Mozambique News Agency


No.283, 16th September 2004


Contents


Government reports healthy economic growth

The Mozambican economy is growing in line with the targets set by the government for this year, according to figures released from a cabinet meeting held on 14 September. Economic activity grew by 8.4 percent in the first six months of the year, when compared with the same period in 2003. The government's target, in the Economic and Social Plan, approved by the country's parliament in December, is for an increase in Gross Domestic Product of eight percent in 2004.

The first six months also saw a growth in exports of 15.9 percent. No details were given, but this is probably largely due to the second phase of the MOZAL aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Maputo. January-June 2004 was the first six months of full production at MOZAL-2 - which has doubled the smelter's capacity to 506,000 tonnes of aluminium ingots a year, all of which are exported.

Inflation between January and August stood at 5.9 percent. The government thus stands a chance of achieving an annual inflation rate of less than 10 percent (although there is traditionally a surge in inflation in December, as unscrupulous businesses take advantage of the festive season to push up their prices).

As for the country's currency, the metical, in the first six months it appreciated by three percent against the US dollar. But this is a sign, not so much of the strength of the metical, but of the weakness of the dollar, which has been falling against other currencies, notably against the euro and the South African rand.


Government meeting literacy target

The Mozambican government claims that it will meet and surpass, the target established for the five year period ending this year of reducing illiteracy by ten percentage points. By the end of last year, the illiteracy rate in the country was estimated at 53.6 percent, compared with the figure of 60.5 percent in 1997.

Speaking during the central ceremonies to mark International Literacy Day on 8 September, in the town of Namaacha, on the border with Swaziland, Deputy Education Minister Telmina Pereira attributed the success of the Mozambican literacy programme to the commitment of all sectors of society. International Literacy Day was celebrated in Mozambique under the theme: "Mozambique Free of Illiteracy, Heading for Development".

Pereira told her audience how the illiteracy rate in Mozambique had declined from an estimated 93 percent in 1975, when the country won independence from Portugal, to the present figures. She said that, but for the 16 year war of destabilisation, the situation would be even better.

Pereira said that great progress had been achieved since 2000, when literacy and adult education programmes were relaunched. She urged all of society to get involved in the programme, and pointed out that literacy helps people improve their capacity to earn more income.

The date was celebrated in different places in the country, including in Maputo city, where mayor Eneas Comiche offered school materials to adult students, and local community and education bodies planted trees at the St. Francis Xavier Community School, in George Dimitrov neighbourhood.


State reform will require more staff

Far from slashing the numbers of civil servants, reform of the Mozambican public sector will, in the long term, require increasing the number of people employed in the state apparatus (including the education and health services) from the current 110,000 to about 200,000, according to the director of the government's Public Sector Reform Technical Unit (UTRESP), Adelino Cruz.

Cited in "Noticias" on 3 September, Cruz said this increase would respond to the demand of new dynamics in decentralisation, particularly at local level, where new staff are needed to implement the policy. He said that UTRESP has found that there are simply not enough staff in the districts, thought to be the most important decision-making level if decentralisation is to take place.

"One will need to recruit more staff. The human factor is important to render this structure operational. Our approach is make it functional and endow it with competence, integrity, creativity, and professionalism", he said.

During a meeting with representatives of civil society to draw up a balance sheet of the first stage of the implementation of the reform programme, Cruz insisted that what explains the poor performance of the public sector in the country is not any supposed excess of civil servants, but their inefficiency, and putting an end to this is what the reform exercise is all about.


Figures for electorate published

Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE) on 11 September published the definitive figures on the updating of the electoral registers that took place from 28 June to 15 July.

Although the initial target had been to register 700,000 people (including first time voters, those transferring from one polling station to another, and those who had lost their voter cards and were applying for new ones), in fact 1,245,971 people registered. Of these, 697,925 were first time voters - people who reached the voting age of 18 this year, or who claimed that they failed to register in previous years. 217,343 were transfers, and an extraordinary 330,703 were citizens who claimed to have lost their voting cards, and were issued with new ones.

