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INSIDE AFRICA: Angola, Road to Recovery

Aired May 22, 2004 - 12:30:00   ET


TUMI MAKGABO, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Angola two years after the end of nearly three decades of war. We'll hear from critics who say the misappropriation of oil revenue is hampering the country's reconstruction.

Then, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos responds to criticism and talks about his plans for the future.

I'll take you to Shashamene in Ethiopia, the land that some call the birthplace of modern day Rasta.

Plus, fighting to keep the HIV infection down in Kenya's Maasailand.

These and other stories ahead on this edition of INSIDE AFRICA.


MAKGABO: Hello and good to have you join us again. I'm Tumi Makgabo.

In the spotlight this week, the southern African nation of Angola, a country that's trying to remake itself after 27 years of war. A peace deal signed two years ago ended the fighting just weeks after rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, was killed.

Now, efforts to rebuild the country are being overshadowed by a new battle, a controversy over how the country's oil revenue is spent; this, as thousands of Angolans head home from refugee camps in neighboring countries.


MAKGABO (voice over): This is the Angolan town of Kozombo (ph), where thousands of returning refugees have settled after spending more than a decade in camps in neighboring countries. They're among hundreds of thousands of Angolans who have returned home since the civil war ended two years ago.

The World Food Program, the WFP, says with thousands of people expected to be repatriated between June and November, the number of returnees could swell to 1.4 million, and many are coming back to conditions similar to those at the refugee camps they're leaving -- severe food shortage, lack of sufficient housing and lack of access to medical care.

The WFP says it needs a minimum of 136 million U.S. dollars to feed the refugees. In Kozombo (ph), some returnees are trying to help themselves by engaging in subsistence farming.

JANE WILLIAMSON, UNHCR: Well, people are concerned about their food security. The crops from last year were not enough, and they didn't get enough state assistance from last year. So, most people are expecting to be hungry in the next 6 to 12 months.

MAKGABO: Critics say the government could be doing more to help. Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's second-largest producer of oil, but they say massive corruption and the misappropriation of billions of dollars from the country's oil revenue are hampering recovery efforts. The government used money from oil sales to fund the 27-year war, and international rights groups say between 1997 and 2002 more than $4 billion of the country's oil revenue remained unaccounted for.

SARAH WYKES, GLOBAL WITNESS: What we're concerned about is that the same structures of state looting are still in place now, and that this will basically hamper the reconstruction efforts. And the oil revenues that should be going to fund the reconstruction of the country will not actually reach the people that might need them.

MAKGABO: The International Monetary Fund, the IMF, has been in the forefront of the campaign for greater transparency in Angola. Since 2001, the fund has sent several teams to the country and insists that more than $4 billion of oil revenue remain missing. But rights groups say in recent months, the government has shown a willingness to cooperate with those calling for transparency.

WYKES: The government has recently made some positive steps. For example, it has published a recent audit of the National Oil Company.

MAKGABO: Even the IMF has lauded the government for authorizing the publication of the audit, but it insists that efforts should continue to bring about greater transparency.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was in Washington last week, pushing for a donors' conference for Angola's reconstruction. But the Washington- based rights group, Human Rights Watch, says the time is not yet right for such a conference.

ARVIND GENASSEN, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: So, while there are dire humanitarian needs in the country, if the government isn't completely open and transparent about the money it receives and how it spends it, there is a danger that a donors' conference alone and massive sums coming in would simply end up subsidizing mismanagement.

MAKGABO: And for these returnees, many of whom are oblivious to the fight over their country's wealth, all they can do is wait and hope for the best.


The man at the center of the fight over Angola's wealth is Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has led the country for 25 years. But just who is this man who's been accused of mismanaging his country's oil revenue? And how does he respond to those allegations?


MAKGABO (voice over): He was not, by some people's reckoning, a likely candidate for the presidency when he took office in 1979. It was only following the death of then President Agostinho Neto that Jose Eduardo dos Santos became the president of Angola. The former militant in the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, dos Santos fought to gain independence for his country from Portugal.

As president, he led the MPLA through decades of war against the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi.

These days, his primary focus is rebuilding his country and convincing the world that recent moves towards reform and transparency, particularly when it comes to oil revenue, are genuine.

