Convicted murderer Anibal dos Santos Junior "Anibalzinho" on 1 September showed that it was indeed possible for him to have escaped from prison last year through his cell window. Anibalzinho is the man who recruited the death squad that murdered Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on 22 November 2000, and who drove the vehicle used in the assassination. His mysterious "escape" from the Maputo top security prison meant that he was tried in absentia.
At the end of the trial, on 31 January, Anibalzinho was sentenced to a jail term of 28 years and six months. By then the South African police had re-arrested him, and he was repatriated to Maputo a few hours after the sentence had been read out.
The hypothesis that Anibalzinho left his cell via the window was raised at the time, but discarded because the space did not seem large enough for someone as bulky as Anibalzinho to slip through. The window is secured with a lattice of iron bars - but at one of the bottom corners, two of the bars had been sawn off.
In the current trial of seven policemen accused of illicitly releasing Anibalzinho, the prosecution argued that Anibalzinho in fact walked out of his cell door, which corrupt police officers unlocked. When he gave evidence last week, Anibalzinho insisted that he had climbed out of the window.
To ascertain whether this was possible, the trial of the seven policemen switched venue on 1 September: presiding judge Carlos Caetano, and the prosecution and defence lawyers, went to the Maputo maximum security jail, where Anibalzinho was ordered to re-enact his escape. Coincidentally this reconstruction took place exactly a year after Anibalzinho was smuggled out of the prison on 1 September 2002. First, Caetano told him to start sawing through another bar, in order to discover how audible the sound would be. The court brought along four brand new saws, but initially Anibalzinho was reluctant, saying they were not the same type of saw as the one he had used (which, he claimed, had been provided by Momade Assife Abdul Satar, one of those who ordered Cardoso's assassination).
But eventually Anibalzinho took one of the saws to a bar - and the sound carried several metres. In other words, it would have been impossible for him to have removed two bars, requiring four separate cuts, without prison guards hearing the racket. Then Anibalzinho demonstrated how it is possible to squeeze out of the window - even though the space made by removing the bars is only 41 centimetres by 26. Anibalzinho climbed up to the window via a colman placed on top of a table in the cell: he then wriggled out head first, taking about 30 seconds to leave the cell.
"See - I told you I got out via the window, not the door", exclaimed Anibalzinho jubilantly. While this spectacle was taking place, prisoners watching from other cell windows cheered on Anibalzinho. The assassin seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.
So the court has established that escape via the window was possible - which does not necessarily mean that this was how Anibalzinho made his getaway. Even if he did exit the cell via the window, he would then have had to slip across the prison and out of the main gate. Anibalzinho claims that prison guard Manuel Macuacua was waiting for him and accompanied him as he crossed the prison. At the corner of cell block seven, they were joined by a second guard, whom he did not name. It was Macuacua, he alleged, who slipped him the saw provided by Abdul Satar.
Anibalzinho said that, once he had crossed the yard, he waited at an abandoned and darkened area for 40 minutes, before making his way out via the main gate. On his way to the gate he met a prison guard named Abel: Anibalzinho claims that Abel was so drunk he did not recognise him. Throughout the escape, Anibalzinho added, he was in constant cell-phone contact with Abdul Satar.
Macuacua was listening to all this, but insisted on his innocence, and called Anibalzinho a liar. He admitted that, on the night of the escape, he was supposed to be guarding Anibalzinho's cell, but claimed he had heard nothing.
Macuacua challenged Anibalzinho's account of his route out of the prison. Anibalzinho claimed it was all at ground level, and that Macuacua had accompanied him as they rounded cell block seven. But Macuacua claimed that in reality Anibalzinho had climbed a mango tree in order to get over the fence separating the cells from the administrative part of the jail. When the prison authorities found Anibalzinho was missing, they also noted a trail of footprints leading to the tree, he said.
This mango tree has subsequently been cut down and no-one knows who ordered its removal. Neither Anibalzinho's nor Macuacua's version can be reconciled with that of Paulo Estevao "Dangerman", a prisoner who told the court on 29 August that he witnessed Anibalzinho's escape.
He said he saw Anibalzinho leave by the cell door, and cross the prison accompanied by five police officers. A vehicle then drove into the prison premises to pick him up.
