Rajoelina on tour

In a bid to obtain the support of Africa and the SADC, Andry Rajoelina has been touring Africa meeting with the presidents of Mozambique Armando Guebuza (Apr 20, 2011), South Africa Jacob Zuma (May 17, 2011) and Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos (May 18,2011) pleading for support on his illegal governments in a bid to be recognized internationally.

The illegal head of Malagasy government has been pleading the case that they are in full compliance with a corrupt or horribly misinterpreted SADC road map and that they are making all the preparations for a ‘free’ and ‘open’ election sometime between May and November 2011.

This road map that calls for ‘inclusive’ dialogue and the formation of a national unity government led by the consensual prime minister and a consensual and inclusive reorganized government. This new transparent, consensual and inclusive is in charge of running the country, cooperating with the international community and setting the conditions for a free, fair and credible election. This does sound good at first blush, but almost immediately after working through the road map, Rajoelina had appointed Camille Vitale as prime minister once again. While this is not ‘technically’ breaking road map rules as Camille Vitale is not officially part of the HAT as a party member, but it definitely breaks the spirit of the road map as Vital is Rajoelina’s right hand man and Rajoelina unilaterally appointed him, there was nothing consensual about his appointment.

The problem with all these negotiations is that there will never be a free, fair, or credible election because it is precisely what Andry Rajoelina doesn’t want. Rajoelina has consistently shown no respect for the spirit of any road map or accord calling for the formation of a consensual, transparent transitional government. Every time an agreement has been reached, he has been quick to appoint members of his own party to the most powerful and influential parts of the Malagasy government, leaving the scraps for the opposition parties. He has also shown no respect for the constitution of Madagascar simply going into the 4th republic of Madagascar by having a referendum that was riddled with problems and irregularities and subsequently by altering the constitution so that he can legitimately be president and adding all sorts of clauses to suit his agenda such as demanding presidential candidates live in Madagascar 6 months before the election while at the same time banning their entry to the country.

So under these conditions, how will it ever be possible to pull Madagascar out of this crisis? Rajoelina can and will continue manipulate the rules of Madagascar, ban demonstrations and arrest dissidents. The SADC road map is flawed and it seems as though the general consensus on the internet by international parties is  that they would be quick to accept any SADC resolution, flawed or not. Madagascar is destined to be stuck in this quagmire of a coup for a while as Rajoelina has nothing to lose, and will not stop his manipulation of his own country until he is internationally recognized as the legitimate president of Madagascar.

Until he is, the country will be stuck in a state of poverty while the de facto president uses whatever money the country has to periodically goes on tours in Africa, France and possibly some parts of Europe to promote himself as the saviour of Madagascar who is unfortunately illegitimate and to try and garner support for his cause. So expect there to be more SADC proposals and talks, stalling and diversion as well as periodic vain tours to try and convince African/French leaders to take up his cause.

SADC to the world: Military coups pay off

No doubt you have seen this headline in various headlines around the internet, but I had to use it because it is completely and utterly true (or at least at the moment since SADC has not reversed their direction). It is not likely that they will actually reverse their decision as the ‘Leonardo Simao’ the chief negotiator for this roadmap continues to support it despite Rajoelina clearly violating its stipulations by re-appointing Camille Vital as the PM. So the SADC is setting the precident and announcing to the world that military coups do pay off, I suppose, if you wait long enough for people to cease caring.

If the SADC is going to stick to this position and not support democracy, then there is virtually no hope for Madagascar. The international community only seems to be interested in commenting on the issue and nothing else, Madagascar does not have much, if any, mind share. Clearly the rest of the world has other priorities… France and the UN seem to favour the Ivory Coast (perhaps because of the violence) and have no problems intervening and bringing Ggabo to justice. In Libya (a supporter of Rajoelina) coalition of the willing, including my country, are intent on removing a dictator they dislike based on an ever changing UN directive (which is anything but setting up a simple ‘no fly zone’)’. And if those two items don’t capture the attention of the world, the remnants of the Arab uprisings or the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan have the remainder of the international community’s attention.

