Why I want Buhari Out – Obasanjo
February 16, 2018 | 0 Comments
FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria in exclusive interview with German broadcaster February 14, 2018
President Buhari should not run for another term in office, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo advised in a letter to Nigeria’s head of state in January 2018. In an interview, he told Deutsche Welle, DW, Germany’s international broadcaster on February 14, why he wrote the letter.
Nigerian Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is known for his public letters to sitting presidents. In 2013 he wrote a letter to Goodluck Jonathan condemning the widespread corruption in Nigeria. This was one of the key areas Muhammadu Buhari vowed to address during his time in office. However, the fight against graft seems to have been tougher than Buhari had calculated. According to Nigeria’s Supreme Court 1,124 corruption cases were brought before the country’s courts in 2017.
Obasanjo also addressed President Buhari’s ill health, which had prevented him from attending to state affairs for several months. The letter came at a time when Obasanjo launched his Coalition for Nigeria movement which he claims is not a political, but a socio-economic organization.
DW: In 2015 you decided to endorse the then opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari. Now you heavily criticized him in a letter and urged him not to run for a second term. When you think back, was it a right decision to endorse Buhari?
Olusegun Obasanjo: Yes, it was the right decision. With the benefit of hindsight, you will agree with me, if you know what has happened and what has been revealed about the government of Jonathan and those who are with him, in terms of sordid corruption and you will agree that this was the right decision. I believe it that was a decision that was good at that time for our country and our democracy. Because we were able to transition from one party to another party. As a result of that we are consolidating democratic process. It is also the right decision now, for us to see that the man who is taking over from Jonathan has not met the expectation of Nigerians, that’s what democracy is all about. Democracy is about change. But if you think that is not the right decision, then you are not a democrat. But I am a democrat and tomorrow if I take a decision and things don’t work out the way we expect them to work out in a democracy, then you make a change.
One of the biggest promises of President Buhari was to fight corruption. That is his flagship topic. You are now saying that he turns a blind eye on corrupt people in his inner circle. Has Buhari’s corruption fight failed already?
I won’t quite put it that way. I would say he was probably looking outside, he wasn’t looking inside, because if you are fighting corruption [and] corruption is becoming rife then you also have to turn your attention inward.
What would you do differently if you were him in fighting corruption?
I would do what I exactly did before. I set up the two major institutions that are being used to fight corruption. I would make sure that the people who are in charge of these two institutions are men or women of integrity and I would look outside and inside because there is no point in fighting corruption beyond you while you have corruption (in front of) your nose.
Would you say is that you were more successful in fighting corruption?
I won’t judge myself. I will leave that to other people.
President Buhari is widely regarded as a man of integrity among most Nigerians. Is he lacking seriousness?
I don’t know which Nigerians you are talking about. Maybe Nigerians of four years ago. Talk to Nigerians today.
In your letter, you wrote that Buhari has a poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. You also said that he is weak in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector. Your critics are saying that they have the impression that you [feel you] are a moral authority and that you are the only person who understands how to run this country. What do you say to that?
I won’t answer them. I will reserve it as my right as a Nigerian.
You said in the past that you would pull out of politics. How does that go together with the new coalition movement?
A movement is a movement. It’s not a political organisation. It’s a social, economic organisation. And I have said that if that movement turns political, I will withdraw from it.
But you write that the two biggest parties in the country are unfit to run Nigeria. Do you hope to provide an alternative?
No, I would not stand in the way of that movement. If it decides to become a candidate sponsoring organization then it will become political and I will withdraw from it.
It is not yet clear who the members will be. And the names that got a lot of attention were the names people already know former governors, members of the [opposition] PDP (People’s Democratic Party). Some people have the feeling that it is not going to be a new innovative movement but think that it’s old people in new clothes.
If that is what you hear then you are hearing it wrongly. There are thousands of Nigerians inside Nigeria and outside Nigeria who have never been in politics and are members of this movement. It’s not old wine in a new bottle. It’s new wine in a new bottle.
Olusegun Obasanjo served as Nigeria’s president from 1999 to 2007, as well as Nigeria’s military ruler from 1976 to 1979. He has taken on the role of a senior diplomat, which has in the past included negotiating the release of the kidnapped Chibok girls and serving as a special UN envoy to resolve the crisis in eastern DRC. He quit the ruling PDP party in 2015 and recently launched the Coalition for Nigeria movement
The interview was conducted by DW’s Africa correspondent Adrian Kriesch.
*Culled from African Courier/Real News
Femi Falana Tears Into Nigerian Government over Southern Cameroons Crisis
February 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
*Nigeria’s NSA, Babagana Mogono recklessly deported Cameroonians – Falana Nigeria’s Right Activist
*The National Commission for Refugees, the Immigration department and the ministry of foreign affairs were not consulted before the deportation”
* Their deportation was carried out outside the ambit of the Extradition Act.
* Ours has become an unsafe territory for refugees and asylum seekers
*Nigeria can resolve the crisis in Southern Cameroon in the interest of regional stability
*We shall pursue the case until Nigeria returns to the community of civilized nations – Falana Nigeria’s Right Activist
By Olayinka Ajayi
Obviously peeved at the extradition of leaders of the Anglophone movement led by Ayuk Julius Tabe from Nigeria, renown human right activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN Femi Falana hits hard at the Nigerian government in this exclusive interview with Olayinka Ajayi of PanAfricanVisions. Excerpts:
The Cameroon Government announced recently that leaders of the Anglophone movement led by Mr Julius Ayuk Tabe in Nigeria were handed over to Cameroon,how did this happen?
Femi Falana:It is true that a number of Cameroonian refugees and asylum seekers who were illegally arrested and detained by the federal government were and deported from Nigeria to Cameroon on Friday, January 26, 2018. When we received information of the plan to deport them we rushed to the federal high court to stop the illegal plan. We also reached out to the Comptroller-General of Immigration, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees in Nigeria. As soon as the Commission confirmed the information it dispatched a letter to the federal government pointing out that Nigeria has a legal obligation under international law not to deport the detained Cameroonians. But in a demonstration of reckless impunity the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd) deported our clients in defiance of the intervention of the United Nations and the pending suit in court. Out of shame the National Security Adviser could not disclose the deportation of our clients from Nigeria but the Government of Cameroon decided to celebrate the deportation and threatened to prosecute our clients for terrorism. I have protested the deportation to President Buhari and demanded that our clients be returned to Nigeria without any delay.
You were one the lawyers who was mentioned in the case ,what role did you play?
Femi Falana:My learned colleague, Mr. Abdul Oroh is handling the case with our law firm. Both of us were at the high commission of Cameroon last Tuesday to demand for access to our clients who are currently held incommunicado in Cameroon. We were asked to submit a letter to that effect and we have done so.
Does Nigeria have any extradition treaty with Cameroon, what laws were respected and what laws were violated?
Femi Falana:Nigeria has no extradition treaty with Cameroon. For that reason the federal government could not file extradition proceedings in any local court. Hence, the deportation was carried out outside the ambit of the Extradition Act. No law was respected whatsoever but many laws were breached by the federal government which has continued to exhibit authoritarian tactics and rule of might under a democratic dispensation that is supposed to be anchored on the rule of law. In deporting our clients the federal government violated Section 1 of the National Commission for the Refugees etc Act which has prohibited the expulsion, extradition or deportation of any person who is a refugee to the frontiers of any country where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his membership of a particular group or political opinion or whose life may be endangered for any reason whatsoever. The federal government also breached the human right of our clients to enter Nigeria, reside, seek and obtain asylum guaranteed by Article 12 (3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act. The Act further provides that every individual shall have the right, when persecuted to seek and obtain asylum in other countries in accordance with the laws of those countries and international conventions. Apart the violation of such laws the federal government breached its legal obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention on Refugees and which have guaranteed the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Nigeria to protection.
Among those deported were some said to have Nigerian citizenship and working here,and others with refugee status or seeking same,what does the transfer or deportations tell us about the Buhari Administration?
Femi Falana:We have established that three of the deportees are naturalized citizens while others are recognized refugees and political asylum seekers in Nigeria. Twelve of our clients who are the leaders of the people of Southern Cameroon have been living in Nigeria for several years. Some are lecturers at the Ahmadu Bello University and the American University in Yola. Three of them are lawyers. Those who are not refugees among them have been granted permanent resident status in Nigeria. You can only expel a foreigner from your country if he violates the law. Even then an asylum seeker cannot be turned over to the authorities of a country that is likely to persecute him. Under no condition can a Nigerian citizen be deported from the country. The only time that a Nigerian citizen had been deported was in 1980 when the Shehu Shagari regime expelled Mr. Shugaba Abdulraman Darman and dumped him in Chad. The case challenging the deportation was declared illegal by the high court which ordered the federal government to bring him back to the country. The court also awarded damages in favour of the deportee. The illegal deportation of the naturalized Nigerians and the refugees has caused a huge embarrassment to the federal government because there is no legal justification for it. Can you believe that the National Commission for Refugees, the Immigration department and the ministry of foreign affairs were not consulted before the deportation of our clients?
Some people look back from the arrest and transfer of Charles Taylor under Obasanjo,to the inaction of Jonathan when Libya was under attack and now transferring people who fear for their lives to a government they are running away from and question Nigerian leadership in Africa,what do you have to say?
Femi Falana:It is trite that the foreign policies of a government are dictated by its domestic policies. The case of Charles Taylor is totally different from this one. The Special Court for Sierra Leone set up by the Security Council of the United Nations had issued a warrant for the arrest of ex-Liberian president for crimes against humanity. Nigeria was under a duty under international law to turn him over to the court. But unknown to Nigerians and the international community President Obasanjo did not want Mr. Taylor arrested in Nigeria. As President Obasanjo who was then in the United States was under pressure to hand over Mr. Taylor to the court as a precondition for meeting President George Bush, he quickly directed the immigration to allow the fugitive to leave the country. But as Mr. Taylor was rushing out of the country he was arrested at Damboru border in Borno State at about 6 am on March 2009 by Mr. Sylvester Umoh, a customs officer who was committed to his duty. Even though Mr. Taylor offered to bribe him with $500,000 cash Mr. Umoh rejected it and arrested him. That was how Mr. Taylor was handed over to the Special Court to the embarrassment of President Obasanjo. The federal government then descended on Sylvester Umoh. Instead of giving him a national award he was dismissed from the service without ignominy. Although I succeeded in ensuring the conversion of Mr. Umoh’s dismissal to retirement in 2014 we are still battling with the payment of his entitlements. Again, the Libyan case is different from this case but it also demonstrated a failure of leadership.
Both President Goodluck Jonathan and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa did not have the courage to challenge President Barrack Obama over the planned invasion of Libya. In fact, the representatives of both leading African nations voted for the invasion. Both Nigeria and South Africa betrayed Africa by endorsing the invasion of Libya. In particular, the strategic interests of Nigeria were not considered by the Jonathan administration. Hence, we have paid dearly for the barbaric invasion of Libya. Apart from the slave trade that President Gaddafi would not have allowed in Libya the arms and ammunition looted from the armory of Libya were bought by the Boko Haram sect to launch a deadly attack on Nigeria.
Just like the nation is messed up locally by a cabal of primitive power mongers our foreign affairs have been ruined by the same reactionary group. Luckily for the cabal, Nigerians are not aware of the extent of the manipulation of our foreign affairs. Can you believe that the cabal almost smuggled Morocco to the Economic Community of West African States? The other day, Nigeria lost an important position contested at the African Union because the cabal insisted on a candidate that was not qualified for the post? With the controversial appointment of the Director-General of the new National Intelligence Agency it has been proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the cabal will continue to expose the country to ridicule.
As an international lawyer and seasoned human rights activist, what impact do such actions potend on the international standing of Nigeria?
Femi Falana:It is unfortunate that Nigeria has lost her place of pride in the comity of civilized nations. Nigeria has become a butt of jokes in the international community because of the reactionary policies of the federal government. A time it was when Nigeria successfully confronted the West on the decolonisation of the Southern African region. Was it not Nigeria that ensured the restoration of democracy in Liberia and Sierra Leone? In international conferences Nigeria is no longer reckoned with? For instance, it was President Buhari as a military ruler who had convinced the Organisation of African Unity in 1984 to admit the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member state of the continental body. That was what led Morocco to withdraw from the OAU. Can you believe that Nigeria did not kick against the admission of Morocco to the African Union last year when the situation has not changed? How can Nigeria allow Morocco which is occupying the territory of another African Country to be a member of the AU without withdrawing from the occupied territory of Western Sahara? I have just been briefed by the Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to sue the federal government and the Dangote group over the illegal contract to import sulphate for the production of fertilizer in Nigeria because the mineral resource is in the occupied territory. I have requested the federal government to cancel the illegal contract. Otherwise I will challenge the legal validity of the contract.
For the thousands of refugees flooding in from Cameroon to Nigeria,should this not be a sign that our country, Nigeria is not a safe place for them?
Femi Falana:The implication of the deportation of the Cameroonian refugees is that Nigeria has been discredited once again. Ours has become an unsafe territory for refugees and asylum seekers. Since Nigeria has never violated the provisions of the United Nations Convention Relating to Refugees and the OAU Convention on Refugees by deporting refugees and asylum seekers to any country where they might be persecuted we have requested the federal government to review the illegal deportation and request Cameroon to bring them back to Nigeria. You will agree with me the case of the deportation of the naturalized Nigerians is not negotiable. Because of the desperation of Cameroon to put the deportees on trial and sentence them to death the federal government has to move fast. The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees will have to extract an undertaking from Nigeria that refugees and asylum seekers are safe in Nigeria. More importantly, Nigeria has to demonstrate her readiness to respect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Otherwise, the over 20,000 asylum seekers in Nigeria from Cameroon, Burundi, Sudan, Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and other war torn countries and troubled spots may be expelled at any time by the office of the National Security Adviser.
With the international standing and experience you have is there any role you think Nigeria can play in resolving the crisis in Cameroon?
Femi Falana:Frankly speaking, Nigeria can resolve the crisis in Southern Cameroon in the interest of regional stability. Notwithstanding that Nigeria negligently gave out the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon Nigerians in the island are still been harassed by Cameroonian gendarmes. As far back as 2002 the federal government had opted for a peaceful resolution of the political crisis in Cameroon. When the people of Southern Cameroon filed a suit at the Federal High Court to determine whether the people of Southern Cameroon are not entitled to self-determination within their clearly defined territory separate from the Republic of Cameroun the federal government decided to settle the case out of court. Hence, by a consent judgment delivered by the Court on March 5, 2002, the Federal Government agreed to file a suit at the International Court of Justice to have a judicial confirmation of the human right of the people of Southern Cameroon to self determination. The Federal Government also undertook to take other measures as may be necessary to place the case of the people of Southern Cameroon for self determination before the United Nations General Assembly and other international organizations. On the basis of that judgment which is valid and subsisting Nigeria is estopped from colluding with the fascistic Paul Biya regime to terrorize the people of Southern Cameroon.
Under Nigerian jurisprudence is it possible for people to be held without access to a lawyer?
Femi Falana:Under section 35 of the Constitution and section 6 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act the fundamental right of every suspect or detainee to access their lawyer is guaranteed. With respect to the Cameroonians all efforts made by their lawyers, doctors and family members to visit them in custody were frustrated. Even Mrs. Nalowa Bih who is pregnant was denied medical attention. But due to the intervention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs a representative of the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees in Nigeria was allowed to visit our clients before they were expelled from Nigeria. During the visit, the United Nations representative found that our clients were held in an underground cell at the headquarters of the Defence Intelligence Agency on the orders of the National Security Adviser.
From your findings who ordered the arrest?Some people say they were arrested and taken to Cameroon long before Nigerian authorities even got wind of it,is this plausible?
Femi Falana:When we were refused access to our clients by the National Security Adviser we filed an application at the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday, January 25, 2018 for the purpose of securing their fundamental rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement. Barely 24 hours later, in utter disdain for due process the National Security Adviser deported our clients from Nigeria to Cameroon. Up till now, the National Security Adviser has not been called to justify his action since the country is run on the basis of official impunity. But as law abiding citizens we have challenged the illegal deportation and we have concluded arrangements to give our clients the best legal defence. We shall pursue the case until Nigeria returns to the community of civilized nations. The federal government has to be compelled to abandon its embrace of the rule of might.
Running or Not, Joseph Kabila deserves credit for making the D.R.Congo a country-Information Minister Lambert Mende Omalanga
February 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
As international and domestic pressure mounts on President Joseph Kabila to leave power, Information Minister Lambert Mende Omalanga says the embattled leader deserves credit for making the D.R.Congo a country.
Interviewed in Washington, DC, after meetings with Congressional leaders, State Department Officials, and human rights groups, Omalanga said the country that Joseph Kabila inherited in 2001, and what the D.R.Congo looks like today are like day and night. Unifying the D.R.Congo has been no easy feat, and critics should take that into consideration when tearing into President Kabila, Omalanga charged.
With a definite date now in place, continuous political agitations in the D.R.Congo today are uncalled for, said Omalanga. The elections will take place on December 23, 2018. The elections have been budgeted for, and there is an independent electoral commission in place to make sure the polls is credible.