During a recent visit to the United States, he addressed criticism of his government's long-time refusal to declare how it spends its oil money.

JOSE EDUARDO DOS SANTOS, ANGOLAN PRESIDENT (through translator): And the money that we receive from the oil incomes, as well as the bonus of the signing of the contracts, these are monies of the state. And the budget, after all, though, is adopted by parliament, which in the following years they execute that budget. So, all of the revenues from oil, they are used by the government in order to solve the problems of the society.

MAKGABO (on camera): Certainly, it is one thing to be in a position where there is a process of transparency, as you pointed out. However, one cannot deny that within your country, there are still numerous people who are residents of Angola who want to stay in the country, who say that they don't see the benefits of any of this money that's coming in, of any of the revenues from this oil. What do you say to them?

DOS SANTOS (through translator): What I would say to them is that if we didn't have oil, if we did not apply these oil revenues in the correct manner, we could not maintain -- we could not pay the salaries of the civil servants. We could not maintain public schools. We could not maintain public hospitals. And I would say that 80 percent of the state budget comes from oil revenues.

MAKGABO (voice over): But the controversy is not limited to oil revenue. There is also the question of the next election. Dos Santos won Angola's first multi-party vote in 1992, but the opposition, UNITA, charged forward, and the country's civil war resumed. There were sporadic periods of calm when efforts were made to implement a coalition government, but the fighting finally ended in 2002, when Jonas Savimbi was killed in a battle with government forces.

Since then, the international community, as well as the opposition, has been eagerly awaiting the announcement of new elections. The government insists, however, it is not ready.

DOS SANTOS (through translator): We are now creating the material, technical and legislative conditions to hold the elections. We feel that we need about two years in order to hold free and safe elections, transparent elections.

So, our target to hold elections in 2005 or 2006, and the president will call for the elections when the national assembly adopts or passes the legislative package for the elections. There is no interest in trying to postpone the synergy of this process.

MAKGABO (on camera): Let me ask you this, then: If you're saying that certainly you can't predict or say when they will be held, can you say whether you will run again?

DOS SANTOS (through translator): This is a decision that will be taken by my party.

MAKGABO: Would you like to?

DOS SANTOS (through translator): No. Personally no. Because I am a man who keeps his word. However, I'm a party militant. If my party does not have any alternative candidate, if this is an important decision for the stability, I will have to reflect on what to do.

MAKGABO: All right, Mr. President, I'm afraid we're going to have to leave it there. But, once again, thank you very much.

DOS SANTOS (through translator): Thank you.


MAKGABO: This week, opposition parties in Angola withdrew from the commission that's revising the constitution. They were protesting against what they say is a delay in the government's decision to schedule democratic elections.

And still ahead, Ethiopian Rastas battle for their land and their way of life. Stay with us for that.


MAKGABO: Welcome back.

About 170,000 kilometers south of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, is the small town of Shashamene. There you will find a tiny population of immigrants of mostly Jamaican origin. They're members of the Rastafarian religion who settled in Ethiopia at the invitation of the late emperor, Haile Selassie.

Today, they say their way of life is being threatened, as Seema Mathur reports.


SEEMA MATHUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Rastafarian religion inspired by Emperor Haile Selassie is what brought American Gladstone Robinson to Ethiopia 40 years ago.

GLADSTONE ROBINSON, RASTAFARIAN SETTLER: This is my culture. As a black man, I have to have my culture.

MATHUR: During his long tenure, Haile Selassie was a symbol of black empowerment to many. He gave settlers like young Robinson 500 acres of land to live on in the town of Shashamene. And Robison, like many Rastas, saw the late emperor as God incarnate.

ROBINSON: I pray to him every day, and I thank him every day. And I know he's going to guide and protect me.

MATHUR: Those prayers are needed now more than ever, because the Rastas' way of life in Ethiopia is being threatened. Most of the land granted by Haile Selassie has been reclaimed by local authority, and the Rastas are in a legal battle to get it back.

ROBINSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he had so much land. Now I want that land back.

