Mozambique News Agency

Number 114, 18th July 1997


Third development corridor to be launched

The Mozambican government will shortly launch the country's third "Development Corridor", in the northern province of Nampula, according to the National Director of Overland Transport, Lucas Nhamizinga.

Nhamizinga said that on 24 July a conference will be held in the northern port city of Nacala "to discuss the management and rehabilitation of the Nacala port and railway, and to establish the Nacala Development Corridor".

The nucleus for the new development corridor is Nacala port, regarded as the best deep-water port on the east African coast, and the 610 kilometre railway linking it to Malawi.

The basic structures of the port complex include a container terminal which can store 3,600 containers at any one time, a fuel terminal with a capacity to hold 140,000 tones of petroleum products, and a general cargo terminal covering 20,000 square metres. This latter terminal can handle two millions tonnes of freight per year.

Mozambique's other two major transport systems have already been transformed into "Development Corridors". The first to attain this status was the "Maputo Development Corridor", launched in February 1996. Upgrading the Maputo-South Africa transport links, and modernising Maputo port, will involve very substantial South African and European private sector investment.

In December 1996, an investors' conference in Harare opted to transform the Beira corridor into a "development corridor" too. Beira is Zimbabwe's main outlet to the sea. The port is linked to Zimbabwe by a 341 kilometre long road and railway. Zambia, Malawi, and even Botswana and Zaire can also make use of Beira. AIM-12/7/97

Privatised companies doing well - government

The Mozambican government's privatisation unit, UTRE, has denied trade union claims that tens of thousands of workers have been made redundant by privatised companies.

An UTRE source, cited in the daily paper Noticias on 12 July, said that the majority of privatised companies had shown improved performance, reflected in higher production, increased sales, and more jobs.

He said that last year the government, with World Bank support, carried out two studies into the impact of privatisation on the economy. Meetings were held with managers and trade union representatives in a sample of privatised companies.

Taken as a whole, the level of employment has remained unchanged, said the UTRE source. In most cases wages have been increased, or have at least been maintained at the same level, while there has been a positive impact on the state budget through an increase in taxes paid by the privatised companies, he said.

But at a trade union workshop earlier this month on the impact of privatisation, trade unionists claimed that 90,000 workers had lost their jobs in privatised companies. The UTRE source believed the only way that figure could have been reached was by including those workers who had lost their jobs because their companies had been destroyed in the war of destabilisation.

"Our information is that the major companies that were privatised have not reduced their staffing levels", said the UTRE source. "It's thus impossible that there have been 90,000 redundancies unless the war has been factored in".

He noted that some companies had begun to rationalise their workforce before they were privatised. Other companies had been restructured, rather than privatised, remaining under state control: the restructuring had involved shedding staff, particularly seasonal workers. The UTRE source said there was a tendency to lump all these factors together as "privatisation". AIM-12/7/97

Assembly discusses land law

The Assembly of the Republic, on 8 July began discussing a bill on land tenure, presented by the government, which radically overhauls the existing land law, dating from 1979.

The bill reiterates the constitutional principle that all property in land vests in the state. The bill sets out the legal framework for the right to use land.

Its main innovation is the proposal that land rights can be acquired, not only by individuals and companies, but also by "local communities". This rectifies the most glaring omission in the 1979 law, which was its complete neglect of community land tenure.

The bill states that the right to land is acquired automatically by local communities. Individual Mozambicans who have occupied land "in good faith" for at least ten years should also have their tenure rights automatically recognised.

Other citizens or companies (Mozambican or foreign) should apply for a land title to the relevant authorities. Before they acquire a definitive land title, they will be given provisional authorisation to use the land concerned and must show (within five years for Mozambicans and two years for foreigners) that they are implementing the land use plan agreed when their application was accepted.

An earlier draft had suggested that in the allocation of land rights in rural areas, the local communities must first be consulted. This safeguard has disappeared from the current bill.

