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Tanzania Hosts African IMF Economic Conference

Aired March 7, 2009 - 12:30:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Isha Sesay. You're watching INSIDE AFRICA. Tanzania is in the spotlight, co-hosting a major conference with the International Monetary Fund on the global economic meltdown. Among those attending will be finance ministers from all over Africa, as well as academics and those in the private sector. I recently sat down with IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn to get his thoughts of where Africa lies in this global economic crisis coming at the worst possible time for this troubled continent, which until recently had just been turning itself around.


DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, IMF: Well, you are right in saying it's the worst time. It's the worst time for two reasons. The first on is the one you mentioned, it is that the last decade has been rather good for many African countries, with the beginning of development, high growth, and the problem now is to maintain what they hard won during the last decade, and it's not that easy.

There is also another reason, which is the financial crisis, which is now hitting hard these countries came on top of the food crisis. And even if the food prices are not increasing anymore, they are at a level which is significantly higher than two years ago. So, the cost of living for most of those countries and for the people there is still very high. So, you have both crises. The crisis that the rest of the -- the follow-up of the food crisis and the financial crisis and the slowdown in global growth.

SESAY: Give me an example, give me an African economic success story. And tell me how they are feeling it.

STRAUSS-KAHN: You can take many of them. Look at Zambia, for instance. Zambia is a country which did a lot during the last decade, creating fiscal space, balancing the budget. Really, following not only IMF advice, but also from the World Bank and other high-fis (ph). They did well. Now, as you know, Zambia's economies very much rely on copper. And as the export of copper just collapsed. So they have to close one of the mine, lay off another mines, and of course, had a lot of social consequences on the population.

So, even a country having really good policy in place, having natural resources just at the verge of succeeding, they are now in a bad situation. And there is other -- many other example. So, the situation now for us today is to have African countries to -- well, retain some of the gains, hard-won gains from the last decade.

SESAY: Do you think that will be reversed?

STRAUSS-KAHN: No, I don't think so. Well, it depends. This is the case by case situation. You can't just speak about all the countries at the same time. For some countries, this can be the case. For most countries, I don't believe this. And I think we can still go on with them, helping them to -- to develop.

But that's the reason for this conference in Tanzania trying to take stock of what has been done during the last decade. Sometimes are mistakes, sometimes the mistakes of the country, sometimes the right thing which has been done. And have -- drawn the lessons from this -- this period. And trying to see how we can use this looking forward. And not only for public policies, but also how to associate the private sector to this development. And I'm really confident that there is a lot of opportunities in Africa for the private sector.

SESAY: The head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, said that he put -- he put forth this proposition that each developed country plays 0.7 of its stimulus package to the vulnerability fund to help developing countries weather the storm. What do you think about that?

STRAUSS-KAHN: Great idea. I don't know if it will fly, because, you know, advanced economy has their own problems, and what I told you before about aid. But we have to press for this and really try to obtain that part of the stimulus will be used for low-income countries.

SESAY: I know that the IMF is giving a great deal of help to Eastern Europe. I wonder what kind of level of assistance African countries are reaching out to you for at this point in time.

STRAUSS-KAHN: Well, that's a really amazing problem. The order of magnitude of the sum which are needed in Eastern Europe are hundreds times what we need in Africa. And it's kind of a scandal that we are likely to find billions of dollars for -- I don't want to bash in anyway the European countries, but for emerging countries all over the world, this time especially in Eastern Europe, billion of dollars. And we -- we hardly find millions of dollars for African countries. So, that's really a problem that we want to face here in the IMF.

SESAY: So, there's a sense that it's each country for themselves in devising their own way to get out of this crisis. That there was no coordinated plan, no global coordinated plan. I wonder what the IMF is doing to fix that, because ultimately everyone does need to work together.

STRAUSS-KAHN: No, it's in the middle of that. It's not as coordinated as it should be. You're absolutely right. And we're asking and asking, and asking again for more coordination, because the effectiveness of what is done by government is multiplied by two, three of four when they work together.

On the other -- so, it's not enough. That's right. On the other hand, it's a bit too much to say that there is no coordination at all. And look at the fiscal stimulus, for instance. It takes place in most countries, where it's possible. In some countries, it's not possible, because they have too much debt.

SESAY: And Germany had been resistant...

STRAUSS-KAHN: Yes, exactly. It's a good example. It's a good example of what we say. There had been resistance showing that coordination is (inaudible), but finally they do it, which shows that coordination is not that bad. So, it takes time, but at the end of the day, everybody does work it has to do.


SESAY: Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir learned this week whether he'll face genocide charges for his role in the conflict in Darfur. Robyn Curnow takes us inside the International Criminal Court's decision after the break.


SESAY: Welcome back to INSIDE AFRICA. We finally now know what will be the next step for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. International Criminal Court judges have made their decision on whether to indict Mr. Bashir over alleged war crimes. Our Robyn Curnow has the details.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victims' justice for the 300,000 killed and more than 2.5 million people displaced in Darfur. Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir still smiling and defiant, named in the arrest warrant issued by the world's highest criminal court.

