Josephat Juma of The African Executive was privileged to meet His Excellency Kelebert Nkomani, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to
Having served as an envoy in foreign countries,
I stayed in Belgium for three years and
I have been looking at how you run your tourism sector, your agriculture (particularly the small scale), your experiences in wildlife - they relate to what is of interest to my country. The developed world is however ahead of us, so there’s much less to relate to in terms of what may be transferable or relevant to our home situation. Our relation with the developed world hinges on trying to attract investment, encourage technology transfer and woo tourists among others.
Why is the developed world ahead of us?
There isn't a single answer to this. However, countries have developed at different paces. One can go to the theory of need. Some people talk about the weather in Europe forcing europeans to create ways and means of coping with the environment in order to survive whereas the heat in Africa probably encourages laziness- but let me not get into that. If a country puts systems that reward effort and encourage productivity in place, it will develop.
Some analysts ascribe it to plunder.
That’s a later development after the partitioning of Africa. There was a lot of looting of wealth. I was in
What can we learn from the developed world?
The organizational systems that they have been able to put in place to manage their economic and political life. There’s a lot too that we can learn from their technology. With technology however, you have to borrow it in accordance with what you require. You can’t just transplant what is working out there and transfer it to your own environment and expect it to work. You have to take into account where you are as a country and what you require in order to make maximum use of the technology and resources at your disposal.
What is the impact of economic sanctions on your country?
They definitely are affecting the
That is what the foreign media would have the world believe. We have considerable challenges, I must admit, but we are not the devils we are painted to be. People are trying to survive as best as they can under difficult circumstances. We have booming trade and entrepreneurial initiatives at private and local level. Let me give you an example. Countries badly affected by HIV/Aids have been receiving global funds to fight it.
What is your view on African integration?
The process towards the integration of Africa is positive. It should be embraced and supported by all Africans. When the colonial powers broke up
Generally speaking our countries are small. You cannot expect to create a major industry around a population of 1 million. It won’t be viable. You need volumes in order to bring down the unit cost. You need a large market in order to enable you build viable operations be it in agriculture or in manufacturing. So I support the thrust towards the integration of Africa totally. In fact I am happy to say that I was closely associated with development of the SADC and COMESA processes (at a junior level) and I think they are contributing towards understanding among Africans and more so creating a market which will make it viable for operations to be set up in our areas.
When you were secretary for Industry and Commerce, you were quoted in The Star, a Malaysian daily saying that “Most developing countries are already having difficulties in reconciling their legal, administrative and economic systems to the
That was long ago and I can’t remember very well in which context I spoke those words. However, there were certain positions being advanced in the WTO which the developing world felt were not in their interest as it would impact negatively on their trade revenues and legal structures. The international trade arrangements as they stand currently are unequal. Certain goods that are of interest to African countries are finding difficulty in accessing developed countries’ markets. This is due to subsidies given to farmers in the developed world and non tariff barriers – where developing countries are required to meet very stringent standards before they can export into a foreign country. They will say the level of pesticide residue in a particular product should be at this level- but they know very well that you need to use pesticides in order to ensure that your plant survives. Even for fertilizer, they require certain standards that are almost unattainable.
Now there is a new measure in relation to climate change which is bound to affect your flowers. If food travels for long distance in the air, say from Africa to Europe, they say that carbon is emitted into the air, hence contributing to global warming. They forget that in
Why is it difficult for African Countries to make a clear stand in crucial situations?
The cost implication. I don’t however imply that this is the only reason. Suppose you get aid from somewhere, you must really weigh the stand you take, as your pronouncement might make you lose aid.
Does it mean foreign aid influences Africa's policies?
Foreign aid is an instrument of foreign policy. The giver gives it with a view of attaining certain objectives in his foreign policy. If you are given aid, there’s always a condition to it. It may not always be plain or outright, but aid always has a measurable foreign policy component.
What is your relationship with
We’ve had a good relationship with