President Joaquim Chissano, giving his New Years Eve speech to the nation said that the solution to the country's prosperity lies in the hands of its nationals.
"I am aware that there are still Mozambicans who don't enjoy the positive results that our economy has been recording in the past years" said President Chissano, referring to criticisms that growth has only benefited the elite. "The solution lies in our hands", he said, and this involved not losing "the conviction and the certainty that only with a collective hard work, the correct use of the available resources coupled with the adequate implementation, will we be able to eradicate absolute poverty in our country"
"Businessmen have an important role in the struggle against poverty through job creation. They have to forge a high sense of social responsibility for the use of natural resources, especially non-renewable ones", he advised.
President Chissano thought that they should take a pro-active attitude on the well-being of the workers. He considered the 3.8 per cent economic growth in 2000 as an achievement (initial economic predictions were of an eight to 10 per cent growth). "Although this growth is well below what we had planned, it is positive. In the face of the magnitude of the natural disasters (the February flooding an subsequent cyclones), this result represents the hard work and spirit of our people", he said.
The year had been a historic mark for the country: it celebrated 25 years of independence, it swore in the new government and new members of parliament.
In his many visits to the provinces he had extended and strengthened the process of dialogue "which we want to be a constant in our society". "Next year we must improve the organisation of such discussions in order to make them more encompassing " he promised.
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria had continued to cause pain and death within many families, he said, adding that with the HIV/AIDS endemic "we must change our sexual behaviour, break the silence and speak of AIDS. In the struggle against HIV/AIDS everyone is called on to give his contribution to save the country from the risk of becoming a land of old people and orphans".
2001 must be the year "that we establish our version of the vision for Mozambique in the first quarter of the century - Vision 2025 - which will guide the economic, social, political and cultural progress of Mozambique". Investment policies must be implemented in all economic and social fields, not only to rebuild what was destroyed by the floods but also to reduce the asymmetries that mark the country's development stated the President.
President Chissano has expressed satisfaction at the visit to Montepuez by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
Montepuez, in the Cabo Delgado province, was the venue for tragic events when dozens of people, including police officers, died during violent clashes between Renamo demonstrators and police on 9 November. More Renamo supporters died by asphyxiation in police cells on 22 November.
Speaking on 29 December President Chissano said that he was happy that Dhlakama had gone to the town because "if he goes to Montepuez to tell the population to be calm; to say no more to violence; and that he's going to guarantee stability; it's going to be positive for the life of the nation".
On 28 December Dhlakama travelled to Montepuez to, as he put it, "to visit the graves of those who died during the clashes and in the prison cells, as well as to pay condolences to their families".
President Chissano said that his conversation with Dhlakama on 27 December on the country's situation had been received with "relief" by many Mozambicans who were starting to ask whether the year would or not end in peace. However, there has to be more tranquillity, he added.
In his end of year message, Afonso Dhlakama said that "the new year brings in huge challenges which we'll face with the same determination with which in the past we faced exclusion, persecutions and detentions".
He thought that 2000 was a particularly bad year: parts of central and southern Mozambique were devastated by the worst floods in the last 50 years, the crime rate had gone up, there had been the alleged electoral fraud, and the his party's members had suffered abuses.
Dhlakama also mentioned the incidents involving the police and Renamo demonstrators which resulted in more than 40 deaths. "The year that is just ending will mark our lives. It was a year of electoral fraud and of the absolute loss of credibility for the judicial system", he accused.
He promised to do everything in the search for justice and truth over the death by asphyxiation of more than 80 people in police cells in Montepuez.
Dhlakama stressed that it was through dialogue that Renamo showed that it was committed to "peace and reconciliation" in the country.
National Health Director, Alexandre Manguele, has said that there has been a "gradual increase" of cholera cases throughout the country - 50 people out of the 2,391 notified cases since the outbreak of the epidemic, in August 2000 have died.
"Cholera is endemic in Mozambique. We have peak periods of the epidemic and more silent periods", said Manguele, speaking to Radio Mozambique on 4 January.