LAURENCE BLAIRON, ICC SPOKESWOMAN: Five counts of crimes against humanity. Murder, article 7 paragraph 1a. Extermination, article 7, 1b. Forcible transfer, article 7 1d. Torture, article 7 1f, and rape, article 7 1G.

CURNOW: A ghastly list of alleged misdeeds for a sitting president to face accused of masterminding war crimes and crimes against humanity against the citizens for Darfur. For now, he is being let off a genocide charge, but that might change, says the world court.

BLAIRON: Omar al-Bashir's official capacity as a sitting head of state does not exclude his criminal responsibility, nor does it grant him immunity.

CURNOW: The court action touched off sympathetic demonstrations, while pro-Bashir rallies were held in Sudan's capital, Khartoum. The Sudanese government said it considers the arrest warrant unlawful.

ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM, SUDANESE REP. TO U.N.: It is like pouring oil on fire. In the Sudan, today it is a day of national outrage, a day of national anger. And we repeat with (inaudible) in my breast that all perfumes of Arabia will not clear this dirt created by the ICC against our leadership.

CURNOW: Most African leaders are not expected to support the arrest warrant. Speaking to CNN at last month's African Union Summit, the Tanzanian president said African leaders were worried about a possible backlash against the international peacekeepers and citizens of Darfur.

PRESIDENT JAKAYA KIKWETE, TANZANIA: You issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir. You cannot predict what the reaction is going to be. And that itself may be that (inaudible). So we say, let's just -- let's just prioritize. Let's just concentrate on the deployment of UNAMID (ph), secure Darfur, so that whatever happens, at least the people of Darfur will be safe. Then we embark on the issues of justice.

CURNOW: No one expects to see al-Bashir in the dock at the Hague anytime soon. The International Criminal Court has not police force. It says it expects the United Nations member states to arrest the Sudanese president when and if he leaves the country's borders. Or for Sudan to give up its leader to face international justice, something the Sudanese said they have no intention of doing.

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.


SESAY: We wanted to know what you thought about the case against Mr. Bashir. So we turned to our correspondent Errol Barnett for some reaction from the Web.


ERROL BARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The ICC's announcement that they will charge President al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity does not seem to have stamped out uncertainty within Sudan. That's based on what I'm seeing online.

Let me show you a bit of what I've come across. On, a blogger by the name of Nazadavi (ph) posted these images of a pro- government demonstration in Khartoum after the ICC made their announcement. You see another picture here, the protest moved by the U.S. embassy.

Some, though, are suspicious. One of the comments posted below says that typically pro-government demonstrators are paid to carry out such acts.

On another blog, Global Voices Online, they decided to consolidate different bloggers' comments from Sudan. They posted them together here. One of them stood out to me, was an individual who believes that President al-Bashir will be safe as long as he stays within the country, but he wonders if there will be a backlash within the country by the pro-al-Bashir tribes, ones loyal to him.

Now, there has been a backlash to international aid organizations. Oxfam International is just one of them. Save the Children, CARE. Their licenses have been suspended to act in the country. They posted a message -- Oxfam International on their site -- saying their laptops and other communications equipment has been confiscated by the government. President al-Bashir has said that that is because these organizations are, quote, "tools of the new colonialism.".

So it does not seem as if instability within the country has ended because the ICC has made their announcement. It simply marked the next phase of it.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Errol Barnett.


SESAY: There are denials of a coup in the West African state of Guinea- Bissau after both the country's president and army chief were killed. Were their deaths directly related? We'll get the latest from our very own Christian Purefoy and bring in investigation from our British affiliate ITN for some perspective on the drug trafficking that has been a major factor in this nation's cycle of violence.


SESAY: Welcome back to INSIDE AFRICA. The killings of two leaders in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau has shaken an already fragile political situation there. A bomb attack first killed the army chief of staff, then hours later, soldiers shot the president, Joao Bernardo Vieira. We'll have more of what's happening on the ground there right now, but first, I want to bring you some perspective of what led to the political unrest.

Guinea-Bissau gained independence from Portugal in 1974. And it's since, by the authorities' own admission, become a major stop for cocaine, headed to Europe from Latin America. Here now is part of an investigation done by Jonathan Miller of our affiliate, ITN.


JONATHAN MILLER, ITN CORRESPONDENT: You wouldn't believe it, but this crumbling city, Bissau, is now the capital of a country through which Western intelligence sources say hundreds of millions of pounds worth of pure cocaine transits every month, more than a ton a day.

The ruins of the presidential palace a measure for a failing state after one civil war and two coups in 10 years. Amid this decay, the incongruity of flash cars, brazenly cruising the streets of the world's fifth poorest country.

Within an hour of our arrival, an explosive interview was running on national radio. The voice that of Mario Sa Gomez, Guinea-Bissau's leading human rights advocate.

MARIO SA GOMEZ (via translator): At this time, drugs trafficking is threatening the dignity of the people of Guinea Bissau, and our territorial integrity. Civilians cannot struggle against drugs trafficking. It's the authorities who have to take steps to tackle the drugs trafficking. This is our concern. The quickest way to find a solution is the immediate dismissal of the chiefs of the armed forces and the police.

