Anibal dos Santos Junior, better known as "Anibalzinho", escaped on 9 May from the maximum security prison in Maputo. General police commander Miguel dos Santos confirmed the fact to reporters, explaining that the escape occurred after the usual sun baths to which every prisoner is entitled every day. This is the second time that Anibalzinho had escaped from the same prison. The first time was in 2002, a month before the start of the trial of the nine accused of the assassination of journalist Carlos Cardoso. He was recaptured in South Africa on the eve of the reading of the sentence on "Cardoso murder" case. Anibalzinho was tried in absentia and sentenced to 28 years and three months in prison as the mastermind of the murder of Cardoso on 22 November 2000. Seven police officers were subsequently tried in connection with Anibalzinho's escape, but were all acquitted "for lack of evidence".
A police dog unit is now back on guard duty at the prison, after it was withdrawn shortly before the escape of Anibalzinho. According to a source in the riot police cited in the newspaper "Zambeze" on 20 May, the dog unit was removed eight days before Anibalzinho escaped, and was returned to the prison three days later.
This unit has five trained Alsatians, and between December 2003 and May 2004 they were let loose in the prison courtyard after the prisoners had all gone to their cells for the night. The excuse given for removing the dog unit was that it needed retraining. But according to Zambeze's source no retraining took place in the 12 days they were gone from the prison.
Anibalzinho's escape was carefully planned. The prison's closed circuit TV system was disabled - it went dead at midday on 9 May but obody called in technicians.
It is suspected that Anibalzinho left the prison in a red Mazda, with the number plate MMI-13-52, which entered the prison at about 09.00, supposedly bringing people who were to do lubrication and maintenance work.
According to the weekly newspaper "Savana", the number plate belongs to a Toyota Camry owned by lawyer Antonio Balate, who is an advisor to Interior Minister, Almerino Manhenje. Balate has been Manhenje's legal advisor for several years, and he is also a law lecturer at Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University. But he achieved notoriety in media circles in 2001, when he represented businessman Nyimpine Chissano, son of President Joaquim Chissano, in an attempt to sue "Metical", the paper founded by Carlos Cardoso , and its then editor Marcelo Mosse. Balate had to stop representing Nyimpine when the Bar Association ruled that representing plaintiffs in the courts was incompatible with working as advisor to a Minister.
Balate is outraged that his number plate was used by Anibalzinho's getaway car. He told "Savana" he thought this was a deliberate attempt to drag his name through the mud. "They used the number plate belonging to my car because they want to dirty my name", he said. "They know that I don't do dirty deals, and that I am a person of integrity".
So far, three policemen are known to have been detained in connection with the escape of Anibalzinho - they are the commander of the police platoon, Juliao Laice, a prison guard named Luis Simoes, and the man in charge of the closed circuit television, Francisco Chauque.
The police say they are determined that none of the other five men sentenced for the Cardoso murder will escape, and that they are now under close watch 24 hours a day.
The common assumption is that Anibalzinho was illicitly released as part of a deal to prevent him from revealing all he knows about the Cardoso murder. Three businessmen - the brothers Ayob and Nini Satar, and former bank manager Vicente Ramaya - were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for ordering the murder. But they have all appealed, and those appeals have yet to be heard by the Supreme Court. Anything Anibalzinho chooses to say might affect the appeal.
Anibalzinho's escape also damages prospects for a trial in another high-profile case - that of the attempted murder of lawyer Albano Silva in November 1999. As in the Cardoso murder, Anibalzinho seems to have been a link between those who committed the crime and those who gave the orders. Those accused of the attempted murder of Silva are Anibalzinho, Nini Satar, and two other prominent underworld figures, Osvaldo Muianga ("Dudu") and Fernando Magno. Ayob Satar faces the lesser charge of criminal conspiracy, as does another of Anibalzinho's associates Paulo Estevao ("Dangerman").
President Joaquim Chissano has described as "essential and imperative" the recapture of Anibalzinho. President Chissano urged the police to do all in they power to recapture Anibalzinho.
He said that "another importance of the recapture of Anibalzinho is that it would help the authorities to clarify a number of other criminal cases that he knows".
The police have stated that alerts have been sent at national and international level for the recapture of Anibalzinho. The Mozambican police have provided the INTERPOL with the escapee's personal details.
