|The Courier N° 140 - July - Aug 1993 - Dossier: National Minorities - Country Reports: Dominica, Mozambique (EC Courier, 1993, 96 p.)|
The look of trepidation on the face of the elderly American lady tourist was obvious as the small LIAT aircraft descended steeply towards Canefield Airport- although this may be too grand a description of the concrete strip one actually lands on. Fortunately there was the beautiful view of the Dominican countryside to distract her attention, at least partly, from the landing. Clearly she was wondering whether the bother of getting to Dominica, involving a transit in Antigua after a long and tiresome wait, was going to be worthwhile. While this situation in itself illustrates why so many Dominican spokesmen insist on the need for a new 24-hour airport providing direct access, the lady's momentary worries were likely to be very quickly dissolved soon after her arrival. The warm welcome extended to her, combined with the prospect of discovering the wide array of assets of the Caribbean's Nature Island, probably compensated for her short-lived discomfort.
The current worries of the Dominicans themselves are neither short-lived nor likely to disappear in the near future. Their widespread unease stems from uncertainty over the future of their country's lifeline, threatened at its very roots: their banana trade and industry looks to be in jeopardy. Apart from those too young to understand, virtually every Dominican today feels his country is the victim of an 'enemy' they refer to as 'the Latins'-their Latin American banana competitors. Everybody seems to know the main battleground, Europe, and seems familiar with the jargon even if it consists of acronyms such as GA TT, the EC's CAP or notions such as the Single Market. All parties concerned have international allies, though some of these allies seem to have one foot in each camp. In every skirmish, many of which are fought through the media, 'weapons' such as quotas, tariff barriers, panels and court cases are brandished. Let there be no mistake; this war between 'Eurobananas' and dollar bananas, leaves no Dominican, whether small farmer, civil servant, businessman or housewife, indifferent. Indeed, over and above the banana producing and exporting community, all the inhabitants are uncomfortably aware that no other crop is currently capable of providing as many jobs or of raising as much income for the country. To them, it is not just the issue of 'if bananas do well, Dominica does well', even if that statement is true. In their view it is a question of life or death. Even when ravaged by hurricanes, as unfortunately happens from time to time, bananas have always managed to survive. Dominica without its bananas is as inconceivable as Mauritius without its sugar or Kuwait without its oil. The Dominicans' main worry is, therefore: 'Are we, however small a producer, going to be pushed out of business?'Given the sweet fruit's preponderance in the economy and omnipresence in the landscape, one can understand why there is such deep concern.
Please use the country's official name 'The Commonwealth of Dominica' when writing to someone living on this island in the far north of the chain of the English speaking Caribbean Islands which collectively are known as the Windwards. Most correspondence addressed simply to 'Dominica' gets sent to the Dominican Republic from where it will eventually be rerouted to its proper destination. Those responsible for this confusion - two 'Dominicas' in the Caribbean Sea-were in fact members of the same famous family! It was Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer, who gave the now English-speaking island its name, the Lord's Day in Latin, having sighted it on Sunday November 3, 1493. Five years later, his brother Bartholomeo established the city of Santo Domingo on the more northerly island of Hispaniola. The present-day Dominican Republic (Spanish-speaking), which occupies the eastern part of Hispaniola, subsequently took its name from this city.
If your mail finally reaches its proper destination, it will have landed on one of the most rugged and lush Caribbean islands. Dominica has the shape of a rectangle rounded at both ends. It is 46 km long and 25 km wide, with a total area of some 800 km2. The terrain is very mountainous, including one of the highest peaks in the Caribbean archipelago, and is covered with dense rain forest through which no fewer than 365 rivers flow to the sea, sometimes over spectacular waterfalls. Needless to say, flat surfaces, beyond the size of a cricket pitch, of course, are difficult to find, as any builder-particularly of airports- can testify. The landmass, as seen from the sea, so impressed the Carib Indians, who wrested control of the island from the Arawak Indians, that they called it Waitukubuli or 'Tall is her body'. When independence was granted from the UK in November 1978, reverting to the original Carib name was considered but the idea was soon abandoned because the name was thought to be too complicated. The island is nevertheless home to some 3500 Caribs, who live in a reserve on the north-east coast-the last remaining community of Carib Indians in the Caribbean. Like its neighbours, Dominica has, throughout its history, been coveted by various European nations (principally France and the United Kingdom) and it 'charged hands' on a number of occasions. It is situated, oddly enough, in the 'heart of France', its closest neighbours being the French Overseas Departments of Guadaloupe to the north and Martinique to the south, both of which are also banana producers. Despite this, Dominica ended up being a British colony prior to its independence. Not surprisingly, therefore, English is the official language, although a form of Creole very close to the Creole of Mauritius is widely spoken in this island of 72 000 inhabitants.
Whilst Dominicans are generally peaceful and easy-going, they have always had a propensity for lively local politics. In the period immediately following independence, the turbulence on the political scene seemed almost to vie with Hurricanes David and Allen which struck with disastrous effects in 1979 and 1980 respectively. Political allegiances shifted rapidly. Parties split and new ones -sometimes shon-lived-were created. Strikes and demonstrations raised the political temperature even further. Matters became clearer in July 1980 when the general election delivered a decisive result; a landslide victory for the Dominica Freedom Party headed by Eugenia Charles (see the interview which follows). The DFP took 17 of the 21 seats and, in so doing, ended the reign of the Dominica Labour Party, which had held power in the local legislature for almost two decades. An advocate of free enterprise, Eugenia Charles, who was previously a barrister, quickly imprinted her own firm and outspoken style on both local and international politics. In 1983 she hit the international headlines when, in her capacity as chair of the OECS, she stood beside President Reagan and staunchly defended the US intervention in Grenada.
Her irreverent nickname, 'Iron Lady', dates from that period, although many in Dominica refer to her more endearingly as 'Memo' as if all the people were her children. Dame Eugenia, who was awarded her title in 1991, has won every election since that memorable July although her majority has progressively diminished. Few observers would dispute her impact on Dominica's positive turnaround since she came to power. Prior to Dame Eugenia, Dominica had a reputation for decay and inefficiency. Many inhabitants emigrated and, out of embarrassment it is said, relinquished their passports. Today, while many Dominicans still follow higher education or earn a living abroad-job opportunities remain scarce in this predominantly agricultural economy-they nevertheless remain proud of 'beck home', where they eventually hope to return to enjoy some of the good things in life. Who can blame them; there are many worse places than Dominica!
A 'worried' business climate
'Gramatically it may not be the proper word, but "worried" is certainly the best description of the current business climate,' according to Derek Davies of the Dominican Association of Industry and Commerce. The Dominican economy has indeed entered a downward phase, with a definite slowdown in real growth to only about 2% in 1991. By contrast, in the second half of the 1980s, real growth averaged 5.5% (1986-90), a positive result which would have been even better had it not been for Hurricane Hugo in September 1989 which severely damaged the banana and other crops. 'To some extent, people still live by the expectations created by the banana boom in the late 1980's,' explained the island's Development Coordinator, Cary Harris. 'That was when the pound was strong and we got good prices in our traditional UK markets. The absence of Jamaica from the market also gave us plenty of opportunities.' Despite the quick recovery after Hugo, 1991 saw a reversal of the trend and, in recent years, the worldwide recession combined with the uncertainty hanging over the future of the banana sector is likely to affect Dominica's open and vulnerable economy even more adversely.
Dominica is beautifully endowed by nature, an endowment which offers a basis for further development of ecotourism, but the island is, at the same time, handicapped by its natural environment and in particular by its topography. Only about 30% of the total land area is suitable for agriculture and as one drives around the attractive countryside one can only marvel at the steepness of the slopes which farmers endeavour to cultivate. Unfortunately, the result of such efforts may be soil erosion.
Overall, Dominica has a narrow resource base although it does have limited hydroelectric potential. It has to cope with the problems of a small domestic market, high infrastructure costs and poor transport, notably as regards air access. Lying, as it does, in the hurricane belt, it is susceptible to natural disasters. And, as mentioned earlier, it is heavily dependent on a single crop-bananas- over whose future it has no control. A blunt assessment of the position can be found in an official report which states that 'geographical circumstances will always keep Dominica at the lower end of the prosperity stakes.' But perhaps this is a little too blunt. Dominica may not have the prospect of acquiring untold wealth but it has quite a lot of things in its favour: as a developing country, it has no need to pass any democratic test (unlike many others), it has no real military expenditure commitments as it has no army and it does not, for practical reasons, have any expensive prestige projects. What it does have, beyond a remarkable natural environment, is a well-educated population with a leadership that makes it quite clear to the people that 'the world doesn't owe us a living'. What Dame Eugeniatells her people is this: 'If we are to make progress and survive in what is becoming an increasingly hostile environment, we must work together and find ways and means of improving our performance in the various areas of economic activity.'
Reducing dependence on bananas in the long-term, by expanding the economic base and promoting diversification, will depend greatly on the emergence of home-grown entrepreneurship. Mr Davies is convinced that 'investment will have to be Dominican before anything else'. The problem is, how does one 'produce' entrepreneurs? Some in the traditional private sector have already successfully expanded into other sectors, such as soaps and lotions, but, overall, there is a lack of the managerial and technical skills which are needed for entrepreneur-led expansion. As Charles Maynard, who is Minister for Trade, Industry and Tourism, explained, 'Trying to convince emigrant Dominicans to return and invest back home is part and parcel of our investment strategy'. There are approximately 50 000 Dominicans in the UK and a similar number in the USA. Many of them have the experience as well as the savings and/or pensions to fill the local 'voids'. Minister Maynard enumerates as some of the main incentives for investment the combination of a stable political climate with an adaptable labour force, and in physical terms, the availability of water which also provides a relatively cheap source of energy in the form of hydro-power. In his view, there are many investment opportunities still available in the wider tourism and tourism-related service industries, as well as in agro-industries.
Access, whether by air or sea, is obviously vital for putative investors, both local and foreign. Recently, there has been considerable criticism of the steep rise in port charges, which threatens to hamstring entrepreneurs. As is often the case on islands such as this, stevedores and longshoremen can effectively hold their country to ransom. The efficiency of port operations is unlikely to be optimum, while charges for stevedores push up price levels overall. As regards sea transport, this situation exists in most of the Caribbean islands, but Dominica also has special problems in respect of air access. Today, it is difficult to find a politician or businessman who is not preoccupied by the airport issue. Their central complaint is over the lack of a 24hour airport facility capable of handling larger aircraft. Dominica currently has two airstrips. Canefield, which is near the capital Roseau, takes I 9-seat Twin Otters while Melville Hall, which is 60 km to the north, can only handle planes of up to 50seat capacity. Neither is properly equipped for take-offs or landings at night.
Getting to and from Dominica is very likely to involve changing planes in a neighbouring island. Loss of time, the risk of missing connections, luggage or produce going astray-all of these are obvious handicaps which hinder trade. Just imagine one's fresh, perishable produce missing its vital connection or a potential foreign investor stranded at an intermediate airport at a time when the maxim 'time is money' has never been more powerful. Most air services to Dominica are currently provided by the regional carrier LIAT. However laudable their efforts in providing regular services on time, they face quite a challenge in operating in the scattered Caribbean archipelago-operations which necessarily involve constant island hopping. The many jokes which are made at LIAT's expense ('leave island any time', 'luggage in any terminal', 'look immediately for alternative transport'...) point, in a light-hearted way, to what is nonetheless a serious problem.
The effects of not having a 24-hou. airport have already been felt directly, for example in the closure of a data-processing plant. This happened because too much time was being lost in getting the processed data out. Some processed agricultural products have also suffered from the need to transship while, according to Dominican sources, the loss of investment cannot be underestimated. According to Alleyne Carbon, who is Minister for Communications, Works and Housing; 'The only way for us to diversify successfully and therefore to survive economically is to find grant funding to finance a new, 24-hour accessible airport for medium-sized aircraft.' His colleagues in Trade and Agriculture, and presumably in other departments as well, couldn't agree more. But given the particular problems of topography, any infrastructural investment of this kind is bound to involve high unit costs. To give just one example: it costs EC$10.5 million ('In loan funding, as grants are hard to come by these days,' stresses Minister Carbon) to bring water (even if it is omnipresent) to three communities totalling a mere 9600 people. The airport, for which a site has been identified and surveyed in the north, at Woodford Hill, carries a total price tag of EC$700 million. To put this figure into perspective, the total amount budgeted in the 1991 public sector investment programme was only EC$75.8 million! The basic problem, as mentioned earlier, is that flat terrain is very scarce so a massive landfilling operation is required. Dame Eugenia, on good terms with the US administration since the 1983 Grenada crisis, secured a firm promise from President Bush that the US Army Corps of Engineers would undertake the earthmoving work. This would have the effect of reducing the total cost of the new airport to about EC$366 million. The Gulf War meant that the Corps of Engineers was called upon to display its skills on a rather different 'battle ground' and, while remaining confident that the new Clinton administration will eventually honour the commitment, the Dominican Government is currently facing a 'chicken and egg' situation in its attempts to secure financing for the airport. Most donors are hesitant-although some are moving away from a flatly negative attitude-believing that the scale of the undertaking is out of proportion to the expected benefits. The Government remains convinced that the project is an unavoidable necessity. They point out that infrastructure projects which were said at the outset to tee 'too big' frequently had difficulties, shortly after opening, in matching their capacity to rising demand. Most donors, they assert, tend to underestimate the likely impact of new activities. A classic example to illustrate this is the well-maintained network of surfaced feeder roads which crisscross the valleys and slopes. According to Minister Carbon, 'If we had stuck to the regular parameters to calculate the internal rate of return of these roads, without taking into account our rugged terrain and high average rainfall, we would have been stuck with gravel roads fit for transport with horses and donkeys but hardly for pick-ups collecting crops for exports! Fortunately, the EC was forthcoming and understood our special needs, so that today we have an excellent feeder road network-mostly with privatised maintenance-which not only serves our farmers, but fits in nicely with our tourism sector too.' Given the passions which the airport issue arouses, and the frequency with which it comes to the fore in any discussion of local political issues, it is a story that looks likely to run and run.
