President Joaquim Chissano on 3 February declared that peace and solidarity among Mozambicans are the crucial foundations for the fight against poverty. Addressing a Maputo rally, President Chissano urged his fellow countrymen to cultivate the spirit of solidarity in the search for solutions to Mozambique's problems.
The rally was held to mark "Mozambican Heroes' Day" - the 33rd anniversary of the assassination, on 3 February 1969, of the founder and first president of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), Eduardo Mondlane, killed in his Dar es Salaam office by a parcel bomb sent by the Portuguese secret police, the PIDE.
President Chissano stressed that Mozambicans of all races and all ethnic groups had fought for the country's independence from Portuguese colonial rule. "On this march there were many heroes, from all over this vast country, who fell for the cause of the nation", he said. "We must recognise them and pay homage to them, without looking at their ethnic origins".
He stressed Eduardo Mondlane's role in defending national unity in the independence struggle, and called on his audience to continue to preserve national unity and consolidate peace.
In the 1960s, he noted, "there were intrigues and conflicts which endangered the struggle, and Eduardo Mondlane knew how to manage and overcome all these manoeuvres. But the unification undertaken by Mondlane could not be concluded simply by a congress. It was necessary to carry out a lot of hard work so that everyone would accept the diversity of our people".
He also urged Mozambicans not to succumb to the temptation to earn their living by illicit means. "We are poor, but we cannot allow poverty to destroy our hearts", said President Chissano.
Shortly before the rally, President Chissano laid the traditional wreath at the Monument to the Mozambique Heroes - the last resting place of Mondlane, of the country's first president, Samora Machel, and of other heroes of the liberation struggle.
He reminded reporters that this year the country would celebrate ten years of peace (the peace agreement between the government and the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels was signed on 4 October 1992). "I cannot say that we shall be celebrating the General Peace Agreement, because the word ''peace'' has a fuller meaning", President Chissano said.
The current phase in Mozambique's history was that of "building a prosperous country", he added, declaring that he thought the country was "on a very correct path".
In the central port city of Beira, at a similar ceremony, Sofala provincial governor Felicio Zacarias denounced "tribalist and racist trends" in the province.
He noted that when a director is appointed in a state body, he often tries to promote people simply on the grounds that they come from the same region or ethnic group that he does.
In Sofala there are two main languages, Ndau and Sena, and Zacarias noted that when an Ndau-speaking director is appointed, he tries to surround himself with other Ndaus, and the same went for Sena speakers. This even happened with people who had university degrees.
"I think there's nothing in their heads", accused Zacarias. "Under normal conditions they shouldn't act like this, since what counts is competence".
But in Beira it was pouring with rain, and few people, even armed with umbrellas, were prepared to stand in the open and listen to the governor. And when the rain intensified, Zacarias had to admit that he was powerless against the forces of nature, and cut short his speech.
So far, the vast majority of young Mozambicans are showing no interest at all in registering for compulsory military service.
All Mozambicans, of both sexes, who are 18 this year, are supposed to register for military service in January and February. But with the registration period more than half way through, the number of people who have registered is given as "more than 3,000" by Fidelino Anselmo, head of recruitment in the Defence Ministry, cited "Noticias" on 5 February.
This is nowhere near the Ministry's target figure of between 28,000 and 35,000. That figure itself was extraordinarily modest, since the number of Mozambicans whose 18th birthday falls this year is over 300,000.
Conscription was re-introduced by a law of 1997, and the first conscripts under this law were called up in 1999.
Whatever the reason, the harsh fact is that the vast majority of youngsters are not registering. And there is no punishment for this: while legal sanctions exist for those who ignore their call-up papers, there is no provision for dragging those who do not register before the courts.
Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, has called on members of the Renamo parliamentary group to stop their internal squabbles, and shoulder their responsibilities in revising the country's constitution and its electoral legislation, according to a report in "Noticias" on 9 February.
Dhlakama was speaking at the end of a meeting of the Renamo National Council in the central city of Quelimane.
