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.

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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.