As he campaigns for re-election in November, President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar doesn’t attempt to conceal his nation’s difficulties. After a time period dedicated to infrastructure, he needs to speed up industrialisation, increase agriculture, and encourage the non-public sector and human capital. Interview by Hichem Ben Yaïche.
In what way of thinking are you approaching the presidential election?
Madagascar has fallen behind when it comes to improvement. The expansion lengthy awaited by the inhabitants has not materialised. Because of this I’m operating for a second time period. I’ve carried out every part to compensate for development by means of the development of the infrastructure that the inhabitants wants.
I’ll simply give just a few examples. Many kids – not simply in Madagascar, however in Africa normally – stroll for a number of hours to highschool. In Madagascar, we face this actuality. With my authorities, I constructed 4,198 lecture rooms to coach greater than 2,200 schoolchildren and college students.
It is a report, not only for Madagascar however for Africa. Think about a big nation like Madagascar, with 25m inhabitants, from 1891 till 2019, we solely have 18 referral hospitals. Throughout my mandate I constructed 28 hospitals with working theatres, maternity wards, oxygen mills, and so forth.
Actually, the nation has come a good distance, however has such wants… What means does it have to fulfill them?
Exactly for that reason, throughout my first mandate, I attempted to construct and construct. Since independence now we have had solely 42 courts in our 119 districts. Even to acquire a authorized doc comparable to a felony report extract, folks had been obliged to journey, even cross the ocean, as in Sainte-Marie for instance. We have now constructed courts and hospitals to facilitate and help the each day wants of the inhabitants.
I additionally constructed the primary motorway in Madagascar. At this time, it takes 10-12 hours to journey the 360km from Antananarivo to the massive port of Tamatave. With the brand new highway, the journey will solely take 2 hours half-hour. It’s the improvement of those tasks that I want to proceed. Within the south of my nation, we nonetheless face famine from the drought which is hitting this area. We have now constructed a 97km pipeline to produce water to greater than 60 municipalities.
To be frank, poverty definitely persists, but it surely is for that reason that throughout the 5 years of my second mandate – I’m assured of successful these elections – I’ll above all deal with the inhabitants to realize the self-sufficiency in meals, give attention to the weakest and help younger folks to get them out of unemployment.
You need to be the embodiment of a “social president” who improves the human improvement of his nation. How are you going to go about it given the size of the challenges?
By directing our priorities. Till now, now we have labored on enhancing infrastructure; now we’ll give attention to human capital, promote coaching, implement industrialisation programmes, determine on incentives. The reforms that now we have undertaken reveal – as confirmed by the World Financial institution– that this motion may lead Madagascar to realize 4 factors extra development.
As soon as once more, how do you intend to improve the nation and carry it out of maximum poverty?
The thought is that each citizen needs to be helpful to their household and to their nation. To do that, as chief, the programme that I’ll put into motion is the industrialisation of the nation to create jobs. There shall be incentives…
What is going to the industrialisation you point out appear like, in a rustic the place 80% of households dwell from agriculture?
We’re within the means of structuring every part designated as “inexperienced”, we’re finishing up operations concerning the granting of land to farmers. We have now distributed as much as 2m land certificates thus far. It will facilitate entry to land. I’d cite the CAJEF (African Council of Younger French-speaking Entrepreneurs) programme that we developed with the World Financial institution; it helps farmers and contains incentive measures. It’s a milestone: every part that the Malagasy folks produce needs to be processed in Madagascar itself!
We see your ambition for the nation. Are you able to give us different concrete examples?
You already know, Madagascar is an enormous nation. However our potential, other than pure sources, is above all human capital. The inhabitants is younger; it wants a chief who charts the trail and units the milestones for improvement. Increasingly more individuals are adhering to my imaginative and prescient and my programme. They arrive to fulfill daily: 5,000 folks per day, from 3 am. We have now by no means seen a lot help and membership within the nation. They know that I’m patriotic and I really like my nation. The folks have faith in me and help my social challenge.
Actually, however among the many 13 candidates within the operating, 11 denounce unequal therapy by the general public authorities and excesses of all types. We additionally observe a reasonably tense environment which dangers tipping into violence. How do you react to all this?
The Malagasy inhabitants has gained lots in political maturity. Those that are candidates in the present day in opposition to me, going through me, are former presidents who’ve already led this nation and proven their limits within the administration of public affairs. Amongst them, there may be an outgoing candidate in 2018, who solely obtained 8% of the votes, the others collected 1%. It’s for all these causes that they’re manoeuvering in order that the elections don’t happen. However I strongly condemn the delaying ways of the opposition, particularly the candidates.
But, they criticise the general public authorities for utilizing means to stop them from finishing up their electoral campaigns and organizing themselves properly?
We don’t cease them. They’ve the suitable in the present day to marketing campaign however they don’t marketing campaign. They need to take to the streets to sow hassle, undermine the electoral course of… They’re afraid of the decision of the poll containers.
You will have typically talked about stability as a key issue for governing. At this time we see in little distance between democracy and autocracy on this planet. The place do you place the bar in your method to stability?
