‘Ox­fam noth­ing but a scam’

The New Age (Free State) - - INSIDE - THELMA NGOMA

IN­TER­NA­TION­ALLY renowned char­ity Ox­fam is noth­ing but a scam that spends about R11.6m on the salaries of its top staff while only about R5.5bn goes on “char­i­ta­ble ex­pen­di­ture”.

Leon Louw, founder of the Free Mar­ket Foun­da­tion, lam­basted the or­gan­i­sa­tion yes­ter­day as a mon­ey­grab­bing or­gan­i­sa­tion that does lit­tle to help the poor.

“The world’s out­look is now better off than it was years ago when Ox­fam was formed. In­stead of in­no­vat­ing to solve big­ger prob­lems, the or­gan­i­sa­tion ped­dles false num­bers as a means to at­tract more fund­ing “un­der the guise of help­ing the poor,” Louw said.

“They say that poverty is wors­en­ing, but they are self-serv­ing and per­pet­u­at­ing their own pro­pa­ganda,” he said.

Ox­fam has re­cently been hit in pros­ti­tu­tion and pae­dophilia scan­dals.

Speak­ing to the New Age yes­ter­day, Louw said Ox­fam was a scam and it re­flected badly on other multi­na­tional char­i­ties that are do­ing good work that is not recog­nised.

“There are many other or­gan­i­sa­tions do­ing good work that is com­mend­able so we can’t paint all char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions in the same light.”

Louw said that 25% of Ox­fam’s fund­ing is spent on wages.

“Ox­fam awards its ex­ec­u­tives with huge salaries and ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing school fees for their chil­dren.

“Ox­fam’s CEO is paid R2.1m while the deputy gets R1.6m and yet the or­gan­i­sa­tion preaches about the world’s rich­est and how wrong they are for be­ing wealthy when they them­selves are among the wealth­i­est.”

He says that Ox­fam dis­re­gards the poor and is “sim­ply ob­sessed” with the wealthy.

REAL con­cerns about the ap­palling be­hav­iour of Ox­fam char­ity staff ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct are be­ing used to cut for­eign aid.

Much of the re­port­ing of the scan­dal ig­nores the big­ger en­gi­neers of Haiti’s poverty.

Ox­fam could lose £32m (R706m) in for­eign aid fund­ing from the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment after the char­ity failed to deal with sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions.

A whistle­blower leaked the al­le­ga­tions, in­volv­ing se­nior Ox­fam of­fi­cials in Haiti, to the Times news­pa­per.

The char­ity was ad­min­is­ter­ing re­lief in the Caribbean is­land after the dev­as­tat­ing 2010 earth­quake, which left 220000 dead and 1.5 mil­lion with­out food or shel­ter.

The whistle­blower said a group of char­ity staff “lived in a guest house rented by Ox­fam called the ‘pink apart­ments’. “They were throw­ing big par­ties with pros­ti­tutes. These men used to talk about hold­ing ‘young meat bar­be­cues’.”

Sep­a­rate al­le­ga­tions claim Roland van Hauw­er­meiren, Ox­fam di­rec­tor in Haiti, had sex with women who worked as pros­ti­tutes in his char­ity-rented villa.

Van Hauw­er­meiren was not sacked, but given “a phased and dig­ni­fied exit”.

He­len Evans, who was in charge of in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions against Ox­fam staff be­tween 2012 and 2015, said a sur­vey of Ox­fam staff in three coun­tries in­clud­ing South Su­dan showed about 10% of staff had been sex­u­ally as­saulted.

Others had wit­nessed or ex­pe­ri­enced rape or at­tempted rape by col­leagues.

The Ox­fam al­le­ga­tions are just the tip of a so­cial cri­sis in Haiti caused by the West.

The US used the earth­quake in 2010 as an ex­cuse to send 17000 sol­diers into Haiti. UN troops and Haitian po­lice fo­cused on “restor­ing or­der”, not help­ing to ad­min­is­ter re­lief.

The UN’s “peace keeping” mis­sion be­tween 2004 and 2017 brought more dev­as­ta­tion. Its forces raped hun­dreds of women and girls with the prom­ise of giv­ing them medicine, clothes and food.

