The general secretary of Frelimo, Armando Guebuza, on 4 November called on the citizens of the country's 33 municipalities to participate en masse in the local elections of 19 November. He was speaking in the outer Maputo suburb of Polana-Canico at a rally marking the start of the election campaign of Eneas Comiche, the Frelimo candidate for mayor of Maputo.
Guebuza said that, when voters elected a mayor, they were really electing the future for each citizen of the capital. So they should look carefully at the programmes presented by each of the candidates, he advised.
He stressed that to date the only strong party in Mozambique, closely linked to the people, and capable of solving municipal problems, remains Frelimo. The party's strength and its roots in the people, Guebuza said, were necessary preconditions for municipal governance.
He warned his audience that not all the candidates who would come asking for their votes had any interest in solving their problems. In a clear attack against the main opposition force, the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition, Guebuza said some parties "have already begun to sing about fraud".
He regarded Renamo's repeated claims that Frelimo is preparing electoral fraud as an attempt to frighten the voters. "Some say that if they lose the elections, there must have been fraud", Guebuza continued. "In this way, they are devaluing the votes cast by the people".
Guebuza, who is also the Frelimo presidential candidate for the 2004 general elections, said that the Frelimo candidates for the municipal elections will guarantee continuation of the activities begun under the first directly elected local authorities in 1998.
This would include more schools, more health posts, the opening of more roads, and thus guarantees of more jobs for the residents of the municipalities.
The municipal elections had been thrown into disarray by a deadlock in the National Elections Commission (CNE) on the eligibility of candidates.
The key problem had been the Renamo candidate for mayor of Maputo, Artur Vilanculos. His initial nomination papers were 800 signatures short (all mayoral candidates must present a list of supporting signatures equivalent to at least one per cent of the municipal electorate).
Renamo was notified of the irregularity and had five days, as from 10 October, to produce the missing signatures. Apparently they more than fulfilled the requirement - Renamo turned in to the CNE lists of a further 1,600 Vilanculos supporters.
But AIM's CNE sources say most of these signatures were unacceptable, with many of the Vilanculos supporters signing two or more times under different names (but with the same voter card number). Others were names of people who had already pledged their support to other candidates. This is easily detected when the data is fed into computers.
When the Vilanculos list was verified, he was still 400 signatures short. The first Renamo reaction was to denounce STAE and its computers. The Renamo CNE members demanded that Renamo be allowed to check whether all the lists submitted by Vilanculos had been correctly processed.
On 21 October this reverification began. The lists of signatures were counted one by one - and far from STAE making any of them mysteriously disappear, as Renamo had hinted, all 1,600 were there. The STAE staff appointed by Renamo were told they could look at each and every one of them and check the duplications.
However, on 23 October at a press conference, the CNE chairperson, Rev Arao Litsuri, announced that, after days of analysing the nomination papers, the CNE had only excluded eight of the 96 candidates for positions of mayor. The eight excluded come from four minor parties and groups.
Thus the CNE had accepted as valid the nominations of the other 88, including all 33 Renamo mayoral candidates.
Several of the journalists found Litsuri's announcement incredible. How was it that a candidate who did not have enough signatures was now declared valid by Litsuri ?
Litsuri refused to deal specifically with Vilanculos, and merely claimed that all candidates, bar the excluded eight, had managed to correct the irregularities in their papers within the five day deadline set by the electoral law (in the case of the Renamo candidates this deadline should have expired on 15 October).
An outraged reporter from the daily paper "Noticias" came close to accusing Litsuri of concealing the truth. "We want to know what really happened", he exclaimed.
Litsuri declined to give any details of the discussions, and insisted that the 88 candidates accepted had complied with the terms of the electoral law "in the understanding of the National Elections Commission".
The mayoral candidates excluded are from the Social-Liberal Party (SOL), for Maputo, Nampula and Metangula municipalities, from the Democratic Party for National Reconciliation (PAMOMO), for Nampula and Mozambique Island, from the Labour Party (PT), for Nampula, and from IPADE (Institute for Peace and Democracy) for Tete and Moatize.
