After two weeks of intensive discussions with officials of the Education Ministry, donors and funding agencies have agreed to provide $174 million in support for the Ministry's five year strategic plan.
The bulk of this funding is to go towards primary education and teacher training, which account for $74.2 and $35.7 million respectively.
Technical education is to receive $21.6 million, capacity building $13.2 million, and secondary education just $2.4 million. The rest of the donor funding, $26.9 million, is included under the vague heading of "budget support".
The total cost of the strategic plan is put at $674.7 million. Of this $424.4 million will come from the state budget. Donor support is estimated at $174.2 million, leaving a funding gap of $76.1 million.
The funding needs for 1998, however, are fully covered, and the gap for 1999 is only $9.3 million: officials believe that, if the initial stages of the plan are successful, then more foreign support will be forthcoming.
The national director of planning in the Education Ministry, Virgilio Juvane, stressed the need for grant funding. Bearing in mind Mozambique's existing foreign debt problems, the ministry would only use loans as a last resort.
He said that the appraisal meeting had produced "positive results", and was confident that, if the Ministry performed well, then donor support would increase.
Among other targets in the strategic plan is the construction, over the five year period, of 8,518 new primary school classrooms, 25 new secondary schools, and 250 houses for rural teachers.
President Joaquim Chissano has abolished the State Secretariat for Cashew and relieved the Secretary of State, Juliano Saranga, of his duties. The presidential decree took effect from 1 June.
Explaining the President's decision, the decree states "the current stage in the country's development demands more effective government action, and the rationalisation of human, material and financial resources".
All the powers of the State Secretariat for Cashew will now be exercised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and all its staff and assets will be transferred to the Ministry.
The State Secretariat for Cashew was set up in 1983 with the task of the "integrated development of the cultivation of cashew trees". This is a task that it has never accomplished.
The Secretariat should have organised the massive planting of cashews to replace old and diseased trees (as well as the ones that regularly fall victim to the fires caused by slash and burn techniques of clearing land).
Hit by fungal diseases and insect pests, Mozambique's stock of cashew trees has declined sharply in productivity. In the 1970s, on average a Mozambican cashew tree produced between five and ten kilos of nuts. By 1997, that figure was down to between one and 1.5 kilos. About a million cashew trees aged 30 or more are dying every year.
To halt the decline, 1.5 million new trees should be planted annually. But the target figure of the State Secretariat for Cashew was just 350,000 trees a year, and even this was not met.
From the mid-1980s to 1997 over $47.6 million was supposedly spent on planting cashew trees: but there was little to show for this, and cashew industry trade unionists have suggested that much of the money was simply stolen.
Arrangements are being finalised for Mozambique's local elections which are being held on 30 June. The Independent Elections Commission, CNE, have announced the definitive list of candidates, and explained why some nominations have been rejected.
The ruling Frelimo Party faces a contest in 16 of the 33 municipalities, including the three main cities of Maputo, Beira and Nampula, despite the boycott by the main opposition force, Renamo, and by 15 small extra- parliamentary groups.
The list of candidates for the elections, both for the post of mayor, and for the municipal assemblies shows that Frelimo faces opposition from one minor party, two coalitions, and 12 independent groups of citizens.
The most serious threat to Frelimo comes from some of the independents. This is true in Beira where the former governor of Sofala province, Francisco Masquil, who resigned from Frelimo in order to run, has the tacit backing of the local catholic church.
Beira is a Renamo stronghold, and it is not yet clear whether Renamo will urge its supporters to vote for Masquil or to abstain.
In Maputo, three independent candidates are challenging the incumbent mayor, Artur Canana. One of them, Phillippe Gagnaux, is the son of a much loved Swiss missionary and doctor, Rene Gagnaux, who was murdered by Renamo in 1990.
Gagnaux's list for the municipal assembly contains Frelimo dissidents, notably the former deputy agriculture minister, Paulo Zucula, and the former secretary of state for vocational education, Maria dos Anjos Rosario.
This star-studded list also includes the man generally regarded as the country's greatest photographer, Ricardo Rangel, a former goalkeeper in the national football team, Nuro Americano, the leader of the Mozambican Association of the Disabled (ADEMO), Farida Gulamo, prominent academic Fatima Mendonca, and one of the country's most outspoken journalists, former AIM director, Carlos Cardoso, who now edits the independent newsheet "Metical".
The second independent candidate for mayor is the chairperson of the Human Rights League (LDH), Alice Mabota. She has no list for the municipal assembly as she is a member of one of the groups boycotting the elections, the National Convention Party (PCN). She will attract support from opposition sympathisers living in the capital. Unlike Canana, who was born in the northern province of Nampula, Mabota was born in Maputo, and makes no secret of her belief that the mayor should be a speaker of the local language, Ronga.
The third independent candidate in Maputo is Neves Serrano - even though his party, the PPLM (Progressive Liberal Party) is a member of one of the coalitions contesting seats. Serrano registered his party for the 1994 general elections, took the $50,000 that a UN-run trust fund was giving to all registered parties, but then failed to stand any candidates.
