After initially denying all involvement in the assassination of banker Antonio Siba-Siba Macuacua, the main suspect, former policeman Carlitos Arrumacao, has admitted that he participated in the killing, reported "Zambeze" on 15 May.
Siba-Siba was appointed interim chairman of the debt- burdened Austral Bank in April 2001, and embarked on a vigorous debt recovery programme. But assailants murdered him in his office on the top floor of the bank's headquarters on 11 August 2001, and threw his body down the stairwell.
Arrumacao is a convicted killer. In 1997, a Maputo court found him guilty of the murder of artist Eugenio de Lemos, and sentenced him to 24 years imprisonment. But he escaped from prison on 13 July 2001. There are strong suspicions that this was an illicit release arranged precisely so that he could be used in the murder of Siba-Siba. He appears to have believed that he was under protection: for, instead of fleeing the country, he set up his own minibus taxi business in the southern province of Inhambane, ferrying passengers between the towns of Maxixe and Vilanculo. The police picked him up last month, and have been interrogating him in the Maputo top security prison.
According to "Zambeze"'s anonymous sources, Arrumacao started out, in April, denying everything, but reversed his story in early May. Now he admits to "indirect" involvement in the crime. He said that his task was that of a lookout, watching for any police movements in the vicinity of the Austral headquarters. Meanwhile, men whom he described as "two whites" went to the top floor and carried out the murder.
Meanwhile, the police have re-arrested another confessed killer, Rohit Kumar. "Zambeze" says he was picked up three weeks ago, but only now has the arrest been made public. Kumar was first arrested in 1997 for the murder of the owner of "Electro-Mundo", a central Maputo shop that sells electrical appliances. He confessed to the crime, and told the police he murdered the businessman because he would not pay a debt to Kumar.
Despite the confession, Kumar was given his provisional freedom. Later that year, the Maputo City Court charged him with murder, and an attempt was made to re-arrest him. But the arrest warrant was not served, because the police did not find him at home when they went looking for him.
Earlier, Kumar had been suspected of murdering another businessman of Asian origin, Issufo Aly, but after investigation he was released, on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to bring the case to trial.
In 1995 he was accused of trying to bribe the then director of the Maputo branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Domingos Maita, over the case of 40 tonnes of hashish that the police had seized. He offered Maita $30,000, which the PIC director refused. It was suspected that Kumar was among the owners of the hashish, but this was never proved.
Kumar surfaced in 2001 as a prosecution witness in the case of the murder of the country's foremost investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso. During the preliminary investigations, Kumar told the police that Maputo loan shark Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini") had attempted to hire him to "find someone to kill Carlos Cardoso". The price Satar put on Cardoso's head was $50,000.
Kumar turned the request down. He said he would only arrange the murder for $400,000. So Satar dropped the subject. When Kumar learned that Cardoso had been killed, he phoned Satar and asked him if he had anything to do with the assassination. He told the police that Satar did not reply.
But the police made no attempt to re-arrest Kumar for the Electro-Mundo killing, and when it came to the trial of Satar and five others charged with murdering Cardoso, Kumar could not be found to testify in the witness stand.
The prosecution believed he had gone to India. The defence lawyers insisted that he was still in Mozambique - and, judging by the April arrest, they were right.
Ironically, Kumar was not arrested for murder. He was picked up in the Maputo Civil Identification Directorate (DIC), where he was attempting fraudulently to arrange identity documents for two Pakistani citizens whom he claimed were his brothers.
The DIC official's suspicions were aroused when it turned out that these Pakistanis did not speak the country's official language, Portuguese, or any Mozambican vernacular language, or even any English or French. But the official played along with Kumar, pretending to accept a bribe of two million meticais (about $85) - while at the same time contacting the police and laying a trap.
After Kumar's arrest, he hired a lawyer - who is none other than Orlando da Graca, a member of the National Council of Renamo, and the lawyer for businessman Nyimpine Chissano, oldest son of President Joaquim Chissano. Graca is defending Chissano Jr against accusations that he was one of those who ordered the murder of Cardoso.
Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE) announced on 22 May that it is revising the timetable for the municipal elections, but would do all in its power to avoid any delay in holding the vote.
CNE spokesperson, Filipe Manjate, said that the start of updating the electoral registers (which have not been changed since 1999) would have to be delayed, but that everything would be done to ensure that the vote itself, in the 33 towns and cities that have municipal status, would take place as planned, on 28 October.
Originally voter registration was supposed to run from 4 June for a month. Manjate did not advance any new dates. He said the reason for changing the dates was the shortage of time to train the brigades who will update the registers, and put them in place throughout the country.