Survival through negotiation
Convincing donors to come up with the necessary funding will depend on effective negotiating skills. As regards bananas and the wider issue of trade, such skills will be even more crucial. 'Our ability to survive at a time when trade has become such a crucial issue will directly depend on our negotiating ability,' stresses Minister Maynard. In his view, 'the very survival of this region requires us to negotiate as a Caribbean entity where key decisions should be taken at the regional or subregional level.' From a global perspective he emphasises that 'small countries have a right to exist, and free trade per se should not be allowed to wipe us out.'
Today Dominica is certainly forced to monitor actively a number of situations related to free trade, and this puts quite a strain on its limited human resources. Closer to home, there is the issue of trade relations with the US, with the latter seeking a lowering of the Caricom Common External Tariff. As Minister Maynard stressed, 'The pace is very important to us and can hamper us a lot. De facto, the US applies many non-tariff barriers, under the influence of certain powerful lobbies, and these make it very difficult for us to enter the US market.' Also, from an investment and traderelated point of view, the new NAFTA agreement has already been 'eroded'- just as the Caribbean Basin Initiative was 'eroded', in the eyes of many Caribbean spokemen. Some say that NAFTA even poses a threat to US investments in the Caribbean, as Mexico now appears 'the place to be'-close to the market and with abundant cheap labour. To add to the geographical constraints, there is the prevailing 'just-in-time' industrial philosophy which has already been detrimental to a number of US investments in the Caribbean, for instance in electronics.
Within Caricom itself, there is still considerable scope for expanding trade. Only about 10% of the total trade of Caricom countries is currently intraregional. The region's integration process certainly seems to have been given new impetus since the far-reaching West Indian Commission Report was published and the new Caricom Bureau became effective. Also close to home is the trade potential offered by French neighbours Martinique and Guadeloupe and that could be usefully exploited further.
Most attention, however, is focused on more distant markets. Dominica has closely to monitor events on the banana 'warfront' both in the European Community and in the wider GATT arena. Dominica is one of the ACP banana suppliers which has traditionally enjoyed preferential access to the EC market under the Lome Banana Protocol. The island's fruit is sold, mostly in the UK and Italy, as 'Five Isles' Windwards bananas, being marketed together with the bananas of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada ('Four Isles', while being more accurate, was apparently considered to be unsuitable for marketing purposes!)... The EC's banana market, with a total annual consumption of 3.7 m tonnes in 1992, is a complicated one characterised by considerable fragmentation. There are those Member States-France, Spain. Portugal, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom-who either produce bananas themselves (often in island territories such as Guadaloupe, Martinique, the Canary Islands, Madeira and Crete) or have their traditional ACP suppliers. The latter are those who have, or have had, a regular flow of supplies to one or other Member State of the Community and they include places such as Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroun, Cape Verde, Madagascar, Somalia, the Windward Islands, Belize, Suriname and Jamaica (there are also non-traditional ACP suppliers such as the Dominican Republic). Broadly speaking, these producers have, for a variety of reasons, high production costs combined with low productivity. The other EC Member States traditionally buy 'dollar' bananas-so-called because their production and trade is almost totally controlled by US fruit multinationals. These imports were subject to a 20% levy, with one vital exception- Germany, which could import its total consumption of dollar bananas without any levy. However, the entry into force of the EC's Single Market on I January of this year meant that a new arrangement was needed for bananas, involving the ending of market partitioning within the Community. It was bound to be a problematic exercise given the intricacy of the existing trade relations. As expected, there were heated arguments; so heated in fact that nowadays, metaphorically speaking, commenting at all on the issue resembles going for a walk in Bosnia. You get shot at from all sides!
On 17 December 1992, the EC Agriculture Ministers finally bit the bullet when they agreed on a new banana quota system that would regulate imports to the EC from I July 1993. The details of the regime were subsequently hammered out by the EC Council and published in a Regulation in February 1993. The decision in December was reached by majority vote, a fact which is significant since Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands opposed the scheme. Without going into too much detail, the key points of the new system are as follows: the EC's own producers and its traditional ACP suppliers are allowed to continue selling their usual quantities of bananas on the EC market without levy; other imports-in effect, mostly 'dollar' bananas -are subject to a global tariff quota of 2 m tonnes with an ECU 100 levy per tonne (except for non-traditional ACP suppliers who effectively do not have to pay the levy, since they receive an ECU 100 rebate); above that quota, a 'punitive' tariff of ECU 850 per tonne will be applied (except for any ACP supplier operating in this market bracket and who, again, will benefit from an ECU 100 rebate).
As soon as the content of the new market regulation was known to the media, fierce arguments broke out and the dust has yet to settle. The 'Latins', hand in glove with their US fruit company partners, seize every available opportunity to attack the new regime- not surprisingly since, in 1991, they exported 2.4 million tonnes of bananas to the Community. Germany is also reluctant to accept the consequences of the new deal, fearing a substantial price rise for its banana-craving population. The banana regime has therefore been subjected to a two-pronged challenge-from Germany in the European Court and from Latin American producers before a GATT panel. On both sides, the arguments have spilled over from the purely economic into socio-political issues. The spectre of increased drug production as a possible alternative for banana growers has been raised. Some have even chosen to characterise the controversy as a human rights battle, portraying the ACP/EC banana interests in a positive light as compared with the allegedly poor social conditions of workers in the big Latin-American plantations.
A double challenge
The argument is clearly not over and as for the final outcome, only time will tell. But from a strictly Dominican point of view, the importance of continued guaranteed access to the EC banana market cannot be underestimated. For Dominicans it is, in the economic sense, quite simply a matter of life and death. Given the overwhelming role of bananas, not only in the economy, but in wider Dominican society, it is not difficult to understand the insistence with which they present their cases. Banana exports represent almost 60% of total domestic exports and are responsible for one fifth of GDP. Last year 60 896 tonnes were produced by some 6000 growers, not counting several thousand casual labourers. 58 024 tonnes were exported, worth a total of EC$ 82 million. Last year, Winban banana exports to Europe totalled 275 000 tonnes, of which more than 82% were sold in the UK while the remainder went to Italy. As Agriculture Minister Maynard Joseph put it: 'Two out of every three Dominicans profit from the dollar that comes from bananas because banana farming and exporting has such a tremendous spill-over effect on our whole economy. Failing to get the historic decision of 17 December 1992 would have been a slap in the face no Latin would suffer from as badly.'
Over and above the key issue of whether the new banana regime will hold under the heavy 'enemy' assault and the resulting uncertainty it has cast in people's minds and hearts on Dominica, there is in fact no time to lose in facing up to the challenges posed by the new regime itself. The challenge is in fact twofold: growers here should strive to raise both their productivity and the average quality of their fruit. Spokesmen both from the Banana Growers Association (BOA) and from the Dominica Banana Marketing Corporation (DBMC) agree that with concerted efforts, both quality and productivity can be raised. BGA Acting Executive Secretary Clifford St. Vill stressed the importance of 'making farmers understand it is not fait accompli to be on the market, they must be aware of what goes on in those markets. Germany and the GATT keep the farmers pounding their heads to diversify, but nothing is as yet as profitable, nor provides such a regular income, as bananas.' Current average production is only about 5-6 tonnes per acre, yet pushing it up to about 10 tonnes per acre seems feasible to him if farmers learn to manage their production better, paying the necessary attention and putting the required amount of time into every aspect of it: regular distribution of fertilisers, careful selection of the 'follower' limiting the number of 'stickers', proper maintenance of fields, cutting down weeds, covering bunches in plastic for protection, careful clustered packing and transport etc.
DBMC General Manager Gregory Shilling ford referred, in this context, to the problem 'of extending better production practices to a large number of small farmers.' He stressed that 'quality and presentation will become key parameters in a highly competitive market. While we as Winban suppliers now know our quota of A-grade bananas-a total of 294 000 tonnes, of which 71 000 tonnes is Dominica's share - there remains much uncertainty over the prices that will prevail for our produce; the UK was traditionally a high price market which will certainly attract Latin American competition. All parties concerned by our industry, be they the growers, government, DBMC or Geest, have agreed that it must restructure to meet the new challenges and match the quality of the competitors.' Farmers seem to have understood the state of the quality play and in the first months of this year their concerted efforts have pushed quality ratings into the top brackets. As Agriculture Minister Joseph put it, 'Farmers really impressed me by their response to the high quality standards.' Quality ratings have indeed gone up and use of the so-called cluster packing technique (packing boxes with clusters of 5-9 'fingers' of banana, instead of full 'hands' of 14 fingers, stabilises fruit during transport) which is often a determining factor in delivering quality fruit to consumers, has sharply risen-from only 26% of total banana exports at the end of 1992 to 55% in April 1993. By 1 July all fruit was to be cluster-packed.
The Windward Islands banana exporters have a common research and marketing organisation, Winban, which negotiates on their behalf the terms of the exclusive contract held by Geest (a UK multinational) for marketing the crop in Europe. Both Winban and Geest face criticism from different quarters. The growers, through the DGA, feel that 'Winban's current structure is not fit to do its work' and that Geest 'is reaping off the profits, but we are nevertheless condemned to work with them'. The DBMC argues, 'There may be the perception that Winban has not completely lived up to expectations and is under fire, yet Winban in its defence argues that it made a great gain in pushing its share of the green wholesale price up from 40% to 60%.'
Describing the relationship with Geest as a love/hate one may be too strong a statement. Enjoying an exclusive marketing contract since the late 1950s, Geest has certainly done well, but as it is not in the business for charity but for profit, who can blame it? In Dominica, as in the other Winban partners, there is a certain amount of frustration, however, over who gets what share of the cake. The general opinion seems to be that they 'missed the boat'-quite an irony in a place where the weekly call of the Geest banana boat is so vital-of sharing the considerable profits Geest is making in the shipping and marketing of the fruit. This too is an issue that will depend upon the negotiating skills of the parties concerned, bearing in mind that all have a solid interest in fighting for the survival and long-term viability of the sector. (It is worth underlining the fact that while the Winban quota provides a guaranteed market, it also, by definition, represents a ceiling on expansion with obvious implications when input prices increase.)
Some note with a jaundiced eye that Geest has also a foot in the Latin camp, having acquired a Costa Rican plantation. 'In fact, in the three months since the details of the new regime became known, Geest shares have jumped from 66p a share to 474p a share,' observed Mr Shillingford. By contrast, he claimed that DBMC had lost EC$5 million in 1992 and that by early April prices had been below break-even for no fewer than 39 weeks in succession! Despite the apparent dichotomy, many are nevertheless convinced that a close partnership with Geest continues to be in Dominica's overall interests.
Agricultural diversification and eco-tourism
The banana war has certainly raised awareness of and interest in possible alternative uses for bananas. A whole variety of products are under consideration: making banana flour, using the fruit as animal feed (to cut down current imports), using banana stems for cloth, producing rope from the dried stock, making high-protein jam from the flower, manufacturing banana chips, liqueur, puree and so on... not to mention banana porridge, on which many Dominicans have been raised!
The new banana situation is, of course, also a further incentive to diversification with a view to reducing the country's dependence on its dominant crop. In such a predominantly agricultural economy, it is the farmers and agro-processors to whom one looks for results. Coconuts (for soaps and lotions), passion fruit, grapefruit, root crops, ginger and avocados are some of the crops being actively promoted (or in some cases rehabilitated). While Geest plays a role here too, by providing cargo space in its banana boats for other products, one again stumbles unavoidably on the airport issue. Film buffs who remember Dominica's role in the 'Orchid House' will not be surprised to discover that the country has potential for exporting flowers such as anthuriums, ginger lilies and of course orchids. The problem is that, together with other perishable crops destined for niche markets, they face a stop-over in Antigua. This increases the risk of a loss in quality-even with the refrigeration facility available there-and, of course, additional costs.
Agriculture is closely tied in with tourism here. Virtually all the tourist spots are in farming areas and the excellent feeder road network provides access to visitors which allows increased possibilities for on-farm sales. Much of the diversification in terms of vegetable and flower production has also been geared towards the hotels and restaurants. Agriculture Minister Joseph wondered 'what really stayed in a country as a result of tourism, considering what has happened in a lot of neighbouring tourism-based countries, where the cost of living as well as the cost to society has risen, and the quality of life has gone down.' There is little reason to fear that those in Dominica who are directly involved in tourism will push it too far. The island is not competing in the 'sun, sea and sand' bracket, but has its own attractions-which are atypical for the Caribbean region: nature above all, with a bit of history and a dash of nohurry, no-worry life style (the whole island boasts only a single set of traffic lights). It calls for a different type of clientele altogether; one that is not particularly in search of a tan lazily acquired on the beach, followed by long nights of disco dancing but whose preference is, perhaps, for mountain-hiking in a breathtaking setting followed by a refreshing shower under a waterfall.
At a time when the environment is so much an 'in' subject Dominica clearly has what it takes to attract nature lovers, bird or whale watchers, hikers and divers. Its still relatively unspoilt character makes it a destination which is out of the ordinary but which also raises a well-known problem: how much tourism can nature tolerate before it deteriorates in such a way as to deter the type of tourist which it caters for?
The Director of Tourism, Marie-Jose Edwards, revealed that a study was being undertaken, 'in cooperation with the forestry division, to examine the maximum carrying capacity. But,' she continued, 'we are far from reaching our limits because of the bottlenecks caused by access. It is obvious, however, that if we destroy our nature in the broader sense, then we will have nothing else to market.' Tourism as a business is fairly new to the Dominican scene, at least from the point of view of active promotion. Last year overall visitor arrivals totalled 57 700, of which almost 47 000 were stayover tourists, the remainder being excursionists. Most tourists come from the Caribbean (57%), specifically the French West Indies, while the other main markets are Europe (21%) and the USA (16%). Stop-over tourists spent an average of US$ 65 per day. The opening of the new Cabrits Cruise Ship Berth in the north, combined with the berth near Roseau, which is to be renovated, has led to a steep rise in cruise ship arrivals: from 130 calls and 65 000 passengers in 1991 to 189 calls and 90 000 passengers a year later. Again the main attraction is not the classic Caribbean duty-free shopping, but eco-tourism.
Growth in available rooms will be controlled, rising gradually from the current 570 units to 640 by the end of this year. The target is for 740 units by the end of 1995. Minister Maynard felt there is also a need for at least one hotel with conference facilities; a Taiwanese investment seems to be in the pipeline in this context, which is linked, in fact, to the notion of economic citizenship (foreign investors, mainly Asian, can acquire citizenship given a certain amount of investment in the country).
