Bush to Africa Press Call Transcript

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AFJN took part in organizing a Press Call before President Bush made his trip to Africa from February 15th-21st. It was an attempt, by several US-based and Africa-based NGO’s to raise the issues surrounding Bush’s legacy on the continent.
For the full transcript,

February 11, 2008

Transcript: Audio Press Conference

 

 

Operator:       Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.  We will begin in just a moment.  Emira Woods is Co-Director, Foreign Policy in Focus, who will be our moderator for today.

 

Emira Woods:            Good morning everyone.  This is Emira Woods with the Institute for Policy Studies.  Welcome.  Thank you so much for carving out time to be with us this morning.  We are excited to have time with you today.  We recognize that President George Bush is about to travel to Africa, and several of you on this call will be part of that trip and this look forward to both sharing analysis and answering your questions this morning.

 

As we know President Bush is traveling to Africa to highlight the impact of his development policies on the continent.  Civil Society leaders in Africa and the US, while welcoming specific measures on areas like HIV/AIDS and debt, remain concerned about flawed aspects of these policies and explicitly reject military expansionism on the African continent.

 

Campaign groups look forward to George Bush, and as well the next administration, finishing the job on debt by canceling the illegitimate debt of all the countries that need it, fully funding the Global AIDS Fund for malaria and tuberculosis, as well as rejecting the [wrongful design] and ill-defined US-Africa Command, AFRICOM.

 

On the call today, we have four US-based Analysts, leaders, voices of civil society to address these issues and we also have three on the African side presenting analysis from that perspective.  We will begin with the US-based experts and let me first introduce Roxanne Lawson, who is the Director of Africa Policy at TransAfrica Forum.  Roxanne.

 

Roxanne Lawson:     Good morning everyone.  Over the last eight years, the Bush Administration’s compassionate conservatism has ushered a new era of foreign policy, basically based on unilateralism and prioritizing US government and corporate interests over African development.  Despite the rhetoric from the administration about a new era of engagement on the African Continent, things that are commissioned on development and democratization have in reality been really engagement around security and US national strategic interests, namely oil and other minerals from the Blight of Benin and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

The current expansionist military plans of the US, the much cheaper strategy it seems and none less effective way to retain policy influence over government and resources, especially with the growing threat of Chinese policy who has been providing actually large amounts of aid and investment with no conditionality over the last few years.

 

I will let my colleagues go into greater detail about the impacts of both the Bush administration’s militarization plans, the new formation of international policy, and its impacts on those on the ground.  But I do want to say before I cede, that – we can not underestimate the need for US – for the US to both have control — not just access, but control over the many myriad resources of the African continent, that the Bush administration late in its second year was very quite clear about its plans to make sure that by the year 2010 we would receive 25% of our oil from the African continent mostly from Nigeria and other areas in the Blight of Benin and the essential minerals of the Democratic Republic of Congo under gird and under-pin the entire electronic industry which are – which is the only part of our economy that’s still growing at this stage.  Right now that’s all I have.  Thank you.

 

Emira Woods:            Thank you Roxanne.  Next we have Gerald LeMelle who is Executive Director of Africa Action.

 

Gerald LeMelle:        Thanks Emira.  Good morning everyone.  The global war on terror has led the Bush administration to promote military engagement as opposed to development and diplomacy.  This is leading to greater instability and uncertainty throughout the African world.  Before leaving office Donald Rumsfeld advanced a plan to leave US military footprint in Africa.  The US-Africa Command, AFRICOM, has been rejected by regional heavyweights like Nigeria and 14 strong SADC countries.  However, the United States with its strong interest in oil, which is likely — we are receiving 15% of our oil from Africa — slightly to increase to 25% by the end of the decade.  United States is blowing straight ahead with its plan to launch AFRICOM despite the concerns raised by the African countries.