The bill makes no provision for the sale of land rights. Thus the land itself cannot be used as collateral when applying, for example, for bank loans - but anything legally built on the land may be used as collateral.

The government's bill received a guarded welcome from peasant organisations, who had been angered when the Assembly failed to discuss it at either of its last two sittings (held in October-December 1996, and February-April this year).

Renamo demands land privatisation

On 9 July Renamo declared itself in favour of private property in land, and argued that no new land legislation should be passed before altering the clause in the constitution under which all property in land vests in the state.

Speaking in the Assembly deputy leader of the Renamo parliamentary group, David Alone, claimed that the state ownership of land "is the fundamental basis of marxism-leninism, of communism", and that it could not be reconciled with the rule of law.

"If we are in a democracy, why can't citizens enjoy private property in land ?", he asked. "If you can privatise the banks, why don't you privatise the land ?"

The constitution, he continued, was "ideologically duplicitous", with the article on land contradicting the article on property rights. "The constitution contains two incompatible ideologies, one communist and one capitalist", he alleged.

The only way to proceed, Alone argued, was to amend the constitution, removing the state monopoly on land ownership, and pass a national land policy in parliament. Only then could the Assembly debate a new land tenure bill. Alone also wanted the bill to enshrine traditional land rights.

Frelimo's Teodato Hunguana retorted that those who claimed that one article in the constitution contradicted another "are not looking at the constitution as a whole. They are unable to see the wood for the trees".

The argument that a new land law could not be adopted until the constitution was changed was a recipe "for total paralysis", Hunguana warned. "On this logic, we might as well shut up shop until the constitution is amended".

Accusations of corruption

Renamo deputies repeatedly accused unnamed Frelimo members of grabbing large slices of land for themselves, and of allying with foreign companies to expropriate Mozambican peasants.

Alone accused "the new bourgeoisie of the party in power" of seizing land, while Jose Manteigas declared "It's not simple peasants who request 70,000 hectares, but people with bank accounts in Switzerland, people who illegally handle millions of dollars".

Frelimo deputy Catarina Enoque defended the government bill precisely because it would defend peasants in conflicts such as that opposing local farmers to the gold mining company Benicon in Manica province.

Frelimo's Lina Magaia attacked LOMACO (Lonrho-Mozambique Agricultural company) for occupying land in Changalane, in the far south, and then not using it. "They are holding on to this land, waiting for privatisation so that they can speculate with it", she said. Such unused land should simply revert to the state, Magaia urged.

Deolinda Mussequesse, also of Frelimo, mocked Alone's call for privatisation. "Who would buy the land if it were privatised?", she asked. "Do we want the rich to seize the land at the expense of the peasants?"

Role of traditional authorities

Repeatedly, opposition deputies complained that the law marginalised traditional authorities, and demanded land distribution powers for chiefs.

"Traditional authority is as old as man himself", said Francisco Ferreira, of the Democratic Union (UD) coalition, adding that "all the animals have chiefs".

Alone spoke of chiefs and elders resolving land disputes, while Jose do Rosario accused Frelimo of failing to understand customary land tenure systems.

Sergio Vieira, rapporteur of the Frelimo parliamentary group, said that "in the past, chiefs sold off huge tracts of territory for a handful of beads".

On state ownership of land, there was nothing specifically Marxist about this, Vieira said. Some ancient societies also concentrated land ownership in the hands of the state and, contrary to Alone's claims, pre-colonial African societies did not accept private ownership of land.

He warned of the dire consequences of private land ownership, citing the Zimbabwean government's difficulties in land redistribution, and the huge army of landless peasants in Brazil. "Excluding land from private property is in the interests of the Mozambican people. Land is the only wealth that we still have", Vieira said.

He found it ironic that the same people who attacked "the new bourgeoisie" were simultaneously calling for land privatisation. The result of any such policy, he warned, would be to degrade Mozambican peasant farmers to the status of landless rural proletarians.

Renamo defends traditional power

During the second reading on 10 July, Renamo insisted that land management in rural areas should be handed over to "traditional authorities".

