For the first time ever, Eduardo Mulembue, the chairperson of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 12 December called on the police to keep order in the Assembly chamber, when deputies from Renamo disrupted proceedings for the third day in succession.
The issue at stake is the right of deputies to disagree with their political party. Five deputies have resigned, or been expelled from Renamo, and Renamo wants them excluded from parliament and replaced by loyal Renamo supporters.
The majority Frelimo Party regards this as a grossly undemocratic and illegal attitude, and has taken a stand in defence of the rights of the Renamo dissidents.
Renamo presented a resolution to expel the five from the Assembly on 10 December, but then tried to prevent any vote being taken. They banged on the tables, blew on whistles and hooters, and kept up such a racket that Mulembue gave up and abandoned the day's session.
The following day, despite the continuing disruption, Mulembue put the Renamo resolution to the vote and it was defeated by 134 votes to none, with Renamo deputies refusing to take any part in the vote.
On 12 December, even before the session began, the Renamo deputies removed the chairs for the dissident deputies, including that for Raul Domingos, who is a member of the Assembly's governing board, its standing commission. Domingos was once the number two in Renamo. He headed the Renamo team that negotiated the 1992 peace accord with the government and was the leader of the Renamo parliamentary group from 1994 to 1999.
The removed chairs were placed in front of the Frelimo parliamentary group. "Go to the other side, go to the other side!, We want our places, we want our places!", chanted the Renamo rioters. They kept up their chanting for about two hours without interference. During this time they had occupied the speaker's rostrum and the area reserved for the Standing Commission.
Eventually, Mulembue (who was not in the chamber) lost patience and called in the police. A police unit attempted to clear the seats of the Standing Commission, so that Mulembue and his colleagues would be able to take their places. This seemed to enflame the Renamo deputies even further, as they converged en masse on the stage, waving furiously and chanting "Away with the police! Away with the police!". That called for a strengthening of the police presence, and in marched members of the riot police.
Custodio Zandamela, the director for Order and Public Security in the Ministry of the Interior, urged the demonstrators to return to their places "or we will have to use other means".
The police started pushing the rioters away from the rostrum. The noisiest of the rioters, deputy Jeremias Pondeca, had to be hauled from the stage. But he kept coming back, again and again, because the police merely took him off the stage, not out of the room. After this, the demonstrators started chanting "Assassins! Go away!".
Eventually, the police cleared enough room for Mulembue and other members of the Standing Commission to take their seats. To his credit, Mulembue decided to continue with the parliamentary business, despite the continuing din from the Renamo members.
To make matters worse, only one microphone, that of Mulembue himself, was working properly. Renamo appeared to have sabotaged the Assembly sound system.
Nonetheless, the Frelimo majority succeeded in passing resolutions on the Assembly's own programme and budget for 2003, by 127 votes to zero. Renamo again took no part in the vote, preferring to entertain themselves with a deafening cacophony which continued to the end of the session.
Mozambican exports fell in value by almost two per cent in the third quarter of this year when compared with the third quarter of 2001, due overwhelmingly to declines in the world market prices for the goods concerned, according to the latest report from the Bank of Mozambique.
Total exports dropped from $508.2 million in July- September 2001 to $498.5 million in the same period this year.
Far and away the most important export continues to be the aluminium ingots produced at the MOZAL smelter on the outskirts of Maputo. But the aluminium price has fallen, so MOZAL earned the country $271.3 million in foreign exchange in the third quarter of this year, compared with $290.5 million in 2001.
Traditional exports also fared badly. Processed cashew kernels earned $1 million compared with $1.5 million in the third quarter of 2001. The fall for raw cashew nuts was from $4.8 to $3.7 million. Prawns, once Mozambique's most important export, only earned $52.4 million in the third quarter compared with $70.5 million in the same period in 2001.
The major increase was in the export of electricity (from the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi) which rose from $42 million in 2001 to $82.4 million in July-September this year, a rise of 96.2 per cent. Other significant increases were in the export of timber (from $7.7 to $15.7 million) and cotton (from $10 to $11.5 million). No sugar at all was exported in the third quarter of 2001, but this year the figure was $5.5 million.