In Nampula, the former provincial secretary of the Association of Demobilised Soldiers (AMODEG), Eugenio Fatima, is standing as the independent candidate for Mayor for a group calling itself the Nampula Organisation of the Unemployed.
There are also independent candidates in Angoche, Chibuto, Gurue, Inhambane, Manhica, Nacala and Pemba. In Nacala and Manhica, the independents have lists for the municipal assemblies, while in the other four municipalities they are only running for mayor.
However, the independent candidate for Inhambane, Felizardo Vaz, has objected to the CNE ruling out his list for the municipal assembly (for lack of all the necessary documentation), and has threatened to withdraw.
The second opposition force in parliament, the three party coalition known as the Democratic Union (UD) has only managed to run candidates for mayor in five places - the central cities of Chimoio and Quelimane, Inhambane and Vilankulo in the south, and Pemba, capital of the northern province of Inhambane.
The UD also attempted to run a candidate for mayor of Matola, the industrial city adjoining Maputo - but failed because they did not have enough signatures of electors. (Under the electoral law, candidates for mayor must have signatures from at least one percent of the electorate).
The UD has only managed to put together a list for one municipality - Catandica. It attempted to field candidates for several other municipalities, but lacked all the documents demanded by the electoral law.
RUMO (Resistance for the Unity of Mozambique), has managed to field full lists of candidates for the Maputo and Matola municipalities.
RUMO consists of Neves Serrano's PPLM and the UDF (United Democratic Front) of Janeiro Mariano Purdina. Purdina was once a leader of the Mozambican Federal Party (PAFEMO), but was expelled in 1993, when he claimed to be the commander of a Mozambican Federal Army (EXEFEMO), which he later admitted was no more than a figment of his imagination.
Perhaps the most surprising contestant of all is the tiny Labour Party (PT). This is one of the extra-parliamentary groups that has announced it is boycotting the elections - nonetheless, there are PT lists for the municipal assemblies of Maputo and Xai-Xai, capital of the southern province of Gaza. The PT is not running for mayor of either city.
The municipalities in which Frelimo candidates are uncontested are: Chokwe, Cuamba, Dondo, Mozambique Island, Lichinga, Manica, Manjacaze, Marromeu, Maxixe, Metangula, Milange, Moatize, Mocimboa da Praia, Mocuba, Monapo, Montepuez and Tete.
A court in the northern town of Angoche has sentenced ten people to prison terms for the illegal seizure of voting cards belonging to other citizens.
According to the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) the most severe sentences were passed on Francisco Vaz and Candido Mussema, both of whom will spend six months in jail, and have been barred from political activity for two years.
The other eight received three month prison sentences and were banned from political activity for a year.
The trial in Angoche concerned 16 members and supporters of Renamo who were accused of appropriating, and in some cases destroying voters' cards. Citizens deprived of their voters' cards run the risk of not being able to vote in the municipal elections.
The Mozambican Christian Council (CCM), the umbrella body for the country's mainstream Protestant churches, at a ceremony in Maputo on 31 May destroyed over 1,400 firearms and tens of thousands of explosives and rounds of ammunition.
Destroying this hardware was part of the CCM campaign to "Transform Guns into Hoes". The aim of the campaign is to collect weaponry that is in the illegal possession of civilians. "Incentive goods" - such as agricultural tools, sewing machines or bicycles - are used to persuade citizens to hand over their guns or disclose the whereabouts of arms caches.
According to the coordinator of the campaign, Jacinto Muth, 1,453 varioius firearms were destroyed and 33,950 explosive devices - including rounds of ammunition, anti-personnel mines, and anti-tank mines. This weaponry had been collected between 1995, when the campaign was launched, and April of this year.
He said that over this period, the campaign had "directly benefited more than 250 individuals, and indirectly their families and the communities where they live".
He regretted that, compared with the initial stages of the campaign, the number of guns collected had declined in late 1996 and in 1997. This was because the CCM had run short of attractive goods to be exchanged for the guns. Muth estimated the value of the "incentive goods" used so far at $500,000.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Oldemiro Baloi, on 30 May inaugurated the Sollibombos Casino, in the town of Namaacha, on the border with Swaziland.
This is the first "public casino" in the country. The only other functioning casino operates as a "casino club" on the premises of Maputo's Polana Hotel.
The casino is owned by a Mozambican-Portuguese joint venture, the Libombos Hotel and Casino Company. 40 per cent of this venture is owned by the Mozambican Hotel Libombos, and 60 per cent by the Portuguese company Solverde.
The Mozambican government has given this casino a monopoly on legal gambling in the Namaacha area for an initial period of 15 years, renewable for three ten year periods. In return the casino must pay the government 25 per cent of gross income from gambling.
The Mozambican government has cut the top rate of income tax from 30 per cent to 20 per cent, providing an increase in take-home pay for that minority who are earning more than 9.6 million meticais ($817) a month.
Prior to the change, only those on incomes of less than 325,000 meticais ($27.5) a month were exempt from income tax. Those earning up to 390,000 meticais paid six per cent, and wages of between 390,000 and 1.17 million meticais a month were taxed at 15 per cent. Anything above 1.17 million meticais a month incurred the top tax rate of 30 per cent.