 

As Africa’s strategic value has increased, so too is the likelihood that the US boots will be on the ground around the continent.  Africa advocates reject the further militarization of US-Africa Policy, and call for an emphasis on human security, decent jobs, schools, housing, hospitals, and roads — the building blocks of stable society — and for long-term conflicts the US should support and strengthen the African Union and United Nation’s peacekeeping operation and not see itself as a global cop, particularly in Africa.

 

Emira Woods:            Thank you Gerald.  Next we have Paul Zeitz who is Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance.

 

Paul:   Thank you Emira.  Thank you everyone for being on the call.  As President Bush embarks on his trip to Africa, we expect that he will be spending a fair amount of time celebrating the “successes of” the Emergency Plans for AIDS Relief that was launched in 2003.  As we know this program was extremely unilateral — it started off with about 95% of the funds through US entities and institutions and there has been some progress on advancing AIDS treatment in many of the countries.  However, the program has been extremely flawed by advancing an ideological approach to HIV prevention and undermining broad access to other life saving programs, including those around sexual and reproductive health that are crucial for the people that are most affected, predominately women.

 

As Bush launches on this trip, we were particularly disturbed by his FY 2009 budget requests, which proposes a flat lining of global AIDS, TB and malaria spending at 2008 levels for the next five years which would leave the continent unable to adequately respond going forward to these severe crises.  He also proposes a massive 40% cut in the US contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria which is also a big setback for US assistance to Africa.  In addition he is also proposing significant cuts in the ’09 budget to child and maternal health, family planning, international disaster and famine programs, and refugee assistance.  So, unfortunately, Bush is ending his term on a very negative trajectory in terms of US assistance on AIDS, TB, and malaria and on broader health and development programs.  We strongly encourage you to listen to AIDS activists on the ground in the countries that Bush will be visiting and hear their perspective, not just hearing the perspectives that you will get from the White House, because it’s important to hear the views of the real people who are facing the problematic policies of the PEPFAR program while you are on the ground in those countries.

 

Emira Woods:            Thanks so much Paul.  Next we have Neil Watkins who is the Executive Director of Jubilee USA.

 

Neil Watkins: Thank you Emira.  And I am going to address today the impact of President Bush’s polices regarding international debt relief and in particular debt relief in Africa.  Nearly all the countries that the President will visit on his trip to Africa next week have benefited from debt canceling which the Bush administration supported in 2005.  In Tanzania, debt relief has lead to a 50% increase in primary school enrollment.  In Ghana, freed-up funds have supported the rehabilitation of essential highways and feeder roads in some of the main agricultural areas.  As President Bush sees first hand the life saving impact of debt cancellation, he should take the next step by announcing strong measures to address the ongoing crippling impact of debt in Africa.  First, President Bush should take action to stop the vulture funds and rouge lenders which are eroding the gains of debt relief that his administration provide leadership on.  Second, President Bush should expand debt cancellation to all countries that need it, including countries devastated by HIV/AIDS like Lesotho that have been excluded from debt relief efforts today.  President Bush can solidify his legacy on debt by announcing his support for the bipartisan Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending now pending before Congress which addresses these and other elements of the unfinished agenda of the crippling debt burden of Africa.

 

Emira Woods:            Terrific.  Thanks Neil.  Now we go to our Africa based allies and we will begin with Sakina Datoo, who is Chairperson of the Editor’s Forum of Tanzania.  Sakina?

 

Sakina Datoo:            Good morning everybody, although it’s evening.  President Bush’s visit to Tanzania is actually viewed from two different perspectives.  There is one school of thought that thinks that President Bush’s visit is not very positive for the country because the US is steadily warming up, President Bush in particular warming up to the Tanzanian government, it means that there is some kind of lobbying going on, most probably wanting Tanzania to build AFRICOM, [a] military base.  But also there is negativity in terms of foreign policy of the US generally, and particularly President Bush’s foreign policy on War on Terror.

