Mozambique may be the first country to benefit from the "enhanced" version of the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) debt relief initiative, approved at the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank boards, Finance Minister Tomaz Salomao told reporters in Maputo on 2 October.
The "enhanced" HIPC results from the meeting of the G7 group of leading industrial nations held in Cologne in mid-June, and would result in writing off a large sum of debt from the poorer countries.
Mozambique reached the "conclusion point" of the conventional HIPC initiative at the end of June, resulting in the cancellation of $1.7 billion of its debt stock (in net present value terms).
This meant that, on World Bank calculations, Mozambique's average annual debt service payments in the period 1999-2005 will be $73 million a year, compared with the average of $114 million paid between 1995 and 1998.
Calculations made in June suggested that applying the Cologne deal would bring Mozambican debt service down to an annual average of $55 million a year.
Salomao declined to be drawn on exact figures, but he thought that with "enhanced HIPC", the total amount of debt cancelled could rise to "around two billion dollars".
Further discussions would be held, with the Bretton Woods institutions, with the Paris Club of major creditors, and with non-Paris Club creditors. "We can go for a discount of over 95 per cent", said Salomao.
Salomao stressed that the money that HIPC, including the enhanced version, releases from the state budget will be used on poverty reduction programmes. In the first place, this meant providing "more education, more health care, more water sources". But it also meant "establishing the conditions for generating employment, by promoting investment".
The Assembly of the Republic on 30 September passed a bill on the cashew sector that hopes to rescue the cashew processing industry by raising its level of protection.
Currently most Mozambican cashew processing factories are closed because of the World Bank imposed policy of liberalising the trade in raw nuts. The resulting export of raw nuts to India has starved the local industry of its raw material.
The protection mechanism approved in the bill is an increase in the surtax on raw nut exports from the current 14 per cent to between 18 and 22 per cent. The government will decide the exact level of the surtax, depending on the prevailing conditions in each marketing campaign.
The bill also demands that the government embark on a "economic and financial clean-up" of those processing industries regarded as viable.
The money from the surtax is to be split, with 80 per cent going towards planting new cashew trees, and 20 per cent as "incentives" for the processing industry.
The original draft of the bill, sponsored by two deputies of the majority Frelimo Party, Abdul Carimo and Sergio Vieira, proposed an outright ban on the export of raw nuts for ten years. But this proposal ran into opposition, not only from the government (as was expected), but also from within the Frelimo parliamentary group. All three of the parliamentary commissions that discussed the bill opposed a ban on raw nut exports, and suggested increasing the surtax instead. Carimo and Vieira agreed to amend their bill to this effect.
On 30 September, however, Renamo attempted to re-instate a ban on raw nut exports. This was despite the fact that Renamo members of the commissions had gone along with increasing the surtax.
Renamo wanted a ban on raw nut exports for "at least five years", while the Democratic Union (UD) coalition presented a slightly different proposal, banning exports "until the processing industries are fully supplied". Both amendments went down to defeat by 127 to 119 votes. Renamo then voted against the bill as a whole.
Renamo also voted against the final versions of a bill to liberalise the telecommunications sector, and a bill on banking regulations. Frelimo's overall majority ensured that all these bills were carried.
The Frelimo majority also rejected the idea to set up an ad- hoc commission to draft a balance sheet of the five years of this parliament. Instead each of the existing parliamentary commissions, and any individual deputy who so wishes, will write their own reports and deposit them.
The National Elections Commission (CNE), the independent body organising the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on 3 - 4 December, announced on 3 October that, based on the 1997 census estimated, 85.5 percent of potential voters have registered. During the voter registration period from 20 July to 17 September, 7,099,105 Mozambicans were registered.
At the previous general elections, in October 1994, there were 6,396,061 registered voters. This number rose to 7,223,937 after the electoral registers were updated, in 1997. The 1997 number seriously exaggerates the size of the electorate because it did not delete those who had died since 1994.
It had been feared that people in remote areas would not register: in fact, the lowest rate of registration was achieved in the capital.
