terça-feira, 20 de novembro de 2012

MOZAMBIQUE: Estacio’s Forest

By : Pietro Guglielmetti Edicted by:Cenqiz Aktar, a professor of Political Science at the University of Istanbul Estacios Valoy is a journalist of the Zambezi Newspaper, but first of all, my friend. For three years we have exchanged weekly emails. They updated me on what is happening in Mozambique. When I don’t receive mails from Estacios I just take a look at his blog (http://valoie.blogspot.it/) to find out where he is, and in what trouble he’s getting into. That’s how I found out that on November 2, at Witts University of Johannesburg he has won the FAIR award for the best article in the field of investigative journalism with a courageous piece in denouncing the looting of forest resources in the province of Zambezia (northern Mozambique) with the complicity of the political authorities and the law enforcement agency. 1) Estacios are you worried? The prize is something that gratifies yes, but don’t you think that it would put you in an awkward position with respect to all the people you denounce? Unfortunately investigative journalism is open to harassment and threats. I, as any other investigative journalist, always face these problems. But I work to inform the public. Regarding the people involved on timber looting, generals, governors, community leaders, ordinary people, I could say that I shall keep writing despite the dangers. Although I live with one eye and one ear always on alert, it is my duty towards future generations to denounce this awful crime. Unfortunately in countries like Mozambique, leaders commit errors and at the end of the day they are re-appointed to other positions. They are basically those who support President Armando Guebuza’s 3D policy: Disintegrate Destabilize and Dismount. In exchange of their loyalty they get the authority to control natural resources. Regarding the prize, I was surprised when the presenter announced my name. It gratifies me but I got my real prize when the story was first published. The prize will cover the expenses of my investigative work. I think the prize also opened some new doors. For now I keep working. 2) We keep writing but it seems to me that nothing changes. All these efforts to shed light on illegal trafficking of timber and timber companies continue to do their business, you continue to investigate, and the forest disappears. What do you imagine will happen tomorrow? Some people say that Africa is dynamic, vibrant and is the future! Africa is changing rapidly. High economic growth rates, immense natural and human resources, developments in communication, better and accountable systems of government are transforming the continent. Usually such statements are made by senior government officials to hide their disastrous accounts while they enjoy life on the swimming pools and earn good salaries. The fact is that while Africa is becoming economically attractive life of Africans is not improving. The truth is that the Mozambican citizen is awake and claiming for his/her rights. Now all the public figures must declare their possession. A new law was approved last week. We want to have our future in our hands. I agree with you view point when you say “seems to me that nothing changes”. But changes happen despite the lack of accountability on extractive policies, constantly violated by individuals, including government officials. For example “African mining vision” a document to be launched next year in Ethiopia, focuses on how better Africa can tackle the issue of extractive resources. My concern is how seriously these codes of conduct and action plans will be taken in consideration and implemented. Usually some agreements are disregarded when it comes to face the facts. Like before in the forest sector, today in Mozambique the mineral concessions are being approved like mushrooms. Once again officials are grabbing the concession, thus privileging a small group of people. As some local analysts such as Firmino Mucavele say ‘we are walking 200 km per hour instead of 10 km per hour and we will end up with a country full of holes while some are taking the money away. I do subscribe. Measures need to be taken to avoid the errors of the past. 3) Do you know that in Italy few people know where Mozambique is, and even fewer know that the wood-floors of their homes come from your forests? I think it is a matter of conscience, curiosity. This is an issue affecting the entire global community. Take the climate change. How can they better address this issue without having any idea about what is happening in other parts of the world in terms of deforestation? Africa has been a source for many European countries including Italy. The politicians know exactly where Mozambique is. I think now the people need to know where Mozambique and other African countries are. They should know also if their tax money is duly utilized in form of development aid. In Mozambique we have quite a number of Italian NGO’s operating. Perhaps they have to create a new NGO called ‘Dead Aid’ to raise awareness on the plunder of natural resources? I leave this question to the Italian citizen. 4) We have often talked about land grabbing. Who are the companies or countries that are pushing in this direction? What happens to the expropriated? Yes, grabbing of land is not a new practice. Selling, attributing lands to companies such as Anadarko or to the Chinese, Brazilians, South Africans and Indians for agriculture, tourism or timber… is common practice. But there is a huge gap between the infrastructure the companies built for local communities to reduce poverty and their benefits. In Pemba for example ordinary people are convinced to sell their land. They receive amounts they cannot dream of. But at the end they don’t know how to continue to live once the money is extinguished. Mozambican political nomenklatura is also grabbing land for their personal benefits. As mentioned above, mineral concessions are like mushrooms. You open the public newspapers “noticias” and they all appear there. 5) Green Timber is one of your favorite targets as it is one of the largest and most common woods in Mozambique. If we take a look with Internet research we cannot find a lot of information about this company. It's like fighting with no-one. Indeed. In terms of volume, 350,000 m3 of timber in logs enter China and these are figures from 2011. But if you look to Mozambican annual reports from DNTF, the total amount registered of exported timber to the world is 212,000 m3. The comparison clearly demonstrates the timber smuggling. There is no ghost to fight with but people? Who are the people behind this and other companies involved on timber smuggle in and from Mozambique! We know and also the government. The question is why does not the government take serious action against these people? As you know their call themselves comrades ‘fighting under the same struggle” not against corruption but in favor of it. Before like recently. Mozambique The table above suggests that the volume of logs which China declares as imports from Mozambique increased rapidly since the 1990's - particularly during 2007 - but declined somewhat during 2008 and 2009. China's imports of sawn wood (70,000m3 during 2009 - equivalent to roughly 120,000m3 of logs) have risen, offsetting that decline. Per cubic meter of logs, import values increased from about US$250/m3 to roughly US$450/m3 between 2000 and 2008. In contrast, export values appear to have varied about an average of US$150/m3 (using UN Comrade as the source of export values and China's import statistics for volume). Although this might imply (increasing) transfer pricing fraud, transportation costs rose very substantially towards the end of that period [Ocean Freight Index]”. The Finish government decided to cut the expenses on deforestation in Mozambique because the Mozambican government has not complied with the requirements of the agreement. President Guebuza’s policy of “Green revolution” is a complete failure. Recently Matti Kääriäinen from the Finnish Government said that Helsinki decided to abandon its support on forest sector due the disappointing results... (Lusa) 6) Would it be possible to find connections between Green Timber and multinational companies that use illegal wood from Mozambique when it comes out of the country? In my view you could move to the level of information from local to global, to boycott companies that supply illegal timber. I think is possible. For instance we follow multinationals in China such as: “The data which appear anomalous in the chart are attributable to logs declared as imports for enterprises located in Beijing Chaoyangqu (February 2007), Shanghai Xuhiuqu (February and June 2007), Zhejiang Wenzhou (August 2007), Zhejiang Huzhou (September 2007), and Guangdong Guangzhoushi (April 2006 and April 2007). Note: corresponding import value data show the same pattern (there are no apparent anomalies in import value per unit of wood volume)”. And this happens not only in China. Will keep working on! Estacios Thanks for your work.

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