Other national assets such as sulphur springs could constitute the basis for further tourist specialisation e.g. in the form of a health spa in combination with local fruit juices and hiking/jogging in natural surroundings. Some niche markets have already been very successfully 'tapped': 'In the space of four years we were able to put ourselves at the forefront of the world scuba diving community, raising the numbers of divers from 400 to more than 2200,' emphasised Ms Edwards. A rich marine life, combined with caves and shipwrecks and the prospect of a 'champagne dive' to marvel at hot underwater sulphur springs, has proven to be another winning combination. There is particular appreciation of the European Community's support for tourism, which is provided on a regional basis at two levels-through the OECS and in a wider Caribbean context through the Caribbean Tourism Organisation. Combined efforts in marketing, training and product development have helped to give Dominica its own particular spot on the world tourism map.
Fully conscious that 'the world doesn't owe it a living', Dominica spares no effort in the drive to reduce its dependence on bananas. While seeking to become an even more efficient quality banana producer, because that is what nature condemned it to be, it is also diversifying wherever it can. A democratic society which enjoys good governance, this small middle-income developing country certainly does not deserve to take a tumble on the banana skin that could be dropped in its path by blind defenders of free trade principles.
Roger DE BACKER
Bananas: The real issue is the survival of our country'
A recently published biography entitled 'Eugenia - The Caribbean's Iron Lady ' may refer to the Dominican Prime Minister's nickname acquired in the aftermath of the 1983 Grenada crisis, but in the meantime the lady has become a 'Dame'. A lawyer by training and a successful barrister thereafter, planter's daughter Eugenia Charles stepped into the country's very lively political arena in the late 1960s as leader of the newly created Dominican Freedom Party. In 1975 she was elected for the first time as a Member of Parliament. In the 1980 election, the first following independence in 1978, she led her DFP to a landslide victory, winning 17 of the 21 seats. The Dominican Labour Party, which had been in power for almost two decades, lost all of its seats, a fact some found difficult to swallow, as was clear from the failed coup by the former Labour Prime Minister in the following year. This earned him a 12-year prison sentence.
The Caribbean 's first woman Prime Minister came to the international forefront in 1983. As chair of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States at that time, she stood on the White House steps with US President Reagan to pledge full support for the American intervention in Grenada.
While her nickname dates back to those days, she remains the epitome of political firmness but always with the best interests of Dominica in mind. In the 1990 election she was reconfirmed for a third - and last, she says - five-year term, although her parliamentary majority has been reduced to only one seat. Today, Dame Eugenia Charles, who is in her early seventies, is more resolved than ever to win one last, decisive battle: securing Dominica's future in the banana trade and industry, which is both the country's lifeline and the basis for any further diversification.
· Dominica is said to have changed dramatically since the time you came to power in 1980.
-Well, we don't notice the changes because we are living it every day and there is so much more to do. You don't feel anything has happened.
· But what would you describe as being your principal achievement since then?
-We have put some infrastructure into place. Thanks to the EDF,
for instance, we have been able to do something about our roads, which were in
an appalling state. In fact, I refused to promote tourism when we first came in
because I thought that it was unfair to ask anyone to drive on the roads that we
had. Once we had done that, we felt tourism was the second industry that we
look at, to try to gain some employment from it. We also brought electricity to the east coast and that led on to the establishment of a good overall telephone system. But, while we have managed to achieve some results in communications, we still have not done enough regarding air or sea transport, and we recognise that these two sectors need further improvement.
· One of your main priorities was to diversify in order to lessen your dependence on bananas. How far have you got?
- Sometimes we feel we haven't achieved anything and at other times we see that some things have happened. But what gives us a negative impression overall is that we don't really command the market. There have been occasions when we have diversified into a crop that looks promising but then the market has fallen away and the grower feels let down. He does not understand that we don't control the market, and that we always have to anticipate the way it is going to go. And of course, that is something that can change pretty rapidly. You can be left out in the cold, because you have been preparing for a particular market only to find that it has changed in the meantime or that there are other countries that can produce much more cheaply than we can.
· So market data and market assessment are vital at all times?
-Yes, but the problem we have had is that even the data and the assessments change so quickly. We started producing a very fine type of ginger-everybody thinks it is a good product-but then somebody else comes along who can produce it at a lower cost, or who is so keen to win markets that he is willing to trade at a loss. That is something we cannot do because all our farming is small peasant farming, and the farmer can't afford to take a loss of any kind. When you have large estates, then you are in a position to sell below cost for a while until things pick up again. But small peasant farming doesn't allow for that kind of marketing adventure.
· Would you agree with some critics who say that the banana boom of the mid and late 1980s put you in a relatively comfortable position, and psychologically prevented you from embarking on further diversification?
-The farmer, even during the socalled boom, has always felt he has not earned enough money for his bananas, so it didn't put him in a comfortable position. What makes the farmer want to continue with bananas is the fact that the marketing and shipping is well secured. He knows that every week, a banana boat will drop anchor in the harbour and every banana he has produced has a marketable export value and will be taken away. So that is the assurance that keeps him producing bananas. It is not possible for the moment to get any such assurance for any other crop. Whenever we talk to him about change, he will tell us: 'I have five acres in bananas. You tell me to put one acre in something else. How do I know when the time comes that I will be able to sell that something else?'
· It is also said that the profits are to be made in marketing and shipping bananas, and that the country has not been able to tap properly into that.
-Well, we are trying. We have been talking for a couple of years now about going into joint ventures with Geest. We hope to have this in place before the end of this year so that we get more of the money from the marketing and shipping than is the case at present. We already get some benefit from the shipping side in that the freight that comes out from the UK on the banana boat is shared among the Windward Islands. We want to do more of this, also from the point of view of shipping out of the islands, and so we are working with Geest to have some share of these profits. We think that, with all the changes that are happening now in the banana world, we can't just forge ahead on our own. There are too many risks involved. We should use the familiarity we have with this particular agent to work together to get more benefit.
· Is it correct to describe the relationship with Geest as a sort of love/hate one in which you are condemned to work together?
- We aren't condemned to work together. Had we taken the step twenty years ago, we could perhaps have gone out on our own, but with what is happening on the European market now, I think we must avoid taking too many risks. We need to secure our position. We realise that Geest is a private company and they are looking after their interests. Their business is to make profit, not to be charitable to people, and so we have to be very firm in our negotiations with them to secure the best deal that we can.
· Despite the Banana Agreement which gives you access to the European market, there is still a distinct feeling of insecurity in the country; a sense of not being sure about what is going to happen next.
-The people in your media have put over the Latins' point of view so much that even our farmers are getting to know that the Latins think they will be able to break that agreement. That is what this insecurity is about. There is the threat of the GATT negotiations and the threat of legal action by the Germans and this is frightening the farmer here. All of this is of course bad for business.
Everybody watches CNN; everybody knows what is happening and, of course, farmers often listen to the radio to hear the news from Caribbean stations and from the BBC. We hear all those declarations from different quarters and I suppose we don't have a big enough voice to put our ideas over on the radio as often as they do. But we keep telling the farmer that if he can produce excellent quality bananas consistently, then he will continue to have a place on the market.
· How do you yourself value the Banana Agreement as it stands?
-Well, it is not what we wanted. We felt that the Latins should never have been allowed more than 1.4 million tonnes in the first place, because that was what they were producing before the Berlin Wall fell. They boosted their production knowing this time was coming, so they started supplying more than 2 million tonnes. Now they have got 2 million which I really think is too much, but I am prepared to live with it because I feel both sides of the region have to live. Yet they are not prepared to live with it because, even if they don't mention it, they just feel we should not be in the banana business at all. They would like to throw us out completely, knowing very well that if they succeeded in doing that, they would be throwing out the country altogether; they would be destroying the lives of 72 000 people, but they don't care about that.
· So you are talking about the survival of the country...
-Yes, that is the real issue here; the survival of our country. The Latins are talking about losing some million dollars. We might not just be losing dollars, we might be losing a country too. I don't think that any European country, having gone through all the wars they went through, can want that to happen to a small island like ours.
· What other types of' diversification outside the agricultural sector do you see as having a potential?
-Tourism is the one we are looking at most. I don't think that eco-tourism goes together with charters. We want people to come here who like the country, to make friends with the people here and to come back eventually for that reason. So we are not talking of mass tourism. I don't think we are ready for that or that we will ever be ready for it. I would hope not. But I think there is money to be made out of tourists who enjoy what we have to offer -our people and our nature-and I think we must work increasingly on this. In the line of sports, for instance, there is a lot to be done: this is a good country for hiking and for those who like outdoor life. These could be tourists who can't spend a lot of money but they do bring a new vision into the place and it is good for us to have that sort of tourism.
But we think also that light industry is something we should look at. I have always said I don't want factories to come in and employ 2000 people, because factories eventually close down. This has happened throughout history. And to have 2000 people out of work at the same time in Dominica would be very bad for the country. So we want small factories employing 300-400 people, making something that you can sell elsewhere; something small and clean. We are not going to open factories that are going to pollute the air or the water.
We think that we can also do a lot more in fishing, not only on a commercial basis but also for feeding ourselves. At the moment we are far too dependent on the importation of protein from outside. So, it would be a good thing if we could develop a fishing industry. We have an agreement at last with the European Community in this area and we hope that this will help us. First of all, it will give extra training to our people. We want them to be trained to go into better boats so that they can stay out fishing longer. It is not only very important for our foreign exchange but also for our health. We really should be able to pull this off with the sea surrounding us.
· Whatever spokesman you meet from the different sectors, you always end up hearing about the new airport. Apparently you had a verbal agreement with the previous US administration for part of the vorks. What is the situation here?
-Well, they were interested in it, and still are. We will be talking about it with them very soon. We have not asked for cash, because many countries are not able for the time being to give large sums of money, but we want them to use their US Army Corps of Engineers to do some of the work for us. If they could level the site of the airport, it would halve the cost for us. That in itself would help us to get other countries to support us further. We are not looking for a strip for wide body planes. We want a long distance, 24-hour airstrip, that we can light up. That would help us greatly in further enhancing our diversification. We want to be able, for instance, to get our flowers out. That is one of the sectors we could diversify into. Today, to send flowers to Antigua and hope they get off the ground without getting scorched is asking for a lot; some people are doing it and some of them are succeeding but with a lot of headaches. There are a lot of other exotic things which should go, but by air. So that airport is not only for tourism; it is for industry and trade as well. Also, if we want industry here, obviously we are talking about somebody who already has business in another country. Nobody is going to build a factory here if he can't get in and out of the country easily, which is not the case today.
· But the cost of building a new airport is so high compared to the size of the economy. Many feel that it is too big a project.
-Yes, I know that some donors say this, but it is a step we must take if we want to be able to have the growth we need. And we can't achieve that with the existing two small airstrips. We will never make a fortune on the new airport, but without it we won't get investment which will result in job creation and foreign exchange revenue.
· As one of the longest serving political leaders in the Caribbean, you have witnessed many attempts to achieve breakthroughs at regional level, be it with Caricom, the Windward Islands or the OECS. Is there still a lack of political will to establish meaningful regional cooperation?
- Caricom is finally taking hold of itself. It has recently really started to look at the things we can do together. I think it is wrong for Caricom to think in terms of an integrated country. You only need to look at how long it is taking Europe. That can be a lesson for us here. But I think that Caricom has begun to show where the weaknesses are so that it can begin to strengthen and restructure its own Secretariat and improve the way they run it. I must say we are very fortunate to have Edwin Carrington as our Secretary General because he had a lot of experience with the ACP, when he had to pull together a lot more people than is the case in Caricom. I believe we are making major strides now because there is the will to do it. Looking at what is happening in the broader context, we cannot stay isolated. We have to get together on many issues if we are to get things done, even if it doesn't mean becoming one country.
· There was a very good report from the West Indian Commission, but many of its key proposals were not adopted.
-We did not accept all the proposals because there is a cost to all of these things and accepting them all would have meant that we had to find a lot of money. So we took the ideas from it and looked at how we could restructure the Secretariat to achieve reasonable results.
· What do you think of the new Caricom Bureau?
I think it is going to work; in fact, it has already worked. However, I have suggested a refinement. I think we should divide the islands so as to give each of the three members of the Bureau responsibility for three or four of them. He would then make it his business to get things done on time.
· On another level, there are also attempts to enhance cooperation based on solidarity between the smaller islands: the OECS which, unlike Caricom, already has a monetary union. There are those in the Windward Islands who want political union. Do you think that we might soon see a breakthrough in this area?
-I am not sure that we are going to get the Windward Islands to unite politically because I don't think people are ready for it. I am one of those who have always said that there is no way we will go ahead with this unless the people concerned really want it themselves. They must not just accept it from their leaders; they themselves must want it. I think we have to proceed with further integration in many more areas. I think we must have an integrated police force, for instance, because having a small police force in one island makes it difficult sometimes to discover what is really happening. In education, too, a lot more could be done. In fact our aid donors look at it that way too and want to help us here because they realise there are not enough experts, not enough qualified people here for every island to go its own way.
· On the international level you are increasingly being confronted with economic blocs, such as the new North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) . Given the widespread disappointment in the Caribbean over the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) in the past, how do you feel about NAFTA in the future?
-I have no hope that NAFTA will be of any use to us, but then I did not think that the CBI would be of any use either. I said so at the time: that we didn't have the infrastructure to get a real grip and make use of the CBI. But I believe that what was good about the CBI is that the American Administration discussed it with us beforehand. For the first time, the US as an aid donor asked us how we felt they should go about it and, as a result, we were able to get some measures into the CBI which we had never had before from the United States. But I have always argued that the CBI was meant for countries that already have a platform to take off from. Essentially, therefore, it would be places like Jamaica, Trinidad and some of the Latin countries that would benefit from it. Of course, I have always felt that we should not be lumped together with the Latin countries because they are too large, their problems are different and their economies are also too different from ours. We really require a specific initiative tailored to our small scale and our particular requirements. So both at the level of Caricom and the OECS, we must look more and more at what our likenesses are and try to put them together to give us strength.
· NAFTA sets out to achieve reciprocal trade liberalisation. This, presumably, could be to the detriment of smaller countries?