Renamo deputy Virgilio Sao Miguel wanted to define this as "the customary structures that group families and individuals in conformity with traditional uses and customs in a particular territorial area".

Sergio Vieira, rapporteur of the Frelimo parliamentary group, asked whether Sao Miguel's attempt to entrench tradition in the law also applied to traditional religion. Was he excluding from rural communities Moslems and Christians "who have beliefs that are completely different from ancestor worship" ?

The response, given by David Alone was that there are no black Mozambican Moslems or Christians. "All of us, except those of European origin, are animists", claimed Alone. "One day we were evangelised by Islam or Christianity, but in our hearts we remain animists".

Frelimo deputy Teodato Hunguana pointed out that the government's definition of "communities" was much more inclusive. It included the "traditional", "customary" communities that Sao Miguel had spoken of, but also covered other, more recent forms of community.

Hunguana said that the war of destabilisation had led to massive population movements. People had left their original homes and settled elsewhere. "What customary law are they supposed to follow - that of their first homes or of the areas where they resettled ?", he asked.

Tarciso Jemusse, of the opposition coalition, the Democratic Union (UD), insisted on reviving the power of the "regulos" (the quasi-traditional chiefs, who occupied minor positions in the Portuguese colonial administrative structure). "The regulos know the history of the land, they know what belongs to who", Jemusse said. He claimed that excluding the regulos from the bill "would be to go back 500 years in time".

Women's rights

The most heated discussion was over women's rights in rural society. The government's background document to the bill explained that the term "customary system", present in earlier drafts, had been dropped largely because it was regarded as a way of accepting the discrimination against women practised under traditional systems.

Sergio Vieira asked Renamo whether the "customary law" it wished to enshrine in the bill would be applied when it discriminated against women.

Renamo's response was that there was no such thing as discrimination against women in traditional society. "My mother was never discriminated against in relation to land tenure", said Jose do Rosario.

His namesake, Agriculture Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, retorted that the discrimination against women under customary law had been well documented by many researchers.

The Minister pointed out that the land bill had been debated publicly for two years, and plenty of work had been done on the ground showing conclusively that women were discriminated against. "In Boane, in the Limpopo Valley, in Manjacaze, in Manica, we found cases where women did not dare apply for land titles because their husbands were absent", he said. "This showed that women were only allowed to become involved in decision-making when their husbands were there".

"The public debate showed that there was discrimination on sexual grounds, discrimination in favour of people close to chiefs, and discrimination in favour of long-standing residents and against newcomers", he added.

Lina Magaia poured scorn on the Renamo claims, pointing out that even in the matrilinear societies of northern Mozambique "it is the male relatives in the female line who give the orders".

As for custom and tradition, Magaia said that society was constantly changing. "If we have an evolving society, then we have transformations, and if we have a concept of democracy, that means we have democratic institutions that are not governed by chiefs", she declared.

Demonstration against privatisation

More than 600 peasant farmers from the provinces of Maputo and Gaza marched through the streets of the capital on 12 July, protesting against any attempt to introduce private property in land.

The demonstration, organised by the Rural Mutual Aid Association (ORAM) was originally called to protest at the parliamentary delays in issuing a new land law defending peasant land tenure rights. Peasants complain that companies and rich individuals are expropriating their land, and they need legislation to protect them.

However, the sudden demand for land privatisation by Renamo changed the focus of the demonstration.

Peasant organisations have always opposed establishing a market in land, fearing that it would lead to the creation of latifundia, and the expulsion of the poorest peasants from their ancestral lands.

As the demonstration wound through central Maputo, it grew larger, as urban supporters joined in. By the time it reached Independence Square, in front of the city council offices, it was about 2,000 strong.

The demonstrators carried placards bearing such slogans as "No privatisation of land", and "Land for all".

At its end, the chairman of the parliamentary Commission on Agriculture and Local Development, Helder Muteia, addressed the crowd, and pledged that under no circumstances would Frelimo allow the privatisation of the land.

