President Joaquim Chissano has said that the country's police will step up efforts aimed at collecting weapons still in the hands of the former rebel movement Renamo.
Speaking at a rally in the town of Mopeia in Zambezia province, President Chissano said he believes that Renamo still has many weapons stashed away in arms caches.
In early October police stormed six houses belonging to Renamo members in the central port city of Beira and seized 20 firearms and an assortment of ammunition.
Although the provision in the 1992 peace agreement that granted Renamo bodyguards the right to bear weapons expired after the October 1994 general elections, the party has continued to maintain its own private security force.
It is believed, according to Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje, that in Zambezia there are many arms caches to be deactivated. 110 arms caches have so far been found in the province, which yielded 3,550 weapons.
President Chissano added that the government knew that Renamo had many weapons hidden away in Maringue, in Sofala province, which was the Renamo headquarters in the closing years of the war.
As regards orders to shoot to kill if the police try to seize weapons, allegedly given by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, President Chissano said they "can wait for the police, but when the day arrives they won't know".
He thought that nobody would divide the country despite threats by Renamo leaders. "That will never happen. In Mozambique there's only one government", he said.
President Chissano also praised Renamo's return to parliament. In the previous session, whenever any bill related to the government's plans for the country was debated, Renamo boycotted the session, on the grounds that it does not recognise the government. But Renamo now says its deputies will attend the October-December parliamentary sitting.
Renamo has been concentrating armed men, mostly demobilised soldiers, in the town of Inhaminga, capital of Cheringoma district, in the central province of Sofala, reports "Noticias" on 20 October.
Reporters found in Inhaminga that the number of these men in the town rose from seven to about 50 in just a week and keeps growing. They have come from the district of Maringue, which housed the Renamo headquarters in the closing years of the war of destabilisation, also from Massiamboze, and Ndore, Sofala localities that were once Renamo strongholds, and even from parts of the neighbouring province of Zambezia.
"Noticias" says that the men are gathering in Inhaminga in order to claim payments, supposedly promised by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama for their services during the war. The men say, however, that they had not received any money by 18 October, although their leaders promise that it will arrive.
The arrival of a significant number of armed men has raised tension in Inhaminga. Cheringoma district administrator, Domingos Tomocene, said that people are afraid of armed men roaming around at night.
He noted that among this group there are some who wear smart uniforms, and are believed to be Renamo "bodyguards", part of Dhlakama's personal security force that he has refused to disband. Others seem to be just demobilised soldiers, who have no uniforms and often not even shoes, but are carrying firearms.
These men are said to take positions, around a house described as Dhlakama's residence (although he has not set foot in Inhaminga for a long time), and around the Renamo offices, during the night.
Reporters learnt from local residents in Inhaminga that a group of the men was seen on carrying a pile of weapons from the area of Dimba, outside Inhaminga town, where it is believed there is an arms cache.
Mozambique's publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, has obtained the $7 million needed to rehabilitate the Chimuara sub-station, in the central province of Zambezia, reports "Noticias" on 21 October.
The sub-station, which was built to stabilise electrical power from the Cahora Bassa dam, was sabotaged by the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels during the war of destabilisation. The damage to the sub-station is the main reason for the unstable quality of the Cahora Bassa power that reaches northern Mozambique.
The EDM director for the central region, Fatima Artur, said that currently the power supplied to consumers in the region is of high voltage. To minimise this problem, EDM has been forced to hire a generator to stabilise, as far as possible, the power from Cahora Bassa that is transmitted along the centre-northeast power line.
Located on the Zambezi, the sub-station was built in 1983. Renamo destroyed it two years after it had started operations.
Graca Machel, the widow of Mozambique's first President, Samora Machel, on 19 October insisted that the plane crash in which her husband lost his life in 1986 was no accident. "Samora's death was a crime", she told reporters. She would believe her first husband was murdered "until someone gives me proof to the contrary".
Graca Machel was speaking on the 14th anniversary of the crash, after visiting the Monument to the Mozambican Heroes in Maputo, where President Samora is buried. She was accompanied by her second husband, former South African President Nelson Mandela.