The break down by province, from north to south of the country, was as follows:

Province
New voters
Transfers
New cards
Total
 
Niassa
34,571
9,091
18,798
62,460
Cabo Delgado
57,028
19,251
25,296
101,575
Nampula
134,665
33,908
69,058
237,631
Zambezia
128,863
31,577
71,504
231,944
Tete
61,832
11,860
14,096
87,738
Manica
43,280
13,291
17,065
73,636
Sofala
62,248
21,956
34,165
118,369
Inhambane
33,063
18,741
12,810
64,614
Gaza
44,834
23,141
23,020
90,995
Maputo Province
42,281
18,025
18,413
78,719
Maputo City
55,260
16,502
26,478
98,240
 
Total
697,925
217,343
330,703
1,245,971

According to the CNE, this brings the total registered electorate up to almost 9.1 million - a figure reached by adding the first time voters registered in June/July to the registration of 1999 (when the entire electorate was re-registered) and the update of 2003.
Broken down by provinces, the electorate is as follows:

Province
Electorate
 
Niassa
453,461
Cabo Delgado
794,270
Nampula
1,831,897
Zambezia
1,749,121
Tete
660,741
Manica
531,264
Sofala
802,149
Inhambane
579,356
Gaza
609,214
Maputo Province
483,493
Maputo City
600,249
 
Total
9,095,185

There are formidable problems with these figures. First, the latest figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE) put the total Mozambican population of voting age (18 and above), as of August 2004, at 9.1 million. In the 1999 registration, Mozambique did extremely well, when the electoral bodies managed to register 85 percent of the estimated population of voting age.

There are two main causes for the high figure. Firstly, the registers contain the names of large numbers of people who have died, as there is no system in place for removing from the registers the names of the dead.

Extrapolating from census figures, and taking into account the increase in mortality figures due to AIDS, it is estimated that between 1999 and 2004, about 743,000 registered voters died.

However, subtracting these deaths from the CNE's figure for the total electorate gives us a figure of 8,352,000, which is still 91.7 percent of the total adult population.

The second explanation is that a large number of people have registered twice. This would be the case, for instance, with people who did not understand that, if they already had a 1999 or 2003 card, it was not necessary to register again in 2004. The experience of the 2003 local elections may also have persuaded people that it was a good idea to register again, even if they already had a card. For in 2003 a significant number of people turned up to the polling stations with their voting cards, only to find that their names had inexplicably dropped off the registers.

If a constant 85 percent of the adult population has registered, then the real electorate is 7,735,000. But that assumption may be unwarranted. The uncertainty about the size of the electorate means it will be impossible to provide accurate figures on turn-out and abstention during the general elections of 1-2 December.


Voter education begins

The voter education campaign for the 1-2 December general elections started throughout Mozambique on 16 September.

1,200 voter education agents have been trained, and will be stationed throughout the country. The voter education campaign lasts for a month, ending on 15 October. Two days later the political parties and their candidates take over, in the official election campaign, which runs from 17 October to 28 November.

Presidential candidates must submit their nomination papers, including the signatures of 10,000 supporters, to the Constitutional Council by 2 October. So far, only the candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party, Armando Guebuza, has presented his papers.

Political parties are to present their lists of candidates for the parliamentary election to the CNE between 17 September and 7 October. Both Frelimo and the main opposition force, the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition, have been going through internal procedures over the past couple of weeks to select their candidates.


CNE announces distribution of seats

The chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), Rev Arao Litsuri, on 4 September announced the breakdown by constituency of the 250 parliamentary seats at stake in the general elections scheduled for 1-2 December.

The deputies to the Assembly of the Republic are elected by proportional representation through a system of party lists in 11 multi-member constituencies. For electoral purposes, each of the country's 11 provinces is a constituency.

In addition, two deputies should be elected by Mozambicans living abroad - one by Mozambican communities elsewhere in Africa, and one by those living in Europe.

The breakdown of the 248 seats for the Mozambican constituencies depends on the size of the registered electorate in each province. The distribution of seats as announced by Litsuri is as follows. For comparative purposes, AIM is also listing the figures for the two previous elections, in 1999 and 1994. The provinces are listed from north to south.

Province
2004
1999
1994
 
Niassa
12
13
11
Cabo Delgado
22
22
22
Nampula
50
50
54
Zambezia
48
49
49
Tete
18
18
15
Manica
14
15
13
Sofala
22
21
21
Inhambane
16
17
18
Gaza
17
18
16
Maputo Province
13
13
13
Maputo City
16
16
18
Diaspora - Africa
1
0
0
Diaspora - Europe
1
0
0

Litsuri announced that, if the CNE decides against holding elections in the diaspora, the two seats will be redistributed - one seat will go to Manica (a province which largely votes for the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition), raising its total to 15. The second will go to Maputo City (a stronghold of the ruling Frelimo Party), bringing its number of parliamentary seats to 17.