Asked about the money available for the local elections, Manjate said that so far the government had not told the CNE how much funding would be available. However, the government had advanced some funds, and Manjate claimed confidently "money won't be a problem".
The CNE would start distributing electoral material shortly, he said. Training the registration brigades depends on the availability of that material.
There will be 2,494 registration brigades, each consisting of four people - so 9,976 people must be trained. They will update the electoral registers throughout the country, and not just in the 33 municipalities.
The 330 provincial trainers of registration brigades have already been trained. and so have 93 trainers of voter education agents. As for transport, Manjate said it was the responsibility of provincial government to provide the Provincial Elections Commissions with vehicles and other logistical support.
Manjate also announced that, as from 2 June, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the civil service, which operates as the executive wing of the CNE, will have two deputy directors, one appointed by the ruling Frelimo Party and one by the parliamentary opposition, which is dominated by Renamo.
One of the persistent Renamo demands, reluctantly conceded by Frelimo has been for the politicisation of STAE, with political nominees placed in STAE from top to bottom. Under the electoral law, the two deputy directors should only take office when the electoral period starts - which is 4 August. But Renamo demanded they be appointed earlier and, as has happened so often in the past, after initial resistance, the Frelimo-appointed majority on the CNE gave way.
The Zimbabwean company Tangama Tea is considering the possibility of building a tea processing factory in Mossurize district, in the central province of Manica,
Two years ago Tangama requested 1,000 hectares of land in Mossurize for tea cultivation. The government wants any peasant farmers interested in this crop to grow tea on an adjacent 1,000 hectares. The idea is that these peasants would benefit from technical assistance provided by the Zimbabwean company. Tangama has already been supporting some of the 400 existing tea growers in Mossurize, particularly by supplying them with agricultural inputs.
The Tangama source said that building a tea processing plant in Mossurize would help combat the illegal export of unprocessed Mossurize tea into Zimbabwe. It is thought that 100 tonnes of tea a year is currently being illegally exported.
Details of the project will be drawn up by specialised teams, as soon as Tangama has reached a definitive agreement with the Mozambican authorities.
Currently peasant farmers in Mossurize grow tea on an area of 23,000 hectares. The authorities expect this area to rise shortly to 33,500 hectares.
Mozambican farmers complain that they are grossly exploited by the Zimbabwean factories. They say that when they take their tea over the border they only receive 1,000 meticais per kilo, while the factories pay Zimbabwean producers three times this amount.
A new ferry may be acquired to improve the service across the Zambezi river between Caia and Chimuara before the end of this year, reports "Noticias" on 23 May.
The chairman of the board of directors of the National Roads Administration (ANE), Carlos Fragoso, said that negotiations are under way with the Swedish government to fund the purchase of a new and modern ferry.
The existing one has been suffering frequent break downs in recent months, causing serious losses to the Mozambican economy, since the Caia crossing is a key link in the country's main north-south highway. Using the ferry is easily the cheapest way of driving from southern to northern Mozambique. These breakdowns are blamed on recent improvements to the stretch of the main road between Inchope and Caia, which have led to increased traffic.
According to Fragoso, "this situation means that we must have a new and more efficient ferry. The one that we want to purchase will both cope with the increased traffic and be useful in transporting building materials for the bridge (over the Zambezi). We would like to have the ferry before the next festive season, because it is to be expected, like last year, that traffic will increase significantly. That means having a ferry as soon as possible. If all goes as planned, we will have it before the end of the year".
Aires Aly, governor of the southern province of Inhambane, has made clear that members of district governments who do not do their jobs will no longer be paid.
Aly has been visiting districts in the north of the province, and in Inhassoro district he was shocked to find that no attempt so far has been made to repair most of the schools damaged by cyclone Japhet, which hit the province in early March.
According to a report in "Noticias", 50 classrooms were destroyed by the cyclone, but so far only four have been rebuilt.
The district has the materials for rebuilding: the Provincial Education Directorate sent construction material to Inhassoro in good time, but Aly found that the district government had not even given instructions to rebuild the other 46 classrooms.
So he gave the members of the district government a simple ultimatum: no classrooms, no wages. If, within 15 days these classrooms have not been rebuilt, then no member of the Inhassoro district government will be paid his wages for May.
The World Bank is to provide Mozambique with about $80 million over the next four years to support the battle against HIV/AIDS, and to assist in the reform of the public sector.
