The Mozambican government on 12 July appealed to donors for $132 million for reconstruction in the wake of the floods that hit the centre of the country earlier this year.
Speaking at the opening of a one day donors' conference in Maputo, President Joaquim Chissano asked "our partners once again to understand the difficulties that Mozambique is going through, and to renew your willingness to provide the financial support needed for the rebuilding of our country".
President Chissano said that the floods of January to March, which hit the Zambezi, Pungue and Licungo valleys in particular, had affected over half a million people, of whom 230,000 had been displaced from their homes. More than 100 people lost their lives in the floods.
The President said that the government had learnt from the severe flooding of February 2000, and this year "there was an improvement in our response". The experience of the 2000 floods "played an important role in strengthening the government's capacity to face the emergency situation we recently went through, and prevent the disaster from taking on even more serious proportions".
President Chissano stressed that the government's short and medium term objectives are "to resettle the population, to resume production and the provision of basic health, education, water and sanitation services, and to rehabilitate economic and social infrastructures, particularly communication routes".
He stressed that life in the flood-stricken areas must return to normal rapidly "in order to minimise the adverse effects of the floods on the economy, and to allow a return to GDP growth rates of 10 per cent or more next year".
President Chissano added that the government did not merely wish to restore the pre-flood status quo. It also thought it crucial to take steps that would "reduce people's vulnerability to future disasters". This was a long term challenge, which should be integrated into the government's overall poverty reduction strategy, said the President.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Maputo, Emmanuel de Casterle, assured President Chissano that UN agencies "are resolved to assist in rebuilding the lives and communities affected by this disaster".
In particular, key agencies, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children's fund (UNICEF), would work with Mozambique's own relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC) "to undertake a new multi-financed disaster management initiative supporting vulnerability reduction, in order to be better prepared not only at national level, but also at regional, provincial, district and local levels".
Speaking on behalf of the donors, Dutch Ambassador Arie van der Wiel, declared "our presence here is an explicit and decisive indication of the full support and solidarity of the entire international donor community to continue its assistance to the government and people of Mozambique during this critical post- flood period".
He noted that the post-flood reconstruction programme presented to the conference placed the appeal "within the context of poverty eradication". "We commend the government for this approach since the impact of the floods has a direct impact on and relation to the most vulnerable and poor", van der Wiel said. "And it is these populations that we try to reach, ensuring recovery and integration into the national development agenda".
Surveying the response to last year's floods, the ambassador seemed resigned to a slow pace of disbursement of funds. A donors' conference held in Rome in May 2000 resulted in promises of $471 million - but so far less than $200 million has been disbursed. "We need to be realistic, given the time required to draw up project documents, launch tenders and negotiate contracts", he said. "Urgency is important, but cost effectiveness and quality also need our thorough attention".
The post-flood reconstruction programme envisages spending $51.8 million on rehabilitating basic infrastructure, $36.4 million on the social sectors, $23.2 million on productive sectors, and $20.3 million on activities aimed at reducing vulnerability to disasters.
Introducing the detailed programme, Finance Minister Luisa Diogo noted that the January to March flooding in the central provinces damaged 392 primary schools, interrupting classes for about 106,000 pupils.
To repair these schools, and maintain levels of growth and quality in education, despite the disruption caused by the floods, will cost $22.6 million.
44 health units were affected in the flooding and rehabilitating them, providing new equipment, and the associated transport and logistics, are budgeted at slightly more than $12 million.
The floods knocked out seven small scale water supply systems, 345 wells, 321 boreholes and many latrines. Replacing these is the main component in the water supply and sanitation part of the appeal, costed at almost $8 million.
Most money for repairing infrastructure will be spent on roads - the government is asking for $4.5 million for urgent, emergency repairs, just to get traffic moving again, and a further $20.5 million for "definitive repairs".
Rehousing displaced people is costed at $17.4 million, while a further $1.6 million will be spent on repairs to flood-damaged public buildings.
The floods led to the loss of about 79,500 hectares of assorted crops, and caused the deaths of 2,060 cattle, 6,400 pigs and about 26,000 goats and other smaller animals. Diogo said the government is requesting $7.7 million for the agricultural sector - mainly for the production and distribution of seeds to allow peasants to resume farming.
Some 39 industrial units, mainly flour mills, were damaged, and 132 shops were destroyed. Repairing the damage in the industry and trade sectors, and replacing lost stocks, will cost $3.5 million.