He called on members of his party to be "intelligent and politically astute", rather than dour and stubborn. "Squabbling amongst ourselves must stop", he declared. The main priority for Renamo, he stressed, was the local elections of 2003, followed by the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2004.
He thought the current situation in Mozambique was favourable for Renamo, but warned that "Frelimo has not fallen asleep". "Every day and at every moment, our adversary is struggling desperately to confuse and neutralise our cadres", Dhlakama claimed.
He said that Frelimo saw Renamo as a major threat to its power, and it would not stop trying to divide Renamo, through what he called "manoeuvres and enticements".
Despite his calls for unity within Renamo, Dhlakama also stated that there were "enemies" who had been "infiltrated" into the party. "These people meet with us, eat and drink with us", he said.
"Every day they talk with us and draw up strategies with us". He did not name these enemies within, but called on Renamo members to be "permanently vigilant".
During the meeting, members of the National Council threatened to wage a campaign to demand the release of Renamo supporters jailed in connection with the rioting in the northern town of Montepuez on 9 November 2000.
During the National Council meeting Renamo announced that it intends to stand candidates in all the country's municipalities in the 2003 local elections, reported "Noticias" on 6 February.
In the first local elections, in 1998, Renamo staged a boycott, thus ensuring that every mayor in the 33 municipalities comes from the ruling Frelimo Party, and that there is a Frelimo majority in every municipal assembly.
Renamo says that its lists for the local elections will not be filled exclusively with party members, but that it will include some independents.
Renamo has also decided to raise its membership fees.
According to the spokesman for the meeting, Fernando Mazenga, the minimum membership fee will be 5,000 meticais (about 21 US cents) a month.
Special arrangements will be made for Renamo's parliamentary deputies (and for members of a hypothetical future Renamo government), who will presumably be expected to pay much more.
Mazenga admitted that Renamo could no longer rely on foreign donors pumping money into the party. "Renamo must survive on the dues paid by its members", he said. "That's what the new challenges demand. When we came out of the bush, we enjoyed support to transform our movement into a political party. That phase has finished - now our donors must be the party's members".
Previously the membership fee was just 1,000 meticais a month, and it is doubtful that any serious attempt was made to collect this.
Dhlakama stood down from the position of chair of the Renamo National Council but kept the position of Party President.
According to a report in "Noticias" on 5 February, this move is aimed at a "decentralisation of power" within Renamo.
The National Council elected a close advisor to Dhlakama, Raimundo Samuge, as its chairman.
Dhlakama stressed that Renamo would face "great challenges" in the municipal elections of 2003, and the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2004. "Renamo should produce and present a product of better quality than our political adversary", he said. "We must fight for quality in everything, and this will only be possible with the injection of new cadres into our ranks".
But he admitted, implicitly, that some people had only joined Renamo because of the money that donors have been throwing at political parties ever since 1992. Dhlakama declared that he was against "the mercenary spirit which, here and there, characterises certain behaviour of some of our members and cadres".
He wanted to see "a spirit of dedication", which was quite incompatible with "the mercenary behaviour that seeks immediate personal advantages".
On 4 February the new Renamo secretary-general, Joaquim Vaz, took office. Vaz was formerly a Renamo representative in Lisbon, and had been a secretary to Dhlakama in the 1980s.
It was diaries written by Vaz that were discovered when Zimbabwean and Mozambican forces overran the Renamo headquarters at Casa Banana, in Gorongosa district, in 1985, and which proved decisively that the South African apartheid regime had continued to supply Renamo, in violation of the Nkomati non-aggression pact signed the previous year.
Vaz admitted that Renamo was entering upon this phase of its history in a "very weakened" position. He said his goal was to ensure a "geographically and socially balanced implantation" of the party: he was presumably referring to Renamo's failure to make any significant impact in the southern third of the country, which remains overwhelmingly a bastion of the ruling Frelimo Party.
Vaz promised to "stimulate internal debate", and the circulation of information between the party leadership and its members. He wanted to transmit the image of "a dynamic, serious and transparent party".