Subsequently, one Renamo candidate was excluded by the CNE when it was found that he had made a false declaration over his residency. This decision has been challenged by Renamo, who claim that it is a ruse by Frelimo to exclude a candidate sure to win in the election.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama on 5 November declared that Renamo, and its allies in the Electoral Union coalition, will continue to use "peaceful pressure" to protest at the decision taken by the National Elections Commission (CNE), to disqualify Jose Manteigas, the Renamo candidate for mayor of the central town of Mocuba.
The CNE accused Manteigas of falsifying the documents he used to show that he is a resident of Mocuba, and has forwarded the matter to the Public Prosecutor's Office, since making false statements about one's residence for electoral purposes is a criminal offence carrying a jail sentence of up to two years.
Renamo has already appealed against Manteigas's exclusion to the Constitutional Council, the body that has the final word on electoral complaints. But Dhlakama said that, if the Constitutional Council did not overturn the CNE's decision, he could not predict what might happen in Mocuba.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, Dhlakama said "We're not going to allow this sort of game. Right now the people of Mocuba are demanding that the Renamo candidate takes part in the election". Nonetheless, he urged Renamo supporters not to react violently against what he described as "provocations" from the ruling Frelimo Party.
According to Dhlakama, Manteigas has two residences, one in Mocuba, and one in Quelimane, capital of Zambezia province. But the electoral law states that candidates must have resided in the municipality for at least six months. Clearly this does not cover people who may have an address in Mocuba, but only appear there every now and then.
Furthermore Dhlakama's argument does not deal with the evident falsehoods told by Manteigas about which part of Mocuba he lives in. He submitted one request claiming he lived in the suburb of Marmanelo. When the local authorities in Marmanelo denied that he lived there, he submitted another document claiming he lived in a different suburb, Carreira de Tiro. It is this flagrant contradiction that formed the grounds for the CNE to disqualify him.
Dhlakama claimed that Manteigas is "a nail in the shoe" of Frelimo. He boasted that the four municipalities in Zambezia "are already won by Renamo. Since Frelimo wants to stop this from happening it has deliberately decided to exclude our candidate".
It is true that the general elections of 1999 showed that Renamo is more popular than Frelimo in Zambezia, and if the voting patterns of the 1999 parliamentary election are repeated in this month's municipal elections, then Renamo should have little difficulty winning three of the municipalities - Quelimane, Gurue and Milange. But in Mocuba Renamo's margin of victory in 1999 was very slim - it took 10,773 votes to 10,508 for Frelimo.
Dhlakama also claimed that many Frelimo candidates had irregularities in their nomination papers, but had been allowed to stand.
But no Renamo-appointed member of the CNE has made such a claim, and in early October, the CNE announced that all 33 Frelimo mayoral candidates had no irregularities in their paper. At the time, nobody in Renamo contested this announcement.
Artur Vilanculos, the candidate for mayor of Maputo for the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition, told reporters on 5 November that he will be able to solve the city's rubbish collection problems, and that ordinary citizens will not have to pay for it.
He promised that he would abolish the garbage collection fee charged by the current City Council. The fee is 20,000 meticais (about 80 US cents) a month, which is added to electricity bills. Since this tax was introduced there has been a notable improvement in the city's garbage removal service.
But Vilanculos believes that he can bring in private companies to clean up the garbage, and the city's residents will not have to foot the bill. "I brought a French company here which carried out a study on waste management methods, but the current Council gave no clear response on the matter and it just became a dead letter", he claimed.
Vilanculos also declared that absolute poverty results from "absolute corruption". He said that he wanted to implement policies of "transparency, responsibility, reconciliation and tolerance", in which ordinary citizens would be involved in solving the problems of their municipality.
He claimed that, under the current municipal regime, citizens are totally marginalised, and what is required is "a government of the people by the people".
He attacked his main rival, Eneas Comiche of the ruling Frelimo Party, for using escorts with "enormous numbers of policemen". He questioned the use of state money for such escorts, and claimed that the policemen would be much better employed patrolling the streets than accompanying an election candidate.