One of the main transport arteries in central Mozambique is the Zambezi river itself: however, floods lead to silting, and so the government has included in the appeal $10 million for dredging the river, and improving signalling along its course.
The most expensive items in the vulnerability reduction section of the appeal are defensive dikes and protection platforms. Dikes proved their worth during the flood when they prevented the Zambezi from swamping the sugar plantation and newly rehabilitated sugar mill at Marromeu. The government wants to build a series of new protective systems, and notes that their absence was one of the reasons why the Pungue river repeatedly surged across the Beira-Zimbabwe highway, cutting off traffic from Beira not only west to Zimbabwe, but also south to Maputo. Dikes and protection platforms are costed at $14 million.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the conference, Diogo said "This wasn't a pledging conference, so we can't say how much money is being allocated, but there is total support".
But Diogo made it clear that not all the $132 million will necessarily be new money. Some donors may switch funds from other projects, and possibly even from the reconstruction programme agreed after the massive flooding in the south of the country in February 2000. "Some partners are willing to give extra funds. Others will reallocate funds. Others will combine the two", said the minister.
Armed guards of Renamo have reportedly beaten up the head of an administrative post in the central province of Manica, and held hostage two of the post's staff, reports "Noticias" on 23 July.
According to the paper, the guards forced the Save administrative post chief, Noe Machaia, to follow them to Renamo's district headquarters where the party leader Afonso Dhlakama would be addressing a rally.
Machaia told the paper that on 20 July five armed and uniformed men, who he claims to be Renamo members, surrounded his house at about midday and held him and his family hostage for more than an hour.
He explained that he was forced to sit back at gun point and forced to confess that he had frustrated plans by Dhlakama to hold a rally in the locality the same day.
He also claimed that the harassment continued inside a vehicle that was taking him to meet Dhlakama. According to Machaia, if he was not killed it was because the Renamo leader had ordered his men to forgive because "he does not know what he is doing".
Machaia added that two of his staff were also kidnapped, and while being shipped to Renamo headquarters the guards sat on top of their heads.
The two, Madoda and Adamo Judas, were on Saturday shown to the public during a rally at Chitepo, the district headquarters, addressed by Dhlakama.
Machaia said that the two hostages were forced to accompany Dhlakama's delegation to Chimoio, the provincial capital, to be shown to the provincial governor.
Machaia claimed that Renamo is accusing them of inspecting bicycle licences during Dhlakama's visit - bicycle is the most used means of transport in rural areas.
Meanwhile, the local police failed to take any action against the guards. The local police commander, Jose Manuel Tomo, described the action as a crime, but said that he could only take any measures after receiving superior orders.
A court in Cabo Delgado province on 20 July sentenced two police officers to lengthy prison terms for their part in the deaths by asphyxiation of at least 83 detainees last November.
The detainees had been arrested following the 9 November clashes in the town of Montepuez between the police and demonstrators organised by Renamo.
Dozens of detainees were thrown into a cell measuring just three by seven metres, and with insufficient ventilation, at the Montepuez police command. The exact number of deaths is still unclear because the police did not keep a proper list of names and addresses of those they had arrested.
The officer on duty on the night of 21-22 November, when most of the deaths occurred, Terciano Mithale, was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. One of his subordinates, Horacio Nhoca, who was in charge of the cell received 17 years.
Both men were ordered to pay 20 million meticais (about $920) in compensation to the families of each of the victims.
Three other policemen were acquitted on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence against them. For two of them, Basilio Guezane and Hilario Chambone, the prosecutor, Beatriz Buchili, had already announced that she was dropping the charges against them.
But the court also announced that it found the case against the Montepuez district police commander, Dahalili Sumail, unproved.
In May, the same court sentenced to 20 year sentences the five men regarded as the ringleaders of the 9 November riot. The main charge against these men was armed rebellion.
Emergency work to rehabilitate the dikes protecting the areas most vulnerable to flooding in the cities of Chokwe and Xai-Xai and in villages along the Limpopo river, in the southern province of Gaza, is nearing completion, reports "Noticias" on 17 July.
This is part of the emergency programme to repair damage caused by the floods that hit southern Mozambique in February 2000.
In Xai-Xai, the provincial capital, the work on the dike is 99 per cent complete. It included shoring up the dike with about 300,000 cubic metres of soil, and the rehabilitation of 20 drainage sluices.
As for the Chokwe dikes, the National Water Board (DNA) says that the job is 90 per cent done. In Chokwe district 700,000 cubic metres of soil have been moved.