Will President Kabila run in the 2018 elections? People will have to wait till June to find out Minister Omalanga said, though he conceded that after serving his two terms, only a referendum could amend the constitution for him to stand.
Responding to recent criticisms from civil society actors like Cardinal Monsengwo, Omalanga said the Catholic Church was over stepping its role. The date of the elections was done in consultation with church leaders, and their current criticisms of Kabila are baffling, he said.
Minister Omalanga also had harsh words for former colonial Belgium for ingerence in the internal affairs of the D.R.Congo. Belgium must understand that the D.R.Congo is an independent country capable of making its own decisions ,Omalanga said.
Mr Lambert Mende Omalanga, good afternoon sir
You are the minister of information for the Democratic Republic of Congo…
…and currently visiting in Washington DC. Welcome to Washington.
What brings you to Washington this time?
Well, I came for a visit in IOWA state University where I was invited. And before going back I was told by my President to bypass in Washington to speak with our friends in State Department as well in Open Society, who paid a visit to Congo recently ,and I had that meeting there in State Department yesterday and today at the Open Society. So, we spoke about current affairs in Congo, mostly about elections that is on the agenda now in our country.
Talking about elections, we’ll talk about that a lot , but your arrival in Washington DC coincided with a letter from a group of Senators to President Kabila trying to express interest to see him show more commitment towards elections. What is your response to that letter?
We are much surprised by this initiative of pushing a door that is opened already. We are having our already scheduled elections where everybody know that elections will take place on the 23rd of December, we have finalised the census of electors, that is the first stage . We are now going on preparing the polls as such, and I don’t know why they feel so impatient to ask our president to tell them what?
We are just on the planification, we are acting now, going straight to the elections, there is nothing that will prevent the elections from taking place. We have had some security problems, to that note some delays, security problems in Kasai, security problems in the eastern part of the country where we are facing terrorist offensive. We won those terrorist offensive, we had budget problems, and we won them thanks to the fact that our products like cobalt and copper got higher. Now we are surprised, we are more comfortable with budgets. So there is nothing that can prevent elections from taking place.
So Mr.Lambert Mende Omalanga you are reassuring everybody that elections in Congo will take place on the 23 December 2018?
That is our will, I am not here to assure or reassure anybody because we are not organising the elections for American people, we are organising elections for Congolese people. It is in our constitutional provision to organise elections every five years. So, we overpassed five years because of these problems we met, but now we won the problems.
It is only a matter of informing them that things have been now in a right better way, that the elections will be held on the 23rd of December. So somebody should believe, this habit of thinking that we are here to justify before them or what. We are organising elections for Congolese only and it will be organised because it is our will, it is our commitment, and it is our interest as a people.
And with the day now certain, why are Congolese people taking to the streets?They were in the street a few weeks back, and if I could bring up this reaction from Cardinal Monsengwo, he said “leave Congo, it’s becoming like a prison” in reaction to the crackdown that took place during the recent march. Why is all of these going on in Congo?
We think that as a democratic country people are free to express themselves, you know people can feel impatient and then we know that some members of the opposition feel impatient about the elections because we have passed two years before when the election had to be organised.what is surprising for us is that Catholic Church that should be more neutral in the politics, some members of the clergy of the Catholic Churches are mixing themselves in these political disputes. That’s the problem we are having, not all Catholic Church is against the government, it’s a part of Catholic Church, and you cited Cardinal Mosengwo, and not all Bishops are against the way things took place, we went on discussions and the facilitation’s with the Catholic bishops, and we came out with the schedule that postponed the elections to 23 of December, so we are happy with this.
Agreement that is 23 rd, the agreement that is been now implemented, so maybe Bishop Mosengwo has his own friends among us politicians. So, I think maybe politicians, that’s his problem, I can’t criticise him, but I can’t I fall off this idea of him bringing ill comments like that.
Mr Minister, you said Congolese are free to express themselves democratically. Now when they go to the street to protest, why was the response from the military so violent? Because from the response that we got, a number of people were killed. Why were people killed when they were trying to express their democratic rights?
Let me explain to you what happened. We had two protests, two demonstrations, one happened on the 31st of December last year, the second one 21st Of January this year. And in the first demonstration, we didn’t have even a single dead person linked to the demonstration, we had a policeman killed after the demonstration due to a confrontation between the police and a gang of people operating, this was out of the demonstration. We had two people who tried to take advantage of the demonstration to loot a commercial estate where they found death when they were fighting with the security personnel of the estate. And we had also a guy who died while the terrorist group attacked the Kananga airport, this is at 2,000 kilometres from Kinshasa. That amounts to five people, no one linked to the protest. So it is a lie if someone tells you that during the 31st of December protest last year somebody died. But they are saying so because opposition needs to say things that can hamper the government, they can say things that can compromise our chance to have a good image towards our people. I hear them saying so. The second protest that we have had in the country occurred around 21st Of January this year and we had two people dying, one was shot by a policeman who claimed self-defence. We launched an investigation team which said the policeman was saying a lie, we called the martial team, he is now facing his judge. The second one, inquiries are still going on because the medical personnel of the hospital called Kitambo hospital saw people bringing a lady wounded, and when they asked people who brought that lady who they are, and what happened, those people escaped and the lady died after all. So, how can we say it is the police who killed her, so we don’t know exactly what happened with that lady, so we do acknowledge a single wrongdoing with our police, and this policeman was notified, is court martialed and we are awaiting the justice to take a decision about him, that is the rule of law in any state.
Prior to your arrival in Washington, in what shape did you leave Congo? How is Congo doing economically? How is Congo doing politically, besides this protest how is Congo doing politically as a country?
Politically, I can tell you that people are really now totally devoted to wait and prepare for the third election since we have adopted the new constitution. That is the third election we are going to handle and people are of course excited about it. And mostly those who are interested in running for presidency, for parliamentship, for local parliamentship, so that is it. Economically we are doing well, we had what we can say a short budget last year due to the lack of means due to the bad prices of the products we had to sell in the international market, like copper, like cobalt. But lucky enough, we have witnessed the amelioration of these prices, that helped us to finance ourselves, our elections. And those people around the world who promised a lot and didn’t bring anything, we were able to finance our elections by ourselves due to this amelioration of our budget so we are doing great economically.
And your country is so rich when it comes to resources.
How is the investment climate like? Because, when people talk about Congo, the image they have e is still one of instability. What can you tell International investors? Is your country open and ready for investment? And does it have the right climate for these companies to come in and invest?
Well you know that it is not enough to have resources to be developed, you need a framework of security, you need a framework of peace, that is what we need really restored in our country. And you know that since 60’s, since we have gotten independence from Belgium, we have been the target of some new colonial policies mostly from western countries- mostly from Europe, mostly from Belgium. They killed Lumumba three months after independence because he wanted us to enjoy fully our independence, and so they are continuing with our leaders now, they killed Laurent Kabila, they are trying now to threaten Joseph Kabila. The one who will come and let’s say will decide to give them our wealth will be their target also. So we have to fight to maintain our freedom as a people, to maintain our right, our wealth, that is the main challenge we are facing, but we are also fighting to make investment to be more easy- possible. And we have a written code of investment that tries to give confidence to investors and those who are confiding us by coming, because not all the counties need security. We have security in north kivu province, maybe two counties, we have security in Kasai province, maybe two counties out of 150 countries. So the remaining, there is peace, there is calm. And the people who want to come can be aware that there is peace and they will enjoy facilities, the roles of investment provides for them.
Let’s go back to elections, what is it that the government of President Kabila is doing to ensure make sure that this elections are free, fair and with results that all the Congolese people will be able to accept.
The thing is that Congolese have decided to make elections to be organised by an independent body. You know in most countries, you find that elections are being organised by the government- by internal affair ministries, but in our country, we have decided to build up an independent electoral commission that is comprised of opposition members, majority members, civil society, and this commission is headed by a civil society member. So, this is a way we found to neutralise politically the electoral body, and this commission is independent towards the government, towards foreign interest, and towards anybody, be it the Catholic Church or what. Everybody who has private interest cannot give instruction to that commission, that is the first decision, our people took, not the government, it is in the constitution of our country. Secondly, we have decided that now we have to make a schedule, to make a calendar and the calendar was published this year, that is why I can say that we are sure now that on the 23rd of December, we shall have the elections, presidential one, legislative one national and local on the same day that was decided when we discussed majority, opposition and the civil society. In December 2016 we decided so and it is going to happen. That is what I can say and since the schedule are being published and we are following the schedule, and we decide that we have to start by revising the electoral list, and we have finished revising that list. And I think that is a signal that things are following their way to help bring us to elections exactly on a date that is convenient for everybody- on the 23rd of December this year.
There seems to be a lot of mistrust from the opposition when it comes to President Kabila, they both think that he has not been sincere to some of his promises in the past. And when I spoke to one of them about a week ago, his fear was that President Kabila might run again whereas he is not supposed to, he is your president, you are his minister, is he, would he be part of this presidential election, is he going to run?
My dear let me tell, you that if there’s no mistrust between the opposition and the president then there would not be opposition, they would all be for the government. So, it’s because there is mistrust that there is opposition, they don’t trust us, and so doing we don’t trust them. We think they have sold to foreign interest, we are accusing them, that they have sold to this new colonial. Is it true?, it is not true, but it is our conviction, like its their conviction that we might do some tricks to have President Kabila changing the constitution, but how will he do such without referendum, and there is no referendum ready on the agenda. So, he must wait , we are waiting for polls to take place, from June we shall start having the candidates, they will see if Kabila will be candidate, but I know that the constitution forbids anybody who have had two terms like President Kabila to run again. So, since we have not yet seen Kabila saying that he will run, nobody can say that he is trying to change that, I can say that maybe you’re trying to kill me this evening when you are not trying to kill me. This is what we call in French “proces d’intention” ‘(speaks French) -(witch hunt)I don’t know what you say in English, you think to judge me by intention by what you think I could think, so it is difficult, you better wait. if I do any wrongdoing then you judge me, but you cannot just say that I will do wrong and convince yourself and convince everybody that I will do something wrong, nothing wrong have been done till now, and there is no referendum, no change of constitution and Kabila will not run because you cannot run with this constitution, and you can’t change the constitution without a referendum, that’s all.
One of the leading opposition candidates Moise katumbi, he has been in exile now for a while and he says he is fearful for his life. So, is there anyway that the democratic space can be open in a way that people like him can come in to contest if they want, so that the election can have more credibility
That’s bogus, because one should ask how Mr Katumbi came out of the country, how did he get out, Mr.Katumbi was already a candidate, he announced himself that he was a candidate for the presidency, but Mr Katumbi has problems with the judiciary, he has problems with other Congolese, they know he stole property of other people and they brought him to court, and he was asked to appear before the court, then he said that he is sick and he needs to come abroad for treatment, and the prosecutor said to the government this man is saying he’s sick, I think I’m going to allow him go for treatment. If the government really wanted to kill Mr.Katumbi will the government have allowed Mr.Katumbi to come abroad?
No, we said okay if he is sick, let him go, but nobody is preventing him to come back, it is a lie, he is here because the government accepted the proposal from the prosecutor to send him abroad and he was supposed to come for treatment, and then come back, finalise with the justice and do whatever he wants, so nobody is preventing him. He is using only the fact that he is abroad to make his propaganda out of the tide, that’s wrong, nobody prevented him to leave the country, nobody will prevent him to come back, but nobody will interfere in the course of justice, because this is a problem between him, those who have grievance against him and the justice, not the government because there is a strict separation of power, we are executive, the judiciary is a power that is independent so Katumbi has to finalise his problem with the judiciary, he should leave the executive alone, he has a problem with the judiciary, and we have some people in Nigèr, we have people in Senegal who while having problems with the judiciary they ran for elections. Until the day you are condemned you can run for elections, nobody preventsatumbi to run for elections, this is a lie totally.
Opposition leaders again said that President Kabila has really done nothing of substance to improve Congo or to improve the lives of the Congolese people. Now you have been in power since 2001 and you have served in these government in different capacities for a very long time too, What has his government achieved for the Congolese people since he took over power in 2001
Only someone who was not in Congo in 2001 can say so, only someone who does not know Congo can say so, in which state Kabila found Congo, Congo was divided in three countries, there was a program to balkanise Congo, to separate Congo. We had a Congo that was belonging to Uganda, we had a Congo that was belonging to Rwanda, and that was the exact Congo which the government and Kabila managed to reunite, that’s a big achievement, to make Congo remain United that’s something people of Congo are very grateful to President Kabila for, you don’t really think that a country like Congo in 2001 when Kabila the senior was killed, nobody was thinking that Congo will remain Congo as it is today, but Kabila managed, made his effort to maintain the unity of this country, that is, our first strength to have this country developed, you have to be a country before you can be developed, that’s what he did, that’s the answer I can give. Maybe they found problems of security he built an army, we didn’t have an army by them, now we are 10th along the 54 armies in Africa, it is he who did it. Our first problem was a security problem and he solved it, so you can’t make miracles on every ways, maybe the others will solve other problems but at least he maintained the reunification of Congo, he maintained that Congo United, one should be grateful to him for that. That’s the reality.
With regards to the international community, a lot interest is shown when it come to Congo, what message do you have for them, how do you think they can be of greater help to your country, as you go through this up coming electoral process.
Well, a lot has been promised by our partners of international community, we shall do so, we shall help for the electoral process, so and so, but we didn’t see a single coin given to Congo, lucky enough we have resources we allocated for our elections.
We are the owners of the country, we are the ones to budget, we are the ones to finance, we made sacrifices and we found money. So, if they want to finance let it be, it can help us maybe to take some other money to send for development. If they don’t have money let Congolese alone solve their problems that is our problem. But we are seeing mostly from Europe, exceptionally from Belgium the former colonial power, they are the one who are trying to create problems among Congolese, to oppose Congolese against each another, in order to dissolve the unity of the country, and to try to exploit it for their own benefits, so leave Congolese alone, we are not a paradise maybe, but if we are left alone solving our own problems, following our own will, we are sure that we will solve the problems of development in Congo.
So, the problem is this interference from Western countries, from Belgium, and we are landing now in a very hot dispute with Belgium as we are talking. We do not have an Ambassador from Belgium in Kinshasa, we do not have an Ambassador of Congo in Brussels, we thought that when they killed Lumumba it was enough, that we have paid the cost by the blood of Lumumba, it seems like it is not enough, and for us we feel baffled.
Mr minister, can you shed more light on the problem that Congo has with Belgium, we will like to know a little more of what is the issue?
You have to hear in Belgium a coalition in power who wants to bring us in the Situation we were before independence that Congo should belong to Belgium, we can’t belong to Belgium it’s impossible, we are independent, and we feel really independent, and we are proud of our independence, and we think the death Lumumba paid for our independence, and nobody can take us again as slaves, as a colonised country, that this Belgium they are trying to colonise us again, and we do refuse, and they are helping people like Mr Katumbi and others to bring us back to that situation of 60s, that’s the only problem we are having with them in summary.
A quick question again on the security situation in Congo. How is it, is the country actually secured? are the borders secured? is the military actually in control of all the Congolese country?
We are in full control of all territory except two territory, two counties. I told you that out of 160 in the border of Uganda where we are experiencing very hard offensive of terrorists we call ADF, those are Ugandans rebels they are fighting their own government of Uganda, they went on alliance with al-Shabab from Somalia and they are using these two territories of our country North kivu to fight their government and they are killing our people also, killing our soldiers, killing even the peace keepers of United Nations mostly Tanzanians, South Africans and from Malawi who came to help to secure that part of the country we are having this problem. We had problems last year with a terror offensive that happened in Kasai that’s in the central region, but this we dealt with it ourselves, our own army maintained this, we arrested the terrorist, they are now brought to court, they are responding now to the judges who are judging them, and they are going to be sentenced, but our law is sane and for the rest of the country living in peace and waiting for elections.
So, are there any prospect that your country The DR Congo can work with Uganda to try to resolve the security problems with these two regions that you are talking about ?
No, only one because the other one is in the central we can’t work with any neighbouring countries, but near Uganda we do work with Uganda, but Uganda is not allowed to send in troops because we had bad experience when they came with Rwanda last year to invade our country, so we accepted only exchange of information, exchange of intelligence materials so it is what is been done, and it works we send them some information, they send our military some information and anybody in his territory can cope with his bandit, that’s what we are doing.
I know you are tired, you’ve had a long day, but we will soon wrap this up. When you read human right reports about Congo, from Amnesty International, from Human Rights Watch and from other groups, you see all these stories about rape, you see stories people been arrested. What’s your reaction to that?
I told them when I met them today, and I told them look; it is not good to try to live off other people’s problems. You are trying to make your food on the problems of Congolese, we have problems with two NGOs Human right watch and Fédération Nationale des ligues des droits de l’homme, a French human right group. let me give you two cases Human Rights Watch went on saying that we met security problems some days ago in Goma, Kinshasa or else where, we went to recruit former rebels of M23, those are some of our compatriots, some of them are Tutsi, some are Hutu, because they are the same people in Kivu province and in Rwanda, so they wrote that we went to hire those people, the Tutsi among them to come and help our army to kill other Congolese in Goma, and in Kinshasa. When we have an army of 160,000 military personnel, why should we go and hire 200 poor people who are on exile, we defeated them, they ran away so we go to take them to come and crush our people. But, what happened, those people in Kivu said ooh, look human right have said that you went to hire Tutsi against us, it brought inter ethnic battle between Tutsi, Congolese and other tribes in Congo. So, we said human right watch you are responsible for this renewing of inter ethnic clashes in Congo, this is not good, you can’t do so because you need to have budget, to have so and so you have to say something. It is stupidity .