Eneas Comiche, the Frelimo candidate for mayor of Maputo, has promised to wage a "merciless battle" against corruption.
In his election manifesto, published on 4 November, Comiche stressed that, if elected, "I will try and surround myself with competent people, who are interested in the development of the municipality, and who are of proven honesty".
He attacked the Municipal Police, who have become notorious for squeezing money out of informal traders rather than disciplining their activity. He stated that "I shall take the necessary measures to remove those who are damaging the interests of citizens".
He pledged that, in the town hall, and in each of the municipal districts, offices will be set up to receive complaints and denunciations of acts of corruption. Whistle-blowers and witnesses, he added, will be protected.
Comiche wanted to change the attitude of civil servants towards the public "and put in the correct places officials who are honest. modest, competent, experienced, dedicated, and friendly".
The manifesto also pledges regular public consultations. "We in the Frelimo Party believe that the secret lies in the involvement and participation of citizens and in the value given to their opinions", said Comiche.
Comiche promises to create "specific financial mechanisms" to deal with road repair and maintenance, and for the upkeep of the sewers and drainage system. The municipal districts and neighbourhoods will be "helped to identify activities to generate their own revenue".
Just three of the manifesto's 29 pages deal with the achievements of the City Council and Mayor Artur Canana in the period 1998-2003. Part of this section is an explanation that Canana and his executive would have done much more had it not been for the floods of February 2000.
Much of Comiche's manifesto reads like a veiled criticism of his predecessor. The heavy stress on corruption suggests that for the past five years the City Council has not fought against corruption. Likewise the calls for decentralisation imply that the existing Council is far too centralised.
Even Comiche's slogan sounds like an opposition slogan, since he is calling for change rather than continuity. "Together you and I can change Maputo", his posters declare
Frelimo on 4 November recognised shortcomings in land management in the southern city of Matola, which had led to serious land conflicts over the past five years.
At the start of the local election campaign in Matola, where incumbent mayor Carlos Tembe is running for re-election, Frelimo promised that, if it wins, it will correct these errors.
Frelimo also recognised that it had been unable to carry out all the promises made in the first municipal elections in 1998. Some of the city's markets remained unsafe and unhygienic. There had sometimes been poor performance on the part of the municipal police, and there were still water shortages in some neighbourhoods.
This self-criticism is contained in the Frelimo election manifesto for Matola. But it also contains criticism of the central government, for failing to transfer powers and funds to the municipality.
Tembe's manifesto claims that much has been achieved during the past five years. This includes the rehabilitation of 15 major roads, the building of a new road between Benfica in Maputo and T3 in Matola (which has become one of the main links between the two cities), the successful resettlement of about 2,000 families who lost their homes in the floods of February 2000, the construction of the new neighbourhoods of Tchumene and Khongolote, and reopening of routes served by privately-owned minibus-taxis.
Tembe's manifesto also takes pride in measures of decentralisation that have given greater responsibility to Matola's three administrative posts, to improvements in the garbage collection service, and to a series of twinning agreements with cities in South Africa, Swaziland, Portugal, France and South Korea.
Tembe pledges to take a tough line on corruption, promising to punish "severely" any municipal employee involved in acts of corruption. He promises to install a phone line, direct to his office, and free of charge, though which citizens can denounce corruption and receive a direct response.
Tembe says he will set up an anti-corruption team headed by himself, and including "two people of recognised integrity who do not work for the Municipal Council". This team will follow up citizens' complaints and take "immediate action in coordination with the relevant structures".
The general director of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the Mozambican civil service, Antonio Carrasco, has complained about pressure from some members of the National Elections Commission (CNE) on his institution.
Interviewed in "Noticias" on 1 November, Carrasco stated that these members of the CNE were more concerned to defend the interests of their political parties than to help organise free and fair elections.
Although it is part of the civil service, STAE is subordinate to the CNE during election periods. This arrangement contains the seeds of trouble, because full-time STAE staff are people recruited on technical and professional grounds, while the CNE consists of political appointees.