 

Tanzanians are very involved in international affairs and therefore they do not separate what goes on in Iraq and Iran and then what aid comes in Tanzania.  The positive aspect of it is that Tanzania does not feature very much in international news and does not get too much publicity, because it’s certainly a peaceful country.  So this is a chance mainly for the country to get some publicity but also probably there is going to be some investment and tourism promotion.  Of course that aid that President Bush is expected to come is very much welcome in our country, and malaria — malaria program has been somewhat positive in the Zanzibar Isles, but the major, major argument against welcoming Bush really got to do with the foreign policy.  Tanzania is always seen as champion for oppressed people and promoting peace, and therefore a visit by a person who is known to be a sort of a war mongrel on other soil does not fit very well with other Tanzanians.

 

Emira Woods:            Sakina, thank you.  The line was a bit unclear, but we will hopefully continue to work on that throughout the call.  We next have Ezekiel Pajibo.

 

Ezekiel Pajibo:          Well, thank you very much.  This is Ezekiel Pajibo, I am a Liberian.  I would like to speak to President Bush’s visit to Liberia.  I believe that most Liberians, like myself, are appreciative of the fact that the United Nations decided to intervene in the Liberian civil war to bring it to an end.  We also are very much appreciative of the fact that we had the freest and fairest elections in Liberian history that produced the first woman President on the African continent.  I think what the Liberian people are not interested in is consolidating the peace as we are entrenching our democratic order.  We believe that we wish our peace entrenched and our democratic order entrenched is by investing in the development of our human resources.  We think that the current US policy toward Liberia is not helpful in that regard.

 

Specifically, one of the major involvements of the American government right now is in the reestablishment of the Liberian armed forces.  As you are probably aware, the armed forces in the country right now has been established by a militarily contracting firm called DynCorp.  The Americans are spending more than $150 million in planning to establish a new military force.  We think that this is an ill-advised policy.

 

One, because the creation of the force is not responsive to Liberia constitutional dictates.  According to our constitution, the national army should be created by the national legislature.  As far as we are concerned, national legislature is not involved in this personal undertaking, and we find that very, very problematic.  No. 2, historically the Americans have been involved in the training of the Liberian army, and thus far that training has not produced a kind of a military that has been beneficial to the country’s economic development and the development of its people.  Instead, this previous army that the American’s helped to create led us to war.  So, we are hoping that President Bush’s trip will ensure that the American involvement with Liberia will largely be in the areas of human development in terms of, you know, education – investment in the educational sector — investment in the health sector, because we do know that only an educated people who have skills and are healthy can produce a prosperous economy and the prosperous economy is the bulwark against tyranny.

 

So we hope that this trip will look at those [issues that] Liberians are very much interested in which includes, like I said previously, education, health, and the serious unemployment situation in the country.  At the moment, unemployment is about 85% and we thinking that by adding value on our exports we will be able to create jobs.  So the question of job creation, jobs that pay very well, not the kind of jobs that Firestone is employing in the country.  You know that Liberia is host to the Firestone rubber plantation, which pays slave wages to its employees, and the employees do not have any form of protection in terms of their rights, in terms of their exposure to hazardous working conditions.  So we are calling for, you know, the kind of employment that will respect workers’ rights, that will respect workers’ safety, and that will ensure that workers work in environments that give them dignity.  We hope that the President Bush visit would try to look at these areas.  Thank you very much.

 

Emira Woods:            Thank you Ezekiel.  With that we’ve have come to end of our opening comments and we can move to questions from those who are on the call.  Just to do a quick recap.  We hear from all of the speakers this morning some positives in terms of the expectations of this Bush trip.  Positives around tourism: Sakina talked about in Tanzania and the potential for tourism and added publicity for Africa, which is often marginalized in the media.  So those are seen as some positives: Potentials of investment flowing from the attention that is coming because of the Bush trip, we listed positives.  You heard a quite a number of negatives as well.  Negatives around the — especially the legacy of Iraq and the potential for militarism as the US expands its interest in Africa: issues around the environment and oil and extractive industries that feature heavily 90% of US investments, issues around both HIV/AIDS funding levels that are now flat lined, and also commitments on debt that are still needed to push forward real progress on debt cancellations.  So that is a short sort of encapsulation of what we have said already.  Now we turn it to you for your questions or comments.