Secondly, in the Kasai the (French name) said that, the government went on recruiting non Luba people to crush Luba people, and they start fighting in the kasai, those people who were living with good intelligence between them started clashing between them because of this report of NGO from Paris, imagine, and it was false, it was a fake report. Why are you trying to make your food on the suffering of poor Congolese people, that’s the problem we are having with these NGOs, it’s too injurious .
You are visiting in the United States, and when you see the way politics is done here, a few weeks ago there was this reaction from President Trump that created a lot of misinterpretation, how did you people in the Congo Interpret the statement from Donald Trump referring to African countries in a certain way?
I’m not aware that he was referring to African countries, I read a letter he wrote to our heads of states that are gathering in Addis Ababa, it is a good letter, and I’m sure that USA has no colonial experience, it has no colonial past, so we don’t have a problem with the United States till now, when we have a problem we shall say, nobody will prevent us from speaking, until now we leave them in peace
Mr Lambert Mende Omalanga thank you very much. Any last words?
You are welcome, thank you
With Kabila gone, change can be rapid, and great for the people of the D.R.Congo
January 27, 2018 | 1 Comments
-We will not be fooled a third time into believing that Kabila will hold elections.
– Kabila created a country of sadness and death. He created a country where he uses rape as a tool for his power
-Kabila’s evil ways have unified the people against him.
-African leaders have left their people infrastructure and opportunity. Kabila has left nothing but destruction
– Christian Malanga, of United Congolese Party Takes on President Kabila.
By Ajong Mbapndah L
The only solution for the political crisis in the D.R.Congo is for President Joseph Kabila to step down and give way for a new transitional government to hold transparent, and free elections ,says Christian Malanga, President of the United Congolese Party.
Malanga who shuttles between the USA and the D.R.Congo accuses President Kabila of creating a country of sadness and death where rape is used as a tool for his power. Whereas some African leaders have bequeathed a legacy of infrastructure and opportunity their people, Kabila has left nothing but destruction, says Malanga who is nursing Presidential ambitions of his own.
The evil ways of President Kabila have unified the people against him ,and he must be made to answer for all crimes committed by his government against Congolese. Lauding the support of the international community , Malanga believes that it is ultimately up to the people of the D.R.Congo to chart their own future. With Kabila gone, change can be rapid and great for the people of the D.R.Congo, says Malanga.
Mr. Christian Malanga, you are President of the United Congolese Party, can you start by introducing your party and how you became its leader?
Thank you for taking the time to interview me and learn more about my cause. Let me start from the beginning. When I was a teenager my family moved to the United States as political refugees. It was in the US that I had the opportunity to follow my entrepreneurial spirit. As a young entrepreneur, I had a yearning to go home to the DRC and give back and shine a light on my people. Living in America also exposed me to the values of democracy the importance of serving one’s country. When I went to the DRC I decided I should join the military as a DRC patriot. It was my time in the military where I witnessed first hand the systematic corruption Kabila had orchestrated. He was purposely creating the mess in East Congo and the military was not being paid adequately and more importantly was given orders to stand down to Mai Mai rebels.
There was a moment of clarity when I saw a protesting civilian killed and I knew then that I must bring change to the Congo. I decided to run a grassroots political movement with posters, speeches, rallies; using all of the ways I witnessed good democracy in America.
However, I came to find out in order to get a position in office you needed to be a Kabila crony. My strategy scared Kabila and his cronies and he tortured me for two weeks and raped my secretary. The Carter Center rescued me and I then decided to go to the US to form my political party, The United Congolese Party, and lobby in Washington DC.
After lobbying in DC and gaining much support, I decided to campaign to the Congolese diaspora worldwide. I spent time creating my grassroots campaign in USA, Canada, Belgium, France, England, Germany, and South Africa. My vision is for a true democracy based on the principles of the DRC Constitution, grow mass support, and eventually became the voice for all Congolese people being oppressed by the unconstitutional dictatorial regime.
You are based in the USA, how well implanted is the party in Congo and how does it function there with a President who is out of the country?
Although I have a major office in Washington, DC I am currently based and working in Kinshasa. I am in my country because the only way change will happen is if we are organized.
How would you describe the political situation in the country today?
The country is currently a failed state. We have a dictator who will not follow his sworn duty to the Constitution. Although we have the world’s supply of cobalt: the most important resource for the 21st century and beyond and the DRC is sitting on trillions in resources, the DRC cannot thrive in the current conditions. The DRC is the rape capital of the world, we have no infrastructure, no jobs, we are a hungry population with a short life expectancy, diseases such as cholera because we lack clean water and plumbing. We have countless massacres in Kasai and Beni which are for the benefit and at the behest of Kabila. We have systematic corruption from the highest level to the lowest level. Nevertheless, with education and Kabila gone change can be rapid and great for the people.
There have been growing protests and demonstrations against President Kabila recently, how far are Congolese willing to go to get him out of power?
We are going to arrest Kabila and his criminal political cronies. The problem in my country is the political elite who steal from the country. We the people are creating a new government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is my vision to ensure that democracy and development succeed. I will be the President of the new transitional government. With dedication and hard work democracy and a transitional government will be coming in the very near future.
Kabila may still be there, but elections are coming up, why can the people of the D.RC not be patient and use the election to vote him out?
Elections are coming when the people remove Kabila. Kabila is a pathological liar. There is an old saying: fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. We will not be fooled a third time into believing that Kabila will hold elections.
Mr Kabila has been there since 2001, if you had to be unbiased in your assessment, what are some of the things he got right for the D.RC, his critics say he united the country, and has greatly improved infrastructure, do you agree with any of these?
Have you been to my country? Infrastructure is the biggest problem for my country. DRC under Kabila has ranked among last in UN Development Programs Human Development Index. The World Economic Forum’s global competitive index continues to rank DRC in the bottom ten countries. We are starving and don’t have access to clean water and reliable electricity and to get around in the country is a complete mess. Kabila created a country of sadness and death. He created a country where he uses rape as a tool for his power. Kabila has not unified the country through government; rather he has caused endless carnage. Kabila instills fear in our people by using psychopaths such as the Spirit of Death whom he commands to go out in the street and ruthlessly kill civilians.
The only unification that has come out of Kabila’s evil ways is that he has unified the people against him. It has woken up the people how important democracy is and how important it is to hold the government accountable. It has created a young population ready to be on the right side of history working to promote good policies that will benefit the country and our people.
Kabila is relatively young, what role do you see for him when he leaves power, maybe he fears for himself and his family, are there any incentives that the opposition could use to encourage him leave power, even a golden parachute as has been done in some African countries?
Kabila is a criminal on the largest scale. Countless numbers of civilians have been tortured and died because of his actions. Kabila does not discriminate: he has killed many Congolese women and children. Justice is a universal right and he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. His actions do not warrant clemency. We can’t compare DRC to other African countries; other African leaders have left their people infrastructure and opportunity. Kabila has left nothing but destruction.
Can you paint the profile of the kind of leader you think the D.R.C will need after Kabila leaves power?
We need a leader who will focus on education and empowering the people to be productive members of society. We need a unifier: a person who understands the hurdles facing Congolese people and will work tirelessly and smartly to fix the problems that have been a result of a failed state.
What is your take on the way the international community has handled the political crisis in the D.R.Congo?
The international community has done their best and the Congolese people need to take accountability for our mess. The international community has been a beacon for hope and has held Kabila accountable for his violations of democracy and human rights. Nevertheless, change comes from within and we must as a nation be the change the international community hopes for with true democracy.
There are many who think that if the D.R.C is in chaos, it is because of its resources, what is your take on this?
The resource curse is baloney. As President, I would much rather have a resource rich county to manage than a non- resource rich country. The problem is Kabila has stolen money that could have been spent on developing our nation. With good transparent government in a resource rich country development can happen faster and be more sophisticated in its development.
You seem to be nursing Presidential ambitions yourself, are you running and what do you think your chances will be?
I am organizing under democratic principles. I would love to have real elections where I have a democratic campaign. The reality is Kabila will not step down and elections are impossible as long as Kabila is enforcing his will on the people. My campaign is democratic. It is grassroots by and for the people. My campaign is the only vehicle for democracy. Let me make this clear, Kabila must first be removed and then a new transitional government can hold transparent and free elections. I will lead the transitional government and lead my people to freedom.
A last word on the future of the D.R.C, what makes you hopeful and what are your fears?
I am very hopeful because I see our people are motivated for a better life. The Congolese people understand opportunity is possible and endless when there is good governance and democracy and I am committed to delivering both. Fear is not in my vocabulary. My vision is just, and right ,and my strength comes from my faith in God. Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
Making Accra A Must Visit City in Africa- Metropolitan Chief Executive Adjei Sowah In Action
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Calm, soft spoken, witty, and confident, Hon Adjei Sowah is the very epitome of the legendary Ghanaian hospitality on full display in the capital city of Accra that he leads. Appointed by President Nana Akuffo Addo, and unanimously endorsed by all Council members as Metropolitan Chief Executive of Ghana’s capital city Accra in March of last year, Hon Adjei Sowah has been a busy man catering to needs of the four million people who live and interact within Accra on a daily basis.
Established in 1898 and referred to at some point as the City Council, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly that Adjei Sowah heads manages the entire city of Accra. While its land size may have shrunk over the years with creation of districts within the Metropolitan Assembly, the city of Accra still has a resident population of about two million people. During the day, the permanent residents of the city are joined by a floating population of another two million who come in for work and diverse commercial activities before returning to their homes outside Accra in the evenings.
The life of the city is on commerce says Adjei Sowah as major markets in Ghana like Makola, Kantamanto, Kaneshie and others are found within Accra. The city is very cosmopolitan in nature with people from diverse backgrounds and regions all cohabiting peacefully. Interviewed by Ajong Mbapndah L for PAV, Hon Adjei Sowah introduces his city ,progress towards making it the cleanest city in Africa as prescribed by President Akufo Addo, and more.
Good afternoon sir and Happy New year, Hon. Adjei Sowah
Hon Adjei Sowah: Many Happy returns and happy new year to all of you too,
And thanks so much for taking time out off your busy schedule to grant this Interview
Hon Adjei Sowah:. Thank you, it’s a pleasure
You are the Metropolitan Chief Executive of Accra, can you start by introducing your city?
Hon Adjei Sowah: The Accra metropolitan assembly used to be called the city council, it was established in 1898 and as an authority that manages the entire city of Accra. The land size of Accra has been shrinking over the years by the creation of districts within the metropolitan assembly largely because of the increase in number of city dwellers. You are also aware of urbanisation; it brings a lot of people into the city. It used to start from somewhere in Nungua to Accra, and now Nungua, Techiman have been taken away. And today we start from the boundaries of Lar, then to the boundaries of Acho, which is ghana east and then to the boundaries of Ga central and then that of Ga south. The city has a resident population of about two million referenced to the population in housing censured figures. But another floating population of two million plus, and that’s because of the influx of people into the city. So during the day, we are working with more than four million people within the city, and then in the evening people go back to their homes, which is outside the city. And all the major markets in Ghana are within Accra and the life of the city is on commerce, and that’s what attracts people into the city, all kind of things are sold within the city. So, all the major markets; Makola, Kantamanto, kaneshie, they are certain unique markets also as well. For instance Kantamanto is like a second hand clothing market, Agbogbloshie is foodstuff market, Makola is hardware market, so all the markets are in Accra. It’s cosmopolitan also in nature despite the fact that the indigenous people are Ga people, that’s fishing but because it is a city, all manner of people are in the city, the Akans, the Ewes, the Nowes, the northerners, are all in the city, so it’s very cosmopolitan in nature.
You were appointed to office around March
Hon Adjei Sowah: Sure, 24th march
What specific assignments did president Akufo task you with?
Hon Adjei Sowah: Well, because you are in charge of the city, there are certain basic things that you need to do right, in the area of social services, education, infrastructure and a couple of things that you do. And the President also indicated that sanitation is high on the agenda, he has stated clearly that it is his wish that by the end of his tenure, Accra will become the cleanest city in Africa. So, we are working hard towards achieving the dreams of the President, in addition to that we are launching the Accra beautification project to ensure that all open spaces and mediums have been greened and landscaped in Accra to beautify the city and to transform and create value for businesses in Accra.
So we’ve also launched the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan because this is a city and the influx of people that come into the city, we are very much concerned about traffic, not only vehicular traffic, but human traffic. If you walk around the city by this time, within the central business district, everywhere is choked, both vehicular and human traffic. So we are working hard to decongest the city, and make sure that markets outside the central business are also functioning. People also don’t sell on the street, in the pedestrian walkway; they get into the markets to sell so that pedestrians can freely walk on the pedestrian walkways. So these are some of the things that we wanted to do, just to make sure that we tackle the issue of traffic situation in Accra.
The second thing is about education, once the number of people are increasing, the population is increasing, it must also correspond with the infrastructure I.e the education, your drainage system and all kind of things that is supposed to dwell them with. Indeed the president’s initiative of ensuring that education is largely free right from the basic level to SHS has also triggered increase in enrolment, and that is also putting pressure on education infrastructure. So, education infrastructure is key that we need to expand the education infrastructure and even improve upon the existing infrastructure to ensure that people get access to the education in order to give full meaning to the free education that the central government is also pushing hard to ensure that it does it.
Now, the previous Metropolitan Chief Executive was from a different political party?
Hon Adjei Sowah: Sure
In what shape did you meet the city when you took office?
Hon Adjei Sowah: Well, I must say that largely they didn’t leave any foundation for you to build upon it. For instance in the area of sanitation, it has always been a fire fighting approach, there is no proper system to deal with the issue of sanitation, that this is where you started from and we are continuing with it. So basically you have to start from ground zero to start everything afresh to ensure that you build a system and the system would be working.
One, in the city you can’t have a land full site in Accra, because land is prime, but we generate over 2,800 tons of waste within the city everyday and it must be disposed off, and disposal takes a lot of time because a round trip of 90 kilometres, when one truck leaves Accra by the time it returns back, the day is already gone, you can’t go twice. And in modern city management, you construct what is called a transfer system where refuse collected within the city are disposed off at a transfer station, and the transfer station’s responsibility is then to carry the refuse to its final disposal site, so there are bigger haulage trucks there that can be able to convey them. We’ve supported a private developer, and we now have one transfer station in Accra, which is located at Achimota and we need to build two more within the city to be able to receive all the waste that we generate in the city. Hopefully by the end of this month, we will cut out to also start constructing one more to receive the waste. So, these are basic things that if we have been able to do, we will be able to collect the waste before you go to the medium term planning of what to use the waste for, for recycling or for waste to energy and these purposes. At the moment you need to occupy your mind on how to collect the waste first, then the second subject is what you use the waste for, that is what we are engaged in.
It’s been about 9 month now since you took office, in addition to what you just said, if you had to draw a balance sheet, what will you cite as some of the things that you have achieved- some of the things that have changed since you took over as the metropolitan chief executive of Accra.
Hon Adjei Sowah: One of the key things that we have done is to first of all change the mind of the people, and let people come to the realisation that we don’t live with filth, that is key. So, we have hightened people’s attention and today even if they see a small refuse anywhere, people start to complain, people start to talk about it. Hitherto, it’s not an issue, heaps of refuse can be found everywhere. In fact when I came to office, they were about forty-two illegal dump sites in Accra, and I have closed down 70% of them and 30%, we are on course trying to close it down. They were created largely because the tricycles that were operating in the system collecting the household waste can not travel at 90 kilometres round trip to go and dump, so they created their own illegal dump site. And this is where the transfer station when they come in, they will be able to receive. So, it is the closure of the illegal dump sites and the coming in of the transfer station which is a major achievement.
We haven’t closed all because it is important for us to give access to the tricycles, If we don’t give them access, then they will be dumping the waste on the streets of Accra and that shouldn’t happen.
Number two, in terms of our revenue mobilisation, it appears that everybody has got his own form of ticket that it issues to city- those who come to do business in the city as a way of collecting money and you are unable to authenticate the receipt that is issued to you to pay. And we’ve changed that system making sure that everybody who is paying for a service has to go use the POS machine which we are able to track how much you have paid, what time you paid. And from where I sit I will know that Koffi had issued a receipt to you for this service and how much you have paid and at what time. So the collector itself is unable to issue a fake ticket. And number two, if he collects the money from you, he does not need to come to me before I know how much he has been able to collect. And these are very simple tools that are available that we are imploring to use over here.
And you are also the former Greater Accra Regional Secretary….
Hon Adjei Sowah: And even before you end, you walked into this office and this happens to be the City Authority’s office.
Look at this place, very small, car parking is an issue, meanwhile you go around and trump people’s car from parking at unauthorised places. This is not something that I’m happy about, this is not something that we should encourage. Relatively, you’re a young person and I think that if we want to leave a legacy, the thing that we need to build a modern office. So when I came to office I builded a new office complex, a three-story with a huge auditorium, and an office which befits the city authority that when you walk in, you’ll know that you are walking into your office. And by February, we’ll commission that office and start using that office so that when you’re coming, you know that you’re coming to do real business and not in this environment. This is not what we should encourage.
