The president of the Supreme Court, Mario Mangaze, on 15 January swore Joaquim Chissano into office for a further five year term, in a solemn public ceremony, held in Maputo's Independence Square. The oath of office administered by Mangaze commits President Chissano to "dedicating all my efforts to the defence, promotion and consolidation of national unity, and to the well-being of the Mozambican people".
As President Chissano took the oath, the skies opened and rain poured down - which he took as a good omen, describing he heavy shower as "drops of divine blessing".
He recalled that there had also been a downpour on 25 June 1975, when the country's independence was proclaimed, "but nobody ran away from the rain. We all felt we were being baptised".
Chissano declared that it was "a great privilege for me to continue to serve the country in the capacity of president of all Mozambicans". He pledged that he would work "to consolidate the ideals of peace, to strengthen national unity and the democratic process, and ensure economic and social development".
He pledged that his new government "will rationalise administrative procedures, improve government ethics, and introduce effective methods of combating corruption".
"We need to expand and improve our experience of public and municipal administration", he said, "so that efficiency and effectiveness may be instruments to manage public affairs that guarantee effective participation of citizens in deciding their destinies".
But the top priority for the next five years would be "to eradicate absolute poverty, to overcome misery, hunger and illiteracy in Mozambique".
Chissano also promised "to combat gradually and persistently the regional imbalances in development", and to fight against the causes of infant mortality, and of such lethal diseases as AIDS, malaria and cholera.
He thanked those creditors who had agreed to last year's write-off of about two thirds of Mozambique's foreign debt, but stressed that the government will continue to argue for "the total pardon of the debt so as to strengthen the foundations for our economic recovery".
President Chissano promised to build on the macro-economic successes of the last few years, which he listed as a healthy growth rate, low inflation and a stable currency. These were the foundations for the "sustainable relaunching of the national economy in the new millennium".
He pledged "to carry out new undertakings that will create jobs, to promote self-employment, and to develop the business class. These are factors that are essential for the progress of our country".
Among his other promises were to continue expanding the health and education network "while improving the quality of the services provided", to expand access to clean water supplies, to electricity and to telecommunications, and "to guarantee a better quality of roads and bridges".
Special attention, he added, would be paid to the justice system "so that it may carry out, with the necessary speed and quality, its job of defending citizens' rights".
In order to carry out the "better future" promised by Frelimo in its election slogans, "we must continue to ensure that our governance rests on democratic principles, on the active participation of citizens in economic and social development, on respect for human rights, and on the freedoms of expression, association and information", the President declared.
As for the outside world, "we must continue with our foreign policy of peace, friendship, solidarity and international cooperation, in favour of the development of Mozambique, as well as of world security and the harmonious progress of humanity", he said.
Prior to the swearing in, all the main religions provided prayers and songs, calling on their various gods to bless the country, and to guide the President. The prayers came from representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Moslem and Hindu communities, the Christian Council (which represents the mainstream Protestant churches), the African Independent Churches (often referred to as "Zionist" churches), and of traditional, "animist" religion.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama had made it known well in advance that neither he, nor the 117 Renamo deputies, would attend Chissano's investiture.The only parliamentarians who showed up were from Frelimo.
The reason for the boycott is that Renamo is still claiming that it won the December general elections, and that Dhlakama is the real president of Mozambique. When the National Elections Commission (CNE), on 22 December, declared that Chissano and Frelimo were the victors, Renamo cried fraud, and appealed to the Supreme Court for a recount of the votes.
The Supreme Court gave its ruling on 4 January, finding against Renamo, and validating the results.
Despite this, Renamo has continued to call for a recount, and says it wants to negotiate the matter with Frelimo. But Frelimo leaders have made it clear that there is nothing to negotiate.
Mozambique's newly-elected parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, held its first sitting on 14 January, with 246 of the 250 deputies present. President Joaquim Chissano chaired the sitting.
Renamo initially threatened to boycott the session. However, the Renamo National Council overturned this decision last week, and in the event all but three of the 117 deputies elected by Renamo and its "Electoral Union" coalition allies showed up.