He said that in Maputo City, "we have 106 hospitalised patients. About 50 patients are admitted daily". 340 cholera cases have been reported in Maputo province since October, resulting in eight deaths - a lethality of 2.4 per cent.
By 29 December, out of 392 cases, the cholera epidemic had claimed the lives of three, he said, adding that this corresponded to a lethality rate of 0.8 per cent.
The central Manica province diagnosed 21 cases between 29 December and 2 January, and reported one death by the disease, a lethality rate of 2.4 per cent.
In the northern region of the country, the Niassa province had reported 100 cases of cholera, with 11 deaths by 30 December.
Manguele blamed the spread of cholera to poor hygiene and basic sanitation. "Normally, where we find cholera cases we also find, associated to it, a slackening of quality of sanitation and a reduction of water supply, both in quality and in quantity", said Manguele, stressing that "the places where there are more serious cholera problems are those where water supply is poorer".
He called for renewed observance of basic hygiene principles, even in those areas where no cholera cases have yet been reported.
Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi on 28 December said that the government has approved a Contingency Plan for natural disasters caused by floods and cyclone for the 2000/2001 period.
Speaking in Maputo, Prime Minister Mocumbi said that the weather forecasts warn of a strong probability of rains above normal in some of the country's regions. "That calls for the taking of preventive measures ahead of any emergency and the preparation for activities after any emergency", he said. Some countries have already made available boats which are in the country.
The Plan envisages preparing methods to warn the population of coming disasters and the identification of evacuation routes and accommodation centres.
Prime Minister Mocumbi said that the drafting of the plan took into consideration the fact that Mozambique is particularly prone to floods and cyclones between December and March.
He said that he hoped that 2000 situation did not repeat itself. "This year we had 25 per cent of the Mozambican population affected by the floods - a deluge to which we did not have the capacity to respond".
The Contingency Plan began being drafted in October and it involved consultations with the civil society, community leaders, local authorities and United Nations systems.
Flood threats continued to mount in the western province of Tete as the Zambezi river swelled and burst its banks. The rise of the water levels on the Zambezi arises from heavy rains upstream in Zambia, which prompted the local authorities to open the Kariba dam floodgates.
National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) delegate in Tete, Jose Silvestre, said that crops were destroyed in the district headquarters of Zumbo and Bawa, in the Magoe district and in the administrative post of Chintopo.
For his part, Public Works and Housing Minister Roberto White said that he had contacted his counterparts in Zambia and Zimbabwe on the management of the Zambezi.
Currently, the Kariba is discharging 2,000 cubic metres per second, said White, adding that the Cabora Bassa dam in Mozambique can still hold such quantities of water.
About 40,000 people in the northern district of Palma face a serious food shortage caused by a poor harvest in the last agricultural campaign. The peasant farmers of Palma in the province of Cabo Delgado saw their crops systematicaly destroyed by elephants or other wild beasts, according to Noticias on 5 January.
Residents of the administrative posts of Olumbi and Quionga have complained that elephants, monkeys, boars, and other beasts destroy any crops in the fields, apart from sowing panic among them.
The information was given to Cabo Delgado provincial governor Jose Pacheco during a recent rally in the district. The peasant farmers asked Pacheco to take the necessary measures to drive the beasts away, particularly elephants.
Mozambique's Trade Union Federation (OTM-CS) has vowed to press the government to honour its 2000 pledge of adding four per cent to the minimum industrial wage before any wage readjustment for the year.
After a wrangle in the tripartite forum, between government, the employers association and the trade unions, over a workers' proposed increase of 45 per cent, the government agreed to give the workers a 30 per cent minimum wage increase - but at the time government could only give 26 per cent, bringing the minimum wage to 568,980 meticais (about $33).
The agreement was reached after the tripartite forum reached a deadlock, and workers had called a three-day national strike. The strike was subsequently called off on the understanding that government would give the remaining four per cent in 2001.
OTM Secretary General, Jaoquim Fanheiro, said that "when we discuss at the next tripartite negotiating forum a possible wage increase we've to consider the four per cent as a gain already made in 2000, and from there we'll try to see to which point we can negotiate a new wage", said Fanheiro.
