Ravaging rosewood

According to mongabay.com, it appears that Rajoelina has given his presidential blessing to the illegal rosewood loggers of Madagascar to keep ravaging the precious rosewood found in Madagascar’s national parks:

The transitional authority led by president Andry Rajoelina, who seized power during a military coup last March, today released a decree that allows the export of rosewood logs harvested from the Indian Ocean island’s national parks.

The decree, dated December 31, 2009, says that “the export of export of precious wood can proceed.” Hundreds of containers’ worth of rosewood can now be shipped from Vohemar, a port in northern Madagascar.

Two weeks ago a $40 million shipment of rosewood from Vohemar was canceled after complaints that the French shipping company, Delmas, would facilitate the trafficking of illegally logged timber, potentially in violation of the E.U.’s FLEGT, a regulation which aims to reduce illegal logging.

But shortly after the Delmas shipment was canceled, Rajoelina’s government began applying pressure on Delmas to resume rosewood transports.

Patrick Leloup, an adviser to Rajoelina, reportedly threatened to prohibit Delmas from conducting future business in Madagascar if it refused to pick up rosewood stocks stored in containers in and around Vohemar.

It would appear now that the corrupt government is so desperate for cash that it is endorsing something that is condemned internationally in order to gain tax revenue. While this is travesty against nature, it does offer a glimmer of hope that this government does not have much life left in it. It may not be long before you see Rajoelina back at the bargaining table as I can’t see condoning something that is condemned internationally as something a sane government would do unless they felt they had to… not that I think that Rajoelina’s government is sane.

For those that don’t know, Rosewood is a strong/heavy wood that is often brownish and used to make things like furniture and luxury flooring (think red chinese furniture). Some species of rosewoods are on the endangered species list (if not all of them), and the logging is having a major impact on the national forests of Madagascar and it’s ecosystems. For more information on Rosewood, here are some links for your perusal:

The Madagascar Rosewood Massacre (Derek Schuurman/Porter P. Lowry III)

Madagascar Rosewood (Wikipedia)

Lemurs, Rare forests threatened by Madagascar Strife (National Geographic)

It really is a shame that it has come to this, and it is sad to think that anything that Rajoelina’s government does or has done may have been funded by this illegal activity.

In other news, it appears that Robert Mugabe is renewing his suggestion that the SADC should support a military intervention to oust Andry Rajoelina from his post and restore democracy. You might remember around July sometime last year there was speculation and great concern that COMESA (which Mugabe heads) was somehow going to get a military force to go to Madagascar and oust Rajoelina. Here is an excerpt from a June 8th, 2009 Reuters article:

“We welcome and agreed, as pronounced by the AU, to support SADC as they take a lead in efforts to restore constitutional order in Madagascar by examining all options, including the possibility of military intervention,” COMESA said.

There is always some irony to anything that Robert Mugabe suggests, as his own country is still mired in a political crisis because of this very suggestion, military intervention. Here are some excerpts from an Afrik.com article to elaborate on that point:

When he was the chairman of the SADC organ on defence, he sent troops to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a war that triggered excessive Government expenditure and was one of the major causes of Zimbabwe’s current economic meltdown. The war led to condemnation, as many Zimbabwean soldiers were killed while Zimbabwe received little benefit from it.

Mugabe also sent troops to Mozambique to fight the then Renamo that was led by Alfonso Dhlakama during the 1990s

Political analyst Chris Mawere in Harare said Mugabe’s move- if confirmed would be a disastrous one. “It would be a complete shock if the SADC meeting consider and endorse Mugabe’s plan. It’s a disastrous one. His own country is in a similar situation with that of Madagascar, will he accept a military intervention in Zimbabwe?” Asked Mawere.

A very small part of me agrees in taking some action now, only because I am so tired of how long the democratic process takes and how sick I am of hearing about AU “negotiations”.  The rest of me knows full well that this is the completely wrong way to go and would create more trouble than it is trying to solve.

I always go back to a quote from my favourite band (Linkin Park): “When the rich wage war, it’s the poor that die” and no doubt that it would be the Malagasy people that would pay the greatest price while Rajoelina would no doubt sit safely somewhere while everything transpires. The Malagasy army would not lie down and take any sort of invasion, so we would just be starting an additional crisis and adding complexity to an already overly complex problem. It’s a good thing that no one takes Mugabe seriously any more!

The only thing we have to look forward to is what kind of action will be proposed at the SADC summit today at 3PM GMT. However, since we already know what the outcome will be, I guess we really don’t have anything to look forward to in the near future. We can just sit back and wait to see how all the political parties take to the “renewed call for talks”… hooray.

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