Mozambican fishing companies have praised the government's intention to bar foreign vessels from fishing for prawns in the waters of the Sofala Bank but object to stiff increases proposed for fishing licence fees.Practically all the industrial fishing vessels in Sofala are owned by foreigners, operating under contracts signed with the government, whereas the semi-industrial boats are owned by Mozambican concerns. The Government plan is to reduce the prawn quota allocated to the industrial fishing vessels, in proportion to the growth of the semi-industrial sector.
National Fisheries director Herminio Tembe explained that replacing industrial vessels by semi-industrial ones has the advantage of increasing efficiency in the sector and creating value added and new jobs in the country because the prawns will be processed onshore.
The switch from industrial to semi-industrial fishing methods comes within a context of reducing the overall amount of fishing in the Sofala bank in order to preserve prawn stocks. Total fishing time in this area is to be reduced from the current 240,000 hours a year, to a maximum of 180,000 hours.
The strategic plan also envisages the development of research into new areas where there may be unexploited prawn populations. These areas include those near the mouths of the Rovuma, Save, Lurio and Limpopo rivers.
The plan also includes management measures for the Sofala bank, including altering the size of the nets used so that they do not catch immature animals.
The government proposes radically altering the current fiscal regime for fishing companies. Currently licence fees for industrial vessels are 3.6 million meticais (about $300) per tonne of their quota. Semi-industrial vessels pay by the year: 120 million meticais for those with cold store facilities on board, and 42.2 million meticais for those that simply use ice.
Those companies subject to a fee for exploitation of natural resources also pay 350,000 meticais a tonne towards fisheries research and development.
The government is planning to abolish the two separate fiscal regimes, one for industrial vessels and the other for semi- industrial ones. It will run all taxes paid by the companies (including their corporation tax) into a single fee of $872 per tonne caught.
Prawns are Mozambique's most important export. The value of exported prawns has risen from $34 million in 1986 to $80 million last year - more than a third of 's total earnings from commodity exports.
The Nacala Cashew Centre in the northern province of Nampula has harvested 2.5 tonnes of cashew nuts from a new species they are introducing in the country, known as the dwarf cashew tree. The Centre is run by the Danish NGO, ADPP (People to People Development Aid),
This was the first harvest from the experimental cashew centre which was set up in 1993 as part of a project to enhance the planting of cashew trees.
Cashew production has been declining in the country because most of the trees, of the traditional type, are now old, had been neglected during the war of destabilisation, and are vulnerable to disease.
The Nacala dwarf cashew plantation covers 45 hectares. The centre planted another 45 hectares with the traditional tree.
The institution is carrying out studies on the new type of tree, which is more resistant to disease and starts producing nuts after three years, compared with the seven years for traditional cashew trees.
Mozambique needs fast producing trees to recover from the present crisis that the cashew industry is facing. The Nacala experience is showing that the tree is well adapted to the soil and, besides producing good quality nuts, weighing about 12 grammes each, each tree also produces large quantities.
The study also aims to find ways to rehabilitate the existing traditional trees.
The centre has been offering courses, since 1997, to train cashew technicians, at community level. The courses intend to provide peasant farmers with new techniques to improve their cashew trees. About 60 technicians are trained every year, coming from various districts of Nampula province.
Since 1992 about $116 million will have been spent in Mozambique in operations to clear land mines, according to the director of the National Demining Commission (CND), Osorio Mateus.
Speaking on 11 November at the start of an international seminar on institutional reform in the demining sector, Mateus said that in 1998 expenditure of between $26 and $28 million is envisaged.
According to Mateus, from 1992 to the present land mines have been cleared from 7,337 kilometres of road, 379 kilometres of power lines, 90 kilometres of railway, and 3,500 hectares of land. These operations resulted in the removal of 50,971 anti- personnel mines, 361 anti-tank mines, 23,667 other items of unexploded ordnance, and 417,404 small calibre bullets.
The initial demining phase (December 1992 to March 1995) took place under the auspices of the UN peace keeping operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ), following the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the Renamo rebels in October 1992. In this period, 6,200 kilometres of roads, 362 kilometres of power line and 2,200 hectares of land were demined.
These UN-run activities led to the location and destruction of 23,000 anti-personnel mines, 217 anti-tank mines and 20,000 other items of unexploded ordnance. The total cost of these operations was around $59 million.
The CND was formed in 1995, and has been in charge of coordinating all demining operations since then. The purpose of the seminar is to look at the new institutional model which should govern how the CND functions.
Mateus said this model seeks to make the organisation more operational by simplifying its chain of command and its administrative procedures. It should also improve internal implementation capacity so as to correspond to the volume and complexity of the work the CND is called upon to deal with.