He also proposed the creation of a studies office and a Renamo Institute, which would produce "critical political material, and alternative proposals for Mozambique".
The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) does not seek to eliminate existing channels of bilateral cooperation, but to make them work harder and more efficiently, according to Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao.
Created in 2001, NEPAD is a fusion of earlier plans drawn up by four African Presidents, namely Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.
Leonard Simao, who accompanied President Joaquim Chissano to NEPAD heads of state summit in Paris on 8 February, told reporters shortly before leaving the French capital that the debates around NEPAD "are not intended to wipe out what already exists. Instruments for financing programmes exist. What is needed is to make these mechanisms speedier and more effective".
One of the criticisms made at the meeting, he added, is that the current mechanisms are burdened with red tape, and involve voluminous studies, the value of which is questionable. Such a weight of bureaucracy led to "greater concern for procedures rather than for results", said Simao. "What NEPAD does that is new is put the stress on the results, not on the procedures".
In order to discuss and agree upon institutional questions, a meeting of the NEPAD Implementation Committee will take place in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, in April. Commenting upon statements by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, according to which African leaders did not come to Paris "to beg for anything or to stretch out their hands", Simao said the whole question of aid should be viewed "in the more realistic perspective that there is an interdependence of interests. All countries have their vulnerabilities. African countries are vulnerable as regards poverty, but the countries of the north, as well as those of the south, are vulnerable to terrorism".
The Mozambican, Zimbabwe and Zambian governments are discussing the establishment of a cross-border part between the three countries, to be known as the "ZIMOZA Transfrontier Conservation Area".
Mozambican Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana, the Zimbabwean Minister for the Environment and Tourism, Francis Nhema, and Zambia's Minister of Tourism, the Environment and Natural Resources, Levisone Mumba, are meeting in Maputo on 8 February to discuss the project.
A technical committee has drawn up a draft agreement on the establishment of the cross-border park which is going before the three ministers.
The park will include the districts of Magoe and Zumbo in the western province of Tete, the Zambian district of Luangwa, and the Zimbabwean district of Guruve. These areas are rich in biological resources, and have a high tourism potential.
The ZIMOZA initiative comes from local communities, and is supported by the local authorities in the areas concerned.
The purpose of the ZIMOZA initiative is to ensure the long- term sustainability of the natural resources, and maintain the viability of the area's ecosystems.
Over the past three years, Mozambique and its neighbours have embarked on the creation of cross-border conservation areas in order to promote the cross- border management of ecosystems, and the joint promotion of tourism.
The largest such area is the Greater Limpopo Trans-Frontier Park, formed by the Kruger National Park in South Africa, The Limpopo Park in Mozambique's Gaza province, and the Gonarezhou Park in Zimbabwe.
Spanish aid to Mozambique will amount to about 25 million euros ($21.5 million) over the next three years, according to Miguel Nadal, the Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Speaking to reporters in Maputo on 6 February after an audience with President Joaquim Chissano, Nadal said that Spanish aid would mainly be channelled to programmes that fall under Mozambique's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA).
He said his meeting with President Chissano was "very cordial", and that his visit reflected Spain's interest in the political and economic evolution of Mozambique.
The spokesman for the Mozambican Interior Ministry, Nataniel Macamo, has confirmed that the South African and Mozambican police forces have mounted a joint operation against gangs of car thieves along the 54 kilometre border between Mozambique and the South African province of Kwazulu- Natal.
News about the border operation was broken by the South African press on 5 February which said that it will continue until the end of the month.
Luxury cars are stolen in South Africa, often at gunpoint, and are then smuggled into Mozambique across the Kwazulu-Natal border. From Mozambique, they may then be driven to other countries in the region.
The South African authorities have discovered that some of the Kwazulu-Natal frontier guards stationed at the border posts are collaborating with the car thieves.
The provincial police commander, Moses Khanyile, has warned that such corrupt officers will be severely punished. He noted that crime syndicates show no mercy to their victims, and the authorities would be similarly remorseless when it came to tracking them down jailing them.