Meanwhile, in Madagascar:

  • Families are having problems keeping their children in school.
  • Families are having a hard time even finding food.
  • Healthcare is rapidly declining with government health spending down to $2/person down from $5 in 2009 and $8 in 2008.
  • The purchasing and distribution of medicine in Madagascar is virtually collapsing, reducing family access to essential drugs.
  • The government continues to oppress freedom of expression and assembly having done the following:
    • Forceably dispersing public demonstrations
    • Shooting peaceful protesters
    • Shutting down virtually all independant radio/television networks
    • Tampering with the independance of the judiciary
    • Harrassing advocates of constitutional democracy
    • Arresting political opposition members
  • Government funding has fallen and has been reduced from $400 million to $200 million causing health, agriculture and economic development to receive much less funding.
  • Basic social services are at risk because of said funding cuts.
  • Nationwide poverty is up to %76.5 from %68.7.
  • Government is burning through money trying to artificially lower the price of staple foods and gas from market costs..

The longer that the coup government is left in place, the deeper Madagascar gets into economic, humanitarian and environmental problems. And worse, if they continue on their path of attempting to legitimize a coup leader it could lead right into another dictatorship where no doubt the Malagasy people will continue to suffer. It will also set a precedent for the rest of Africa that coups do in fact pay off because the SADC is busy trying to save face by speeding through negotiations rather than actually taking the required time to resolve them.

The SADC ‘must’ reverse their support of this absurd roadmap and reconsider their appointment of Leonardo Simao as negotiator. This is the only time we have ever seen the SADC take a path that diverges from the international community and its own previous direction. Also, all negotiations up to this point have been completely in favour of Andry Rajoelina, the roadmap presented by Leonardo Simao allows Rajoelina to concentrate his presidential powers and provides him with a mechanism where he can ‘officially’ run for president whenever the elections are held. There are so many things wrong with this round of negotiations that it can only be related to the individual that is heading them. Leonardo Simao is corrupt, is in the back pocket of Andry Rajoelina and should be removed from all negotiations.

Former presidents not welcome

In interesting news, and what I thought would be seal the fate of Marc Ravalomanana had never come to pass, why? Because Andry Rajoelina has barred him and apparently all other presidents from returning to the country.

In the back of my mind, and probably in a previous post somewhere I had thought that a while ago when Ravalomanana first fled from Madagascar to South Africa escaping near death that the HAT had attempted to get him extradited from South Africa to face all of the crimes that they accuse him of. And for the past couple of years, Ravalomanana has been living safely in South Africa and advocating his and the other former presidents stance to the SADC. So looking at the most recent news, does it make sense now that at a time that Ravalomanana is basically offering himself to the HAT that they refuse his entry to the country? It doesn’t add up.

But perhaps it starts to make more sense if you look at what both the SADC and the HAT are saying…  we have the SADC on one hand stating:

Leonardo Simao, who is heading SADC’s international mediation team, said negotiations over Madagascar would be closed “within the coming days,” with eight of 11 parties signed up to the “road map.”

“Those who have chosen not to participate, for strategic or other reasons, will have the responsibility for explaining to their activists, their supporters, why they are not participating, not the mediation team,” Simao said in an interview in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, today.

And on the other side you have the HAT PM stating why they want to keep Ravalomanana back:

Madagascar’s government will ask South Africa to “keep Ravalomanana there for as long as possible” to avoid any trouble and allow the country to move forward with mediation, Prime Minister Camille Vital said today.

A little bit peculiar isn’t it? The SADC stating that the discussions will close very soon and those who have not chosen to participate for strategic or other reasons facing the outcome of the mediation? And at the same time the HAT PM very stern in his statement to keep Ravalomanana (and most likely Ratsiraka) away from anything to do with mediation or elections?

There is something very wrong with a mediator and the PM of an illegal government meeting in Madagascar, negotiating and not allowing any other party who wants to participate to do so. Don’t forget, they just recently arrested a lot of the representatives of the opposition from a trumped up ‘illegal demonstration’ charge previously, so if they are tied up… who is it that they are negotiating with? It also strikes me as very odd that the negotiator and the PM seem to be of the same mind… we will push through, it’s taking too long… if the opposition doesn’t or can’t participate, that’s too bad. It appears that you have to play along with whatever the proposal is whether you like it or not as a party, which will inevitably see Rajoelina as a legitimate president until elections in November.

Simao met Thursday with Madagascar’s Prime Minister Camille Vital, who said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) process is taking too long for the Rajoelina government.  Rajoelina has said he will hold his own talks with political parties next week and move ahead with the proposal, which recognizes him as president until elections are held later this year.”

