DC to meet Trump before his inauguration.

Part of their discussions might have included, among other things, security agreements in the Asian bloc and the future of the Japanese automobile industry, which was put under threat during Trump’s campaign.

Trump wants to revive the ailing American automobile industry, which may threaten the future growth of the Japanese industry — a major supplier of second-hand cars we use in Africa.

I don’t think African countries would be given such a privilege as Japan, but certainly there are likely to be major changes in the way the US relates with Africa.

The US is one of the biggest providers of foreign aid in Africa — both development and humanitarian.

With a $6,42 billion allocation in 2015 through United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), the US was the biggest contributor to humanitarian aid globally.

Africa is one of the biggest beneficiaries of both development and humanitarian aid.

Over the past three decades, Usaid has contributed over $2,6bn in development assistance to Zimbabwe focusing on strengthening health systems, poverty reduction, strengthening democracy and pursuing a free market economy.

Between June last year and August this year, over $100 million has been allocated towards emergency response but mainly drought.
Drought has left over four million people in Zimbabwe — mainly in the rural areas — in need of assistance.

Considering Trump’s well-known history of lack of generosity, we can expect a significant drop in both development and humanitarian aid.

It simply means the support the US provided for democracy — mainly the work of activists and political parties in Zimbabwe will likely drop significantly.

The support for good governance, democracy and human rights will take a back seat.

As these become the biggest casualties, African dictators will most likely have a field day.

To sustain the battle for change in Zimbabwe, our activists may need to look elsewhere for financial support.

China, as one of the major donors in Africa, is not an option for its lack of appetite for anything democratic.

Therefore, if our activists demonstrate and get beaten or feel their lives are threatened, there are fewer chances now of fleeing to the US for refuge.

Cleric Evan Mawarire of the #ThisFlag movement fame may have been the last one to benefit from that policy position.

It also means the funds allocated towards humanitarian response for major emergencies such as drought will be also reduce and new funding streams will need to be identified elsewhere.

Trump is known for being the “least charitable billionaire in the world”.

Perhaps, it is time we stood on our own as dependence on the US for support may just be slowing down, at least as long as Trump is in power.

We may either consider bringing back our own looted money stashed in offshore accounts to help ourselves or convince the Chinese that we need their money to feed our hungry people.

Where Zanu PF was worried about the US’s political meddling in our national politics using aid, they may start worrying about neglect.

The policy that informs Trump’s position is plain and simple. American money for Americans first and American jobs for Americans first.

That is how he intends to make the US great again, which is why the Tokyo administration is anxious.

I can imagine what would happen if we were to adopt a similar policy position, we wouldn’t need that much external aid, would we?

However, there is need for Zimbabwe and other African countries to be anxious as well.

That US funding to Africa may significantly reduce does not mean that the US will reduce its interests in Africa.
Trump is going to pursue an explorative and extractive agenda in Africa — opening new raw material markets in Africa to feed and resuscitate the US economy.

He will challenge the Chinese dominance in Africa by making sure every dollar provided in aid brings more in raw material to the US economy.

This may turn Africa into a new global battle ground between China and the US as they clamour for resources.

Depending on how wise African leaders are, this could be a good opportunity to bargain for good deals and foster development.

Any lack of spine will simply mean that we will be manipulated and arm-twisted to lease our resources for a few US dollars.

Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa