Sunday, January 21, 2018

AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS MORE EDUCATED THAN NATIVE-BORN AMERICANS
Robin White Goodeby Robin White Goode
Black Enterprise
January 20, 2018

In spite of obnoxious claims about the continent of Africa from the current president in the White House, Africans and their quiet dignity have spoken even more loudly than he.

In fact, it’s been reported that Africans are the most educated immigrants in the U.S. Although immigrants as a whole have less education than most Americans, that isn’t true of immigrants from Africa. According to the Pew Research Center, 40% of Africans from south of the Sahara hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

“…Immigrants from South and East Asia, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa were more likely than U.S.-born residents to have a bachelor’s or advanced degree,” Pew writes.

This week Tyler Cowen, Ph.D., an economics professor at George Mason University, wrote about African immigrants to the U.S. for Bloomberg View. He says, “Africa is sending us its best and brightest.”

Here’s an excerpt:

President Donald Trump decried [last week] Thursday that the U.S. was not taking in enough immigrants from Norway, and accepting too many arrivals from Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa, combined with some flowery language I would prefer not to reproduce. There has been a vociferous emotional reaction to his charges, but I would like to take a more sober tack and consider what the data actually tell us, focusing for now on Africa and Norway.

One of the most striking facts about immigration to the U.S., unbeknownst even to many immigration advocates, is the superior education of Africans coming to this country. If we consider adults age 25 or older, born in Africa and living in the U.S., 41.7% of them have a bachelor’s degree or more, according to 2009 data. For contrast, the native-born [American] population has a bachelor’s degree or more at the much lower rate of only 28.1% in these estimates, and foreign-born adults as a whole have a college degree at the rate of 26.8%, both well below the African rate.

How about high school degrees? About one-third of immigrants overall lack this credential, but only 11.7% of African-born migrants don’t have a high school degree. That’s remarkably close to the rate for native-born Americans, estimated at 11.4%.

Or consider Nigerian-Americans, Nigeria being the most populous nation in Africa. Their education levels are among the very highest in the U.S., above those of Asians, with 17% of Nigerian migrants having a master’s degree.

In addition, about three-quarters of African migrants speak English, and they have higher-than-average rates of labor force participation. They are also much less likely to commit violent crimes than individuals born in the U.S.

That’s all good news, of course, and it implies we could accept more African immigrants with mutual benefit. Subjectively, I would also note sub-Saharan Africa is the region where I encounter the least anti-American sentiment. That’s broadly consistent with these poll results.

As a resident of the Washington, D.C., area, I live alongside an especially high number and proportion of African immigrants. It is well-known in this region that African immigration outcomes in terms of education, starting new businesses, safety, and assimilation are quite positive.

“They’re not sending us their best people” is a claim I hear from Trump in his speeches and news conferences. Yet that’s the opposite of the truth when it comes to Africa.
Challenges in Unifying Africa: The Case of Ghana and Togo
01/11/2018 08:11 pm ET
Huffington Post

Dwayne Wong (Omowale), Contributor

Dwayne is the author of several books on African and African Diaspora history.

Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana into independence in 1957, but he was not satisfied with this. At Ghana’s independence celebration Nkrumah expressed his belief that Ghana’s independence was meaningless unless it was linked to the total liberation of Africa. Nkrumah presented his vision for a unified Africa in his book Africa Must Unite. His vision was a continental government which he called “The United States of Africa.” Achieving this vision proved to be an incredibly difficult task for a number of reasons. One example that illustrates this was Nkrumah’s relationship with President Sylvanus Olympio of Togo.

T. Ras Makonnen, a Guyanese born Pan-Africanist who worked in Nkrumah’s government, admitted in his memoir, Pan-Africanism From Within, that they underestimated how difficult unifying Ghana and Togo would be. Makonnen explained that they “simply looked at the traditional links amongst the people at the borders, and felt there would be no problem.” This seemed like a logical conclusion given that it was not uncommon to find relatives on both sides of the border. The borders were also very easy to cross, so there was constant contact between people on both sides of the border. Part of the problem, as Makonnen explained, was that “the French, Germans and British had taught Africans to feel distinct…” In other words, the colonial education had entrenched the divisions that colonialism created. Makonnen concluded that “after independence, the French did not have to exert themselves to keep Togo and Ghana from getting together. The work had been done already. The elite had become more French than the Frenchmen themselves…” The elites in Ghana were trained to become Europeans as well. Kofi Busia, who became the prime minister of Ghana in 1969, admitted: “I felt increasingly that the education I received taught me more and more about Europe and less and less about my own society.”

There were also disagreements between Nkrumah and Olympio over how unity between the two countries would be achieved. Nkrumah wanted to integrate Togo into Ghana, but Olympio preferred that Togo remained independent. Olympio expressed concerns that by being integrated into Ghana the Togolese people risked being dominated by Ghana. He did not want to escape French domination only to potentially be dominated by Ghana. Olympio also had aspirations to unify the Ewe people, which was a challenge given that the Ewe population was largely split between Ghana and Togo. He wanted to achieve this by abolishing the customs barrier between the two countries and to make movement between the two countries easier. Olympio believed that the end of British and French rule made collaboration between Ghana and Togo easier, but he did not necessary believe that one country should be integrated into the other as Nkrumah believed.

Togoland was a German colony that was partitioned between the British and French after the Germans were defeated in World War I. The British portion of Togoland was merged with the Gold Coast, which later became Ghana. Nkrumah wanted for the remaining portion of the former German Togoland to be merged into Ghana as well, but Olympio argued that nothing short of war could make Togo join with Ghana. Togo and Ghana never came to war, but the colonial borders have certainly led to conflicts in other parts of Africa.

Nkrumah’s eagerness to achieve a unified Africa led him to clash with political leaders who favored a more gradual approach to unity. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania believed that Nkrumah’s plan for the immediate creation of a continental government was unrealistic. He argued that African unification should be a gradual process that was to be achieved through regional blocs. The approach that Olympio and Nyerere took to African unity was perhaps more practical, but Nkrumah was driven by his belief that if Africa did not unite as quickly as possible the newly independent African nations threatened to be conquered once again by colonial forces. Nkrumah warned: “We need the strength of our combined numbers and resources to protect ourselves from the very positive dangers of returning colonialism in disguised forms.”

The relationship between the two countries became increasingly strained and the situation reached a point in which Ghana was openly welcoming Olympio’s political opponents, while critics of Nkrumah’s regime were being welcomed in Togo. In 1963, Olympio was assassinated and Nkrumah’s government was toppled three years later. Prior to the coup there were also assassination attempts that were made against Nkrumah.

Nkrumah warned that the greatest danger facing Africa was neo-colonialism and he believed that the balkanization of Africa was an aspect of that neo-colonialism. He also pointed out that neo-colonialism “creates client states, independent in name but in point of fact pawns of the very colonial power which is supposed to have given them independence.” This is precisely what was to happen in Ghana and Togo, where he and Olympio were toppled in Western supported coups. It is difficult to say if the coups in Ghana and Togo could have been avoided had Nkrumah and Olympio been able to cooperate with each other more closely than they did, but the strained the relationship between both leaders certainly did not help matters.

The example of Ghana and Togo is indicative of some of the challenges that Africa has had to confront in regards to continental unification. There was the issue of colonial education which indoctrinated Africans to become like Europeans in their thinking. This had the effect of alienating Africans from each other. There was also the issue of the borders that the Europeans created. The Organization of African Unity took the position that the colonial borders should be maintained, despite the fact that the borders did not match the ethnic makeup of Africa. The border situation between Togo and Ghana caused tensions, but in other parts of Africa border disputes have resulted in war. As T. Ras Makonnen admitted, many of the Pan-Africanists of his generation believed that African unity was as easy as removing colonial rule, but they were to find that the colonial way of thinking and the borders that the Europeans left behind were both obstacles to that unity and they still remain obstacles to African unity to this day.
Togo Needs International Community Support to Overcome Stalemate
ISS TODAY 
19 JAN 2018 01:52

Dialogue between Togo’s own actors is vital – but the country can’t do it on its own. By Jeannine Ella Abatan and Paulin Maurice Toupane for ISS TODAY.

While Togo’s political and civil society actors agree that political dialogue is vital in order to bring stability to the country, political actors disagree on the dialogue’s nature, format, objectives and prerequisites. African Union (AU) president Alpha Condé proposed 23 and 26 January for the opening of the talks following his 15 and 16 January meeting with the coalition of 14 opposition parties. The dialogue was initially announced by Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé in November 2017.

The negotiations are seen as vital to end the political crisis plaguing the country since August 2017, but a number of obstacles persist. On the one hand, the 14 opposition parties favour a restricted dialogue with the government under the auspices of the international community. For them, the ultimate objective of the dialogue is to define the conditions for Gnassingbé’s departure and a return to the 1992 constitution.

The governing party on the other hand wants the dialogue to be initiated and led by the government and extended to other political actors. The government’s overall goal is the organisation of a referendum. To recall, the contested referendum bill announced in September 2017 by the government proposes a two-term limitation of the mandate of the country’s president and deputies, and a two-round poll.

However such a dialogue should not revolve exclusively around the establishment of the rules governing the competition for access to and the exercise and control of political power. Such negotiations should also focus on the delineation, in an inclusive way, of reforms that will deepen democracy and the modernisation of the country’s institutions to better respond to the needs of the Togolese people.

In addition to the three proposed amendments in the referendum bill, the Global Political Agreement (Accord politique global or APG), signed in August 2006, provides for further constitutional and institutional reforms necessary to consolidate democracy, the rule of law and good governance in Togo. Eleven years after the signature of the APG these reforms are yet to be implemented.

These include reforms for the regular functioning of republican institutions; reforms for the security sector; and reforms for the institutions involved in the electoral process – namely the Constitutional Court, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the High Authority for Audiovisual and Communication (HAAC).

In the short term, the implementation of electoral reforms is important as Togo begins an electoral cycle in 2018 with the organisation of legislative and local elections. The latter were last organised in 1987. In the medium term, the application of reforms would avoid recurrent electoral tensions in Togo, especially regarding the upcoming presidential election of 2020.

The reluctance of the coalition of 14 opposition parties to participate in the dialogue initiated by the government, manifested in their decision to boycott the preparatory dialogue meeting of 12 December headed by Prime Minister Komi Sélom Klassou, is based on the failure of a series of dialogues organised since the 2006 signing of the APG. But while a lack of political will by the ruling party is partly to blame for the reforms remaining unimplemented for more than 11 years, this failure is also partly due to a counter-productive strategy by the opposition. This was the case during the 2014 Togo Telecom dialogue, which failed because of the lack of consensus among opposition actors on the retroactivity of the limitation of the presidential term.

If the crisis persists, this could exacerbate social tensions and jeopardise the country’s economic prospects. In that regard, dialogue remains the only peaceful way to implement the reforms envisaged – some of which are not taken into account by the referendum bill.

To avoid a stalemate, the dialogue should be led by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and the AU, two actors already involved in easing tensions in Togo. These two organisations have the capacity to ensure the parties respect their commitments. Even more so, the involvement of external actors is necessary given the degree of mistrust between the Togolese political actors.

The dialogue should lead to the adoption of a consensual reform project on the one hand, and a clear implementation road map on the other. Considering that the upcoming elections are expected soon the adoption by parliament of the draft reform that would result from this dialogue should be considered during the discussions.

However, dialogue can only lead to an effective implementation of the reforms if the political actors involved – both the governing party and the opposition – show the necessary political will to put an end to this crisis. DM

Jeannine Ella Abatan and Paulin Maurice Toupane are researchers, ISS Dakar
Thousands of Women in Anti-president Protest in Togo
2018-01-21 13:07

Lome - Thousands of women took to the streets of Togo's capital Lome on Saturday to protest against the power of President Faure Gnassingbe.

Since September, a coalition of 14 political parties has held almost weekly marches, where thousands have called for Gnassingbe to step down to end the more than 50-year rule of one family.

Opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre said during the march it was a "great initiative", adding: "Faced with the refusal of the power to move forward, women have decided to enter the game."

The female-focused demonstration follows similar protests in West Africa, notably the Women of Liberia movement which started in Monrovia in 2003 during the country's civil war.

Setting off from three different meeting points, the women dressed mostly in black and were accompanied by men and opposition leaders for the demonstration, which lasted several hours.

Previous demonstrations

"We will from now on take our destiny in our own hands because we are the ones who suffer the most in our families from this situation," shopkeeper Kossiwa Djomadi told AFP.

"There is no work and economic activity is slow... Discussions this time are sincere, and all topics are discussed for change in Togo," she added.

Several West African countries have called on Gnassingbe and the opposition to meet for talks under the supervision of Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo and Guinea's Alpha Conde.

Talks were announced in early November but appear to have stalled, with no date fixed for the start of discussions.

The opposition first wants its supporters who were arrested at previous demonstrations to be freed from custody.

It also wants security forces to withdraw from the north of the country, where the Panafrican National Party (PNP) has support.
Ghana to Consider Pay Cut for Cocoa Farmers
By Ekow Dontoh
Bloomberg
January 18, 2018, 12:29 AM EST

Country’s cabinet to discuss new cocoa-producer pay program
Ghana cocoa farmers’ pay kept unchanged since October 2016

Ghana’s government will consider cutting the price it pays to cocoa farmers because a slump that started more than a year ago shows little sign of abating, said Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

A price cut would signal a policy shift in the world’s second-biggest grower of the beans, which has ruled out changing farmer payments since setting the minimum price at 7,600 cedis ($1,700) per metric ton in October 2016. Over the same period, futures contracts in London have slumped by more than a third to near the lowest in six years on forecasts of a second consecutive bumper crop in West Africa.

In neighboring Ivory Coast, the biggest producer, the cocoa regulator lowered minimum pay for its main harvest that started in October by 36 percent to the equivalent of $1,247 per ton.

“Cocoa is a problem,” Ofori-Atta said Wednesday on the sidelines of a briefing by President Nana Akufo-Addo in the capital, Accra. Ghana needs “to have a discussion at cabinet level and put out a formula that is similar to that of Ivory Coast.”

Record Crop

Cocoa for March delivery rose 2.2 percent to 1,443 pounds ($1,985) per ton on Wednesday in London, extending gains for the year to 2.45 percent. Prices are unlikely to improve significantly as traders remain optimistic over the crop from West Africa, INTL FCStone said in a report.

Ivory Coast produced a record crop of more than 2 million tons in the season through September, while Ghana’s harvest of 970,000 tons was the highest in six years.

Ghana would prefer to pay farmers the equivalent of 70 percent of freight-on-board prices, Ofori-Atta said. The industry regulator said it was subsidizing producer pay with about 984 million cedis for the annual season that started the previous month, in addition to exhausting the 310 million cedis of a stabilization fund.

Cocoa beans are processed into powder, used in ice cream and cookies, as well as cocoa butter, which accounts for about 20 percent of a chocolate bar.
Fulani Community in Ghana Wants Compensation for Over 1,500 Killed Cattle
The leadership of the Fulani Community in Ghana has called for compensation for some of their compatriots who they claim have lost more than 1,500 cattle.

The group has estimated the cattle which were caught in the line of fire since December last year to be about GH¢6 million.

Sheikh Osuman Bari made the claim on behalf of the group at a press conference in Accra, Friday.

He called on President Akufo-Addo to halt, with immediate effect what he described as ongoing hostilities against the ethnic group.

The security task force dubbed Operation Cow-leg team has been tasked to flush out nomadic herdsmen in Agogo in the Brong Ahafo Region and other farming communities.

In the past few days, the team has strengthened its efforts to stop the destruction of farmlands by cattle led herdsmen to graze on the land.

But there was fresh trouble in Agogo after two soldiers and a police officer were allegedly shot two weeks ago by the herdsmen.

The residents have in the past asked for soldiers to be used in pushing out the nomadic herdsmen because the police lack the weapons and training to address the crisis.

But the presence of the soldiers who are part of a police taskforce did not deter nomads until last week when they were flushed out.

In reaction, Sheikh Bari said they are reliably informed that some assailants from surrounding communities have exploited the chaotic situation created as a result of the joint military action.

“The operations also saw some Fulanis being attacked killing some of them in the process while their properties were looted mercilessly,” he alleged.

Mr Bari said he has heard allegations of herdsmen deliberately leading their cattle to graze on people's farms but challenged those making such claims to produce evidence.

In a related development, the Ghana National Association of Cattle Farmers has condemned the shoot-to-kill approach adopted by the security operatives tasked to deal with the herdsmen menace.

Suggesting ways to deal with the issue, they say the state should take custody of straying cattle of recalcitrant members.

According to them, it is time the state develops more fodder banks and grazing centres for their numerous members.

Ghana Web
British Airways Bedbug Infestation Scandal on Ghana Flight Goes Global
The New York Times, the UK Times, the Daily Mail, among others reported on the story

British Airways' bed bugs infestation scandal on their Ghana flight has gone global as the world's biggest newspapers have covered the report, shaming the air transportation giants.

A British Airways flight to Ghana was grounded this week at London’s Heathrow Airport for four hours after bed bugs were found crawling on the seats.

The cabin crew had walked out minutes before the scheduled takeoff when they discovered the bed bug infestation, reported The Sun newspaper on Sunday.

A replacement plane was found and passengers were able to continue their journey only some four hours later, e drawing condemnation from the Ghana government.

Now some of the big newspapers in the world including the New York Times, The UK Times, The Daily Mail, The Sun Newspapers, Indian Times, The Strait Times and many many others in the world reported on the story.

The revelation has scandalized and embarrassed the British firm while hurting their business opportunities in the growing competitive industry.

The British firm's flagrant disregard for Ghana is well documented and the latest scandal comes just three months after Ghanaians forced the airline to change its aircrafts to Ghana over its poor quality and bad services.

In a major embarrassment for the airline, over 2000 Ghanaians in the United Kingdom coming to Ghana, petitioned the airline to change the plane they would be traveling in to Accra.
The petitioners led by the founder of UK Based Awards (GUBA) Akosua Dentaa Amoateng MBE stated among other things the bad conditions passengers to Accra face.

They argue that the aircraft is below standard making traveling such a long distance very uncomfortable.

A petition signed by Dentaa Amoateng who is an award-winning British Ghanaian entrepreneur said the flights to and from Accra now operate out of Terminal Three at Heathrow – not Terminal Five, the flagship terminal opened in 2008.

Dentaa in the statement also said terminal Three is not so convenient a place as Terminal Five.

Based on the pressure, British Airways heeded to their petition on Monday November 13, 2017 and has now given the passengers Boeing 747-400 Trans-Atlantic.
Ghana Warns British Airways Over Poor Service, Mistreatment of Passengers
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban   20/01 - 04:00
Africa News

Ghana government has cautioned the U.K. national carrier, British Airways (BA) over its poor service to and mistreatment of Ghanaian passengers.

The Aviation Minister, Cecilia Dapaah, told local journalists about instances that showed that nationals were being disrespected by substandard service from BA.

She addressed the airline’s admission that it had previously attempted to use a plane that was bug infested on the London to Accra route. The Minister added that officials of BA had been summoned to explain the issue.

We have been removed from terminal five to terminal three, some Ghanaians say they walk for about an hour before boarding on disembarkation also, Ghanaians are left at remote location.

In other complaints she said: “We have been removed from terminal five to terminal three, some Ghanaians say they walk for about an hour before boarding on disembarkation also, Ghanaians are left at remote location.”

Dapaah stressed that BA for over eight decades have benefited greatly on the route but she chastised the fact that the company has done little or nothing to benefit Ghanaians by way of corporate social responsibility.

She said a petition will soon be presented to demand reasons why Ghanaians have lower luggage weight as compared to Nigerians. Rickety planes and high fares were other areas she addressed.

BA has been operating in the country before Ghana’s independence in 1957, it is said to have operations dating as far back as 85 years ago. The airline has monopoly on direct flights between the U.K. and Ghana.
Ivory Coast Awards Tullow Two New Oil, Gas Blocks
Reuters
Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 10:01am
 
Ivory Coast awarded Tullow Oil Plc two new oil and gas blocks on Jan. 17, including one along the maritime boundary with Ghana, government spokesman Bruno Kone said.

Africa-focused Tullow now holds stakes in nine Ivorian blocks, eight of which it has picked up since an international tribunal in September ruled in favor of Ghana in a dispute over the countries’ sea border.

It also has a 21.33% position in Ivory Coast’s Espoir Field, which is operated by Canadian National Railway Co.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Kone said the government had awarded Tullow blocks CI-520, an onshore block near the commercial capital Abidjan, and CI-524, which is adjacent to its acreage in Ghana.

Tullow operates the Jubilee oil and gas field in Ghanaian waters and is developing the TEN fields.

Having emerged from one of the longest downturns in the sector’s history, Tullow is now cautiously reviving its search for new oil and gas resources in Africa and Latin America.
Former Ivory Coast Defense Minister Sentenced to Prison by Neo-Colonial Regime
19 January 2018

Ivory Coast Defence Minister Moise Lida Kouassi (C) meets Army Chief General Mathias Doue (L) and Gendarmie chief Touvoly (R) in this file photo.

Image: ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

A former defence chief for the Ivory Coast's ousted leader was sentenced to 15 years on Thursday for conspiring against the French-backed government, the latest top aide of the former regime to be jailed.

Moise Lida Kouassi, a defence minister under kidnapped President Laurent Gbagbo, was convicted by a court in Abidjan of "conspiring to destroy or change the constitutional system" alongside three other defendants.

Gbagbo was overthrown and kidnapped by French commandos after months of violence that followed his refusal to step down when rival Alassane Ouattara claimed to have won elections in November 2010. At least 3,000 people were killed.

Gbagbo was arrested at the aegis of UN and French troops, and handed over to the International Criminal Court, where he faces four charges, including murder, rape and persecution.

Kouassi was arrested in June 2012 in Togo and extradited back to the Ivory Coast.

The court ruled that Kouassi and his co-defendants plotted in early 2012 with former regime army officers who had fled to Ghana to try and topple Ouattara's government.

Felix Bobre, Kouassi's lawyer, told reporters his client's prosecution was aimed at "settling scores" with those who served with the previous government.

The trial is the latest in a string of prosecutions of figures associated with the former Popular Front government.

Last month, Hubert Oulaye, Gbagbo's ex-minister for public works, was sentenced to 20 years for complicity in a 2012 attack in western Ivory Coast that killed 18 people, including seven UN peacekeepers.

Earlier this month a key figure in Gbagbo's security apparatus, Major Jean-Noel Abehi, was given a 10-year term on Thursday for "plotting against the authority of the state."
Ivory Coast Court Sentences Former Gbagbo Minister to 15 Years
Jan. 19, 2018, at 6:31 a.m.       

(Reuters) - A court in Ivory Coast has sentenced a former adviser to ex-President Laurent Gbagbo to 15 years in jail for plotting to overthrow Gbagbo's successor, President Alassane Ouattara, the defendant's lawyer said on Friday.

Moise Lida Kouassi, who once served as Gbagbo's defense minister, was arrested in Togo in 2012 for his role in a supposed planned military coup against Ouattara, who challenged Gbagbo in a U.N.-certified election in 2010.

Gbagbo refused to step down after the disputed election, dragging Ivory Coast into a brief civil war that ended when he was kidnapped and deported to the Netherlands by pro-Ouattara forces backed by French and U.N. troops. Gbagbo is now on trial at the controversial International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Details of the plan to reinstate Gbagbo in a coup were allegedly found on Kouassi's computer hard drive after his arrest. At the time, Kouassi said he wanted to ask for Ouattara's forgiveness.

Kouassi's lawyer Felix Bobre said his client would appeal against the decision. He said Kouassi was being targeted just because of his association with the socialist ex-president who defied both French and United States imperialism which installed Alassane Ouattara, an operative of the International Monetary Fund.

"This conviction confirms the denial of justice in Ivory Coast and the systematic condemnation of all the relatives of former president Gbagbo in arranged and unjust lawsuits," said Bobre.

(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Transcript of Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa's Interview With the Financial Times
January 20, 2018

This is an edited transcript of an interview between President Mnangagwa and Alec Russell of the Financial Times in Harare on Tuesday January 16.

Mnangagwa’s relations with Mugabe now

Q: Do you still speak to the former president? When did you last speak to him?

A: Just before he left for Singapore [in mid-December] we chatted. Before he left for Singapore. He said he wanted to go to Singapore, I said, Sir, you’re most welcome. I will give every facilitation for you to proceed to Singapore. Then that was that. Then the list of people going to Singapore came to me. They were 38. A delegation of 38. So I phoned back and said, chef?.?.?.?That’s what we call each other. Boss, you’re going for a medical check-up; why do you want 38 people? Then he says, Emmerson, I don’t know that list. No one even told me. I never told you? Yes, OK. He says, I don’t know that there are 38 people. I know it’s myself, my wife, and my family. And we are hardly 10. I don’t know where the other 30? I said no, I have a list here of 36 plus yourself and the wife will be 38. So I can’t just approve 38 people just for you for a medical check-up; no. You know the new dispensation, I mean, we are trying . . . I have cut down the cabinet. It’s a leaner cabinet. And I’m also saying no minister travels first-class and so on. So I’m cutting expenses and that can’t be understood if you are going to go for medical check up with a big number. He says, Emmerson . . . He never says Mr President, he just calls me . . . Just said Emmerson. Emmerson, send me that list. So I called the protocol people.

Then they sent the list to him and they reduced the number down to 21. He says I can’t reduce any further; this is the number. That’s the number that then went. With him, it became 22, but the others were 21. He was then the 22. Then he went . . . But when he went in a 767 it carried these 22 people also to Singapore. Then when I was told I said no, this is not good. If the Press hears that we’ve taken the former President on this huge plane, it’s extravagant and so on. And it was published that it cost $6m. So we then said we must look for a smaller plane to go and pick him back when he finishes. Fortunately, when he was there, he then phoned back but he didn’t talk to me; he talked to my directors. He said, you see, it’s very absurd that the President allowed me to come with a 767 when we’re so small a delegation. Can you look for a smaller plane to pick me back? This is him. So the message arrived. So I gave instructions to the Minister of Transport and my officials. Somehow, the communication didn’t reach Air Zimbabwe on time. Then they sent again the 767.

Q: But how is he now? He was in power for 37 years, and now?

A: Just now he’s OK. Because when he came last week he sent me a summary of his medical report showing that . . . Just thanking me for having gone there, and then a small written report by Dr Matenga showing that he had a very successful and satisfactory medical check-up and he is back and he will be going back in April. This time when he goes back we will make sure he goes with a smaller plane as he asked.

His history with Mugabe

Q: When and how did you first meet Mugabe?

A: We’ve been together for about 54 years when I was a student and also when I went for military training in Egypt as well as in China. He was responsible for sending my group in September ’63 for military training in China, where I spent some time in the military academy in Nanjing. Graduated from there, came back to Rhodesia then, and attended the first Zanu conference in Gweru where he was elected secretary-general of the party. Our main task was to recruit young men at the time for military training abroad. We were called the Crocodile Group.

Q: Who called you the Crocodile Group?

A: Reverend Sithole. I’m the only survivor. We received communication from Mugabe that there will be a liberation committee meeting in Dar es Salaam; can you do some sabotage in the country to show that the battle was active in the country. So, as a result of that, I blew up a train.

Prison and torture

A: I was later captured. I was put in this Butcher House A20, yes. Butcher House A20: it’s a room at Harare Central Police Station. No, Salisbury Central Police Station. We were then tortured there. What they do is there’s a bar. See, like, that one doesn’t cross. There’s a bar from one end of the wall to the other end of the wall. Then there are hooks like in a butchery. Then they put a leg, then one leg goes through the hook, then the hook on the other side of your leg. Then they pull the table away so you have your head hanging down with your legs up there. You are hanging upside down. Then they hit you and they hit you. So I become unconscious, of course. They take you off, then they say again, you trained in China? I said no. On one occasion they took me to a room; they were foolish. They took me to a room, opened a window on the second floor of the building. A TNT slab, then a fuse with a blasting cap. Then they put the blasting cap into the TNT slab. Then they light it.

Now, because I was trained in military engineering, I knew that the size of the TNT, if it blows, we’ll all perish. And there was Inspector Beans, Bradshaw, and Smith. These are the guys who are doing this. So they knew that. They opened the window. They knew that when the fuse comes and of course before the blasting cap blows, I would throw it away. But I knew that I would keep it. And they know that if it blows, if they allow it to explode, they will all die. So, I kept it. Before it could blow, one of the guys jumped and threw it! They said you will go to prison but before that we will castrate you. Then you go for five years. I said in my mind, if I’m castrated, I’ll be in jail for five years, then I’m released. Then I’m nobody. It’s better to die a man. Then I said, OK. Of the crimes you listed here, I’ve done one, two, three. They said, just the one is enough: you will get hanged. That’s why I was not castrated. Then I went to court, sentenced to death. But then when they came to the question of age . . . At that time the age of majority was 21, and I wasn’t 21. That’s how I survived; then I got 10 years’ imprisonment.

Last year’s showdown with Robert and Grace Mugabe

A: There was this group called the G40 group, led by the former First Lady, using the former First Lady as their means to achieve their objectives. But the man who was an obstacle to their agenda was myself. I was the most senior person after Mugabe in the party and I had so much support and popular among the people, and they knew they couldn’t achieve what they wanted to achieve with me in the party and with me on my feet. So, this is what happened. Then they mooted an agenda of rallies. One thing emerged very clearly: that the only two people who would address the rallies, that is the First Lady first, the former First Lady, and then the President. The First Lady began just attacking me from nowhere: that my body language shows that I’m ambitious, the way I dance. At the Gwanda rally, I was taken ill.

Former First Lady Grace Mugabe addresses a zanu-pf Youth Interface rally where she denigrated then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Former First Lady Grace Mugabe addresses a zanu-pf Youth Interface rally where she denigrated then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

The alleged poisoning

A: Then I was airlifted to South Africa, where it has been proved that I had been poisoned.

Q: Did the doctors work out what the poison was?

A: Yes; they say it was called a hard metal arsenic toxin. Arsenic toxin, something like that. That’s the class of poison. And it’s not easy to come round with it. They say it is colourless, it is tasteless, and the areas where it could be found are possibly two. Three initially, professors in that area eliminated this one, and it was left with two countries. Russia and Israel. So it’s possible it came from Russia.

They were surprised that I survived because then you’ve heart attack, what they called cardiac arrest. Then the verdict of death would be death by cardiac arrest. So they kept me, you know, washing this out, I had something like 28 one side, you know, what do they call these sachets? In one side. And then the other side to wash the stuff out. So last week. This was in August. Last week I went there. They have now declared that I am now OK. It’s not visible anymore. The poison was testable, but not totally clear. But it means it’s not testable. That’s what they said. So maybe I’m the same club with you.

Q: Have the police worked out what happened? Is there an investigation?

A: Maybe doctors did. It could be food poisoning. There are nine categories of food poisoning. All the nine were negative. Which means the poisoning was not food poisoning. Then the second category is three categories. That is from your urine, from your blood, from your tissues. They took those again, and the type of poisons which they could identify, it was all negative. So what was left are these. What they say, hard metal poisons. Which, then, they had to seek external expertise to identify. So after about two months, six weeks or thereabouts, they were able to identify the type of metal.

Q: Do you know who did it?

A: I suspect. I suspect as to who did it. They are still good friends of mine. I now suspect that they now know that I know. They now know that I know.

His firing

A: After the First Lady castigates me (at a rally), I shake her hand. I said thank you very much. She becomes even more annoyed. Then the next day there was a rally. I didn’t go to that one, but I listened. So, I was being castigated there as a snake. And to deal with this snake you must crush the head. And this snake is Mnangagwa, we must crush the head, not beat the tail or the body. She went berserk on that one. At that stage now I believed she was not mentally OK. Then the next day I was fired at about four o’clock. I got a letter. In the terms of section so and so, you are fired with immediate effect.

Q: Signed by the President?

A: By H.E. former President. So I then left my office immediately; I went home. But when I arrived home within two hours or so some colleagues . . . Some officers from security services came and said, Sir, we are part of a group which is charged with the task to eliminate you. So you must leave now. To where? Said just leave, don’t know where you can go, but just leave. Because we are going to pick you tonight and we will poison you, we will kill you, then put a string around your neck and say you hanged yourself. That’s the end of story. But we felt you have not committed any crime, so leave. I said, look, I can never leave my country; you can go and do what you want to do. They pleaded, you must leave. Then they left. After they left I decided to leave. When they were saying so, my wife was there. Then I left. My two sons . . . Three. No. My elder son, twin sons. They said they will accompany me. I said OK, come with me to the border. So we drove over the night. We reached the border by the morning.

We arrived at the border. This side of the border, Zimbabwe border, they clear us. Passport was cleared. But there’s a boom; they lift the boom for you to cross on the Mozambican side. They didn’t lift the boom; they said, no, no. You can’t go through; we have instructions that you should not go. You should not leave the country. Oh, OK. If I am not leaving the country then I go back. They said, no, you can’t go back into Zimbabwe. I said, oh, you’re crazy. What crime have I committed? I must just go back. So as I was walking back to my car this guy says, no, no, you can’t go. We must get. No, I’m not arrested; I have no crime. So I’m going back. You’ve stopped me from going to Mozambique so I’m leaving. Then they said, police, police, police!