The largest percentage increases in the electorate took place in Manica, Tete and Niassa provinces, where the electorate is respectively 30.7, 26.7 and 26.2 per cent larger than in 1994. All these are border provinces, and the jump in the number of voters can probably be explained by the continuing return of Mozambicans who were refugees in neighbouring countries during the war of destabilisation.
The CNE also announced the allocation of parliamentary seats to the multi-member provincial constituencies. This distribution is in proportion to the size of the electorate. Nampula remains the largest constituency: it will have 50 seats in the new parliament.
The results of the registration process and the allocation of parliamentary seats, province by province were (1994 figures in brackets):
|Niassa||356,693 (282,513)||13 (11)|
|Cabo Delgado||618,451 (568,169)||22 (22)|
|Nampula||1,434,764 (1,365,796)||50 (54)|
|Zambezia||1,384,626 (1,270,098)||49 (49)|
|Tete||503,422 (397,260)||18 (15)|
|Manica||421,266 (322,201)||15 (13)|
|Sofala||593,877 (530,066)||21 (21)|
|Inhambane||495,981 (471,524)||17 (18)|
|Gaza||465,151 (398.381)||16 (16)|
|Maputo Province||369,234 (330,887)||13 (13)|
|Maputo City||455,640 (459,166)||16 (18)|
|Total||7,099,105 (6,396,061)||250 (250)|
A total of ten political parties and three coalitions have registered with the CNE for the presidential and parliamentary elections. The registration period ended on 1 October.
The parties who registered are Frelimo and the following opposition groups: PIMO (Independent Party of Mozambique), PALMO (Liberal and Democratic Party of Mozambique), PT (Labour Party), SOL (Social-Liberal Party), Os Verdes (Mozambican Green Party), PADELIMO (Democratic Party for the Liberation of Mozambique), PPLM (Progressive Liberal Party of Mozambique), PANAOC (National Party of Workers and Peasants), and PASOMO - an unknown party.
The three coalitions are: UD (Democratic Union), UMO (Mozambican Opposition Union), and Renamo - Electoral Union. The last named is an alliance between Renamo and ten minor parties. PALMO and the Greens will support Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in the presidential elections, but plan to run their own candidates for parliament.
The UD used to consist of PALMO, PANADE (National Democratic Party) and PANAMO (Mozambican National Party), and won nine seats in the 1994 elections, but PALMO has gone its own way.
UMO started off life with nine minor parties, but is now reduced to three, and is in practice a vehicle for Wehia Ripua, leader of the Democratic Party (PADEMO).
Antonio Namburete, Mozambique's Attorney-General, has threatened to ban PIMO (Independent Party of Mozambique) if it continues to identify itself publicly as an Islamic party.
According to a 12-page document from the Attorney-General's office, by placing a series of advertisements in the Maputo weekly "Savana" aimed at disseminating its markedly Islamic political manifesto, and as well as changing the meaning of the "I" in its acronym from "Independent" to "Islamic", PIMO is violating Mozambique's Constitution.
The Attorney-General reminded PIMO's president, Yaqub Sibindy, that the Constitution declares that Mozambique is a lay state, and that political parties must abide by the principles enshrined in the constitution.
Furthermore, the law regulating political parties states that parties must not be based "on regionalist, ethnic, tribal, racial or religious groups".
Despite its attempt to whip up Islamic sentiment, PIMO has no significant following among Moslems, or among any other sector of society. In the 1994 parliamentary elections, PIMO won just 1.23 per cent of the vote.
The president of the Mozambique United Front (FUMO), Domingos Arouca, on 27 September resigned from his post, saying he is strongly opposed to the party's membership of the "Electoral Union" formed by Renamo.
Arouca said he does not intend to stand as a candidate in the December presidential and parliamentary elections. Though never a member of Frelimo, Arouca has an anti- colonial record, and was jailed by the Portuguese secret police, the PIDE.
The sugar company "Acucareira de Mocambique", located at Mafambisse, in Sofala province, plans to export 12,500 tonnes of sugar to the United States this year, according to its managing director, Terry O'Connor.