The task of reading out the deputies' oath of office was given to the oldest deputy present - Renamo member Luis Matsangaissa. The rest of the deputies then signed the oath in their seats.
Under this oath, each deputy swears "to serve loyally the state and the motherland, to dedicate all my energies to the cause of the Mozambican people, and to respect the constitution and the laws".
The opening session saw Mario Mangaze, President of the Supreme Court, read out the court ruling validating the election results. Mangaze was subjected to occasional heckling from Renamo deputies, particularly when he described the elections as "free, fair and transparent".
But the hecklers were drowned out by loud and lengthy applause from the Frelimo benches when Mangaze declared that Chissano had been duly re-elected for a further five year term of office.
The Assembly of the Republic re-elected Eduardo Mulembue as its chairman for a further five year term. Frelimo proposed Mulembue, despite criticism of his weak chairing, and habitual concessions to Renamo.
Renamo ran Francisco Masquil against Mulembue. Masquil is a former member of the Frelimo Central Committee, and a former governor of Sofala province. He resigned from Frelimo in 1998 in order to run as an independent for the post of mayor of Beira. He did not win, but his group of independents, the Group for Reflection and Change, constitutes the opposition in the Beira Municipal Assembly.
The Assembly of the Republic on 18 January elected its new Standing Commission, the body that acts as the governing board of the Assembly.
The 15 members of the Standing Commission are chosen in proportion to the strength of the political groups that make up the Assembly.
The ruling Frelimo Party has 133 seats in the Assembly, and the sole opposition force, the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition, has 117. Thus eight members of the standing commission are chosen by Frelimo, and seven by Renamo.
The Frelimo members are: Eduardo Mulembue (chairperson of the Assembly), Veronica Macamo (first deputy chairperson), Armando Guebuza (head of the Frelimo parliamentary group), Teodato Hunguana, Margarida Talapa, Bonifacio Gruveta, Mateus Katupha, and Sergio Vieira.
Mulembue, Macamo, Guebuza and Talapa are all members of the Frelimo Political Committee, the most powerful body in the party. Gruveta and Katupha are former members of the Political Committee, and Hunguana and Vieira are the most powerful orators on the Frelimo benches. With this composition, the Frelimo side of the Standing Commission is much more heavyweight politically than was the case in the previous legislature.
The seven members chosen by Renamo are Leopoldo Ernesto (second deputy chairperson of the Assembly), Ossufo Quitine (the new head of the Renamo parliamentary group), Raul Domingos, David Alone, Vicente Ululu, Angelina Enoque and Agostinho Murriel. Domingos and Alone were the head and deputy head of the Renamo group in the 1994-99 Assembly, and Ululu was the Renamo deputy chairperson of that parliament. None of the seven are from Renamo's ten minor party allies in the Electoral Union.
The Commission must start preparing the first substantive meeting of the new Assembly, which must approve the state budget for the year 2000, and the government's five year programme, 2000-2004.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has threatened to proclaim a Renamo government to rule the six provinces where Renamo took a majority of the votes in the general elections.
Speaking in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, Dhlakama once again demanded a recount of the votes from the December elections. If there could be no recount, he said, then fresh elections should be held after the rainy season, in April or May.
He threatened that, if the Frelimo refused these demands, Renamo would go ahead and set up its own government in those parts of the country where it is the majority party.
Minister of Justice Jose Abudo has sent a note to the Attorney-General's office informing it of the apparent violation of the law on political parties by Renamo.
Renamo seems to have transferred its national headquarters from Maputo to Beira: this violates a clause in the law which states that all political parties must have their headquarters in the capital.
Abudo sent his note on the basis of information received from the Sofala provincial director of justice in Beira on 24 January, immediately after the new Renamo office had been opened.
The only penalty for such a violation is that the party concerned would cease to be legally recognised.
The exact status of the new Renamo office in Beira is far from clear. Initially, Rahil Khan, head of the Renamo parliamentary list in Maputo city, categorically stated that this was a transfer of headquarters. But Luis Gouveia, election agent for Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, said that Renamo would now have two national headquarters, while prominent lawyer Maximo Dias, one of the minor party leaders elected to parliament on the Renamo ticket, said what had been transferred was only the "main office", while the "national headquarters" would remain in Maputo.