By December 2000 accumulated inflation was 11.4 per cent, and the trade unions would "take this concern into account" because it had eroded the "lean" wages, said Fanheiro.
Mozambique and Denmark have signed an agreement under which the latter is to disburse about $9 million for demining works in Mozambique over a three-year period.
The money will be used in activities involving Mozambique's National Demining Institute (IND), and the Norwegian People Aid in the scope of the Accelerated Demining Programme.
The Mozambican government and the British company Kenmare Resources have signed an agreement under which the latter is to mine heavy sands mines in the district of Moma, in Nampula province, reports Noticias on 3 January.
So far Kenmare has spent $54 million in prospection works, and it estimates to invest a further $160 million before the launching of the operations by 2002.
According to Kenmare Regional Director in Mozambique, Ratomir Grozdanic, $24 million were used in research works, and a further $30 million were for the acquisition of equipment.
The undertaking is expected to produce about 600,000 tones of minerals, after the transformation of ilemite, a heavy mineral found in the sands, into metals of the platinum group, such as titanium, zirconium, and ruthenium used in the manufacture of glue, plastic and paper.
Mining National Director, Estevao Rafael, said that the project will generate about 500 new jobs, mostly for Moma residents.
700 rural shops have been rehabilitated throughout Mozambique in line with a rural trading expansion local economic support programme, reports Noticias on 2 January. 98 per cent out of the figure are retail shops, whilst the remainder are warehouses.
According to National Domestic Trade Directorate, the Provinces of Nampula, Zambezia and Inhambane had the greatest number of rehabilitated shops with 333, 142 and 72, respectively.
So far the total of rural shops rehabilitated corresponds to 75 per cent of shops either destroyed during the war of destabilisation or simply abandoned.
However, the process has run against various difficulties, mainly financial. Many rural traders do not have access to credits, and some are highly indebted.
There is also the problem of the weak purchasing power of the local population leading to slow recovering of investment.
Mozambique is to receive a $120 million loan from the African Development Bank (ADB) intended for the country's absolute poverty eradication programme.
According to the Planning and Finance Ministry about $32 million is to be used in the rehabilitation and improvement of roads in the southern provinces. A further $64 million is for the support of on-going economic reforms, and good governance programmes. An estimated $31 million will be ploughed in the fields of health care and water supply to the northern Nampula and Niassa provinces, as well as in the Cabo Delgado province.
The National Road Administration (ANE) is to adopt a new modus operandi in urban road maintenance. Up until now, ANE worked directly in road maintenance, but under the new scheme it leaves the responsibility to the municipalities to contract builders and contractors, and monitor works. ANE's new role will be simply to advise.
Public Works and Housing Minister Robert White said that ANE will continue managing highways that cross through the cities.
The new method seeks to decentralise ANE's intervention not only in public roads, but in other urban infrastructure, including small water systems, drainage systems, and water sanitation works.
ANE runs on a fund fed by a diesel tax, and taxes paid at the border gates for the use of national roads. "The resources of the fund currently stand at $25 million, and what we need as a country is $50 million", said White.
Almost 11 years after closing its doors for major rehabilitation works, Mozambique's National Natural History Museum on 21 December finally re-opened to the public. Founded in 1911 and first opened in 1933, the museum is a zoological treasure: there are 200 different mammals, over 10,000 birds, 176,527 insects, 1,250 invertebrates and 150 species of reptiles - all stuffed.
Speaking at its re-opening, the museum's director, Augusto Cabral, said that the re-opening would enable Mozambicans and foreigners a chance to know the country's historic reality. "This is our country's scientific and cultural heritage, hence the need of its improved conservation and preservation", he said.
The museum's rehabilitation had the backing of the Dutch government to the tune of $950,000, and the Japanese government which disbursed 49,200 yen (at current exchange rates, there are 112.7 meticais to a yen).