 

Operator:       Okay.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question or comment at this time please press the one on your touchtone phone in order to enter the queue.  Once again, if you have a question at this time please press the one on your touchtone in order to enter the queue.  Sheryl Stolberg from the New York Times.

 

Sheryl Stolberg:        Hi.  I wonder if any of you could put this trip in a little bit broader context.  The President is going to Africa to talk about his own legacy which he thinks is a good thing, and he feels like this is a positive for him, but there’s unrest in Chad, in Kenya, there is a lot of difficult issues on the continent that he doesn’t seem to be addressing on this trip and I am wondering how much you all feel that he needs to address this?

 

Emira Woods:            Okay.  We will start with Roxanne.

 

Roxanne Lawson:     Thank you for your question.  I think it’s actually quite glaring that the President’s not addressing what’s going on in Kenya right now.  As you well know Kenya benefited dramatically from an increase in aid from the US, mostly military aid, after they agreed to work with us during the global War on Terror in addition of Kenyan nationals, and nationals from other parts of Africa.  We also hears the comments of Jendayi Frazer last week, which I think supported the Bush administration’s mandate at that time to support the government of Kibaki and not to actually listen to what Kenya civil society was saying, or to what average Kenyans were saying.  I think it’s actually really glaring that the US government, who had Kenya as one of its largest allies for the last eight years is not – neither visiting Kenya nor commenting on what’s going on there, and the State Department has increasingly removed itself from its last phase (Ph) to be in Kenya any real way.

 

Gerald LeMelle:        In addition, what about a country – I’m sorry, Gerald from Africa Action.  What about addressing Ethiopia, our friends in Ethiopia.  The United States has helped orchestrate Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia which has created an enormous humanitarian and human rights crisis, I am not certain that any national security goals have been accomplished because the area is now ripe for a great deal of anti-Americanism because they’ve not only destabilized Somalia but – and – but they’ve also destabilized Ethiopia because now Ethiopia is getting hit on both sides from Eritrea and from in the Ogaden region.  So he is completely avoiding this even though this was a major foreign policy initiative by the administration, and this after he ignored the democratic aspirations of the Ethiopian people and sided with Melis Zenawi in 2005, and now doesn’t find time on his schedule to visit.

 

Emira Woods:            Ezekiel, would you like to comment on this question?

 

Ezekiel:          Yeah, I think I would agree with the last speaker in terms of the US rule in Somalia.  With no doubt, the war — there’s a proxy war again the Horn of Africa is subject to proxy wars, and we think that that is very, very decisive, that’s the reason why we have a problem with the militarization of US foreign policy in Africa because we know that one of the most important interventions right now in Africa by the American Government is its support for the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.  And we know now that the conditions in Somalia are not better off than prior to the Ethiopian invasion.  That Somalia is large (indiscernible) risk and I think this is an extremely important issue.  As well, we talk about the question of US unilateralism on the continent.  As we know, there is serious movement towards trying to get a United Nation peacekeeping force into Darfur, into Sudan, but again here we don’t see a serious US presence and that’s what we have heard.  We see that the intention to station Africom in Africa is not to assess Africans in terms of problems, but essentially to respond to American interest on the continent because if that was not the case, then the American will have a front row in terms of how we address the prevailing conditions in the continent in the case of Darfur, in the Sudan, in the case of the situation in Chad right now, and as well as Somalia.  But again we want to reiterate that what is important is how does the United States of America as part of a multi-lateral undertaking in Africa and not have the unilateral project.  And I think that’s why the Bush legacy is not much of a legacy to speak about because it’s a legacy of unilateralism that has not responded to the need of the African people.

 

Emira Woods:            Thank you, Ezekiel.  Sakina, do you want to comment on the broader issues of the Bush legacy in Africa and the context in which this trip is happening.  Sakina?