-Oh yes, it may hurt us and I don't think it is going to help us small countries. Of course, we have to keep our eyes open for any opportunity, but I don't think we are really going to be able to take advantage of it. After all, we have free trade with the EC and we are not getting a lot out of this because so many of us produce the same things and even some of the members of the Communtiy have offshoots of their countries that produce those same things.
· Talking about the European Community, it is sometimes said that you are 'in the heart of France', situated as you are, between Guadeloupe and Martinique.
-France has been very good to us and we get a lot of assistance from them. I think France recognises that we are a close cousin but not a brother and so we have assistance. I think it is to France's benefit to make sure that we do not fall far behind the French islands. We still have a lot of scope for enhancing trade with the DOMs. Sometimes difficulties arise with them, but I believe we are able to come to a solution whereby we are able to market our goods in Guadeloupe and Martinique without detriment to French farmers.
· As far as the EEC at large is concerned, how do you view Lome cooperation so far and how do you see it evolving?
-It has been very good so far but I feel that Lome IV has tightened up a lot, making it more difficult for things to come through. I very much fear that this is a sort of preview of what may happen if there is a Lome V. But we have, nevertheless, benefited a great deal from Lome. There are a lot of things that would not have happened here without the Lome agreement. I have always felt that the EDF is among the quickest donors in delivering aid. Once you have agreed on what the facilities and the programmes are, and what you are going to do with them, they are among the quickest. We have some feeder roads here that the EDF can be proud of. Each of them is also a tourist route, perhaps not planned that way, but Dominica is so beautiful anyway, that as soon as you go inland you have so much to see. We have had some other very good schemes, such as the microprojects, and I hope they will continue because they are very important for the community; they add a new dimension to life in the village
· You have said that this will be your last term in office.
-Yes, definitely. After 15 years, I think I've done my share.
· What sort of Dominica do you dream of leaving behind you?
- I would like a Dominica where everybody has employment, everybody has work to do. I would like everybody to have housing, not necessarily luxurious but providing the basic needs-running water, sewage systems and electricity. If you have those two things you have a peaceful and happy country.
· But the resource base of the country is so small...
-We only have people, land and water and we must do much more with our water.
· The economy itself is supported by only 20 000-30 000 people.
- Our workforce is about 22 000. There is an unemployment
problem among young people who have been educated to secondary school level.
They find it difficult to find a job. It has a lot to do with attitude and we
have a lot to do to change that. Secondary education does not automatically give
you a job in government as many think. Government must keep its numbers down,
given the limited resources, to be able to do other things than just paying
salaries. We have to look at our form of education and the motivation and
attitude we instil in people so they realise that education doesn't just mean
that you end up sitting behind a desk. You must also be educated to be a good
farmer and you must have knowledge of arithmetic and English and of other things
to be able to farm well. It means, for instance, if you want to export to the
French islands as a farmer, you need to know French. Changing people's attitudes
and thinking is not a very easy job to do. But we are trying hard, because
education has to suit the needs of the people and not just a historical way of
Interview by R.D.B.
'The strong must help the weak'
Edison James became Leader of the Opposition in Dominica as a result of the 1990 election when his United Workers Party won six of the 21 seats. He thereby-to the surprise of many-overtook, by a margin of two seats, the 'traditional" opposition Dominica Labour Party, which is the country's oldest political movement. The UWP, by contrast, was established only in 1988. At the same time he helped reduce the overall majority of Dame Eugenia Charles' governing Freedom Party to only one seat. In power since 1980, where she won a landslide victory (virtually wiping out the opposition by winning 17 seats), Dame Eugenia has subsequently seen her majority decline to its current narrow margin. Edison James nevertheless faces a difficult task in challenging the still widespread popularity of the 'Iron Lady' and the control which she exercises over the levers Government. During the election campaign, he confronted her with the UWP slogan of 'Fear no more'. He is also critical of her alleged comment on the narrow outcome of the poll to the effect that she would show little interest in those constituencies that did not vote for her.
A former manager of the Banana Marketing Corporation, Edison James is deeply concerned by the ongoing banana 'issue', which leaves no Dominican untouched. He also insists that he is an 'unequivocal believer in the democratic process', a statement which must be particularly appreciated when one recalls that a former Prime Minister, having lost his seat, was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for a coup attempt whick, fortunately did not succeed.
· Following the last election, you became-to the surprise of many-the Leader of the Opposition, beating the 'classic' opposition by two seats and helping to reduce the Government's overall majority to only one. What is the explanation for this dramatic swing? Was it merely the result of your electoral system?
-If those people who were suprised by the results had been doing their work properly they wouldn't have been suprised, because it was obvious that the Freedom Party was losing ground. Many people were disenchanted with the party; its whole approach and attitude, especially that of its leadership, which displayed arrogance and tried to instil fear in the electorate. So it was obvious that they had become distanced from the people. But it was our view that that disenchantment would not lead to their defeat if it had been left simply to the Labour Party, because people were not prepared to go back to what they had essentially discarded just a few years ago. So we felt we had to present a new image to the population. A group of us got together to examine the situation, and to analyse whether it would be best to try to change things through the existing opposition structure or whether we had to come up with something new. We did a serious analysis of that, examined all the factors and decided-not at the first meeting but a little later on-after talking to people outside our original group of eight or nine, that the best thing to do was to create a new organisation. So in 1988, the United Workers Party was born. We began with a steering committee, which did the initial ground work around July of that year. In October we held our first Convention and by 1990 we faced our first election. In that poll, the Freedom Party Government survived by a mere 26 votes, the margin by which they held the seat which gave them their overall majority of one.
· In a small place like this, if you are talking about macroeconomic policy, can the policies be really different?
- Probably not in terms of macroeconomic policy, but in terms of how you relate to people and how you seek to provide for people, the approach can be very different. We take the view that in this country there will always be relatively strong and relatively weak people and, in the final analysis, the strong must help the weak. While we firmly advocate proper management and a meticulous approach to it, and while we think that efforts should be rewarded, we do not feel that everything must be sacrificed on the altar of profit making.
· Therefore you adopt socialist policies?
-We are not going to get caught up, and we have said this before' in any 'ism', be it capitalism, socialism or anything else. We believe, for instance, where essential services are being privatised in a manner which seeks only to maximise profits, that that is not the best approach. For a long time we had a situation where some public companies, while not functioning properly, had developed a kind of monopoly situation, with consumers crying out for some measure of protection. The point is that if these organisations-these essential services-are put into private hands in this country solely for the purpose of making a profit at all costs, then the weak will need some measure of assistance.
· Can you give a specific example?
-Well, let's take water, for instance. The water authority is being converted into a company with the intention of selling it off. There is also the case of the electricity company and we are hearing talk of the same happening to the national bank.
· Will the electricity company be sold?
-There has been a serious discussion about that.
· So your thesis is that the present government is not mindful enough of the weak?
-Indeed. There are always people who are not able to survive in a competitive situation, so you have to be mindful of them.
· The newspapers are full of the ongoing debate about the banana issue. Do you think it is accurate to portray the Government as pro-Geest while the opposition favours the small farmers?
-The Prime Minister has declared quite unequivocally that she stands shoulder to shoulder with Geest. Our stand is not one of being against Geest. What we are saying is that if our industry is to survive, and if we are not to continue being the hewers of wood and drawers of water, then we must get involved in the lucrative areas of marketing and shipping. This has been articulated by everybody else except Geest and the Prime Minister. And no matter how she tries to camouflage it by suggesting that we are not ready, but that we will probably be ready for it in three years' time, this is just an attempt to mitigate the impact.
· Is this just an opposition claim, or are others saying the same thing?
-A recent Caribbean Development Bank consultancy study has recently recognised that these are areas that our industry can benefit from tremendously. I read this myself in the preliminary report. It is a study on the improvement of the competitiveness of the Windward Islands' banana industry. So it is not a matter of we, the opposition, being against Geest. I want to make that very clear. What we are saying is that we must get involved in those areas. The Geest General Manager was reported in the Saint Lucian press saying that we should not get involved in those areas. What that shows is that we are clearly on different wavelengths on this question, while the Prime Minister is on the same level as Geest.
· So you feel that not enough of the benefits which derive from the banana industry are coming back to the small farmers?
-Much more can, and needs to, come back; much more. There is money in the banana business but the farmers here continue to struggle. We have been told that we have just to concentrate on producing bananas and let somebody else market them, that somebody else being Geest, in our context. But Geest is involved in banana production as well, in Costa Rica. They have shown in their own activities that they do not see the need for a division of labour in this regard, so why should we?
· So it is not just a question of American multinationals, operating in latin America, versus British multinationals?
-The real producers in these Latin American countries are multinational companies like Chiquita, Dole, Geest and Fyffe. It is clear that today, Geest is on both sides of the divide in terms of the Windwards and the Latins. So, for us it is obvious that we must get off-shore, into the shipping and marketing of our produce.
· Aside from the banana issue, what are the other key sectors where you disagree with the approach of the Government?
- We have taken issue with the Government regarding their hands-off approach to the marketing of our agricultural products. The Government's stated position, as articulated by the Prime Minister when addressing farmers in 1991, is that it is not Government's business to look for markets for farmers. We are saying 'It is your business because it is you more than anyone else who are telling the banana growers to diversify.' In fact, the Prime Minister is on record as having said, since before 1980, that we should leave bananas before bananas leave us. So she has told people to diversify. When she was in Taiwan, she declared over the telephone that she now expects growers to go into other crops such as passion fruit, peppers, pumpkins, ginger and so on. There is nothing wrong with farmers going into other crops, whether exclusively or together with bananas, but if these crops are not marketed then it is useless. So we strongly advocate that the Government establish links with private entrepreneurs in the potential market places. We are looking at metropolitan countries such as Canada, America and the UK, where we have Dominicans, Windward Islanders and West Indians. We could establish marketing relations with them and get them moving using whatever facilities are available to the Government. We recognise that governments are not necessarily the best people to be involved in this kind of operation but they are in a position to get things started, to find partners and to develop a team approach.
· Does the Government really disagree with what you say?
-I don't think it is a question of them flatly disagreeing with us. The point is that so far the Prime Minister has said that it is not the Government's business to find markets for farmers. We have been articulating just such an approach for a long time. They have never really come out and opposed it, but I suppose that given the fact that it is us that have challenged them on the subject, some time will need to pass before they move in the direction of taking our advice.
· Do you think they will eventually come around?
-Yes, they are already showing signs of coming around. In fact there is a document-a kind of 'immediate action plan'-which I understand has been produced by some Government technicians and which I am led to believe has received the blessing of Government. In that document they advocate that kind of approach.
· Another big issue that seems to be on everybody's mind, because it has to do with the future of the whole island, is the famous new airport. Is that going to become a political issue as well?
-Well, that is the airport that I am supposed to have stopped. It is said that I prevented that airport from materialising. There are different versions to this. It depends on what mood the Prime Minister is in at a given time and who she is talking to. Sometimes she says I stopped it; at other times she says 'No, they ignored him.' What happened was that, during the election campaign, we wrote a letter to the Americans saying that in the absence of a development plan or any broader perspective, if they were to get involved in the earth moving, as the Prime Minister pretended they were going to do, they would simply be party to an election gimmick. We said in our manifesto that if you seek out partners to engage in such work, you also have to come up with your own contribution and suggest ways of raising the money. When the Government produced their budget after the election, they indicated that they were seeking to raise the local financial component of the airport by embarking on a scheme of selling passports to raise the money: what they called economic citizenship. The Freedom Party stated in their manifesto that the work would begin within a few months. It is now three years since the election and we have seen nothing yet. Of course, it has also been said that the airport did not come into being because the US Army Corps of Engineers went to the Gulf. That is what the Prime Minister said, but the war has been over for quite a while now. Then again, the Americans are now in Somalia...
· Should you come to power, what is your feeling about the airport: does Dominica need it?
-It needs a certain type of airport- one which allows people who come here from Canada, America or wherever to avoid having to change plane en route. It would also be extremely beneficial for us if we were able to put our agricultural produce on a carrier here in Dominica without having to worry about transshipment through Antigua, Barbados or elsewhere. We have indicated that we support the construction of that type of airport facility here. We have always been for that even when our opponents said we were against it, but then that is the game of politics.
· In 1980, the Freedom Party had a landslide victory. Each successive election has seen their majority drop and in 1990 they held on to power by only one seat. If this trend continues you could take power next time.
-I am glad you have noticed that. That is probably why the Prime Minister
is running away. She has declared that she will not be contesting a future election. I think she does not want to be defeated.
· Bearing in mind the recent report of the West Indian Commission, which some refer to as the blueprint for the long-term survival of Caricom, where do you, as a potential future leader of a Caribbean state, think the organisation should go from here?
-It seems to me that when decisions are taken at Caricom level, the people of the different countries concerned are not as involved as they should be. They are not sufficiently informed as to what such decisions might mean to them. Decisions are mostly reached in secret and the Heads of State or Government come back to their countries and find that what they have decided, on behalf of their people, does not enjoy the kind of support that it should enjoy. The politics of the situation then dictates that they must have a second look. I feel that the approach has to be modified. If I were going to take an initiative at a Caricom meeting, I would first seek as broadbased an input as possible in my own country, so that when I entered the negotiations, I was satisfied that I had strong support at home for the proposal which I was putting forward. And where new proposals are presented, we should all go back and talk to our people. Of course there may be proposals which do not require a massive popular input, but in general it is that kind of approach that has hindered implementation. Caricom has, nevertheless, had some successes, however difficult it may be to manage our differences.
· Is it easier to work on the OECS level?
-Even when you come down to the level of the Windwards, you still find there is a lot of work to be done. I believe that in the context of the Windwards and OECS unity, there has to be much more interaction among the people of the different islands. They have to meet each other more and more, so that further unity comes from the bottom rather than from a study carried out over their heads. This kind of feeling and attitude must be built up, so that sometime, somewhere along the line, people come to say 'I am a Windward Islander.' But these sorts of exchanges and interactions among people have not been happening enough up until now.
· What are the other key political issues going to be in the coming months?
-I think the economy. It is still in a tailspin and if you talk to people around the country, nobody seems to know where the next penny is coming from. Much has to be done to stimulate the economy. We have to look for new solutions. We ourselves have some positive proposals which I will be putting forward at the next budget address. We expect that by the middle of this year, we will be able to bring some Dominicans together, both local and from abroad, in a sort of 'think-tank'. The aim of this exercise is to analyse the situation further and to come up with some even more concrete proposals for our economic survival.