Finance Minister Luisa Diogo and the World Bank country director, Darius Mans, signed two agreements on these issues in Maputo on 16 May. The larger sum ($55 million) is go towards preventing the spread of HIV, and treating people who are already HIV-positive. The remaining funds ($25.6 million) will support the public sector reform.
The support for the anti-AIDS programme takes the form of a grant, rather than a loan. Diogo said the government wanted to use this money to improve its preventive programmes, to treat the opportunist diseases that invade people whose immune systems have been ravaged by HIV, and to administer anti-retroviral drugs - particularly to HIV-positive pregnant women, to prevent them passing the virus on to their new-born babies, and to health workers who deal directly with HIV positive people, and may be at risk of infection.
As for the money going to the public sector reform, Diogo said this would be used to improve the quality of the services offered by the public sector.
Mans told the signing ceremony that "for the first time in its cooperation with Mozambique, the World Bank is providing investment funds to the Mozambican government in the shape of a grant, instead of a loan".
"Although the World Bank loans granted to governments via the IDA (International Development Agency) are on very easy terms - under which the governments who contract these loans reimburse only about two thirds of the real value of the loan - it is obvious that it is better for the funding to take the form of an outright grant, since then there will be no obligation to repay at all".
Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana has predicted that the Mozambican economy will gain about $12 million, mainly in tourism revenue, because of the heads of state summit of the African Union, due to be held in Maputo in July.
With over 4,000 people descending on Maputo for the summit, it is expected that every hotel and pension in and around Maputo will be full, and restaurants and car hire firms are also likely to do a roaring business for a few days.
Sumbana thought this created a major opportunity for Mozambican tourism. The government was working through its embassies and other representation abroad to let those who will be visiting Maputo know of the country's other tourist potential.
Sumbana hoped that some delegates could be tempted to relax in some of Mozambique's resorts, or that they might bring their families with them to visit areas beyond Maputo.
If the visitors could see Mozambique's beaches, many of them quite unspoiled, or its wildlife potential, perhaps they might be interested in encouraging investment in the Mozambican tourism industry. Sumbana believes that Mozambique should be able to increase dramatically its revenue from tourism: some countries further up the east Africa coast, notably Tanzania and Kenya, make 25 per cent of their foreign exchange earnings from tourism.
After lengthy negotiations, workers at the natural gas processing facility under construction at Temane, in the southern province of Inhambane, and the employers, have agreed to reinstate the "completion bonus", which will be counted as from the starting date of each worker's contract.
It was disagreements over the completion bonus, particularly in relation to 12 workers made redundant on 9 May, that led to violent scenes at the construction site. Police were called in, and opened fire: in the clashes one Mozambican died, and 21 other people (both Mozambicans and of other nationalities) were injured.
The workers concerned were employed by a consortium of the South African company Group Five, and the Italian CMC. This consortium is one of the main contractors building the treatment plant, which is owned by the South African petro-chemical company, SASOL.
Negotiations between unions representing the workforce and a team representing SASOL and all the contractors, agreed that SASOL and the government will formally demand a complete investigation into the causes of the violence.
Not only does the agreement fully reinstate the completion bonus, it also grants an extra "cost of living subsidy" of 200,000 meticais (about $8) per month for all workers, counted as from 1 January. This subsidy will be paid in a lump sum at the end of each worker's contract. These provisions also apply to the 12 workers made redundant.
The number of minibus taxis and similar passenger transport vehicles seized by the Mozambican police in a crack down against vehicles with forged or invalid documents rose to 898, reported "Noticias" on 17 May.
The operation started in the main cities (Maputo, Matola, Beira and Nampula), and has gradually been extended to the other provincial capitals and other urban centres. The third phase of the operation resulted in the seizure of 174 vehicles in Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Zambezia and Inhambane provinces.
Throughout the country, the police are holding 17 people on charges of driving illegally, or possessing forged documents. A spokesperson for the Transport Ministry's National Traffic Institute (INAV), Tomas Boa, said that such people would be hauled before the courts. Those who had a normal driving licence, but not the public service licence required for passenger transport, would simply be fined.
Among the problems this operation has uncovered are vehicles that have no licence to carry passengers, and no insurance policy, drivers with no driving licence or the wrong type of licence, and vehicles that are simply unroadworthy.
The spokesperson for the Maputo city police, Jacinto Cuna, said that, although the operation is now over, the police could continue to check whether minibus drivers have a public service licence.
The owners of seized vehicles, he said, could collect them as soon as they had regularised their documents. But they might have to find other drivers, if the men driving the vehicles when they were seized have been detained, or do not have the appropriate driving licence.