President Joaquim Chissano announced on 17 January the composition of his new government.
The President retained Pascoal Mocumbi as Prime Minister. Mocumbi has been a close friend of Chissano since their days as students, and is a medical doctor by profession. He was Minister of Health from 1980 to 1987, and was then appointed Foreign Minister in Chissano's first government. He held that post until the first multi-party elections of October 1994, when Chissano promoted him to Prime Minister.
Several other ministers retain their jobs in the new government. Leonardo Simao remains Foreign Minister, and Almerino Manhenje holds on to both of his jobs - as Interior Minister, and as Minister in the Presidency for Defence and Security Matters.
Two others who hold the same posts as in the previous executive are Justice Minister Jose Abudo, and the Minister of Public Works and Housing, Roberto White. One of Chissano's close advisers, Francisco Madeira, remains in the government but with a slightly renamed job. He was Minister in the Presidency for Parliamentary Affairs, now he is minister for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Affairs.
Former Planning and Finance Minister Tomas Salomao takes over the Transport and Communications portfolio from Paulo Muxanga, who is not in the new government.
The former Deputy Finance Minister, Luisa Diogo, moves up to take the post vacated by Salomao.
Likewise the former Deputy Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, Castigo Langa, takes over from his former boss, John Kachamila, who becomes Minister for Environmental Coordination, replacing Bernardo Ferraz.
After five years with a civilian at the helm, the Ministry of Defence reverts to the hands of a soldier. The new minister, replacing Aguiar Mazula, is retired general Tobias Dai. Dai was commander of the army during the war of destabilisation, and since 1994 he had been general secretary of the defence ministry.
Prominent academic Alcido Nguenha, who was a leading Frelimo parliamentarian for the last five years, becomes Minister of Education, replacing Arnaldo Nhavoto.
The former head doctor in Sofala province, Francisco Songane, takes over from Aurelio Zilhao as Minister of Health.
Mario Sevene, a Frelimo deputy for the last five years, becomes Minister of Labour, replacing Guilherme Mavila.
Economist Jose Chichava, deputy head of the Frelimo group in the Maputo Municipal Assembly, is the new Minister of State Administration, replacing Alfredo Gamito.
Chissano has split several ministries in two. Thus the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries disappears: instead the country now has a Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and a Ministry of Fisheries. Also abolished is the National Institute of Rural Development (INDER).
The job of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development goes to the former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and prominent writer, Helder Muteia. The new Fisheries Minister has not yet been appointed, and Muteia will take the post on a interim basis.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has also been split up. Carlos Morgado, formerly deputy managing director of the state airline, LAM, and a member of the National Elections Commission becomes Minister of Industry and Tourism. Francisco Sumbane, formerly the head of the Investment Promotion Centre, becomes Minister of Tourism. The creation of this new post meets a long-standing demand from tourism operators that the government pay more attention to their area.
The former Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Oldemiro Baloi, had made it known before the elections that he did not wish to be considered for the new government.
A third Ministry to be split is the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport. The former director of the National Art Museum, Miguel Mkaima, becomes Minister of Culture, while Joel Libombo, formerly Deputy Minister, becomes Minister of Youth and Sport.
The Ministry for Social Welfare Coordination has been renamed the Ministry for Women's Affairs and Social Welfare Coordination. The new minister is Virginia Matabele, who was deputy head of the Frelimo parliamentary group from 1994 to 1999.
An entirely new post is that of Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, occupied by Lidia Brito, formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the country's oldest and largest institution of higher education, the Eduardo Mondlane University.
Three of the 21 ministers are women, which compares with just one woman minister in the previous cabinet.
Several members of the former government are now sitting on the Frelimo benches in the newly-elected parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, including Gamito, Zilhao, and the former Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sport, Mateus Katupha.