· Many of your fellow ACP countries, African ones in particular, are going through a process of democratisation. Coming from a country with a long democratic tradition, are there any hints or tips that you could give them?
-First of all I would say unequivocally that both I and my party believe passionately in the democratic process. I cannot at this point in time conceive of any other system that I would want to subscribe to. I believe that if I am unable to persuade people that they should go along with my thinking, then I have failed, and I should not try to use any other means to get them to do what I want them to do.
· This could not always be said of the whole of the opposition.
-For myself and the United Workers Party that can be said, even if things may have been different as regards other opposition parties in the past.
I also believe in the transparency of Government. Where a matter of national security is involved, then there may be a need, up to a point, to keep your cards close to your chest but, over and above that, the transparency of Government is a matter of principle. I am very worried and concerned when I hear that in so many parts of the world people take power through the barrel of a gun. Coups being coupe, it is difficult to take control and expect to survive. In any case, it is so much better to leave when people ask you than to impose yourself on them against their will.
Interview by R.D.B.
by Philippe DARMUZEY
Dominica and Europe share five centuries of history but less than twenty years of cooperation. A formal cooperation partnership was initiated in 1976 within the framework of the Association between the European Community and its Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). The first EDF-funded operation in Dominica, a programme for the construction of coastal roads, began in July 1977. The road paved the way to the former British OCT's independence in November 1978 and to the accession of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the Lome Convention as a full member of the ACP Group.
The EEC and Dominica have used these 17 years to build a model of cooperation, to jointly define the objectives, adapt the instruments, and decide on the best way of responding to the country's short-term difficulties, long-term challenges and structural constraints. This has taken practical shape in the four Lome Conventions, through the full use of the integrated range of cooperation instruments available to Dominica.
Central to Dominica's economy and to EEC-Dominica cooperation is the banana issue, allegedly a common 'culture' heritage. It embraces both the trade and aid aspects of this cooperation. The banana has been the engine of growth, the determining factor for the definition of Dominica's development policies and economic reforms.
Looking to the future, the combined forces of world trade liberalisation, the Uruguay Round negotiations and the development of the Single European Market all contribute to focusing attention on the traditional link between the economies of Dominica and the Community, and between the banana producers of Dominica and Europe.
Adjusting to the present challenges of competition and economic diversufication is the new ambition at the core of the Lome IV National Indicative Programme and structural adjustment programme in Dominica for the period 1993-95. This is a major challenge, imposing on the partners a shift from the traditional project approach to the more demanding reform-oriented policy dialogue.
The European Community also pursues a genuine dialogue with Dominica on regional cooperation. Regional integration, for a small island economy, party to sub-regional (OECS), regional (CARICOM) or future wider Caribbean groupings such as the proposed Association of Caribbean States, is another type of structural adjustment process. Dominica takes full advantage of the regional cooperation instruments of the Lome Convention and shares with the other ACP partners of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, the Caribbean Community and the Caribbean Forum the benefits of the regional resources of the EDF. This is essential, in the Community's opinion, for Dominica together with its partners of the English, Spanish, French and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, to meet the competition requirements of the large regional trade blocs in the making in Europe, North America (NAFTA) and Latin America. The European Community sees it as its mission to support such a regional integration process.
This regional dimension of EEC-Dominica cooperation has continued to grow over the last twenty years, to the extent that Dominica's Ambassador to Belgium and the European Community is now also the Joint Representative of the Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
How were these basic features of Dominica-EEC cooperation translated into practical action?
Addressing the major constraints to development
Dominica is facing a series of problems typical of small island countries: the small domestic market, seriously limiting industrial opportunities; a narrow resource base; a high per capita cost of economic and social infrastructure; heavy external dependence; and vulnerability to external shocks, including natural disasters, particularly hurricanes.
Production in the agricultural sector is handicapped by the country's topography and lack of economic infrastructure, which limits the availability of land for agriculture to about 30% of the total area. Population pressure is forcing farmers to cultivate steep slopes and this, together with inadequate farming techniques, has resulted in soil erosion. Dominica has shortages of trained manpower at all levels, thus hindering diversification. In implementing EEC-Dominica cooperation agreements, emphasis has been extensively placed on agriculture and rural infrastructure. Special attention is being paid to the two main challenges confronting agriculture, the need to increase the quality and productivity of banana production and to enhance diversification into other crops. Complementary to agricultural support, efforts have also been directed under the Lome IV National Indicative Programme towards supporting Dominica's environmental strategy, especially as regards management capacity, the environmental dimension of rational land use and allocation, deforestation and waste collection, treatment and disposal.
Taking full advantage of the Lome instruments
Dominica-EEC cooperation has been successful by ACP/EEC standards in that there is hardly any instrument of the Lome Convention which has not been used with a satisfactory performance record.
In terms of financial performance, all Lome funds of the past three Conventions have been fully committed and disbursed at highly satisfactory rates. 50% of Lome IV National Indicative Programme resources were expected to be committed by the end of 1993 in combination with the entire Lome IV allocation for Structural Adjustment.
Since 1976, the European Community has committed some ECU 43.7 million to projects, programmes and operations in Dominica. 3 Virtually all EEC funding is in the form of grants, the only exception being loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB), which tend to be very soft-term.
National Indicative Programmes: predictability of resources
National Indicative Programmes (NlPs) negotiated for five years provide a reliable source of funding for Dominica's long-term development priorities. Funds have been concentrated heavily on road infrastructure, for the reinstatement of some 42 km of road on the east and west coasts (EDF IV); the reconstruction of a vital road link (16 km) across the centre of the island (EDF V), primary and farm feeder roads and the Geneva-Petite Savanne road in the south-east of the island. The roadworks, carried out by direct labour, have been satisfactorily completed. Training and experience was provided for Dominicans in the field of project planning and management, and road rehabilitation and maintenance techniques. The roads have to a considerable degree removed obstacles to the movement of goods and people through improved transport and communications and better access to farmland, thereby supporting balanced economic, social and agricultural development. Continued diversification of Dominica's economy and the development of related agroindustrial activities will be influenced by the expansion of the country's feeder road system.
Agricultural diversification, to reduce dependence on the fragile banana crop, was the objective of two small EDFfunded operations:
-a successful pilot project for the production of patchouli on a 7-hectare plantation and the distillation of oil from the dried leaves (Essential Oils);
-a lime rehabilitation project in the south-west of the island at Soufriere.
The Lome IV programme focuses on the continuation of efforts in the rural development sector (50°/O) towards agricultural diversification and supporting economic and social infrastructure. Environmental management, planning and projects are the other main focal area (35%).
In addition to the above priorities, some resources were allocated under Lome III to a tourism development project for the upgrading of access to tourist sites and the provision of promotional material. Under Lome IV, a tourism programme is being designed in areas such as ecotourism which reflect the linkages between the environment and tourism sectors.
European Investment Bank: the long-term risk partnership
Dominica has developed a long-term investment partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB) in areas normally not eligible for EDF grant funding, such as industry, agro-processing, mining, tourism and energy. Dominica's abundant water resources, a gift of nature, have been exploited with the assistance of the EIB. In cooperation with the AIDBank, a part-financing of a mineral water bottling plant (ECU 0.7 million) was provided under Lome II for 'Carib Spring' bottled water. After a successful start-up phase, this encountered difficulties as a result of the deterioration of market conditions in the southern Caribbean. Under Lome III, the EIB, together with other multilateral (World Bank) and bilateral (France, Canada) donors, has contributed ECU 3.8 million to the financing of the DOMLEC Hydro-Power project which harnesses the energy of the island's rivers and freshwater lake into increased hydroelectric generation capacity (4.3 MOO). Through the Caribbean Financial Services Corporation, Dominica also benefited from EIB financing for the renovation of the well-known Fort Young Hotel in Roseau.
The Agricultural, Industrial and Development Bank (AIDBank), Dominica's intermediary financial institution for the development of small and medium-scale enterprises, has received continued support from the EIB in the form of risk capital to increase its share capital (ECU 0.8 million) and recently (1993) through a global loan of ECU 2 million. This will permit the AIDBank to keep carrying out its successful development role in the area of enterprise development.
Centre for the Development of Industry
Enterprise development, in the form of joint ventures with European partners and through technical and marketing assistance, is also being encouraged by the ACP/EEC Centre for the Development of Industry (CDI). This has been the case for a number of small wood-working and furniture companies which take advantage of the country's valuable timber resources.
The STABEX insurance
Since 1979, Dominica's main exports, bananas and coconuts, have benefited from the guarantee mechanism offered to the ACP countries through the system of Stabilisation of Export Earnings (STABEX). This insurance for bad years triggers cash transfers to compensate for loss of earnings due to poor harvests or a drop in prices. It has so far (July 1993) compensated Dominica's shortfalls in earnings from bananas and coconuts for a total amount of ECU 8.468 million. This accounts for the following bad years:
ECU 2.893 m
ECU 2.528 m
ECU 0.505 m
ECU 1.208 m
ECU 0.673 m
ECU 0.159 m
ECU 0.502 m
It is estimated that the STABEX insurance has added a 26% value bonus to the regular development assistance of the EEC to Dominica.
Facing disasters: emergency assistance
Dominica lies in the Caribbean hurricane belt. The damage caused by Hurricanes David, Allen and Frederick in 1979-80 and Hugo in 1989, and by torrential rains in 1981, was extensive: roads were washed away, public and private buildings were demolished or badly damaged, and crops were destroyed.
Additional to STABEXcash transfers, Lome resources for emergency aid, undoubtedly designed with countries like Dominica in mind, were tapped for the funding of building materials and medical and other supplies totalling ECU 4.4 million.
Among the other disasters threatening the people of Dominica, like many other countries in the world, is the AIDS killer.
The Community helps the Government to cope with the situation through a small AIDS prevention programme funded from the budget of the Commission. The programme provided ECU 12 500, most of which was used to purchase hospital equipment for Aids testing.
Food aid has in the past been channelled through international organisations supported by the EEC from the
Commission budget. Over the years, the bulk of the food supplies (including skimmed milk powder, vegetable oil, cereals and pulses), a total of 350 tonnes, has gone through Catholic Relief Services to the local NGO, The Social Centre, from where it has been distributed to specific target groups: pregnant and breast-feeding women, pre-school children and the elderly.
In all, the monetary value of food aid to Dominica has amounted to ECU 975 000.
Counterpart funds from EEC food aid in the early 1980s were utilised to establish a fresh-water prawn farming project. The project, it should be noted, meets both the objective of agricultural diversification and that of improving food selfsufficiency and meeting nutritional requirements for the population.
Reaching the people: NGO and microproject assistance
Small development projects at grassroots level have met with much success in Dominica and over the past 15 years over 25 such projects have been funded. Typically, the EEC contribution per project, normally about 50% of the project cost, could be as high as ECU 150 000, with the balance of funds being contributed by the local community in cash and in kind. To date, projects in the fields of community development, vocational training, fisheries and health have been the focus for these small schemes. Some of the other areas covered have been construction of housing, adult literacy, teacher training, carpentry and the provision of educational material, to name but a few. Apart from enhancing living conditions for the community involved, microprojects draw on locally available skills in such areas as project supervision, construction and carpentry. They also provide a form of motivation to the local population, who then frequently become owners of the project. The operations are designed and executed in a close partnership between local and European NGOs and through cofinancing arrangements between NGOs and the European Community (Commission budget).
Two programmes of microprojects were also completed under Lome II with EDF support.
As discussed below, Dominica also takes advantage of its trade arrangements and Fisheries Agreement with the EEC as well as the new Structural Adjustment Facility of Lome IV.
EEC-Dominica cooperation (1975-1993)
Tuning up the engine of growth-bananas
Of common concern to Dominica and Europe, the banana issue embraces both the trade and the aid dimensions of ECDominica cooperation.
The trade relationship
Agriculture accounts for about 1/4 of Dominica's GDP and 60% of total merchandise exports. Bananas alone account for about 90% of agricultural exports and 60% of total exports.
Under the Lome Convention, Dominica benefits from duty-free access for manufactured goods to the EEC, as well as preferential arrangements for bananas, as discussed below.
The European Community, by far the main client of Dominica, accounts for approximately two-thirds of Dominica's exports and one-95th of Dominica's imports.
Bananas have accounted for more than 90% of exports from Dominica to the European Community in recent years.
The Banana Protocol
Under the Banana Protocol of the Lome Convention, Dominica enjoys preferential access to its traditional market in the European Community. Exports for 1992 were 58149 tonnes of fruit at an estimated FOB value of around EC$82 million. The subsidy implicit in the guaranteed banana market has been estimated to amount to about 1/5 of the total value of Dominica's banana exports. The financial support deriving from the Banana Protocol is thus probably far more significant than regular EC development aid to Dominica.
The Single European Market for bananas
Continued preferential access for bananas in Europe after the opening of the Single European Market on I January 1993 was a major concern. This principle, which safeguards the interests of traditional ACP suppliers, has been agreed under the Lome IV Banana Protocol. At the same time a joint declaration accepts that the Protocol should not prevent the Community from establishing a single market in bananas.
After lengthy negotiations, the European Community Council was able to adopt, on 12 February 1992, a regulation establishing a common organisation of the market in bananas, based on a proposal from the Commission which is consistent with EEC obligations under the Lome Convention. As a result Dominica, like the other ACP traditional banana producers, will not be placed as regards access to its traditional markets and its advantages in those markets, in a less favourable situation than in the past or at present. The traditional quantity of bananas from Dominica eligible under the new regulation is 71 000 tonnes which is the amount exported in Dominica's record year. This new regulation, which entered into force in July 1993, will apply until 2002.
In addition, the Commission has proposed the establishment of a special system of assistance to traditional ACP suppliers of bananas. This is intended to help them meet the challenge of new competition from the rest of the world.
The banana competition challenge
While Dominica has an obvious interest in maximising the benefit provided by the preferential banana market, there is a need to improve the quality and productivity of banana production, which faces a growing challenge from its Latin American competitors. Concurrently, Dominica's agriculture should be restructured so as to enhance diversification into other crops. This is a genuine structural adjustment challenge supported by the EEC.
