Mozambique News Agency

No.235, 4th July 2002


President warns of dangers of AIDS on Independence Day

President Joaquim Chissano on 25 June warned that the lethal disease AIDS "is a threat to the survival and prosperity of our society". Addressing the nation on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of Mozambique's independence from Portugal, on 25 June 1975, President Chissano pointed out that "thousands of Mozambicans in the most active period of their lives are infected and are dying of this disease".

"All of us must shake off the habit of regarding AIDS as something which only concerns the infected individuals and their families", he stressed. "AIDS is a priority national question which should be the subject of concerted action by all citizens, by all the living forces of our society".

"Let us not allow this pandemic to compromise our future and the development of our country", President Chissano urged. "Let us adopt healthy and morally acceptable habits, responsible social conduct, and faithfulness to our partners".

The latest statistics from the Health Ministry suggest that over 12 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 49 are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

President Chissano also noted that this year's drought has affected around 600,000 people who are at risk of hunger. "It is urgent that the government, social organisations, workers, peasants, each and every Mozambican, should once again unite and coordinate their efforts to face successfully this natural disaster, paying particular attention to the neediest households", said the President.

President Chissano laid a heavy stress on the ten years of peace the country has known since the 1992 agreement between the government and Renamo put an end to the war of destabilisation. "Peace, an indispensable condition for the society we wish to build, has galvanised us all and has rekindled in every Mozambican hope and certainty of future victories", he said.

He urged all Mozambicans "to promote a culture of peace and to adopt an intolerant posture towards those who exploit racial, regional and religious differences in order to sow division and social instability".

He praised his fellow-countrymen for their "culture of unity, seriousness, determination and commitment to duty". These were the factors "which allowed us to survive and emerge from the ruins and ashes of colonialism, of the military aggression by the racist Rhodesian and South African regimes, of the unjust and unnecessary war that cut down lives and destroyed social and economic infrastructures for 16 years".

They were the same factors that today were allowing the country "to fight successfully against hunger, disease, misery, underdevelopment, tribalism and regionalism, and to build a free and viable nation respected by all".

President Chissano stressed that the outside world's perception of Mozambique had changed. "The idea that Mozambique is a land of hunger and misery that has no future has dissipated", he said. "New partnerships are expanding and consolidating between our country and the countries of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas".

He noted that most of Mozambique's foreign debt has been pardoned, and that today "Mozambique is an obligatory reference point as a country showing sharp economic growth, and is one of the major recipients of foreign investment on the continent".

Guebuza promises to tackle municipal problems

Armando Guebuza, the new general secretary of Frelimo, on 2 July promised that the party leadership will intervene in the near future in those municipal bodies where serious problems have been noted.

Because most opposition parties boycotted the 1998 local elections, all 33 elected mayors are Frelimo members, and there are Frelimo majorities in all of the municipal assemblies. This has not prevented repeated clashes between City Councils and Municipal Assemblies, particularly in Maputo.

Addressing some two hundred Frelimo members from Maputo province, who had come to the Central Committee offices to greet him, Guebuza said that the new Central Committee secretariat that he heads hoped to draw up a work plan by 15 July.

But there were urgent activities, which Guebuza described as "fire brigade work", that could not wait that long. In particular, the secretariat would have to deal with "burning questions in municipal hotspots, so that maybe even before 15 July measures can be taken at party level".

He also reiterated his belief that the time was not yet ripe to expand municipalisation beyond the 33 towns and cities that attained municipal status in the 1990s. If the opposition had arguments for including other places in the list of municipalities, "we can discuss it", he added.

When reporters noted that some opposition parties were already presenting candidates for the 2003 local elections, Guebuza insisted that Frelimo would use democratic methods to select its candidates, and they would not be imposed by the party's Central Committee. "Candidates should be proposed to the city or zone party committee, and they will be submitted to the city or zone conference for selection there", he said.

Cotton producers analyse crisis

Representatives of the Mozambique Cotton Association (AAM) on 27 June set up a task group in Maputo to assess the crisis in this sector, and to propose solutions, including possible ways of supporting cotton production, according to a source in the Agriculture Ministry.

The group was created during a meeting between the government and AAM representatives, chaired by Agriculture Minister Helder Muteia. The meeting also proposed new cotton producer prices for the current agricultural campaign.

"It was a very positive meeting in the sense that it made all participants aware of the problems in the country's cotton sector", said the source, adding that the proposal on the new prices will be submitted to the Wages and Prices National Commission.

