President Joaquim Chissano on 18 June urged the country's business community to join the government in its efforts to fight against poverty, thus contributing to their own growth. Speaking in Maputo, during the launching of the "Global Compact and Social Responsibility of the Business Community", he said that by participating in social activities, through support to less favoured groups, companies are helping fight against absolute poverty.
"By contributing to improvements in the living standards of the workers and of vulnerable groups, through social programmes in various areas, the companies will be making an investment, and creating conditions to improve those people's productivity and purchasing power, and thus enhancing the volume of their own businesses", the President said.
"Actually, companies can only prosper when they meet the aspirations of the communities where they are inserted", he added. He noted that the participation of the business community in the fight against poverty will encourage other sectors of the society to make their own contribution.
President Chissano drew particular attention to the fight against HIV/AIDS. He warned that the ravages of AIDS are reflected, "in a reduction in the qualified work force, thus compromising production and productivity". He said that if Mozambican society as a whole does not commit itself to fighting against the spread of AIDS, "we risk seeing the desired development compromised".
"The costs of managing a poor society are extremely high, and one can no longer imagine the possibility of development without the participation of society at large, particularly of the business community", he said. Speaking of the Global Compact, President Chissano explained that it was an initiative of the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who launched it in July 2000.
So far, 859 companies in 55 countries world wide have adhered to the initiative, and Mozambique is the tenth country in Africa to do so.
President Chissano said that this initiative fits in well with the principles of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Both aim to fight against poverty, through an active participation of the private sector.
He said that some Mozambican companies had complained of being excluded from the NEPAD programmes, but he argued that this is not so, and adhering to Global Compact is one of the ways in which they can be involved.
President Joaquim Chissano declared on 11 June that he has often been surprised at the praises showered on Mozambique by foreign observers in recent years.
Addressing about 100 delegates to the Africa Economic Forum in Durban, President Chissano said that when he first heard fulsome praises of the socio-economic advances Mozambique had made since the end of the war of destabilisation - and which contrasted with the frequent criticism and pessimism that could be found inside the country - he thought that the foreigners were just being diplomatic, and did not want to hurt his feelings.
But when he read similar praise in articles written by foreign journalists, he began to pay more attention to the phenomenon. Some of these journalists, he said, had also visited the country during the war, and now found it unrecognisable. There was nothing visible to indicate that ten years ago the country had been in ruins.
President Chissano also said that one of his grounds for optimism was that, in his visits to other African countries, he had been able to compare them with Mozambique, and noted that Mozambique had indeed made great advances over the past ten years of peace.
He had been in countries that had gained their independence earlier than Mozambique, and which had never been subjected to any devastating war - but are today more backward than Mozambique. "This leads me to believe that those who praise us have got it right", said the President.
President Chissano praised the "heroism and realism" of the Mozambican people, who were able to leave the past behind, and live the present in a genuine spirit of national reconciliation. It was thanks to this that peace had been maintained for the past ten years.
Mozambique's success belonged to its people: the only thing he would claim for himself, said Chissano, was that he had the courage to sign the peace agreement with the Renamo rebels in 1992, thus bringing an end to the war, and allowing Mozambicans to rebuild their lives and their country.
President Chissano reminded his audience that in 2004 his term of office comes to an end. He said he will leave power a satisfied man, because for the first time the country is on the rails that will lead it to development. He said he had long desired to leave the presidency, but had delayed because of successive, acute crises that had faced the country.
Had he left office any earlier, he might have been regarded as irresponsible, as a captain abandoning his ship when it was still buffeted by stormy seas.
The president also summarised some of the country's successes in its 28 years of independence. "Today there are tens of thousands of Mozambicans with university degrees, when at the time of independence they could be counted on the fingers of one hand, even though Mozambique had been under 500 years of Portuguese domination", he said. Despite this, there were still those who claim "that our government isn't doing anything".
The World Bank country director for Mozambique, Darius Mans, on 12 June pledged that the Bank's support for poverty relief in Mozambique would go through the state budget, and not through creating any parallel structures.
Mans told a Maputo press conference that the Bank is "trying to work much better with donors in supporting government plans for implementing PARPA (the government's poverty reduction action plan)".
"We will be prioritising support through the budget for PARPA, for specific goals set by PARPA", he added. The World Bank's support will be "integrated into the government's planning and budgeting system, and use the government's own monitoring and evaluation system".