I believe that the sudden urgency of Ravalomanana and others returning to Madagascar stems from the realization that after all of this silence and lack of negotiations that somehow Rajoelina has someone or many people taking there side. There is no other reason that the SADC could be taking such a hard line that is almost in perfect agreement with what the ultimate goal of the HAT is, a legitimate Rajoelina presidency. It is really too bad as I remember a while back that it was Rajoelina that was the one stating that the Malagasy have to solve their own problems and sadly, now it is Ravalomanana’s turn to state the same:

Malagasy-Malagasy dialogue; it is so important for the political parties,” said Ravalomanana.  “We need to talk.  They cannot solve it without these talks, reconciliation.”

This emphasizes how important it is to have the mediator on your side and for a time they were siding with the former president. Somehow over time this has changed and now Ravalomanana, Ratsiraka and Zafy will be in trouble if this proposal goes right past them and appoints Rajoelina as the legitimate interim president.

So in the coming week we will see negotiations occurring in Madagascar with the HAT and SADC under the guise of a resolution that in itself bans Marc Ravalomanana from returning to Madagascar (possibly ever) as defined by the very vague and loose term ‘political stability’ and that give Rajoelina everything he wants in the form of a legitimate presidency.

A SADC mediation proposal bans Ravalomanana from returning to Madagascar until political stability is restored, and it names Rajoelina as president of another transitional government until elections are held this year.

This is quite clearly a corrupted set of negotiations, but the question is… will the rest of the world acknowledge it to be legitimate or not? If they do not then the SADC looks as corrupt as the governments it attempts to mediate with and who knows what will happen to them, if anything. If they do, then you will be looking at the new president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina.

If it ever comes to pass that there is a legitimate Rajoelina presidency then you can guarantee that it will be in place a very long time, especially when the international aid begins flowing back into Madagascar. Any elections that are held will be a complete sham as all the ‘other’ political parties could easily have been setup by the HAT to make Andry Rajoelina look like the only good choice. Or it could simply end up as it always has and we will see another ‘delay’ in elections for whatever Rajoelina decides is good enough to tell the Malagasy.

We are on the very verge of having an illegal coup government legalized and endorsed by an African mediation group, and if this does happen it sets a very bad example for what may be to come for the rest of Africa and certainly does not bode well for all of the Malagasy who are already having a hard time under the thumb of Andry Rajoelina. I for one do not accept the proposal and the way in which the talks are being held and I certainly would not accept the outcome if it was not consensual with all of the other political parties involved in the crisis.

Here is hoping that this agreement never comes to pass… cross your fingers.

The Rajoelina Shuffle

Not too surprising is the news that the most recent proposals from the SADC were rejected and are far from sufficient, especially since that agreement essentially hands Madagascar to Rajoelina on a silver platter complete with international recognition.

So it does surprise me a lot less that in the wake of his most recent rejection that he lashes out in his usual form by arresting any opposition leader that he can find and propose a change to his current government.

February 10th, Rajoelina’s kangaroo court sentenced 21 people to 13 months in prison simply for taking part in a demonstration stating “The group was accused of gathering illegally, resisting police orders and destroying public property at an anti-Rajoelina protest in November 2010.” I do not suspect that they have any evidence that links them to any significant damages, but I suppose in the court of the HAT none of this matters as long as the voice of the opposition is quelled in some way.

Afterward the Rajoelina decides that his government needs yet another shuffle, which is almost becoming a regular occurrence when some sort of negotiation fails. The reshuffle is under the guise that this new version of this tired illegal government will in some way be more ‘inclusive’ than the last, despite the fact that they have just arrested 21 members of the opposition. We are all well aware of how ‘inclusive’ these governments are… so inclusive that most of the opposition party members resign and are replaced by people of Rajoelina’s choosing. I don’t think any of us can say exactly why he would try to do this a third time, he must know full well by now that he would not gain anything by it.

And to top things off for the week, the HAT government issues a statement to Marc Ravalomanana who seems to have had plans to return to Madagascar this coming Saturday. No one can really say for sure why Marc Ravalomanana would risk all by returning to the country, but if he insists on going, he clearly has a death wish. The HAT government has stated that “Authorities in Madagascar said Wednesday that ousted President Marc Ravalomanana will be arrested if he enters the country.” One might not think that this is not too terrible a fate for someone, but you need to remember that he was sentenced by the Rajoelina kangaroo court last year in absentia to life in prison and hard labour after his guards opened fire in front of the presidential palace, killing 30 opposition protesters in February 2009. I think you can almost guarantee that if Marc Ravalomanana returns to Madagascar that you will never see or hear from him again.