Opinion poll gives Frelimo massive lead

If Mozambique's presidential and parliamentary elections had been held in July, the ruling Frelimo Party and its presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza, would have won by an overwhelming margin, according to an opinion poll taken by ISPU (Higher Polytechnic and University Institute), one of the country's private universities.

The opinion poll was taken from 26 to 31 July, with a sample of 9,000 voters from Maputo City, the northern province of Nampula, and the central provinces of Sofala and Zambezia. ISPU Vice-Chancellor Lourenco do Rosario presented the results at a press conference on 9 September.

In the presidential election, Guebuza won a massive majority among the sample - 57.7 percent compared with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakam's 27 percent. In third position was Yaqub Sibindy, of the Independent Party of Mozambique with 2.6 percent. Only 2.4 percent of the sample said they would vote for Raul Domingos, the former head of the Renamo parliamentary group, who was expelled from Renamo in 2000, and now heads his own party, the PDD (Party for Peace Democracy and Development). The remaining 10.3 percent plumped for the category "others".

It seems that Frelimo would do even better, had President Joaquim Chissano decided to run for a further term. Asked whether they would vote for Chissano, if he was a candidate. 62 percent of the sample said yes.

As for the parliamentary election, 42.8 percent said they would vote for Frelimo, and 20.8 percent for Renamo. The rest opted for minor parties - the little known Labour Party (PT) was chosen by a surprisingly high 9.5 percent of the sample.

This is one of the factors that cast doubt on the poll's reliability. The PT won 0.6 percent of the vote in the 1994 election, and 2.7 percent in 1999. It did not win a single seat in any municipal assembly in the 2003 local elections. Can it really now be the choice of almost one in ten of the voters? Another surprising find is the low rate of abstention predicted. According to this poll, 89 percent of voters in Zambezia will vote, 82 percent in Nampula and 98.6 percent in Sofala.

Rosario stated that the poll had a margin of error of 1.05 percent, and that the sample was properly balanced between urban and rural, and coastal and interior areas.

There are no other opinion polls against which the ISPU findings can be compared. Polls are rare in Mozambique, partly because of their cost - ISPU spent $30,000 on this poll.


Voter registration in Portugal

With voter registration among Mozambican emigrant communities about half-way through, by 14 September 329 Mozambicans had registered in the consulates in Lisbon and Oporto, according to sources in the Mozambican embassy in the Portuguese capital.

The registration began on 6 September and is due to end on 25 September. According to the Mozambican consul in Lisbon, Jose Miguel Nunes Junior, 236 Mozambicans registered in Lisbon and 93 in Oporto. This is a long way short of the estimated 8,000 Mozambicans living in Portugal, but consular staff expect the number registered to pick up over the coming ten days.


Raul Domingos rules out coalition

Raul Domingos, leader of Party for Peace, Democracy and Development (PDD), has categorically denied that his party will enter a coalition in the forthcoming general elections, either with the ruling Frelimo Party, or with Renamo.

Domingos was once the second most powerful figure in Renamo, and led the Renamo delegation that negotiated the 1992 peace agreement with the government. But he fell out with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama and was expelled from Renamo, accused of "betrayal", in 2000.

Last month, the Beira daily "Diario de Mocambique" cited Domingos as saying that, although the PDD's differences with Frelimo were irreconcilable, it might consider an alliance with Renamo. But Domingos has now flatly ruled that out. Cited in "Noticias" on 7 September, he declared "The PDD has its own principles and values. So it will not link up either with Frelimo or Renamo". Domingos described both Frelimo and Renamo as "militarised parties", which "have not been able to create tranquillity and well-being for the population".


Japanese aid for health and education

The Mozambican and Japanese authorities on 13 September signed agreements in Maputo under which Japan is to grant about $15 million to the education and health sectors in the central province of Zambezia and the southern province of Gaza.

$8.4 million dollars is earmarked for the construction of new premises in Zambezia for the Institute of Health Sciences, with the capacity to take 270 students a year. The funding includes equipment for training first and second level health technicians.

A further $6.45 million is to rehabilitate the Primary Teacher Training College (IMAP) in Gaza. New infrastructures will be built, and educational equipment provided for the Gaza IMAP.

Currently over 55 percent of the teachers working in Gaza have no educational training, and it is hoped that the rehabilitated training college will improve the situation.


Austria finances Dondo Council

The Austrian government's development cooperation agency has announced funding of €300,000 (about $360,000) for the building of new premises for Dondo City Council, in the central province of Sofala.