Mans stressed that this is a major change in the Bank's working methods. "This is building up the government's own institutions, systems and processes, instead of separate projects with World Bank systems, World Bank procurement, World Bank monitoring", he said.
This involved major challenges, he added, in terms of "improving the public financial management system, strengthening the monitoring system. It is very important to build up the capacity of public sector management." "We have just started this, with the donors, in a process led by the government", Mans said. The World Bank's programme in Mozambique would now be "results oriented".
Since Mozambique joined the World Bank (in 1985), the Bank had invested over a billion dollars in the country, "and you may be asking: where did it all go?", said Mans. "So we are keeping a very clear focus on results, not only on budget support, but on what we are trying to achieve and how".
One of the major programmes enjoying World Bank support is the upgrading of the country's dilapidated road network. The Bank was one of the main funding agencies for two road programmes over the past decade (ROCS 1 and 2), and is now supporting a third programme (Roads 3). But these programmes have been heavily criticised for their use of inappropriate technologies, and for shutting Mozambican companies out of most of the contracts.
Mans said that one major issue was maintenance, "making sure that the resources are there to maintain the roads properly. Lack of maintenance undermines the rehabilitation efforts". He thought it important "to bring down the unit cost of maintenance".
Currently, about 45 per cent of road maintenance is done by the public sector, while 55 per cent is farmed out to private companies, Mozambican and foreign. "The government is trying to break up the contracts into smaller amounts, so that Mozambican companies can compete", Mans said.
The Roads 3 Programme is scheduled to end in 2005. "By that time, you should be able to drive on a paved road without potholes all the way from Maputo to Pemba", he said. Pemba is the capital of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and is over 2,300 kilometres from Maputo.
But he stressed that the real problem was not paving all the trunk roads, but putting secondary and tertiary roads in a decent condition, so that peasant farmers could have easier access to markets.
President Joaquim Chissano on 20 June inaugurated a key stretch of the centre-northeast road from the Inchope crossroads on the Beira Corridor to Caia, on the south bank of the Zambezi.
This is part of the main north-south route, and was first designed in 1977, but its completion was blocked by the Apartheid-backed war of destabilisation.
The new road is 315 kilometres long, and was divided into two construction packages: Inchope-Gorongosa, concluded at the start of this year, and Gorongosa-Caia, recently terminated by the South African Grinaker-Group Five Consortium. The Gorongosa-Caia construction was budgeted at $52 million.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) contributed $47 million to the construction, and another $4.9 million for a design and inspection contract.
President Chissano, speaking at the inauguration ceremony at Caia, stressed that the government was committed to projects that would improve living standards, mentioning the reconstruction of the Beira-Malawi railway, sabotaged by Renamo in the 1980s, and the relaunching of the sugar industry. Both of these should have a major impact upon the economy of Sofala province.
On the other side of the river, the government has improved the stretch of road from Chimuara to Nicoadala in Zambezia province.
There are still serious problems for vehicles crossing the Zambezi. The Caia-Chimuara crossing is served by a ferry which has broken down regularly in recent months. The last breakdown, during which two vehicles fell off the ferry into the river, occurred on 17 June, and was apparently caused by overloading.
The state-owned Road and Bridges Construction and Maintenance company (ECMEP), which runs the service, is trying to bring up to Caia a second ferry that has been under repair. It has long been recognised that the definitive solution is to build a bridge over the Zambezi at Caia. President Chissano took the opportunity of the ceremony to announce that most of the money required to build such a bridge has now been pledged. He put the total cost of the bridge at $70 million, and said that the Italian and Swedish governments have pledged $45 million. President Chissano hoped that work on the bridge could begin in 2004.
Two new tugs for Maputo port are on their way to Mozambique from Hong Kong, the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) announced on 10 June.
The MPDC is the consortium, headed by the British Mersey Docks and Harbour company, that holds a concession to operate the port for 15 years. It has pledged a $70 million capital investment programme, and the two tugs are the first major component of the programme. The tugs are expected to arrive in Maputo on 26 June.
The tugs are described as "highly manoeuvrable and modern", and "well equipped for time-sensitive operations on the long, riverside frontage of Maputo and Matola". They "will put Maputo in a better competitive position to handle the expected traffic growth", according to MPDC.