So Hon. Adjei is also the former regional Secretary of New Patriotic Party (NPP)
Hon Adjei Sowah: Yeah
So how do you balance your role as a party man and as Chief Executive of the Accra metropolitan?
Hon Adjei Sowah: Well, since I assumed this office, I’ve relinquished that particular position as regional Secretary because there’ll be even a conflict of interest because in this position, you’re supposed to serve the totality of Ghanaians and not necessarily your party faithfuls. So I have relinquished that particular position. It is a position that I duly cherished, I held that position at the interest for the people and I’ve learnt a lot working with people, how to deal with individuals on a political font. I was there for two terms and I really miss that position.
And to those who have not had the privilege of visiting Accra, can you give us a couple of reasons why they should visit your city.
Hon Adjei Sowah: Well, first of all, Accra is a city where life goes on; you need to live it, love it. If you come into Ghana, you are first of all welcomed to Accra. The good thing is that the people are very nice people. There are many cities that you can’t walk in the night. In the city of Accra, you are safe, you can walk around 24 hours and nobody hurts you, there’s no attack on you. The people are also very nice and there are quite an interesting places also to visit for fun and for tourism as well. If you go to the old Accra where we interfaced with the whites during the colonial period of slavery, all these houses are still there and you can see the general post office. The general post office as it is, it’s just been repainted but the structure as it is pre colonial time is the same thing that is and you will marvel when you see those pictures.
So it’s a very interesting city, the people here are also hardworking and everybody is finding some business to do, service you know, very important.
We have 24 hours electricity unlike other cities in Africa where their light can go off every five minutes and come back. We have free flow of water. The basic social amenities are available in Accra. So I think that anytime you come to Accra, you will feel very welcome to the city.
And just as we are about to wrap this up, one of the things I also noticed in the city was Churches everywhere. So when do people have the time to help you keep the city clean, when do people have the time to do other activities when there are Churches Churches Churches everywhere?
Hon Adjei Sowah: I think that is an African phenomenon and I can give you my wide reasons as well to that. Generally, the churches are coming from Europe and America and they have settled here. Those day when Europe and America were going through their struggle, they were also compelled to look up to God for their survival, now that they may be on their feet, people hardly go to Church and think about God in America and Europe and sometimes people also want to compete with God.
This is Africa, we believe in god and we worship god in various forms and shape. We believe in traditional religion and in fact, our lives, our culture in itself tend to appreciate god and we express it in various forms. So it is not only people who go to Church but people who also sit in their quiet corner, they don’t go to Church but they believe in God, we believe in God. I don’t think we can find and atheist in this country but we can find people like that somewhere else.
And your mandate is supposed to last for four years. So when I come back to visit Accra in four years, how different will Accra be from what it is today?
Hon Adjei Sowah: Well I think that you are going to be a very beautiful city, enhanced, you are going to see a clean city, you are going to see a green city, you’re going to see a city that employs ICT tools in working, and you are going to see a very bubbling city, residents are thriving and everybody will be happy and smiling, maybe you are going to see a happy city.
Thank you very much for talking to Pan African visions
Hon Adjei Sowah : Thank you very much, it’s a pleasure
Omar Faye On the New Gambia -There is reason For hope says former Envoy to Washington DC
January 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
A little over a year ago, Omar Faye was caught in the eye of the storm. Elections had taken place in his native Gambia with the stunning defeat of President Yahya Jammeh who had been in power for 22 years. As the serving Ambassador to the USA, which was Gambia’s most important diplomatic post, he thought his job was made easier when the incumbent stunned the world by accepting the verdict from the polls and congratulating his opponent in a rather warm phone call.
Reverting to his typical unpredictable nature, President Yahya Jammeh questioned the veracity of the election results, indicated unwillingness to hand over power and throw Gambia into a political crisis. Appointed by President Jammeh, but serving the people of Gambia in his mind, Omar Faye had a choice to make. His choice was to put country first and to side with decision of his compatriots to see political change in the country. It was a huge risk, but one he took, with a call for President Jammeh to step aside in respect of the wishes of the people of Gambia.
While Faye’s decision was a super solid boaster to the wind of change blowing in the Gambia, it infuriated Jammeh and no one can tell what would have become of him if the former President had succeeded in his attempt to remain in power.
Back in the Gambia today enjoying the simple things in life, and living the changes taking place, Ambassador Omar Faye expresses no regrets for taking sides with the people at a very crucial moment in the history of his country. Under the leadership of President Adama Barrow, the country is firmly back on the rails. Gambians must put all hands on deck in supporting the efforts of the new administration to write the next glorious chapter of the Gambia.
Speaking of President Adama Barrow, Ambassador Faye said he was catching up on the job at a remarkable pace and has attributes of attention and understanding which remind him of President Obama.
There is hope for the future says Ambassador Omar Faye as he urges Gambians to get to work in building a country that truly meets their potentials and expectations.
Ambassador Omar Faye good afternoon sir
Ambassador Omar Faye: Hey, good afternoon my friend how are you?
I’m doing good sir, and thanks so much for accepting to talk to PAN African Visions again
Ambassador Omar Faye: You bet, it’s my pleasure
Let’s start with a walk down memory lane. About a year ago you became the first sitting diplomat appointed by then President Yahya Jammeh to make a public call for him to step down, can you walk us through your thought process and how you arrived at that decision?
Ambassador Omar Faye: Thank you for having me. Living in the United States for several years and serving as Gambia’s Ambassador to the United States of course had given me a lot of opportunities and access to a lot of information that a regular person may not have. And when Gambia went to the polls and then looking at the world from a different perspective compared to when I used to live in The Gambia, I realized that times had changed, things had changed, the Gambia people had changed, and they had spoken, and we had to respect the will of the people. What I had said a year ago, that’s exactly what I’m going to say today again, nothing’s changed, it’s to respect the will of the people. I had to sit with a team, a few very loyal folks that I had worked with, and I talked to my family, I talked to some people both in The United States and in Gambia, and we realised that the right thing to do is to respect the will of The Gambian people because they had spoken, that’s all what happened. And I had to inform my former Boss- my former President that the best thing for him was to accept the will of the people so that he can bow out honourably.
And when you made this decision known to him, what was his reaction?
Ambassador Omar Faye: I was recalled ,and that means just a nice way of trying get you back home , whatever it was in his thought process I didn’t know, but as soon as he was aware of it, I received instructions to immediately handover and return home to Banjul.
In addition to the public calls for Jammeh to accept the verdict from the polls, what other moves were taken by you towards resolving the crises in a way that the wishes of the Gambian people were respected?
Ambassador Omar Faye: A lot of diplomacy happened behind the scenes. Myself, some very senior State Department officials, a lot of correspondents going in from Washington to Banjul, I facilitated phone calls. As you know, I mean, there are some of those things that are state restricted information that is not always to be talked about on radios or interviews, but a lot happened behind the scenes, the government of The Gambia had communicated with Washington, and Washington had told them their stand, and I was in the middle just trying to make sure that everything worked out peacefully for small Gambia.
You were the Ambassador of Gambia to Washington Dc for close to three (3) years, what will you cite as some of your achievements and what were some of the challenges that you also faced?
Ambassador Omar Faye: Challenges were many but we did our best. We did achieve a lot too and what I will call the pinnacle achievement or number one was buying a chancery, owning our own chancery for the first time. Since The Gambia opened an office in 1979 in Washington, We had always rented, and moved from one street to another, and thank God during my tenure with some good friends and the support of course of the government we were able to acquire a chancery that is now is called the Embassy of The Gambia at 5630, 16th street, where you have The Gambia flag flying. I will be eternally thankful to God and be always grateful to those forces that helped and made it happen. Of course we took diplomacy to the doorsteps of Gambians. The Embassy used to be really isolated most of the time, of course our predecessors did their bit, but they also had to face activists and those not supportive of the government. I was able to do a lot of talking and to convince a lot of them to look at the bigger picture, that former president Jammeh is not Gambia, and the Gambians are bigger than him and let us come together and look for common ground, Let us come together and see what we can do to help our beloved country. So, at least those are two main issues that I consider big achievements, taking diplomacy to the doorstep of Gambians, serving our Gambian people, visiting Gambians in jails, the incarcerated Gambians around and also buying a chancery that now instead of paying lots of money per month with the little resources we have, now we own our property.
Were you surprised when your appointment as Ambassador was terminated by the new government of Adama Barrow when many thought that you will be rewarded for the important contributions you made to usher a in a new Dawn for Gambia?
Ambassador Omar Faye: No, I was not surprised, and that is all I will say
and I will leave it at that.
You are now back in The Gambia, how does a typical day for Ambassador Faye look like, what has he been up to since he left Washington?
Ambassador Omar Faye: All praises are due to Allah, or you will say “to God be the glory”, Trust me, coming back home has no price tag, I have come back to reunite with my family after decades of staying away, I have reunited with my friends, I have visited people that I should have been visiting for years and could not, I am taking walks and saying ‘God thank you’, I’m grateful for Gambia, there is no fighting going on, there are no troops intimidating people.
The Gambia is free and you can feel it in the atmosphere. Everybody is living in peace and we are praying that we maintain that peace. So, the typical day is just to say ‘God thank you’, jump in to the foreign ministry here and there to see what’s going on with regards to some paper work. I have also been invited to contribute in some of the security reforms going on. There was this think tank that was formed, I’ve been invited a few times to go and give my opinion and my contribution. So, I am really deeply calm just taking it easy, slow but sure in the peaceful Gambia.
Let’s talk about President Adama Barrow, first the man, you served Gambia under Jammeh, and not so long ago you had a meeting with President Barrow, what kind of man is he? What impression did you have after the meeting? And how different is he as a leader so far from former President Jammeh?
Ambassador Omar Faye: President Adama Barrow and myself had met before he became President, he is a man of calm, he is very open, he has a lots of leadership qualities and some of those strong qualities are that he will sit down and listen to you, he will ask for opinions, and he’s very accommodating. I have realised that he shares those attributes with the former President of the United States President Obama; who always wanted to make you comfortable when you were with him. I have seen those qualities in President Barrow and I think he’s moving, he is learning fast, and he is understanding the Job. Remember, he has never been in the government setup, and it’s not going to take overnight for him to just come and start making miracles, I think people around him are giving him the advice, he is moving forward, but he is very calm, he’s very open, and I think he listens, those qualities can help him big time.
It is roughly a year now since he got to office, how is Gambia doing under his leadership?
Ambassador Omar Faye: Remember, you are talking about the new government inherited from 22 years of very serious problems that The Gambia had gone through. Of cause, there were some developments that nobody can deny, but then, we had human right issues, we had disappearances, we had serious economic problems, I was just listening to the finance minister saying that we have inherited some 56 billion dalasi worth of debt and at the same time trying to do some debt repayment of some 47 percent of our revenue. 47 percent of revenue debt repayment per month then what is left with us?
So, Gambia is on some very tough footing, but I think with the new policies they are having good political dialogues with the EU, and with lots of organisations all over the world, there is help coming and I think we are trying to get the country back too, but time is not on our side, and I think if every Gambian realises that, it will be very very extremely important that everybody should even work extra, there is no time to waste. We should cut down on the bureaucracy and we should get to work because we are down. We are down economically, the poverty level is high, we have problems in our electricity, we have problems in health, and in agriculture.
All Ministers are trying to move out with policies so that we can revamp those institutions and put them back on track and they need the help of every Gambian to be open minded, focused, and to support the leadership, because now is not the time to point fingers, I think it’s time to go to work.
Ambassador Faye, people will be interested, people who are out of the country, people who are in other parts of Africa and the world would love to know some of the perceptible changes that you’ve seen in the country, and in your daily interactions with Gambians, what is the impression that they have of Adama Barrow and his government.
Ambassador Omar Faye:At the beginning, a lot of people were saying ‘let’s give the government some time’, it’s mixed feelings. I will just tell you what I hear around, I’ve been walking around, I’ve been in public transport, I’ve talked to people, I’ve been in taxis moving around listening to what people are saying, I’m talking to some of my colleagues, they’ve figured they really need things to work faster, they want things to move stronger, they want things to work better.
And the other half are also saying ‘hey, let’s give this government an opportunity; it’s just about a year’. Yes, we’ve figured they should do good, yes, they have started on good, they are now putting their house in order. And this is not only my opinion; this is what the general public say. There is a split, some people are saying that ‘no, we need them to do better’, and some are saying ‘hey hey hey, give them some time, it’s been 22 years of serious issues, and now it’s just about one year, allow the President to get strong people around him so that we can move the country forward’. So, it’s like a balance of mixed feeling.
And to the many Gambians who think that things are not changing fast enough, what message does Ambassador Omar Faye have for them?
Ambassador Omar Faye: All I can tell them my friend, their opinions are respected, they are Gambians, they have right to their opinions, but if I may offer my opinion, let’s try to be part of the solution instead of just sitting down trying to point fingers, Yes, you can call it out, something is not right, you can say it out loud, but then don’t stop at there, what are you doing about it, what are the solutions? So my message to that part of the population is; yes, it’s one Gambia, one destiny, one people, we are together. So, if we highlight a problem let’s also look for solutions, what are we going to do to solve them? And, can we come together to support the government of the day, we voted the government in and we are the ones supposed to support the government because we are the government, so it’s not only enough to go out and say whatever we want to say and move away, no, but then come back and be part of the solution. Trust me, if we come together and work hard, this country will be one of the best in Africa I can tell you. This is what I’m moving at, people should work hard, professionalism should be the order of the day, there are no groups here and there, it’s one Gambia, one people, one destiny, no undermining. Sincerity, professionalism, then support the government of the day, and when we are supporting them and they do something that you figure is not right, put it in the right perspective, tell them the way you feel and also bring suggestions, bring solutions, and bring your contribution in.
With regards to investment opportunities, what opportunities are there and is the investment climate changing under the new administration?
Ambassador Omar Faye: It is changing big time, all I’m telling you is what is on the ground. There are investors coming into the country like never before. The energy sector now is really getting a lot of people interested to come and see what they can do to be part of the investment process, because it’s on the high demand; agriculture is booming, people are investing in the tourism industry; housing industry is doing great, I can tell you every aspect of life here has big potentials, and a lot of people are coming to take charge of it.
Let me give you an example, a lot of hotels are fully booked until March of next year that has never been the case. Remember, last year we had a political crisis ,that was a big failure, the year before we had this ebola crises, big trouble, so for two years in a row our country has suffered big time, the institutions have suffered greatly, and now is an opportunity for Gambia to come back on its feet, and we are on our feet, investors are coming, they are investing in agriculture, in the tourism industry, they are coming in the fishing industry, and lots of things are happening now in Gambia. You can feel the climate of change, you can feel that people are moving all over the place, and you can just get that feeling of freedom in the air. That’s my personal assessment of the situation. That doesn’t mean that we should take things for granted, we should not take chances and we should not be complacent, we should always make sure that we are on the ball and make sure that we are really very very attentive of what’s going around in our backyard, in our environment.
And as we speak Ambassador Faye, the MCC, Millennium Challenge Cooperation recently selected Gambia for its threshold programme, which is a smaller grant programme for policy and institutional reforms. What is your reaction to this, because it appears part of this process started when you were still Ambassador to Washington Dc and what do you think this might mean for Gambia?
Ambassador Omar Faye: Yes, you are right, the millennium challenge cooperation some people call it, well it’s the MCC, it was something that was put in place during the former president Bush I think sometimes in 2004. To cut the long story short, I am as honoured today as a Gambian that I was able to introduce the new government to MCC in Washington, I was recalled in March, they came in April, and I didn’t just stay away, as a Gambian it’s still part of my responsibility so I left my house and went to join the Minister of Finance with his delegation and set up appointments with them– with the MCC folks, and I’m glad I was able to introduce them and link them with the MCC so that we look at the score card again and today you are saying that The Gambia has been shortlisted, normally they start with the threshold of between 20 to 30 million dollars and which we have gone to the compact which should be several other millions, but I will leave the Minister of Finance and the new government to talk about that and blow the information out.I wish we achieved the compact,however being shortlisted for the threshold is a great start.
We end with a word on the way forward for Gambia under the Barrow administration, what are your fears and what are your hopes?
Ambassador Omar Faye: The hopes are high; there are a lot of constitutional and judicial reforms going on. As we speak, The Honourable Justice Minister presented constitution review commission bills to the house, there is the TRRC- Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission already in place, there are lots of things going on behind the scene, we are very optimistic, but as I said, with caution. We have to go to work, be professional, sincere, patriotic to our country, and we should not be complacent.
We should be really very active, we should know what is going on in security, we should not take things for granted that now it’s a free Gambia, anybody can jump in and do whatever they like, the security men are alert, and I’ve seen them on the ground and there are security reforms going on as well as reforms in other sectors. So there is cause for hope my friend, but as I said, with caution, and we need to work. We cannot just hang around and expect miracles to happen, we have a lot of work to do, we have to get people out of poverty, we have to take care of our health sector, we have to care of Agriculture, the farmers, education and all these institutions are looking at some face lift. I’m optimistic that we can make it if we come together and take the Gambia as priority and realise that The Gambia is bigger than all of us and if we do that, I think we will be okay Insha Allah, by God’s will, that’s my assessment.