On 1 September, judge Caetano took the opportunity to ask Dangerman to prove what he had said in court. Giving indications of where he was, and of the route taken by Anibalzinho, Dangerman reaffirmed that he saw the assassin leave, escorted by five men, among whom he recognised Bufalo Matos (commander of the Presidential Guard unit stationed at the jail), Balide Muteta (commander of the ordinary police platoon), and Macuacua. (On 29 August Dangerman said he did not know the names of the other two - but he could point them out in court. They are Luis Maquene and Paulo Murriquia.)
A policeman went into the cell, climbed to the window, and confirmed that there was a good view over the yard.
Armando Ossufo, who has been director of the top security prison for over a year, cut a poor figure, when Caetano asked him about how the prison functioned. He seemed ignorant of his own job, and was forced to admit he had no answer to the court's questions. He had to refer the judge to some of his subordinates in the prison management.
Momade Assife Abdul Satar on 2 September denied that he had organised the escape of Anibalzinho. Satar was taken from the cell where he is serving a 24 year sentence to testify at the Maputo provincial court. Satar claimed that the people who really conspired to release Anibalzinho were two high-ranking officers in the Presidential Guard, whom he named as Vascolino and Vamuto, who had done so "together with Nyimpine Chissano", the businessman son of President Joaquim Chissano. Satar said that Nyimpine had also contacted him to persuade him to leave the prison at the same time as Anibalzinho.
Satar has repeatedly alleged that Nyimpine was involved in the murder of Carlos Cardoso. During the murder trial, which ran from November to January, Satar claimed that he had lent the money for the murder to Nyimpine, who asked him to pay it to Anibalzinho. He showed the court seven post-dated cheques signed by Nyimpine Chissano, which he claimed were the guarantees for the loan.
Satar submitted various documents to the court, and said they included two mobile phone numbers used by Anibalzinho and his mother, Teresinha Mendonca. He stated that from the records of the phone company M-Cel, one could deduce who they had been in contact with on the eve of the escape.
Satar insisted that the evidence he was submitting be investigated by "impartial" prosecutors, since only thus would the truth of who released Anibalzinho come to light. Satar was presumably attacking the credentials of the Maputo provincial chief prosecutor, Arone Nhaca, who is handling the case: he declared to the court that "in this country there is a strong alliance between political power and judicial power".
Anibalzinho also claimed that the house where he initially lived in South Africa after the release belonged to a relative of Satar, named Ismael. This too Satar denied: but he said somebody called Ismael had come to the prison to visit Anibalzinho prior to the escape. A further denial concerned the money used to bribe the guards. Anibalzinho claimed that Satar gave him five million meticais (about $200) to bribe the guards, and again Satar denied the story.
Despite the central role of Satar in the Cardoso murder, and despite all the claims made over the past year that Satar was involved in Anibalzinho's escape, the prosecution did not include him on its list of witnesses. The defence lawyer for the seven policemen, Boavida Zandamela, initially called Satar as a defence witness, but then changed his mind, presumably fearing that Satar might incriminate some of his clients. It was the presiding judge, Carlos Caetano, who, after hearing Anibalzinho's testimony, decided that Satar must be questioned.
The Sena Company, which owns the sugar refinery at Marromeu, in the central province of Sofala, has pledged to repay by 2006 all the loans it took from South African and Mauritian banks to rehabilitate the mill.
The Sena Company, whose main shareholders are Mauritian interests, invested about $130 million in putting the Marromeu plantation and mill into working order. The factory had produced no sugar since 1986, when it was comprehensively sabotaged by the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels. The rehabilitation began in 1998, and is the largest economic project undertaken in Sofala since the end of the war of destabilisation. The reconstruction and operation of the mill has provided jobs for more than 7,500 workers, the vast majority of them Mozambicans.
Sena's human resource manager Filipe Chantano says the company believes, based on current levels of production, that it can repay its debts to the banks on schedule by 2006.
For 2003, the Sena company planned to produce 70,000 tonnes of sugar, which is 40 per cent more than was produced in 2005. The challenge the company has set itself is to reach the figure of 100,000 tonnes by 2005.
A kilo of Marromeu sugar costs the equivalent of about 50 US cents on the Mozambican market - so 70,000 tonnes should bring in $35 million.
But one of the major constraints the company has faced is precisely how to place its production on the Mozambican market, where it has faced unfair competition from sugar smuggled from the neighbouring countries, particularly Zimbabwe.
The situation has improved in recent months, thanks to vigorous attempts by the Mozambican customs service to repress the trade in contraband sugar. The Sena company management has worked directly with customs, providing customs officers with additional resources for the fight against contraband.