Since 1995 the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has spent $1.5 million on a programme to iodise salt in Mozambique. However, the programme threatens to come to a halt because of a dispute over who should pay the customs duties on the iodine itself.
Iodine deficiency can lead to the disfiguring condition known as goitre, and to other serious health problems. The easiest way to ensure that nobody goes short of iodine is to add iodine to salt. Mozambique is the only country in southern Africa that does not iodise its salt.
According to UNICEF health official Dr Alejandre Gonzalez, the UNICEF funds were used to buy machinery for iodisation which was distributed to some salt producers, and to pay for advertising campaigns on the virtues of iodised salt. But UNICEF insists that customs duties are not its responsibility. Equally the salt producers are unwilling to pay the duties.
UNICEF has suggested to the producers that, if the government will not exempt iodine, then they should pay the duties. But Mozambique's salt producers believe that since UNICEF started the programme, it should pay for everything.
Residents of the district of Moamba, in the southern province of Maputo, are accusing the South African authorities of violating the agreement concerning the use of the water from the Incomati river, that flows through both countries, reports the daily paper "Noticias" on 3 November.
Moamba administrator Romao Mutisse stated that the South Africans take more than their share of Incomati water, which deprives the Mozambican side of water for irrigation and jeopardises the expected good harvest in the present agricultural season.
"If it rains, as the forecasts say it will, the 1999 harvest will be good", said Mutisse. "If it does not rain, but the South Africans release water as they should, we can still have a satisfactory harvest, mainly along the banks of the Incomati. But if it does not rain, and the South Africans continue violating their obligations concerning the use of international waters, then we will have serious problems in the Incomati valley".
Over the last few months farmers in Moamba have been complaining of shortages of water for irrigation, which they blame on the South African unilateral decision to retain the water on their side.
They explain that at the slightest hint of drought, the South Africans do their best to store as much water as they can on their side of the border, so depriving the Mozambican side of water.
The former deputy manager of the Agriculture Ministry's Emergency Seeds and Tools Programme (PESU), Henrique Lazaro, has been sentenced by a Maputo Court, to 17 years in prison for embezzlement, plus five for forgery of cheques.
The court also ordered Lazaro to reimburse the 591 million meticais ($49,000) stolen . The embezzlement case came to light during the second half of 1997, and Lazaro confessed his guilt right from the start.
Austria has cancelled $11.6 million of debt owed by Mozambique. The agreement covers debt payments due to begin in 1999.
The Austrian government also rescheduled all the debt service due between 1 June 1997 and 30 June 1999 - a sum of $4.4 million.
This rescheduling results from the May decision by the Paris Club, the grouping of the major creditor nations, to increase the percentage by which Mozambique's debt service is to be reduced from 67 to 80 per cent.
The Mozambican police force expelled 322 policemen from its ranks for "incorrect behaviour" between November 1997 and November 1998, according to Pascoal Ronda, the general commander of the police.
Ronda said that over the same period the police had registered 22,942 crimes in the country, a slight decrease on the figure of 23,528 recorded in the previous year.
He stated that over the past year 152 "criminal gangs" (including rustlers, armed robbers, and "consumers of narcotics") were put out of action. 185 pistols were recovered from these gangs, and 274 kilos of various narcotics were also seized.
Rains in the central province of Sofala flooded several suburbs of the city of Beira, interrupting traffic on various roads, and threatening to cut the highway between Beira and Zimbabwe.
In some Beira suburbs, a large number of houses were submerged and trees were knocked down by the storm, but no casualties were reported.
The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 12 November agreed to set up a commission of inquiry to look into land disputes in the southern province of Inhambane.
The proposal for an inquiry came from the opposition party, Renamo, who allege that the Inhambane provincial governor, Francisco Pateguana, is involved in usurping land through his daughter, Stella.
The accusation concerns a tourist complex, Paindane Resorts, in Jangamo district. Explaining the Renamo proposal, Fernando Pires, a deputy from Inhambane, claimed that Stella Pateguana had usurped this complex from its rightful owner, Jose Guerra, on the grounds that the latter had abandoned it.
Spokesmen from Frelimo made clear that they did not believe the accusations against Pateguana and his family, but wanted the inquiry to go ahead so that the governor would have a chance to clear his name.
The principle of setting up a commission of inquiry consisting of nine deputies was accepted unanimously.
At least 33 people have died in the northern province of Cabo Delgado since mid-September as a result of acute diarrhoea and vomiting caused by the consumption of fish contaminated with pesticides, reports the daily newspaper "Noticias" on 14 November.