I would not do justice to the interview without making a special mention to the Gambian diaspora from different parts of the world who came home and added big time value to this years holiday season.Some are already involve in investments in different areas as well as reuniting with love after years of being away.
Ambassador Omar Faye thanks so much for talking to us sir.
Ambassador Omar Faye: I appreciate it my friend, thank you, and again I wish all of our people season greetings, complement of the season and a very safe holiday season, and a prosperous and a good luck to 2018.
Thank you, and happy New Year and good luck to you and to all Gambians for 2018 too sir.
Ambassador Omar Faye: Happy New Year to you and yours and your entire team, and all my friends at the nation’s capital and all over the United States, in fact all over the world God bless you, The Gambia, good luck and happy New Year in advance.
Thank you Ambassador
Ambassador Omar Faye: You bet, Thank you. Bye.
Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Has Made Great Shifts from the Mugabe Approach-2018 Presidential Hopeful Gadzamoyo Dewah
December 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Dr Gadzamoyo Dewah President of the Good Peoples Movement/Zimbabwe People’s Party says while the fight that recent political transition was a fight within the ruling ZANU-PF, current President Emmerson Mnangagwa is pulling the country back from the brink. Dewah, who is planning a Presidential run in 2018 credits President Mnangagwa has cracked the whip on corruption, and the environment is less intimidating that what obtained under President Mugabe.While land reforms embarked upon by former President Robert Mugabe must continue, Dr Dewah believes that better management is needed for the process. He supports the call from President Mnangagwa for the international community to ease sanctions on Zimbabwe and believes that if elected in 2018, he would transform the country.
Dr Gadzamoyo Dewah , thanks for granting this interview, how is Zimbabwe doing today under President Mnangagwa?
Thank you for affording me to participate in this interview on Zimbabwe after former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe was forced out from being the President of the Republic by the Army Generals to pave way for President Emmerson Mnangagwa. My name is Dr Gadzamoyo Dewah. I am the President of Good People’s Movement: Zimbabwe People’s Party (GPM:ZPP). I am 49 years and I believe I am the right candidate for Zimbabwe’s Presidency in 2018. Today Zimbabwe under Mnangagwa is not charged emotionally as it was during Mugabe’s era. There is no noise in the streets. There is no intimidating environment that used to prevail during Mugabe’s time.
Mnangagwa has made great shifts from Mugabe approach. He cracked the whip on corruption. Those targeted Ignatious Chombo, Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere have become more virulent. Their alignment to Mrs Grace Mugabe was becoming scarier as there was potential for the protagonist to cause blood shed if the situation had not changed the way it did. Zimbabwe with Mnangagwa is more dignified than when it was during Mugabe’s rule. People are hopeful that things will improve. President Mnangagwa, banned out Hero worshiping and he does not want songs composed that hero worship him.
Mr. Mangwana who is among President Mnangagwa’s advisors told me when we met a funeral that, from 2014 all the diamond that was being mined was kept in Reserve Bank Vouch so that it was to be sold towards 2018 elections. I am told Mnangagwa has changed that thinking and has ordered that the diamond which is worth $200 million to be auctioned. However this could be just flattery because there is no meaningful change that ZANU PF can bring. The people are the same. The very people who removed Mugabe today are the very people who forced him to remain there when MDC won 2008 elections.
What is your reading of the movement that brought him to power, was it a military coup, was it a civilian uprising considering the participation of the people, or was it a constitutional transition considering that President Mugabe handed over to his Vice President?
The transition that brought Mnangagwa into power was a fight in ZANU PF. It was internal fights in the ZANU PF party that made the soldiers to behave the way they did. The coming in of Grace Mugabe into politics had seen ZANU PF being shaken from within. The shaking was targeting the War Veterans and Joice Mujuru, then Mutsvangwa and others. This time the axe was on Mnangagwa.
Grace went further to denigrate the Army Commander Chiwenga. Chiwenga and other Army Generals are also War Veterans. So Grace was definitely moving towards them. The story is it was feared that if Mnangagwa was to be fired in the Presents of Chiwenga, that might cause commotion. So, Chiwenga was sent to send to China and in his Mnangagwa was fired. Information is coming that the plan was to arrest Chiwenga on his way from China. This information which was picked up military intelligence resulted in the foiled arrest of Chiwenga. In retaliation, the Army Commander did what he did. That was a coup at its face value. However the Army categorically refused that it was not a coup. Looked from the perspective that the top hierarchy of Army are former ZANLA forces, ZANU PF is their natural home. So the Army Generals were correcting a situation in their own Party. Being more analytical I think this type of hand over of power was planned over a number of times and my guess from when Grace entered into politics in 2013.
Mugabe with his pride would not have wanted to face defeat. To save himself he created a situation that would make everyone justify the move taken by the Army Generals. In his plan Mugabe should have planned that if creates confusion in the party, his own party was definitely going to deal with him. It that fail to happen, the plan was to leave his wife running the show. I am sure Mugabe, the Army Generals and Mnangagwa could have been part of this big plan, but their followers such as Chombo, Jonathan Moyo and Kasukuwere were not aware. These thought the plan “Vanhu kuna Mai muna 2018” (people to go to the Mother in 2018) was a perfect plan and they were busy looting to amass money for the 2018 elections. Chombo was even moved to the Finance Ministry so that access to money would be automatic. So the skirmish was to make Mugabe’s removal appear as if it was a forced step down when this thing can be construed as planned thing. For the Civilian this was a jubilation that the soldiers have removed Mugabe. The civilians wanted Mugabe to go. Not that they were welcoming the coming of Mnangagwa. They were just happy with the move taken by soldiers. Zimbabweans are afraid of bodily injuries so it is a nation that does not favour uprising as an option. The presence of soldiers brought the security the civilians wanted so that they would joyfully go and tell Mugabe to pack his bags and go. Yes we participated in all our political divide. There was unity of purpose.
The movement that brought Mnangagwa to power can also be construed as ZANU PF’s caricature to achieve its long cherished One-Party-State. In 1988/89 Jonathan Moyo wrote “ZANU PF is going to achieve One-Party-State, through brainwashing, mass propaganda, and emotional manipulation of people’s minds”. What happened was an emotional manipulation of people’s minds with the effect of sprucing the image of ZANU PF and making ZANU PF perceived as the only party to follow in 2018. So this was a ZANU PF way of passing the button. This however makes us wary of the role of military in politics. Looking again in the Constitution, the Army has the role to protect the civilians from any danger including political risk. Yes we understand that the top hierarchy of the Army is made up of War Veterans who sympathizes with fellow War Veterans who are ruling the country, but we may run the risk of having a military government as ZANU PF itself is a military Party.
For all he did for Zimbabwe, what do you think the impact of the recent power transition will have on the legacy of President Robert Mugabe?
Mugabe destroyed his own legacy by clinging on power. He lost many more opportunities in other world missions which he could have participated had he left power earlier. He constructed schools and Hospitals and destroyed them. Today schools are dilapidating, no roads, no industry except vending. If Mnangagwa follows the foot steps of Mugabe, then people will remember some of the good that Mugabe did. Indeed this is what Mnangagwa will do. He will not be hard on all criminals but only targets those who were on the G40 that supports Grace. If Mnanangagwa follow some of the reports that we give him, for example as an opposition leader, I was dismissed from City of Harare because I discovered corruption involving over $1,4 million. These people were protected by Chombo and some of them are MDC-T Councilors. I know these people and we have written reports to President Mnangagwa to critically look into those things.
Members of my Party expect that Mnangagwa will deal with such issues which were perpetrated by people who supported Mugabe and his wife Grace. Since this issue involve both MDC-T and ZANU PF members, the two parties may choose to ignore such issues and that will make Mnangagwa equal to Mugabe. In that instance Mnangagwa’s work will not overshadow Mugabe’s legacy.
For all the criticisms against Mugabe, Zimbabweans have a very high literacy rate compared to the rest of Africa, and to his own political peril, he undertook land reform in the country, should your compatriots not view this as part of his lasting legacy?
Its true, education and land Reform is a lasting legacy for Mugabe. However as I get into power there is need to further redistribute the land and ensure everyone who want the land gets it. My party will develop the farming communities and ensure that there are roads, clinics and schools. This will to some extent demise land reform legacy of Mugabe. My Party supports the land reform. So the land needs redistribution. Development should take place in the farming community with the state even ensuring the standard of houses in the farming community is improved as well. Yes land reform is Mugabe’s lasting legacy though it created social injustice.
What is your take on the first government of President Mnangagwa and do you think it would have been a good thing to have some opposition figures in the government?
Mnangagwa’s government is small. That is cost cutting. Even his motorcade has a smaller fleet. The removal of deputy Ministers was also a good move as that reduced expenditure on the fiscus. However I think Mnangagwa’s government is docile. These are the same old people with the same ZANU PF philosophy of sweet talking and never doing what they preach. Yes I think it was going to bring some credibility on Mnangagwa if he had included some opposition in his government. This is the inclusivity the people of Zimbabwe require. Just like myself as I win 2018 elections, I am going to have an inclusive government. I will consider all the parties and ensure we work together for the good of Zimbabwe. What Mnangagwa did, to exclude opposition in his government is what causes partisan politics instead of nation building politics. Politics remains at Kindergatten level instead of developing further to be a civilized modern political democracy where tolerance, respect of different views, acceptance of others exist. The government of exclusion brings a combative move by the political parties. This is not good for the ordinary people as this is where these non-inclusion strategies manifest themselves as community members beat each other for supporting a certain political party and where food distribution by government is targeted to members of the people in one party. However if all political parties are considered in forming a government, these community fissures are cured.
President Mnangagwa has called for international sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted, what is the position of your party?
Good People’s Movement does not support sanctions. GPM:ZPP is the largest Green Political Party in Zimbabwe. We believe in co-existence. We believe in conserving our nature. Sanctions target or not targeted are ruinous to the ordinary man we want to help. Those on sanctions are controlling the resources of the country. The ripple effect of sanctions is that those on sanctions if they are still targeted are the ZANU PF officials including President Mnangagwa himself. This will make it difficult for him to close developmental deals with investors out there, be it in USA, Britain or EU. For MDC-T that will be alright because they want to win through arm strung not through articulating their manifesto. GPM:ZPP has a different perspective altogether now more than ever, Zimbabwe needs a faithful leadership, strong and stable government to get the best deal for Zimbabwe and its people. We are the Future and we have to protect the future and empower the Future and posterity. Now more than ever, Zimbabwe needs strong and stable leadership to make the most of the opportunities for hardworking families. Now more than ever, Zimbabwe needs a clear plan. Our Manifesto Forward Together Zimbabwe Massive Economic Projects Approach (ZIMEPA) is what my government will deliver. So what would sanctions bring? It will have the effect of slowing the takeoff of our economy. We want people to have US Dollars. Whether that money comes to help President Emmerson Mnangagwa to stabilize the economy or if it comes as political funding so that we are able to work with precision of the cutting edge penetration in the popularity of our party that we need. Good People’s Movement is a concept that in itself compels good values. So we can not propagate for sanctions. Rather we support the President of Zimbabwe Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa in his bid to have the sanctions lifted. It is good for everyone. Elections must be a free and fair so its not time to put screws but time to be generous with that political democracy. Its time GPM:ZPP should get resources. How do we get the resources? Through working and getting a rewards for your work. How do we work in a country under sanctions? It is us who are targeted by sanctions not ZANU PF or MDC-T. These two parties are the only political parties which are funded. The rest of us we have to work as individuals first supporting the party. As people increase in the party we expect use of personal money to do party business. That is our sacrifice because our families will be suffering. So lifting the sanctions is a mitigating measure meant to stabilize the economy as the Country move towards the election due in August 2018. So sanctions will hit hard on us but will work well with MDC-T as it has unfished business with ZANU PF, but we want both parties to go and the stabilization of the economy should pave way for GPM:ZPP leadership as , Dr Gadzamoyo Dewah defeat both ZANU PF and MDC-T. The lifting of sanction is paramount so that people get access to their cash, so that people can choose their leaders with a free mind which is not affected by stress. When there are sanctions communities are put in great danger and risk of being manipulated by those in financial based rigging strategies. The looters even target the same vulnerable people as was happening with the former President Cde RG Mugabe’s economy. That model of sanctions is not in our support.
On the issue of land reform, what is your position and that of your party, there was a recent story about the President returning land back to a white evicted farmer, what is your take?
Land Reform is irreversible. I support land reform, I do not support the racial retribution that was done. I did not like the greediness that was displayed. We however don’t support the greediness that the political leadership in ZANU PF. Zimbabwe has 39 million hectares, 33 million for farming and 6 million hectare for national parks. Majority of A1 resettled farmers were given 6 hectares and A2 farmers were given 15 hectares. President Mugabe took 15804 hectares and his top Party Members including those in Mnangagwa’s Present ZANU PF had an average 2000 ha. The magnitude of inequality prepared is to large to be accepted. The former President alone has 15804 ha. Mr Mugabe’s Ministers, Army Generals, Lawyers and Relatives have farms ranging from 100 ha to 6956 ha, the average being 2028 ha. The distribution of the land was partisan and some citizens because of color were totally denied their right to the land that they inherited from their fathers. Yes these people did not acquire that land but forcibly taken it from the blacks; – that in itself warrants land reform but it was not supposed to be done in a retributive way. In allocation of land those people “whose land” was compulsorily acquired should have been consider in the allocation either in their farms or elsewhere among the rest of the people. This is nation building and we don’t build a nation based of racial, class, color, or language difference. As long someone is a citizen of Zimbabwe he or she is entitled to land despite of race, color, creed, or political affiliation. Even my Government shall always identify people with bigger land and subdivide it accordingly to accommodate those citizens without land. Most of this land is lying idle. Viewed from that perspective, Mugabe created land barons. Some of them would end subdividing the land selling it for personal benefit when they obtained it free and when it is supposed to be used for national development
You have been critical of the ruling party, you have been critical of the opposition MDC, what is your party offering Zimbabweans and how is that different from what the ruling party and opposition parties are offering?
ZANU PF and MDC-T depend on rhetoric GPM is practical. The 2018 election is the most important Zimbabwe has faced in my lifetime and since 1980, independence. Our future prosperity, our place in the world, our standard of living, and the opportunities we want for our children – and our children’s children – all depend on getting the next five years right. If we fail, the consequences for the economic security of ordinary, working people across this country will be significant. If we succeed, the opportunities ahead of us are great. You will not find this in MDC-T or ZANU PF. This is Good People stuff.
GPM Manifesto identifies five Giant Challenges that we need to tackle. You will not find a well-articulated challenges that are facing Zimbabwe from ZANU PF and MDC except rhetoric.
We need to make the most of our existing strengths, invest in infrastructure and people, and ensure that the whole of our economy across the whole of our country can grow. Without a strong economy, we cannot guarantee our security, our personal prosperity, our public services, or contented and sustainable communities.
We need to deliver a smooth and orderly departure from the disenfranchisement from the World Economic Order and forge a deep and special partnership with our friends and allies across the World. Technology has provided us the tools we need and we have the capabilities use these tools. Skills training to use the tools is easy to do since we have many would be trainers who are already using these and everyone has the potential and capability to use internet tools. As there is increasingly little distinction between domestic and international affairs in matters of migration, national security and the economy, Zimbabwe must stay strong and united – and take a lead in the world to defend our interests in the World Economic Order by providing solutions that work for everybody.
For too many people, where you end up in life is still determined by where you were born and to whom. GPM:ZPP does not believe in that predestination. The Party is anchored on Massive Livelihoods Approach and believe in Unity, Prayer, Love and Hope. The Construction of a New City will wipe all unemployment and make sure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their talents and hard work, whoever you are and wherever you are from. This opportunity extent to equal opportunity to political office. Do not negate yourself. Your value no one can measure except God who even knows the strand of your hair. The party has no limitation of color, creed or language. Are you a Zimbabwean Citizen?, if you are, You Should Be Here Zimbabwe People’s Party beyond Color bar.
This is a great challenge especially when those going into the ageing society have never had any formal job and have no source of old age income. It my belief that these people have done a lot for the country. They supported the rural agricultural activity and the informal mining activities which plays an important role in our society. We need to respond to the reality of an ageing society, giving people security in old age and caring for those with long-term health conditions, whilst making sure we are fair to younger generations, mothers and children. To that effect there shall be an Old Age Pension Allowance for everyone who attains 60 years and above.
For the sake of our economy and our society, we need to harness the power of fast-changing technology, while ensuring that our security and personal privacy – and the welfare of children and younger people – are protected. This will have phenomenal growth for. Zimbabwe must move forward and be a producer and participant in the fast changing technology. By 2023, Zimbabwe must be able to launch its satellite in the sky by the year 2030. Zimbabwe must produce some of the components that are used by the fast changing technology
So when we can identify our challenges we can offer the solutions. ZANU PF and MDC do not know our challenges. To them unemployment is a challenge. I say no, unemployment is a manifestation of a challenge. So when we deal with the challenges we bring full employment. We are a practical party. We are a party beyond color bar, we are original not puppets of any system. I believe we can – and must – take this opportunity to build a Great Meritocracy. This is not found in MDC-T and ZANU PF. These believe in Partisan. We believe in Green Politics. We are the largest Green Political Party in Zimbabwe.
