Maandelijks archief: december 2012

Johnson Sirleaf: I’ll not fire my sons

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, is a beloved leader around the globe. She received the Nobel Peace Prize 2011. Yet, in her own country she’s been accused of nepotism. I was on hand for an exclusive interview.

Three of your sons have been appointed to high government positions. How do you explain this?

“We have a country that has a very low capacity. Some of our institutions – the ones that have to carry out the important reforms for the transformation of our country – simply do not have the capabilities. They also sometimes lack the sufficient integrity to be able to do what is right.”

“We have to place certain people close to us in positions to carry out our mandate of reform at the level of competence and honesty that is needed.”

“Nepotism is putting somebody who is a relative in a position for which they don’t have the qualifications, integrity or competence. There are times when you have to hire relatives, even when it’s a temporary measure, to achieve your objectives.”

You’ve accused former Liberian president William Tolbert of nepotism because he put his relatives in powerful positions. Do you think they were competent?

“Oh absolutely they were competent. Look, I’ve been criticized now too. But meeting your objectives at the end of the day is what counts most.”

So you will not fire your sons? To show that you are a hero of anti-corruption?

“No, I will not. There is a mandate and there’s a job to be done. When that job and mandate is done, perhaps they’ll move on to other things.”

Government officials in Liberia sometimes earn up to 10,000 dollars a month. Is there anything you can do about that?

“We have to recruit Liberians of certain professional skills and experience to certain strategic posts. If we do not pay them well, we will not be able to recruit them. We actually pay foreigners on our technical assistance programme much more than that.”

“If a Liberian is qualified and competitive and if we want to get them, we’ve got to do that. Those Liberians getting positions and getting high salaries are strong, experienced managers, recruited from corporations abroad. Their skills are desperately needed to build our country. Liberians should not criticise those who come home with the right skills to rebuild their country. We need them at home.”

How will you gain trust in Liberia?

“I have trust in Liberia. I’m not talking about the noisy minority – that’s just all part of transformation. I’m talking about a
satisfied majority who I meet in rural areas and who are pleased that their lives have changed, their incomes have increased and they’re getting better services.

“We accept the criticism and the comments. We also accept the adulation and the praise. That’s part of moving ahead in a democratic society where all rights are respected and protected. Liberia is making progress and the majority of the Liberians and the international community is quite aware and recognizes that.”

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited the Netherlands to receive an Honorary Doctorate Degree at Tilburg University on 9 November.

Kinshasa : comment brouiller une radio ?

Je suis au sommet de la plus haute colline de Kinshasa, entourée par les antennes de la Radio et télévision nationale RTNC du président congolais, Joseph Kabila. Ici, la plupart des médias de la RDC diffusent aussi leurs programmes. Et c’est l’Etat qui les contrôle.

Jour et nuit, des militaires sont postés en dessous des énormes antennes de la RTNC. Lorsque je passe devant, ils me suivent du regard. Ne touchez-pas, disent leurs yeux. Parfois, il s’endorment dans l’ombre, ce qui me permet de faire quelques photos en cachette. Voilà comment les dirigeants de ce pays contrôlent les médias. D’ici, le signal de la radio onusienne Okapi a été brouillé samedi dernier après une émission sur les rebelles M23.

Le mystère de l’antenne couchée
Au pied d’une antenne de 60 mètres, je rencontre Kudura Kasongo. Il est ancien porte-parole du président Kabila et propriétaire de la chaîne de télévision CMC TV, une chaine de l’opposition favorable au politicien Vital Kamerhe. Aujourd’hui Kasongo s’oppose donc ouvertement au régime congolais.

“D’abord, on nous a brouillé. Pendant une émission, on a retiré le signal”, explique Kasongo. “Juste avant la présidentielle de 2011, nous avons retrouvé l’antenne couchée. Quel mystère !”, lance Kasongo.

Il accuse l’Agence nationale des renseignements (ANR) d’avoir retiré le signal. “Elle devrait surveiller le territoire face aux agressions extérieures au lieu de surveiller les médias et les hommes politiques”, affirme-t-il.

Le pouvoir d’un monopole
“Vous voyez les trois grosses antennes au fond ?”, demande Kasongo, pointant son doigt. “C’est le terrain de Téléconsult, une entreprise privée italienne. Ils logent la plupart des télévisions et des radios en RDC, y compris RTNC. Ils ont le monopole du matériel et de la technologie. Un coup de fil de l’ANR suffit pour couper le signal.”

Dans la rue, un blanc est assis sur une chaise en plastique. Il boit de la bière congolaise. “Vous êtes Italien ?”, je lui demande. Il me répond que oui. “Vous travaillez pour Téléconsult ?” Encore oui. “Alors, c’est vous qui contrôlez tous les médias à Kinshasa, et même plus loin ?” L’Italien se lève soudainement. Il s’excuse, dit qu’il doit aller voir un collègue. Puis il court vers ses multiples antennes.

Mise à jour : Joint au téléphone, un porte-parole de Téléconsult répond que les accusations des journalistes sont fausses. Ils nient toute implication dans cette censure.