UN troops in Haitian cap­i­tal Por­tau-Prince ran a child abuse ring, where home­less girls and boys as young as 12 were raped.

And UN forces were re­spon­si­ble for a wide­spread out­break of cholera that killed some 10 000 peo­ple.

Haitian so­ci­ety has been smashed by decades of US im­pe­ri­al­ist in­ter­ven­tion, dic­ta­tor­ship and free mar­ket “re­forms”. The Ox­fam scan­dal fits into this broader pic­ture.

Aid that gets to Haiti is largely ad­min­is­tered through NGOs. Many NGOs push or co­op­er­ate with a Western agenda be­cause aid of­ten comes with strings at­tached.

If the West wanted to help Haiti, it would can­cel all its debt and stop push­ing new ones onto the coun­try. Haiti needs to use its re­sources to in­vest in the needs of or­di­nary peo­ple, such as hous­ing, health and ed­u­ca­tion.

The real so­lu­tion is for Haiti’s work­ers and op­pressed to fight to throw off the shack­les of Western dom­i­na­tion.

Right-wingers are using the Ox­fam scan­dal to call for the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment to slash in­ter­na­tional aid.

Tory MP Ja­cob Rees-Mogg went to 10 Down­ing Street the day after the rev­e­la­tions to pro­mote a Daily Ex­press news­pa­per “crusade” against “for­eign aid mad­ness”.

For­eign aid ac­counts for only 0.7% of the Bri­tish bud­get, minis­cule com­pared to the bil­lions spent on Tri­dent mis­siles, for­eign wars or bor­der con­trols.

The Tories pre­vi­ously used for­eign aid to try to detox­ify their brand. Ge­orge Os­borne ring-fenced for­eign aid spend­ing at 0.7%. They also saw that Bri­tain could use aid to buy in­flu­ence in the Global South.

Now the Tory right see it as a chance for more na­tion­al­ist grand­stand­ing along Brexit. It is also their way of blam­ing “for­eign­ers” for the cri­sis in the Na­tional Health Ser­vice and other ser­vices.

Haiti’s poverty is the re­sult of cen­turies of un­der­de­vel­op­ment at the hands of im­pe­ri­al­ist pow­ers.

Haiti won in­de­pen­dence from France in 1804 after a suc­cess­ful slave re­bel­lion.

Santo Domingo had been one of the most prof­itable colonies at the time and fi­nanced the birth of French cap­i­tal­ism.

But the 12-year strug­gle for in­de­pen­dence meant that the coun­try was dev­as­tated, with a third of the pop­u­la­tion dead and sugar plan­ta­tions un­work­able.

No sooner had Haitians kicked out the French than their old colo­nial rulers de­manded Haiti take out loans to com­pen­sate for­mer slave own­ers. At the bar­rel of a gun, Haiti agreed to pay 90 mil­lion gold francs over the fol­low­ing 122 years to France.

This meant Haiti was trapped in a cy­cle of debt for decades to come and re­mained re­liant on sub­sis­tence farm­ing.

The Haitian rul­ing class brought in a pack­age of free mar­ket re­forms in a bid to ram through cap­i­tal­ist devel­op­ment.

And, most dev­as­tat­ingly, tar­iffs on agri­cul­tural pro­duce were axed, al­low­ing cheap US prod­ucts to flood the mar­ket. Haitians called this the “Amer­i­can plan” or “death plan”.

But forced in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion also ex­panded the size and strength of Haiti’s work­ing class, which fed pop­u­lar protest on the streets.

The Haitian rul­ing class, backed by the US and in­ter­na­tional cap­i­tal, waged a war to limit the threat posed by the move­ment.

The mil­i­tary top­pled pop­ulist Jean Ber­trand Aris­tide twice through mil­i­tary coups, in 1991 and 2004.

US pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton forced Aris­tide to ca­pit­u­late to cap­i­tal and in­vaded Haiti in 1994 to “re­store democ­racy”. – so­cial­ist­worker.co.uk

Leon Louw


TREACHERY: De­bris and downed power lines lit­ter the streets in Port-au-Prince after a mas­sive 2010 earth­quake in Haiti, where devel­op­ment lags be­cause of a de­bil­i­tat­ing debt im­posed on it by its past colo­nial master.

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