The United Republic of Delvin (SCAM ALERT): An exclusive interview with the ‘founding’ Prime Minister
UPDATED: Please note, the original exlusive interview below is been updated with a SCAM ALERT, read it below before you make wrong decisions.
News of a Zimbabwean founding a “new country” in the heart of the Pacific has whipped up a global storm of reactions, from curious Zimbabweans to skeptical netizens worldwide. First reported by NewsDay Weekender on December 16th, the story reads like a futuristic sci-fi movie, igniting a cocktail of intrigue, excitement, and doubt within readers. According to the NewsDay report, the “new country”, called the United Republic of Delvin, was founded by an academic of Zimbabwean origin, Webiston Delvin Jokonya, on Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean.
A declaration of sovereignty, according to the report, was made in September 2023 in accordance with international laws and plans to start occupation of the uninhabited territory are underway. Determined to sift fact from fantasy, My Afrika Magazine secured an exclusive interview with the ‘new nation’s’ founder and self-proclaimed ‘interim Prime Minister,’ Webiston Jokonya, to illuminate the many ambiguities shrouding this captivating chronicle.
Sporting the enigmatic title ‘Dr. Professor’ in academic circles, Webiston Jokonya claims diverse qualifications in technology, sports, business, and international law. His self-shared resume, presented to My Afrika Magazine, lists a staggering 15 degrees, including a trio of PhDs. At barely 50, Jokonya’s academic haul — distinguished for its breadth and depth — stands in stark contrast to his remote, disadvantaged rural upbringing in Zimbabwe.
Prior to the engagement with Dr Jokonya, the writer did a cursory research on the territory in question, Howland Island, to have a basic perspective and appreciation of the geography and politics surrounding this little known enclave of land in the vast waters of the Pacific. Post-interview, a further, fact-checking round ensured his statements were weighed against known facts. Both sets of inquiries tapped into the expertise of recognized figures in international law, geopolitics, geography, and broader knowledge domains.
Instead of answers, the investigation merely unearthed more inconsistencies, torpedoing the already fragile credibility of the tale. The primary fact arising from the research is that, Howland Island, which Dr Jokonya supposedly christened to “United Republic of Delvin (URD), after his second name which also happens to be the name of his younger son, is firmly under the United States’ flag. No official declaration of sovereignty, independence, or occupation has been recognized. In fact, international law solidifies Howland Island as U.S. territory.
Official data lists Howland Island, together with other micro Islands in the Pacific (the Phoenix Islands) as being under the administration of U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and are designated as National Wildlife Refuge territories. In addition, the Island is a protected area under the PIPA program (Phoenix Islands Protected Area). The idea being to conserve the unique biodiversity and ecological integrity of these Islands. Due to its protected status, access to Howland Island is restricted. Primary visitors to this lone location are scientific researchers and occasional expeditions.
The sources also brought up the issue of the various international laws and treaties that makes it difficult for a territory like Howland to become an own sovereignty. One such treaty is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This treaty enunciates the rules for maritime boundaries and the use of the world’s oceans. With it’s location and geographic form, Howland Island compromises maritime safety and, should it have a permanent population, poses a great danger to the lives of the same. The Island is also prone to tornadoes and tropical storms, making it impossible to have it greenlighted for permanent human occupation.
These facts were laid before Dr. Jokonya, the man laying claim to ‘discovering’ and founding the URD micro-nation. The intent wasn’t to discredit his narrative, nor to belittle the hopes and aspirations of him, the 36 registered “citizens,” or anyone else involved. Instead, the driving force was to broaden the conversation by engaging the story’s central figure and enriching perspectives, as any responsible media professional strives to do.
As evidenced in the interaction the writer had with him, Dr Jokonya, although terse in his responses, defended his stance and claim, rebuffing any other information in the contrary as “Wikipedia lies, editable by anyone.”
Dr. Jokonya hinted at ambitious plans to launch the URD in January 2024. Citizen registration for a modest $15 fee remained open, and an interim cabinet, complete with ambassadorial appointments, was already up and running.
The conversation between My Afrika Magazine’s ELIAS MUONDE (EM) and URD’s founding ‘Prime Minister’ Dr WEBISTON JOKONYA (WB) happened on a WhatsApp chat and is presented below. Readers are free to make their own conclusion to this matter and can still engage in further research as far as the story remains of interest to them. Meanwhile, the big question remains unanswered: is URD a fact or a myth?
EM: Hello Dr Jokonya. Pleasure having this conversation with you today. Without wasting much time…when should we start packing our bags for departure to this “newest” country on the world map?
WJ: We are planning to commence between end of January to end of February 2024.
EM: Commence occupation of the territory?
WJ: To raise our flag and to start the establishment of roads, schools, hospitals, and cottages to accommodate people.
EM: Cursory investigations on Howland Island reveal something interesting, though. Turns out the Island is still pretty much U.S territory and not an own sovereignty as per your claim. Would you like to respond to that with facts and perhaps evidence?
WJ: Yes. U.S and Britain were mining guano there (a fossilized mineral used in fertilizer manufacturing) in the early 1800s. It has been unclaimed and uninhabited for many years. Musha chaiwo unogona kuvakwa pamatongo evamwe vanhu vakatotama kare (a home can be build from the ruins of other people’s deserted place).
EM: Who is bankrolling these extensive infrastructural projects you mentioned earlier (roads, homes, schools etc)?
WJ: Investors and partners who are interested to work with us.
EM: Who can be a citizen of this new nation? Take us through the process of citizenship conferment of interest, the issue of dual citizenship. Will citizens be allowed to keep their original citizenship?
WJ: Anyone who is willing to be URD citizen. They will be allowed to keep their original one until they are fully decided (sic).
EM: What form of government will rule the territory? Will it be a democracy or a monarch?
WJ: Monarchy Government
EM: The URD, by your account, is now a sovereignty by declaration. Has it joined the UN yet, or are there any plans for it to be a member state?
WJ: Yes we want to became a UN Member State. We already applied for it and are now waiting for their response (sic).
EM: What measures are being implemented to ensure the protection of human rights and the rule of law in the proposed monarchy establishment?
WJ: At least all measures are to be applied since I am already working with one of the international human rights organization (sic).
EM: Do you plan to build relationships and establish diplomatic ties with other nations?
WJ: Yes. We also plan to establish strong diplomatic ties with other governments especially my home country of Zimbabwe because URD is like a son of Zimbabwe. We also intend to have diplomatic ties with other countries around the world.
EM: What strategies are in place to address any potential security threats or conflicts within or outside the state/nation/territory?
WJ: Our Minister of Defense is already working on that.
EM: The territory is only 160 hectares big. In perspective, that roughly translates to 227 soccer fields. With such a small land size, how many people can the island sustainably accommodate?
WJ: We are targeting 1000 citizens or more and it depends on how we strategize on the construction of houses and industries (sic).
EM: What are going to be the key drivers of the Delvin economy?
WJ: Rome was not built in a day or by one person. We are going to sit with others and share the ideas (sic).
EM: Growing up in the remote, rustic lands of Kazangarare in Northern Zimbabwe, did you ever dream about founding and leading your own nation in another part of the world one day?
WJ: Yes, all along. I grew up with the mind to stay on an island.
EM: And finally…governments across the globe are struggling to provide citizens with fundamental services to make lives a little easier, resulting in the mass exodus of citizens in search of greener pastures elsewhere. How do you plan to do things differently as a government so that this newest country doesn’t suffer the same problems other establishments have suffered?
WJ: We want to turn URD to a business zone of the world (sic).