"I think that the big problem we have is the CNE itself, because of the way it was designed," said Carrasco. "The CNE as such is a potential source of conflict. Look here, I normally take part in the meetings of the CNE sessions, and I have noticed that some people, instead of working to organise elections in Mozambique, come to the meetings to defend party interests".
Carrasco said he had become a target because he would not allow such political interference. (He was clearly referring to Renamo, which has made no secret of its hatred for Carrasco, and regularly calls for him to be sacked.)
Carrasco added that pressure is mounting by the day, because these politicians are not satisfied with the politicisation of the CNE, and now want to extend that politicisation to STAE, and even to the polling station staff. Carrasco said that the opposition has tabled this latter idea to the CNE, but it was rejected because it is not in accordance with the electoral legislation.
"The opposition demands that juries be created to appoint members of polling station staff. Those teams would be made up of representatives of the ruling Frelimo party and the Renamo-Electoral Union. We, as STAE, cannot allow polling station staff to be representatives of political parties. That would mean it would not be worthwhile holding elections at all", he said.
As for Renamo's repeated allegations that fraud is being prepared, Carrasco commented that the opposition often uses this claim to explain defeat in elections.
During a Radio Mozambique phone-in programme on 1 November, Carrasco again complained of the excessive politicisation of the electoral bodies, and the enormous expense entailed in employing hundreds of political appointees in the national, provincial and district electoral commissions, and at all levels of STAE. He pointed out that nothing of the sort happens next door in South Africa.
Carrasco also revealed that he, and other senior STAE staff, have recently received death threats.
President Joaquim Chissano on 3 November called on members of the newly-created Constitutional Council to behave with impartiality and transparency.
He was speaking immediately after swearing the first four members of the Council into office. They are veteran lawyer Rui Baltazar, chosen by President Chissano to chair the Council, and jurists Teodato Hunguana, Lucia Ribeiro and Orlando da Graca, who were elected by the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.
Hunguana and Ribeiro were nominated by the majority Frelimo Party, and Graca by the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition.
The Constitutional Council is the body that must decide on the constitutionality or otherwise of laws and decrees issued by other state bodies. It also has key electoral tasks - it must supervise the electoral process, declare and validate election results, and take final decisions on electoral complaints.
This year the Council will work with just five members - the fifth will be coopted by the other four. Baltazar said this would happen within a few days.
Next year, the Council will be brought up to full strength, with two more members, to be chosen by parliament (one by the Frelimo parliamentary group, and one by Renamo). They are to be appointed by May 2004.
The Mozambican police are on maximum alert to apprehend drug traffickers, who are using Maputo international Airport as a point of transit, according to Nataniel Macamo, head of public relations in the Interior Ministry.
Macamo told reporters on 28 October that traffickers are bringing cocaine from Latin America to South Africa, via Maputo. The planes they catch take them from Brazil via Lisbon to Maputo.
Macamo said that the traffickers, mostly women, are working for a powerful network, headquartered in South Africa, and have chosen Maputo as a safe corridor.
He was speaking in connection with the arrest of a South African woman, the second in ten days, at Maputo airport on 25 October, who was found to be carrying 150 grams of cocaine in her stomach.
Another South African woman has recently been arrested at Maputo airport after she was found carrying 700 grams of cocaine.
The Mozambican government has obtained, from China and Italy, a further nine combine harvesters, which should be available in time for the 2004 rice harvest.
According to Agriculture Minister Helder Muteia, five of the new machines are being provided by China, and the other four by Italy.
The new harvesters will reduce the shortage of machinery for the rice harvest in Chokwe district, in Gaza province. Chokwe, in the Limpopo valley, is the site of the largest irrigation scheme in the country, and is Mozambique's major rice producing area.
Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva stressed in Maputo on 5 November his belief that "Brazil can greatly assist those countries that are poorer than we are".
Speaking at a press conference after official talks with a Mozambican delegation headed by President Joaquim Chissano, Lula said that Brazilian expertise and technology could assist in areas ranging from sugar production, to industry, to health.
