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21 May 2018
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Newsletter n° 95 [ENG]


In the face of the activism and dynamism of the promoters of Special Economic Zones and other investment projects favouring foreigners while politicians are quarrelling about electoral laws, the TANY Collective and the RSCDA-IO want to reinforce the debate about the Special Economic Zones law.

The agenda of the ordinary session of the National Assembly features for next week (1) the vote of the 033-2016 bill of August 17, 2016 which authorizes the ratification of the Establishment Agreement of the Mixed Commission between the Madagascar Republic and the Mauritius Republic, which is very reminiscent of the framework agreement of co-operation on the Taolagnaro (Fort-Dauphin) Special Economic Zone signed in Port Louis on March 11, 2016 (2).
Because the Malagasy leaders and decision makers have the undemocratic habit of ignoring transparency and getting laws passed without disclosing their content to citizens, we are calling once more for a debate on all draft laws about Malagasy lands before they are submitted to the National Assembly.

Furthermore the Special Economic Zones law has been voted on April 3, 2018 under the same very disputable conditions as the electoral laws which are the subject of the present political crisis. The general public is not aware of any amendment to the content of those electoral laws that could have been included after the declaration of the non conformity of several articles of the 2017 – 023 law by the Constitutional High Court (3). This vote must also be cancelled.

The President of the Republic recently declared that the SEZ do not constitute a sale of Malagasy lands but only “a renewable rent for 30 years”. An advertorial broadcasted on several television channels repeating this argument is shocking to many citizens.

We want to recall that the law about land long lease in Madagascar opens the door to losing permanently Malagasy lands as it allows the hiring company to mortgage part of lands with banks. The best known case is the mortgage of several hectares of land with an international bank by a mining company in Ambatovy.
Furthermore, we repeat that land lease has the same effect as the sale of land for peasant families who cultivate and live on the concerned lands as they will be expropriated or evicted shamelessly, allegedly for
public benefit, while the recipients and beneficiaries of the SEZ are private investors.

The renewable nature of this lease implies an unspecified duration, all the more since the authorities’ policy, in the last years, is always giving priority to investors, mostly foreigners, for the allocation and use of lands to the disadvantage of the interests of the large majority of the population.

In a video accessible to the public (4), a senior officer spoke about benefits that the SEZ is expected to bring to the country. After hesitating, he mentioned “dividends” (but he did not give any clarification about the source), and taxes that the employees hired by the SEZ companies would pay. It is obvious that it is neither useful nor necessary to allocate hundreds of hectares of lands mainly to foreign companies in order to bring such revenues to the State.
As this senior figure quotes the QMM company as a reference, the issue of “dividends” reminded the auditors of the recapitalization of QMM in December 2015, following which the dividends the QMM Company should bring to the Malagasy State for many coming years would be paid to the Rio Tinto company (5). Referring to the QMM company and reading some articles of the 2017 – 023 law raise concern that the expenses required for implementing the SEZ, which are estimated at 2 billion US dollars for the one in Antsiranana (Diégo-Suarez), will come from loans which will become very heavy debts for Malagasy future generations (6). In any case, the example selected by this senior officer demonstrates that the SEZ will bring only little benefits for the State, while putting the entire population at high risk and danger.
In the same video, another big SEZ sponsor declares that the implementation of SEZ meets a “societal choice”. We affirm that such a societal project is contrary to the interests of the majority of the Malagasy people, as the majority of families and future generations will lose large land areas that they will need to ensure their sustainable development. 

- The absence of debate and consultation about this SEZ draft law at the national level ;

- the inclination to allocate the State sovereign power to the SEZ Regulation Authority ;

- the stubbornness and use of scandalous and expedient methods by political leaders to get the law approved on last April 3 at the National Assembly after the rejection voted by the Parliamentarians one week before ;

- the assertion by some senior officers that “resorting to SEZ is inescapable for the country” (7) ;

- the widespread dissemination of promotion messages in an unusually frequent way before enacting the law ;

All these raise many questions about the commitments already made by the national authorities to foreign individuals and/or groups.

Moreover, learning through the media that the SEZ Malagasy law was designed and written by an international expert (8) and seeing on the Internet images of “Malagasy SEZ” (9) that are completely out of phase with the real life of the majority of Malagasy people prompts the question whether the SEZ are not a new form of colonization, that is the “legal” enforcement of political and economic domination of a territory by foreign powers.

The TANY Collective and the RSCDA-IO call for the cancellation of the vote of the SEZ law and strongly support the citizens’ demands for a land law that will ensure priority to the Malagasy population for the ownership and use of lands.

May 5, 2018

- For the Reasearch and Support Center for Development Alternative – Indian Ocean (RSCDA-IO) :
Randriamaro Zo, Coordinator ; ;

- For the Collective for the Defense of Malagasy Lands - TANY (Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches – TANY) : Rakotondrainibe Mamy, President ; ; ;

References :

Mercredi 16 mai 2018 , 10h00 - Salle des Séances
-Projet de loi N°033-2016 du 17 Août 2016 autorisant la ratification de l’Accord d’établissement de la Commission Mixte entre la République de Madagascar et la République de Maurice.
However expressing doubts is allowed on the localization of the SEZ(s) referred by the Mauricius investors as they seem also interested in the SEZ of Antsiranana (Diégo-Suarez)

You should also read  :
- The Special Economic Zone law : a gateway to land grabbing in Madagascar :