MILLER: That broadcast turned Mario Sa Gomez into Guinea-Bissau's most wanted man. An arrest warrant was issued. He was immediately forced to go into hiding. We tracked down his family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He sees the soldiers looking for his son and he's very worried. He says that Mario Gomez is his first son. He's very worried.

MILLER: Ineda Orelia said there was no one to protect her husband now. Last month, this man was fired as the head of the Judicial Police. Orlando da Silva had been well aware of what was going on. Huge cocaine hauls he'd seized, stolen back, he claims by the army. Two Colombians he'd arrested disappeared, as did all the cocaine. He says he's had death threats and was too frightened to talk on camera.

Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchutu is the head of the Navy, one of those accused of involvement by Mario Sa Gomez in his radio broadcast. We'd asked if we could accompany him in a drugs patrol. He said he'd try to find a boat.

Well, it's taken an entire day to get to this point. Our promised embed with the Navy of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. The reason for the delay has been the fact that there has not been any fuel for the boat. Now, our captain today is going to be none other than the head of the Navy himself, or the Chef d'Armada, as he's known here. And his armada? Well, that white one over there, that's it.

As we clambered over the rusting hulks of dead patrol boats, the admiral complained there was no way his navy could give a chase to Colombian narcotraffickers with the "Miami Vice" style speedboats. We need fast boats too, he said.

Guinea-Bissau has 400 miles of coastline, with rivers and mangroves and 90 islands. Perfect for drugs trafficking, the admiral told me.

I raised Mario Sa Gomez's accusations from his radio broadcast.

(on camera): Chef d'Armada, the thing is, although you say people make many false statements, some of those accusations are at you directly, that you are involved in the drugs trade.

JOSE AMERICO BUBU NA TCHUTU, HEAD OF GUINEA BISSAU NAVY (through translator): As a military man, I'm not surprised at being accused of drugs trafficking. I was one of those who helped get freedom and democracy to the people of Guinea Bissau, so now they are free to say whatever they want. You can tell the truth, or you can tell lies about your enemies. As a citizen of Guinea Bissau, I just sit here waiting for their evidence. Whether today, tomorrow or in a thousand years' time, I will never be a drugs trafficker.


SESAY: And now, since that report was completed, the head of the navy you saw featured there has been ousted.

Let's get the very latest now on this assassination of the president and the army chief of staff. We can bring in Christian Purefoy, who's been covering this story for us. Christian, this all seemed to start with the killing of the army chief. Take us through the sequence of events.

CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, the army chief was killed, a mysterious bomb blast. Nobody knows who is behind that. And then very shortly after, a few hours afterwards, the president Vieira was killed, as soldiers went into his bungalow, very close to the presidential villa, and killed him. The army is saying that this is not a coup, and that it was simply renegade soldiers, and it looks like in what was a revenge attack.

SESAY: Christian, Guinea Bissau is no stranger to political upheaval. But who exactly is in charge of things there right now?

PUREFOY: The speaker of parliament was elected, if you like, president. And he's now got 60 days to organize elections. However, as you said, it's something of an unstable country, and the army has a very big influence in politics there, particularly since some of its soldiers were behind the killings. No one knows to what degree, but I'm sure that they will play, and analysts are saying will probably play a big part in any upcoming elections.

SESAY: And I'm wondering whether the government had commented on these claims that Guinea-Bissau is turning into a narco-state, what they may have said in the past, if anything?

PUREFOY: There are many allegations against government officials, top military officers. They will say that that is false, these are false accusations. However, a lot of analysts do say that top government and top military officials are involved in the drug trade that has burgeoned over the last couple of years under the late President Vieira's watch.

SESAY: When INSIDE AFRICA continues, we'll take a look at the continent through the eyes of our viewers. Your iReports are straight ahead. Stay with us.


SESAY: We now turn to some of the recent iReports we've received from around the continent. Ireporter Mamadou L.Ndiaye captured this video while attending a football match in northeast Senegal. The local band seen here performed during the half-time break, playing a traditional Senegalese drum called the saba (ph). And Ndiaye says he wants to show the world some of Senegal's talented musicians.

Van Zyl Schultz submitted this iReport after a wildfire broke out near his home in South Africa. Schultz said fire was getting straight toward his village, but thanks to the gallons of water dropped by this firefighting helicopter, flames were put out just meters away from the outskirts of town.

And Percy von Lipinski sent this video of his trip to Victoria Falls, which is located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Von Lipinski says he was amazed at how beautiful Zimbabwe is despite the dire economic and humanitarian crisis that is ongoing there. He says he was also intrigued by the wildlife, especially the crocodiles that circled his boat on the Zambezi.


PERCY VON LIPINSKI: It looked like a crocodile territory. People were getting nervous and crocks were looking mighty hungry.


SESAY: A reminder to INSIDE AFRICA viewers, if you see news happening, send us your images. Just go to Africa, and click on the iReport section.

Thank you for letting INSIDE AFRICA be your window to the continent. There is much more ahead next week, when we join you from Tanzania, site of a conference co-hosted by the IMF. We will be examining how the global financial crisis is affecting Africa. Until then, take care.