 

Sakina Datoo:            Yes.  But just before that I would just like to comment on the Kenyan situation in particular.  I think for us here, this the fact that Bush is totally avoiding any discussion on the conflict in Kenya this justifies and simplifies actually the hypocrisy of the Bush administration in general.  We have been said here already by the embassies and by our own government that we should not really be questioning why President Bush is not talking about Kenya and why he is not visiting Kenya, we should totally concentrate on what he is bringing to Tanzania.  But you cannot really escape from the fact that we are an East African — we are now in the process of forming an East African community — and what is going on Kenya really directly affects us.  And the way we see it is that President Bush was one of the first people to congratulate Kibaki or – and this is really just typical of the way the American and the Bush in particular has been responding, they only like democracy when it suits them.  So this just signifies really for us the whole hypocrisy of President Bush.

 

Emira Woods:            Thank you so much.

 

Sakina Datoo:            On the issue of his legacy I think this is now sugarcoating really, because the questions being raised here by academicians is that where was President Bush all this time, why suddenly this morning up to Tanzania and suddenly throwing in this money, when at the beginning of his presidency he made it very clear there was a little African attention in his policy.  So we just see this move as not really an innocent move, he is coming to Tanzania four days out of his seven days trip to Africa, he is definitely lobbying for something.  Africom is one of the things we don’t know what else he wants, Tanzania is very vocal at the United Nation about countries that are oppressed in our view, and maybe the US wants Tanzania to join it more often in its voting patterns; those are the kinds of discussions that go on in this country.

 

Emira Woods:            Thank you, Sakina.  That’s Sakina Datoo, Chairperson of the Editors’ Forum of Tanzania.  We’re going to go to more questions and we’ll try to have only two responses so that we get all the questions in.  Is there another question?

 

Operator:       Certainly.  And once again as a reminder, if you’d like to enter the queue, please press the one on your phone.  Ben Feller from the Associated Press.  Mr. Feller.

 

Ben Feller:     Yes, I am sorry.  This is Ben Feller from AP, can you hear me?

 

Operator:       Yes.

 

Ben Feller:     Okay, thank you.  I had a question for Mr. Zeitz in particular, but also if anyone else on a broader group can comment.  He had mentioned that the PEPFAR program, I believe, is extremely flawed because it advances an ideological approach; can you elaborate on what you mean about that?  And then also if the group can comment more broadly about whether PEPFAR has been a success.  It’s certainly portrayed that way by the administration and by many in Congress, I’d like to get some reaction from your end.  Thank you.

 

Zeitz:   Yeah, if I could just start off and then open it up to others.  When President Bush launched the initiative in 2003 there was a policy around prevention programs that required two-thirds of the sexual prevention money to go to abstinence and Be-faithful programming.  There’ve been independent reports from the GAO and from the Institute of Medicine that have shown that that program, the way it was implemented, distorted country programming, and countries that wanted to implement a balanced approach to prevention had to distort their programs in order to be in compliance with the administration’s policy.  The program also prevented the effective integration of sexual and reproductive health services into HIV/AIDS prevention programming and that also led to – and has led to a big distortion in the way health programs for women are being implemented.  So I think there are activists and perspectives from African governments all over the continent that have been viewing this side of the program in a very negative way.

 

Emira Woods:            This is Emira, I am moderator but I’d love to jump in here and add my two cents as well.  I think many of us were back in 2002 following PEPFAR and understanding that it was a two-year process before PEPFAR even got up and running, the delays in efficiency, in establishing what was a unilateral program at the time when the entire world was coming together around a multilateral effort — the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria — instead of putting emphasis, putting resources, prioritizing that global initiative, the Bush administration went it alone and established PEPFAR and it has incredibly politically driven and ideologically driven, and so you see these, you know, abstinence virginity parades all over the continent from Uganda all the way through to Zimbabwe.  And it is these types of constraints on the funding that has actually led to greater inefficiency and an overall flaw in the Bush administration’s PEPFAR program.  We can also talk about access to drugs and the lack of availability of medicines particularly in African countries and all of the issues around the WTO and the negotiations on trade that have actually curtailed the availability of drugs to countries throughout the continent.  So it is both a critic of PEPFAR that you hear throughout the continent as well as an overall critic of a go-it-alone attitude at the time of an incredible global opportunity, so it was an opportunity lost.  Next question?