So we return once again to our stalemate where the only solution is the Malagasy ousting Andry Rajoelina themselves as no international community, UN, SADC, AU care one iota about this country or the condition of its people. Perhaps we can hope that the unrest triggered by Tunisia can spread from Africa over to Madagascar and spark an uprising against Rajoelina, time will tell.

SADC endorses Rajoelina as president

I haven’t updated this blog in quite some time as I felt that things had not changed enough to say anything about aside from the same old complaints that it seems I am repeating endlessly. However, I have been watching the news and watching all the civil unrest that is spreading over most of Africa in Niger, Guinea, Mauritania and the Ivory coast and also in Arab nations with the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt and it has made me wonder what this world is coming to.

The election in the Ivory Coast is what I find most  interesting though as it appears this is evidence of a bad trend started by Madagascar and made possible by the weak and likely corrupt AU/SADC. Now that Andry Rajoelina has been allowed to stay as pseudo-president in Madagascar since March of 2009  with virtually no repercussions aside from sanctions that have been applied by the international community. Now the SADC is now recommending that Andry Rajoelina stay as ‘interim president’ while elections are organized:

South African Development Community mediators in Madagascar proposed Andry Rajoelina be recognized as president of an interim government until elections this year, almost two years after he seized power with the help of the army.

The proposal is made in a document given to political parties in the Indian Ocean island nation today, said Mamy Rakotoarivelo, acting head of the TIM opposition party of former President Marc Ravalomanana. This follows a monthlong visit by SADC mediators to the country.

“For us this is a legitimization of the coup d’etat,” Rakotoarivelo said by phone from the capital, Antananarivo. “We are giving all the power to Andry Rajoelina, who was never elected, and making him President.”

It is remarkable that after 2 years of obtaining power illegally in Madagascar that the SADC endorse him as an interim president as if all of the sudden it is OK. While there may be ‘some’ merit to selecting Rajoelina as an interim president, his government is still illegal and this decision is sending a very bad message to all of Africa.

If we were to apply some of the history of the Madagascar crisis to the Ivory coast, it is very likely that outcome for this situation (provided Laurent Gbagbo can maintain his funding and control of the Army) will be the same: mediation, power sharing and unity government talks and finally complacency when they are out of the news at which point it will take a major event to change the outcome.  It would seem the AU/SADC message is to all African countries is that they silently endorse coups as they are too weak and disorganized to deal with them effectively. Going forward, I would not be surprised if there were rampant coup d’etat s across Africa (if there aren’t enough already) as there are absolutely no repercussions to having them.

Speaking of the weak and disorganized AU/SADC, from a similar article they are once again publicly stating that they want to resolve the crisis by building some sort of ‘unity’ government:

A regional mediator has submitted a roadmap to Madagascar’s political parties for a way out of the country’s crisis that would keep Andry Rajoelina as interim leader, according to a copy obtained by AFP Tuesday.

The document, which must now be approved by Madagascan parties, confirms Rajoelina as “interim president” and recommends “the formation of a consensual and inclusive, interim national unity government.”

It was submitted by Leonardo Simao, the Mozambican mediating on behalf of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Does anyone now believe that after 2 years of establishing an illegal government throughout the country that a ‘power sharing’ deal of any kind would work at this point? Solutions such as these I would think work best when a crisis is fresh and the corruption has not had a chance to spread throughout the country. Creating a unity government at this point will either:

  1. Implement a government that is already corrupt from the start
  2. Implement unity government that for the most part will not be able to perform its work inevitably leading to another crisis.

If the AU/SADC do not get any teeth or aren’t able to apply more severe sanctions or any other measure on any African country these coups will not stop. In fact, there will be no fear in having a coup because Madagascar has now proven that it is a very successful way of gaining control of a country.

 

Hoping for international recognition

Note – Older, somewhat incomplete post:

What can I say, I feel like I have Andry Rajoelina and his government all figured out.  Why? Because Prime Minister Camille Vital is currently awaiting “International Recognition”.

I find it odd that they cannot comprehend that there is nothing they can do aside from meeting the demands of the international community to legitimize the government of Madagascar. Rajoelina must think he is quite clever if he can pull a “referendum” with overwhelming support and he will be recognized as the legitimate leader of the country. How naive must we be to think that the overwhelming majority of voters who voted “yes” (and are now much worse off because of him) voted that way because they think Rajoelina is going to bring them the change they want? We know very well that the votes were either payed for or coerced…

In their absence the former radio DJ Rajoelina has waged a strong campaign – characterised by outlandish populist promises and guest appearances by a range of local pop stars – for a “yes” vote in the plebiscite. Consequently, Rajoelina’s proposed constitution is likely to be endorsed in the referendum.

