Sanctions affecting me, tycoon tells Obama

via Sanctions affecting me, tycoon tells Obama 5 August 2014

TAKURA Chingonzo, a 21-year-old Zimbabwean entrepreneur, on Tuesday afternoon, interviewed President Barack Obama on stage at the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington which was attended by representatives from 200 corporations and 50 African countries. The forum was held in conjunction with this week’s US summit with African leaders.

Chingonzo, co-founder of wireless start-up SAISAI Wireless, told Obama about the impact sanctions which were imposed by Washington against Zimbabwe in 2004 following allegations human rights violations and political repression were having on his business.

The sanctions were supposedly targeted at President Robert Mugabe, those around him and businesses said to be supporting his repressive regime but Chingonzo told Obama how the sanctions were hitting small start-up companies such as his.

Below is part of the interview …

CHINGONZO: So thank you very much, Mr. President for this opportunity.  I’ll start by wishing you a belated Happy Birthday.

OBAMA:  Thank you. Have you introduced yourself to everybody?

CHINGONZO: I wanted to really jump into the issues.  (Laughter.)

OBAMA:  Yes, go ahead and introduce yourself.

CHINGONZO: All right.  I’m Takunda Chingonzo.  I’m a young entrepreneur.  I’m 21.  I’m from Zimbabwe.  And I’m working in the wireless technology space.  We’re essentially liberating the Internet for Zimbabweans.  (Applause.)

OBAMA:  And let me just – this is an example of our young African leaders; in fact, the youngest young African leader.  But one thing I will say, though, if you’re going to promote your business, you’ve got to make sure to let people know who you are.  (Laughter.)

CHINGONZO: Definitely, definitely.

OBAMA:  Just a little tip. You can’t be shy, man.  (Laughter.)  Please, go ahead.

CHINGONZO: That’s correct, Mr. President.  So I was really going to start by delving into a personal experience.  I was going to get to my business and how I got to where we are.

So as I was saying, we’re working in the technology space.  I’m working on my third startup — it’s called Saisai.  We’re creating Zimbabwe’s first free Internet-access network, hence liberating the Internet.  So in our working, we came to a point in time where we needed to import a bit of technology from the United States, and so we were engaging in conversation with these U.S.-based businesses.  And the response that we got time and time again was that unfortunately we cannot do business with you because you are from Zimbabwe.  And I was shocked — this doesn’t make sense.

And so this is the exact same experience that other entrepreneurs that are in Zimbabwe have gone through, even though the meetings that I’ve had here.  You know, you sit down with potential investors, you talk about the project, the outlook, the opportunity, the growth and all that — and they’re excited, you can see.  All systems are firing, right?  And then I say I’m from Zimbabwe and they look at me and they say, young man, this is a good project, very good, very good, but unfortunately we cannot engage in business with you.

And I understand that the sanctions that we have — that are imposed on entities in Zimbabwe, these are targeted sanctions, right?  But then we have come to a point in time where we as young Africans are failing to properly engage in business with U.S.-based entities because there hasn’t been that clarity.  These entities believe that Zimbabwe is under sanctions.  So what really can we do to do try and clarify this to make sure that we as the young entrepreneurs can effectively develop Africa and engage in business?

OBAMA:  Well, obviously, the situation in Zimbabwe is somewhat unique.  The challenge for us in the United States has been how do we balance our desire to help the people of Zimbabwe with what has, frankly, been a repeated violation of basic democratic practices and human rights inside of Zimbabwe.

And we think it is very important to send clear signals about how we expect elections to be conducted, governments to be conducted — because if we don’t, then all too often, with impunity, the people of those countries can suffer.  But you’re absolutely right that it also has to be balanced with making sure that whatever structures that we put in place with respect to sanctions don’t end up punishing the very people inside those countries.

My immediate suggestion — and this is a broader point to all the African businesses who are here, as well as the U.S. businesses — is to make sure that we’re using the Department of Commerce and the other U.S. agencies where we can gather groups of entrepreneurs and find out exactly what can be done, what can’t be done, what resources are available.  It may be that you and a group of entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe are able to meet with us and propose certain projects that allow us to say this is something that will advance as opposed to retard the progress for the Zimbabwean people.