She insisted that the investigation into the circumstances under which the presidential plane crashed at Mbuzini, in South Africa, must continue.
Sergio Vieira, who was security minister at the time of the crash, poured scorn on claims that members of the Mozambican armed forces and staff at Maputo International Airport were involved in a conspiracy to murder Samora Machel. Those who made such claims were simply trying to divert attention from the real authors of the crime, he argued.
On the basis of the black box voice and flight recorders from the aircraft, it has been clearly established that the plane was following a navigational beacon (VOR), which the pilot believed to be the Maputo airport beacon. It was this beacon that lured the plane off course and into the hillside at Mbuzini.
The difficulties the investigation had faced, Vieira added, were because "in such situations in which the South African state is still living through, it is difficult for them to bring the authors and the facts to light, particularly because these might destabilise the South African state itself".
Vieira noted that it was the apartheid state, in 1987, which abruptly terminated the initial inquiry into the crash. It was when Mozambique insisted on investigating the phoney radio beacon, that the South Africans "purely and simply closed the case".
Mozambique could not continue the inquiry, since under international air traffic norms, it is the country on whose soil a crash occurs that must lead and conclude the inquiry.
Mozambique's new Attorney-General, Joaquim Madeira, has said that the situation he found in the Attorney- General's Office is even worse than he expected when he was appointed three months ago.
Interviewed in "Domingo" on 15 October Madeira said that he has ordered full inspections of the attorneys' offices in Sofala and Zambezia provinces because of "pending situations" concerning extremely serious allegations against leading attorneys. (The former provincial chief attorney in Sofala, Diamantino dos Santos, has been suspended, and a lengthy catalogue of accusations of corruption have been made against him.)
There were other serious anomalies elsewhere in the country that merited disciplinary and criminal proceedings against attorneys, said Madeira, but he had started with Sofala and Zambezia, because in these two province "the situation was at its most flagrant, even intolerable".
The provincial governors had said that the behaviour of the attorneys was "unbearable". One of them had told Madeira "this is a scandal".
Madeira has an uphill struggle on his hands to restore credibility to the Attorney-General's Office. In the public eye, it is regarded as, at best, crassly ineffective, and at worst, riddled with corruption.
Some of the major cases in the hands of the Attorney-General's Office, which is responsible for all public prosecutions, have never come to court. The most notorious is the country's largest bank fraud, which robbed the largest commercial bank, the BCM, of 144 billion meticais (about $14 million at the exchange rate of the time) immediately prior to its privatisation in 1996.
It was the public accusation in parliament by Eneas Comiche, a deputy for the ruling Frelimo Party, and the then chairman of the BCM board, that prosecutors had deliberately disorganised the papers in the case, and had mislaid important evidence, which started the chain of events that led President Joaquim Chissano to sack the previous attorney-general, Antonio Namburete.
"Right from the start, I have told the cadres who are going to work with me, that I shall demand more honesty, transparency, technical competence, and after that, loyalty", Madeira told "Domingo".
"You can't use corrupt people to fight against corruption", he added. "We must first clean up the house. We must put there people who are honest, and who want to change the image of the institution".
Back in July, President Chissano sacked not only Namburete, but also all six of the assistant attorney-generals. So far no new ones have been appointed.
Rather than abating, malaria is on the rise in Mozambique, were it has been blamed for 63 per cent of cases of hospitalisation in 1999 for pregnant women as well as children aged under five.
This was disclosed on 16 October in Maputo at the opening of an international course on malaria control, held under the aegis of the "Roll Back Malaria" initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to Avertino Barreto, the country's Deputy National Health Director, the highest incidence is rural areas where 73 per cent of the population live. Malaria was responsible for 48 per cent of all out-patient consultations.
Meanwhile, the WHO representative, Joaquim Saweca, said that the course should guarantee an increase in the number of malaria specialists.
It is hoped that the course will serve as a reference point for the drafting of future training courses for health staff in the malaria field.