Total imports in the quarter amounted to $912 million compared to $799.7 million in 2001. However if imports for MOZAL, which is currently being expanded are ignored, then there has been a fall in spending on imports from $622.3 to $586.2 million.
The Bank noted a significant increase in the import of consumer goods (from $177.6 to $211 million), which it blamed on the near collapse of several domestic industries - notably the rubber and textile industries - and the fact that others are producing below capacity.
The report put inflation for the January-October period at 4.1 per cent. Annual inflation (1 November 2001 to 31 October 2002) was 10.5 per cent - down from the 14.3 per cent figure for annual inflation at the end of September.
A ballistics expert testified on 12 December that, in his opinion, the man who fired the shots that killed Carlos Cardoso must have been experienced in handling firearms.
The confessed assassin, Carlitos Rashid, told the court in November that he had never fired a gun before he picked up the AK-47 used to murder Cardoso. He said he had fired it once at a deserted race track to check it was working, and then, about half an hour later, used it for the assassination.
Superintendent T.J. Brits, a chief forensic analyst in the ballistics unit of the South African police, gave it as his expert opinion that "the person who used this gun must have known it and fired it before". He noted that three of the bullet holes in Cardoso's car, a Toyota Cressida, were very close together. "The AK-47 is a powerful rifle", he said. "It's not easy, on the first time of using it, to fire three shots like that".
The report by Brits was critical of the forensic work of the Mozambican police and of the autopsy. He found that the police photographs of Cardoso's body were of such poor quality that "it was impossible to give an opinion of the wounds of the victim".
As for the autopsy, it had "various conflicting findings". It claimed, for example, that the shots were fired from left to right, but also stated that the bullet entry wounds were on the right frontal side of Cardoso's body, and the exit wounds on the left side.
From studying the damage to the car, Brits deduced that only five shots were fired. The autopsy claim that eight bullets struck Cardoso resulted from a confusion between the bullets and the "secondary projectiles" (i.e. bits of metal or glass) generated when the bullets smashed through the car on their way to their victim.
The judge presiding at the murder trial, Augusto Paulino, on 11 December ordered the immediate arrest of two witnesses for perjury.
Giving testimony to the Maputo City Court, both Luis Matusse and Dorival Quintano contradicted what they had said during earlier stages of the investigation. Since they were under an obligation to tell the truth on both occasions, they had committed perjury either then or now.
Ayob Abdul Satar, and his brother Momade Assife Abdul Satar, two of those accused of murdering Carlos Cardoso, on 9 December vehemently denied ever threatening Candida Cossa, a wealthy businesswoman and acquaintance of Nyimpine Chissano, oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano.
Cossa had testified at the Maputo City Court to a meeting in a room in the Rovuma Hotel in May 2000 with the Satar brothers, at which Momade Satar ("Nini") had threatened that one of her children would be abducted, unless she changed a statement she had made to the police concerning a cheque signed by Satar that had bounced.
Asked by presiding judge Augusto Paulino about this meeting, both brothers denied that it had ever happened.
"This is a total lie", said Ayob. "The only part of the Rovuma Hotel I have ever visited is the commercial centre on the ground floor".
He claimed that Cossa had received a summons to the Criminal Investigation Police "because Momade was taking criminal action against those who stole the cheque". (According to Cossa this cheque, for 1.3 billion meticais - over $50,000 - bounced, according to Satar, it was stolen by Abdul Magid Hussein, a Maputo trader against whom he has been waging a vendetta.) Ayob Satar added that Cossa had asked his brother to arrange a lawyer for her, because "she was very frightened by the police summons, since she had made a false declaration at the request of the Magid family".
Momade Satar dismissed the meeting in the Rovuma as "pure invention by Candida". He also denied her claim that the first time they had met was when he had threatened her over a debt of $130,000 in July 1999. He said that their first contact was "in late 1998 or early 1999 when she requested credit of 200 million or 300 million meticais, for a deal over imported cigarettes".
He said they discussed a deal "whereby I was to be the intermediary for 5,000 boxes of cigarettes". But it fell through because Satar rejected the payment by instalment scheme proposed by Cossa.