Q: Did you think at one moment, why don’t I ring the President? This must be a terrible mistake. If I speak to him, it will be all right?

A: I knew he was not in control of himself. I was aware he was under the grasp of this group. Then I went to a friend’s house. In the evening around about eight o’clock I took off with one of my sons. We went through about 30km or so because we walked from about half past eight in the evening until 7:30 in the morning. We reached Mozambique. A friend sent a small plane and it picked me to South Africa. Once in South Africa, after about two days, there was a lot of speculation where I was. I was in Mozambique, I was in China . . .

Q: For the record, did you go to China or not?

A: No, no, I was in South Africa. Then things began happening back home here. I think the first thing was the army making some statements here.

Q: Did they contact you before making the statement?

A: No, there was no contact at that stage; there was nothing. Then later there was another statement by the Chief of Staff, General. The first one was made by CDF, Commander Defence Forces Chiwenga. Then the second. I think on the second day or so I saw another statement by chief of Staff, Major-General. At the time he was a Major General SB Moyo. Then talks began. You should know better; some talks began. Now, I was seeing this from outside so the sequence may not be very accurate. Talks began, negotiations conducted. There was this guy from the Roman Catholic Church, Father Mukonori; he was the intermediary between the military and the First Family. When the party began to institute impeachment proceedings, I think the President realised that this was not a joke and if they proceed he would be stripped of all the powers and perhaps even be arrested.

At that stage I also phoned the president from South Africa. Then the president said, Emmerson, chef, he said where are you? I said I was in South Africa. Why are you in South Africa? I said, but you fired me. You’re forgetting you fired me. Come, come, come. I said, no, it’s my security there. He says, no. I want you here at State House because I want to resolve these issues with you here. So I realised the old man was not clear of what was happening. Perhaps he’d even forgotten that he had fired me. So I said no, I couldn’t come. But he was imploring me to come back and join him in the State House to resolve these issues. The following day he stepped down. Then I was contacted by both General Chiwenga and SB Moyo. Both contacted me and we discussed, they said, come. Oh no, no, I said no, I cannot come immediately. I have to pay my respects to the people who have kept me for the last 14, 15 days in South Africa.

Amnesty

Q: Will Mr Mugabe have amnesty for?.?.?.?If there are any judicial investigations into any abuses that may have happened under him? Is that?.?.?.?

A: In terms of the Constitution, a sitting president is immune. But a retired president loses that immunity. But I don’t see any possibility of us taking to court or prosecuting him for anything. As far as I am concerned, as far as my administration is concerned, he’s our father figure, he’s our?.?.?.?The father of our?.?.?.?The founding father.

Q: The founding father of the nation

A: The founding father of our nation. We will respect him; we want to keep that legacy. He is our icon, we’ll do everything in our power to keep him happy, to keep him secure, to keep him comfortable to the end.

His drinking policy

A: In 1978, one of our members of the High Command in Zanla forces, Peter Baya, member of the High Command, died of liver cirrhosis. One day at night, our commander called us senior commanders and said, look, we are in this war not to die from drink. We must die from bullets and not from drink or landmines. So each one must take a vow to say perhaps for a week you don’t drink, another week you drink. Or a month you don’t drink and a month you drink. I chose to drink six months and abstain totally?.?.?.?No wine, no beer, no whisky, for six months. I took my oath that time. I’ve kept it up to today. From 1978 to date, yes, I’ve kept it up; never broken. This is my wet season. From July 1 to December 31 is six months. That’s my dry season. From January 1 to June 30 it’s my wet season.

Q: And does your family say?.?.?.?Is your character different in the different six months?

A: I think they are happier during the wet season.

Elections

Q: What about international monitors for the election, will you accept Commonwealth monitors?

A: After pronouncing that Zimbabwe’s open for business, Zimbabwe wants to reintegrate with the international community; Zimbabwe will accept those who accept her. We want fair, free, credible elections. In the past the countries who imposed sanctions on us, we would allow them to send an observer if they so desired. But those who had pronounced themselves against us, who predetermined that our elections would not be free and fair, were not allowed to come in. But now with this new disposition I don’t feel threatened by anything. I would want that the United Nations should come, the EU should come. If the Commonwealth were requesting to come, I am disposed to consider their application to come. The same with other countries; the more we have observations across — and I don’t think we have anything to hide. I’m preaching this day in, day out; I would contradict myself if I say, I will be discriminatory. But of course if some people made conclusions now, we know the elections will not be free and fair, so they cannot come and observe; they have made decisions before the election’s taken place.

 Q: The opposition criticise your party over the voters’ roll, the independence of the head of the election commission and the role of state media. Will you change your approach on that?

A: The election commission is called ZEC, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Currently there’s no head. The head resigned, the chairperson of the commission, Justice Rita Makarau, resigned. I believe that by Friday I will have appointed another — this week. If the vice-chairman is a man, the chairperson must be a woman, so I’m looking for a woman. Secondly, the woman must have been a judge or a lawyer qualified to be a judge. I had names brought to me by the chief justice to say which judges — the head of the Law Society — which persons. So we of course have several women who sent in their CVs and I believe by tomorrow or Friday — because there must be consultation between me and, in Parliament, the speaker and the Justice Commission — I believe that by Friday this will have been completed because I gave them the names last week. Then I’ll appoint one.

Q: Will it be an independent person or someone from Zanu-PF?

A: We believe that we need somebody with integrity, an impeccable record in terms of his or her CV. That’s what will guide us.

 Q: You’ve been criticised for donating vehicles to tribal chiefs, which has been accused of being an act of?.?.?.?vote-buying. A mistake?

A: The chiefs are on the government payroll. One of their conditions of service is to give them motor vehicles. Whether there’s an election or there’s no election we’ll still give them the motor vehicles and their salary or allowance, whatever. This was done by the former administration, except that they had not been given so I’ve gone ahead to give them. In fact the later vehicles I’ve given have not been bought by this administration; they were bought by the former administration. It has nothing to do with vote-buying and so on; it’s a part of the conditions of service of those chiefs.

Q: You mentioned the possible Commonwealth observer mission. Are you going to apply to rejoin the Commonwealth?

A: It’s not my priority but I believe that when we shall have interaction with the British — because when I had the envoy from Prime Minister — is it May, Theresa May? — they raised that issue. When we have engagement they want to raise the issue about us joining the Commonwealth. I said I’ll be happy to deal with that. At the time of that envoy I had just been inaugurated and didn’t even have a cabinet. I can’t make a sole decision on my own but I believe after the AU (African Union) in February or thereabouts we should be having direct discussions with the UK and that issue will arise. I personally have nothing against the Commonwealth club so we will discuss that issue when we come to meeting the British. I personally have no hard feelings against the?.?.?.?because the issue on which we differed is behind us. We had differed with the Commonwealth on the land reform programme. That is behind us. I don’t see what difference [?] us any more now.

Land

Q: You’ve talked about possible compensation for people who had to leave their farms. How is this going to be funded?

A: That is an ongoing exercise. In terms of our law we are obligated to compensate any developments on land which was compulsorily acquired under the land reform programme. And some farmers have been already compensated but the large number of them have not and we are continuously raising funds on the fiscus for that compensation, although the persons affected are not too happy because the pressure’s very strong. So I have promised that I will not breach that commitment by government; we shall continue to honour the compensation on the improvements on land as a result of the land reform programme, yes.

Q: If you are to attract the foreign investors that, most people would agree, Zimbabwe’s economy needs, title and property rights are incredibly important. This is the big thing on the minds of would-be investors. How will you reassure them?

A: To the extent that we honour property rights in relation to land, we’ve introduced the 99-year lease tenure. We don’t have freehold any more, although we still have people holding freehold land but we have now legislated for 99-year leases which are transferable. This is where we’re going and we don’t see a person getting worried, being granted a 99-year lease; very few people live beyond 99 years but if they do they can always renew. That is with regard to agricultural land. Of course our land has different categories. The communal lands which have [unclear] people on them; there is no limit, it is a freehold. But agricultural land is a 99-year lease, yes.

Q: The economy is in a fragile state.

A: Absolutely.

 Q: How are you going to attract these fabled foreign investors back if you want them?