Mozambique's relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), has begun making preparations for any possible flooding during the coming rainy season.
According to INGC director Silvano Langa, speaking on 12 October, several national and international partners, including United Nations agencies, have been contacted.
Meetings have been held with British and French military specialists, he said, and the UN agencies have been sending teams on field visits to assess what could be done in the event of a repeat of the catastrophic flooding that hit southern and central Mozambique last February.
As part of its contingency plans, the INGC has been running training exercises, including simulations, particularly for the areas most vulnerable to flooding.
Concerns that disaster could strike again this rainy season are based on the fact that much of the land in the southern river basins is still waterlogged. Some of the lakes formed by the flood waters have not yet evaporated, and the level of soil humidity is very high.
The National Meteorology Institute (INAM) on 12 October presented its forecast for the coming months: the country, it said, would face "normal" or "above normal" rainfall in the 2000/2001 rainy season.
The wettest months tend to be January to March: INAM thinks it likely that the country will experience normal rains throughout this period - but warns that the chances of above normal rainfall are 35 per cent in the centre of the country and 30 per cent in the south and north.
INGC says that enough food will be available to supply the 160,000 or so people in areas believed to be risk of hunger until the next harvest, in March/April 2001, according to "Noticias" on 16 October.
Silvano Langa said that a letter signed by his institution and by the World Food Programme (WFP) has been approved. He added "this is the confirmation that there will be more food available up until March".
Langa said that the INGC is closely monitoring the situation in order to provide a prompt response if there is any deterioration.
He said that new findings of risk of hunger, in Tete and Manica provinces, add a further 20,000 people who will need food support, particularly during the most critical period, in January.
A joint survey, made by INGC and the WFP, found that in September, at the end of the period covered by the government's emergency appeal to the international community, in the wake of the catastrophic floods of February, the number of needy people had dropped from 550,000 to the present 160,000.
The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 17 October agreed its agenda for the October- December sitting, after Renamo dropped its opposition to discussing amendments to the Assembly's own standing orders.
On 13 October, Renamo had held up approval of the agenda, on the grounds that the amended standing orders, drawn up by a parliamentary ad-hoc commission, had been deposited with the Assembly past the deadline - on 30 August instead of 28 August.
The Assembly's governing board, its Standing Commission, made a concession to Renamo - the amendments would not be dropped from the agenda, but they would no longer be the first item debated.
But postponing the debate on the standing orders delays the Assembly for a week. Most of the other documents for this sitting are not ready yet, and those that are require the presence of government members, who need to be informed in advance.
Plenary sessions were adjourned until 23 October, making it highly unlikely that the Assembly can deal with its 21 point agenda within the time allotted. The sitting is due to end on 13 December.
In addition to the standing orders, the Assembly will debate the government's budget and plan for 2001, and its programme of activities and budget for the coming year.
The government has also tabled bills on copyright, on customs tribunals and on oil and gas resources.
The Assembly will hear President Chissano's annual state of the nation address, and a report from its own Social Affairs Commission on the aftermath of the February floods. The ad-hoc assembly commission revising the country's electoral legislation will also report back.
For the first time ever, the Assembly will inspect the general state accounts, and the report on these accounts submitted by the Administrative Tribunal, the court that decides on the legality of public expenditure.
Renamo has submitted half a dozen bills. It wants to set up two commissions of inquiry: one to analyse the situation in the Attorney-General's Office, and one to investigate alleged theft of money intended to rehabilitate the Assembly's own premises.
It also wants ad-hoc commissions to rewrite the country's national anthem and to draft amendments to the constitution. But in 1995 Renamo proposed exactly the same two commissions: those commissions were indeed established and worked for two years.
At the last moment, Renamo withdrew its support from what had previously been consensual changes to the constitution. Without the necessary two thirds majority, the Assembly was unable to change either the constitution or the anthem.
Renamo has also tabled a bill to establish elected provincial assemblies. Frelimo is certain to oppose this, partly on financial grounds, and partly because the current decentralisation strategy hinges, not on large units such as provinces, but on municipalities.