A member of the DNA's emergency commission, Belarmino Chivambo, said that this work started in September 2000 and should be concluded by August.
In Chokwe, priority went to the areas between the Macarretane dam and Chalacuane, along the perimeter of the Chokwe irrigation scheme, in order to allow the relaunching of agro-industrial activity in the area as soon as possible. The work was financed by the Dutch government, with a grant of $14 million.
Chivambo noted that the rehabilitation, particularly in some areas of Chokwe, is facing difficulties related to the presence of land mines, which implies additional work and expense in demining.
The Mozambican government declared 21 July a day of national mourning for Colonel-General Fernando Matavele, a hero of Mozambique's independence struggle, who died on 16 July at the age of 72.
Matavele was buried at the Monument to the Mozambican Heroes, alongside other heroes of the liberation war including the founder of Frelimo, Eduardo Mondlane, and independent Mozambique's first President, Samora Machel.
Matavele joined the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) in 1964, and received his military training in the former Soviet Union. He was a commander at the Ngungunhane provincial base in Niassa in the early years of the independence war, and then played a crucial role in opening fronts in the centre of the country, first in Tete, then in Manica and Sofala province.
After independence in 1975 he held several government positions, including that of governor in Gaza and then Sofala provinces, and director of the Maputo City Green Belt. He was also elected to the People's Assembly.
As the war of destabilisation worsened in the early 1980s, Matavele returned to military duties, becoming military commander in Gaza prior to his retirement.
The South African oil company SASOL is preparing to build a natural gas treatment station at Temane, in the southern province of Inhambane. SASOL holds the rights to exploit the gas reserves at both Temane and the nearby Pande field.
The site of the station was officially demarcated on 18 July during a ceremony attended by President Joaquim Chissano, and by SASOL chairperson Peter Tompson.
Tompson said that the station will have the capacity to treat about 400 cubic metres of gas per hour, and the treated gas is to be channelled to SASOL's plants in South Africa, and to the projected Maputo Iron and Steel Project (MISP), through pipelines yet to be built.
The economy of Mozambique's second largest city, Beira, is in crisis largely because its port is suffering the consequence of Zimbabwe's dramatic shortage of foreign currency.
According to a report in "Metical" on 17 July, the port of Beira is operating at 15 per cent of its capacity.
Traditionally, Zimbabwe is the main user of the port: but with the Zimbabwean economy in a state of near collapse, Zimbabwean trade through the port has contracted drastically.
The port should also serve Malawi, but the Sena railway, from Beira to Malawi, was comprehensively sabotaged by apartheid backed rebels during the war of destabilisation, and has not yet been rebuilt.
Promised investments for the Beira region - such as an iron ore reduction plant, an aluminium smelter, and a mineral port at Nhangau, immediately north of Beira - have not yet materialised.
One of the points in Sofala's favour is that it has a dynamic and popular governor, Felicio Zacarias. Beira residents who spoke to "Metical" praised Zacarias for his commitment and for his struggle against corruption.
But sceptics doubt whether the governor can do much on his own, and seem resigned to their fate. Sofala has damaged several political reputations, including those of members of the Frelimo Political Bureau who were sent to govern the province in the 1980s.
The Mozambican grain harvest is expected to reach 1.7 million tonnes this year, Agriculture Minister Helder Muteia told AIM on 16 July. Since Muteia put last year's harvest at 1.4 million tonnes, this is an increase of over 21 per cent.
Muteia said this forecast comes from an assessment made by staff of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The 2000 harvest was hit by the flooding in much of southern and central Mozambique. This year's floods, mainly in the Zambezi and Pungue valleys, were not so damaging.
Food insecurity continues, said Muteia, "because in Mozambique we have subsistence agriculture in a situation where the road and marketing networks do not permit a systematic exchange of produce. We have cases where people might have rice, or tangerines, or some other crop, but they don't have meat, or fish, or sugar, for instance".
But Muteia believed that Mozambique has made remarkable progress in agriculture. He noted that in 1993, the grain harvest was only 300,000 tonnes, "and today we're talking about 1.7 million tonnes. We achieved this without any miracles, just through concrete work undertaken by our rural extension system. There are few countries who have experienced growth of this sort".
The Minister said that cultural factors also play a role in lack of food security "because there are people living in chronically drought-prone areas, and they don't want to leave because their grandparents were born, grew up and died in that poverty. When we tell them to move to more productive areas, they simply refuse".