O'Connor said that in the 1998-99 campaign, the company produced 32.000 tonnes of sugar. He predicted that in the coming campaign (1999-2000) production will rise to 45,000 tonnes. 40 per cent of this will be for export, and the rest for the domestic market.
The installed capacity at Mafambisse is about 70,000 tonnes of sugar a year, and in its plantation and factory the company employs some 7,000 workers. Investors, mostly from South Africa, have so far spent about $60 million on rehabilitating the company.
The publicly-owned telecommunications company (TDM) and the French company Alcatel signed an agreement on 30 September, for the supply and install cellular phone equipment in northern Mozambique.
The project, costing about $19.5 million, is funded by the French Development Agency, Mozambican financial institutions, and by TDM itself.
The project is to be implemented by the end of 2000, covering the Beira, Chimoio and Tete cities, and the towns of Songo and Manica in the central region, and the northern cities of Nampula and Mozambique Island.
The management of the water supply systems in seven cities will be in the hands of a private operator as from 30 November, under a contract signed on 27 September.
A consortium named "Aguas de Mocambique" won the international tender for the management of the water systems of Maputo, Beira, Quelimane, Nampula and Pemba.
Aguas de Mocambique is led by the French company Saur International, with 38.5 per cent of the consortium's capital. 31.5 per cent comes from IPE-Aguas de Portugal, and 30 per cent from Mazi-Mozambique. The latter consists of a prominent NGO, the Community Development Foundation, headed by former education minister Graca Machel, and the private companies Norte Investimentos, FLOTUR, and MG-Mocambique Gestores.
The government body that signed the contract with the consortium was the newly established Water Supply Investment and Assets Fund (FIPAG).
Privatising the management of urban water supply was one of the conditions imposed by donors and funding agencies for the provision of $117 million to improve the services. Among the sources of this funding are the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Dutch government and the European Union. Of this money, $25 million is earmarked for running the services, while the remaining $92 million will be used to rehabilitate and expand the water supply network in all seven cities.
For Maputo and Matola the contract is valid for 15 years, whereas for the other cities it will expire after five years. Under the contract, the Mozambican government remains the owner of all infrastructures and water assets.
Mozambique is a candidates for receiving the World Health Organization (WHO) certificate as "free from polio", following the success of the vaccination campaign, Health Minister Aurelio Zilhao said on 23 September.
According to a report from Zilhao's ministry, the 1999 vaccination campaign covered more than 3.638 million children aged under five, when the first dose was administered between 26 and 30 July, and more than 3.875 million received the second dose, given between 30 August and 3 September.
Zilhao said that the vaccination campaign cost $2.1 million. To undertake the work, the authorities mobilised more than 5,000 health agents, working in 1,930 brigades.
Parallel with the polio vaccine, the children also received vitamin "A" supplements and, in some selected districts, they were given measles vaccine.
The fishing company Quelimar, with headquarters in Nampula province, has raised $31 million to launch a fish farming project for breeding prawns. They also plan to invest $5 million to support the development of small scale fishing in Angoche and Moma.
The Quelimar manager, Martinho Xavier Cossa, said that the company, owned by Mozambican, American, Dutch and South African interests, has recently completed an assessment of the conditions along these two districts.
Conditions for the fish farming of prawns and other species of commercial interest is estimated at 170,000 hectares, and about 33,000 hectares have been selected for the first stage, in the Maputo, Zambezia, Sofala, and Nampula provinces.
Mozambique's potential for the fishing of prawns on the open seas is currently estimated at about 7,000 tonnes a year. Prawns represent about 40 per cent of the total value of Mozambique's exports. Currently prawns earn the country about $80 million a year in hard currency, compared with $34 million in 1986.
The Mozambican government is to sell off its shares in the Monapo Cotton Company (SAMO) and Namialo Cotton Development Company (SODAN), according to Agriculture Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario.
He explained that this move aims to release the government gradually from the cotton producing process, and leave production to the private sector.