The leaders of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) are facing "the challenge of changing the perception of Africa, the challenge of making Africa relevant to the agendas of the world", declared Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in Maputo on 23 May. Obasanjo was speaking at the opening of a meeting of the NEPAD implementation committee, which he chairs.
The committee, containing representatives from 20 African countries, has been meeting every three months to assess NEPAD's progress. The task ahead of NEPAD "is no mean challenge", said Obasanjo. "It's a great challenge, the challenge of us becoming masters of our own hopes". The challenges included meeting the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, and "eradicating poverty from the face of Africa".
"These are the challenges that brought about the establishment of NEPAD", added Obasanjo. "And they are daunting - we must not deceive ourselves. But if we work together, we can succeed".
The Nigerian leader stressed in particular the need to increase agricultural production. "We will not be regarded as serious for as long as we cannot feed ourselves", he warned, "as long as we have no security for our people in terms of food production and affordability".
The challenges must be dealt with, "if Africa is to move forward, if we are to have a chance of eliminating poverty, and if we are really going to make Africa count in the community of nations".
Welcoming the visiting heads of state, President Chissano said that Mozambique's experience "shows that poverty can at least be reduced, through a combination of public, economic and institutional reforms, that promote a broader participation of citizens in all aspects of national life".
"We can say that in Mozambique NEPAD is on the march and is producing results that encourage us to continue this long march, which is to build higher standards of living for our people", he added.
Although neither Chissano nor Obasanjo mentioned it, one of the items on the meeting's agenda is the African Peer Review Mechanism, the method devised to check on the governance and economic records of member states. There has been a delay in the start of these reviews, attributed to the fact that the Mechanism panel spent the last eight months reviewing documentation and making its preparations. The panel is now ready to start the peer review of Ghana, the first country to volunteer.
After the end of the meeting, President Obasanjo told reporters that improving Africa's infrastructure and food security are high priority areas for NEPAD.
The meeting, he said, had been briefed on a new report from a team UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has set up to consider scientific and technological solutions for improving African food production. "This is a report that looks at what science and technology can do, on the basis of utilising what we already have at the base, to move forwards in production and productivity, to give us self-sufficiency in food", said Obasanjo.
"We cannot ape what happened in Europe, Latin America or Asia", he warned. "We have to go on a path that meets the needs culture and practice in Africa, adopting and amending but not discarding what already exists".
Asked about moving food from African countries that have a surplus to those that have a food deficit, Obasanjo seemed all in favour. "Some countries may be able to produce faster than others", he said. In fact, that situation had already arrived, and Nigeria now found itself with a grain surplus.
"Agricultural production increased seven per cent last year, and we have a strategic reserve", added Obasanjo. "We have 150,000 tonnes of grain in stock. This has never happened before. We have told other countries that we have grain we can supply".
Obasanjo hoped that Nigeria would be able to build a strategic reserve of a million tonnes of grain. "We will then be in a comfortable position both for Nigeria and for the neighbouring countries", he said.
As for infrastructure, the Nigerian leader noted that the African Development Bank (ADB) has the responsibility for identifying "flagship projects", and suggesting how funds could be raised for them. "There is a certain amount of funding that can be internally generated", said Obasanjo. "When we are seen to be using our own funds, others will say to us ''yes, you mean business, and we will join forces with you''".
The meeting also talked of the invitation extended by US president George Bush to some African leaders to attend the forthcoming summit of the G8 group of most highly industrialised countries, due to take place in the United States next month.
He noted that Bush's invitation mentioned four areas in which the G8 would interact with their African guests - NEPAD itself, diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, peace and security (including the issue of terrorism), and "private sector led growth".
The Implementation Committee also noted the new British Commission for Africa set up by Prime Minister Tony Blair. Obasanjo stressed that this Commission "should not detract from, but should be complementary to the work of NEPAD".
The Implementation Commission was also concerned at the slow pace in getting the African Peer Review Mechanism off the ground. The heads of state and government on the Implementation Commission had thus asked the NEPAD Steering Committee to work closely with the Peer Review panel "to get the process moving", said Obasanjo.
"The Review is operated by the Panel, but in getting to the point of making the review they will need help, and we have asked the Steering Committee to help them", he stressed.
Mozambique's National Statistics Institute on 21 May presented an updated computerised data base on the country's demographic, economic and social statistics, known as ESDEM. This is the third edition of ESDEM, and at a ceremony launching the CD-ROM containing the data base, the INE's chairperson, Joao Loureiro, said it was compiled from the information gathered in censuses, surveys and from other sources.