The Ministry wanted people to move from unproductive, semi-arid land in province such as Inhambane, to places where small scale irrigation systems could be established.
Many more residents of Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola will soon benefit from improved water supply, with the conclusion of about 8,500 metres of a new intake pipe.
The pipe, from the water treatment station on the Umbeluzi river to the distribution centre in the Maputo suburb of Chamanculo, has now doubled its former capacity.
The completion of this work is just the first of three steps to strengthen the water transport to the five distribution centres serving Maputo and Matola.
The other two steps, which should be completed by the end of the year, include the installation of three new pumps at the Umbeluzi station, and a new set of electric pumps at the Chamanculo centre, which will push the water on to the Maxaquene distribution centre.
The Development French Agency (AFD), which is financing this work, is also prepared to fund an increase in the Umbeluzi treatment station capacity, from the current 120,000 cubic metres a day to about 140,000, by the end of next year, and to 200,000 cubic metres within the next ten years, as planned by the Mozambican government's Water Supply Assets and Investment Fund (FIPAG), which owns the system.
Speaking during the ceremony on 11 July 01at which the concluded intake pipe was handed over, the chairman of the FIPAG board, Nelson Beete, said that the new piping will not only improve the water supply system to Maputo and Matola, but also allow the repair of the distribution system without causing any disruption to supplies.
In the past, any attempt to repair the obsolete distribution system meant a temporary interruption to supplies.
"We will increase by about 20 per cent the quantity of water reaching the Chamanculo distribution centre. It is true that we will not solve the problem in all suburbs that are lacking access to drinking water, but those who living near the Chamanculo distribution centre will be the first to benefit from the improvement", said Beete, cited in Friday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias".
He added that the process is continuous, and studies are now underway to the extend the work to the northern Maputo suburbs of Laulane and Hulene. These studies are funded by the African Development Bank, and are budgeted at 19 million US dollars.
Attending the ceremony was the Minister of Public Works and Housing, Roberto White, who praised AFD for its role in the area of water supply, since the late 1980s.
"We have been striving to carry out this work because we have been aware that the intake capacity was too poor to satisfy the growing demand for water in Maputo and Matola", he said, stressing the need for "increasing investments in the water supply systems, taking into account the dynamics of population growth and the flow of investments into the country".
For his part, Philippe Charpentier, the general director of Aguas de Mocambique, the private consortium that has the contract to manage the Maputo/Matola water system, said that the next step will be to build a new treatment station, to ensure more water for Maputo, and then to install more and larger intake pipes to transport that water.
The Mozambican government's Prices and Wages Commission has fixed prices for this year's cotton harvest that are much lower than those proposed by peasant cotton growers.
The new prices are 2,700 meticais (12.3 US cents at current exchange rates) per kilo for first grade cotton and 2,100 meticais per kilo for second grade.
Last year's prices were 2,500 meticais and 1,900 meticais a kilo for first and second grade respectively. But given the sharp devaluation of the metical since mid-2000, the prices published on 10 July represent a fall of almost 20 per cent in real terms.
Peasant farmers in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, one of the major cotton areas, had proposed a minimum price of 4,500 meticais a kilo for first grade cotton, and 4,000 meticais for second grade. The proposal from peasants in the neighbouring province of Nampula was 3,900 and 2,900 meticais for first and second grade respectively.
The concessionary companies that buy the cotton, however, suggested just 2,600 meticais for first grade cotton, and eventually agreed to an increase to 2,700. Their proposal for second grade cotton was accepted by the government.
The companies provide the peasant farmers with inputs - some of which, such as seeds, are free, while others (fertilisers and pesticides) are on credit. In return, the peasants are obliged to sell their cotton to these same companies: at the moment of sale, the companies deduct the credit for the inputs.
The companies complain that for the last five years they have made a loss on cotton, and can only survive because their other activities subsidise their cotton business.
They argue that the fall in prices for cotton fibre on the world market has not been reflected in the minimum prices which the government fixes for the peasants' raw cotton. In the period between 1994 and 2000, the average export price for cotton fell from 1,443 to 807 US dollars a tonne.
However, for the peasants their income is declining year after year. In the 1996 harvest, they were receiving 3,900 meticais for a kilo of first grade cotton - which was 36 US cents at the exchange rate of the time.
Thus, in real terms, the producer price of cotton has fallen by around two thirds in the past five years.
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