Adjusting to the new economic circumstances
The Structural Adjustment Facility
ECU 2 million have been mobilised by the European Community under Lome IV to support structural adjustment efforts in Dominica. The on-going structural adjustment process on the island hinges on different actions, carried out with support from the EC, which pursue closely interrelated objectives:
-agricultural diversification, for which ECU 2.25 million have been earmarked in the Lome IV NIP;
-improvement of quality and productivity in the banana sector, supported by STABEX transfers for 1990 and 1991 (approximately ECU 830 000);
-restoration of external and internal macroeconomic balances, to which general import programme finance from the ECU 2 million set aside for structural adjustment support will contribute.
There is an obvious need to ensure consistency in the use of these various instruments (STABEX, Structural Adjustment support, NIP programme).
The need for close coordination is, in particular, illustrated by the decision to allocate local counterpart funds generated by the structural adjustment foreign exchange facility to projects and operations geared to agricultural diversification.
A preliminary study was carried out in September 1992 for the design of the structural adjustment programme.
A follow-up study will shortly be conducted to define a practical agriculture diversification programme consistent with and supportive of structural adjustment.
The study should also address the issue of the linkage between agricultural diversification efforts and quality and productivity improvement measures in the banana sector.
The findings and recommendations of the study on this latter point could furthermore help define the terms for implementation of the special programme of assistance to ACP banana exporters recently proposed by the Commission, if it is adopted.
An integrated use of instruments
This is, therefore, a new type of partnership between Dominica and the European Community, in that:
-it constitutes a shift from the traditional project approach to the more demanding reform-oriented policy dialogue;it combines the use of the various instruments of the Lome Convention (National Programme, Structural Adjustment Facility, STABEX, counterpart funds, Banana Protocol) in a systematic and more coherent manner. The total resources combined for this programme amount to about ECU 5 million.
Supporting Dominica's regional integration process
In addition to being a member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and of the Caribbean Community, Dominica also belongs under the Lome IV Convention, to the group of 15 ACP partners of the Caribbean Forum. Isolation, disparity of levels of development, cultural diversity and vulnerability to external shocks and competition are the main challenges which require enhanced solidarity and regional cooperation between Dominica and its Caribbean partners. Lome regional funds are committed to these objectives.
Regional and sub-regional projects and programmes, additional to National Indicative Programmes, have benefited Dominica within the framework of the EDF regional programming for the Caribbean. Under Lome I, II and III, Dominica derived particular benefit from the following regional programmes:
Dominica-EEC Fisheries Agreement
Fish, which ignore national borders, will perhaps be an essential factor of cooperation between the French islands and Dominica. In the framework of its mandate to negotiate international fisheries agreements on behalf of its Member States, the Community has become actively involved in discussions on this subject between the Government of Dominica: and the neighbouring French Departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Under the agreerment, a Protocol which was initialled in Roseau in 13 March 1993 entitles Dominica to compensation from the Community in return for catches made in its waters by fishermen from the French Departments. The agreement, which also includes provision for research and training in the fisheries sector, provides for a total allocation of ECU 2.2 million for three years.
-Agriculture: Research carried out by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). A study in the area of banana marketing was implemented for the CARICOM Secretariat and a study of crop diversification was implemented by the Agricultural Diversification Coordination Unit of the OECS (ADCU) which is based in Roseau.
-Human Resources Development: Programmes in favour of the University of the West Indies; the OECS Tertiary Education Project, which contributes to the elaboration of an OECS education reform strategy and plan and will provide school facilities at Clifton Dupigny College. New programmes to be implemented include the University of the West Indies student accommodation project, which will provide halls of residence at each UWI campus.
-Regional Trade Promotion Development: Major support is being received by the Eastern Caribbean States Export Development Agency (ECSEDA) set up in Dominica to provide assistance to OECS exporters. In the area of trade information and statistics collection, the EEC has also participated in the funding of the Automated System for the Collection of Customs Data (ASYCUDA), under which computer equipment has been installed and is being operated at the new customs office in Roseau.
-Tourism: The OECS tourism development project launched in 1992 provides a three-year programme of support in marketing investment, policy formulation, planning and training. It coordinates its operations with the larger Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) tourism development programme, which includes professional technical assistance for the development of a major marketing campaign in Europe for the Caribbean destinations including Dominica, the Nature Island'.
-Transport. Programmes in sea (West Indies Shipping Corporation-WISCO) and air transport (Leeward Islands Air Transport-LIAT) were implemented under Lome I and II.
The Lome IV Caribbean Regional Programme (CRIP), which is being established under the umbrella of the Caribbean Forum, has identified programmes in six priority areas: agriculture, trade, transport and communications, environment and human resources development.
Through the combined use of the European Regional Development Fund allocated to the French Departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and the EDF regional resources for the Caribbean ACP countries, Dominica is trying to develop its trade and interregional cooperation with the French islands in the sub-region. The European Community is strongly encouraging these efforts.
The regional integration process
Beyond the horizon of sub-regional cooperation, Dominica, like its partners in the wider Caribbean, has to face the increased competition forced on it by the creation of regional trade blocs in North America (NAFTA), Europe (the Single European Market) and Latin America. It is the Community's vocation, due to its own integration experience, to help Dominica participate in the process of deepening and widening Caribbean regional efforts through a policy dialogue which can take various forms, such as:
-at the sub-regional level, encouraging the initiative of an OECS economic reform strategy
-at the regional level, helping Caribbean decision-makers to
assess the regional dimension of national adjustment programmes and measure the
costs and benefits of regional integration. This latter topic is the subject
matter of a study which has been undertaken using EC structural adjustment
resources in close cooperation with CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, the
University of the West Indies, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and other
Central Banks. Dominica is a part of this policy dialogue, which could pave the
way towards a better understanding of the island's interest in supporting or
otherwise the projected Association of Caribbean
You don't choose your neighbours, they say, and, over the past 20 years, in the bad times when the destabilisation operations incontrovertibly launched from the surrounding countries have hit home, Mozambique has had frequent occasion to brood over the fact. A look at the map of Africa tells the whole story- the 3000 km-long Mozambique is on the Indian Ocean close to the epicentre of the upheavals which have shaken this part of the world and are still sending their tremors through it.
It really has no experience of what internal peace and security are. Independence, in 1975, came after a decade of armed struggle to which many fell victim, including Eduardo Mondlane, the historic leader of Frelimo, the Mozambique National Liberation Front. And, free of the Portuguese yoke and now a sanctuary for the anti-apartheid movements, it immediately came under fire from the white regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa, which fretted that black independence might be catching and directed an unflagging demolition campaign at the new state.
In 1976, the Rhodesians set up a special unit of Mozambican half-castes and blacks to infiltrate the ranks of the ZAPU and ZANU fighters and attack the refugee communities in the border areas. A few years later, the South Africans formed their Portuguese-speaking Buffalo Battalion to raid Mozambique, Angola and Namibia and the Rhodesians gave military and logistical support to Renamo, Mozambique's armed resistance movement, which had started guerrilla warfare. Some say even now that Renamo was the work of the lan Smith regime and Afonso Dhlakama, its chief, does not try to hide the fact that he had Rhodesia's help. How could he? But he took it, he says, because no-one else, not the British nor the Americans whose code of freedom he claims to share, was willing to help him in his crusade for democracy and against the communist ethic of Frelimo leaders.
We know that happened next. Mozambique's life and economy were soon at a standstill and the Government was forced into the humiliation of the Nkomati Agreements, the accords with South Africa whereby the two parties were to stop helping their respective enemies, the ANC and Renamo. There is peace today, most certainly, and detente after all the laboriousness of the long-drawn-out talks in Rome, but may it not be due in part to powerful South Africa's realisation of the pointlessness of its policy and its decision to start transferring power to the black majority? After all, it would only be the last tug on strings which date back at least to the 19th century, because, for 100 years at least, Mozambique has borne the stamp of relations with its neighbours in Rhodesia and South Africa, who were quick to see the attraction of its pool of workers for their gold mines. But its claim to fame was as a supplier of slaves, that most abhorrent of trades, which developed in the 18th and 19th centuries and survived for 50 years after the Portuguese abolished it officially in 1836. In 'Mozambique - From Colonialism to Revolution, 1900-1982', Allen and Barbara Isaacmandans say that the country supplied almost 100 000 slaves to Brazil alone between 1817 and 1843 and a third of Cuba's slaves over the same period. All in all, a million Mozambicans were reduced to slavery.
Another brand of exploitation succeeded the Negro slave trade early this century, when contract workers were sent down the gold mines of Rhodesia and South Africa. The policy was made official in an agreement between the colonial government of Mozambique (self-governing since 1752, after being administered from Goa in India) and the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, representing the South African mining industry. Under it, the Government of Mozambique was to receive 13 shillings per worker and sixpence for every month worked on top of the 12 months of the contract. In addition, they were to be paid half of every miner's wage, in gold, at a fixed rate which was lower than the world gold price-thus allowing a fine profit on resale.
Map to Mozambique
Throughout the colonial era, miners' wages and the profit from gold sales were the territory's biggest source of income. In 1904, Mozambique supplied most of the labour in the South African mines- 50 997 of the 77 000 workers-but its lead narrowed consistently as the sources of supply broadened. By 1927, the figure was 107 672 Mozambicans out of 215 000 miners, going down to 100200 out of 413 900 in 1961. And there are around 60000 of them there even today, estimates suggest, their contracts still an appreciable source of income for their country. In Rhodesia, the Tete Agreement laying down annual consignments of 25 000 miners was soon overtaken and about 100 000 Mozambican contract workers were taken on every year.
The policy of exporting labour, in which the people most concerned had no say, and similar forms of coercion whose purpose was to supply farm workers free of charge to the Portuguese planters, led many Mozambicans to flee to the neighbouring countries, with lasting effects on traditional farming, which both lost its manpower and had its strength sapped by the meagre prices fixed by the colonial administration.
Another thing still making its effects felt is the dependence of Mozambique's ports, which are far too large for national needs, on the neighbouring countries' shipping. In 1901, a clause in the Treaty with Witwatersrand made the supply of cheap labour contingent on part of Transvaal's trade going through the port of Lourenco Marques (now Maputo). By 1917, $700 000 was being made from the customs handling and transit of these goods and, with major expansion, half of Transvaal's import and export trade was soon passing through Lourengo Marques, making a South African satellite of the city and the whole of southern Mozambique. Beira, the main ocean outlet for Rhodesia and central Mozambique, was more dependent on Salisbury (now Harare).
The fact that Mozambique is the only former Portuguese territory in Africa to drive on the left, as they do in South Africa and Zimbabwe (all the others, with Angola in the lead, like Portugal, drive on the right) is a sign of how involved the three countries are, even today.
After 14 years of civil war, hundreds of thousand of deaths, the incalculable suffering of whole populations struck by the life-threatening famine which came with the war and the demolition of infrastructure and all the consequences that flew from it, Mozambique's fighters have now laid down their arms. Negotiations opened in Rome in 1990 and, with encouragement from the country's churches and the painstaking support of the Italian Government and the United Nations, they came to a successful conclusion two years later. On 4 October 1992, the Government of Mozambique signed a peace treaty with those who had recently been 'armed bandits' and the cease-fire came very soon after, on 15 October. Fighters from the two sides were separated and billeted in camps in preparation for the demobilisation of all those not to be recruited to the new national army. Demobilisation was scheduled for completion six months later, on 15 April, to make way for the election campaigns and the elections themselves on 15 October 1993 at the latest.
But by mid-April the 7000-strong UN peace-keeping force due to supervise the cease-fire still had not arrived, so the billeting of the fighters prior to demobilisation had not started and this, in turn, delayed the whole election process. The only encouraging sign was that the cease-fire held without anyone to enforce it, which says a lot for the state of mind of the protagonists, who were all convinced that they could not win on the battlefield and had to thrash out their differences around the negotiating table. Their dampened ardour is of course the best guarantee that Mozambique will not suffer the fate of, say, Angola.
Aldo Ajello, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, put these potentially disastrous delays down to over-optimism on the part of the negotiators in Rome, who had made believe that transition could be very rapid; and to the fact that neither the Government nor Renamo, nor even the UN, was yet in a position to carry out its undertakings. The head of the peace-keeping force said that the UN made a mistake and underestimated the time it would take to deploy its units of soldiers and civilians in Mozambique.
Yet it was all predictable, for with all the UN troops around the world, in Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Somalia and Angola, it was difficult to find the manpower and the money for more peace-keeping operations. The bill for a year of the 'restore hope' operation in Somalia is more than $1.2 billion and the cost of peace-keeping forces in Mozambique for 10½ months is $332 million. The same rich countries have to put their hands in their pockets yet again and it is easy to see why some of them are not so keen to do so.
At the end of April, however, the lumbering UN machinery finally got into gear, with most of the troops ready and the demobilisation operations at last able to go ahead. But this was counting without the demands of Renamo, which had pulled out of the supervisory committee and the three other bodies set up under the peace agreements, on the pretext that it did not have the material resources-whether of money, housing, transport or office equipment - to perform its duties properly.
This display of temperament masked the real problem, the financial plight of Renamo, whose leader was saved in the nick of time by a western chancellery a few months ago from the wrath of a Geneva hotelier whose bill he could not pay. Afonso Dhlakama proclaims that he has been tricked, that a secret clause in the Rome agreements guaranteed financing to help his movement convert into a political party and that a percentage of the funds earmarked for the UN forces is intended to be shared out to finance political activity, the amount for Renamo even being specified.
Promises there certainly were, although certainly nowhere near the $100 million or $150 million Renamo has sometimes claimed. It is actually expecting between $10 million and $15 million, enough to publicise itself abroad and recruit the technical people it so badly needs from amongst the expatriate Mozambican communities.
Tiny Rowland, the head of Lonrho, who has major interests in plantations in Mozambique, has put his Maputo hotel, the Cardoso, at Renamo's disposal for representatives of the committees set up under the peace agreement. And the Government says it is acting in good faith, claiming to have spent something like $500000 on logistical support for Renamo as well as having handed over several official houses since the end of April.
Have there been other 'gifts'? Who knows? But after a three-month boycott, Renamo was back on the supervisory committee at the beginning of June and, a fortnight later, the UN Special Representative announced the opening of the first three billeting/demobilisation centres. There are to be 49 in all, 29 for the 63 000 Government soldiers and 20 for Renamo's 21000 underground fighters. But the camps-two (one for each side) in the province of Nampula and one in the province of Zambeze-are opening more than eight months after the date laid down in the Rome agreements. This has prompted government authorities and guerrilla leaders alike to say that the elections cannot be held before mid-1994 and that this is bound to have financial implications.