Such statistics, he said, provided a means of monitoring progress in obtaining the goals set, both internationally (such as the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals), and domestically (in the government's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty - PARPA).
ESDEM has been developed in partnership with the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), using the most up-to-date information available, including the 2002/03 Household Survey, and the 2003 Demographics and Health Survey.
Some key statistics deriving from the health survey were distributed at the ceremony. Thus the national mortality rate among children under the age of five, put at 262.6 per 1,000 live births in the 1997 census, has fallen sharply, to 178 per 1,000 live births.
As in so many other areas, Maputo city proves the best place in the country to live - it has a child mortality rate of only 89 per 1,000 live births. The worst rate is in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, where 241 out of every 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday.
The statistics also prove that the largest single factor in determining whether a child will live or die is the educational level of its mother. 200 out of every thousand children born to mothers with no education die before the age of five: among children born to mothers with secondary education the figure falls to 87.
The Demographics and Health Survey showed that malnutrition remains shockingly high among the nation's children. 41 per cent of all children under five years old are suffering from chronic malnutrition. The geographical and social distribution of child malnutrition mirrors that of child deaths. thus 56 per cent of under-fives in Cabo Delgado, but only 21 per cent in Maputo city, are suffering from chromic malnutrition. 47 per cent of the under-fives born to mothers with no education are chronically malnourished, but the figure is 15 per cent among children of mothers with secondary education.
One key health gain in the immediate post-independence period has been maintained right up to the present: the country has a remarkable record in vaccinating its children against the main killer diseases. The survey found that 63 per cent of children aged between 12 and 23 months had been fully vaccinated. The figure reaches 98 per cent among the children of women who have secondary education, but falls to 49 per cent among the children of uneducated women.
In Maputo city 91 per cent of the children were found to be vaccinated. The figure is even better in Maputo province, where it rises to 93 per cent. In all provinces except two - Niassa in the north, and Zambezia in the centre - over 50 per cent of children were vaccinated.
The main deduction from the household survey is that the number of Mozambicans living below the poverty line has fallen from about 69 per cent in 1997 to 54 per cent in 2003.
With results now in from all 84 polling stations, it is clear that the ruling Frelimo Party has won its expected overwhelming victory in the by-election for the post of major of the southern city of Xai-Xai on 19 May - but on a very poor turnout.
Figures issued on 20 May by the Xai-Xai city elections commission showed that Frelimo candidate Rita Muianga received 13,469 votes (95.2 per cent of all valid votes). Lying a very distant second was Arlindo Pareque of Renamo, with 409 votes (2.9 per cent). The third candidate, the independent Fernando Paulo, only took 269 votes (1.9 per cent).
Including those who cast invalid and blank ballots, a total of 14,701 Xai-Xai citizens voted - a turnout of only 26.7 per cent. This is a significant decline on the 36.4 per cent turnout during the municipal elections of November 2003.
The scale of the Frelimo victory, however, was much the same. In November, Ernesto Mausse (whose death precipitated the by-election) won 95.4 per cent of the vote, and his Renamo opponent, Domingos Machel, won 4.6 per cent. The results are not quite definitive - they must be confirmed by the National Elections Commission (CNE). In particular, the CNE must inspect all votes declared invalid at the polling stations.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Helder Muteia described the signing of an agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Maputo on 10 May for a Food Fund for Development as "a clear sign of the implementation of development orientated programmes in the country".
"This is a very important agreement for the lives of the peasants, because it means a turn around from programmes orientated exclusively to emergency, into new ones, veered into development", Muteia told reporters after the ceremony.
With this agreement the WFP is pledging a support worth $2 million for the next five years, to be used in food-for-work programmes. Muteia said that with this money, Mozambique will be able to develop initiatives to allow people now living out of donations to develop self-sustainability. He explained that the money will be used to help build irrigation systems, roads, and other such infrastructures so that the peasants no longer depend on donations or on climate factors.
WFP representative in Mozambique, Angela Vanrybach, said that this agreement reflects the confidence of her institution in the Mozambican government. The money granted is to allow rural communities in districts affected by chronic food insecurity to create means of self-sustainability and make them less vulnerable to natural disasters.
The Secretary General of the ruling Frelimo party, Armando Guebuza, was discharged from the Maputo Central Hospital on 8 May, where he had been admitted with signs of stress. He suddenly felt uncomfortable and nauseous, and he was taken to hospital where doctors said he was showing signs of stress.