So what I’d suggest would be that we set up a meeting and we find out what kinds of things that the young entrepreneurs of Zimbabwe want to do, and see if there are ways that we can work with you consistent with the strong message that we send about good governance in Zimbabwe.

CHINGONZO: I see.  Because really — the point of emphasis really is that as young Africans we want to converse with other business entities here in the U.S., and if these sanctions are really targeted, then in honest truth, they aren’t supposed to hamper the business that we’re trying to engage in, the development that we’re talking about.

OBAMA:  Well, let’s see if we can refine them further based on some of the things you’re talking about.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 31
  • comment-avatar
    Charles Frizell 7 years ago

    Good answer by Obama.

    It is Zanu that has caused the problems that have affected everyone. The nation is now poverty-stricken, thanks to Zanu. The nation has no rule of law, thanks to Zanu, the country has to import food, thanks to Zanu.

    The list goes on and on forever . . .

  • comment-avatar
    Charles Frizell 7 years ago

    But I would hardly call a 21 year wannabe startup as a “Tycoon” – LOL

  • comment-avatar
    Riman 7 years ago

    At least you got a very good reply. Too much mileage has been given to these people, ‘harping ‘ about sanctions. At any rate, every community has an option on who they can and will trade with, just like business.

    If you cannot trade with the USA why can’t you trade with another country? I mean, the USA isn’t exactly neighbours to Zimbabwe! Why not Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, U.A.E. and the list goes on?

    Are your business research skills so lacking?

  • comment-avatar
    Zim Patriot 7 years ago

    Its not sanctions silly, its indigenization, investors don’t want to loose all their investment in Zimbabwe as our indigenization policy for investors is blatant theft of FDI, no one in their right mind would bother loosing all in this country…our leaders have done such a good job of annihilating FDI!!!!!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    Riman 7 years ago

    Let’s go back to the beginning; how did this ’21-yr old’ land himself seed money to start a business from university? I suspect he has been doing some very dodgy dealing, or he is a front for one of the very people targeted by sanctions!

  • comment-avatar
    JRR56 7 years ago

    I think you will find he was after sensitive technology that the US does not allow the export of to anyone i.e. North Korea etc.

  • comment-avatar
    Petal 7 years ago

    This so called tycoon must come the region that takes everything from others and is there to promote themselves . Maybe his being sponsored by the thieving scumbags who have been banned from the meeting

  • comment-avatar
    Charles Frizell 7 years ago

    Often – people open mouths without engaging brain!

    Having run a (big) factory under UDI I managed to get around “real” sanctions. What a useless prick this guy is!

  • comment-avatar
    Petal 7 years ago

    Do these entrepreneurs only come from a specific race? Barack is from a mixed background black and white

  • comment-avatar

    No matter how much they clamour about sanctions the practical reality is that business partnerships with foreigners in Zimbabwe are simply blocked by Zanupf’s indigenization policy which practically means that the international business community has to partner with Zanupf only supporters here giving them 51% shares. Even some “friendly” Chinese failed to just give away money like that. They left the country. The “tycoon” is obviously a front runner for one of the looters who is a Mugabe loyalist.

  • comment-avatar
    Paranegeta 7 years ago

    This 21 year old “tycoon” was sent
    by ZANU-PF to engage President Obama.

    He is too young to have the money to be
    on his “third startup”, and to timid to
    introduce himself.

    Yes, this is a ZANU-PF mole sent to try and
    lifet targeted sanctions. with expsense paid
    by Mugarbage, Gono or some goon like that.

    Happy to see Obama wasn’t swayed from the
    Human Rights and fair Elections stand, good on him..

  • comment-avatar

    This young is obviously a friend of Maziwisa etc Zpf operatives all over the world. Why can’t Takunda Chigonzo go to China or North Korea or Cuba.

