Armed members of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo on 25 June surrounded a unit of riot police in the central district of Maringue, according to Sofala provincial governor, Felisberto Tomas.
Maringue housed Renamo's military headquarters during the closing years of the war of destabilisation. Since the 1992 peace accord Renamo has attempted to keep control over Maringue.
Attempts by the ruling Frelimo Party to establish offices in Maringue have been met repeatedly with violence from Renamo mobs - most recently in April, when Renamo attacked the tents which Frelimo was using as improvised offices and burnt the Frelimo flag. Following this, the Frelimo members pulled out of Maringue and retreated to Beira.
When a police unit was sent to Maringue earlier this month, Renamo claimed that it was "provoking" and "harassing" its members. Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama then promised that he would go personally to Maringue, and stay for 60 days to monitor police behaviour.
According to Tomas, the situation deteriorated as from 25 June when a large group of Renamo members in Maringue armed themselves and put on uniforms.
Renamo had encircled the police unit. "They are threatening to wage war", Tomas told reporters, "and many people are already abandoning Maringue and seeking safer places".
Tomas said the riot police unit has remained calm and was protecting the Maringue district administrator, Nobre Meque. Ironically, Meque himself is a Renamo member, and was nominated for the job by Renamo.
Now Renamo claims that Meque has been "bought" by Frelimo. He has already been driven out of the district once by a Renamo mob.
Asked why the riot police was in Maringue, Tomas replied "why is the riot police in Beira, in Maputo, in Zambezia or anywhere else? Our police force can circulate anywhere in the country to maintain order and tranquillity".
Would the police respond to the apparent Renamo provocation? Tomas hoped not. "I hope that our force maintains this spirit of patience", he said.
He urged Dhlakama and his supporters "to show common sense. Dhlakama himself has been abroad trying to attract investments, but how can investment be possible when things like this happen ?"
He called on the public to remain calm. "The riot police aren't there to attack anyone", stressed Tomas, "but merely to keep order".
As for Dhlakama's planned visit, Tomas said "he is free to move around the country just like any other citizen". Dhlakama is scheduled to travel to Maringue on 30 June. AIM-28/6/97
The Mozambican government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on 27 June signed two documents formalising donor financial support for the local elections scheduled for 27 December, and for the police force.
The elections are destined to receive $17.7 million, particularly for the purchase of equipment for the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral arm of the civil service, and support for STAE operations. Unlike the 1994 general elections, this time no donor funds at all for political parties are envisaged.
The second document grants $12.2 million to finance police activities. This is the long awaited project to retrain the Mozambican police force, and provide it with institutional support and a certain amount of equipment.
The UNDP signed the documents on behalf of the donor community, since the projects involve finance from a variety of donors channelled through the UNDP. The UNDP will administer the funds.
So far the only firm donors for the police project are Holland and Spain, but the Mozambican authorities hope that others may give their support later.
Signing the two documents were Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao, and the UNDP representative in Maputo, Emmanuel Dierck de Casterle.
At the ceremony, Casterle said that municipal elections and the police were "synonyms of democracy", and had to be supported in order to consolidate democracy. AIM-28/6/97
The World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Bank are to finance, over the next five years, the building of 900 Mozambican primary schools and 240 health care units.
The project, that includes the construction of 2,700 houses for teachers and 600 for health workers, is budgeted at $51 million. The WFP is to contribute $12 million, while the World Bank will disburse $39 million.
The WFP projects official in Maputo, Robert Petz, said the project also includes the building of 6,180 latrines for the schools, and 4,500 for the health care units.
According to Petz, this project will give access to primary health care to about three million people not currently covered by the health service, and primary schooling to a further 270,000 children.
Payment for the workers involved in the construction is the responsibility of the WFP, through its "food for work" programme.
"The workforce will be recruited preferably in the places where the projects will be implemented, and the food will be bought locally, except for those products that are not produced in the country", said Petz.
He stressed that his institution's participation in these projects covers also the supply of transport, be it vehicles or bicycles, to be used in the provinces.
The education part of the project is set to start within days, because the contracts have already been signed with building contractors.
The programmes of the education sector are to be co-ordinated by the Education Management Technical Office (GEPE), that is responsible for contracts and other activities.
As for the health sector, Petz said that the process is not so far advanced, but he promised that the project will be launched "within months". AIM-30/6/97
The management board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 23 June approved a second Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) for Mozambique, according to a note issued by the Mozambican Finance Ministry.
The new facility covers the 1997-1999 period, and follows negotiations between the government and the IMF in March.
The Finance Ministry says the IMF board praised Mozambique's "good performance" in carrying out the structural adjustment programme, as shown by the sharp fall in the rate of inflation, and in a relatively high economic growth rate.
The Ministry adds that the IMF "also appreciated the progress in the reforms under way and their relevance for laying the basis for the sustainable development of the Mozambican economy".
The Ministry was optimistic that the IMF's decision would open the way for Mozambique's access to the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) debt relief initiative, under which both bilateral and multilateral debt is supposed to be reduced to "sustainable" levels. AIM-24/6/97
Mozambique and Sweden on 23 June signed an agreement under which Sweden formally cancelled two-thirds of the debt service owed by Mozambique for the period 1995-1999.
The amount of debt forgiven amounts to $4.1 million. The remaining third ($2 million) has been rescheduled over 23 years.
This debt relief is in line with the decision reached by the Paris club of western creditors last November, which agreed to grant Mozambique "Naples terms".
Under these terms, 67 per cent of debt servicing due over a given period is scrapped, while the rest is rescheduled over at least 20 years. AIM-23/6/97
The Mozambican Rural Mutual Aid Association (ORAM) has advised the government to wait for approval by the country's parliament of an amended land law before replying to applications for the occupation of about 2.3 million hectares in the central province of Zambezia.
A source in the association argued that if such applications for land titles receive a positive response, many peasants will be deprived of their land, and that will create socio-economic instability in the rural areas.
ORAM estimates that the province of Zambezia has about six million hectares of arable land, out of a total surface area of about 10.6 million hectares.
The association expressed hope that the land law will be discussed and approved in the extraordinary sitting of the Mozambican parliament, that started on 30 June.
The source revealed that there are 93 applications for the exploitation of forest resources in the province, but only one has been authorised. Nonetheless, other operators, while awaiting replies, are carrying out business, even without licences.
According to the ORAM source, about 24 per cent of the total area of the province has been applied for, and he compares this with, for instance the northern province of Nampula, where only about 3.6 per cent of the total area has been taken.
To illustrate his point that replying positively to the current applications would cause instability, the source revealed that, for the last eight or nine years, 2.5 million hectares in Zambezia has been taken by just 350 individuals or entities.
Zambezia's population is currently estimated at 3.5 million people, or 400,000 families. AIM-30/6/97
Mozambique's Pedagogic University (UP) on 26 June formally opened its French department, created, according to UP officials, "in order to facilitate relations" between Mozambique and French speaking countries.
Speaking at the Maputo ceremony, the French Secretary of State for Cooperation, Charles Josselin, said the department "opens new horizons" in the field of technical and scientific training of Mozambicans, and will stimulate co-operation between francophone communities and Mozambique.
The UP's vice-chancellor, Carlos Machili, also claimed that, with the inauguration of the French department, "new doors are opened" for scientific and cultural interchanges.
The new department is part of a wider project for the reintroduction of French into the Mozambican education syllabus. The department will train teachers of French. It is hoped that by 1999 it will have trained 150 such teachers.
Earlier in the day, Josselin made a courtesy visit on President Joaquim Chissano. The two men talked briefly about the mechanisms that govern co-operation between Mozambique and France. AIM-26/6/97
According to the protocol, the new company will start with the construction of 21 luxury apartments in Maputo.
The FDC's executive director, Carlos Fumo, claimed this did not undermine his institution's commitment to the poor. The company will later branch out into other forms of housing.
The BCI is mostly owned by the Portuguese bank, the Caixa Geral de Deposiutos (CGD), which holds 60 per cent of the equity capital of $7.5 million. 38 per cent belongs to the Mozambican holding company, SCI, generally regarded as close to the ruling Frelimo Party, while the final two per cent is held by the private insurance company Impar (which is itself mostly owned by Portuguese interests).
Speaking to the press, the chairman of the CGD management board, Joao Salgueiro, said that the BCI aims to strengthen Mozambican business capacity by supporting development initiatives, both in the public and in the private sector.
Describing the Mozambican economy as "internationally recognised", Salgueiro said that his institution will try to stimulate savings from the middle class, and will support small and medium sized companies.
"Signing the protocol with the FDC is an example of our will to participate in development projects", said Salgueiro.
The BCI, whose management board is chaired by a former Mozambican finance minister, Abdul Magid Osman, is starting its activities with two branches in Maputo. It hopes to open branches in some of the provincial capitals shortly. AIM-24/6/97
This was the only business conducted during the first day of an extraordinary parliamentary sitting due to last until 31 July.
The sitting must also deal with laws on defence policy, on the environment and on the electricity industry, as well as crucial amendments to the land law.
These were all matters that should have been addressed during the February-April ordinary parliamentary sitting: indeed most of them were also on the agenda for the final parliamentary sitting of 1996 (October-December). AIM-30/6/97
The Italian group Parmalat on 21 June officially inaugurated in Maputo its first milk products factory in Africa, resulting from an investment of about $4.5 million.