He also promised that the Frelimo deputies will defend women's land rights. "Women too have the right to hold land", he stressed. AIM-13/7/97

Gencor approves aluminium smelter

The South African mining and industrial conglomerate Gencor has approved the project to build an aluminium smelter in southern Mozambique.

Gencor has pledged to invest $125 million in the smelter, which is provisionally named MOZAL. The South African Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has promised to put up a further $125 million.

Gencor says that total investment in the smelter will be $1.125 billion, the largest ever private sector investment in Mozambique. Work on building the smelter is scheduled to begin in mid-1998. It should produce 245,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, and employ 900 workers, 60 per cent recruited locally.

The smelter will be near Maputo, in the district of Boane. An environmental impact assessment undertaken by Gencor claims that it will not damage the environment.

Aluminium smelters require enormous quantities of power, the most likely source being a new dam on the Zambezi. The site for the dam, Mepandua-Ncua, is about 70 kilometres downstream from the existing dam at Cahora Bassa. Given its existing commitments, Cahora Bassa itself is unlikely to be able to supply the 900 megawatts or so that MOZAL will require.

Funds are now available for viability studies on the building of the Mepandua N'cua dam. A tender for the selection of consultants has been launched. The French government has granted $1.9 million for the studies, while Germany has contributed $3 million.

The study, budgeted at between $8 and $10 million, is due to start in October. The tender documents strongly recommend that Mozambican companies should take part in the study. The study is to investigate the potential markets, the water resources involved and other aspects concerning geology and the environment. AIM-7/7/97

Riot police in Maringue as long as necessary

The riot police will stay in the district of Maringue, once the military headquarters of the former rebel movement Renamo, "for as long as necessary", according to a riot police commander, cited in the Sunday paper Domingo.

He told the Domingo reporter who visited the district that this elite unit would stay there "until the total restoration of order and of tranquillity, until people can come to Maringue and carry out their business without problems, and until the people can sell their goods at the prices they want without intimidation".

He was referring to Renamo's practice in Maringue of dictating low prices to peasant farmers. (According to Domingo, peasants complain that armed members of Renamo seize their goods and pay them only a pittance. Thus for a chicken priced at 20,000 meticais - a little less than two dollars - the thugs pay at most 5,000.)

The Sofala provincial police commander, Joao Mutaca, told Domingo that he did not know how long the current situation in Maringue would last. "We want to extend public security throughout the district", he said. "We started with installing the riot police there, and detaining some criminals, and we shall take other steps. We want that district to be the same as any other district, without closed areas, without zones where the public cannot go".

"The presence of armed men in Maringue concerns us", added Mutaca. "It prevents the police and other state bodies from undertaking their activities". AIM-13/7/97

MOSAGRIUS production to start in August

South African immigrant farmers are due in August to start agricultural and livestock production, under Mosagrius Development Corporation.

The Mosagrius Corporation is owned by the Mozambican and South African governments, and under its auspices South African farmers are to settle in the northernmost province of Niassa. 14 South Africans are already present in the provincial capital, Lichinga.

Technical teams are busy demarcating plots of land in the districts of Majune and Sanga. At the same time, contacts are under way with international organisations and financial institutions to raise funds to finance those farmers who have expressed interest in taking part in the programme, but do not have enough money of their own.

About 30 South Africans are ready to join the first 14, and about 200 Mozambican farmers have been enrolled. The programme will start with a small number, in order to ensure close follow up and assistance.

The Mozambican government has decided to exempt the South African farmers participating in Mosagrius from customs duties on agricultural and other equipment to be used in the programme. AIM-9/7/97

Japan finances rehabilitation of bridges

Japan has granted $26.5 million to Mozambique for the second stage of the project to rebuild bridges and major roads in the Zambezi valley.

The money is to be used over a three year period to rebuild 10 bridges that were damaged by war and floods. AIM-7/7/97

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