A: We must look at how our economy is in that state. The answer is that, from the year 2000, when sanctions came in — the year 2000? It’s now 16, 17 years — 18 years of sanctions where our currency crashed totally to be meaningless totally, where lines of credit were cut overnight, where our lines of credit with countries literally or almost literally again came to a stop. That affected overnight — 44 per cent of our programmes suddenly were denied access to finance, access to lines of credit and the economy slumped, both the mining sector and the agriculture sector, and so on. But the last four years have seen the resurgence and recovery of our agricultural sector.

You know our country is primarily an agricultural economy. Fortunately two years ago or thereabouts I was made responsible for agriculture and value-addition and appreciation, food security and nutrition. I was made responsible for those. Then I introduced “command agriculture”, you must have read about it. It was criticised?.?.?.?that it would fail and so on. But this is voluntary. What we did was that we said — Zimbabwe had insufficient food, it had food insecurity. For the last two, three decades we have suffered from food insecurity; importing food into Zimbabwe. But from this last season going forward, that won’t happen again. We have created a model which I championed or created where we say how much grain we want for the year to feed the country. We want 1.5m, 1.6m metric tonnes of grain to feed the nation and we need 0.5m metric tonnes of grain as a strategic reserve if anything happens, so altogether this gives you 2m metric tonnes. Now we say, how much land, how many hectares of land do we need to produce that amount of grain if a hectare gives you five tonnes as a minimum?

This gives you 400 000 hectares of land to be put under grain. Then you say, now I want people to volunteer their land, if you have 200 hectares, 400 hectares, you may decide to say, I’m putting 50 hectares into the programme or the entire farm on to the programme or just a portion of the farm on to the programme. If you give us 100 hectares into the programme, my people worked out, they know how much diesel you’re going to use on 100 hectares, how much fertiliser you’re going to use on 100 hectares, how much seed you would want on 100 hectares, how much chemicals you’d use on 100 hectares and how much ploughing power you need for 100 hectares. We give you all that. So the farmer has not time to go and look for finance from the bank or go and look from a line of credit from an oil company or from a fertiliser company or from a chemical company; everything’s brought to your farm and there’s a programme which shows you how to prepare your land, when to plough and when to irrigate, when to spray and so on. You are guaranteed a minimum of five tonnes per hectare. The majority of us get far more than five tonnes per hectare. I am a farmer myself. If I get nine tonnes I will have failed but I always get 10 or more tonnes per hectare but the cost of running a hectare is about US$1,000 so three tonnes can pay for the hectare. If you have produced the minimum yield of five, you still have two tonnes for yourself after clearing your loan.

 Q: So it’s about productivity?.?.?.?

A: Yes, the cost of productivity. I had an oversubscription of members coming on board and then how different is it? This is a six-month period. The fiscus, the Ministry of Finance has no capacity to provide that financing so what we did was at first I called all the oil companies, financial houses, fertiliser companies, chemical houses, the trade unions, farmers’ unions and so on, the stakeholders in agricultural production, all of them, for two days we met. Initially they were not co-operative; they said, government or this government was?.?.?.?We said, well, this is a new — we want to have a new situation and this is a model, you are guaranteed to get your money this time around. After interrogating the process and the model, they all agreed. Those who supply fuel have supplied it in advance; those who supply fertiliser supplied it in advance; chemicals the same?.?.?.?Everything was supplied in advance because they knew it’s tight. Every farmer would obviously produce five tonnes.

The three tonnes will pay their loan — actually it’s two-point-something tonnes, which would pay the loan, so there’s an excess of two tonnes, so it went ahead. When the farmer produces, he wants to be paid. Where do I get the money from? So I called the 11 major millers in the country, sat with them and said, how much money do you spend on importation of grain? About $1bn; 980 or so per year for importation of grain. I said, now we are banning you from importing grain — each one buys grain not for the full year but in quarters, so we give them money for the quarter — so give me money for the quarter, if you are giving me money for the quarter I pay the farmer, the farmer delivers the maize to your grain marketing boards and then you go and withdraw your maize and we deduct it from what you have given in advance.

So through the funds from the millers I’m paying the farmer and the farmer delivers the maize and the miller takes the maize to mill for that quarter, deducting it from the amount. So if you wanted 6,000 a year and in the quarter it’s just about 15,000 metric tonnes, for the three months they can go and withdraw maize from the grain marketing board, 15,000 tonnes is [unclear] and deducted from the amount he’s given me so everybody’s happy. Then that goes well if there are good rains but in the event that there is no rain, we said, OK, we must have a model which gives us food security whether it’s a good season or there’s drought. When there’s drought, we said, how much land under irrigation do we need to produce the same quantity of grain? We discovered that we need just in excess of 300,000 hectares of land, which will be irrigated and obviously the yields will be above five tonnes. But at this stage — two years ago — no, last year in 2016 — or two years ago — we only had about 159,000 hectares of land under irrigation but we need 300,000 hectares of land under irrigation.

Whether there’s rain or no rain if we irrigate that amount of land we have more than two million metric tonnes of grain. So we’ve now increased the number of hectares under irrigation. I’m sure now they’ve increased the number of hectares under irrigation but the minimum we want is 300,000. When they restart, it doesn’t matter whether there’s good rain or there’s drought, we will feed the country. In the area of agriculture and beneficiation we are saying, yes, we are now at production level with a model, now we’re moving on to the second cost; this is processing, value-addition and beneficiation. Then the marketing; these are the three steps we are following. I can say, we have said bye-bye now to food insecurity for Zimbabwe, which will be a food-basket again for the region.

Indigenisation law

Q: Is it dead now?

A: Not really in the mortuary. It is at the departure lounge rather than the mortuary.

 Q: It’s an important point this. Readers of the FT are very interested in this.

A: It was broken into three. The first part relates to depletable resources or the extractive resources sector; that is the mining sector, depletable or extractive sector — that’s mining. Then the second is — what do you call it? — non-depletable resources. Under the first one, the depletable, the extractive sector, the law was that it must be 51 per cent government, 49 the investor. The minute you land at the Harare airport, 51 per cent of your money is ours, 49 per cent of it is yours. But if you go into manufacturing, it’s negotiable. There is local participation but there is no insistence on 51/49. Then if you go into the reserved sector like salons for the girls, that is reserved for — small groceries — reserved for our local people. I have revised that and say the entire economy is open, except for two minerals: diamonds and platinum. The rest you can think about — it could be lithium, coal, gas, chrome, nickel, whatever, manufacturing, industrial, infrastructure — it’s open.

 Q: That part is dead.

A: No. It’s in the departure lounge, going to get fresh air, to be alive. That’s what is there now but of course we still have the reserved sector but even the reserved sector are saying if there are specific requirements like technology coming in, skills coming in, we’ll open it to people to come in. But otherwise now the indigenisation applies only in relation to those two minerals.

 Government spending

 Q: What about government expenditure? The consensus view is that it’s too high.

A: Correct.

 Q: It’s impossible to sustain at this level for an economy of your size. What are you going to do about government expenditure?

A: Two facts stick out: when the economy was doing well it catered for broader social requirements; heath, education, infrastructure, housing and so on. Suddenly the economy collapsed but the health needs did not collapse, the need of education did not collapse, all social needs never collapsed, they remain the same. So the level of expenditure still remained but the revenue base collapsed so if you understand that then you appreciate what we are going through.

His economic model

Q: What’s your vision? The China model or the western model?

A: Let me say that we introduced the Look East policy but that was a survival policy. The east stood by us through thick and thin. This is why in my inauguration speech I said, we shall maintain our old friends and take on board those who are willing to become our friends. This was to take care of those who stood by us when the west closed doors against us so countries like China, Brazil, perhaps Russia, India did not close doors on us, they continued to trade with us. They continued to give us soft loans and so on, make projects with us and to some extent they helped us to survive. So although now there is a green light from most of the western countries — talk about Britain, talk about Germany, talk about Spain, talk about France — they’re all showing green, indicative, positive lights for co-operation, opening doors for us in the way, impressing that but we are not forgetting our old friends. We will continue to impress them and continue to interact and deepen our economic co-operation with them but there’s now a broader spectrum where we can go fishing.

Q: Some people I’ve spoken to in the last day or so — talk about Deng Xiaoping as being a model to you, someone who transformed an economy and China’s trajectory, but a strong hand at the tiller. Another analogy would be Paul Kagame. Do you have a model?