How is your party preparing for the next elections is, are you going to be a candidate and what needs to be done for the elections to be free and fair?
Good People’s Movement is preparing for elections for next year. I, Dr Gadzamoyo Dewah will be contesting for the Presidency to win. The Party has already produced its manifesto whose implementation will peg Zimbabwe among the Fastest Growing Economies in the World. Within 40 days after my inauguration as President, the country will be back into the World Economic Order as the Fastest Growing Economies in the World. International Construction are being invited to take up Construction of the New City (the City of Trade and Diplomacy) that GPM want to build in Zimbabwe. We would want to have investors who can put up some tallest building in this New City. There should be magnificent roads connecting this City. If Zimbabwe is opened up as a country where construction is happening, that wipes out all unemployed brick layers, carpenters, engineers, architectures and all those professions that are for the construction industry. This has ripple effects of creating many more other service jobs and it will fire up the cement industry as well as resuscitating Zimbabwe Steel Company (ZISCO) and many more industries. For our campaign we use cost effective methods such as whatsapp, facebook, linkedin, referrals, own websites and internet addresses such ashttps://gadzamoyo.futurenet.club, www.gadzamoyo.tk, www.gadzamoyo_office.tk firstname.lastname@example.org. Interaction with other people is done through personal business and hard working atwww.gadzamoyo.worldventures.biz . At World Ventures I meet with a lot of friends who provides motivational speeches. Thank you World Ventures. I also assist people to get on line jobs such as atwww.empowr.com/gadzamoyo . Here people will also meet my campaign materials. This is what I am doing, I am able to reach fans around the country at a very low cost. Not everyone has a phone that goes on whatsapp. This presents a challenge that require face to face contact through a rally. A challenge that require printed voter education material be they flyers, posters, or t/shirts. Getting resources to manage to do these is our greatest challenge. In some parts of the country, there are increasing demands by people who want me to hold a rallies.
There is need for capacity building which includes some cash and some vehicle. Resources is the greatest challenge for starting parties. As a proposal to the world it would be good initiate “Global Political Parties Funding Bill” like the one that was done by USA for sanctions so as to help the growing democracies. This initiative will make sure that all political parties are equally and well-funded. Political Parties will compete on the basis of their manifesto. The electorate will vote for candidates on the basis of their manifesto and promises to the people. But if other political Parties like here in Zimbabwe only MDC-T and ZANU PF are getting money, that bring vote buying and Zimbabwe remains the same. If all political parties are funded, GPM will have a sweeping victory. But without funding, yes I, Dr Gadzamoyo Dewah will win as President, but not with the margin I would get if there is funding. This is the Opportunity for the World to influence Zimbabwe the growth of Zimbabwe Democracy; to implement long term decision that are right for our future through funding all political parties equally. This will bring a real completion and a true, credible, free and fair elections.
To have free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, the elections must be conducted by United Nations. This is a critical transition. At the moment person who was running the Zimbabwe Election Commission Justice Rita Makarawu resigned. This means that new leadership will go through some learning curve before gaining the confidence and experience of managing an electoral systems. United Nations must therefore run Zimbabwe 2018 elections. As part of that arrangement, United Nations should have a budget to fund all political parties equally. This will ensure there is a fair race.
Soldiers must stop assisting ZANU PF during elections. The assistance of ZANU PF to remove Mugabe should not be extended to have soldiers as campaigning agents of ZANU PF because that will intimidate people and free and fair elections will not be achieved. With the appointment of some of the soldiers as ministers the common man views a soldier and ZANU PF as one thing. There is need for money for voter education to rub this misconception in the minds of the people. Participation of soldiers as voting officials will intimidate the communities to vote for ZANU PF. This will not bring a free and fair elections.
Election observers and monitors should be deployed four months before the elections. All interested stakeholders must be accredited to observe the election. Also ZEC laws with regard to conduct of candidates must be enforceable so that those who bend the rules are brought to book.
With the Mugabe era now over, what are your expectations from the Mnangagwa administration and looking at the future, what are your fears and hopes for the country?
Mnangagwa is just there to complete the term of the former President Robert Mugabe. With his will to deal with corruption, Mnangagwa is able to bring a political environment that can bring confidence to bring elections. My expectation from Mnangagwa’s Administration is that it will continue tracking down criminals and correcting banking sector confidence. My fears with Mnangagwa administration is that he is flanked with soldiers which may degenerate into a military government. My hope for Zimbabwe is that 2018 elections will be held as scheduled. This will give GPM opportunity to get in and form a government that will implement Zimbabwe Massive Economic Projects Approach (ZIMEPA). GPM Manifesto Forward Together. Construction of a New City, Mandatory Old Age Pension, Child welfare allowance to mothers with children less than 5 years, Over 3 million on line jobs, Full employment, massive water body development, tarred road connectivity. My hope is to have a happy Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwe in which every area is able to prosper. A Zimbabwe with a modern industrial strategy to spread opportunity across the whole country. A Zimbabwe in which work pays, with a higher national living wage and proper rights and protection at work. A Zimbabwe in which the economy is strong to support world-class public services, with the most ambitious programme of investment in people, technology and buildings the National Health Service has ever seen; record – and fair – funding for schools; and the first ever proper plan to pay for – and provide – social care. And a Zimbabwe in which burning injustices are tackled and overcome, with the first new Mental Health Bill after thirty years to put parity of esteem at the heart of treatment and end the stigma of mental illness once and for all. This is my plan for a stronger Zimbabwe and a prosperous future. It is a declaration of intent: a commitment to get to grips with the great challenges of our time and to take the big, difficult decisions that are right for Zimbabwe in the long-term. That is our greatest hope
In Uganda, It is more about Trade than Aid-Ambassador Mull Katende
November 6, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Uganda’s Ambassador to the USA Mull Katende says that his country prefers trade to aid as a vehicle for development. Ambassador Katende who recently presented his letters of credentials to President Donald Trump, down played concerns about the impact of the American first policy of the current US administration. It is normal to prioritize your domestic concerns over external affairs says Ambassador Katende.
On the impressions he had after meeting with President Trump, Ambassador Katende said he found a man willing to do business with Africa, and interested in having Africa do business with the USA. Ambassador Katende said this is an approach that could bode well for his country, where the emphasis is on trade and not aid. It is in keeping with this principle that Ambassador Katende has been aggressive in marketing the economic potentials of Uganda to potential investors. For the relatively short time he has been in Office, Ambassador Katende has had meetings with investors in a number of cities across the USA.
Relations between the USA and Uganda are very strong, said Ambassador Katende. Both countries collaborate closely on security issues, and the fight against terrorism. On the sidelines of the last UN General Assembly, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was part of a luncheon offered for a select group of African leaders by President Trump.
While the security cooperation may be strong, Ambassador Katende sees great potential for ever stronger economic ties between the two countries. There are lots of opportunities for investors, Ambassador Katende said, citing the oil, energy, infrastructure, and tourism sectors amongst others.
In Uganda, investors are doing business in a political stable and friendly country with a solid legal and institutional framework, Ambassador Mull Katende, said.
As the debate on age limits rages on , including recent images of MPs trading blows on the Assembly flow, a very unperturbed Ambassador sees this as Ugandans taking their freedoms for granted. There is a lot of democracy in the country, the seasoned Diplomat said. From the streets, to the newspapers, TV, Radio, and online ,Ugandans are able to make their voices heard, said Ambassador Katende as he expressed confidence that the outcome of that debate will ultimately reflect the will of majority Ugandans.
In Uganda, everything is guided by the constitution Ambassador Katende said. Ultimately everyone will have their say in the debate, people will cast their votes and the will of the maturity will prevail, but in Uganda, respect for the constitution is taken serious, he went on.
Brushing off criticisms from those who see in the whole age limit thing a design to hand a life presidency to Yoweri Museveni,Ambassador Katende says the President has just one vote.It is about the country and not just one individual ,he said.
On the legacy of President Museveni, he will always be one of the greats in Uganda and Africa ,said Ambassador Katende as he credits th current President with vast socio ,economic and political changes that are transforming Uganda.
Ambassador Mull Katende, good morning sir.
Ambassador Katende: Good Morning.
It’s been a few months now since you became Ambassador of Uganda to the United States. How is the adaptation process going for you?
Ambassador Katende: Well it is going very well, and I am glad to be the one chosen by my country to be in the United States at this time as Ambassador, and since I came, I have had a lot of interactions. I’ve introduced myself and I’m testing the environment. It is okay and I think we will do well.
Your previous assignment was in Addis Ababa and African Union.
Ambassador Katende: Yes.
How different is the present assignment compared to that in terms of challenges?
Ambassador Katende: Well, the two are different. In Addis Ababa I was Ambassador of Ethiopia, and Djibouti where we were promoting commercial economic diplomacy but also as members of the region organization called IGAD. We were promoting infrastructure development and how our region as a whole could link up to do business with each other.
I was also permanent representative to the African Union and that’s quite a plate full of jobs and here we are concentrating on mainly two things, the integration of Africa and peace and security in Africa and I was glad to have had responsibilities in these areas for a number of years on and on. I was chairperson of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and we looked at conflicts in Africa and I’m sure we are doing well as Africa. The challenges are many but it’s a fact that Africa continues to act together. That’s the way forward.
We would also like to get an idea, an overview of recent economic, social, and political developments in Uganda.
Ambassador Katende: Well Uganda, first of all, is one of the most liberalized, countries in Africa. We are operating a liberalized economy; we are operating a democratic country, where there is respect for human rights and rule of law and in all of these, we are guided by our constitution. In economic terms, there is a lot of effort for infrastructure development in the country, and a lot has been done, these needs have been met with regard to our roads, with regard to power and electricity. The main thing is that Uganda should be industrialized and should move into the middle income bracket by 2020 and we are now on course to do that. We seek investments from those who are willing to invest in Uganda and one of my mandates here, is to look for investors. We want to export, we are looking for markets, we have a Regional Market East African community and a Commission and whoever invest in Uganda, would have invested in the region.
What is the state of relations between Uganda and the USA at this point?
Ambassador Katende: Well we have excellent relations with US. We have always had excellent relations with the US. We respect each other; we are collaborating with a number of areas, especially in the fight against terrorism and extreme violence characterizing some parts of Africa and the world. We have cooperative arrangements with the USA on the fight against al Shabab in Somalia,and we are very happy about that relationship.
In terms of trade, we trade with each other, but this can be better; and one of my responsibilities here is to make sure that we improve our volumes of trade and the main thing for Uganda is to promote economic and commercial diplomacy. I’m not here to wine and dine but to look for investors, to look for markets, to look for tourists and of course to continue working on Development Corporation with the United States. We are doing well as two countries.
Before we get back to investments, a question on the recent meeting you had with President Trump when you got here; you are one of the first African ambassadors known to have met with President Trump; any ideas on how he views Uganda and broadly speaking, the rest of Africa?
Ambassador Katende: It was great to have the opportunity to present my letters of credentials to president Trump and it was also an opportunity to have short interactions with him. I found him a very nice person, than what we see on TV. I don’t know about others but from the few exchanges we had, he is a person who is standing for his theme of America first, and for us in Africa, we understand this to be the logical thing. If you have your family, you must make sure that your family is okay before you talk about others.
So, it is very important that America strengthens itself in terms of its economy, strengthens itself in terms of its politics, in terms of its security before it can propagate those very same ideas to other people in the world. He’s peaceful with Africa. The way I interpret it is that we want to do business with you and do business with us. That fits very well for Uganda because we are one of the countries that have not much belief in aid. Aid has been going around for many centuries but it has not made Africa turn around. If countries relate in terms of what they sell, what they create, what they trade with each other, that is more meaningful and actually, it pays more.
We had a research conducted under the African Union and this research was spear headed by former President Mbeki on how much goes into Africa, how much goes out of Africa and this result established that over 50 billion, 50 billion goes out of Africa. Is it 50 billion, 500? The figures can be established but a lot of money goes out of Africa than what goes into Africa and there is need to see how to tap into that money for good purposes. Much of it is illicit trust fund of money from Africa, meaning that it is a lot of business who lose, that we should gain from.
These are some of the things we as Ambassadors who come to big great countries like USA are preoccupied with, we want to improve trade, so that it is more we sell to USA and they are also free to sell to our region. We are here to call on American companies to come and invest in Uganda and in Africa so that they can enjoy the wealth in the market of Africa, and we can also enjoy this lucrative market of America.
But president Trump is in a way right when he says, ‘let us deal with each other in a much more tangible way.’ We lost a lot of time as Africa did with Western countries dweling on issues of governance, democracy.These have been set, . We have constitutions, we are expecting that growing knowledge to go into all those exchanges. We are losing a lot of time instead of concentrating on business, we lost a lot of time explaining; ‘oh we have elections, oh you have elections.’ We have them, there is evidence, they are not free and so on. So fine, if there is anything that we are short, in which we are short, in terms of our governance, that can be discussed but it should not be a panic matter because Africa has come from very far. There was a time when we had coups, they were very common, now thingshave changed.
There was a time when we shunned elections. It was like a taboo to say election. Now, every country tries to have elections. Now, of what quality, that is something we can work on. As Africa, we are ready to engage with other countries who are now making it better and better. In any case, things as they unfold, inform us that there is no one perfect country, and that it is not just how we can do it right, but it is about learning from each other and one of my mandates here, is to look for good practices so that we can make our systems better in economics, politiics and in other fields.
With regards to investments that you talk about, you really would like to see more US companies come to Uganda?
Ambassador Katende: Yes.
What investment opportunities are there if they were to come to Uganda to invest in and what sectors should they be on the lookout for?
Ambassador Katende: Yes, there is a lot of potential for investment in Uganda.Our environment in terms of legislation, in terms of policy, is all conducive for foreign direct investment. The opportunities are very many. There are many opportunities in the oil sector. You know we discovered oil and very soon we shall be on the market and before then, there are so many things that come into this sector. We are now in the process of building a refinary and finally, then the process of building a pipeline and also add investment which are there for people to jump in. There are various auxiliary things that can be done. We have opportunities in agriculture and agricultural processing; there are so many things which investors can do in that area because when you look at our region, many countries import these agricultural processed products if they are from within a shorter distance. That makes sense and it makes business visible.
We have opportunities in the mining sector. As you know, Uganda has minerals. We have minerals and within that sector, there are specifics, there are specifics which an investor can go in. For example, if it is about wires, there are certain wires which are required for various tasks in the world through which some of the minerals we have, one kind of factor those wires. We have opportunities in manufacturing, and the opportunities are there in tourism, it’s an open area. Tourists can come, there is a lot of infrastructure, yes we are continuing to do the infrastructure.
We do have all of this information on our website and I would encourage all of the prospective American companies to come and take advantage of the environment we have and invest.
Since I came to USA, I have had interactions in Boston, I’ve had interactions in Miami, I’ve had interactions in Dallas, I will soon be going to Minnesota next week and later somewhere in the first week of November, I will be going to Seattle; and in all of these encounters, I am giving the message and identifying those who can do business with us. And of course we do have a sizable Diaspora here. We have a strong Ugandan Diaspora which is a great source of capital.
Figures I’m told, have now reached $1.8 billion from the Ugandan Diaspora all over the world. That is quite sizable. Unfortunately, these amounts go in bits to families, to passion or those little things. It’s not well consolidated and one of the things we are telling the Ugandan Diaspora is for them to embrace platforms where they can leverage their remittances to Uganda in a manner that has impact.
Politically speaking, the headlines were dominated by this story in Uganda about presidential evidence and the world was treated to these images of sense of chaos in the Ugandan Parliament. What was this all about?
Ambassador Katende: One of these things about Uganda is that we have a lot of freedom. Nobody should tell you that there is no freedom of expression in Uganda. Just go to the streets, go to the Internet, read the newspapers of Uganda. You will be surprised that people talk anything, do anything and sometimes we wonder whether we are too vastly related. People in Uganda are free to express themselves and the most important thing is that we are guided by a Constitution; and whenyou put a Constitution in place, that is done.
The constitution we have guarantees freedom. The Constitution we have, guarantees the way politics is run. Now, the issue you are talking about relating to age limit, actually that is not the only issue that people think should be reviewed, there are many other issues. We have issues on land, we think that the present issue on land needs to be reviewed because as of now, you know a country that’s in constitution, land belongs to the people. So if we were the government, you want to build the road, you have to negotiate with the owner of the land and the practice, Ugandans have taken this freedom too much. Where the market value of an acre is for example, US$100,000.00, once people know that its government, they put it at $3 million and that has brought a lot of unease to advancement of infrastructure and the government is, they are these proposals to review that legislation, see how the owner of the land and the prospective user of the land can fairly understand each other, but the project must be put to them. That’s why now, there were no age limit.