AAM representatives in the northern provinces of Nampula and Cabo Delgado had agreed, a month ago, on the price of 2,450 meticais per kilo of first class raw cotton, which compares with the price of 2,750 meticais in the last campaign. (At current exchange rates, there are about 24,000 meticais to the US dollar.)

The fall in the price offered to peasant farmers for their cotton is blamed on the continuing fall in cotton prices on the world market.

At the meeting on 27 June, AAM, which represents the cotton concessionary companies which buy raw cotton from farmers, asked the government to pay a subsidy of 500 meticais per kilo "because this year's prices are very low". The government has not yet responded.

The association also launched an appeal to the international community, including the United States, to create a mechanism to give the Mozambican government the necessary means to actively support local cotton producers, since the government lacks the money to do so on its own, thus leaving Mozambicans exposed to the distorted international market.

"If the policy persists of subsidies exclusively to those who can afford them, there being no compensation to those who cannot, the legitimate aspirations of vast numbers of people are jeopardised, and underdevelopment and hopelessness are aggravated", warned the AAM.

The AAM had no doubt that the crisis in the world cotton market is largely due to the subsidies which governments of the rich north throw at their own producers.

Were it not these market distortions, the AAM argued, Mozambique would achieve much higher prices for its agricultural and agro-industrial produce, either through higher unit prices, or through being able to place larger amounts on the world market.

The cotton companies point out that artificially low prices lead to low income for farmers, and thus perpetuate rural misery, preventing access to more advanced technologies.

In the specific case of cotton, the two major world producers, the United States and China, both subsidise their producers. At least 59 per cent of world cotton production benefits from subsidies, and this year cotton subsidies amount to $4.4 billion, an increase of 16 per cent when compared with the 2001 figure of $3.8 billion.

An AAM source said that the serious consequences for Mozambique of the US Farm Law were thus perfectly clear. He noted that some 350,000 Mozambican peasant households (containing about 1.5 million people) grow cotton.

Spain to continue training police

The Spanish government is prepared to continue its support in training, logistics assistance and advice to the Mozambican police, after the expiry in August 2003 of the current agreement with the Mozambican government.

The announcement was made by Jose Ignacio Laguna, chief of the International Cooperation Office of the Spanish Civil Guard, who visited the Mozambican Police Academy (ACIPOL) in Michafutene, about 15 kilometres north of Maputo, on 27 June.

Laguna's visit was to assess the implementation of the cooperation programmes between Spain and Mozambique, particularly concerning training. He explained that his country's commitment to continue support for the Mozambican police derives from the conclusion that this cooperation has proved fruitful over the last two years. Specifying these "good results", Laguna said that he was greatly impressed with improvements in the way policemen now deal with the public, their manners, and organisation in police stations.

There are currently 26 Spanish police officers in Mozambique, working at ACIPOL, at the central police command, and at some police stations in Maputo city, and in Tete, Zambezia, Sofala and Cabo Delgado provinces. The idea is to extend this assistance to other provinces.

ACIPOL was created in May 1999 as a higher police training institution, and for the upgrading of police officers. There are currently 167 students enrolled in a four year course in Police Sciences and Technology.

Police officers sacked for negligence

The General Command of the Mozambican police force has sacked the director of order and public safety in the Maputo Police Command, deputy-superintendent Neto Mussasse, according to a report in "Noticias" on 24 June. Mussasse is accused of negligence, and an inquiry into his behaviour is now underway.

The Interior Ministry has also sacked two inspectors of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Armando Tovela and Ana Pobre Rafael, for "serious negligence". Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against them.

All three will be moved to other areas of police work, while the disciplinary proceedings continue.

The Maputo city director of PIC, Antonio Frangulis, has also been replaced, but no reason has been given for this change. Frangulis is to be given a post in the Interior Ministry.

The new head of PIC for Maputo is Alexandre Covela, who has worked for the past 20 years in the PIC laboratory.

Frelimo secretariat sworn in

The newly elected general secretary of Frelimo, Armando Guebuza, on 27 June was sworn into office at a ceremony in the Frelimo headquarters, chaired by President Joaquim Chissano.

Seven other members of the new Central Committee secretariat took the oath of office, pledging "to serve faithfully the Frelimo Party and the Mozambican motherland, use all my energies in the cause of the party, defend national unity, and carry out the tasks entrusted to me by the Central Committee".

President Chissano thanked Guebuza "for making himself available for this post, with all the responsibilities that this involves".

The major responsibility is running for the Presidency of the Republic in 2004: in a break with the past, the Central Committee decided earlier this month that the General Secretary will also be the Frelimo presidential candidate.