The list of ministers is:
Prime Minister: Pascoal Mocumbi
Foreign Affairs and Cooperation: Leonardo Simao
Defence: Tobias Dai
Planning and Finance: Luisa Diogo
Justice: Jose Abudo
Interior, and for Defence and Security: Almerino Manhenje
State Administration: Jose Chichava
Agriculture and Rural Development: Helder Monteiro (Muteia)
Industry and Trade: Carlos Morgado
Mineral Resources and Energy: Castigo Langa
Transport and Communications: Tomas Salomao
Education: Alcido Nguenha
Health: Francisco Songane
Culture: Miguel Mkaima
Environmental Coordination: John Kachamila
Labour: Mario Sevene
Public Works and Housing: Roberto White
Youth and Sport: Joel Libombo
Women's Affairs and Social Welfare Coordination: Virginia Matabele
Minister in the Presidency for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Affairs: Francisco Madeira
Tourism: Fernando Sumbane
Junior Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology: Lidia Brito
Mine clearance in Mozambique is costing an average of $27.2 million a year, according to the director of the National Demining Institute, Artur Verissimo.
Verissimo told AIM on 14 January that since 1995, the year in which organised mine clearance began, $136 million has been spent on demining activities.
The land mines planted in Mozambique's soil are mostly the legacy of the war of destabilisation, but some are earlier, dating from the 1960s and early 1970s, when the war for independence from Portuguese colonial rule was raging.
None of the belligerents kept accurate records of the mines they had sown - or if they did, they did not hand them over to the demining institute. The conventional figure for the number of mines planted is two million - but this has been widely challenged.
According to Verissimo, 7,733 kilometres of roads and 1,829 kilometres of electricity transmission lines have been cleared of mines since 1995. Mines have also been removed from 40,528 hectares of land, which has subsequently been used for population resettlement, agriculture and livestock.
So far, 56,176 anti-personnel and anti-group mines, and 456 anti-tank mines have been located and destroyed. In addition demining teams have removed 30,432 other explosive devices (bombs, artillery shells, rockets and grenades), and 446,333 small calibre munitions.
According to the IND's data, last year there were 23 accidents during mine clearance operations, in which five people lost their lives and 23 others were injured.
This information refers only to the demining personnel: full data on casualties caused among the general public by land mine accidents is not available, since the IND does not have offices throughout the country.
Verissimo said the IND has a portfolio of four projects, budgeted at $11.1 million, that are awaiting funding.
The most expensive of these is the removal of land mines from the sabotaged Sena railway, running from the Moatize coal mines in the western province of Tete, to Dondo, 30 kilometres outside Beira.
This is 672 kilometres of railway that was comprehensively sabotaged by the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels during the war of destabilisation. The railway, which also has a spur to Malawi, cannot be rebuilt until the route has been cleared of land mines.
Demining the Sena line is budgeted at $8.3 million. The IND projects also include the demining of the Songo-Matambo power transmission line in the western province of Tete. This covers 110 kilometres of power line and 35 kilometres of roads, and would cost $1.7 million.
The rest of the money would be spent demining the 173 kilometre Mavuzi/Nhamatanda power line in Sofala province, and Namatili locality, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
IND intends to carry out a large scale survey of areas infested by land mines this year. The survey will be financed by the Canadian government to the tune of about $USD 7.5 million.
Artur Verissimo said that this research will allow the establishment of basic conditions for the systematic planning of mine clearance activities over the short, medium and long terms.
Specialist teams, in coordination with the IND, will undertake the survey throughout the entire country over a period of 22 months.
Inflation in Mozambique in 1999 was 4.8 per cent, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE), with this inflation entirely the result of price hikes during the festive season.
Earlier the trend had been deflationary: prices as measured by the Maputo Consumer Price Index were falling.
For the 12 month period November 1998 to October 1999 the rate of inflation was minus 0.7 per cent. Prices fell for seven months in a row before rising slightly in November (by 0.2 per cent), and sharply in December (by 5.3 per cent).
The December rise is prices was concentrated in the category "food, drink and tobacco", where the increase was 7.6 per cent. Essentially, this is accounted for by traders ratcheting up the price of foodstuffs immediately prior to the Xmas and New Year holidays.