  • comment-avatar
    revenger-avenger 7 years ago

    Would you not to do “business” with this immature upstart ? I shudder to think what this mlisea-chiyanga-pamire looks like. Add his name to our long ” list “

  • comment-avatar

    I wonder if this is fact or fiction.I have my doubts.

  • comment-avatar
    Bambazonke 7 years ago

    Why America the ZANU want you to look EAST , diversion tatics in it’s simplest form

  • comment-avatar

    Hi,
    Never-mind the politics, the sanctions are against Zimbabwe and NOT targeted. PERIOD. Remember ZIDERA.
    How can a President fail that simple question?

  • comment-avatar
    mark longhurst 7 years ago

    sack zanu and we will talk !!

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 7 years ago

    If he such a tycoon why has nobody ever heard of him?

  • comment-avatar
    Mseyamwa 7 years ago

    Tycoon able to face a foreign prez, bare his soul and ask the questions that bother him BUTI doubt if he would be granted an audience by his own prez, in his own land and if he would be allowed to ask any and all questions bothering him.
    This is Zimbabwe.

  • comment-avatar
    kagamba 7 years ago

    The trouble with narrow minded people like Takura Chingonzo is as long as they are doing well they do not give a damn that millions others are suffering. The Zanu PF dictatorship is working for them and to hell with the policies which really scares investors smell the coffee what a waste talking rubbish like that by the way what’s your background studies hope you didn’t study in russia with state sponsored grants

  • comment-avatar

    look to the east mfana and leave the west alone as your grandad always says,,by the way who are you fronting for

  • comment-avatar

    Its not sanctions; its ZPF!!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    Godobori 7 years ago

    Ha ha ha, told you they have no ideas. US colonialists this British apartheid this. But you still go there disguised as a 21year old kkkkkk. Mfana, wakanyangira yaona!

  • comment-avatar
    Godobori 7 years ago

    Obama- Keep your USA, I keep my blair toilets

  • comment-avatar
    Tongoona 7 years ago

    Takunda part of the ZANU PF looters. How can one become a tycoon at 21? Mufanha uyu aaa….. hamheno

  • comment-avatar
    Mukanya 7 years ago

    At 21 an ideal 21st February Brigade member, fully indoctrinated with indigenised moron looting/plundering/thieving ideology of ZPF masquerading as a young entrepreneur.
    He hasn’t paid back what he borrowed from the so-called Youth Fund.

  • comment-avatar
    lazzy 7 years ago

    Zanu PF tricks again

  • comment-avatar

    absolute drivel – this clown TAKURA Chingonzo is an unknown buffoon.he is obviously a zanu pf plant.
    the only tycoon in zimbabwe is strive masiyiwa – the founder and major shareholder of ECONET.( one of africa’s dynamic & profitable cell phone operators)
    if obama needs to talk to anybody about zimbabwe – talk to strive – one of the smartest people on the continent of africa

  • comment-avatar
    Straight Shooter 7 years ago

    Why doesnt he seek a meeting and beg his own gukurahundi President to do the right thing, instead of begging a foreign President?

    The world is not America; there are even bigger markets in the East, China and India combined. Gukurahundis dont like America, so please leave America alone!!

  • comment-avatar
    Reverend 7 years ago

    Chingozo, for you to try to attach the targeted sanctions with the refual of investors to invest in this country shows your immaturity and polarization to zpf. Non investment has nothing to do with targeted sanctions, and for your simple and immature mind non investment is due to land theft, company theft and the corruption in this bereft country by its very leaders who are nothing but thieves and looters and are waiting on our borders like vultures waiting to zip 51% away from any investor and plant themselves firmly in the driving seat, and you need to be embarrassed by the dribble you spewed out to Prsident Obama and I am glad he put you back in your place. Do youself a favour if you have a spark of intellegence, get out from under this bogus regime and see it for what it is if of course you have not been bainwashed already.

  • comment-avatar
    Cyber Kat 7 years ago

    This is actually an own goal. Now the noose will tighten to zero in on the fat cats whose names are on the list. Thats what Obama meant by “refining”.