A: No. I know I met Deng Xiaoping with President Mugabe, I think, around 1977 or 1978 but let me assure you, I am not Deng Xiaoping?.?.?.?but people say the way we are looking at reviving the economy is similar to how Deng Xiaoping did it. But those are their analyses and I think we are doing it on the concrete situation and the facts and the environment existing in my country and if the way we are doing it becomes similar to what Deng Xiaoping did, let it be. But this is what I think is best for my country, best for our people; we open up, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We must impress those of technology, skills, ICT to assist us to move forward, jump and catch up with the rest of the world.

Q: So you’re open to everyone.

A: Yes.

China

 Q: China’s relationship with Africa has expanded massively in recent years and Zimbabwe’s had a very good relationship with Beijing. But there have been the critics. Thabo Mbeki when he was president sounded a note of caution. He suggested there is a risk of a new colonial relationship. Do you agree?

A: From what I know — I am a graduate from a (Chinese) military school. There’s no history of colonisation by the Chinese — except Tibet might argue on that score. There’s no indication of (China) colonising any country. They may have different reasons for their embracing the continent, the African continent, because they’re offering various platforms for funding. From their point of view they may have other reasons why they’re doing it. In my view, I think they would also want to have markets. And Africa, the continent is over a billion now. And the huge economy would want to participate in that market of that number. And of course, in terms of influence, most African countries are reluctant and wary about their relations with?.?.?.?Most want to break away, like we did ourselves with the British. But now we feel more strong in that issues, the British should now respect us.

They know Zimbabwe is quite independent, the independent thinking, and their own?.?.?.?At that score we can relate and move forward. So I believe that China would also want a foothold of influence on the African continent, but through economic relations, economic co-operation, rather than political and domination of that nature. I think this is how they look at it. From our point of view, in particular from Zimbabwe’s point of view, this is a country that has stood by us in critical times, and will continue to relate to them. And for my administration, I’ll be going to China in April. I hope when I go there to be able to negotiate mega-deals in the area of infrastructure development, the construction of railways in the new networks in Zimbabwe. Dualisation of the highways in Zimbabwe.

Also, attracting the Chinese in the area of agriculture where we need to do beneficiation. Although, in some cases, they would want to take the raw materials to China. But we would want to pursue them, no, the companies should come here. And also, we are aware, with over 400 British companies in Zimbabwe, but most of them went down, they suffered, because when sanctions were imposed they stopped financing and supporting the domestic British companies in Zimbabwe and they’ve gone down. They are very much behind in terms of the machinery and the tools. There has not been any retooling of these factories. So that point is that most of the machinery in China, they range from the poorest into the best. You can go low, you can go middle, you can go high-tech. With China.

Ties with Britain

 Q: What about the old colonial power? What’s your relationship with Britain?

A: Breaking out of, Brex?.?.?.?How do you call it? Brexit, yes it’s a good thing because they will need us. And we will make sure we become very close to them. So what they’ve lost with Brexit they can come and recover from Zimbabwe. And we benefit them, the benefit, that’s the way. It’s a win-win situation. It’s a win-win situation. This is how I look at it myself. I don’t think they’ve any question of domination, no, which I think is a question of mutual relationship. And most importantly, the education system is British. And it’s easier to develop more scientists here with Britain, English-speaking and so on. So it’s far much easier.

But we will not put our eggs in one basket as before. Because for instance now I have no doubt we’re going to fly our Hawks again. But for the last 18 years we could not fly our Hawks because Britain was the only country which could give us the spares. And so for the last 18 years they were down. But now with the good lady who is there?.?.?.?And with this guy, Johnson?.?.?.?Boris. Next year at our independence we’ll be flying Hawks. Because we’re going to now have good relationships with this good lady. And something very interesting as well that Zimbabwe has enjoyed the best relationships with Britain under female prime ministers. They should have continuously female prime ministers. Because they are more sensible than their male counterparts. Yes, I think they are more sensible.

Q: What’s your message to the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth?

A: I can assure you, the Queen has never had any hard feelings towards this country. And we are clear, even our former president was clear, and he told us that the Queen has no hard feelings towards us. We have no hard feelings towards the Queen. The guy we didn’t like is that young man, Tony Blair. I don’t know where he is now.

The economy

Q: The economy is heavily indebted. Some people suggest that maybe there should be a scrapping of the bond notes? Has anyone suggested that?

A: No. Fortunately, for instance when the AfreximBank came to visit us on the table was a discussion for a loan of 600m to advance to Zimbabwe. But when I presented my programme and my vision they were so impressed and they upped the facility to 1.5bn. You see? Because they are happy with the way we are going. They are happy with our vision, the way we intended to open up the economy and so on. So we believe that given time we are going to recover. The biggest bad thing we have is the arrears that we have with the banking [?] institutions and so on. But we believe that with what we are doing, for instance, our diamonds, after what we have done now, the projection is that it is going to double from about one million to three million?.?.?.?Triple. Yes, from one million to three million carats next year. Or is it this year or next year? That is very important. Also, we have opened our chrome.

We banned in the past the exportation of chrome, we’ve opened that. And so far we are three times more than before we opened in terms of the revenue stream coming from that sector. The same with tourism. I think we’ve increased by 20 per cent or 23 per cent, I don’t know. It is also increasing. Now you can see these are indicative indicators to show that the economy is?.?.?.?Actually, the minister of finance has raised up the GDP growth. It was 2.7, it came to 3.5, now they are talking about 4.7. And it’s selected to continue to go up. So with that I believe that we should be able to build capacity to deal with our arrears.

Q: But you’d still be looking for a debt relief programme from the IMF and the World Bank?

A: One of the things Britain would want to discuss. May want to review and discuss with us is the question of looking at our debt. I’m now very excited with that. Very excited. Yes. And actually Britain supported us during the Lima, conference in Lima. And they would want us to go back to those promises and move forward. So it’s very promising.

Politics of liberation movements

Q: Can a liberation movement that’s been in power for 30 or 40 years, can it change? Or does it need to leave office, as happened to Congress in India, before it can change?

A: A liberation movement is a question about people. And the ones who formed it are not the same people who are still there now. As time passes, new persons, new generations of persons, of leadership, come to the helm to lead forward. We take on board their exposure to international trade, to international markets, to international best world practice. And that comes on board. And that helps them to modernise themselves, otherwise they remain behind. So I believe that as long as we allow the internal democracy in our party we shall continue to have these young girls and boys coming into leadership. We have been exposed to Oxford itself, to Harvard, to various institutions abroad, and they bring these skills into the party, and they can be assured that who is alive.

His nickname and his faith

Q: The Crocodile name. Does it bother you?

A: No, it has been given to me for a long, long time, during the war and so on. But it arose from what I have explained when in 1964, when we were deployed. That’s how we?.?.?.?Perhaps I’m the only surviving member of that group. So it doesn’t bother me. But we, the African people, have totems. I’m not a crocodile, I’m a lion. I’m a shumba. Yes. So that doesn’t bother me at all. No, I’ve got used to it. But many people think that I’m of that totem. No, it was a result of a deployment back in 1964.

 Q: People have said you have a strong faith. That you are a very committed Christian. How important is this?

A: I am a Methodist. But because I’m president I go to various church occasions. When I’m invited, I attend the other churches. But as a family we are Methodists. Yes, we are Methodist.

 Q: And why did you adopt this faith? Because I think you’re a born-again, aren’t you? You came to it late in life?

A: I was baptised a long time back. When we were young we became so revolutionary that we felt that the churches or missionaries, when they came to Africa or to our country, they helped us, they helped our people, to be docile. And not to fight colonialism. So there was a period when we revolted against missionaries and Christianity. And then also when we went to train in China there is no Christianity there. They believe you produce food and eat. There’s no question of this ideology. So we went through the war and so on. But after the war and so on and you were back home, and you are back with your parents again, then you get again readmitted into the faith, like that. This is where they say born-again.

The past

 Q: Have you considered on behalf of Zimbabwe formally acknowledging what happened in Matabeleland? And even making an apology?

A: Not as an individual. Though the incidents, the commission or omission of that period by the government of the day, of that period, both are to the former vice-president, Joshua Nkomo, and the former president, Mugabe, they have pronounced themselves on behalf of the administration of the day, that it was a moment of madness. And as a result of that position we all came together, all sides came together, and agreed on the Unity Accord, and put this thing behind us. And any individual complaints or need for assistance can be treated that way. So that it can be attended to like any other citizen in the country. That will be done.