We can not develop a rustic with out peace, stability and above all continuity. At this time, the opposite candidates are blocking the event of Madagascar. They’re the enemies of the nation. Madagascar not wants a brand new disaster. The nation wants somebody who can carry folks and areas collectively, unite the armed forces, somebody who has a patriotic imaginative and prescient and who is able to do every part to get well and develop this nation. Any more, there is just one man who the folks know has the capabilities, expertise and expertise, particularly when it comes to disaster administration and administration of this nation. He’s the one the inhabitants will vote for throughout the elections.
An electoral disaster is rising. We observe the rise of tensions.
We have now by no means seen on this planet former heads of state who’re operating for presidential elections who illegally carry folks into the streets and who don’t take part within the electoral marketing campaign. They’ve permission to marketing campaign in stadiums. However they persist in eager to take to the streets as a result of they will’t discover many individuals to comply with them. That is what I strongly condemn. Actions that confiscate democracy and the voice of the bulk to precise themselves by means of elections.
How do you intend to conciliate the nation?
Democracy is the voice of the bulk. Democracy is when the bulk speaks, it’s when the bulk decides. And as they are saying, the voice of the folks is the voice of God. And I belief the selection of the folks.
Let’s return to financial questions. On the trail to emergence, how can Madagascar enter a part of industrialisation?
Madagascar should grow to be the rice granary of the Indian Ocean and Africa. Initially, we’ll help farmers, strengthen the coaching of younger folks so that every citizen turns into helpful and creates employment, we’ll construct, construct and supply respectable housing to the vast majority of populations who want it.
How are you going to mobilise donors to finance these programmes and tasks with out shedding management of your selections?
What has modified lots with the World Financial institution lately is that we, that’s to say the State, units this system, the imaginative and prescient. For its half, the World Financial institution helps every part that could be a precedence in relation to our selections. For instance, in infrastructure tasks, the WB has an envelope. We advise opening up agricultural areas. Because of this it financed the RN44 freeway. At this time, the worth of transporting foodstuffs has decreased and this has allowed farmers to move their produce.
You will have typically criticised donors for meddling within the nation’s inner affairs. Does dialogue between you and your companions usually work?
Concerning the administration of the nation, now we have a programme – the Madagascar Emergence Plan. It’s structured round 13 factors. Our groups are within the finalisation and continuity phases. With the worldwide group, there are typically misunderstandings concerning the evaluation of the nationwide political state of affairs. And right here, we strongly name for excellent restraint and respect for nationwide sovereignty.
How do you intend to develop the entrepreneurial spirit within the nation and supply the means for higher financial dynamism?
I discussed the motivation measures taken to encourage home and personal sector invstors to be able to facilitate their investments and help the financial improvement of Madagascar.
By way of diplomacy, you’ve proven your closeness to Africa, by travelling there, far more than your predecessors. How do you intend to strengthen relationships to create synergies?
The African continent ought to not be seen as an issue continent. It needs to be seen as a continent of options. It is for that reason that we should proceed to strengthen exchanges, cooperation and above all of the unity of all nations to have the ability to have power in comparison with different nations.
Nonetheless, the continent is affected by crises, like within the Sahel… Does this fear you?
What’s at the moment worrying concerning the state of affairs in Africa is the instability that reigns by means of navy coups. I spoke to officers on the African Union and the United Nations about it. I feel we have to take steps to safe democracy or the folks’s elected representatives. I proposed that the African Union Fee may take a choice condemning the navy who take energy by power. These troopers needs to be introduced earlier than the Worldwide Felony Courtroom. At this time, it’s inconceivable that those that carried out the navy coups ought to make speeches on the United Nations, acclaimed by their populations, reinforcing instability and inspiring different nations to do the identical factor. It is a downside to be resolved.
Coups may also masks deeper structural issues. In some nations, there are particular causes for the navy to take energy.
You already know, we by no means remedy issues by power; democracy should reign.
For you, Madagascar should take account of the worldwide political scene. We see that the battle in Ukraine has fractured the world, sharpened geopolitical rivalries between the USA, Russia and China particularly. How are you going to keep away from being drawn into this recreation of rivalries, which brings tensions and conflicts?
Concerning the battle in Ukraine, our place has all the time been clear. A battle all the time ends with dialogue, round a desk. We have now all the time urged stakeholders to discover a answer. We didn’t search this battle. Our nation, Madagascar, is in keeping with the non-aligned nations on this battle. We’re neither for nor in opposition to. Then again, we condemn the usage of power in opposition to civilians. We condemn the usage of power, however Madagascar stays non-aligned.
Africa has grow to be a subject of rivalries between the nice powers. Do you worry this improvement?
This worries us, in fact.
Between Madagascar and France, have issues calmed down concerning your claims on the Scattered Islands? Have you ever discovered widespread floor?
On this matter, our place is that already adopted by the United Nations. These islands belong to Madagascar. That stated, the sovereignty of those islands additionally poses an issue. Because of this we created a joint fee to have the ability to discover a answer. So sure, we’re within the means of discovering a long-lasting answer concerning the Scattered Islands.
Does Madagascar’s geostrategic place lead sure nations to ask you for the institution of navy bases?
No, and that’s out of the query. It isn’t in any respect our goal to create navy bases on our territory. What pursuits us in the present day is financial improvement and never navy improvement or the creation of navy bases.
Interview carried out in Madagascar by Hichem Ben Yaïche, October 20, 2023.
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