 

Operator:       Here we have a question from April Ryan from American Urban Radio.

 

April Ryan:     Good morning.  I am listening to the conference call and I hear a lot of concern about Kenya, the fact that the President is not going to Kenya, but is it more concern right now, from those on this call, the experts on the call, is mostly more so about Kenya, than about the Congo, than about Darfur, than about Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Chad?

 

Emira Woods:            Gerald?

 

Gerald LeMelle:        Are you saying – this is Gerald LeMelle; I am not sure I got the question…

 

April Ryan:     What I am saying is…

 

Emira Woods:            The question is just prioritizing.

 

April Ryan:     Yes.

 

Emira Woods:            I think that’s your question…

 

April Ryan:     Yes, yes.

 

Emira Woods:            Prioritizing these various conflicts on the continent?

 

April Ryan:     Yes.

 

Emira Woods:            Prioritizing over…

 

April Ryan:     Because, I mean, I’d talk to…

 

Emira Woods:            The other conflicts?

 

April Ryan:     Right.  I’ve talked to an expert before and they said, look, they didn’t did – they didn’t particularly like the trip because, yes, he’s focusing on HIV and AIDS and things of that nature, talking about legacy, but they are saying “the continent is burning with Kenya, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo and Darfur,” and he is not going or addressing those issues and that’s – and I keep hearing all of you talk about Kenya mostly, because I guess that’s the most recent newest thing.

 

Emira Woods:            So, just to be clear, folks on this call have been talking about a lot of different issues, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Darfur, to Zimbabwe, there has been activism particularly from Africa Action, TransAfrica Forum, Foreign Policy in Focus, on a range of issues.  So, clearly what has happened in Kenya is the most recent, well, actually some would say Chad is the most recent, we can certainly talk about Chad as well.  There are tremendous challenges throughout the continent.  The question is really; how are these challenges to be met?  Are the challenges to be met by support for the core building blocks of development, which is education, housing, healthcare, or are the challenges to be met my increased militarization from the US on the African continent.  That is much more the issue today.

 

Roxanne Lawson:     This is Roxanne from TransAfrica Forum.  I think also one of the biggest issues is the role the US has played.  The role – US has played a very powerful role in the Horn of Africa and in its destabilization of that region, and so when we highlight Kenya or Somalia, it’s because US tax dollars and the Bush administration has been focusing on these countries.  And by, you know, aiding and abetting the Ethiopians as they invade Somalia to disrupt that country yet again, and do AFRICOM, which as State Department’s – Department of Defense — official said is what they want to see in the future, AFRICOM is actually a way for the US to support countries like Ethiopia as they invade other countries in Africa, that we are highlighting those things because that’s where we are most responsible as US Americans and the Bush Administration is most culpable.

 

Emira Woods:            Okay.  Next question?

 

Operator:       Okay.  At the moment, there’s no one in the queue.  If you would like to take the advantage, please press the one on your phone.

 

Emira Woods:            I don’t know if we want to ask April if she wants to follow up.

 

Operator:       Yeah, she is there.  April?

 

April Ryan:     Yes, I am right here.  Yeah, I want to come back also.  And also on the issue, the energy issue; this Administration said they are trying to help build infrastructure in Africa to be able to start utilizing more of the natural resources, whereas China is going in and not necessarily building infrastructure but just basically, in essence, raping the country — the continent – what are your thoughts about that, and if you could talk a little bit more about the energy issue in the United States?

 

Gerald LeMelle:        Well, the United…

 

Emira Woods:            Sorry.  Gerald LeMelle from Africa Action.