According to Chantano, the Sena company has now "stabilised" sugar sales in the northern three provinces, and is working on strategies to increase sales in the centre and south of the country.
As for exports, they are far from ruled out. But Chantano said that international prices for sugar, particularly on the European market, are discouraging. The company is watching developments in the international sugar business, and when start exports "when this is justified".
The aluminium smelter Mozal has completed the expansion of its Beluluane factory in the southern province of Maputo, and started operating on 20 August. The extension of the project will enable Mozal to increase its production of aluminium ingots, from 235,000 to 506,000 tons a year. The extension work was completed seven months early reducing the overall cost of the expansion by a fifth, saving $195 million.
At the peak of the Phase II construction, the project employed 5,000 workers, 70 percent of whom were Mozambican. About 3,000 Mozambicans received special training in building techniques. Over 60 Mozambican companies took part, earning more than $92 million.
Mozambique needs over one billion US dollars in order to meet the millennium target of reducing to half the people deprived of clean drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.
Public Works and Housing Minister Roberto White said, during the opening session of an "International Seminar on the Participation of the Private Sector in Water Supply", in Maputo on 27 August, that "in a little more than 10 years we must double the coverage and serve nearly the current population, i.e. 16 million people".
He said that the government is working with its partners to raise the necessary funds, which he described as too high for the country's present financial situation. He stated that this is why the government needs to involve the private sector.
The seminar is aimed at discussing ways to involve the private sector in the water supply management in order to ensure a good service to the peri-urban populations.
White added that the government has been conducting deep reforms in the water supply sector since 1995 and awareness of the importance of the private sector has also been growing.
On 29 August White told reporters that the Mozambican government is considering privatising the management of the water supply services in six more towns. So far, the management of these services has been trusted to private operators in Maputo, Beira, Quelimane, Nampula, Pemba.
The government believes that privatisation will lead to better quality and at prices affordable to the poor. White said that only about 32 per cent of the population in urban areas and 35 per cent in rural areas are currently benefiting of clean drinking water, and the government is committed to increase these figures in the next few years, by privatising the management of the water supply systems. White explained that "we are now negotiating the possibility of including six more towns. For that end, we are prepared to invest $30 million ".
Mozambique's Minister of Industry and Trade, Carlos Morgado, on 1 September opened the 39th edition of the Maputo International Trade Fair (FACIM), held under the slogan "for the economic consolidation of SADC".
Despite the slogan, the hard fact is that, of Mozambique's 12 partners in SADC, only one, Swaziland, is exhibiting this year. Morgado downplayed the absence of other SADC members saying that it was not due to any problem with FACIM itself, but to the current world economic situation.
In terms of the Mozambican economy, Morgado said that the reforms currently in place are starting to show positive signs. "The quality of the domestic goods shown in some pavilions are clear signs of recovery of some sectors of the economy, largely due to the reforms imposed by government policies", he said. He cited in particular engineering, the building industry, transport, insurance, banking, tourism and commerce. Morgado said that while the recovery is more outstanding in some areas than others, there has been positive overall investment throughout the economy. He pledged continuing institutional and economic reforms to meet the challenges facing the Mozambican economy.
The countries taking part in FACIM this year are Portugal, Germany, Italy, Britain, Spain, India, Macau, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Swaziland and Brazil.
The Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the Mozambican civil service, has promised to impose strict criteria for the selection of trainers, both for the electoral awareness campaign and for the staff who will man the polling stations during the municipal elections scheduled for 19 November.
This pledge came during a National Seminar of Electoral Bodies, which is assessing the updating of the electoral registers that took place in June and July. Serious problems marred the voter registration, and STAE wants to avoid any repetition during the elections.
STAE provincial directorates expressed their concern at the poor quality of those selected to train the voter registration brigades. Some pointed to cases where the instructors chose brigade members on the basis of personal friendship. Since it was the instructors who chose the brigade members, they were able to select who they liked - leading to cases where candidates who had good marks in the admission tests were rejected in favour of those who had performed badly.
Some of the provincial STAE branches insisted that in future top priority should be given to involving STAE's own experienced staff in the training process.
The poor level of training was reflected in the appearance in all the provinces of brigades that were unable to fill out the voter registration forms correctly, thus threatening to disenfranchise citizens.