According to "Noticias" over 3,000 vehicles were checked during this operation - which means that almost a third of them were in an irregular situation.
The Irish government on 16 May promised to finance three key components of the projected new road from Mapinhane to Pafuri.
Mapinhane is in the southern province of Inhambane, on the country's main north-south road, while Pafuri is on the south bank of the Limpopo, at the border between Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa's Northern Province. The planned road would make it much easier for South African tourists to reach the beach resorts of Inhambane, since they could avoid Maputo.
The Inhambane authorities hope that the road will provide fresh stimulus for development in the arid northern districts of the province.
The Irish promise came during a conference of potential investors for the Mapinhane - Pafuri road held in the Inhambane town of Vilankulo. The charge d'affaires at the Irish Embassy, Tom Wright, promised his country's support for the environmental impact and economic viability studies for the road, and for drafting the building plan.
Inhambane provincial governor Aires Aly was optimistic that, if the initial tenders can be launched within the next three weeks, then work on the new road, which will run a distance of 542 kilometres, could be ready in two years.
Mozambique exported a total of 19,500 tonnes of assorted fisheries products in 2002, earning about $93.5 million. Although the volume of exports grew by about 40 per cent when compared to the 2001 figures, when the country exported 13,920 tonnes, the foreign exchange earned declined sharply. This was due to the drop in prices of fisheries produce, particularly of gamba and prawns, on the international market.
This data comes from a report presented on 14 May to a meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Fisheries Ministry at the Pequenos Libombos resort, some 40 kilometres west of Maputo.
Earnings have been dropping for the last two years. In the year 2000, Mozambique earned $138.3 million from its fisheries exports, $130 million in the next year, and $93.5 in 2002, compared to the sector's target of $105 million for that year.
According to the same document, the total fisheries catch was 30,045 tonnes in 2002, which was an increase of 5.7 per cent when compared with the 28,416 tonnes of the previous year. This was thanks mainly to increased catches of the freshwater fish kapenta, mainly from the Cahora Bassa lake, in the western province of Tete.
Fisheries Minister Cadmiel Muthemba said that the fact that Mozambique caught more, but earned less, is mainly due to a surplus of prawns on the world market, particularly from Argentina.
The report adds that the prawn catch in Mozambique in 2002 reached 9,300 tonnes, slightly more than the established quota of 9,285 tonnes. The quota was divided into 8,000 tonnes for industrial trawlers, and 1,285 tonnes for semi-industrial vessels.
Licenses were issued to 143 boats (59 industrial and 84 semi-industrial), and another 45 boats were licensed to fish for gamba (deep water prawns), with a quota of 4,540 tonnes.
However, during the campaign, several companies requested either reduction or cancellation of the allotted quota, bringing the total of boats fishing for gamba to only 25 by the end of the campaign. Thus catches of gamba dropped from 1,738 tonnes in 2001 to about 1,500 tonnes in 2002.
The current reform of the public administration in Mozambique is being hindered by the negligent attitude of some civil servants, and the dishonesty of some leading officials. This warning was sounded on 15 May by Adelino Cruz, head of the government's Public Sector Reform Unit (UTRESP). He was addressing members of the Coordinating Council of the Fisheries Ministry, which met at the Pequenos Libombos resort.
Cruz said that, in the implementation of the reforms "one notes a dissociation between words and acts in some sectors of activity".
He stressed that administrative reform could not be reduced simply to its outward signs - such as the obligation on all civil servants dealing with the public to wear badges bearing their names, and the introduction of complaints books in al public offices. "The reform of the public sector goes deeper than that", said Cruz, "and demands a change in attitudes to work and attitudes towards the public".
He inveighed against waste and incompetence in the state apparatus. "Sometimes we hire a typist, and later we hire somebody else to help him, on the grounds that the first typist hasn't assimilated the job and needs to be assisted", said Cruz.
"A bit later we hire a third, because we've found that the first two haven't got the message. As a result we end up with three incompetent typists". The solution, he insisted, did not lie in hiring more staff, but in training the ones that already exist, and making them responsible for the tasks they must undertake.
Cruz's example might suggest that the state apparatus is grossly overmanned, but he said this was not really the case at all, if one compared the number of state employees with the vast size of the country.
"The main problem is not an excessive number of staff, but the way they look at their work", he said, "and the way we value, or fail to value, honest staff".
Currently the state apparatus employs 110,000 people, mostly in the education and health services. This is 0.6 per cent of a total population of 17 million, said Cruz.
He also stressed the need to improve planning, programming and management mechanisms, as a fundamental condition for the success of the reforms under way.
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