As from February next year, Maputo city Council will take "rigorous" measures against those citizens who violate by-laws, the city's new mayor, Artur Canana, announced on 12 December.
He was speaking at a meeting organised by the "Anti-Garbage Group" (GCL), a civil society organisation set up with the express purpose of cleaning the city before, during and after the festive season.
The immediate spark that lit this initiative was the cholera epidemic in Maputo, which put the spotlight on the deplorable state of sanitation and garbage collection in the city.
Canana pledged that the City council will use the media for a civic education campaign, aimed at persuading citizens to change their habits and help preserve the city. But he warned that, as from February "administrative measures will be taken against those who don't accept the norms".
He also stressed the need for separate treatment for domestic garbage, and rubbish produced by companies. The latter, he suggested, would in future have to pay a fee to the city for the removal of their rubbish.
Canana said that team of senior Council managers are currently undertaking a study on how to deal with the multiple problems affecting Maputo. Their conclusions should be announced in February.
As for the GCL initiative, Canana stressed that it did not replace the responsibilities of the city council. "The initiative is welcome", he said. "We are open to all kinds of support, because the city belongs to all of us".
On 10 December hundreds of kilograms of meat and shellfish were seized and incinerated by the police and health authorities the informal market of Goto, in the central city of Beira.
The authorities took these measures because of the stubbornness of the sellers, who refused to accept a government order to close down their stalls.
The closure of all stalls that prepare and sell meals in the informal markets was ordered by Sofala governor Felisberto Tomas, as a preventive, public health measure, in an attempt to ensure that the cholera epidemic currently raging in parts of southern Mozambique does not spread to Beira.
The commander of the Beira municipal police, Antonio Alfredo, said that this is the second stage of the campaign, after the first seven days spent in trying to make the public aware of the health dangers.
"Today, we started to close down the stalls that prepare meals and sell foods such as meat and fish, particularly in places where there are no basic hygienic conditions", said Alfredo.
The third stage will be the destruction of the stalls if the vendors insist on selling food in places with poor hygiene.
Hopes are growing that the cholera epidemic has been contained. The epidemic has largely been confined to the capital, and to Maputo and Gaza provinces, in the south, with a handful of cases reported from Inhambane and Manica provinces. According to the health authorities on 10 December, the death toll stands at 218 out of the 6,949 cases so far diagnosed - a lethality rate of 3.1 per cent.
Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi on 12 December said it was "absolutely correct" for the publicly owned electricity company, EDM, to disconnect district administrators who failed to pay their electricity bills.
He was reacting to a report that EDM cut off the administrative offices, and the homes of the administrators, in Chibuto and Manjacaze districts, in the southern province of Gaza, for non-payment - but that the Manjacaze administration then used the police to force an electrician to reconnect the power supply.
"It is the duty of government bodies to pay their bills", said Mocumbi. "If they have financial problems, then they just have to economise on electricity. The same goes for phone bills".
He praised EDM for the Chibuto and Manjacaze disconnections. "It means that our public corporations are showing a new dynamism", he said.
Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje has attacked the "generalised misconduct" of the country's traffic police, and even threatened to abolish the existing traffic police and set up a new body.
Manhenje was speaking at the police training centre at Michafutene, on the outskirts of Maputo on 9 December. Traffic policemen from the capital had been called to the meeting, which took place during a session of the Interior Ministry's Coordinating Council.
He told the assembled policemen that, if they heard what leaders of his Ministry hear every day about police conduct, "you would faint". "We've even been called scum in the Assembly of the Republic because of you", he told the traffic cops.
This part of the police force is widely despised due to the common practice of demanding bribes from motorists.
Manhenje noted that the traffic police set up posts where there is no plausible justification for them. Sometimes the same motorist would be stopped repeatedly on the same road by different policemen. He said he was aware of traffic policemen taking drivers aside to talk to them away from their vehicle (and out of earshot of anyone else). He also attacked the practice of policemen begging for lifts from motorists.
All these abuses had to stop, the minister demanded.
Manhenje found it ironic that a good number of traffic policemen do not know how to drive. He ordered the immediate suspension from duty of all traffic policemen who do not have driving licences: they would be expected to take driving lessons at the police driving school.
Manhenje told reporters that most traffic policemen are poorly educated. Most have between four and eight years formal schooling: very few have completed secondary education. He wanted an improvement in academic standards, and pledged that the Ministry would make it possible for those policemen who want to continue their studies to do so.
Two district and one precinct police commanders have been removed from their posts, accused of serious misconduct.
The commanders sacked are Antonio Zacarias and Pedro Muchanga, of the districts of Matutuine and Manhica, in Maputo province, and Domingos Cerveja, of the sixth precinct, in the Maputo suburb of Infulene.
The decision was taken by Maputo provincial police commander Alberto Aucone, following investigations into their performance.
Zacarias and Cerveja, besides losing their jobs as commanders, have also been demoted from deputy superintendents to subinspectors.