When Paulino turned to Cossa, she reaffirmed her original story, declaring that her children had come under threat at a meeting in the Rovuma. She denied that she had been summoned by the police, and said she had no need to go to the Satars to hire a lawyer, since she had lawyers of her own.
Maputo loan shark Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini") on 6 December confronted Nyimpine Chissano, the oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano, across the floor of the Maputo City Court, with completely different versions of their relations.
Cheques signed by Nyimpine Chissano are now at the heart of the trial of Satar, and five others, charged with the November 2000 murder of Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso.
Satar claims he lent Chissano 1.2 billion meticais (about $50,000) in late 2000, and the cheques were issued as guarantees. He says he paid the money, at Chissano's request, to Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), with no questions asked.
Anibalzinho, currently a fugitive, is the man accused of organising the death squad that murdered Cardoso. Satar claims he only realised the 1.2 billion meticais was to pay for a contract killing when he met Anibalzinho in prison in 2001.
At the request of Satar's defence lawyer, Eduardo Jorge, Judge Augusto Paulino confronted Satar and Chissano. Both stuck to their stories.
Satar said he had met "on several occasions" with Chissano - "two or three times" at the Unicambios foreign exchange bureau (owned by his brother, and fellow accused, Ayob Abdul Satar), "two or three times" at Chissano's company Expresso tours, and twice at the Polana Hotel.
In addition, the two had met several times at the home of Candida Cossa, a former customs official turned entrepreneur and friend of Chissano. Satar said that Cossa accompanied Chissano on two of his visits to Unicambios.
Chissano retorted "I met with this individual once at Unicambios. None of these other meetings took place" As for business deals between them, Satar claimed he had arranged money transfers for Chissano. He said that in early 2000, at Chissano's request, he sent money to a London account of Teeran Appasamy, a Mauritian businessman, whom Chissano has described as a friend and a business colleague.
Satar also described, but with no details, another, obscure, deal in which a Satar credit was sold on by Chissano to the cooperative bank Credicoop.
Later in 2000 came the 1.2 billion meticais loan, and the cheque guarantees, signed by Chissano, on an Expresso Tours account held in Credicoop.
Again Chissano Jr flatly denied that any of this had ever taken place. "I never had any business dealings with Nini", he said.
As for the cheques - Satar insisted he had collected them in person from Chissano at Expresso tours, and had signed a receipt for them, while Chissano declared "I never gave Nini any cheques anywhere".
At this point the two began insulting each other. Chissano called Satar a liar, while Satar said "he's deceiving the court".
Judge Paulino intervened: "The court will decide who is deceiving or not deceiving", he said. "Your opinion is irrelevant. The court will decide whether it's a lie or the truth".
The court also asked confessed assassin Carlitos Rashid to confirm whether the man in the witness stand was indeed the man he had seen with Anibalzinho on three occasions, before and after the murder, and whom Anibalzinho had told him was Nyimpine Chissano.
Rashid confirmed the identification. "Anibalzinho told me ''that's the boss''", he said. "I always had to stay hidden in the car. But I saw him from there" In a torrent of words, before the judge could stop him, Rashid added that he believed that Nyimpine Chissano had put a price on his head and that of a second member of the hit squad, Manuel Fernandes ("Escurinho"). "It's true we were to be eliminated", he exclaimed. "Anibalzinho had 70,000 Rands for that".
Chissano simply replied "I don't know this wretched individual".
Throughout the morning session, Chissano insisted that Expresso Tours had issued the postdated cheques to cover a loan from Candida Cossa, not from Satar. But when asked for details about his company's financial arrangements, he either could not remember dates and names, or told the court that it was not really in his hands since "I don't handle the day to day management of Expresso Tours".
It was the general manager, Antonio Malo, and his other staff who did the routine management. He and the two other owners of the company (his brother N'naite Chissano, and close friend Apolinario Pateguana) "were informed of the reasons why the company needed this or that. We needed a loan for the temporary import of vehicles, and on that basis I signed the cheques".
He claimed that, after Cossa told him the cheques were at Unicambios, his brother and Pateguana went round to claim them - but without success.
In April 2001, lawyer Domingos Arouca wrote to Expresso Tours pointing out that the money represented by the cheques should have been delivered months previously (the seven cheques bear dates of between October 2000 and January 2001).