The STAE general director, Antonio Carrasco, who is chairing the meeting, said solutions must be found that will enable all eligible citizens to vote. It was in this spirit, he said, that he ordered the registration of all those eligible citizens who appeared at the registration posts, even if the brigades were unable to take photographs of them, because they had run out of film.
Carrasco also recognised that updating the registers was hampered by financial restrictions, a clear example being the fact that during the voter awareness campaign most of the staff involved had to use their own money for transport or walk for long distances.
Nonetheless, STAE regards the registration as a success. 2,066,000 voters were added to the registers - which was 91 per cent of the initial target of 2,257,000.
The Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) will pay to the Mozambican state about $300 million during the 15 year management concession. The consortium's directror, Alec Don, told reporters on 20 August, during a ceremony to inaugurate two new tugs to serve in the port, that this amount comes from the taxes.
He explained that MPDC is hoping to make high profits with the increase in the volume of handled cargo, that should reach 15 million tonnes a year in a short period, compared with the four million tons handled in 2002.
He pointed out that "the Maputo port is set to see an increased demand, as part of the Maputo Development Corridor. The Maputo port handled four million tons of cargo in 2002, and our investment, in the Maputo-Witbank highway, and in the Ressano Garcia railway line, which concession agreement is to be signed soon, are based on the hope of increased trade in the corridor".
"Maputo is the corner stone on which the corridor is being built, but the concept as such goes beyond the country's physical borders", he said. Maputo is the nearest port to Johannesburg, the South African economic centre, a new highway was built, and a railway is being rehabilitated to link the two countries, while the Limpopo line, also under rehabilitation, is linking the port to Zimbabwe, and Swaziland is at about one hour trip.
The deep waters Maputo and Matola ports were conceded to MPDC for a 15 year period, renewable for a further 10 years if found to be profitable to both the Mozambican state and the consortium.
MPDC has launched a restructuring project, expected to take three years, and large amounts of investment. The new tugs inaugurated are part of these investments and were bought in Japan at a cost of $4 million. Since MPDC started operating in the Maputo port it has invested $10 million in the purchase of equipment.
The Welfare provincial director in Sofala province, Antonia Charre, has said that a recent survey has identified at least 30,480 orphan children whose parents died of AIDS and related diseases. The true number is much higher as the provincial survey did not cover the district of Dondo or the capital city of Beira.
Charre disclosed this figure during a seminar held in Beira, promoted by the Handicap International, to discuss the situation of orphan children.
Charre also said that the survey is not yet complete, and that of the identified children, about 2,500 are receiving assistance through the food security scheme. She added that an anthropologic study was conducted in partnership with Handicap International, aiming to monitor the response of the community regarding the problem of orphanhood in the province of Sofala. To this end, 50 people have been trained, and in a first stage they are targeting five districts in the province. Their task is to try and establish a link between the orphans, their families and the government.
Isabelle Raud, a Handicap International project officer, said that her organisation has granted about 1 million Euros from the European Community (EU) to be invested in projects for the prevention and fight against HIV/AIDS in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala.
Handicap International, in partnership with the welfare provincial directorate, are operating in the districts of Marromeu, Gorongosa, Dondo, Nhamatanda and Chibabava in Sofala, whereas in the provincial capital, the NGO is working with the Mozambican Organisations Network (MONASO) which is also involved in the prevention and fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The general director of the Mozambican Customs Service, Barros dos Santos, on 1 September announced a new customs regime under which key industries will be exempt from customs duties on their imported raw materials.
Barros dos Santos said that, for the time being, the new regime covers agro-industry and food processing, textiles, engineering, and the chemical, plastics and rubber industries.
Companies that wish to benefit from the exemption must have annual sales of at least six billion meticais ($250,000). More importantly, the manufacturing must be genuine, and is measured by the amount of value added. Only companies where at least 20 per cent of the final value of the goods has been added in Mozambique will qualify.
Barros dos Santos stressed that the purpose of the new regime was to encourage the country's manufacturing industries to increase their production. He said that the year 2008 was a crucial date for the Mozambican economy - by then it was essential for manufacturers to reach a level of production and of quality that would allow them to compete with similar companies elsewhere in the region.
This is when the SADC (Southern African Development Community) trade protocol, aimed at setting up a free trade area in the region, will be under vigorous implementation. All import duties on goods produced in the SADC region are to be gradually lowered to zero. Mozambique has agreed that its duties on SADC manufactured goods will reach zero in 2008.
It is expected that the new customs exemptions will take effect as from early October.
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