Deputy Finance Minister Luisa Diogo said that as from 1 June, all wages of 600,000 meticais or less a month will be exempt from income tax. Between 600,000 and 2.4 million meticais a month incomes will be taxed at 10 per cent, between 2.4 million and 9.6 million at 15 per cent, and anything over 9.6 million at 20 per cent.
Diogo said that discrimination in favour of foreign workers has been scrapped: all workers will be subject to the same taxation rules, regardless of their nationality.
Taxes on certain professions (e.g. lawyers and architects) have fallen to 15 per cent on earnings of up to nine million meticais a month, and 20 per cent on anything above that.
Those employed in the state apparatus, including the 65,000 of so workers in the health and education services, will continue to pay no tax. Diogo argued that the state was still not competitive in wage terms with the private sector, and that tax exemptions were therefore justified in order to retain skilled staff.
The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI) is to finance a small-scale fishing complex in Palma district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, to the tune of $500,000.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Isidora Faztudo, and the Spanish ambassador, Jose Salarich, on 20 May signed an agreement approving the project.
The project, with a three-year duration, aims at increasing food security, securing the tapping of fishery resources, and improving the standard of living of the people living in the area. In a first stage, the initiative will cover over 1,000 artisanal fishermen.
Also included in the project are the building of a deep-freeze system, a processing centre for the smoking of fish, and the purchase of three boats.
The Mozambican Institute for the Development of Small Scale Fishing (IDPPE) will plan and administer all activities related with the project.
Mozambican cotton companies have rejected the minimum producer price for raw cotton, set by the government's National Wages and Prices Commission at 2,950 meticais and 2,600 meticais a kilo for first and second grade cotton respectively.
A letter from the Mozambican Cotton Association (AAM), sent to the Ministry of Agriculture on 21 May, reiterates that the companies will pay no more than 2,500 meticais a kilo for first grade raw cotton, and 2,000 meticais a kilo for second grade.
The cotton sector faces a sharp fall in the world market price of cotton in recent months. International prices were high last year - which enabled the companies to operate with a producer price of 3,300 meticais per kilo of first grade raw cotton (and 3,100 meticais for second grade).
The concessionary companies, which provide peasant farmers with inputs and then buy the crop from them, argued that a 22 per cent drop in world prices should be reflected by a similar drop in the producer price.
Defending the government's prices, Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi said they were based on the average world market prices during the first five months of the year, and the assumption that these averages would be maintained for the rest of the year.
The Beira Commercial Association (ACB) has complained that massive amounts of consumer goods are being smuggled into central Mozambique, mainly from Zimbabwe, reports the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique".
The paper cites ACB chairman Jorge Soeiro as saying that between 4,000 and 5,000 tonnes of Zimbabwean sugar have entered the country illegally in recent months, and are being sold in Sofala, Manica and Tete provinces.
He accused the Crown Agents, the British company that has the contract to manage the Mozambican customs service, of inefficiency when it came to controlling border posts.
Soeiro claimed the situation was at its most serious at Machipanda, the main border post between Mozambique and Zimbabwe. He thought that if the Crown Agents could bring the situation under control, and step up the monitoring of trucks at the Inchope cross-roads on the Beira-Zimbabwe highway "then we will no longer have a lot of problems with contraband in the region".
About 250 tonnes of obsolete and potentially dangerous pesticides out of a total of 500 tonnes gathered in 60 depots scattered throughout Mozambique are to be destroyed, reports the Maputo daily "Noticias" on 21 May.
They will be incinerated in the furnaces of the cement factory, in Matola, on the outskirts of Maputo, as part of the government project to remove outdated pesticides. The project began in 1994, and is financed by the Danish Agency for International Development (DANIDA) to the tune of about $6 million.
560 workers employed by six privatised agricultural and livestock companies in Maputo city and province are at risk of losing their jobs, since the companies have all ground to a halt, according to Julio Bembele, the provincial delegate of the Agricultural, Forestry and Livestock Workers' Union (SINTAF).
Bembele told AIM that the companies concerned are Maputo Citrus (350 workers), the Marracuene Agricultural Company (53), Emofauna (28), Matola-Gare (34), Bico-Rico (34) and Incol (61). They have been paralysed for periods ranging from five months to over a year, allegedly because their owners have run out of money.
These companies all owe wages to their workers. The worst situation is that of the Matola-Gare company which has not paid any wages since 1995. The Marracuene company owes its workers 12 months wages, Emofauna and Bico-Rico stopped paying wages in June 1997, and Citrus Maputo owes four months back wages.
Bembele said that SINTAF is drafting a request to the Prime Minister, Pascoal Mocumbi, asking him to intervene, and find a solution. The union thinks the companies should be taken away from their new owners who have proved unable to run them, and that the state should organise a second privatisation tender.
Bemebele argues the government should cancel the privatisations, and ensure that the companies are only delivered to people who are financially capable of managing them.
He said that the union is turning to Mocumbi, because it has not received a satisfactory response from its repeated approaches to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
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