Why would anyone in any country be interested in voting when their lives and country had declined so badly? And what exactly would they be voting for? There isn’t anything in the “new” constitution that would actually benefit anyone but Andry Rajoealina…

The proposed constitution does not effectively limit presidential powers and it will lower the eligibility age to run for president from 40 to 35 years – allowing the 36-year-old Rajoelina to contest the 2011 election. Rajoelina has thus far assuaged domestic and international critics by arguing that he is not interested in power and does not intend to stand in the next presidential election, but he now seems to be angling for the presidency.

He fully intends on concentrating as much power as possible into the hands of the president and lower the minimum age of said president, but we are not to worry because he seriously does not want to run in the next election. How gullible do you have to believe that? As I have said before… first thing he is going to do is lower the age so he can actually qualify to be president under Malagasy law (not the pseudo presidential position called HAT) and then he is going to find some reason to mess with results or force his way into being president for life. His pockets are too full of money for him to do anything but be president.

It is clear that most people, if they can speak about it, are not happy about the current state of affairs in the country.

Participation in a forbidden demonstration

Been catching up with a bit of news and noticed that there was a tiny bit of under reported action going on in Madagascar, namely, “the referendum” an exercise in which Andry Rajoelina is deceptively trying to encourage people to vote for his party with an endless amount of promises in return for his retaining the office of president.

On Nov 6th, 2010, Andry Rajoelina states that “The victory of Madagascar is in your hands. The time to talk is over. Now is the time to build” as if to sound as though he can be a man of action under the current financial circumstances and to create the illusion to the people of Madagascar that they actually have a choice, which is certainly untrue. To get the Malagasy people on board with him, he lays out a long list of promises that are almost too ludicrous to believe:

  • New stadiums
  • New housing
  • New hospitals
  • New highways/roads/transportation links
  • Food subsidies
  • Employment
  • Large construction projects
  • Restoring a state owned sugar refinery (most likely a TIKO in my opinion)
  • New train system
  • New cement factory
  • Modernize Air Madagascar’s fleet of planes

All of the announcements were cunningly designed to sound as though people will grant Madagascar some glorious victory from some form of oppression to make people feel patriotic and also to over promise (in typical politician style) to give the illusion that everything is fine and things are looking up.

Anyone who is well read and connected to international reports (the only kind that can be trusted since Rajoelina pollutes Madagascar with his own version of news) will know that this is just another pathetic attempt to try and convince the international community that his presidency is valid. After all, who could deny him his legitimacy when so many Malagasy voted for him?

We (the international community) are not stupid Mr. Rajoelina. We know how you handle dissension, you proved that at your rally by using tear gas against an opposition voice that was trying to speak against you and arrest 21 of people who dared speak against your corrupt government under the guise that they are destabilizing the peace. You have shown us many times over that you do not want to talk to or work with anyone else, that you do not value personal opinion or democracy and that you will not rest until one of your little tricks results in the international community recognizing your wicked government. Here’s a news flash for you, not going to happen!

I can only think of 2 reasons why Andy Rajoelina insists on having these rallies:

  1. He truly believes that if enough people vote for him that he can somehow legitimize his government.
  2. He is trying to create enough news as to give the illusion that he is really working hard to rebuild the country to the Malagasy, while behind the scenes his government condones many illegal activities to fund itself, as if to hide it.

Time and time again all of these plans end in abysmal failure as we are not forced to consume your brand of news as the people of Madagascar are. No one outside of Madagascar will ever recognize the HAT as a legitimate government and we will continue to push you to return to democratic, not autocratic, rule. Now if only there was a way to make that happen faster…. :)

While Madagascar poverty grows, HAT falsely promises economic recovery

Because I have not seen any news stories that report anything but the various attempts by the HAT to make people believe will be an election at some point in time, I haven’t felt as though there was anything particularly interesting to blog about.

But between last week and this one, I have found 3 reports that I think are a cause for concern, so I wanted to post them online and highlight some of the information from them.

Madagascar poll date set

The first article “Madagascar poll date set” is concerning because it appears that there is some sort of resolution that has been accepted by members of the HAT to systematically replace all municipal governments with HAT friendly politicians:

Elections for councillors and mayors will be held on Monday 20 December,” the statement said

The resolution stipulated that mayors and local councillors countrywide should be removed and replaced by transition officials, in all likelihood dignataries closer to the island’s strongman Andry Rajoelina.