Currently Dondo Council is operating out of two separate buildings, some distance from each other. This awkward solution was improvised in 1998, when Dondo became a local authority and the country's first local elections were held.

Austrian Development Cooperation, which has chosen to put its Mozambique offices in Beira rather than in Maputo, has already financed the construction of a new market, in the Dondo suburb of Macharote, and has provided equipment for the city's municipal library.

Dondo is the second largest city in Sofala, and is located about 30 kilometres west of Beira. In the first experience of elected mayors and municipal assemblies (1998-2003), Dondo was regarded as the best governed of the 33 municipalities in the country.


Hopes for good cotton marketing

The Mozambican government is hopeful that the amount of cotton marketed will surpass the mark of 85,000 tonnes this year, despite poor rainfall, particularly in the main producing province, Nampula, in the north of the country.

Cited in "Noticias" on 8 September, Agriculture Minister Helder Muteia expressed satisfaction with the way in which the various parties involved in cotton marketing have coordinated their actions, which he described as an important factor for the success of the campaign.

Speaking of the good harvest, Muteia said "I was fearing that drought in Nampula would affect the production levels for this region. But from what we could see, I believe that we will surpass last year's production and, subsequently, we will have good marketing levels".

He added "our estimate for Nampula was to harvest only 30,000 tonnes of cotton, but so far there are hope of yields of up to 37,000 or 40,000 tones, which will take the marketing figure to over 85,000 tones (across the country)".

The various actors involved in the cotton business have fixed the producer prices at 7,000 meticais (about 30 US cents) and 5,000 meticais a kilo of first grade and second grade cotton, respectively.

Muteia said that he is also happy with the levels of production of cooking oil out of cotton seed in the Namialo factory, in the Nampula district of Meconta. "The high quality of cotton seed oil is well known and is sought after on the national market. We are planning investments as from next year for that oil to be exported", said Muteia.

Muteia recently reiterated that the government is determined to sell off its shares in cotton companies as a means to render these companies more independent and facilitate their financial management.


Navy receives patrol boats

The Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) received on 14 September two boats as part of the country's efforts to strengthen its military capacity to patrol the coast. The patrol boats, purchased in South Africa, were refurbished and equipped with the support of the French government, at a cost of €60,000 (about $73,000).

Speaking during the handing over ceremony, at Maputo port, Mozambican Defence Minister Tobias Dai said that this donation will enhance the gradual technical empowerment of the FADM, particularly the navy. "The Mozambican people is gradually finding a response to guarantee protection of the Mozambican coast and the territorial waters, in a very reliable manner", said Dai.

Dai said that the Mozambican navy will now use fibre-glass boats, equipped with advanced navigational and radar systems and with weaponry on board. "These boats will be crewed by sailors from the FADM, who have previously been unable to do their job for lack of vessels.


Youth leader appeals against suspension

Gilberto Mendes, the chairperson of Mozambique's National Youth Council (CNJ), has insisted that he is innocent of charges of cheating in university examinations, and is appealing against his suspension for two years from Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM).

The university Vice-Chancellor, Brazao Mazula, ordered Mendes' suspension from the Law Faculty on 2 September. Mazula's dispatch followed the discovery that Mendes had not attended the final exam in the Political Economy discipline. However, another student, Lourenco Marra, who had been dispensed from the exam, was in the room.

There is no actual proof of a conspiracy between Mendes and Marra for the latter to take the exam instead of the former. But other accusations against Mendes were shown to be correct. For example, Mendes is also accused of collaborating with Marra in a piece of practical work that should have been written individually. Furthermore, in a test paper on Administrative Law, taken on 30 October last year, the answers given by Mendes and Marra were identical.

In his appeal Mendes has denied all the charges. He says that at the time of the Political Economy exam he was not in the country: he had gone to Portugal, and the lecturer concerned had been duly informed that Mendes would be unable to sit the exam. It is not yet clear whether Marra too intends to appeal. The appeal has the result of suspending Mazula's ruling. He now has five days to respond to the appeal.

In addition to his role on the CNJ, Mendes is also a substitute parliamentary deputy for the ruling Frelimo Party, and a popular actor and television presenter.


This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact aim@tvcabo.co.mz


Mozambique News Agency

c/o 114 Stanford Avenue Brighton BN1 6FE UK.

Tel: +44 (0) 7941 890630,

email: Mozambique News Agency


Return to index