At the trial Arouca represents Ayob Satar, but in April 2001, he had been hired by his brother Nini. Arouca told AIM he had no doubt that the money was owed to Satar, not to Candida Cossa.
Arouca's letter was accompanied by photocopies of six of the cheques, totalling 1.125 billion meticais. He demanded that the money be paid in his office within five days.
Expresso Tours did not reply, and Arouca prepared to take the matter to court. But he said that Satar (who was already in prison) told him not to pursue the matter further.
The contract leasing the management of the Maputo-South Africa railway line to a consortium headed by the South African rail company Spoornet was finally signed in Maputo on 9 December, many months later than expected.
The agreement of principles on the lease was signed on 16 January by Mozambican Transport Minister Tomas Salomao and the South African Minister for Public Corporations, Jeff Radebe.
Optimists expected the lease itself to be signed by April. But the final negotiations proved long drawn out, and not until Monday could Salomao and Radebe meet in Maputo again for the definitive signing. The lease will take effect as from 1 April 2003.
The lease covers the 88 kilometre railway from the port of Maputo to the border town of Ressano Garcia. The deal sets up a new company, the Ressano Garcia Railway, which will operate the line for 15 years, and which is committed to substantial new investment in rail infrastructure and equipment to increase the volume of traffic.
The lease does not mean that the railway has been privatised. The physical assets remain the property of Mozambique's publicly-owned port and rail company, CFM. 49 per cent of the shares in the Ressano Garcia Railway are held by CFM, while the Spoornet-led consortium holds the other 51 per cent.
The Sena company, owners of Mozambique's largest sugar mill at Marromeu, on the south bank of the Zambezi, is now relaunching livestock production at Luabo, on the opposite bank of the river.
A source in the Sena company, whose majority shareholders are a Mauritian consortium, told AIM that the company currently has a herd of 1,800 cattle at Luabo. "Our goal, over the next few years, is to have 8,000 head of cattle at Luabo, and make use of the enormous agricultural and livestock potential of the area", he said.
Luabo also has a sugar mill, which, like the Marromeu mill, was destroyed by apartheid-backed rebels in 1986. But unlike the Marromeu mill, it has not been rebuilt, and there are no plans to restore sugar production at Luabo in the near future.
The company has already invested $120 million in rehabilitating the Marromeu mill and plantation. Marromeu produced 40,000 tonnes of sugar in 2001, 80,000 tonnes this year, and production is expected to rise to 100,000 tonnes in 2003.
"The level of production at Marromeu can easily be increased to 150,000 tonnes", said the company source, "and there remains the possibility of rehabilitating the Luabo mill if the volumes and prices on the domestic and preferential export markets justify such an increase in production".
Total Mozambican sugar production this year is expected to reach 240,000 tonnes. Only 90,000 tonnes will be exported, and the rest (150,000 tones) must be consumed on the domestic market.
30,000 tonnes will be exported to those markets where Mozambique enjoys preferential access and a fixed quota - other SADC (Southern African Development Community) members, the United States, and the European Union. Another 60,000 tonnes will be placed on the free international market (where prices are much lower).
According to the National Sugar Institute, in 2001 Mozambique only exported 21,000 tonnes of sugar - 13,000 tonnes to the United States, and 8,000 tonnes to the European Union.
The Mozambican Attorney General's office resumed on 5 December investigations into the case involving the former director of planning and finance in the central province of Sofala, Jose Beirao, who is suspected of misappropriating 22 billion meticais ($917,000) from the state coffers.
According to the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique", a team headed by assistant attorney general Isabel Rupia has returned to Beira to resume the investigations.
After his arrest, on Rupia's orders, Beirao was released by decision of a Beira judge, Almerino Chiziane, allegedly for lack of evidence as to his involvement in the theft.
Reacting to Beirao's release, Rupia said Chiziane had taken the wrong decision, because the attorney's office had found enough evidence to keep the suspect under detention.
In connection with this case, former assistant provincial governor Antonio Augusto Jaime, and the owner of the building company Empercil, Helder Nobre, have also been notified to make statements to the investigators.
Empercil was found to have received an over-payment of $900,000 for building work done for the state in Maringue district. Provincial governor Felicio Zacarias ordered that the money be returned to the state, and that Empercil correct the poor work it had done.