In the build-up to the 2003 local elections and the 2004 general elections, "we have the task to revitalise still further our party", said President Chissano. "Fortunately, the preparations for the Eighth Congress (held from 13-17 June) showed that we are able to do so successfully".

"We need the party to be well organised not only to win elections, but so that each party member is part of the development process, part of ensuring the well-being of our people", Chissano continued. "For this to happen, the party must be present in the entire social, cultural and economic life of our citizens".

President Chissano stressed the role of the secretariat as the day-to- day executive of Frelimo. All the tasks designed by the Central Committee or by its Political Commission had to be carried out by the secretariat.

The new secretariat is larger than the outgoing one, with two new positions - secretary for fund-raising, and secretary for parliamentary and local authority matters.

The new secretary for party organisation is Eliseu Machava, former Frelimo first secretary in Gaza province. Psychologist Conceita Sortane becomes the secretary for training and cadres, while a young parliamentary deputy, Edson Macuacua takes on the post of secretary for mobilisation and propaganda.

The financial area is divided in two. Aiuba Cuereneia, who is also Deputy Minister for State Administration, becomes secretary for administration and finance, while Laurinda Kanji, former head of party finance, occupies the new post of secretary for fund raising. Amelia Sumbana retains the post of secretary for foreign relations, which she held in the previous secretariat.

Director of prison sacked

The director of Maputo's top security prison, Mamad Andy, has been sacked, following the escape earlier this month of a Tanzanian citizen, Jerry Dean, who was serving a 20 year sentence for drug offences.

According to "Mediafax" on 27 June, Armando Issufo, who had formerly run the Maputo Civil Prison, takes over the management of the top security jail.

Mamad Andy is to be moved to another position, "perhaps in the provinces", according to an anonymous Interior Ministry sources cited by the paper.

Police sources contacted by "Mediafax" also criticised Andy for allowing the prison to become overcrowded and for his neglect of the health of the prisoners and other humanitarian issues.

Partial agreement on election commission

The ad-hoc commission of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, that is revising the country's electoral legislation has, after a year of deadlock, reached consensus on a few key issues, notably on the composition of the National Elections Commission (CNE).

The commission rapporteur, Francisco Machambisse (a deputy from the main opposition party, Renamo), told AIM on 21 June that the commission has decided that the CNE should consist of 19 members, including a chairperson and two deputy chairs. (Renamo had originally wanted a much larger CNE, and Frelimo a smaller one.)

Meeting on 20 June, the commission has also decided that the chairperson should come, neither from the ruling Frelimo Party, nor from Renamo and its allies in the Electoral Union coalition. Instead he or she should be chosen by "civil society" - and Machambisse made clear that this concept includes extra- parliamentary political parties.

However, the exact way in which the hundreds of organisations that form Mozambican civil society will choose the chairperson has yet to be decided.

The rest of the members of the CNE will be designated by the parliamentary forces in proportion to the number of seats they hold in the Assembly. Frelimo has an absolute majority, with 133 seats to the Renamo-Electoral Union's 117. To reflect this majority in the 18 seats remaining on the CNE, ten members should be appointed by Frelimo and eight by Renamo.

This is a significant concession by Renamo which had earlier demanded parity between itself and Frelimo.

One point over which there is still disagreement is whether the government should be allowed to appoint a member of the CNE. Frelimo is in favour of this, and Renamo opposed.

Frelimo has softened its original position, and now proposes that the government should appoint a non-voting member of the CNE. Despite this, Renamo insists that there is no place for anyone appointed by the government on the CNE.

No consensus has yet been reached on the electoral wing of the civil service, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE). Under the current arrangements, STAE is subordinate to the CNE only during electoral periods. For the rest of the time, it is subordinate to the Ministry of State Administration.

Frelimo wants to maintain this, but Renamo is insisting on a politicisation of STAE, through what it calls "integration of the opposition". In other words, STAE staff would become political appointees rather than civil servants.

"The commission is satisfied with these results", claimed Machambisse. "It's true that these are difficult discussions, because its an electoral law which affects the entire country, affects governance, affects power".

At the last parliamentary sitting, held between March and May, the ad-hoc commission promised to complete an agreed draft of the electoral laws by 15 August. Machambisse was optimistic that this deadline can be met. But so far the commission has not completed its work on the law on the CNE. It must also redraft the law on voter registration, and the law governing municipal elections. Work on revising the law on parliamentary and presidential elections has been postponed into next year.