The MOZAL aluminium smelter on 18 June handed its Small and Medium Enterprises Empowerment and Linkages Programme (SMEELP) over to the Mozambican government's Investment Promotion Centre (CPI).
SMEELP was officially launched in July 2001 as a way of encouraging local companies, and improving their performance, so that they would be able to bid for, and fulfil, contracts as suppliers of goods and services to the expansion of MOZAL.
It was launched in part because MOZAL recognised that the involvement of Mozambican companies in phase one of the project had been unsatisfactory. Phase two envisages doubling the smelter's capacity, so that it can produce 506,000 tonnes of aluminium ingots a year.
The SMEELP programme was designed to ensure that at least 25 contracts for the MOZAL expansion would be handled successfully by local companies. In fact, 16 companies benefited from training under SMEELP, and were awarded 28 contracts, to a value of more than $5 million, all of which were successfully concluded.
In this programme, MOZAL's partners included the Africa Project Development Facility (APDF) of the World Bank, and the CPI itself.
At the ceremony certificates and ceremonial plaques were awarded to the 16 companies - which range from construction and engineering companies, to landscaping, to computer services.
CPI now takes over SMEELP, and the programme will continue to empower small and medium Mozambican companies so that they can bid for work on other major projects (such as the rehabilitated and expanding sugar industry, or the Corridor Sands titanium mining scheme in the southern province of Gaza).
MOZAL managing director Peter Wilshaw announced that MOZAL is setting up a new linkages programme, called Mozlink, to ensure continued local business input into the smelter's operations. "In the long term, for any major investor setting up a business venture in Mozambique, the development of a stable, responsive, high quality supply chain in the local market is of utmost importance", he said.
Quite apart from the expansion project, the operational part of the smelter is already spending between $35 and $40 million a year on purchasing goods and services from Mozambican companies (excluding water and electricity supplies).
Mozlink is intended to run for 12 months, with a budget of $200,000 provided by MOZAL, the APDF, the Capacity Building Facility of the International Finance Corporation (IFC - another part of the World Bank Group), the CPI, and the government's business development programme, PODE.
Nina Berg, the widow of murdered Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso, on 16 June described a biography of her husband, written by two of his close collaborators, as "a manifesto of a very active life, full of political and intellectual struggles".
She was speaking at the launch of the book at the headquarters of the Mozambican Journalists' Union, the SNJ, chaired by the union's general secretary, Hilario Matusse.
The book, entitled "E Proibido por Algemas nas Palavras: Carlos Cardoso e a Revolucao Mocambicana" ("It is forbidden to put words in handcuffs: Carlos Cardoso and the Mozambican Revolution"), is written by Paul Fauvet, head of the AIM English service, and Marcelo Mosse, editor of the independent newsheet "Mediafax".
Both men worked under Cardoso - Fauvet at AIM throughout the 1980s, and Mosse on the two papers that Cardoso edited in the 1990s, "Mediafax" and "Metical".
The book's title comes from the slim volume of poetry and aphorisms, "Directo ao Assunto" ("Straight to the Point"), which Cardoso published in 1985. One of shortest of these pieces reads: "No oficio da verdade, e' proibido por algemas nas palavras" ("In the business of truth, it is forbidden to put words in handcuffs").
"This book shows that Carlos was a very courageous person", said Berg. "He had no fear of confronting anybody, if he thought it correct, even if they were highly placed people, even if they were presidents".
Berg was pleased that, rather than simply mourning the death of Cardoso and demanding that his killers be brought to justice, here was a book that celebrated his life and his work.
The 450 page book charts Cardoso's life from his childhood in colonial Beira and Lourenco Marques right up to the fateful date of 22 November 2000 when the assassins struck.
The book's authors interviewed many of Cardoso's relatives, friends, colleagues, and the various politicians who worked with him, and with whom he often clashed. Sponsorship for the book was provided by the Maputo office of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Norwegian Embassy.
Salomao Moyana, chairman of the Mozambican branch of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa), told the audience "Cardoso was a man profoundly committed to the cause of the poor, and when we witness the launching of this book today, we are recognising that Carlos Cardoso was a superior kind of citizen".
The Mozambican government on 16 June officially received from Chinese contractors the new Conference Centre which will house the second heads of state summit of the African Union, due to be held in Maputo in early July.