We have passed the bill called the National Healing and Reconciliation Bill, that’s passed, I signed it into law. That will be a platform where these complaints or challenges can be addressed, and they were taking elderly people from the entire community, who are elderly, who can deal with these issues. And advise us precisely on these issues, this is how we can deal it, and how we can handle these issues. So, but overall we don’t want to live in the past. We can never go back to the past. We need, from the past we must carry on what is good. But never what is bad. We must promote that which is good and go into the future expounding on love, unity, hard work. That’s what we need now.

Q: But if you acknowledge the past, don’t you think that will make it even easier to move forward?

A: This is what I’m saying. From the past we must take the good that the past has in our history. And leave behind that which is bad. We don’t want that to be repeated, ever, this is what I am saying. You follow?

 The death penalty

A: For instance in my administration I don’t think I will allow the death penalty, which, as an individual, I dislike. I think this time in cabinet I might win the game.

 Q: So you will annul the death penalty?

A: This is not a party issue, it’s a national issue. But I am convinced that it is not?.?.?.?It is time that Zimbabwe moves away from death penalty. You can have life imprisonment, you can have long sentences. But I’m against the death penalty. But I must convince cabinet to move forward and join the rest of most of the countries in the world. Well, some of the developed countries still have death penalty. But I think on that score they are still medieval.

 Q: So how soon could that happen, that could happen quite quickly?

A: Sorry?

 Q: Ending the death penalty, that could?.?.?.??

A: No, I’m saying if it were party policy it would end quickly because it’s a party decision. This we have declared is individual processes on the matter. We must allow people not to work on the basis of party directive but on personal conscience.
Population Living Below Poverty Line Falls in Botswana
January 20, 2018

GABORONE. – Preliminary findings of a household survey shows that the proportion of people living below poverty line has been declining over the years, from 30,6 percent in 2002-3 to 16,3 percent in 2015-16 in Botswana.

This was revealed by the Statistician General Anna Majelantle in Botswana’s capital Gaborone on Thursday.

Majelantle said that the survey was one of the periodic surveys undertaken by Statistics Botswana in discharging its mandate of providing official statistics to facilitate evidence-based planning and decision making.

The survey was conducted over a one-year period from November 2015 to October 2016. The primary objective of the survey was to provide a comprehensive set of indicators for labor market and poverty.

Majelantle added that eradication of extreme poverty continues to be a priority area for the southern African country.

According to Majelantle, the proportion of people living below $1 a day has also been declining over the years, from 23,4 percent in 2002-3, to 5,8 percent in 2015-16.

She further revealed that the gender disparity in poverty levels which was observed over the previous surveys still persists and it showed that females-headed households constituted more than half (55 percent ) of the poor households.

– Xinhua
Patrice Lumumba in His Own Words
January 20, 2018

The official potrait of Patrice Lumumba

Regina Jane Jere Correspondent

WHILE in incarceration just weeks away from his 17 January 1961 horrific assassination at a tender age of 36, the Congolese liberation hero and Pan-Africanist Patrice Lumumba, put in poignant words his final views on the state of his beloved country and Africa, in this heart-rending letter to his wife Pauline.

On the 57th anniversary of his murder, we republish it from our archives in full as some food-for-thought on the plight of Congolese people many years after his death and the country’s independence.

My dear wife, I am writing these words not knowing how they will reach you and when they will and whether I shall still be alive when you read them.

All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives.

But what we wished for our country, its right to an honourable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and their Western allies who found direct and indirect support, both deliberate and unintentional amongst certain high officials of the United Nations that organisation in which we placed all our trust when we called on its assistance.

They have corrupted some of our compatriots and bribed others. They have helped to distort the truth and bring our independence in to dishonour. How could I speak otherwise?

Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not I myself who count. It is the Congo, it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from beyond whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy but at other times with joy and pleasure.

But my faith will remain unshakeable.

I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say no to the degradation and shame of colonialism, and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun.

As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, I should like them to be told that it is for them, as it is for every Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstructing our independence and our sovereignty.

For without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.

Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not I myself who count. It is the Congo.

Neither brutality nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakeable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles.

History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that is taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or in the United Nations. But the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets.

Africa will write its own history and to the north, and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.

As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, I should like them to be told that it is for them, as it is for every Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstructing our independence and our sovereignty.

Do not weep for me, my dear wife. I know that my country which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.

Long Live the Congo. Long Live Africa!

Regina Jane Jere is a Zambian-born London-based journalist and founding Editor of the New African Woman magazine the sister-publication of the New African magazine of which she was the Deputy Editor for over a decade. This article is reproduced from New African magazine.
Let Africa’s Voice Be Heard at Davos
January 20, 2018
Joram Nyathi Spectrum
Zimbabwe Herald

ON Wednesday this week I posed a question, rather a sort of rhetorical question: Did ED promise an economic turnaround in 100 days?

This was caused by the noise we hear or read around, noise so loud one would think President Mnangagwa had in fact claimed to be a miracle worker who could work magic with the economy, and a myriad other challenges the nation faces.

Many readers responded with a plain “no”, to say ED never said that. A few said they were making inferences from the 100-project plan.

The most hilarious response came from one Ranga Mberi. First he merely said “no”. Then some criminals around his brain got the better of him, and came back to state; “Stop boring us with facts cadre.” I rarely laugh so hard as I did.

Mberi clearly had got my drift.

It’s been a euphoric two months since Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn-in as president of the republic on November 24, 2017. Since then there has been a sense of euphoria mingled with the surrealism of the miraculous.

That’s how I have interpreted what amounts to an epitaph to ED’s supposedly promised and failed economic recovery miracle in some local media.

What Mberi was saying, tongue in cheek of course, was don’t interrupt our reverie, our midmorning self-created fantasy. There are people so angry with everything Zanu-PF they will blame it for the erratic rains. So they will lie and distort what ED promised just to feed their anger against Zanu-PF.

That’s it about the humour and malice issuing from events since the launch of Operation Restore Legacy mid-November last year. There is also the more serious side to the euphoria.

There are many nations falling over each other to win favour with Zimbabwe. It is a most dangerous time and yet most promising for our nation; if we can play our cards wisely. There will be suitors of all kind, yet not so kind, not so well meaning, but taking advantage of our glazed look to make their hay.

It is a time when there is risk of dropping our guard in the interest of being accommodating and open for business to everyone that our eyes might skirt over the small print in trying to clinch fast deals. Hyenas are coming draped in woollen suits. The temptation to be pleasant to all is too great to resist.

We should therefore not be surprised that in trying to set apart President Mnangagwa from former president Robert Mugabe, the line of attack is the indigenisation policy. At the centre of that attack is the lie that the land reform programme was a mistake, that indigenisation is bad not only by implementation, but even in principle and therefore chases away investors. All this is founded on the racist lie that Africans are incapable of running a country, that they can’t produce enough to feed themselves, and that the only investment which makes an impact on an economy is FDI.

So when President Mnangagwa recently modified the indigenisation thresholds in respect of local investment, there were celebrations locally and abroad. The 49/51 ratio would now apply only to platinum group metals and diamonds.

Foreigners have every reason to be excited. They put the interests of their countries first, not those of foreigners, whether investor or tourist. We are talking here of people who think and plan long-term.

Not so Africa, the motherland. And that is why even those countries which gained their independence in the 1960s are not too far ahead of Zimbabwe in terms of economic advancement. The competition is about putting foreign interests first, then we pick the crumbs under Dives’ table.

I raise the red flag on indigenisation deliberately because that is one policy which puts the Zimbabwean at the centre of discourse, not on the periphery of job-seekers. It is one policy which allows us to negotiate fair terms of engagement for ourselves.

But there is an even deeper concern. While the terms for foreign investors have apparently been relaxed in all other sectors except platinum and diamonds, there is now almost incomprehensible silence on beneficiation and value addition. I am not hearing sufficient noise around that key area of the production chain. Is it because the subject is also inimical to foreign investors; that it’s ok for them to come and extract raw materials in Zimbabwe so they preserve industries and jobs in their own countries?

The point I am making is that while Donald Trump might be seen as a maverick, his fault is to verbalise a shared currency. Foreign investors put their country first, not just America.

When it comes to Africa, policy pragmatism means leaving the natives clutching at insecure jobs. Anything that seeks to put the almighty investor in his rightful place is attacked as populist. And so we remain a rich continent of poor natives. Let Africa’s voice be heard at Davos.