Sugar production running smoothly

The four sugar mills currently operating in Mozambique have produced about 35,000 tonnes of sugar since the crushing of sugar cane started a month ago, according to the director of the country's National Sugar Institute, Arnaldo Ribeiro.

Ribeiro said that production is running smoothly in all four factories - at the Marromeu and Mafambisse mills, both in the central province of Sofala, as well as in Maragra and Xinavane, in Maputo province.

This confirms expectations that this year production will be between 214,000 and 219,000 tonnes. In 2001, when rehabilitation of the mills was not so advanced, output was only 67,000 tonnes.

"We've established the conditions for Mozambique to be self-sufficient as from this year, and become a net exporter of sugar", said Ribeiro.

This is a major turn-around in the fortunes of the sugar industry, most of which had been paralysed for years following acts of sabotage perpetrated by Renamo during the war of destabilisation.

The high point of rehabilitation was the start of production at the rebuilt Marromeu mill, on the south bank of the Zambezi, which took the country's installed production capacity to 320,000 tonnes per year. A Mauritian consortium has invested around $100 million in Marromeu.

Out of the expected total production for this year, the country will export 25,000 tonnes to the United States and the European Union as part of its allocated quota to those markets. Unspecified quantities of sugar will be sold on the free international market, In all, it is hoped that the sector will contribute $10 million to the country's trade balance.

But most of the production will have to be sold domestically. Here, the major problem is continued massive contraband of sugar, particularly from neighbouring Zimbabwe. "Illegal imports and contraband continue to be a major problem facing the sector", said Ribeiro.

Some $300 million have been invested in the rehabilitation process, and President Joaquim Chissano has put the total number of people employed in the sector at 27,000.

Germany cancels debt

The Mozambican and German governments signed an agreement in Maputo on 28 June writing off 100 percent of Mozambique's debt to Germany, estimated at $195 million.

Signing the agreement were Foreign Minister, Leonardo Simao, and the German ambassador, Rolf-Rudiger Zirpel.

The cancellation falls with the Cologne initiative on debt cancellation and the enhanced version of the HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) initiative. The money that would have gone on servicing the debt is to be channelled towards poverty reduction programmes. The amount written off includes loans granted by the former German Democratic Republic.

Mediacoop takes legal advice

The independent media company Mediacoop is taking legal advice over defamatory statements made by a minor Mozambican political party, and reproduced in the weekly paper "Demos".

The chairman of the Mediacoop board of directors, Fernando Lima, told AIM on 3 July that the company had referred to its lawyers a statement issued by Yaqub Sibindy, the leader of PIMO (Independent Party of Mozambique) in mid-June.

Immediately after the Mediacoop board sacked Salomao Moyana, editor of the company's weekly paper "Savana", Sibindy attacked Lima as "an agent of the forces of evil infiltrated into Mediacoop".

Sibindy described Lima as the "spearhead" of "a group of people nostalgic for colonialism, who hope to recolonise Mozambique", and blamed the dismissal of Moyana on a group "trained in Portugal", whose purpose is "to murder freedom of expression in Mozambique".

"Demos" published the entire PIMO statement, but did not attribute it to Sibindy. Instead it appeared as an article signed by the hitherto unknown Elvis Mwanawanga.

But the title added a further twist by comparing Lima to the notorious French mercenary Bob Denard, and claiming that he was "terrorising" Savana. On the face of it, these statements seem highly libellous, and so Mediacoop has called in its lawyers. The result of this could be an expensive piece of litigation.

Lima declined to comment on an incident at an informal Mediacoop meeting on Monday night at which he lost his temper and kicked Moyana. Lima apologised to Moyana immediately after the incident, and the Mediacoop board now regards the matter as closed.

LDH general meeting called

Alice Mabota, the chairperson of the Human Rights League (LDH), has bowed to pressure and called a general meeting of the organisation, at which her opponents are expected to try to unseat her.

The meeting is scheduled for 20 July, and will discuss the functioning of the League, and its relationship with its members. It will discuss documents that should have been approved long ago, including the financial and activity reports for 2000 and 2001.

Lately members of the LDH calling themselves the "Pressure Group" have been levelling accusations of misuse of funds, and arrogance against Mabota. Furthermore, the group, headed by the LDH deputy chairperson, Jose Maria Cardoso, says that Mabota has not called a general meeting for years.

The group has declared that the general meeting is an opportunity "to end the arrogance, the lies and the misdeeds in the midst of our association". It also accuses Mabota of manipulating domestic and international opinion on human rights in Mozambique.

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