Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Wikileaks set back Zim democracy

from the Atlantic:

Tsvangirai supports the sanctions to stop Mugabe, but it's unpopular to say Wikileaks has revealed this, and so Mugabe is the winner.

To their supporters, WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange are heroes of the democratic cause. Assange himself has claimed that his organization promotes democracy by strengthening the media. But in Zimbabwe, Assange's pursuit of this noble goal has provided a tyrant with the ammunition to wound, and perhaps kill, any chance for multiparty democracy. Earlier this month, Assange claimed that "not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed" by Wikileaks' practices. This is no longer true, if it ever was.

Any damage to democratic reforms from WikiLeaks likely comes not from malice but naivety.

smuggled diamond money goes to Zim before vote

from Bloomburg:

...Chikwere and hundreds of other border smugglers are part of a chain whose money flows back into Zimbabwe...

The gems from Zimbabwe’s biggest diamond field in the Marange region are helping enrich the 86-year-old president’s party ahead of next year’s vote, according to Human Rights Watch, Partnership Africa Canada and the Zimbabwean opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, which governs in a forced coalition with Mugabe’s party.

Annual income from the gems may reach $2 billion, assuming the country is able to export them freely, the state-owned Herald newspaper cited Mines Minister Obert Mpofu as saying in October. Mugabe is trying to amass funds for the election campaign, said Tom Porteous, the U.K. director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, which has lobbied against abuses for the past 30 years.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mugabe threatens "revenge"

from AlJezeerah:

...Zimbabwe's president has threatened to nationalise British and US-owned businesses operating in the country if economic sanctions imposed on his political party are not lifted....

Under empowerment laws, black Zimbabweans are slated to acquire 51 per cent of all businesses. In a live broadcast on state television, Mugabe warned UK and US firms that "unless you remove sanctions, we will take 100 per cent"....

well, that's a good way to encourage investment in the economy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mugabe threatens to take over US, UK firms

from the BBC

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says his country will nationalise all US and UK companies operating in the country unless Western sanctions are removed.

He told his Zanu-PF party's annual conference it was time to fight the sanctions imposed on him and party leaders.

Mr Mugabe also said it was time to end power-sharing with the party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why are few outsiders wanting to invest in Zim?

The VOA has a discussion why, with different opinions from different Zim leaders.

my opinion? it's not the sanctions (which can be ignored easily by using fronts and proxies). It's because they are worried they will lose their investment. Either Mugabe will decide the company belongs to "the people" (aka his cronies) or officials will want excess kickbacks (although if this is not excess, it's usually written off as business expenses). But they also worry a war could destroy their investments.

Then there is the problem of a crumbling infrastructure, and the fact that the hardest working, best educated Zimbabweans now are working in South Africa.

But what do I know?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More African wikileaks

From AlJezeerah:

Chinese investment in Africa lacks morals.

"China is a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals. China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons," Carson said in a February meeting with oil executives in Nigeria.

"China is in Africa for China primarily," he said, according to a confidential cable written by the US consul-general in Lagos earlier this year.

Chinese investment in Africa has exploded in recent years, reaching a total of $9.3 billion by the end of 2009. Chinese state media say that more than 1600 businesses are investing in Africa in a range of industries, from mining to manufacuring. ...

"The United States will continue to push democracy and capitalism while Chinese authoritarian capitalism is politically challenging," Carson said.

Beijing pursues a "contrarian" approach by dealing with the "Mugabes and Bashirs of the world", he said, referring to the Zimbawean and Sudanese leaders respectively....

But of course, western companies aren't much better:

Shell "infiltrated" Nigeria

A US embassy cable released by the WikiLeaks whistleblower website alleges that Royal Dutch Shell's top manager in Nigeria claimed the oil company had sources inside of "all relevant ministries" involving its business....

Other messages show oil executives fearful of Chinese and Russian companies breaking into a market vital to US fuel interests, despite saying all the major fields in the West African nation had already been developed.

The US ambassador to Nigeria, citing Pickard, said in the leaked cables that the Dutch oil giant had got a copy of a letter from a Nigerian government advisor rejecting a Chinese offer on oil exploration blocks.

"Pickard said Shell had good sources to show that their data had been sent to both China and Russia," Robin Renee Sanders, the US ambassador, had reportedly written.

Another cable recounting a February meeting between Johnny Carson, the US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, and oil company executives shows the US' strong criticism of Chinese interests in the continent's crude supply.