I am not entirely how true this article is, but I don’t think it really matters because even if it is a rumor at this point, it does not sound outlandish enough that the HAT wouldn’t try it.

For quite some time now I have believed that the HAT would attempt to do something similar to this, but I was only thinking of other parts of national government.

If this turns out to be true, how will it be possible to have a legitimate election in the country? You can almost guarantee that each of the replacement mayors and/or additional governments top priority will be to spread misinformation or rig any votes in their municipality that do not favour the HAT. This kind of plan would never be accepted in a democratic country, so it just goes to show you how undemocratic the government is if it pushes ahead with such a horrible plan.

Poverty grows in Madagascar

The second article suggests that the Malagasy public as a whole is suffering horribly from the coup d’etat and does not provide much hope for the people of Madagascar:

Prior to the current political crisis, children being treated would get free milk, medication and treatment until they were ready to be discharged.

The centres now have to charge for feeding and medical treatment. A doctor explained that parents no longer bring their children because they cannot afford to pay.

Rising poverty means that families can no longer afford to send their children to school and are having increasing difficulty in providing them with an adequate diet. A quarter of all the health care centres have been forced to close. The purchase and distribution of drugs throughout the whole country are collapsing.

Another indication of the growing social crisis is that 18 women who have given birth over the last year have left, abandoning their babies at the Befelatanana hospital.

Rosa worked at the factory for seven years. She explained that she had lost her job and was now at home looking after her two children. Her husband works in the capital city at the informal street markets that have mushroomed since the coup. He is only able to scrape together $1 to $1.50 a day. The family can no longer afford to send their children to school. They are falling behind with the rent and fear eviction.

Labourers in the forest villages have to rely on this trade as their only source of income. They may get paid $2 for dragging out the felled trees that weigh around a tonne. Local merchants will pay around $53 for a 3-metre log of Rosewood, which on the international market could fetch $1,300. The trade, which is thought to be worth around $230 million a year to the handful of timber barons who control it, has generated widespread corruption.

It is clear that after 18 months of intrigue and political instability it is the poor masses of Madagascar who are bearing the brunt of cuts in aid and trade to this already impoverished country.

There was so much information in this article on just how much your average Malagasy person is suffering that I had to include so many quotes from the original article. But it does highlight all the problems of the average Malagasy and just how bad it is starting to get in the country.

Why is it that there “used” to be assistance for those who need it? How does assistance work if it is priced in such a way that the poor cannot afford it? What happened to make them charge? Is the humanitarian aid disappearing?

And just how many people lost their livelihood when Madagascar’s AGOA privileges were cancelled? It almost appears that anyone that is not lucky enough to own their own business or work for one that has survived is forced to try and sell anything they can in hopes of getting a lowly $1 – $2 a day.

How does a Malagasy person resist taking part in some sort of illegal action to survive? It appears as though the only way to make money in the country these days is to be performing some sort of illegal activity or working for the HAT.

There are just too many questions and uncertainties in Madagascar and because of the HAT’s “orange revolution” many Malagasy can no longer afford to pay rent, send their kids to school, feed their families or purchase medicine and it seems to be getting worse.

It paints a very grim future for the Malagasy, especially considering there are no prospects of a legitimate resolution to this crisis any time soon. Even if there was, would it matter? An internationally recognized president might start the funds flowing back into the country, but since the damage to the country is so extensive it would take years to bring the country back to where it was when Marc Ravalomanana was president. And would the Malagasy people have patience for a recovery? Would another opportunistic politician derail recovery for their own benefit?

Madagascar to Revive Economy Without Foreign Aid, Finance Ministry Says

The final and most ridiculous news comes from a Bloomberg article where the HAT states that they are perfectly capable of resurrecting the economy without help from anyone.

Madagascar’s government plans to revive economic growth next year without resorting to loans or grants from abroad, said the cabinet director of the Finance and Budget Ministry, Hugues Rajaonson.

The government has “its own resources to make the economy work,” Rajaonson said in an interview in the capital, Antananarivo, yesterday. “We don’t need one dollar from abroad or any of their help in how to manage our economy. We have the same diplomas as them.”

The government can fund its spending through tax revenue, Rajaonson said, without giving details. In September, the budget for all ministries was cut by 40 percent.

“We have a strategy but we are not going to tell it to anyone, even the World Bank,” Rajaonson said. “We have nothing to see until we do the budget,” which should be published by Jan. 3, he said.