He praised the role of Mozambique, and of President Chissano in particular, in peace-keeping in Africa. "Conflicts and wars do not allow people to develop their full potential", he declared.
As for the use of Brazilian generic anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV, the virus that causes the lethal disease AIDS, Lula confirmed the intention to set up a pharmaceutical plant in Mozambique producing these drugs. "What we want is that the policy we have been following in Brazil towards AIDS should be extended to other countries, particularly those that speak Portuguese", said Lula.
Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao said that the political discussions over setting up a plant to produce anti- retrovirals were over - all that was left was to determine the precise way in which it will be financed. One possibility is the reconversion of a debt of about $20 million that Mozambique owes to Brazil.
13 agreements were signed on 5 November between the two governments, on topics ranging from plant diseases and agricultural research, to support for the development of a pilot national literacy programme for Mozambique, to scientific and technological cooperation in health. The agreements also included memoranda of understanding on environmental matters, on geology and mining, and on cooperation in public administration.
President Chissano declared "these protocols represent only the areas where we are determined to make a start right away. We have discovered a great willingness to cooperate in these and other areas".
President Joaquim Chissano said on 28 October in Morrumbala, in the central province of Zambezia, that the supply of electric power from the Cahora Bassa dam will create new opportunities to relaunch the processing of agricultural produce in that district, thus contributing to poverty alleviation.
Speaking after inaugurating the power supply system, President Chissano noted that Morrumbala has been improving its basic education and health infrastructures, productivity, and roads. He said that with electricity, it will now be possible to create more jobs and reduce production costs in those units that used to rely on expensive diesel-fired generators.
The new system will cater for about 1,300 individual clients and 30 small industries. To reach Morrumbala, the power line was extended from the Chimuara substation, in the neighbouring district of Mopeia, and the plan is to bring Cahora Bassa electricity also to the localities of Zanza, and Nhacateua, in Mopeia.
President Chissano added that electricity in Morrumbala and Mopeia will bring a new development impetus to the Zambezi valley, where the abundant resources only need investment for their exploitation.
The new system to Morrumbala cost $5.2 million, granted by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).
President Chissano also inaugurated a community radio station and a retransmitter of the Mozambican Television (TVM) signal in Morrumbala, and another power supply system in the administrative post of Mocubela, in the district of Maganja da Costa.
On 27 October President Chissano inaugurated a 200 kilometre long tarred road, linking the districts of Ile and Gurue. Since the rehabilitation and tarring of this road, circulation of people and goods has increased significantly.
President Chissano also inaugurated a bean processing plant with the capacity to process about 10,000 tonnes of the product a year. This unit, recently rehabilitated and modernised, at a cost of $2 million, will use raw material from the districts of Milange, Morrumbala, Alto Molocue, Ile, Namarroi and Gurue.
The Mozambican police, in coordination with their South African counterparts, have recovered 25,033 firearms over the past eight years, in the eight operations codenamed "Rachel", reports "Noticias" on 5 November.
The cooperation between the two police forces was established in an agreement signed in 1995 specifically to seek and neutralise arms caches.
A report presented to the Consultative Council of the Mozambican police force, under way at the Pequenos Libombos resort, 40 kilometres west of Maputo, shows that the combined forces also recovered 987,247 rounds of ammunition, and 32,353 other devices of various types in arms caches scattered across the country.
The report says that between 11 and 28 August, the latest "Operation Rachel" worked in Maputo and Gaza provinces in the south of the country, Sofala, Manica, Tete, and Zambezia in the centre, and Nampula and Cabo Delgado in the north.
Of the 26 arms caches uncovered in this process, only nine have been dismantled so far, eight in Sofala, and the ninth in Zambezia.
The operation is hampered by a number of factors, including the range of the helicopter the police are using, and the difficulties in identifying the exact location of the arms caches, as described by the police informers.
The police team is made up of 46 officers, 25 of them Mozambicans, and the remainder from the South African police.
"Operation Rachel" is continuing, and there are plans to train more staff and acquire more equipment.
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