Alberto Alfieri, the administrator of the Portuguese subsidiary of Parmalat, which is the major shareholder in the Mozambican firm, told the ceremony that the new factory "shows the international community it is possible to carry out projects in Mozambique".
He stressed "it's necessary to invest in this country which is making an enormous effort to recover, economically and morally, after 16 years of war".
The Maputo provincial director of state administration, Zauria Abdula, representing provincial governor Raimundo Bila, expressed the government's willingness "to contribute in all ways" to the success of Parmalat.
"This factory means keeping and creating jobs", said Abdula. It would put packaged milk in Mozambican shops "so that we don't have to import this basic product for our breakfasts from abroad".
Mozambicans could now drink fresh milk without fear of any interruption in supply, he added.
The factory has an installed capacity for producing a million litres of packaged, heat-treated milk per month, but currently it is only producing between 250,000 and 300,000 litres a month.
The Parmalat group, in association with the Mozambican company J.V. Consultores (owned by former co-operation minister Jacinto Veloso), bought 80 per cent of what used to be a state-owned milk products factory in 1996 for $1.43 million.
A further three million dollars was spent in rehabilitating and modernising the factory, and in January 1997 it started producing UHT milk. This is now being sold throughout the country, and at prices lower than the milk imported from South Africa.
Veloso, who is chairman of the board of directors of Parmalat-Mozambique, said that within two months the factory will start producing yoghurt, butter, fruit juices and nectars. In September ice-cream will be added to its list of products.
Currently the factory employs 110 workers, of whom 98 per cent are Mozambican.
Veloso said this factory "is the first step in a strategy to implant and distribute Parmalat products in southern Africa. Among the company's immediate plans are to export its produce to neighbouring countries, such as South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and to east Africa".
"This will be the prelude to building new industrial units in some of these countries", he added.
Veloso said Parmalat also intended to stimulate dairy production in the Mozambican countryside, so that, as soon as possible, the fresh milk that is the company's raw material will come from Mozambican cows rather than South African ones. AIM-21/6/97
Maputo's General Union of Agricultural and Livestock Co-operatives (UGC) has decided to start selling frozen chicken in the southern provinces of Gaza and Inhambane.
With the money obtained from this initiative, the UGC hopes to obtain fish from the districts of Vilankulo and Inhassoro, in Inhambane, which will then be sold in Maputo and in the Gaza provincial capital, Xai-Xai.
The idea was approved on 19 June at the 15th UGC general assembly that gathered about 900 delegates representing the 185 co-operatives and 12 regional federations that make up the organisation.
The meeting is drawing up a balance sheet of the organisation's activities during the 1994-1996 period, and a new management body will be elected for the next three years.
The UGC is also planning to drop the costs of poultry production, as a means to ensure lower prices to the public. Chicken should be a major revenue earner for the co-operatives, but they have had to battle against cheap South African frozen chickens smuggled into the country without paying import duties.
As for farming, the UGC is planning to resume distribution of agricultural inputs and improve technical assistance to maintain the agricultural equipment owned by its members.
The organisation is also planning to create, in the area of Zimpeto, about 15 kilometres north of Maputo, a plantation of fruit trees and flowers for export.
The report of the outgoing management body expressed satisfaction at the fact that, although most of the members are illiterate women peasants, the organisation has managed to ensure an income that is more than 1.5 times the minimum wage paid in the state apparatus.
The meeting is to vote on 20 June on the new management body and the current general secretary, Celina Cossa, is likely to be re-elected. AIM-20/6/97
Health Minister Aurelio Zilhao on 23 June vaccinated the first of the three million children under five years old, covered by a nation-wide campaign to eradicate poliomyelitis.
During the launching ceremony, in the district of Moamba, 60 km north of Maputo, Zilhao reiterated the government's commitment to eradicate polio by the year 2,000.
For this campaign, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised about $500,000 to finance two doses of the vaccine to be given to all under-fives. The second dose will be given in late July.
Mozambique committed itself in 1988, during the 41st sitting of the World Health Assembly, to eradicate polio by the year 2,000.
During a 1996 campaign covering the provincial capitals, about half a million children were vaccinated.
This campaign is planned to cover 3,425,163 children up to 5years old.
Polio is a disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and causes paralysis of the muscles. There is no known cure once a person is affected, but the vaccination is believed to be 100 per cent effective.
The Health Ministry is also taking this opportunity to launch a blitz against measles. All children aged between nine months and five years in the provincial capitals will also receive the measles vaccine. AIM-23/6/97
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