MATHUR: Most Rastas in Shashamane, immigrants from Jamaica, have left. In fact, their numbers have dwindled from more than 2,000 to fewer than 300. But Robinson at age 73 is on family No. 2, and says he's not going anywhere.

ROBINSON: I have 12 children, you know. My son is 53, and my baby there is 2 years.

MATHUR: The Robinsons say they live peacefully with their Ethiopian neighbors, who are mostly Orthodox Christian and Muslim. But the Rastas' ways are being questioned. Marijuana is illegal in Ethiopia, but smoking is a spiritual ritual for the Rastas.

ROBINSON: I have to tell you the truth. I get a lot of discrimination.

MATHUR: Despite the growing difficulties, Rastas of all races and ages, continue to visit.

RAS JOEL, AMERICAN RASTA: It's through the music, opened my eyes to Rastafarian Bob Marley being one man who comes and shows the whole world the fullness of Rastafarian through lyrics.

MATHUR: The late Jamaican reggae artist is regarded as a prophet by many Rastas, and his lyrics set the tone for prayers here in Ethiopia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a heart beat, listen, do good. The heart beat, one, two, do good.

MATHUR: Doing good is now Robinson hopes others in Shashamene will view his community. Their support is needed if the Rastafarian way of life is to continue in its homeland.

Seema Mathur, INSIDE AFRICA, Atlanta.


MAKGABO: And just so that you know, the Rastafarian religion got its name from Haile Selassie, who was known as Ras, meaning "prince," and Tafari was his name. That was before he became emperor in 1930.

Well, it's time now for us to go over to our business desk to join Brenda Bernard. She has a look at your money -- Brenda.


We begin in Zimbabwe, where the tobacco industry is struggling to make a comeback after a sharp drop in production. Today, about 60 million kilograms of the once lucrative crop is auctioned off annually, and that's down from a record high of 230 million kilograms in 2000. Experts say the industry has been hit hard by economic crisis facing the country brought about by President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reform program.

Further complicating the problem was a strike last week by thousands of workers at auction houses in Harare. They walked off the job, demanding pay increases of over 300 percent.

Next to Ghana, where the stock market continued its bullish drive this week with the All-Share Index ending the week up by 3 percent. Akabai's (ph) Data Financial says strong first quarter results from listed companies boosted trade.


YOFI GRANT, DATABANK FINANCIAL SERVICES: Most of the companies seemed to have done pretty well on the back of strong fundamentals of the economy with a stable micro-economic environment. The city, Tutola (ph), has remained pretty stable, yet they haven't depreciated by not more than 3 percent. Inflation has also dropped down from pretty much 24 percent at the beginning of the year to 10 percent at the end of March -- or, sorry, April, and therefore has instilled some confidence in the economy.


BERNARD: There were 16 winners on the market this week and one loser. Experts expect the bullish trend to continue.

In our business spotlight this week, the vanilla industry in Uganda. With Madagascar suffering the devastating impact of a series of cyclones, Uganda has increased its production of vanilla.

More from Nadia Bilchik.


NADIA BILCHIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Aga Sekalaala takes time off from his office to inspect his crop. Sekalaala's company spearheaded the revival of Uganda's vanilla industry some 15 years ago.

Today, the industry is recognized internationally. Its biggest boost came when a series of cyclones destroyed crops in Madagascar, the world's largest supplier of vanilla. That pushed the price of the crop up in Uganda from $5 to $50 a kilo.

AGA SEKALAALA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, UVAN: There's no crop in this country which gives firmer, a good press like vanilla.

BILCHIK: Sekalaala says Ugandan farmers place high value on the crop. His company provides credit to farmers for school fees, local taxes and more.

SEKALAALA: We educate them. We hold seminars. We give them technical advice. We have good education staff in the countryside who are ready and willing to go to a farmer to help him.

BILCHIK: Today, Uganda exports about 55 tons of cured vanilla a year. The earnings have helped farmers like Samuel Kasi (ph) build a new house.

But with success comes pain. One kilo of vanilla can fetch up to $500 on the world market. And thieves have become a menace, forcing farmers to hire armed guards. That is pushing up costs.

SEKALAALA: They take these beans, they take the beans, they come at night to remove the beans, and they take them for sale.