That constitution , has provisions on how it can be managed, on how it can be reviewed. That very article according to the same Constitution, is one of the articles that can be reviewed. So whatever you hear happening in Uganda is being done constitutionally. That is the most important thing, that whatever we do, it must be done constitutionally; and all views must be heard. It’s not high handed. For example, one of the parties is going through all of these slogans on what amendments to make and how to make them and how to popularize the issue towards the population. Everybody has a right, if you don’t want it reviewed that is your decision too. That is why it was surprising that when this matter came to Parliament, there was almost fist fighting. It was not necessary because the rational thing to do is; what is being done is it Constitutional, is it legal? Once you establish that it is legal, then if you are opposed to it, what can you do as a Member of Parliament. Then you go on the floor of Parliament; give your views. Everybody gives their views. If we had said, I don’t want that, then others say we want it; now if all of you want it your ways, and you have to force it, that’s not democracy. So that is what is happening, otherwise, the situation is not desperate at all, it is absolutely not. It is being sensitized on social media, on various platforms but here and there it’s not captured but the message to all the population is, keep calm. What is being done is constitutional and if you have a voice for or against, it will be heard and I think that is the best thing about democracy.
And what is your response to critics who think that the change is actually meant to prepare the way for a kind of life presidency for President Museveni?
Ambassador Katende: You see, that is a mistake. Whatever the Constitution says, it must be followed. It’s not about him or others, no. We have heard this, supposing if you said that then you will never have opportunity to make corrections of things you think should be corrected because whether will be there, and anybody will say, uh uh, you want to change this election policy so that it serves you, it makes no sense. I think the most important thing here to follow is; what does the Constitution say? What does the law say? – and what has happened? Is it according to the law?
President Museveni is not in the Constitution, no, he’s an outcome. That assumption is only political, and it’s okay. People can’t be just listening or its not, go and say it so that whoever will finally vote, gets your idea. Just go and tell them that, ‘oh president Museveni wants this constitution to change for his favor.’ Go, go and tell people. Eventually people will listen to our views and the majority of you take course.
Still on President Museveni, he has been in power for over two decades now. If you went through some of his legacy, what has he achieved for Uganda?
Ambassador Katende: A lot. First of all, as we have come from very far as a country, from very far; I grew up with those systems where you would sleep and you are not sure whether you’d wake up. I grew up in system where you go to work and your family is not sure whether you’ll come back home. You are not sure whether you’ll find your family safe or you will find your property safe. Now, we sleep.
There was a time when if you did not hear a bullet, you don’t hear a bullet in Kampala, you’d say, ‘what has happened?’ Yeah we had that time. I grew up in those years. Now people are free.
In fact, I went too for an inquiry within my bank this morning. My bank is Citibank and I believe it is the same with the other banks, I couldn’t get this thing online, I found out that the bank opens at 11, then I said; ‘what is this?’ – because for me, I was used finding my bank open at 8am in Kampala. I am used to going out knowing that after leaving work at five, I will go to my bank and go and transact business before 6. Some of the banks go up to 8. So, I was thinking, I said maybe here we are better. We have maybe got this freedom and we are taking it for granted.
Our economy, I will give you an example, as I was a student. Now a student wouldn’t expect spectacles in Kampala. So we use it to apply for foreign exchange, spectacles were costing $20 across Kenya. You apply and when your application is approved, you are the man at the top, $20; then you go to Kenya and when you go to Nairobi, you must come with bread, with jam and that was big news. You would go to the shelves or the shops in Uganda and perhaps not find anything manufactured in Uganda. Now all those things have been changed by Museveni. That is the truth. For those who have been following the country, the peace he has brought, the economic recovery he has brought, the infrastructure he has put in place and the assurances he has made to the people of Uganda, in our view, makes him one of the most outstanding presidents we have had.
Do you know that, now Uganda is the educational hub of the region? People send their children even in primary school to go and study in schools in Uganda because we liberalized education. Government found out that this public education need support, so we liberalized it and fortunately investors came in and invested and provided quality products. That is why you find students from Kenya, from Tanzania, from Burundi, from Rwanda, from Eritrea, from Ethiopia, from South Sudan. I think there is something people forget. If I say, ‘oh you have ruled for long, you have ruled for long, vote him out.’ As long as the Constitution says this, the choice is, vote him out. There are many countries in the, actually we’re trying to find out; is there is a country in the world that has an age limit on Heads of State? We haven’t found one. I don’t know if you know one.
Even if you find it, then it is something that is not considered something necessary by many countries, but technically speaking, the most important thing in governance, in this exercise of elections, is the wishes of the people. Fortunately, they are the people to say, you govern us or you don’t, be removed and we are seeing it. Do you know that the turnover of the Uganda Parliament, is about 70%? So that authority as to who governs you, is you the voter, and if there are any issues relating to the future of elections, then we can deal with that. How can we make our elections better? How can we make them more improved? Everything is always improving. I was surprised when I came here and I find stories about, ‘oh this year’s elections were rigged.’ I said, ‘America, rigged elections in America?’ It shows you that it is something, we have to learn from each other.
When you have been in power for such a long time as President Museveni has been, obviously people get a little bit apprehensive of what might happen tomorrow. What if he’s no longer there? I’m not wishing him anything bad, but when he eventually leaves power; are the institutions in the country strong enough to support the change?
Ambassador Katende: Yes, we have institutions. All of the parties have their structures, for the Constitution spells out how if change happens and what should happen. We have institutions, they are there and in any case, if people feel that the institutions are weak, they need to talk about it , that is not a crime, but I will assure you that we have strong institutions. If we went to our Parliament, then you’d know. I do know that they appear on YouTube, we have them. If you access on any of our TVs, you can always access them. There is a TV, if you can access and see the quality of a debate. It means that really these institutions do function. Sometimes the President can wish to do something parliament will resist. That is respect, there is constitutional respect for the law.
Ambassador Katende, thank you so much sir for granting this interview.
Ambassador Katende:Thank you very much and I wish you well. Thank you.
ICT Offers Africa The Best Opportunity To Bridge The Development Gap-Prof Victor Mbarika
November 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Information and Communication Technology (ICT’s) represent the best hope for Africa to bridge the development gap with the rest of the world, says Prof Victor Mbarika Founder and Board Chair of the ICT University. With campuses in Cameroon and Uganda, under the leadership of Prof Mbarika, Nigeria is on course as the third African country to host the University.
Based in the USA, the ICT University Foundation funds and designs quality education to people who do not have to leave Africa. The Foundation establishes Campuses across the world that have similar standards and curricula like those in the USA. With over 20,000 students served annually, from basic certificate programs to Ph.D. programs, offered onsite and online,the ICT -U has emerged as a formidable hub for education that meets 2st century development challenges.
The intent is to have a University in each sub region of the continent, and with a campus in Central Africa, East Africa ,and West Africa coming up, the goal is very feasible says Prof Mbarika. With affordable fees, Africans are able to receive education that matches U.S standards and the results have been phenomenal says Prof Mbarika who frequently travels across Africa to harp on the merits of ICTs.
On the affordability of the programs, Prof Mbarika says tuition is kept very low to give opportunities to more Africans. While the fees may still be high for some people, it pales in comparison to what is paid to receive the same education in the USA. In addition, the University Management goes the extra mile to source and provide scholarships an grants to deserving students from poor backgrounds ,Mbarika said.
Support from governments in countries where the Universities are located has been laudable ,Prof Mbarika said. In Cameroon, Prof Mbarika said the registration process was seamless with no bribes requested from him and the university is in the process of starting additional programs in agriculture and medicine. In Uganda, the government has equally been very supportive , Prof Mbarika went on. In Nigeria, where he has had the opportunity of meeting past leaders like General Gowon, Presidents Obasanjo, Jonathan as well as Officials of the current Buhari Administration, the response has been most encouraging ,said Mbarika.
Beyond the countries that host ICT universities in Africa today, many African governments have seen the importance of ICT ,and Prof Mbarika believes that this augurs well for development prospects. In Namibia, Prof Mbarika said he was impressed with the efforts of government to promote ICT. African governments are taking note of the importance of ICT’s and this could be a game changer for the continent, he said.
On projects that the University is working on, Prof Mbarika said there were plans to work on the promotion of agriculture using ICT tools. The University is also fanalizing plans to start a Teaching Hopital in Cameroon with strong emphasis on tele medicine where a professional can be in the USA and be able to treat a patient in a remote part of Cameroon,Prof Mbarika said.
CCA Working On Trade Mission To Sudan
October 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
With sanctions eased, U.S companies are relishing the prosepcts of doing business with Sudan .Taking the lead is the Washington,DC based Corporate Council on Africa which is working on Trade Mission to Sudan for its members in early December.
In a recent interview to discuss the state of US-Africa business ties, CCA’s President Florie Liser said, Members were excited with the opportunity of doing business with Sudan. The decision to undertake the Trade Mission follows a briefing to the CCA from State Department Officials on scope of measures taken by the Trump Administration to ease sanctions . Florie Liser also disclosed that during the recent World Bank/IMF meetings , the Sudanese Minister of Finance held a heavily attended interactive session at the CCA to discuss business related opportunities in Sudan.
Revisiting the last US-Africa Business Summit, Florie Liser said it was a success and post summit feedback has been very positive. While the choice of the host country has not been made, Florie Liser did confirm that the next Summit will take place in Africa .Mozambique has so far expressed strong interest and a decision is expected to be made at some point next year.
“I do think that the Trump Administration will want to gauge very positively on the issue of our commercial relationship with the nations of Africa,” said Florie Liser in answering questions on the way forward for US-Africa Business ties. On the encouraging signs, Florie Liser cited the presence of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Wright at the last US-Africa Business Summit,calls from President Trump to African leaders, and the reception he had for a number of African leaders on the sidelines of the last UN General Assembly Meetings.
Florie Liser, good afternoon.
Florie Liser: Good Afternoon.
You are approaching the symbolic one year milestone as president of the Corporate Council of Africa; how is the organization doing under your leadership?
Florie Liser:Well I’d like to say, and I think my board would agree that it’s been, first of all, my one year appointment is at the end of January, so we’re not quite there yet, but I think I’ve been here maybe nine months and it’s been really exciting. I feel like we have been building on CCA’s brand of twenty three years but I’m also enlivening our vision, doing some new things that we haven’t done before, but also some things we’ve done in the past, but making sure we do them in ways that meet the needs of our members. So again, we are building on the brand we have, but we are doing some new things and repositioning ourselves in the market and making sure that people understand what CCA brings to the table and our value added for those companies that are members. We’re growing our membership, since I got here I think we’ve gotten seventeen new members, including some big companies, some medium size companies, some small companies; so I’m very pleased about that.
One of your signature events in the past nine months that you’ve been president, was the USA -S Africa Business Summit last year. What feedback are you getting from members and participants on post summit progress?
Florie Liser: So, the summit I thought was a big success. We had over 800 registrants. We had the Head of State for Mozambique, President Nyusi. We had the president of the African Development Bank as well, who was the key note speaker. And we also had for the first time, I think we were the first ones to do this, to have someone senior from the Trump Administration, Secretary Wilbur Ross from the Department of Commerce to come and give remarks about the US strategy for engaging with Africa from an economic view point. So we were very excited about that and thought the summit was a success. As a result of that, we got some new members. As a result of that, we have new initiatives that we are working on and continuing as I said to make clear what CCA has to offer to the US and African Business community.
At the time the summit took place, many were still wondering on the approach that the Trump Administration would take towards business ties with Africa. What is your take on the way his Administration is approaching US Africa business ties?
Florie Liser:I think that if we listen to secretary Ross’ speech, at the US South Africa Business Summit, he made the point that Africa is an important economic partner of the United States, that we have a number of programmes and initiatives with them that are important. He mentioned the President’s Advisory Council on doing business in Africa. We call it the pack DBIA and that was something that was launched actually under President Obama, but he himself Secretary Ross, is supportive of it continuing and he has already spoken to the members of the pack DBIA. He talked about AGOA, he talked about two way trade between US and African Nations and he made it clear that Africa is a place of opportunity for US Businesses. He also encouraged African Ministers and other Officials that were there, to consider what US businesses bring to the table when countries are considering bids for different projects. Sometime American companies are dismissed maybe because of cost but Secretary Ross was saying ‘you do get what you pay for;’ and for US companies, we bring technology, we bring skills transfer and we bring the kinds of partnerships that we think are longer lasting and mutually beneficial which is not necessarily the case for some of the other kinds of partnerships that Africans may have; but I think his message was a positive one and since then, there have been different interactions.
President Trump has called different African Heads of State, economic issues have maybe not at the The agenda for the call most times I think it’s been security and peace and issues, but the US Africa economic relationship has come up and then during the luncheon that president Trump hosted for African Heads of States, I think there were about eight of them in New York, the issue of the US Africa Economic Relationship also came up there. So I’m thinking that it may not be prominent in the news and so forth, but I do think that the Trump Administration will want to gauge very positively on the issue of our commercial relationship with the nations of Africa.
I would like you to discuss a few other events that you have had in the course of the year beginning with the World Tourism conference in Rwanda, I think. How did that go?
Florie Liser:Well that went very well, but I want to mention one other that we did in early August, that was in late August but in early August, the Corporate Council on Africa, hosted the AGOA Private Sector Dialogue and this was at the request of the US government. We’ve done it before and so we were in Togo for that and had several sessions with lots of both US and African companies who recognized the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the possibility of increasing and enhancing the kind of trade that the US does with Africa focusing more on value added products, value added agricultural products etc. So I don’t want to pass that by; and we had companies there like Whole Foods who is sourcing our value added Shea butter products from Togo and other countries in the region and looking to do more and so we were very pleased with the participating in the AGOA forum which happens annually.
And then in late August, we were in Kigali Rwanda for the World Tourism Conference. As you know the Africa Travel Association became a division of the Corporate Council on Africa in late 2015, and in 2016 we started planning for this world tourism conference which we had in August and it was a great conference in many ways but the thing that I thought that was most interesting was we had sort of people who represent the whole platform in tourism, small travel agents and tour operators but then we also had companies that represents sort of the new platform for tourists in the world.
We had Expedia, we had Uber, Trip Advisor, Tastemakers Africa. We had a number of organizations and businesses who were doing tourism in Africa in different ways and so we were very pleased to have those both old and new platforms , stake holders, and African Tourism come together. It was a very successful forum. President Kagame opened it and we also had as a part of our opening session, the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Kituyi. UNCTAD had just put out a report on tourism in Africa as a major driver of economic growth and diversification on the continent and so when we reached out to him and said, ‘you’ve just put out this report, we would love for you to come and say some words ,he did do that.
So again we had excellent turn out at the conference and also a really good dialogue about how US and African stakeholders in the tourism sector can work together.
And on the side lines of the UN General Assembly in September, the CCA also hosted a number of events. Do you want to shed more light on that?
Florie Liser:Yes, we had several events while we were up there in different sectors, but let me start with the one that was the highlight for us which was a Presidential dialogue on the future of US -Africa Business Relations and at that session we had President Kagame and then Mr Dangote who is on the CCA Board on a panel that talked about how they perceive the future of the US Africa Business Relationship and the key issues and areas that have to be focused on. So they talked about regional trade in Africa, how that has to be strengthened, they talked sectors like agriculture where there has to be a lot of focus in African given who Africa is and what Africa is about.
They talked about misperceptions about investing in Africa which even today still exists. President Kagame said that corruption is not something that is African, this is something that exists all over the world. The importance of American businesses is having the right perspective about Africa and the opportunities there. That was a large amount of what they talked about and that the perception of Africa relative to the reality is something that we still need to work on if we are gonna promote greater investment in FDI from the US to Africa, but also more partnerships.
Mr Dangote talked about the importance of partnerships where American companies come to the continent not just to sort of do business but to kind of go on their own but where they in a very collaborative way sit down with companies like his own that are doing things all across the continent. It’s a Nigerian company but they are probably in a dozen countries across Africa in a wide range of product areas from cement to producing value added agricultural products.
As we do this interview, the US lifted sanctions on Sudan. What is the take of your members on doing business in that country?
Florie Liser:Even before the sanctions were lifted, we were talking with some of the companies from Sudan. One of them Sudatel is a recent member of CCA, they joined in September. And talking about this, the US government did indeed make the decision in October to lift the sanctions, this would be a big deal, and they’ve been in place for quite some time. There are still some sanction related restrictions, but for the most part, the sanctions were lifted and would allow for US companies to be there, which in the past they could not. And so even as we were waiting to hear what the decision would be, we were already talking about what were some of the things they might be able to do from CCA’s perspective and one of them is a trade mission. The other day, on Monday, we had meeting here at CCA, it was a packed room. I have never seen a room like that, it was standing room only. I’m sure the fire Marshalls might not have been happy if they had come, but we had first US Government people from the Department of State come and brief our members and others about what this meant with lifting of the sanctions and the specifics of what they could now do in Sudan. But it was a very positive briefing and then we had the Sudanese Minister of Finance and his delegation who had been here for the World Bank IMF meetings and they came in to also talk about some of the particular sectors that are ripe for investment there. Everything from renewable energy to mining, IT etc They have a lot of opportunities there and it’s kind of like a whole new market that Americans haven’t been able to actually get into and so there’s a lot of excitement and we’ve decided and announced during that meeting on Monday that CCA will be organizing a trade mission to Sudan in early December. So we are very much excited about that and looking forward to taking members to Sudan so that they can kind of see for themselves what’s on the ground and what the opportunities are.