 

Gerald LeMelle:        It’s interesting because historically the Chinese have been – have invested a far greater amount of foreign aid into African infrastructures than the United States, and this – even still the Chinese investment has been very small.  The United States has not made clear exactly what it’s going to do in developing the infrastructure, whether it’s going to be designed to build the economies of the African countries, or just simply to protect the corporations.  There are so many questions they have not answered with regard to the investments.  For example, when they go in an attempt to stabilize, if you have a situation, like say Nigeria, where people are frustrated with the spillage of oil into the environment and the failure of the oil companies to reinvest any money into the communities out of which they are pulling billions and billions of dollars in oil, if you – what will the United States do? Are they going to go in and fire on people who are protesting, are they going to side with the oil companies, are they going to protect the oil companies — that seems to be consistent with the ideology, and certainly the past practice of the last seven years of this administration, and indeed the US policy going back since the beginning of the Cold War.  So, the United States can attempt to compare themselves to China all they want favorably, but the facts do not bear that out.

 

Emira Woods:            Roxanne Lawson…

 

Sakina Datoo:            Can I come in here?

 

Emira Woods:            Oh, please Sakina.  This is Sakina Datoo of…

 

Sakina Datoo:            I mean, I – I think, what I would like to comment here is that I know that when President Bush comes here, he is going to be signing the Millennium Challenge Account, it’s a lot of money being used from that [unclear] funds for energy and infrastructure projects in Tanzania.  And I just want to make it clear that for a country like ours, a developing nation, all that money is really important.  We think [unclear] extent, but it’s going to go into budget support.  However there’s a lot of really issues to look at more in depth, please – like for example, if you look at the energy sector, the energy sector in Tanzania at the moment is really in a crisis.  We have a lot of problems, but those problems are – are to do with [investors].  For example, we have strong mining community around here, most of the investors in the mining and energy sectors are foreign investors, and a lot of these investors, when they come in, at once give on for the contract signed in this country are by the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Bank, and then these are influenced by the American Government.

 

So we have ended up having such bad contracts.  Like, for example in the energy sector, Tanzania is paying a very big price for two or three very very bad contracts.  In fact as we talk now the cabinet has been dissolved in this country, the Prime Minister has stepped down because one of the crises is to do with the energy sector.  So we really think that if Africa was to be held, in particular if the US wanted to help Tanzania, how they would – there are so many different ways of doing it.  In the way they deal with us in the World Trade Organization, the policies that America supports of subsidizing farmers, they will be advised on issues of mining and foreign investment, we feel a lot to be desired.  So just commenting with at presently your monetary aid money for health projects while giving us on the other side, with other issues really don’t order very well.

 

Emira Woods:            Thank you, Sakina.  Next question?

 

Operator:       Hey, there are no further questions at this time.

 

Emira Woods:            Okay.  Well, we thank you all for taking the time to join us today.  We want to make it known to you that we have several resources that will be available after the call.  First, you will have a set of quotes, as well as contact persons in all of the countries except Benin, I think.  We managed to get contact people in most of the countries that will be included in the trip, those contact information are all available for you as well as the quotes.  We will have an audio copy available of this call by the end of today for anyone who needs it as well as a transcript.  We are also producing a special edition of Foreign Policy in Focus as well as Pambazuka News, and we hope to coordinate with other news outlets as well as op-eds and commentaries on the Bush trip.  And please look to Foreign Policy in Focus (www.fpif.org), for those pieces, and they will be related to all of the issues touched on today.

 

The call has been really sponsored by a number of organizations including TransAfrica Forum, Africa Action, Jubilee USA, Global AIDS Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, and Africa Faith and Justice Network; there is a long list of others that I’m not remembering at this point, but please look to the individual websites of these organizations for further analysis.  And we especially call your attention to Africa Policy Outlook 2008 produced by Africa Action, just last week hot off the press which touches on a number of these issues including HIV/AIDS and debt, development, as well as militarism in Africa.  We thank our Africa based colleagues, we should have also held up Priority Africa Network as well as Third World Network — the range of organizations is many that have participated in this effort to date.  We thank all of you for you interest, we thank you for your time and we wish you a safe trip those who are traveling, and continued engagement with Africa issues for those who are not.  Many thanks.

 

Operator:       Again, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today, we ask that you please disconnect your lines at this time.

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