According to statistics provided by the Provincial Health Directorate, a further 327 people, suffering from symptoms of the same poisoning, have been treated in the provinces' health units. Laboratory tests have shown pesticide contamination.
According to health officials unscrupulous fishermen in the province have dumped pesticides in the fishing grounds to increase their catch.
Criminal investigations are now under way to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the poisoning.
The Mozambican government has reintroduced radio licence fees to finance public sector radio broadcasting.
A Ministerial diploma states that the fee will be paid in part when the radio is purchased or imported, and in part as a monthly tax added to electricity bills, on the assumption that anyone using electricity owns a radio.
The decree charges different fees for different types of radios. Thus a cheap radio, costing less than 200,000 meticais ($17) will pay a fee of 10,000 meticais on purchase. The fee rises to 20,000 meticais for radios that cost up to a million meticais, and to 50,000 for radios valued at over a million meticais. The fee is to be incorporated into the sales price of radios.
The monthly tax is 2,000 meticais for the domestic consumers of electricity, and 50,000 meticais for companies using medium and high tension electricity lines.
The ministerial diploma says nothing about television sets, but Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi promised that the government would eventually tax televisions.
The authorities in the central province of Sofala have decided to close down 23 private and community schools, as from January 1999, because they have been operating illegally for the past three years.
Sofala provincial education director Agostinho Barreto told reporters that the provincial government is acting within the spirit of the 1994 law that regulates private schools.
According to the head of the Sofala department of private education, Francisco Correia, there are more than 60 private and community schools. But another document says there are 83 of them the province, of which only 20 have regularised their situation.
The mayor of the southern city of Matola, Carlos Tembe, on 10 November accused the city's previous administration of a whole series of irregularities.
The attack on his predecessor is part of a report Tembe submitted to the Matola Municipal Assembly covering the first three months of his executive's performance since he was elected mayor on 30 June.
Tembe said he believed that many problems were due to a "lack of professional ethics" among civil servants. He said city council officials had taken advantage of administrative shortcomings to embark upon arbitrary and illegal behaviour to fill their pockets illicitly.
The worst problems inherited from the previous administration he said, were in the areas of urbanisation, town planning and sanitation. Among the difficulties in the town planning area were a series of disputes over occupation of land, and the illicit sale of land by officials. The outgoing City Council had left Tembe no information about the land disputes.
Tembe said that rubbish collection in the city is defective, and that there is no more room in the local cemeteries. As for the city's markets, Tembe said he had uncovered a racket involving the issue of false receipts for the fees that market stallholders are supposed to pay to the municipality. He said investigations are under way to unmask those involved in the racket.
Matola currently has 33 markets: but no-one would have known this from the final report of the outgoing administration, which only mentioned 19.
Tembe said he had discovered other, even more significant omissions. For instance, the registration of city assets by the former administration was incomplete: there was no mention of, among other items, a vehicle donated to the Matola City Council by the Portuguese municipality of Loures, with which it is twinned.
But Tembe thanked his predecessors for one matter: they had not left the incoming authorities any unpaid debts to clear, and all municipal wages were up to date.
Tembe has made a start on implementing the programme he presented to the electorate. Land is being sought for the construction of two new health posts for the city, which will built with the help of two foreign NGOs, Air Care International of the USA, and CEIDA of Finland.
Tembe is also fighting against the central government over the major environmental issue facing Matola: the government's proposal to incinerate 250 tonnes of obsolete pesticides in the Matola cement factory.
The Mozambican government is to create community committees to monitor the management of natural resources to halt the destruction of forests and wild life.
On 11 November the Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, expressed belief in the effectiveness of such committees. He was speaking, in Maputo, during the first National Conference on Community Management of Natural Resources, attended by officials of the Agriculture and Environment ministries, experts, academics and community representatives.
To illustrate how community involvement in the management of natural resources can prove effective, Rosario mentioned the "Tchuma Chato" (Our Wealth) project, in the western province of Tete, as the most outstanding example.
The United States government, through its Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), and the Mozambican Telecommunications Company (TDM) signed an agreement on 6 November to install new technologies in the area of communications.
USTDA is to grant $83,600 to TDM to finance a study on Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) services. This is a satellite-based communications technology, which will allow telephone and other telecommunications services to expand even to remote areas not yet reached by the traditional network.
USTDA has financed feasibility studies for several projects in Mozambique, including one concerning air traffic control in southern Africa.
Other studies were for a possible aluminium smelter in the city of Beira, for the rehabilitation of the Xinavane sugar mill, in Maputo province, and various others, totalling more than $1.76 million.
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