Guebuza has had a demanding work schedule to promote the image of both his party and his own since he was appointed as Frelimo's candidate for the next presidential elections, due late this year.
President Joaquim Chissano strongly denounced on 14 May the "continuous social exclusion to which the majority of human kind is subject". He was speaking shortly after his graduation as "Doctor Honoris Causa" in Public Politics by the Southern University, in the state of Louisiana. He dedicated the award to the Mozambican people, whom he described as his "main professor in life".
Speaking of social exclusion he said that not only it puts hundreds of millions of people in a difficult, and often tragic situation, but also it ends up endangering the delusory security of those who live in excessive opulence.
President Chissano warned that unless one puts an end to this apocalyptic state of things that results in social exclusion, the world will never enjoy a complete and long lasting security. He stressed that "progress and prosperity should reach all peoples world wide and provide a sustainable and long lasting development", warning that otherwise "the small islands of excessive opulence will not continue living in security while still surrounded by oceans of poverty".
He insisted that the prosperity that those few countries and peoples enjoy today is the result of the unjust ways of the globalisation, and it will not be long before they lose that, unless they allow every other people to benefit too. "Political leaders and business people who fail to understand this, will only enjoy these gains a short term, because they will not be able to sustain their success forever", he said. He explained that this is because with globalisation, one shares not only the benefits but also the ills or mistakes of its faulty implementation, that bring about cruelty, tragedy, endemic famines and oppression.
He noted that the most cruel scenery is found in Africa, where between 45 and 50 per cent of the continent's 600 million inhabitants live below the bread line, and 19 of the 23 countries which peoples are suffering of acute malnutrition across the world are in Africa.
President Chissano also warned that it is this situation that opens the door to crime and terrorism. "While some will argue that it is not necessarily poverty that causes the horrendous acts of crime and terrorism, poverty allows such phenomena to occur", he said.
Chissano urged the thousands of students who were also graduated on the same day in that university to put their knowledge at the service of human kind to make the world a better place. He stressed that there is a good reason for them to share their knowledge, inasmuch that "knowledge is one of the goods that no matter how much one gives one never loses it".
He urged those students, most of whom are African descendants, to come to Africa, to know the land of their ancestors, and also to exchange knowledge with their African brothers and help them out of the socio-economic difficulties they are facing.
The Indian consortium "Rites & Ircon International Limited" on 5 May was declared the winner of the international tender launched by the Mozambican government for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Beira railway system. The concession is valid for 25 years, and a newcompany will be set up to run the system, with the publicly owned railway company (CFM) holding 49 per cent of the shares.
The Beira railway system encompasses the line from the port of Beira to Machipanda, on the border with the neighbouring Zimbabwe, plus the Sena line, linking that port to the Moatize coal mines, in the central Tete province.
The World Bank has pledged to grant $120 of the $170 million necessary to rehabilitate the railway to Machipanda and to reconstruct the Sena line.
During the ceremony to announce the results of the tender, Transports and Communications Minister Tomaz Salomao said that the reconstruction of the Sena line, which has been paralysed since 1983, is essential for the social and economic development of the entire country.
This undertaking, described as complex, includes the restoration of the entire railway infrastructure, the acquisition of new engines and other rolling equipment, and the installation of a telecommunications and security system. The work is expected to take over three years to complete.
President Joaquim Chissano declared on 21 May that the construction of the rule of law in the country remains a major challenge in the search for a healthier legal system. He was speaking at the ceremony swearing into office Luis Sacramento as the new deputy president of the Supreme Court.
President Chissano recognised the severe criticisms from Mozambican society directed at the administration of justice, and urged those who work in the legal system to be tolerant towards their critics.
But despite all the criticisms, there was international recognition "of the effort we are making to build the edifice of justice. They (i.e. foreign donors) criticise us, but they give us support and encourage us to continue".
President Chissano also swore into office Lucia do Amaral and Manuel Frank as members of the Constitutional Council. This is the body empowered to decide whether legislative and statutory acts are in line with the constitution, and to settle conflicts of competence between sovereign state bodies. It also supervises elections, takes the final decision on electoral complaints, and validates election results.
The council is a seven member body, Five of its members were appointed last year, and earlier this month the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, added Amaral and Frank to complete the Council's membership. Amaral was nominated by the ruling Frelimo Party, and Frank by the Renamo-Electoral Union opposition coalition.
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