Inhuman methods of punishment, described by the victims as "torture", are being used to discipline soldiers in a barracks of the Mozambique Defence Force (FADM) in the central city of Beira, according to a report in "Diario de Mocambique" on 7 February.
The soldiers concerned are members of the FADM special forces (commando units).
Seven soldiers went to "Diario de Mocambique" to denounce the torture. They claimed that one soldier, whom they named as Luis Artur Sebastiao, had died because of the ill-treatment, while others had been hospitalised.
Among the severe punishments they mentioned were forcing soldiers to carry munitions, which they claimed weighed over 100 kilos, for several hours under the blazing sun.
No attempt is made to hide the torture - sometimes it takes place outside the barracks, before the eyes of local civilians.
"This isn't punishment - its torture", declared the soldiers. "The officers are maltreating us, and they're doing it in front of our friends and relatives. This is why young people are afraid to register for the army".
When the paper asked Sofala Provincial Governor Felicio Zacarias for his reaction to the soldiers' claims, he said the provincial government was already aware of the abuses committed at Matacuane.
He said he had been informed that "the punishments inflicted are arbitrary and extremely severe which is leading to great discontent inside the barracks".
Zacarias said the provincial government is investigating the matter. "We must carry out an inquiry to see whether it's true or not", added the governor. "If it is proved, then this person will be put on trial for what he has done, under the military discipline regulations".
The NGO Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) has announced that in 2001 its mine clearance programme resulted in the removal of 2,160 anti-personnel and anti-group mines in the central provinces of Manica, Sofala and Tete.
Its demining programme covered an area of 1.87 million square metres of land which the Mozambican authorities had described as "priority and infested with land mines and other explosive devices".
During this painstaking work, the NPA teams also found and destroyed 110 items of unexploded ordnance, as well as 2,625 rounds of small arm ammunition.
But, as is usual in this type of operation, the bulk of what was found was just shrapnel and other scraps of metal - 168,301 pieces, to be precise.
The NPA had originally planned to clear an area of 2.8 million square metres, but this target was not reached due to flooding in central Mozambique, which affected some of the mined areas.
Furthermore, on 16 July an anti-tank mine exploded in Chipopopo, in Manica provinces, killed one of the NPA sappers, and wounding a further seven. Four of the dogs used in demining work also died in the explosion.
NPA states that since its programme started in August 1993 it has cleared 16.9 million square metres, removing and destroying 20,935 anti-personnel and anti-group mines, 23 anti- tank mines, and 5,213 other items of unexploded ordnance.
Over the same period of time, the programme has been funded by the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish governments to the tune of 267 million Norwegian crowns (about $30 million).
On 20 December, at the request of the Tete provincial government, NPA began clearing mines from a 10,000 square metre area at Cuchamano, which is a border post on the Mozambique/Zimbabwe frontier.
The area must be cleared in order to build a power line from Zimbabwe, to supply electricity to Cuchamano.
So far just four anti-personnel mines have been found in Cuchamano. NPA says that the demining work here will be completed by the end of February.
NPA says that its demining programme employed about 500 people and 20 mine detecting dogs in 2001, divided into nine teams - three teams in each of the three provinces.
A mob armed with machetes, clubs, stones and similar weapons attacked the town of Nipepe in the northern province of Niassa on 3 February, and attempted to kidnap the district administrator, according to Radio Mozambique.
The crowd, whose numbers were put at 200, accused the authorities of deliberately spreading cholera in the district.
This is the latest in a series of incidents in northern Mozambique in which
people who are actually fighting cholera, including health workers, the local
administration, and even traditional chiefs, have been accused of deliberately
spreading the disease.
Interviewed by the radio, provincial governor David Simango said that, thanks to the response by the local police unit and by Nipepe residents, the district administrator was saved from the mob, and no lives were lost.
But the Nipepe administration building, and the administrator's house suffered damage. Houses belonging to members of the ruling Frelimo Party were attacked, and at least one shop was looted.
Simango said the authorities are now trying to ascertain who was responsible for the attack. The police have arrested two people who they believe to be ringleaders.
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