A general meeting of shareholders of the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM), the country's largest bank, on 13 January elected the former Minister in the Presidency for Economic and Social Affairs, Eneas Comiche, as the chairman of its board of directors.
This election came just a day after Comiche had left the government. He was relieved of his duties by President Joaquim Chissano in order that he could take up his position as a member of the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.
Comiche has a long history in banking and finance. He was chairman of the board of the state-owned People's Development Bank between 1984 and 1986, and was then governor of the central bank from 1986 to 1991.
From 1991 to 1994, Comiche was Finance Minister, and after the 1994 elections, Chissano appointed him Minister in the Presidency for Economic and Social Affairs.
He was also a candidate governor of the African Development Bank from 1978 to 1994, and a governor of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) from 1982 to 1985.
The BCM shareholders have chosen two other former ministers, who held office in the 1980s. A former finance minister, Salomao Munguambe, becomes chairman of the BCM's Supervisory Board, while a former minister of industry, Antonio Branco, becomes chairman of the general meeting.
The BCM, with 54 branches throughout the country, has the largest share of the country's bank deposits, and handles the largest portion of the credit business. It has assets worth more than $400 million.
About 113,000 people have been affected by the floods in the southern provinces of Maputo and Gaza provinces since the onset of the present rainy season, reports "Noticias" on 1 February.
Of that total, 93,000 are in Gaza, affected by flooding in the Limpopo valley, while the remaining 20,000 are in Maputo province, where floods have also claimed 18 lives.
In Gaza, isolated areas, surrounded by water, have been identified in the districts of Xai-Xai, Chibuto, Guija, Mabalane, Massingir and Chicualacuala.
The provincial government, after an extraordinary session to assess the floods situation, issued a press release saying that it has taken measures to prevent further social and economic damage.
The document claimed that those measures, taken in coordination with the local authorities and the central government, had succeeded in preventing flood-related deaths in Gaza.
The Ministers of Public Works and Housing, and of Agriculture and Rural Development, Roberto White and Helder Muteia, visited the province recently and Gaza has also received support in helicopters and other material resources.
The provincial government is urging all people dwelling in flood-prone areas, particularly in the Limpopo and Incoluane valleys, to seek safer places on higher ground, pointing out that the rainy season is continuing, and that there remains a risk of further flooding.
The government also called upon the owners of boats to help rescue people stranded in isolated areas.
The head of the Provincial Floods Commission, Antonio Nguenha, said that a technical team is in the field to assess the amount of crops that have been lost, in order to estimate the support needed in terms of foodstuffs and agricultural inputs. It is to produce a report before the end of the week.
In Maputo province the areas of difficult access have been identified as Ilha Josina Machel and Calanga, in the district of Manhica, and Chucha and Cansane, in the district of Matutuine.
Meanwhile, the health authorities are reporting an increase in the number of cases of malaria in both provinces, blamed on the heavy rains and floods, and are working to ensure that there is no shortage of medicines.
In Inhambane province, the governor Francisco Pateguana is due to visit the district of Inhassoro to assess the situation after the recent heavy rains. Last year torrential rains, and the ensuing floods and mudslides, devastated Inhassoro town, and cut it off from the rest of the country.
The Mozambican government has decided to prioritise the distribution of seeds for the second planting season among farmers who have lost their crops as a result of the January floods in the Limpopo, Incomati, Umbeluzi and Maputo river valleys, in the south of the country.
According to "Noticias" on 4 February, citing Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi, this decision was taken after a survey where it was found that most farmers affected by the floods would have no seeds for the next season.
Preliminary estimates are that at least 20,000 hectares of crops have been lost to the floods in Maputo province.
The head of the Floods Commission in Gaza, Antonio Nguenha, said that the provincial government cannot, as yet, give a figure on the affected areas, but has dispatched teams to various areas to make the necessary assessment.
The seeds will be distributed after the rainy season, when definite figures will have been drawn up. Anything done now is only preliminary, because there is still the risk of more floods striking the river valleys.
At the beginning of the 1999/2000 agricultural campaign, the authorities had estimated the needs in terms of seeds at 2,275 tonnes of various grains, such as maize, rice, millet and sorghum, but this figure must now be reviewed, because of the floods.