Mozambique has said that it will not remove the surtax that protects its sugar industry for the next five years. This is in line with the International Monetary Fund, which initially had told the government that the protection for the domestic sugar industry must be reduced drastically. According to the newsheet Metical on 27 December, the government's decision was conveyed in a letter to the IMF.
The letter stated that following a study conducted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the government has decided to maintain the level of protection tax that had been established in September 1999, and added that this policy will be reviewed each year taking into account the changing market price of sugar.
In September in an interview to the Financial Times, IMF director Horst Kohler acknowledged the importance of the protection to the sugar industry in countries such as Mozambique. He said that the high customs duties applied on imported sugar would end up being covered by less well off people, but this would not affect macro-economic stability.
For the first time, the Mozambican government has broken down its total state budget by province.
The budget for 2001 gives the largest share of expenditure to the two most populous provinces, Nampula in the north and Zambezia in the centre. Each of these two provinces is allocated 13 per cent of total expenditure.
The provinces with least expenditure are Gaza and Maputo in the south, with seven per cent each. However, the ranking is rather different in terms of per capita expenditure. Then Nampula and Zambezia slip to the bottom with 167,300 and 163,080 meticais per capita each.
The highest budget allocation in per capita terms goes to the sparsely populated northernmost province of Niassa, with 363,330 meticais per inhabitant, followed by Maputo city, with 306,690 meticais, and Maputo province with 298,910 meticais.
Introducing the budget on 15 December, Finance Minister Luisa Diogo said these figures showed very clearly the regional imbalances that still persist, and the efforts that had to be made in order to over come them.
The full provincial breakdown, in percentages, is as follows, with a comparison with the population of each province, according to the 1997 census:
2001 budget (%) Population (%)
Nampula 13 19.1
Zambezia 13 19.3
Sofala 10 8.5
Inhambane 9 7.2
Tete 9 7.6
Maputo City 8 6.1
Niassa 8 5.0
Cabo Delgado 8 8.6
Manica 8 6.5
Gaza 7 6.9
Maputo Province 7 5.2
The full breakdown by provinces on a per capita basis is as follows
2001 budget per capita
Maputo City 306,690
Maputo Province 298,910
Cabo Delgado 229,860
The Mozambican authorities in Zambezia province have tabled a conference aimed at raising funds intended for the development of the province.
Lucas Chomera, the provincial governor, told AIM that the funds would be ploughed back into initiatives to fight absolute poverty - it is estimated that 90 per cent of the Zambezia population lives below the poverty line.
The meeting, to be held in January 2001, will discuss ways to reduce individual and household vulnerability to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the relaunching of economic activities - mainly agriculture, the expansion of a network of infrastructures, as well as discussing the province's strategic plan for the 2001/04 period. Chomera added that the government will also submit a diagnosis of the province's economic and investment opportunities.
Chomera thought that the rural trade network is insufficient and added that there are on-going activities aimed at changing the situation through improved coordination between the government and the office of the Rehabilitation Fund (FARE) which was established for the rehabilitation of the rural trade network.
To illustrate his point, he said that out of 1.7 million tonnes of the 1999 agriculture harvest only 172,000 tonnes were marketed.
Zambezia is also faced with a problem of having no industrial park. However, some tea, sugar and cotton processing plants are currently being rehabilitated. Out of 12 tea processing plants existing in the Gurue district, only half are operating, covering 7,981 hectares for the planting of tea.
Due to the paralysis of most of the plants, the province has a serious problem of unemployment, he said. Seven industrial giants which are currently paralysed used to employ a combined workforce of 75,000.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Helder Muteia has said that the country needs to improve its cereal production.
Speaking to journalists at the end of his visit to Catembe, across the Maputo Bay, Muteia said that his ministry's priority is "to continue improving cereal production" currently standing at 1.7 million tonnes. The main objective is to produce more than two million tonnes within the next two to three years.
The ministry will place special attention to commercial agriculture as a key to attain the target, but it should not ignore the household sector, he said.
He said that there had been contacts with the Trade and Industry Ministry in order to establish a common strategy for the marketing of agricultural surpluses.
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