Maputo provincial police spokesman Joao Machava said that the three had been guilty of serious misconduct, and local residents had complained of their behaviour.
He explained that in the specific case of Domingos Cerveja, investigation of his case began early last month, after a robbery at the home of Orlando Mabasso, a Mozambican working for the German NGO, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Police from the sixth precinct went to Mabasso's home, but took no action against the thieves, allegedly because it was dark and they thought intervention would be "too risky". Mabasso's neighbours assumed that the police were in league with the thieves.
The thieves were able to ransack the house and terrify the Mabasso family for almost two hours, while the police did nothing.
Machava said that at the Infulene precinct, another police officer, Fernando Marrengule, has also been removed, in connection with the same case.
He explained that besides negligence and misconduct, the removed officers are also accused of drinking alcohol while on duty.
The Maputo City Council's directorate of industry, trade and tourism is assembling a team of inspectors to monitor trading activity in the capital during the festive season, in an attempt to stop shopkeepers from jacking up their prices.
Announcing the measure on 12 December, the director of this Council department, Armindo Barradas, said there would be about 15 inspectors, equipped with two way radios. They would work in shifts, and the team would be active 24 hours a day, starting on Monday.
Barradas promised frequent visits by the inspectors to shops to avoid "the application of abnormal prices".
To make inspection easier, Barradas insisted that wholesalers must issue invoices to retailers. For their part, the retailers must keep the invoices in their shops, ready to be displayed to the inspectors at any moment.
"We warn both wholesalers and retailers to comply with these measures", said Barradas. He also insisted that the retailers must clearly mark the prices of the goods they sell.
The inspectors, he added, would also be on the look-out for goods that are past their expiry date, and which are a potential threat to public health.
"Severe measures", including heavy fines, would be imposed against those who defy his department's rules, said Barradas.
There would be no shortage of supplies in Maputo this Xmas and New Year, he added. His department has been working with suppliers and importers to ensure that there is no danger of running out of stocks of basic goods.
Sweden is to grant 20 million Crowns ($2.7 million) as "decentralised support" to assist development in the northern Mozambican province of Niassa. The two countries signed on 11 December, in Maputo, an agreement on such support for the period between 1997 and 1999.
The document says that the money will be used, among other activities, to pay for technical and financial assistance to the Niassa provincial government, support for the local private sector, including the development of trade in Niassa, and infrastructure projects, with emphasis on road repair and maintenance. Signing the agreement were Deputy Foreign Minister, Frances Rodrigues, and the Swedish ambassador, Erik Aberg.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to transfer some of the services that were previously housed at its regional headquarters in Brazzaville, to Maputo, according to the WHO representative in Mozambique, Carlos Tiny.
The WHO regional office was one of many buildings ransacked during the recent battles in Brazzaville which resulting in the overthrow of President Pascoal Lissouba by militias loyal to the country's former president, Denis Sassou-Nguesso.
The Mozambican police have seized a truckload of engines from military aircraft that were being smuggled into South Africa.
The police stopped the truck on 4 December, in Machaze, in the central province of Manica. They found no less than 15 aircraft engines on board, some from MiG fighters, some from helicopters. The engines had apparently been stolen from the air base at Beira.
The truck had a South African number plate, and the police have announced the arrest of a South African citizen.
The entire Mozambican air force has been grounded for lack of spare parts since the end of the war of destabilisation. All the military aircraft it possesses are of Soviet manufacture.
The Mozambican government and the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) signed an agreement on 5 December under which the NDF is to lend $6.5 million for the National Water Development Project (PNDA).
Signing the agreement were Planning and Finance Minister Tomas Salomao, and NDF chairman, Jens Lund-Sorense.
The aims of the PNDA include the sustainable development of water resources, ensuring rural water supplies, and the institutional development of the sector.
This is the fourth NDF credit granted to Mozambique: total loans from the NDF now amount to $22 million.
The overall cost of the PNDA is estimated at $57 million. In addition to the NDF and the Mozambican government itself, it is being financed by the World Bank and by the overseas development agencies of the Canadian, Swiss and Swedish governments.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, has announced that Renamo intends to form a coalition with three smaller parties in order to increases its chances of winning next year's municipal elections.
Speaking to Radio Mozambique on 6 December in the central port city of Beira, Dhlakama pledged that "in principle" Renamo will form a coalition with the Mozambique United Front (FUMO), the National Convention Party (PCN), the Mozambican Nationalist Movement (MONAMO), and the Labour Party (PT).
"This coalition is open to other parties of the extra-parliamentary opposition", said Dhlakama, "and right now negotiations about this are under way".
The municipal elections are due to be held on 29 May in 23 cities and ten towns.
The government of Swaziland has distanced itself from claims by a previously unheard-of "Border Adjustment Committee", according to which much of southern Mozambique, including Maputo, is Swazi territory "stolen" by the Portuguese in the 19th century.
Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi told reporters on 12 December that the Swazi Foreign Ministry has disowned these territorial claims in a "verbal note" delivered via the Mozambican embassy in Mbabane.