What other measure of activities will the CCA be working on for the rest of the year. I understand you just mentioned a Trade Mission to Sudan in early December that should be very welcome news for them. What other activities do you have in place for the rest of the year?
Florie Liser:So we are looking at a number of things, so for example, similar to that, we have been discussing with Morocco, the possibility, we don’t have anything firm yet, but we’ve been discussing with them the possibility of doing a CCA trade mission to Morocco maybe in the first quarter of 2018. And so we hope that that will come to fruition.
We’ve also been talking with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, about an event that we may organize on the side lines of the African Union Summit in January in Addis. The major point of it would be to bring companies, both US and African companies there to have an opportunity to say to Heads of State and Ministers, ‘here is what we need in different sectors in order for us to drive more investment and more business;’ because we know that the AU has it’s AU 2063 vision, we know that the SDG’s have been established and talk about private sector, but on the ground, there are still a number of various issues and challenges and we thought that while Heads of States are still there, maybe what we could do is talk about them in a couple of key sectors, what do private sector people think people think need to really happen in terms of implementation. They have the plans and they have the vision, but the question, is the actual implementation.
So one example, Mr Dangote who as I said is on my board, mentioned there is an AU visa where he wouldn’t have to get individual visas, country by country, as he goes throughout the continent to explore business opportunity. He said in principle, it’s there, but in practice it’s not functioning. He still has to go country by country to get visas. And so these kinds of issues have to be addressed to move both people and goods across Africa in ways that promote, trade, promote investment, promote business. We really need to address that and we want to see if we can get, maybe the first of a number of events like that, but we wanted to see if we could get commitments to do just a couple key things that are identified and then come back maybe six months later, nine months later and see which countries had actually been able to deliver on those commitments and then what kinds of maybe investments or business ventures had come out of that. Just the lifting of some of those constraints I think would be a major incentive for lots of companies both US and African to do more business in Africa. So it’s an idea, it’s not 100% certain yet, but it’s kind of moving forward.
I had the opportunity to meet with the new head of UNECA, the new Executive Secretary, her name is Vera Songwe. We met last Saturday and discussed this again. This is not the first time we’ve discussed it and I think that it’s something that we will do. They think that CCA could do it and we think also that we could do this kind of event well, bring the private sector to the table to talk about what needs to happen. Something concrete and we are looking forward to that. I’m very excited about the possibility of that.
And no matter what the CCA does, everyone know that it’s Flagship Programme is the USA, Africa Business Summit. The last one took place in Washington and a lot of people left with the expectation that the next one might take place in Africa. Is this principle still in place and have you settled on the choice of the host country?
Florie Liser:Well, we haven’t settled on the choice of the host country yet, but what’s exciting, we do it every other year, so we don’t feel pressed to make the decision right away, but we do have some countries that have already expressed an interest. One where the Head of State has actually written a letter and said ‘we would like to be the host is Mozambique,’ and I said the next US Africa Business Summit will be in 2019 and so I’m hoping sometime in the first part of 2018, that we’ll make a decision and then actually start the planning for it. Even though, we have a little time but we are not gonna wait till the last minute.
Is it a certainty that its going to take place in Africa?
FlorieLiser:Absolutely. It will take place in Africa.
And the last time I had an interview with you, you were also very optimistic, very upbeat about the future of the US Africa Business ties. Now you have been President of the Corporate Council of Africa for the last nine months; do you still maintain that assessments? What are the things that you’ve seen that support your assessment? And what are the impediments to the kind of business ties that you want to see between the US and Africa?
Florie Liser:So, I mean on the upside, I think that US investments into Africa are increasing but of course as a share of total, outbound FDI, Africa is still relatively small. When we were in New York and I didn’t mention this, we had several sessions with some countries, either their Heads of State, in the case of Gabon but also with the ministers about five or six ministers from Nigeria and we had the opportunity to talk about the kinds of business environment in those countries and what they are doing. It was very positive. Beyond oil, beyond the gas, a number of the opportunities, we had people of there in the real estate sector, there are a lot of interesting and progressive things happening and in real estate. We had people from the Health Sector who were looking at not just medical equipment but things that are happening in both the communicable and non-communicable diseases area. And so the continent is right for investment. Lots of countries are investing there. Lots of US companies are investing there. We have companies that are expanding. Boeing has opened offices in Johannesburg and Kenya. There are various examples though off companies that are really looking at Africa as an opportunity.
Last Friday I took about four CCAs members to meet the Prime Minister of Cote D’Ivoire and we had such an excellent meeting because we talked about the opportunities there in aviation services. They were saying that at the end of their crises that they had in 2010, they had about 1 million people trafficking through there that dropped way off, now they are up to 2 million transiting through Abidjan and we had another company there from CCA that’s looking into equipment that’s been sold there, and the agricultural sector. We had someone there who is doing work in the education sector, and capacity building working with them on export processing zones ,and again we had someone there from one of our energy company who knows specifically what block they would like to bid on for the new oil fields that are in Cote d’Ivoire and we talked about the MCC compact that Cote d’Ivoire will be signing in November. President Ouattara will be here, we hope will have an event to host him and so essentially there are lot of good things that are happening in Africa, and at the CCA we are trying to be at the center of as many of them as we possibly can.
We can’t do everything, we want to be strategic and we want to make sure that we are supporting our members in the key areas, in the key countries but again we think that we can make a difference from across a wide range of countries and across a wide range of sectors and our members represent that. We can do it for both multinationals as well as our smaller mid-caps and SMEs that are members of the CCA. We are getting ready to launch a membership drive, CCA membership drive to bring in more members into CCA, both US companies and African companies, big and small. And I’m very excited about that because I think that we have something that we can offer to many companies that are operating on the continent.
Before we get back to membership to conclude the interview, let’s talk about the challenges. What is it that African countries can do to improve their business climate? What is it that you will recommend they do so that they can attract more US business interests into the continent?
Florie Liser:A number of them are doing it and in some cases they really need to be focused on it. Using Nigeria as an example, their scores on the World Bank doing business, ease of doing business index, not very good and one of the things that I really admire that they are doing now, is they have a team across a number of industries led by the Vice President Osinbajo, putting in specific measures, regulations and so forth particularly aimed at specific things that they have to do. Reducing the number of days to get a license to operate, having a one-stop shop so people don’t have to go tracking all around to different ministries to figure out what to do. All of these things they are actually implementing right now. My assessment is that in another year we will see that their scores will improve because they’ve been focused on it. They are not just talking the talk but they’re also walking the talk. So things like that, ease of doing business in your country is very important. Governments in Africa take the lead on that. And if they make it easy for companies to do business there, then business will come. If you make it difficult then businesses have lots of choices and they have choices not just across the continent because they can decide I’m coming to this country and not to yours in Africa but they have choices all around the world. They can say well, we are not going to do with African countries because they make it too difficult and we can go to Latin America or South East Asia or wherever. But I think ease of doing business is one thing. I think some other issues are important, we don’t want to ignore government’s rule of law, these are things that are very important because, you know, you can make it easy for companies to get licenses to operate but if rule of law is really not being honored and respected, if there is corruption etc. companies are gonna say well no it’s too difficult to do business there for those reasons. So I think governments can do a combination of things that make it easier for businesses to be there.
Obviously in areas where there is conflict, those countries really have a lot to do to attract business there. Many countries in Africa frankly are not in conflict and then you know, you have a newly elected president in Liberia, newly elected president in Angola, Kenya we know newly elected president once we know how things will unfold, in Rwanda, President Kagame has been reelected. I think for these different countries, the systems are working, democracy is working, rule of law is working and so I think we’ll see investments and business engagements in those countries. That’s what businesses are looking for.
Last question Florie. You said you are on a membership drive. Can you make a pitch to companies out there both in Africa and in the USA on why they should join the Corporate Council on Africa. What does the CCA offer them?
Florie Liser:So, first of all, I think that even though there are competitors out there, there are certain things about CCA that are unique. We are a business Association which has for all of its history been solely focused on, the only place we’ve been focused on is Africa and promoting business between US companies and African companies, between the United States and Africa generally. We are an advocate ,both here in the United States as well as on the continent for making sure that people understand what the opportunities are and advocating for the kinds of policies, both US policies and African policies that really make it possible both for businesses to operate on the continent. The other thing that’s unique about us, we do have lots of large multinational members, multinational company members, we’ve got a lot of the big guys that are also members of the Chamber of Commerce but we have probably more than half of our members are mid-cap and SME companies.
We also have probably the biggest associations in terms of membership. We have more African members than any, we feel that we are not just representing the big multinationals on the US side, we feel very strongly that our role is to advocate for more business engagement and so we feel that we can offer African companies something. We can bring them here so that they can have the kind of access and connections to the right people here in the US. We can even introduce African companies that may be smaller to bigger African companies in Africa. So again, our model is actions, access, connections, insight. We think that we provide insight into the doing business environment. What are the key issues? What are the key challenges?
We think that we can easily speak to those and do so on behalf of our member companies. So again for both big and small US and African, I don’t think that there is an association that can a more effective lead than us. I’m not saying that they don’t bring something to the table, I have nothing negative to say about other organizations that are doing some of the same things that we do and then when you look around who is doing trade missions? Who is taking US businesses to Africa to see what is possible on the ground. CCA has been doing this for years and now we are sort of owning it and doing it in more effective ways. I was just talking to my team about when we go to Sudan, we’ll have meetings with different ministers in charge of all sorts of sectors there but were also gonna take the companies that come with us on trade mission. We want to have them do a site visit, so that they can actually see for themselves some of what is happening on the ground. Because you go to countries, you can sit in conference rooms and hotels and, you know, offices and buildings and really not see for yourself what’s possible and I was saying to my team, ‘we are not gonna do that. We are going to have those meetings but we are also gonna get the people out of those meetings and out to see some things that are on the ground in Sudan. You know people haven’t been there for a long time. A lot of people haven’t had a chance to see. I haven’t been to Sudan. I’ve been to many countries in Africa. I have never been to Sudan. So I do not want to just sit there in a hotel or office building and see nothing. So another thing unique about CCA’s is that we do trade missions and I think we do them quite well and we’ll be doing them in bigger and better ways, going forward.
Florie Liser, thank you so much for granting this interview.
Thank you for having me. Thank you for coming back and following up.
There is No Power Vacuum in The D.R.Congo-Former Presidential Spokesperson Zihindula Mulegwa
October 23, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Despite the deluge of negative news about the D.R.Congo, there are so many positive developments that give a reason for hope, says Zihindula Mulegwa former Spokesperson for President Kabila.
Mulegwa, an Attorney who runs the Center for Political and Strategic Center in Kinshasa, said in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution of the D.R.Congo, there is no power vacuum as President Kabila remains in power until fresh elections take place.
Interviewed in Washington, DC, Mulegwa said under the current leadership of President Kabila, the country was making great progress towards the goal of free, fair and credible elections. About 42 million people have already registered to vote in the elections and another 3 million voters are on course to be registered before the year runs out, Mulegwa said.
While there was no certainty yet as to the date of elections, Mulegwa faulted critics who think President Kabila is doing all he can to remain in power. President Kabila is not interested in holding on to power for ever, and his fate is determined by the constitution of the D.R.Congo, Mulegwa said.
Citing recent assessments from international experts who say it will take over 500 days after the registration is completed for the electoral process to come to term, Mulegwa said President Kabila should be supported in his efforts to give Congolese a voice and say in the future of the country. If it was elections for the sake of elections, we can do that tomorrow, but there will not be free and fair, Mulegwa said. If the elections are not credible, the D.R.Congo will remain bedeviled in yet another spiral of crisis.
Going further in his defense of President Kabila, Mulegwa said, the electoral process was not slowed by him but rather war and rivals with unbridled ambitions who took cases to different countries. Countries of the region envy the D.R.Congo for its human rights, and freedoms, he said. Mulegwa said the country has over 600 political parties through which people freely express their thoughts and ideas. The government can however not remain indifferent when political leaders indulge in the destruction of public property or fail to respect the rights of other people just to provoke reactions which will be used to paint the current leadership black.
On the legacy of Kabila after some 16 years in power and counting, Mulegwa lamented the fact that the President has not gotten deserved credit for his efforts in unifying the country. Prior to taking power, the D.R.Congo was in shambles with pockets of rebellion everywhere. Thanks to his reunifying efforts, about 99% of the country is under control,Mulegwa said.
Kabila has also worked hard in helping to reconcile the people of the D.R.Congo. According to Mulegwa, President Kabila understood that a major cause of the crisis in the D.R.Congo was that people did not know how to access power. By creating an inclusive political system, Kabila gave the Congolese people to opportunity to freely express them and manifest political ambitions without resort to arms,Mulegwa went on.
Prior to taking office, Congo was literally in tatters infrastructure wise and President Kabila was saddled with the heavy task of rebuilding, Mulegwa said. Today the country has made tremendous progress in in infrastructure development and the rebuilding of broken ones. The city of Kinshasa is truly transformed and thousands of kilometers of roads have been built, Mulegwa said . While his detractors and critics may refuse to give him credit for anything, history will someday recognize the great work done by President Kabila in reunify, reconciling, and rebuilding the broken country that he inherited, Mulegwa said.
Quizzed on the absence of leading opposition figure Moise Katumbi from the country in fear of persecution from the government of President Kabila, Mulegwa rubbished the claims. Moise Katumbi is a fugitive running away from the law, said Mulegwa . While Katumbi may be rich, he does not have what it takes to lead a complex country like the D.R.Congo, Mulegwa cautioned.
Interviewed against the backdrop of a story from Fox News a Congolese bank helping a Hezbollah linked company to avoid US sanctions, Mulegwa said the story may be part of the smear campaign against the Kabila led government in the D.R.Congo. The bank in question is doing its own investigations following the eye catching headlines but there is no Hezbollah in the D.R.Congo, he said.
Mulegwa called on the International Community to encourage and support President Kabila in his ongoing effort deliver on the promise of free and fair elections in the D.R.Congo, he said .Using the example of the political crisis in Kenya today, Mulegwa said it is better to invest time and resources to get it right, than to be in a rush conduct elections which will end creating more problems than solutions in the country.
Dialogue In Cameroon Can Only Be On The Nature of The Federal System-Barrister Akere Muna
October 15, 2017 | 1 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L & Jude Nde Asah
Cameroon needs a new Republic, one that that takes cognizance of the richness of its diversity says Presidential hopeful Akere Muna. Speaking via phone from Paris a few days after he announced plans to join the race for the succession of President Biya in 2018, Barrister Muna said a return to the Federal system of governance is imperative and it is a fact which is becoming increasingly obvious to a growing number of Francophones in the country.
On the decision to throw his hat in the ring, Barrister Muna said the country is at cross roads with major questions surrounding the union, a huge demographic shift, and archaic institutions begging for reforms. Recognizing the seriousness of the Anglophone problem, Barrister Muna said reverting to a federal system and making the governance system more robust are some of the measures that need to be taken.
Far from an opportunistic move, the leap into the presidential race was well thought out according to Barrister Muna. Citing experiences serving as President of the Bar Council, the African Union, Transparency International and a host of other organizations that he has served with, Akere Muna said he could not remain indifferent to the challenges that the country was going through.
On the response from the public on the announcement of his Presidential run , Barrister Akere said while it had been largely favorable in the Francophone regions of the country, the response in the English speaking North West and South West Regions of Cameroon were much more subdued. With the North West and South West regions virtually under siege, many were perplexed with the timing of the big announcement from Akere Muna. According to Akere Muna, the announcement did not mitigate the importance he accords to the Anglophone struggle in any way. The Law Firm he is part of has about four Lawyers on 24 hours call, while his brother Barrister Bernard Muna visits those in detention several times weekly.
“I have written about the problems, spoken about them, and I know the pain and suffering, all I am trying to do is to seek solutions and while others may judge, I am at ease with my conscious,” said Barrister Akere Muna.
The Anglophone problem is a political one that must be solved through the political process Akere Muna said. When it comes to the Anglophone crisis, the government of Cameroon has shown its insensitivity, incompetency, and inhumanity and it cannot be trusted when it comes to seeking lasting solutions.
Barrister Muna said he hopes to build a coalition of young people, women, civil society leaders and political parties around a common vision to bring about a new dawn for Cameroon. In addition to his firmness on a return to Federalism, Barrister Muna said the constitution had to be fundamentally reviewed, and corruption curbed. Building on his Christian background, Muna said the country will need judging, healing and preaching and equated this to justice, education and health.
Conscious of the fact that some derisively refer to him as just another Muna when he declared his candidature, Akere Muna said he was proud of the moral upbringing from his father ST Muna who served as Prime Minister of West Cameroon, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon and later President of the National Assembly. Refusing to make excuses for his father or make comparisons, Barrister Muna said he was more focused on what can be done to get a better future. Citing his election as President of the Bar Council, and other important positions he has occupied on the national, and international scene, Barrister Muna said competence was the determinant factor as opposed to the name.
We will work on building a broad coalition said Barrister Muna on the way forward. While he may have declared his intention to run, Barrister Muna did not rule out prospects of supporting someone else if the coalition he seeks to build had a more suitable pick.
“I am about a purpose, I am about policy, I am about helping Cameroonians; if somebody is better positioned to do that, I will support them, all my might, all my heart, with no reserves whatsoever,” Barrister Muna said.