The handover was formalised by Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao, and Chinese ambassador Chen Duqing. The official inauguration of the centre is scheduled for 25 June, the 28th anniversary of Mozambican independence.
Speaking to reporters, Simao said that the delivery of the building showed that the basic conditions had been established for Mozambique to host the summit, the largest international event ever to take place in the country.
During the summit, the government will run the centre, but afterwards a tender will be launched to select a private body to manage the building.
In addition to the main conference hall, which can hold more than 700 people, the Centre includes a commercial zone for support services, a banqueting hall, a refectory, a health post, and other accessories, in some of which final work is still continuing.
As for rehabilitation work in the city, notably on its roads, prior to the summit, Simao said that as much as possible was being done. However, this fell short of what would be desirable, since the government did not have the money for all the necessary work.
Simao stressed that in future the capital city will have to be ready to host major events.
The Danish-based ABB power and automation technology group has announced that it is to upgrade the electricity grid in Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola.
ABB-South Africa has won two orders valued at about $7.5 million from Mozambique's publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, to improve electricity supply in the two cities, and meet increasing demand for power.
ABB has promised to implement the projects "on a fast track basis, enabling EDM to bring electricity access to thousands of households and businesses in just months".
The "Maputo Backbone Project," budgeted at $4 million, will be carried out jointly between ABB-South Africa and ABB-Denmark. It involves refurbishing four of the main electricity substations in Maputo: ABB is to install new transformers, replace existing switchgear, and upgrade the substations' protection and control systems. This work should be completed in December 2003.
The second contract, valued at $3.5 million, is for the rehabilitation and strengthening of the distribution network in Matola. ABB is to replace one old transformer with two new ones, as well as providing new protection and switchgear at the Machava substation. A new substation will be built at Matola Gare to take over the load in the city's northern network extensions, and a new switching station will also be constructed in the industrial area of Lingamo on the outskirts of Matola. This work is all scheduled for completion by September 2004.
The Brazilian Vale do Rio Doce company (CVRD) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa, and with the South African steel company ISCOR, to undertake pre-viability studies on the exploitation of the coal deposits at Moatize in the western province of Tete.
According to a report in "Mediafax" on 16 June, this consortium will invest $3 million in updating studies that were undertaken in the 1980s by CVRD and other companies.
The CVRD wants to sell Moatize coal to Brazilian steel companies, while ISCOR intends to use the coal for its own four factories in South Africa.
There are vast deposits of high quality coal at Moatize, which used to be exported from the port of Beira. But this depended on the Sena railway line, linking the mines to Beira: when this railway was comprehensively sabotaged by the apartheid- backed Renamo rebels in the early 1980s, it became impossible to move the coal to the coast. In recent years the only exports of coal have been by road to Malawi.
So the CVRD/IDC/ISCOR project involves not only mining the coal, but also rebuilding the Sena line, and even the construction of a new mineral port, near Beira, solely for exporting the coal. If these plans come to fruition, this will be the largest project so far for developing the potential of the Zambezi Valley.
Should the results of the pre-viability studies prove positive, the three partners will form a new company that will embark on financial viability studies, and eventually carry out the project. The establishment of such a company, however, will be dependent on decisions of the Mozambican government concerning rights to exploit the coal, and to operate the Sena line.
CVRD claims to be the largest mining company in the Americas, with sales in excess of $11 billion a year. It is the largest producer and exporter of iron ore in the world.
Police patrols cover only 716 of the 4,212 kilometres of Mozambique's borders, which represents just 17 per cent, while the remainder is left unguarded, reports "Noticias" on 17 June.
A police source told reporters that a more efficient frontier patrol service calls for more human and material resources. The source added that the government is planning to train more staff, and acquire more equipment in order to cover at least 30 per cent of the border by 2005.
The poor patrolling allows increased clandestine immigration, and the smuggling of firearms, vehicles, drugs and other goods.
The police commanders of Mozambique and the neighbouring countries have been meeting regularly to try and find solutions to the problem, which is now described as having reached alarming levels.
"It is in this context that Mozambique and South Africa have reached an understanding on the need to strengthen security along the common border, with more men and vehicles", said the source.
With Zimbabwe, Mozambique has agreed to open new border posts along the frontier in order to facilitate those who want to cross the border legally, so that they will not have to travel long distances to find a border post.
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