"China is a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals,'' the cable quotes Carson as saying. "China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons. China is in Africa for China primarily.''

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tsvangirai tells army to stop harassing villagers

From Radio VOP:

Summary: In a speech about Human rights, Tsvangirai said the Army and gov't is accountable to the people, not vice versa, so protests and complaints should be listened to, not intimidated into silence

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mugabe's wife implicated in illegal Diamond trade

from AFP

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's wife was among those who gained millions of dollars from illegal diamonds mined in the east of the country, according to a US cable obtained by WikiLeaks.

"High-ranking Zimbabwean government officials and well-connected elites are generating millions of dollars in personal income by hiring teams of diggers to hand-extract diamonds," US Ambassador James McGee wrote to Washington in 2008.

"They are selling the undocumented diamonds to a mix of foreign buyers, including Belgians, Israelis, Lebanese, Russians and South Africans, who smuggle them out of the country for cutting and resale elsewhere."...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

world wide health

alas, Zimbabwe has gone down.

Part of the problem is HIV, but most of it is because unlike the other countries, it has stagnated with outdated Marxist ideas.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Why business should consider Africa

From the Wharton School of business (Univ PA)

Odembo visited the University of Pennsylvania recently for meetings arranged by the U.S.A.-Kenya Chamber of Commerce and spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about the potential rewards and risks of investing in Africa, including Vision 2030, Kenya's plan to become a middle income nation in the next 20 years. ...

If you look at what has happened in the last few years in terms of improved governance, many countries are becoming more democratic. They're having elections more regularly. The typical tensions that would result in risk have been minimized to a great extent -- wars around the time of elections, civil wars between different communities, fighting between one community and another over natural resources -- we've overcome those challenges to a great extent. The continent is looking ahead to being a place where there's a certain amount of predictability. In the past, unpredictability was another risk.

Africa now has all the ingredients to minimize the risks that people feared before. One way to establish that is for a prospective investor to talk to companies already doing business on the continent. They would be able to tell you about changes that have taken place over the last five or 10 years, and how much we, as countries and as regions, have managed to minimize risks to investors. We appreciate now that we've been left behind and we must do what is necessary to create an enabling environment for private-sector business and investment, both local and foreign direct investment.

Knowledge@Wharton: How do you view China's investment strategy in Africa? What does it mean for investors from other parts of the world?

Odembo: I don't know if I can talk about the Chinese investment strategy because I'm not privy to [it], but I can discuss what I have observed. When the Chinese first appeared as investors on the continent about 10 years ago, a lot of African countries were very uneasy about the manner in which they were setting up businesses and the types of investments they were making. The Chinese have become much more sophisticated in the last 10 years. They now have a strategy. It appears to revolve around what they have studied extremely well on the continent. They know the demographics: There is a rising middle class on the continent; there's a very dynamic, young population; and the continent is becoming increasingly urbanized. Therefore, there is a market and purchasing power on the continent. One part of the Chinese strategy is based on the fact that they are reading Africa very well in terms of where we are now and where we are likely to go to in the next few years.

The Chinese also appreciate the riches that the continent has. Most other countries have known the riches that exist here. Some northern countries from North America and Europe have already extracted the valuable minerals and metals that they needed to develop their industries. The Chinese have figured out that over the next 10 years or so, some of the most valuable commodities that the global economy requires are on this continent.

The Chinese are positioning themselves to do business with African countries, and have figured out that in another 10 years, the continent will have a population of one billion people. That's a very sizable market for selling your products, not to mention the human resource capabilities for producing goods that you might want to export to your own country. Again, I'm not sure what the strategy is, but I can imagine that they're seeing it putting them in a very good position in terms of who will benefit the most.

Knowledge@Wharton: What implications will this have for investors from other parts of the world?

Odembo: It's a challenge. Investors will have to compete with somebody who already has a foot in the door, investing heavily in developing infrastructure, which is where African governments will tell you is where the greatest need has been -- infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. In the next 10 years or so, if this infrastructure has been developed, Africa is going to be able to trade within itself quite significantly. We've learned this during the global recession, when our commodities didn't have a ready market because our traditional markets were experiencing the crisis. We turned inward and started trading with each other.

Because of the potential for trading within the continent with a developed infrastructure, people investing in infrastructure will stand to benefit very significantly because they will know the infrastructure very well. Part of being a good business person and investor is knowing how the infrastructure is set up and how things move from point A to point B. ...

videos HERE and HERE

Making fuel from garbage

Mother Jones has an article on how "clever Ugandans" are turning garbage into fuel.

