Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Will Bob Geldof end charity campaign because of ‘cash for arms’ revelations?

The news that funds raised by former rock singer and now anti poverty campaigner, Bob Geldof in a charity event called ‘Band Live’ to support starving Ethiopians a little over twenty years ago, has become a bit more of a shocking news. The first time I came across the story was in the British ‘Times’ newspaper, at least the online version.

The story claimed that a BBC documentary had uncovered the extent to which substantial funds raised during the charity programme had gone to aid a rebel movement in the Tigray province in 1985 to buy arms to execute their rebellion.

Though the BBC consistently maintain that it stands by its story, Geldof also maintains that there is “not a shred of evidence" Band Aid or Live Aid money was siphoned off. I listened to programme last Sunday on the BBC ‘Assignment’ programme presented by Martin Plaut. the World Service Africa editor.

The presenter admitted he was young at the time and looking back there were couple of ends he ought to have tightened up. But he did not because he was then a young reporter and pretty much inexperienced. But is that an excuse, Martin?
Mr. Plaut is one hell of an amazing journalist, surfing through some of the most difficult leads to make stories look good.

I want to believe Geldof is as exasperated as admirers especially looking at the amount of work and efforts that went into such an exercise and for news report to emerge that substantial portions of the money ended up with rebels who used it to kill their own citizens facing starvation.

I’m wondering the rationale behind the BBC story; is it to spite Geldof and his works over the years or just alerting him to be more proactive and keep an eye on funds he intend raising for similar projects. He has insisted he’ll sue the Ethiopian government if it turns out the story is true.

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