BILCHIK: With the season's first harvest just around the corner, big profits are at stake. And Ugandan farmers will have to unite to protect the valuable bean that's transformed their lives.

For INSIDE AFRICA, I'm Nadia Bilchik.


BERNARD: That's a look at your money. I'm Brenda Bernard.

Tumi -- back to you.

MAKGABO: All right, Brenda, thank you very much.

And after the break, changing attitudes in one Kenyan community to help control HIV infections. Stay with us.


MAKGABO: Hello again.

Recently, a performance of Bizet's opera, "Carmen," was held in the heart of Kenyan Masailand (ph). Money raised from the open-air concert will be used to fight HIV/AIDS in Lekepia (ph) District, where the infection rate is lower than in other parts of Kenya.

And as Sylvia Smith reports, health workers are determined to keep it that way.


SYLVIA SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two Masai (ph) women at the Cottage Hospital for family planning advice -- something very rare in this still largely conservative society. But the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya is forcing a change in the social dictum here.

According to the government, 6.7 percent of Kenya's population is HIV- positive. The goal is to keep the infection rate down.

Medical practitioners here say the lifestyle of these nomadic people makes the risk of infection in areas like this more than twice the national average.

CHARLES KERIWANDERI, DISTRICT HEALTH EDUCATION OFFICER: The young nomadic Masais (ph) and even (UNINTELLIGIBLE) move out (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They leave their wives in the district.

SMITH: They come back to their villages with HIV/AIDS, often not knowing. Saying no to their husbands is a taboo in this culture. So, hospital staff members have begun counseling the women and their husbands on how to avoid being infected.

This outreach program has set up small clinics in the bush to help remote villages attempting to get the message of safe sex across in this far-flung place.

ALBERT KIBAYA, MEDICAL OUTRACH WORKER: So, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you can come. You counsel her or him, and then you (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So, you know, if you do that, you are going to know how the AIDS is in this area.

SMITH: And miles away from the hospital is this tiny Masai (ph) settlement. Here, there is no AIDS yet, and authorities are determined to keep it that way.

KIBAYA: The money from the opera will help us, you know. And when we are coming, we have a problem of Petetra (ph). When we come this way, the vehicle has to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and they have to go to their garage. So, I think if it is going to help us a lot and even to buy some medicine.

SMITH: Despite the determination of local health practitioners to keep the infection rate down, this is certainly an uphill struggle with limited resources for this outreach program. But with the injection of cash, the fight against AIDS can be far more effective.

For CNN's INSIDE AFRICA, I'm Sylvia Smith in Nanuki (ph), Kenya.


MAKGABO: And finally, the Akan Royal Court in what is now Ghana was once the most splendid in Africa, and gold played an important role in that splendor. Selections from the most substantial gold collection from that period are now on display at the High Museum in the United States city of Atlanta.

Curator Carol Thompson tells us why this royal regalia is so important.


CAROL THOMPSON, CURATOR FOR AFRICAN ART: Gold has been important in West Africa going way back in time. The Akan have more than 3,600 proverbs, and many of the proverbs are represented in the visual arts. Akan art includes a greater breadth of imagery than any other African sculptural form.

In Akan states of West Africa, when the chiefs appeared during festivals, they appeared under gigantic umbrellas, 10-foot-wide umbrellas.

I'm standing in front of a group of umbrella finials. They are sculptures carved out of wood, covered with gold leaf.

This finial shows a man in a trap to refer to the proverb, "Don't set traps; you might get caught in your own trap," to tell people that deceitfulness might backfire, and it's better to be honest.

The gong in the exhibition is an extraordinarily special gong. This gong has standing at the top of the handle the bird of San Kofa (ph). It's become a symbol -- a powerful symbol for peoples of African ancestry, as they claim their African heritage. But more generally, it refers to the idea that it's necessary to understand the past in order to live better in the present, and that can be true for all peoples of all ancestry.


MAKGABO: Carol Thompson of the High Museum of Arts in Atlanta.

And, as always, INSIDE AFRICA wants to hear from you, so please do send us an e-mail. The address is

And that's our look inside the continent for this week. I'm Tumi Makgabo. Thanks for watching.



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