What bothers me is

1) essentially they are rag pickers.

2) no one seems to be pressuring the government into collecting trash.

3) no one seems to worry about toxic fumes from their "factory", where they not only roast left over food but also tires and other toxic plastics to get fuel.

4) how safe is this "fuel"? will those using it find their engines clogged up and useless after awhile?

5) the word "clever" in English sounds like they are amazed that Africans might be intelligent enough to do something (the word is commonly used to describe when children or animals are smart, but rarely used in the context of adult activity).

6) it points out that those in the west who think higher prices for oil is a good idea don't notice how modern oil and gasoline products are needed in third world countries, or that a rise in oil prices can devastate these economies.

Aside from these points, it is a good article about grass roots green business.

Africa could feed the world

from the BBC, pointing out that if modern methods of crop growing and hybrid seeds were used, Africa could feed the world.

"...He (Professor Calestous Juma Harvard University) estimates that while food production has grown globally by 145% over the past 40 years, African food production has fallen by 10% since 1960, which he attributes to low investment.

While 70% of Africans may be engaged in farming, those who are undernourished on the continent has risen by 100 million to 250 million since 1990, he estimates.

The professor's blueprint calls for the expansion of basic infrastructure, including new road, irrigation and energy schemes...."

of course, the "Green" lobby so beloved in many NGO's will swallow their teeth over this part of his speech:

"Tree crops like breadfruit, which is from the Pacific, could be introduced in Africa because trees are more resistant to climate change."

He also envisages genetic modification playing a growing role in African agriculture, with GM cotton and GM maize, which are already being grown on the continent, just the start of things to come.

"You need to be able to breed new crops and adapt them to local conditions... and that is going to force more African countries to think about new genomics techniques."

oh well...maybe China will help them copy their own investment in GM foods LINK

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sorry for lack of posts

I've been busy and by the time I get around to reading and posting on this blog, I'm so depressed that I quit bloggin.

Zimbabwe is getting worse, but not on the news.

Here are the headlines from today's SWRadioAfrica:

News stories for Wednesday 01 December

MDC activist dies after ZANU PF and police assaults
The MDC reported Tuesday that Augustine Mahute, a party activist from Matapi Flats in Mbare Harare, died on Saturday night from injuries received in police custody. The MDC said Mahute had first been attacked by ZANU PF youths and then by the police officers at Matapi Station, where the youths had taken him by force.

CIO agent abducts six teachers in Rushinga
The Progressive Teachers Union has expressed concern over the whereabouts of six teachers, thought to have been abducted by a state security agent in Rushinga Wednesday. Only last Friday a labour court ordered that Julius Mawarire, Tinashe Mavurayi, Talent Muchakazi, Angela Zanza, Silibaziso Mawire and Maphios Chisora should be reinstated at Gwangwava Primary School…

Standard editor arrested as media clampdown intensifies
The editor of the weekly Standard newspaper, who handed himself over to police this week, was officially arrested Tuesday and formally charged, as the clampdown on the media continues to intensify. Police had tried to arrest Nevanji Madanhire on Monday, but the editor wasn’t at his offices and went into hiding.

Jabulani Sibanda terrorizing Lowveld, threatening death to MDC
Jabulani Sibanda, the violent ZANU PF thug and chairman of the National War Vet Association, is reported to be in the Lowveld area, terrorizing villagers and threatening death to anyone who supports the MDC.

Mugabe allies back lifting of sanctions at EU summit
Allies of Robert Mugabe have used a European Union (EU) summit in Libya to lobby on the dictator’s behalf, for the lifting of Western targeted sanctions in place against the regime.

ZUJ President deplores crackdown on journalists
The President of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ),

Than there is the Zimbabwe Mail (which I read via email).

The funniest stories are about how Wikileaks revealed that Mbeki was backing Mugabe in all those peace talks.


then there is this from BusinessDay:

Leaked diplomatic notes posted on WikiLeaks this week quoted Ms Nkoana-Mashabane as calling Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe "a crazy old man" .

If true, the comments are likely to harden Mr Mugabe’s attitude towards accepting SA’s advice on change in his country.

presumably saying the "Emperor has no clothes" is not allowed....

Primedia (eyewitness news) is more worried about the wikileaks will put Zimbabwean lives at stake.

Actually, the real "damage" will be stuff everyone knows: That Mugabe is crazy, that Mbeki helped him shaft Tsvangirai, and that the west thought Tsvangirai was honest but not forceful enough.
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