The government will retain its role as a regulator, and help end the conflict between those two companies, and the direct producers (commercial cotton farmers, and associations of peasant farmers).
This conflict hinges on restrictions on sales of raw cotton. The concessionary companies such as SAMO and SODAN, supply inputs to farmers on credit, and in exchange have the right to purchase the cotton produced.
The government holds 49 per cent of the shares in each company. The decision to sell off the shares was taken following an agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the matter.
Four years of work on drawing up detailed amendments to the Mozambican constitution came to nothing on 30 September, when parliamentary deputies from Renamo refused to cast their votes, thus ensuring that the amendments could not obtain the required two thirds majority in the Assembly of the Republic.
The Assembly picked up the debate from where they had left off the previous day - with the question of whether they were faced with one set of amendments or two.
Renamo claimed there was just one document, while the majority Frelimo Party retorted that there were two separate proposals that had to be voted on.
The draft amendments had been consensual until 4 August. But on that date Renamo brought a string of last minute changes to the 31 member ad-hoc commission dealing with the constitution. These changes fundamentally altered the proposed model of governance, from a semi-presidential to a presidential one, and also suggested a quasi-federal rather than a unitary state.
The Frelimo majority on the ad-hoc committee wanted these changes to appear as a separate appendix, but Renamo insisted on placing them within the text. Since all decisions in the ad-hoc commission, including merely procedural ones, were taken by a two-thirds majority, Frelimo submitted to this demand.
As Frelimo deputies pointed out, that was why the Renamo alterations appeared in the same printed document as the consensual, pre- 4 August, text. But that did not mean that they could be voted upon simultaneously.
Renamo argued that its proposals represented "popular demands" for presidential rule, and that the text should be voted on "in general" including the Renamo changes, because it was just "one document".
The question of presidential versus semi-presidential models had dominated the debate - but there were other major changes proposed by Renamo: including the suggestion that provincial governors should no longer represent central government, but should be appointed by whichever party had a majority of votes in the province. This was a form of disguised federalism.
Winding up the debate, the chairman of the ad-hoc commission, Hermenegildo Gamito, gave a detailed account of how the original consensus had broken down, refuting Renamo's claims on the public debate.
He said that the consensual text, produced by the commission, with its model of a unitary state and a semi-presidential system of government, won popular support during the debates.
The system of government had been among the most consensual of issues: indeed, it had been Renamo that first called for separating the posts of head of state and head of government, Gamito recalled.
This position remained consensual at the November national conference on the constitution and the ensuing provincial conferences.
It was only when Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama suddenly attacked the semi-presidential model and the draft constitution's clauses on nationality, in an article published in March, that the Renamo position underwent "a 180 degree turn".
Only after Dhlakama's intervention was the question of the system of government raised by some participants in debates at district level. Gamito noted that those participants used exactly the same form of words, and in any case "neither in quantity nor in quality did those contributions constitute a consensus".
He added that this could be amply proved by the tape recordings, minutes and reports that exist of all the meetings organised by the ad-hoc commission.
Gamito expressed his outrage at the "half truths, lies, insults, racism, and so much hatred and rancour" that had characterised Renamo's contribution to the Assembly debate.
He said the ad-hoc commission would not withdraw its text, and that, if it was voted down, there would be no chance of major constitutional amendments taking effect until the year 2005 (because the political system cannot be changed half way through a legislature).
Assembly chairman Eduardo Mulembue then took a vote on the procedure to be followed. Frelimo's overall majority ensured that two votes would take place on the constitution.
Renamo refused to participate in either vote on the constitution. This violates the Assembly's standing orders, which states that deputies may abstain, but cannot simply not vote.
The consensual, pre-4 August, constitutional draft was passed by 130 votes for and two abstentions. The constitution as changed by Renamo on 4 August was defeated by 127 votes to seven abstentions.
Since any constitutional amendment requires a two thirds majority (167 votes), neither version can be adopted, and thus the existing, 1990 constitution remains in force.
A corollary of this is that there can be no new national anthem, no new flag, and no new national emblem, despite the money and time spent on competitions to find new national symbols.
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