This is perhaps the most absurd thing that I have heard in a long time from HAT and I would be surprised if even Hugues Rajaonson believes what had come out of his mouth. Here is quick summary of what he had said:

    • The HAT has mystery resources it is going to leverage to recover the economy.
    • The HAT is going to rely on tax revenue to fund its operation.
    • The HAT believes it has freed up money by cutting government budgets by 40%.
    • The HAT has a strategy that it cannot tell anyone that will fix the Malagasy economy.

I think perhaps that Andry Rajoelina should have picked another person to talk to the press about the economy. There is not one single part of Hugues Rajaonson that is even remotely believable:

Resources

The “only” resources the HAT has at it’s disposal are illegal ones. They HAT will continue to export whatever it can to make up for the money it is lacking from the international donors.

Tax Revenue

Where is this tax revenue coming from? Most of the country has resorted to local trade to make a measly $1 – $2 a day if they are lucky. And if a business is fortunate enough to remain in business, I am sure that they cannot possibly produce the amount of tax revenue to make up the difference missing from the donor money.

Cutting Budgets

How does cutting ministry budgets by 40% make sense?. If the budget for the government before the crisis was composed of 50-60% donor money what is 40% of the remaining 40%-50% non-donor money? You would assume that the remaining 40%-50% was revenue from Madagascar itself (manufacturing, tourism, exports… etc). But since there is virtually no manufacturing, tourism or exports now… I doubt that the 40% non-donor money is even close to being as much as it used to be, so cutting that by an additional 40% doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

Perhaps the quote from Hugues Rajaonson would make more sense if he had said it like this:

The government has “its own rosewood resources to make the economy work,” Rajaonson said in an interview in the capital, Antananarivo, yesterday.

“We have a no strategy and we are not going to tell it to anyone, even the World Bank,” Rajaonson said. “We have nothing to see even when we do the budget,” which should be published by Jan. 3, he said.

It is truly sad that the Malagasy continue to suffer as the HAT runs around desperately trying to prove that it will have elections to an international community who is tired of it crying wolf.

There is no focus on Madagascar right now and unless something drastic happens, I doubt there will be in the near future. Madagascar is stuck, and will never move forward so long as a criminal is running the country for his own benefit.

 

Kangaroo Court

Incase you didn’t catch it, the HAT has been back in full unilateral action trying to set some new dates for various elections, get some unknown supportive signatures (from 90 some-odd political parties) all in an attempt to once again prove he is legitimate.

Madagascar President Andry Rojoelina has signed an agreement with least 90 minor political parties settings dates for a constitutional referendum, and parliamentary and presidential elections.

The agreement was signed in a ceremony in the capital Antananarivo late Friday. The signatories included representatives of three former presidents, including Marc Ravalomanana, the man Rojoelina ousted in a coup last year.

The part about representatives of the previous presidents signing is complete garbage and is just spin put on the story by the HAT before it could be clarified.

So since this fizzled out, and there are some new dates coming, the HAT has to ensure that there is no chance that Marc Ravalomanana can return to Madagascar to run in the elections. They do this by using a heavily biased court to decide that Marc Ravalomanana alone is solely responsible for the loss of life that occurred in March 2009, as if he was standing there gunning people down that day.

Of course, we all know that anything the kangaroo court of the HAT decides is heavily biased and is completely lacking in fairness and due process. There should be an impartial investigation into the events of that day, and in my opinion someone who had incited and misled people to run through a red zone should be just as guilty as anyone who had fired a gun.

Anyway, they passed judgement on Ravalomanana in August assigning total responsibility for the deaths of the people in March 2009 and sentencing him to life in prison, I think with hard labour.

The sentencing of Madagascar’s former president Marc Ravalomanana to hard labour for life may prove to be one more obstacle in the island’s attempts to emerge from its current political crisis.

Ravalomanana, who lives in exile in South Africa, was sentenced in absentia Saturday by a court in Antananarivo for his part in what are known as the February 7, 2009 killings, the third sentence handed to him since his ouster.

On that day, Ravalomanana’s presidential guard fired without warning on supporters of the island’s current strongman Andry Rajoelina making their way to the presidency, killing at least 30 people and wounding more than 100.

Rest assured though, the show that the HAT is putting on for the international community regarding the new election dates (that inevitably get postponed indefinitely to keep Rajoelina in power) is not working on anyone, especially in light of the judgement that was passed in absentia for Marc Ravalomanana.

South Africa has strongly criticised Madagascar over the life sentence passed on exiled President Marc Ravalomanana last week.