These amounts of seed had been planned to support farmers in the districts of Magoe, Mutarara and Changara, in the western province of Tete, and Caia, Chemba and Marromeu, in the central province of Sofala.
Meanwhile, some areas in Gaza, notably Canicado town, and Massangena and Chigubo districts, remain isolated from the rest of the province, because of the floods on the Limpopo.
Torrential rain has cut Mozambique's main north-south highway in three places making overland transport between Maputo and Beira impossible.
Two small rivers, the Pembe and the Muari, in Chibabava district, in the central province of Sofala, have burst their banks flooding the main road.
The third cut is further south, at Vulanjane, in Inhambane province, where the heavy rains have made it impossible for vehicles to use a stretch of the road.
These areas have usually been regarded as semi-arid - but this is the second year in a row when the north-south road has been cut at Vulanjane and in Chibabava. The cuts have occurred in the same places as in February 1999.
Torrential rain continued in parts of southern Mozambique on 6 February, raising fears of renewed flooding on the main river valleys in Maputo and Gaza province.
The Mozambican currency, the metical, devalued against the US dollar by 1.5 per cent in January - a much higher rate of depreciation than normal in a single month.
The exchange rate policy of the central bank has been non- interventionist for several years: it has frequently declared that the value of the metical should be determined by the laws of supply and demand.
Since 1996, the metical has been a remarkably stable currency. It has, for instance, held its value against the US dollar much better than the South African rand, not to mention the Zimbabwean dollar.
But for several months now, it has been clear that devaluation against the dollar, once just a gentle slide, has been picking up speed, and the January figures are a cause for concern.
On the official exchange market, the metical started the year at 13,300 to the dollar. On Friday, the figure was 13,500, a fall of about 1.5 per cent.
But on the (illegal) parallel exchange market the fall was sharper - from about 13,900 to 14,200 to the dollar, a devaluation of 2.1 per cent. The difference between the official and the parallel rates is now 5.2 per cent, considerably higher than the Bank of Mozambique had hoped.
A further sign that something is wrong is that operators on the parallel market are buying dollars at the rate of 14,200 meticais to the dollar, but selling at the rate of 14,600. Under normal circumstances, the gap between buying and selling rates has been between 100 and 200 meticais.
Cited in "Metical" on 31 January, one of the central bank's administrators, Antonio Pinto de Abreu, said that a devaluation of over one per cent in a single month was excessively high, and that the "spread" between official and parallel rates should be around two per cent.
Pinto de Abreu said the metical had come under pressure from several directions, including the strength of the American economy and hence of the US dollar, and the decision of the South African Reserve Bank to align the rand to the dollar, rather than let the rand depreciate still further.
Additional factors were the political uncertainty that had surrounded the December general elections, and the annual drain on the country's foreign currency caused by the Moslem pilgrimage to Mecca.
Mozambique's publicly owned ports and railway company, CFM, and the SDCN (Nacala Corridor development Company) consortium signed an agreement in Maputo on 28 January handing over the northern port of Nacala, and the railway from Nacala to Malawi, to SDCN management.
The concession leaves the assets in the public sector, but involves local and foreign private businesses in their management.
Signing the agreement were the chairman of the CFM board, Rui Fonseca, and the SDCN chairman, former Mozambican defence minister, Gen Alberto Chipande.
The SDCN consortium is 67 per cent owned by four foreign concerns - Rennies of South Africa, Tertir of Portugal, and Edlows Resources and the Railroad Development Corporation of the United States.
The other 33 per cent is held by several Mozambican companies, mostly based in the northern provinces of Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa. They include MG (Mozambique Managers), SND (Niassa Development Company), STT (Technology and Transport company), and GEDENA (Nampula Development Group).
Several leading figures from the ruling Frelimo Party are on the boards of some of these companies, and were present at the Friday ceremony. Apart from Chipande, they included a former political commissar of the armed forces, Gen Eduardo da Silva Nihia, and leading Frelimo parliamentarian Teodato Hunguana.
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