It costs roughly $1 million per day to keep the UN's peace-keeping forces in operation. There are already 5000 men in the field, with the biggest contingents from Bangladesh (1320) and Italy (1039), followed by Zambia and Uruguay (820 each) and Botswana (720). Logistical and technical support is being provided by other countries including Portugal, Argentina and Japan (only its second mission abroad since the end of World War II). The original $332 million allocation will not last long at this rate and it will once more be a case of relying on the generosity of western funders to provide a top-up, possibly in excess of $100 million.
The second problem is demobilisation itself. Many of the fighters are unhappy with the idea of leaving the relative comfort of the towns to go first to the camps and then back to their villages, armed with only a few farm implements and a couple of months' rations. At Maputo airport, in early April, we saw one of them trying to escape. There is no other word for it. The sentry had to fire into the air to stop a government soldier who was running away, refusing to board a plane due to take him and his companions from the familiar surroundings of the capital far away to a demobilisation camp at the other end of the country.
The national army is just as much of a problem. The Rome agreements fixed on a force of 30 000 men (24 000 in the army, 3000 in the navy and 3000 in the air force), consisting of equal numbers of Government troops and Renamo fighters, and the UN suggestion is that only 6000 of Renamo's 2 1000 combatants need to be demobilised because 15 000 of them have to go to the new Mozambican army. However, although there is no doubt as to the bravery of these men, they have given ample proof that their training is well below the level of troops in the Government ranks, where officers have often trained at military academies in the developed world. And how can officers and NCOs be trained for the navy and the air force in only a few months?
The dividends of peace
Another major problem is the fate of the 4.5 million deslocados, the displaced persons, some of them refugees abroad, who will not go home unless the rural areas are safe. Many of Mozambique's roads are still mined, of course, but there is currently only one mine disposal brigade, a Community-financed team advancing at the rate of 2-3 km per day along the 890 km of priority roads to be cleared so emergency aid can get through. And there are thousands of km of tracks and fields where mines will go on claiming victims for years to come, because the erstwhile enemies can no longer remember where they buried their lethal devices.
That is not all. Not only is the countryside dangerous. It is also now lacking in any form of social infrastructure. 3995 rural schools, 68% of the 1983 total, have been damaged or destroyed, 1100 health centres pillaged and abandoned and thousands of wells dynamited. Deputy Planning Minister Tomas, Salomao, who puts damage done between 1978 and 1990 at $50 billion, says that reconstruction must focus on the rural areas, the only places which can quickly be made fit to house the millions of Mozambicans displaced by the country's interminable conflict. But where is the money coming from? 'The foreign donors can help us and indeed they are already doing so, but there are limits to what we can ask. We have to bear the brunt of it ourselves,' he says.
Like other political leaders, Tomas Salomao is counting on the dividends of peace, starting with agricultural recovery, to finance reconstruction. With the end of the region's worst drought for decades and the countryside at peace again, Mozambique could soon return to the position of self-sufficiency in food which it lost in the early 1980s. It could also do something about its annual trade deficit. Last year, for example, it exported $10 million-worth of goods and imported $900 million-worth, but, 'with peace, our exports could be up at the $500 or 600 million-mark,' ventures Daniel Tembe, the Trade Minister and National Authorising Officer for the EDF.
But peace alone will not suffice. Rapid reconstruction of some of the infrastructure is called for-17 of the 23 tea processing plants were wiped out, for example-if the country is to boost its export capacity of traditional products such as tobacco, tea, cotton, sisal, sugar and the cashew nuts of which it was once the world's leading supplier.
However, repairs are well under way in the transport and communications infrastructure sector, where Mozambique plays a crucial part in the region. The 2.4 million-tonne capacity port of Beira is already back up to pre-independence levels, handling 1.3 million t of the 5 million t of food aid sent to Southern Africa last year and notching up $15 million in profits. The giant, computer operated cranes, the thousands of containers in neat rows along the quays, the packaging facilities which can bag 60 t of grain per hour and the plan for a 2.5 million t oil terminal are proof of the unique place which this port occupies in the economy of the nation and the whole region. Beira and the other two ports, Maputo and Nacala, and the railways linking them to Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa, form the network which makes Mozambique one of the key countries in this part of Africa.
But you don't choose your neighbours, as we said before. Take another look at the map of Southern Africa. Even if Mozambique does manage its peaceful transition to democracy, countries on which its prosperity ultimately depends -South Africa, that is to say, Malawi and even Zimbabwe, indirectly-could be seeing serious upheavals over the coming years which cannot but affect its domestic situation.
But for once, at least, there is hope that these outbreaks will be the last to afflict this hard-pressed country.
'Mozambique is not another Angola'
Joaquim Alberto Chissano, at 54, is a veteran of African politics. He helped found the Mozambique Liberation Front in 1962 and was secretary to its first president, Eduardo Mondlane. He was one of the leading negotiators of independence with the Portuguese authorities in 1974 and the obvious choice for Prime Minister of the Government of Transition whose job it was to prepare for the breakaway. In 1975, after independence, he became Foreign Minister and, firmly entrenched in the post, represented his country abroad for 11 years, investing all his verve and rare linguistic talents (he is equally at home in Portuguese, French and English) in a moderate, realistic approach to diplomacy which was in complete contrast with the more radical style fashionable in Maputo at the time.
In 1986, when President Samora Machel was killed in a (still unexplained) flying accident, Joaquim Chissano took over. At the fourth and fifth Frelimo congresses, he helped engineer the change of ideology which led to the liberalisation of the economy, the development of the private sector and, later on, a new constitution setting up a multiparty system.
However, the guerrilla movement launched by Renamo at the end of the 1970s, initially with encouragement from Rhodesia and then, after the independence of Zimbabwe, from South Africa, gained ground throughout this period, to the point where it brought the country's economic activity to a halt. After fruitless attempts at settlement, direct negotiations between the Government and Renamo in Rome in October 1992 were successful and a peace agreement, opening the way to free elections under UN control, was forged.
In this interview with The Courier, President Chissano talks about the difficulties of the post-agreement era and the country's longer-term prospects.
· Mr President, the fighting has stopped, but is peace as irreversible as the people like to think?
-Yes, I think they all do believe that peace is here to stay, for they all want peace and they are all doing their utmost to see it is consolidated. We have appealed to society at large, to all social organisations, churches included, to work for the consolidation of peace. A whole new state of mind is being created. But Mozambique is not an island and external influences could still come and change the course of things. If it was only up to us, however, the peace process would be irreversible.
· But hasn't your situation got a lot in common with the situation in Angola, Mr President, and aren't you worried that the same terrible things might happen here?
- Angola had elections before the conditions were right. The soldiers hadn't been demobilised and the country hadn't had time to set up a solid national army which was united and not mixed up in politics. There were still close ties between the political parties and their partisans in the army at the time the elections were held. We don't want that happening here and we have been working to avoid it ever since the negotiations in Rome. We want a proper national army, which sticks to the constitution and the law, under the leadership of a Head of State who believes in peace and would be in no position to use the armed forces to overturn the regime even if he wanted to. And the domestic situation in Angola wasn't as provided for in the agreement, I believe, because there were still many unsolved problems and many fighters in the underground forces.
· Are you learning from Angola's mistakes?
-Not exactly, because we chose a way which enabled us to find answers to the sort of problems Angola stumbled over. Angola did not have enough time. And perhaps our process started the other way round, because we had discussions and changed the constitution before the negotiations with Renamo and we worked on the law on parties while those negotiations were going on. We already had a preliminary draft electoral law too. It was the basis for the discussions in Rome and we are going to pick it up again now. The political parties have been formed. So things are moving more slowly in this country, but everything is being covered.
· All this cumbersome UN machinery is so difficult to get going here, isn't it? Is it the only way of consolidating peace?
-Renamo only has confidence in the UN, unfortunately, which is why we agreed to call the Organisation in. We knew that UN machinery could grind slowly, because we had seen it working in other parts of the world. That is exactly what we expected. But we never expected it to take so long to get here.
· Is it delayed because money is short?
-My belief is that it is late because of the way it works. When we signed the agreement, we expected to see UN troops arrive here a month later, in accordance with suggestions by the UN representatives who came to observe at the negotiations. But now the plan cannot be put into operation, although it was an emergency, with the ceasefire to be kept up and peace maintained, and it cannot wait for all the palaver in the Security Council or the debates in the General Assembly or the discussions in the Budget Committee, where they really do take their time. Mercifully, for the past six months, we ourselves have managed to have the ceasefire respected here in Mozambique without the help of the UN peace-keeping forces, but if it had happened anywhere else, peace would have been shattered long ago.
· With all these delays, when do you think the elections can take place now?
-We shall see. The electoral law will decide the date. We are doing the groundwork for the elections at the moment, but the signs are that they will not take place before June 1994.
· Many of Mozambique's people have done nothing but fight for the past 14 years. Are they going to be willing to lay down their arms for the hard job of making a living from their devastated land?
-What the soldiers want-Government soldiers at least-is to settle down as civilians and have a job, so we have set up a resettlement committee to look after demobbed soldiers, refugees and displaced persons. The effort which the Government is making, in accordance with the peace agreement, has the support of the international community too. But the Government cannot do it all and we have made a general appeal for help with finding projects which will make it easier to reintegrate the soldiers. We are also encouraging the soldiers to help themselves. As a one-time national freedom fighter myself, I have helped set up an association for demobbed soldiers, which will be looking after former Renamo guerrillas too, forming an interest group of something like 100 000 people. It will be running personal initiative schemes and we have already applied for financial support for them from such institutions as the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
· Finance -just where the shoe pinches. Never before have the rich countries been called uponfor so much help and every crisis, ultimately, costs money, be it in Russia, the former Yugoslavia or Somalia. With resources in such short supply, what priority do you think will be given to Mozambique's projects?
-Our projects will have whatever priority they get. That is all there is to it. And we shall be very grateful for any assistance we are given. Time and time again, we have said that donors will always give priority to whatever affects them most. And as there is every interest in stabilising the situation in central Europe, they will tend to give that part of the world priority and think about Africa afterwards. So we are looking at a different formula which does not involve relying on charity and waiting for handouts and we are trying to encourage private investment by Mozambican interst groups. That will be quite another picture for the donors.
· The Government is not the only one worried about the lack of financing, is it? Renamo too is complaining about not receiving the promised funds and thinking it has been betrayed by the donors.
-I don't think Renamo is right here. It's too early to start complaining that promises haven't been kept. The conference in Rome was only three months ago and it wouldn't be reasonable to start saying that the donors haven't stuck to their commitments yet. The plan was for the funds to be released when the soldiers were demobbed, in particular to help them settle down again in ordinary society. But they haven't been demobbed yet.
· How much are we talking about?
-The figure mentioned in Rome was more than $200 million.
· Assuming that you can complete the process you have got under way, how do you see the future for Mozambique in a Southern Africa in the throes of change?
- Mozambique is one of the key countries of the region and, with peace on our side, there will be a transformation. It is worth remembering that even while the war was going on, we were able to continue providing a service to the countries in the region. We have already modernised and rebuilt the Maputo Zimbabwe railway-a difficult job and all done during the civil war- and rebuilt the railway and the road between Beira and Zimbabwe. We have rehabilitated and modernised the port of Beira, we are doing the same for the ports of Maputo and Nacala and we have completed more than half of the Nacala Malawi railway. We did all that during the war. With peace, we shall be able to do a lot more.
Our country has always had great agricultural potential. If we can get everyone's shoulders to the wheel, we shall be able to produce enough to feed ourselves and to export too-which will be a good thing for the balance of payments and our per capita income. We think we can manage this in ten years at the most, but some people say that, at the present rate of progress, it won't take anything like that long.
· You have been President for nearly eight years now, haven't you? Will you be standing again in the next presidential elections?
-I am always being asked to stand again, but the party still has to meet to decide whether I should. Some people in the party take it as read, let me tell you, but I shall only stand if I am asked to stand, in the same way as I was asked to take the country's destiny in hand all those years ago. They all think I am going to stand, but we shall have to wait for the party to meet and discuss it. If the party decided to put up another candidate, I should be just as happy to support him...
· You have led Mozambique through some hard times, haven't you?
-Very hard. I have been a member of the party's leadership ever since it was formed-I was elected to the central committee when I was 23. What we need are candidates who are worthy of the people's confidence and who devote themselves to the people's wellbeing. I shall have the strength to wait for many of those candidates to appear, however long it takes.
Interview by A.T.
'We shall respect the voters' verdict'
In pure guerrilla tradition, Maringue, the RENAMO headquarters, is out in the bush, an hour's flying time from Beira.
The Red Cross plane, the only aircraft authorised to touch down there, comes to a halt at the end of the overgrown runway, near the old 20-seater biplane which crafty South Africans recently managed to palm off onto the RENAMO for $500 000 and which has never flown since it was delivered.
Paul Domingos, the chief RENAMO negotiator at the talks in Rome, bursts out of the yellowing Savannah on a motorcycle to greet you. You are then guided along a narrow path, 50 cm wide at most, and after a good five minutes' walk, emerge into a huge, shady clearing, fringed with towering trees and dotted with houses and a large, straw-roofed rectangular hut-the meeting room.
By chance, or by organised coincidence, Afonso Dhlakama, the President of the RENAMO, has called all the men in charge of the movement to Maringue that very day for a briefing, which he obligingly interrupts to receive the European Parliament delegation, headed by Henri Saby, the Chairman of the Development Committee. He introduces his RENAMO staff, who are proud to see that such guests have gone to the trouble of coming so far to talk to their leader.
After the talk, Mr Dhlakama answered questions put by The Courier.
· Mr Dhlakama, you now have to transform a guerilla organisation in to a political party. How is this being done?
- Well, we have already started changing our movement into a political party but we're running into a problem of resources, namely money. As a political party we need to have representatives in the different European countries so that we can explain our policies, something we never really had the chance to do during the fighting because we were isolated here. Only the voice of the government was heard, and this spread disinformation in the international community. The signing of the Rome agreement gave us international recognition, so it's easier to send delegates to represent us outside the country, although the lack of money is a very serious problem. But this change is taking place, indeed we can say that, Renamo is in fact a political party since it ' has signed an agreement with the governmeet, an agreement setting out various principles that were agreed. The government is the party holding power and Renamo is in opposition. The agreement confers on Renamo the status of a political party.