Such sentences would not help end Madagascar’s political turmoil, said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

No one except France (of course) has said anything about the prolonged crisis. And until Rajoelina decides to start talking again with the other stakeholders in the crisis, Madagascar is not going to improve any time soon. Actually, if you want to know how Madagascar is doing, there was an interesting article by Gregory Simpkins on the state of Madagascar:

Andre Rajoelina has alienated the international community and the country’s political community. Donor nations, including the United States, have cut off all but humanitarian assistance, which is particularly damaging to Madagascar since the country’s budget was dependent for more than half its revenue from donors.

The cutoff of foreign aid has caused health clinics to shut down. A quarter of the country’s health clinics have shut down, and the distribution of essential drugs has collapsed.

More than half the country’s children are considered malnourished.

Madagascar had been one of AGOA’s success stories, earning US$600 million annually and accounting for 60% of the country’s exports. The closure of factories servicing the U.S. market has caused 50,000 to lose their jobs, exacerbating an already problematic economic picture.

“Slash and burn” agriculture is being practiced by poor farmers oppose a significant threat to Madagascar’s forests, but the report says the forests likely can’t be protected without addressing “fundamental economic issues that maintain rural people in abject poverty.”

So people in Madagascar will attempt to try and “survive” while all the political fools speak of unity, resolution, just posturing while doing little else. Until the fundamental issue of the coup is addressed between Rajoelina and Ravalomanana (and others), nothing will happen in Madagascar and the people that Rajoelina promised he would raise up will continue to suffer beneath his false rule.

Down with the HAT, Rajoelina and his cronies should be the ones serving life for what they have done to Madagascar and it’s people, not Ravalomanana. What Ravalomanana has done to Madagascar is not even comparable to the disaster that the HAT has caused.

Great article on rosewood

I just stumbled across this article this morning when looking through my feeds. This is a very extensive article on what is happening to the environment in Madagascar and the environment in which people live over there.

National Geographic: Madagascar’s Pierced Heart

Here are some excerpts:

Remon doesn’t like the work. The timber boss who employs him—but whose name he does not know—has told Remon that he must paddle all day without pause because the rangers have been bribed to stay away for only a finite period, after which another bribe will be expected. Still, transporting the fallen trees is better than cutting them down, which had been Remon’s previous job. He quit after concluding that the risks had become too great. While illegal logging had been going on for years, the pace had suddenly escalated: The forest was unpoliced and filled with organ ized gangs, a free-for-all of deforestation spurred by the collapse of Madagascar’s government in March of 2009 and by the insatiable appetite of Chinese timber procurers, who imported more than 200 million dollars’ worth of rosewood from the country’s northeastern forests in just a few months. One rosewood cutter Remon knew had been robbed of his harvest by forest thugs who told him, “There’s 30 of us, one of you.” And he’s just heard that two men were decapitated with a machete over a timber dispute a few days ago.

In September 2009, after months during which up to 460,000 dollars’ worth of rosewood was being illegally harvested every day, the cash-strapped new government reversed a 2000 ban on the export of rosewood and released a decree legalizing the sale of stockpiled logs. Pressured by an alarmed international community, the gov ernment reinstated the ban in April. Yet logging continues.

The residents of Antalaha who suddenly found themselves dodging motorcycle traffic also began to notice the price of fish, rice, and other daily goods begin to climb. The reason was simple: Fewer men were out at sea or in the fields.

“They’re in the forest,” says Michel Lomone, the vanilla exporter. “Everyone’s gone to the forest.”

The rosewood is cut into logs about seven feet long. Another team of two men tie ropes around each log and proceed to drag it out of the forest to the river’s edge, a feat that will take them two days and earn them $10 to $20 a log, depending on the distance. While staggering through the forest myself, from time to time I come upon the jarring apparition of two stoic figures tugging a 400-pound log up some impossible gradient or down a waterfall or across quicksand-like bogs—a hard labor of biblical scale, except that these men are doing this for money. As is the man the pair would meet up with at the river, waiting to tie the log to a handcrafted radeau, or raft, to help it float down the rapids ($25 a log). As is the pirogueman awaiting the radeau where the rapids subside ($12 a log). As is the park ranger whom the timber bosses have bribed to stay away ($200 for two weeks). As are police at checkpoints along the road to Antalaha ($20 an officer). The damage to the forest is far more than the loss of the precious hardwoods: For each dense rosewood log, four or five lighter trees are cut down to create the raft that will transport it down the river.

Check out the article, it is very interesting.

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