The Renamo bills are at the bottom of the agenda, and are thus unlikely to be discussed at all during this sitting.
As feared, Mozambican cotton production this year collapsed, as peasants switched to other crops because of the low prices for cotton on the world market.
According to a report in "Metical" on 16 October, cotton production fell from 114,000 tonnes on the 1998/99 season to just 35,000 tonnes in the 1999/2000 campaign.
The fall in cotton prices is blamed for this. In January 2000, the CIF price in northern Europe fell to 44 US cents a pound.
But some improvement is now in sight, as the market pendulum swings back. Because cotton had become cheaper than synthetic fibres, world consumption of cotton increased by four per cent in 1999 rather than the expected one per cent.
This is pushing cotton prices up again. According to "Metical"'s sources, an average price of 61 US cents a pound is expected during the 2000/2001 season, which might push Mozambican production up to 80,000 tonnes.
Peasants in northern Mozambique are returning to cotton, the paper says. In the 1999/2000 campaign thousands of families did not plant cotton, because of the low price, and because officials actually advised them to switch to grain.
But maize prices were also low. With a glut of maize in the northern provinces, peasant households found either that they were unable to sell their maize, or were forced to part with it for a very low price (500 meticais - less than four US cents - a kilo).
Up until now, cotton marketing has been dominated by concessionary companies. These are companies granted concessions over huge areas of land, where they not only have their own cotton plantations, but also "pre-finance" the cotton fields of peasant farmers. That is, they provide the seeds and other inputs, and the peasants are then obliged to sell the harvested cotton to the companies.
This system is crumbling. Some companies, notably LOMACO, a joint venture between the British multinational Lonrho and the Mozambican state, are accused of not honouring their undertakings to peasant farmers. LOMACO's labour practices on its own plantations in Nampula and Cabo Delgado provinces are appalling, with massive use of child labour.
New operators have appeared, much to the annoyance of the concessionary companies, and have offered peasants higher prices for their cotton. The companies regard this as grossly unfair competition, since the new operators have borne no pre-financing costs.
The new norms are intended to end "illegal purchases" by new operators within the concession areas. The new operators must now guarantee the pre-financing of two thirds of any areas in which they wish to enter.
As from 2001, Mozambique will produce over 100,000 tonnes of sugar a year, according to "Noticias" on 20 October.
The director of the Mozambican National Sugar Institute, Arnaldo Ribeiro, said that this is possible thanks to investments in the sugar sector, which have allowed massive replanting of sugar cane, and the rehabilitation of sugar mills, which have been equipped with new technologies.
He said that in 2000, the country will only be able to produce about 50,000 tonnes of sugar, coming from two mills, at Xinavane, in Maputo province, and at Mafambisse, in the central province of Sofala. Maragra could have produced sugar this year, but unfortunately the 4,000 hectares of sugar cane were washed away by the floods, said Ribeiro.
Of this year's production, about 13,000 tonnes are for export to the United States market, and corresponds to the quota allotted to Mozambique. The remainder will be for the internal market, which is struggling against unfair competition from smugglers who import sugar from Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland.
The Mozambican privatised water supply company, "Aguas de Mocambique", is to increase by 30 per cent its distribution capacity in Maputo city. The project, costed at 66 billion meticais (about $4.2 million), is to be funded by the French Development Agency.
According to the Mozambican government's Water Supply Investment and Assets Fund (FIPAG), the company's current production capacity is 145,000 cubic metres a day, at the Umbeluzi water treatment station.
The extension project includes the network to the suburbs of Hulene and Mahotas, some of the most populated of Maputo.
The supply and installation of the necessary electromechanical equipment for the Umbeluzi and Chamanculo stations have been awarded to the company Feljas & Masson, which has promised to complete the work by May 2001.
A separate contract for an additional pipeline, 8.4 kilometres long, from the city of Matola to the inner Maputo suburb of Chamanculo, where the largest of the city's water distribution deposits are located, has been awarded to a consortium formed by the French company SAUR-International, and the Mozambican firm CETA.
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