Former Sofala governor Felisberto Tomas and former provincial director of Public Works Joao Godinho may also be notified in connection with the same case.
The Assembly of the Republic on 4 December passed unanimously the second and final reading of a bill to establish the Constitutional Council.
The Constitutional Council is a body which, although enshrined in the 1990 Constitution, has never been set up. Over the past 12 years its powers have been exercised, on an interim basis, by the Supreme Court.
The tasks of the Constitutional Council are to strike down any laws or government statutory acts that it considers unconstitutional, to settle any conflicts of competence between sovereign state bodies, and to pronounce upon the legality of referenda. (The latter is purely theoretical - no referendum has ever been held in Mozambique.) The Constitutional Council is also the highest body in supervising elections. It must verify whether candidates for the post of President of the Republic meet the legal requirements, take the final decision on any electoral complaints, and validate and declare the final results of elections.
All the above functions are given to the Council by the constitution. The bill adds another one - the Constitutional Council will also verify the legality of the constitution of political parties and coalitions, and of their names, acronyms and symbols.
At the bill's first reading, the only dispute between the majority Frelimo Party and the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition was over the composition of the Council. Both sides agreed that it should consist of seven judges.
Frelimo wanted the Chairperson of the Council to be appointed by the President of the Republic. Three other members should be appointed by the Supreme Council of the Judicial Magistrature (CSMJ), the disciplinary body for the legal profession, while the final three would be elected by the Assembly, in proportion to the number of parliamentary seats held by each party (which would mean two members chosen by the Frelimo parliamentary group and one by Renamo).
Renamo wanted all seven members of the Constitutional Council elected by a two-thirds majority in the Assembly (but maintaining the principle of proportional representation, so that in effect four would be chosen by Frelimo, and three by Renamo). The President would then choose one of them as the chairperson, and this choice would have to be ratified by the Assembly.
When the bill went back to the Assembly's Legal Affairs Commission for redrafting, a concession was made to Renamo, and all mention of the CSMJ was dropped. In the final version the chairperson is appointed by the President, and ratified by the Assembly. Five judges are chosen by the Assembly on a proportional basis, and those five then co- opt the seventh member of the Council.
But initially, on the grounds that at the moment there is not much work for the Council to do, it will start out with just five judges.
The European Union has made available about 130 billion meticais ($5.65 million) to finance the second phase of the reconstruction of the city of Xai-Xai, capital of the southern Mozambican province of Gaza.
Xai-Xai was devastated by massive flooding on the Limpopo river in February 2000. The defensive dikes were overwhelmed, and the entire lower part of the city was flooded.
The reconstruction includes repairing the drainage system, tarring the roads, and installing a new water supply system. A consortium formed between the Italian company CMC di Ravenna, and the Mozambican building company CETA has won the contract, and is to carry out the work in ten months.
The work in Xai-Xai is part of a larger Gaza post-flood reconstruction programme financed by the EU to the tune of about $20 million.
The money was pledged by the EU at the donor conference in Rome in May 2000, and the objective of the programme, according to the statement, "is to help the speedy re-establishment of economic and social conditions in the Limpopo basin".
The director of the Sena Line Reconstruction Projects Office, Adelino Mesquita, has told AIM that starting to rebuild this key railway may depend on further demining.
The Sena railway runs for some 600 kilometres from the port of Beira to the Moatize coal mines in the western province of Tete, with a spur running into Malawi. It was comprehensively sabotaged by the apartheid-backed rebels in the early 1980s, and so has carried no trains for almost two decades.
"Removing land mines remains an acute problem", said Mesquita, admitting that the demining recently undertaken by RONCO, a specialised American company, does not provide enough security.
Under its agreement with the Mozambican authorities, RONCO only cleared mines from a stretch of land five metres on either side of the railway. But the suggestion now is that the demining should be extended for a further ten metres on both sides of the tracks.
The first stretch of line to be rebuilt is the 90 kilometres from Dondo (30 kilometres west of Beira) to Muanza, and will cost $16 million. This has an immediate economic goal - to resume the rail transport of limestone from the Muanza quarry to the cement factory in Dondo.
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