· You referred to a lack of money. Who gives you money at present?
-Nobody gives us money, that's why things are so bad. Nobody gives money to Renamo-if you could see how we live, I tell you some of our followers, our fighting men, go barefoot and in rags, they don't have anything at all. I'm telling you that we don't have telephones or fax machines for our representatives. There's no money. If someone was giving us money, we wouldn't have to endure these conditions. We don't even have the basics.
· Is this why you recalled your representatives in Maputo a few weeks ago?
-Actually, this was not a question of money but of the whole process itself. I called my Maputo representatives here, provincial delegates are here as well, as you can see, together with the heads of the committees at Maputo for this meeting here, which is very, very useful. We are reviewing everything that's happened since the signing, the violation of the agreement, all the problems we have, and we are considering our strategy to make sure that our brothers in the government and Frelimo, and in the international community, help to resolve all these problems. That's why we're gathered here.
After the meeting, the delegations and committees will return to Maputo to continue their efforts to find solutions for our problems.
· Mr Dhlakama, the timetable agreed in Rome for the transition to democracy seems to be slipping. Do you share that view?
- No. What I mean is that the Rome agreement has been violated by Frelimo. It's been violated in various ways. For instance, Frelimo is putting, or has already put, some army battalions in the police force, which means that the police force is not independent of parties-it will continue to be the instrument of a party, as it always has been. It has always been an organ of the Frelimo party. This is one of the government's violations. There are others. Under the Rome agreement, Frelimo said it would provide Renamo with accommodation, transport, communications, etc., but the government has not done so. To this day we haven't got proper representation throughout the country for this reason, or even accommodation for myself. I stay on here in the bush because the government hasn't provided the right conditions in Maputo. The fact that the government is not cooperating means that it is violating the agreement. But we are patient, we know that the government is nervous and that it was forced to accept democracy, freedom and elections. Frelimo didn't want this, it's uneasy. But we understand, we won't give up, we're going to make them understand that this is what democracy means.
· From your point of view, is the war really over or will the fighting start again if implementation of the agreement is held up?
-I say no. I believe that there will never again be war in Mozambique. I believe this because only Renamo or Frelimo can wage war. If one provokes and the other responds, there is war. But if one always provokes and the other avoids reacting, there is no war. If we wanted war, we would have started it already because we've been provoked by the government on a number of occasions. I said in Rome, on the day of the signing, that Renamo's guerillas would never resume the fighting, and I have repeated this message to ambassadors and to the United Nations. And I reiterate it now. There will not be war- unless in the future some third party or other people start a third war-but I think that fair, universal and democratic elections are the only way of stopping wars. But in this time of transition, Renamo is having to put up with these government tricks. There won't be a war such as the one in Angola-thetas a terrible situation and people are still dying. That's why we are doing everything we can, not to react to the government's provocations, so that there won't be war.
· Many people do indeed fear a repetition of the Angolan situation in Mozambique. Can you give assurances that, if you lost the elections, which is a possibility, you would respect the voters' verdict?
-Certainly. Our principles are democratic principles. We know the consequences of elections. We did not fight for power, we fought for democracy. If we lost the elections, we'd bow to the principle of democracy and recognise any party, whether it was the government or another party. We'd agree to go into opposition as long as the elected government also recognised the importance of the opposition, the rights of the opposition; we wouldn't have any problem with that. But we should like to ask the government in turn to be patient if it loses the elections. After all, they are used to governing. They've been in power for 17 years. They won't find it easy to respect Renamo when it wins the elections.
· Do you have a programme of government yet?
-Well, we do have our programme, our general principles, but right now we are working on our government's development programme. If Renamo were elected, what it would do in the fields of health, education, the economy, transport, finance, and all that. Our people are drawing up our ideas for each sector and department and soon they will be published.
· Mr Dhlakama, many of the officials you introduced today seem very young and inexperienced. Will they be able to rise to the challenge of governing Mozambique?
-As regards government, running the party, taking part in elections, assuming office and governing on the basis of my democratic programme, I think that we are prepared. As regards my age, I don't think it affects my leadership. I started this struggle when I was very young and I don't see why it should be a problem. It's up to the people. If the people elect me, I shall carry out my programme. I think I could well be the first young African leader to govern democratically because I'd like to tell you, Renamo is the first party of struggle in Africa that was created to bring democracy to Africa. This is very important. I'll be the first such young leader in Africa; it will serve as an example for all the other African countries.
· Won't one of Renamo's first tasks as a political party be to try to make its African neighbours forget its past finks with Rhodesia and South Africa?
-This isn't a problem, no problem at all. The past is the past. We did have a little help from Rhodesia but circumstances dictated this. We received their aid-I'd have liked to receive aid from the United States of America, Portugal, France and Britain, but they didn't give us any, despite the fact that we were defending the same principles that they uphold: freedom, democracy and justice. Those governments made a mistake and so we had to turn to Rhodesia and South Africa for aid in the past, but that's a long time ago. Now that Renamo is a party among other parties we don't have links that could have implications for the party as was the case in the past. I don't think there is a problem.
· One fast question. [low do you explain the fact that people in the areas you control, such as Inhaminga, are so desperately poor that they even lack clothing?
-Well, this is the situation we touched on earlier, the fact that people are living in conditions of great hardship. Everyone living in our areas is suffering great hardship. It's dreadful in view of the fact that there are countries in Europe that make clothing or other things, put them in warehouses and then destroy them when they are out of date, so they do not have anything to send us. Here there are people who are forced to use treebark and such like. These conditions are hard but the people are courageous and still believe in the future. And I as their leader, their long-standing leader, I tell them to look to the future. The present is full of suffering but in future there may be a better life, with clothes, soap and food. These people are hopeful. The end of the war has given them hope and so has the prospect of democracy.
by Glauco CALZUOLA
Mozambique, undermined by 16 years of civil war and the worst drought Southern Africa has seen this century, has just embarked upon a process of democratic transition scheduled to lead the country to its first multiparty elections. This follows the peace agreement signed by the Government and the Renamo opposition movement in October 1992. The path to democracy is slow and beset with obstacles of all kinds, but the Government is determined. It will call on external assistance if it has to, but it is also counting on the people themselves to transform Mozambique into a democratic, viable nation.
It is to help it pick up this twofold- structural and short-term-challenge, that the European Community's aid (all instruments) is focused on four priorities, i.e. schemes to support the economic and social recovery programme (the PRES), regional development in Southern Africa (SADC), humanitarian relief in emergencies and a support programme for the post-war period.
Community aid began shortly after independence. Initially (1978-1985), the EEC used the Commission's own funds to meet immediate needs in a country which was embarking on a process of independence hampered by the destabilising effects of civil war. Since that time, with the signing of Lome III (December 1984) and Lome IV (December 1989), the EEC has acknowledged the effects of the war, and recently the drought, by both providing assistance for a country which has nothing and helping cater for and manage the future through structural adjustment funds and support for development strategies to reflect its particular needs. All in all, about ECU 393 million has gone into 119 schemes under Lome III and Lome IV since 1985.
Add to this the exceptional aid, food aid, NGO cofinancing and schemes financed as part of cooperation with the non-associated developing countries prior to the signing of Lome III and Mozambique has had more than ECU 900 million-worth of Community resources to date.
Trade and commercial cooperation
The country's economic performance very much depends on international trade and the Lome preferential trade agreements guaranteeing access to the Community market are important to the national economy, because they cover 29% of its trade. In 1991, the European Community accounted for 28% of Mozambique's exports and 29% of its imports.
The Community also encourages trade in Mozambique and all other ACPs with trade promotion measures and Stabex, its export revenue stabilisation fund.
It has financed stands for Mozambique firms at international trade fairs and other events in Europe and Africa since 1988 and has channelled a total of ECU 22.7 m-worth of Stabex support (Lome III and Lome IV) into the tea, copra, cotton and cashew nut sectors. But the results, alas, are still not very good. Despite the Government's economic liberalisation programme, trade development is hampered by the enormous institutional constraints of hefty state centralism, combined with a formal economic sector which is dependent on inefficient state companies and a civil war which is paralysing the economy and preventing foreign investment.
More than 45% of Mozambique's aid comes from the EEC and the Member States, making the European Community one of the country's biggest sources of assistance.
The Community alone (Commission + EIB) has provided ECU 928m, most of it (97%) in the form of grants, since this cooperation began, with 47% going to the national indicative programmes financing for regional projects of direct benefit to Mozambique and schemes run as part of cooperation with non-associated countries. Food aid accounted for 33% and EIB loans for 3% and the rest (17%) was emergency aid, refugee relief, Stabex transfers, NGO projects and other operations under specific budget lines (AIDs control, hunger in the world etc.).
National indicative and regional programmes and the early projects (aid for non-associated countries) focused on rural development and self-sufficiency in food, transport and communications, social development, support for the balance of payments and the support programme for the post-war period, all of which are priority areas.
Rural development and fisheries
This has been a Community aid priority since cooperation with Mozambique began and Lome IV has merely confirmed and clarified the ideas outlined before.
The focus is on three main areas- irrigation, integration (farming and fishing) programmes and technical cooperation (institutional support). Integrated development programmes have been sited in the province of Cabo Delgado
(ECU 5m), in Inhambane (ECU 4.5m) and in the Moamba area (a total of ECU 12m), with the aim of improving production and the marketing of both agricultural produce and artisanal fishermen's catches along the coast. A fourth project is being run in the Chimoio region (ECU 7.1m) to get local potato production moving again. The indicative programmes have also included an important artisanal fishing scheme in the Inhambane area (ECU 7.5m) and institutional support for the sector.
The results and problems of implementation of all these projects are similar, because, when the rural operations were designed, insecurity in the area was such that not enough was known about the real situation there. Then, the fact that there were too many projects led to activities being scattered and difficult to coordinate and the various project leaders were not equally efficient. Another important thing is that all the Community's emergency aid and refugee relief has been for people in rural areas or in outlying areas around the towns.
Transport and communications
This is of great importance when it comes to ensuring the country's economic and political integration and opening up the SADC countries to give them access to international markets. Rehabilitation of port, rail and road infrastructure is one of Mozambique's priorities and a large percentage of international aid is channelled into this sector. The Community is involved here too, transport being a focal sector of the country's national indicative programmes and the SADC regional indicative programmes. A total of ECU 114m has been mobilised for a series of projects-the biggest of which are the Beira port rehabilitation scheme (ECU 56m), the railway modernisation schemes in Nacala (ECU 25m) and Limpopo (ECU 15m) and the emergency rehabilitation of the Beira-Inchope road (ECU 5.7m). Three further projects to rehabilitate a total 440 km of road (Nampula-Nacala, Boane-Sabie and Beira-Inchope) are currently being assessed. The EEC is also financing a general study of transport and communications in Southern Africa, with a view to shaping a strategy for the coming years which reflects the new socio-economic realities and trends in the South African situation.
A number of Community schemes have been run in this area to rehabilitate war-damaged schools and various health centres and dispensaries. Because of the local insecurity, these were small, individual operations, but two large-scale projects are now under way too-a rural telecommunications scheme (ECU 13m) and a study of repairs to health centres at national level. In particular, this latter scheme should make it possible to restore and maintain a basic level of services and ultimately ensure that treatment is available to all those living in rural areas.
Aid for the balance of payments
Mozambique has been trying hard to straighten out its economy through the PRES, the economic and social recovery programme which the Government brought out in 1987, and the Community has backed its action with:
-two sectoral import programmes, worth ECU 70m (Lome III), aimed at encouraging imports of raw materials and intermediate products to stimulate local agricultural and industrial production;
-a general import programme, worth ECU 54.7m (Lome IV), a substantial part of it for petroleum products.
Emergency programme for the post-war period
The Commission told the funders' conference in Rome (15-16 September 1992) that it would be helping Mozambique in this transitional phase leading up to the country's first multi-party elections by providing ECU 72m for five areas- the elections, demobilisation, the resettlement of refugees, displaced persons and demobilised soldiers, the provision of social services and the rehabilitation of the basic infrastructure. Despite the efforts of the various parties involved, there are still many impediments to the peace process. However, the Community's programme to provide medical assistance, distribute seed and other agricultural inputs and rehabilitate wells in rural areas to enable refugees and displaced persons to be resettled is taking practical shape with specific schemes to be run by NGOs. The Commission is currently financing technical assistance to help the Government in its difficult task of preparing the census and the elections-the equipment for which is also to be provided by the EEC. Studies are being run to decide on the rehabilitation priorities for the roads used to bring in food aid and medical assistance and the Commission is financing a programme to de-mine what the Red Cross and the WFP have designated as priority roads.
Community aid to Mozambique (summary) (30.04.93)
Agricultural output has dwindled because of the civil wan nationwide insecurity and the drought of the last few years. The food shortfall is now about 600 000-700 000 t p.a. Food aid from the Community, currently accounting for 33% of EEC allocations to Mozambique, is of fundamental importance in that it represents 40% of the volume of all external food aid. The rains returned in late 1992 and the Commission, which is anxious to revive domestic production, is now concentrating more on obtaining agricultural products and seed locally. Cereal market buffer stocks are also being financed under the Community programme for 1993 (approximately ECU 40m), which combines conventional supplies from the European market with local purchases and special school-hospital canteen operations and will be meeting the food requirements of about 120000 demobilised soldiers and their dependents over a period of six months.
This outline of Community aid to Mozambique is not complete as it stands, because, in addition to the contributions mentioned above, the following have also been provided:
-various forms of emergency aid and aid for displaced persons, mainly in the form of medical and humanitarian assistance schemes, usually run through MSF, the ICRC and other NGOs (ECU 51.6m);
-various schemes cofinanced with NGOs (ECU 10m);
-various health education and emergency aid schemes in rural areas and around the towns to help the victims of destabilisation (ECU 13.5m);
-an AIDS control support programme; -a contribution to the tsetse fly control programme which is part of the campaign against world hunger (ECU 1.5m);
-three projects (a cotton factory and vegetable cannery, the Matola cement works and an ECU 15m line of credit to finance SMEs) financed by the EIB.