The note says that the claims were the work of an individual Swazi parliamentarian "on his own initiative". It regrets any inconvenience caused by the "improper and unfortunate utterances".
A Renamo parliamentary deputy has unreservedly apologised for libelling the rapporteur of the parliamentary group of the ruling Frelimo party, Sergio Vieira.
The Renamo deputy, Mafuta Banda, circulated a document inside the Assembly of the Republic in March 1996 in which he made a series of extremely serious allegations against Vieira.
Among other things, he accused Vieira of forging documents and then obliging other people to sign them. He also claimed that Vieira was involved with companies accused of drug trafficking.
Parliamentary immunity in Mozambique is limited, and does not place deputies above the law of libel. Vieira therefore announced his intention to sue Banda, and it is only the slow pace of Mozambican legal procedures that have spared Banda a court appearance.
This week, Banda has apologised, circulating a document in the Assembly that withdraws all his original allegations. In response, Vieira has dropped his libel action and praised Banda for his "dignity in recognising his mistake and apologising".
The United States government on 4 December donated first aid and mapping equipment worth about $50,000 to the Extended Demining Programme (PAD).
US consul Minister Carmen Martinez said that this equipment is the last consignment for the first stage of a training programme for Mozambican demining agencies.
This first stage, run in coordination with the Mozambican government's National Demining Commission (CND), was estimated at $1.5 million, and was designed for the training of demining staff from the Mozambican Defence Force (FADM), and various non- governmental organisations operating in the country.
According to Martinez, the second stage of the programme is to start in the first half of 1998, and is also estimated to cost about $1.5 million.
PAD currently employs 501 people, and is operating exclusively in the south of the country.
This offer comes immediately after the United States refused to join 125 countries who have signed a treaty in Ottawa to ban the manufacture, transportation, storage and use of land mines.
Deputy Minister of Public Works and Housing, Agostinho Monjane, said on 11 December in Maputo that the newly formed Maputo Corridor Development Society (SDCM), will strengthen the capacity of the Mozambican business community.
SDCM, which brings together several investors, from both the public and the private sectors, has a share capital of 35 million rands (about $7.4 million), and will have a 10 per cent share in the Trans African Concession (TRAC), the French-led consortium that has won the contract to build a toll road between Maputo and the South African town of Witbank.
"SDCM will enhance the development capacity of the national business community", claimed Monjane.
He said that after the establishment of the Maputo Development Corridor (CDM) last year, the Mozambican government established contacts with the national business community for support in terms of strategies.
According to Monjane, one of the "positive" results of these contacts is the SDCM which is expected to contribute significantly to the development of infrastructure building activities.
The major shareholder in SDCM is the private Mozambican Commercial and Investment Bank (BCI) - but which is itself largely owned by the Portuguese bank, the Caixa Geral de Depositos (CGD).
The chairman of the BCI board, Abdul Magid Osman, who is a former Mozambican Finance Minister, declared at the ceremony formalising the SDCM that the company will guarantee a role for Mozambican business in all the developments associated with the Maputo Corridor.
Other SDCM shareholders include publicly-owned corporations including the port and railway company (CFM), the telecommunications company (TDM), the electricity company (EDM), the airport company (ADM), and the state insurance company, EMOSE.
President Joaquim Chissano on 10 December explained to reporters in Tehran, his decision to sack Sinai Nhatitima from the post of Attorney-General.
The President sacked Nhatitima on 7 December, after the Assembly of the Republic unanimously passed a motion of censure against the Attorney-General for his refusal to attend the Assembly and deliver his annual briefing on the work of his institution, as required by the Mozambican constitution.
Speaking at the Islamic Conference Organisation, President Chissano said that "It is not a punishment as many people may believe", adding that "simply there were no conditions that would lead, in the short term, to the end of the crisis, and the resumption of cooperation between the Attorney-General's office and the parliament".
"There was a lack of dialogue between the two parties and an environment of near intolerance had been created, and it was necessary to dismiss Nhatitima and let others continue working and find ways to create a sound climate", explained Chissano.
The Harare High Court on 5 December found Zimbabwean opposition politician Ndabaningi Sithole guilty of treasonable activities, including the recruitment of members for the Mozambique-based armed group known as "chimwenjes".
The most damning evidence against Sithole consisted of four video tapes seized from his home which showed a meeting in New York in the 1980s between members of Sithole's party, ZANU-Ndonga, and of the apartheid-backed Mozambican rebel movement, Renamo.
The judge noted that Sithole himself had not attended the New York meeting, but his wife Vesta had.
As for a supposed plot to assassinate Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 1995, Chatikobo accepted the evidence given by William Nemakonya, a Chimwenje currently serving a 12 year sentence for his part in the plot, according to which Sithole was deeply implicated. The fact that Nemakonya had used Sithole's car had proved particularly difficult for the defence to explain.
Sithole has announced his attention to appeal, and immediately denounced Chatikobo as "a CIO judge".
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