Mozambique on 25 September celebrated
the 40th anniversary of the start of the country's independence war with a military
parade before thousands of spectators in the capital's main sport stadium. It
was on 25 September 1964 that a handful of guerrillas of the Mozambique Liberation
Front (Frelimo) launched the armed struggle for independence with an attack
against the Portuguese administration at the small town of Chai, in the northern
province of Cabo Delgado. Almost exactly 10 years later, on 7 September 1974,
Frelimo and the Portuguese government signed the agreement in Lusaka on the
transition to Mozambican independence, proclaimed on 25 June 1975.
Witnessing the celebrations, sitting beside President Joaquim Chissano, were two men who had stood beside Frelimo throughout the difficult times of the independence war - former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, and the former deputy president of Tanzania, Rashidi Kawawa.
President Chissano praised them both fulsomely. When landlocked Zambia became independent, President Chissano pointed out, it depended on ports in Mozambique, controlled by the Portuguese regimes. It was therefore at risk of retaliation from the Portuguese colonial government, if it assisted Frelimo, "but Zambia did not hesitate, and supported the liberation struggle".
As for Kawawa, President Chissano declared "he regarded the Mozambican struggle as his own". He recalled warmly Kawawa's role in finding sites for Frelimo training bases in Tanzania, and in arranging weaponry for the liberation movement.
Frelimo had not wanted to fight a war, President Chissano said, but the Portuguese regime refused all peaceful avenues, and even declared that Mozambique was not a colony, but an "overseas province" And over the ten years of war, the liberation struggle "educated many Portuguese soldiers, and a large part of the Portuguese people", President Chissano added. "They discovered they were not defending Portuguese interests, but were being used to oppress other peoples".
The army therefore rose up and overthrew the colonial-fascist regime in Lisbon in a near bloodless coup on 25 April 1974. The colonialist regime was defeated, claimed President Chissano, "by the selfless dedication of our young guerrillas, and by the wisdom of Eduardo Mondlane and Samora Machel" (the first President of Frelimo, and his successor, who became the first President of an independent Mozambique).
Giving an overview of the history of the Mozambican armed forces, President Chissano recalled how Mozambican units went deep inside Zimbabwe in the late 1970s, to fight alongside ZANU guerrillas against the regime of Ian Smith. "They were the pride of Mozambique", he declared.
Then, when Ugandan dictator Idi Amin attacked Tanzania, "our armed forces responded immediately to the Tanzanian call, and sent a contingent to assist. We didn't make a big noise about that, but side by side we defeated the Ugandan dictatorship".
During the war of destabilisation waged by the apartheid regime, the Mozambican army "only wanted to restore peace and ensure the unity of the Mozambican people", stressed the President. So after the peace agreement was signed in 1992 between the government and the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels, the government army agreed to join its former foes in a single national army, the FADM (Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique). "They are now side by side in the same army without any distinction at all", said President Chissano.
Despite its severe shortage of equipment, the FADM had played a crucial role in rescue missions, notably during the catastrophic flooding that hit much of the country in early 2000, President Chissano said. With a few small boats and just one helicopter, the FADM "worked wonders" in the crucial days before the international rescue effort took off.
President Chissano also called for a more highly educated army. Just as the police academy on the outskirts of Maputo is now offering degree-level courses, so a military academy of university standard would soon be set up in the northern city of Nampula. "It's not only guns that defend the country, but also knowledge", he declared.
At the conclusion of a three day
meeting in Maputo on 22 September, national news agencies of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) set up a Pool, intended to improve dissemination
of news across the region.
The founding charter of the SADC News Agencies Pool (SANAP) stresses that the Pool is to operate "independently of all outside powers, be they governmental, religious, business or any other sectional interest".
The charter states that the ultimate objective of SANAP "is the enhancement of the flow of information on SADC, aimed at empowering the citizens of the region with a view to facilitating regional development and integration".
The document stresses that SANAP has been established "to promote press freedom to create a conducive environment for the media to operate".
Among the other aims of the new organisation are "to contribute to the promotion of a better understanding and improved knowledge of SADC and its member states at regional and international levels", and "to promote the optimum use of available resources, and nurture the growing democracy in the region".
It will be headquartered in Maputo, and could start operations before the end of this year, provided equipment is purchased and installed in due time. Daily operations will be in the hands of a regional editor, who is yet to be recruited.
The idea to set up such a pool, with Maputo as its headquarters, dates back to 2001 - but at that time no funding was available to move from idea to reality. It is hoped that the creation of SANAP will encourage those countries where no national agency exists to establish (or re- establish) one.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama on
29 September delivered his nomination papers for the December presidential election
to the Constitutional Council.
The Council is the body charged with ensuring that presidential candidates meet the legal requirements. It also validates the election results, and is the final court of appeal for electoral complaints.
Presidential candidates must provide proof of their identity and age (since only registered Mozambican voters aged 35 or older may stand), and a certificate proving that they have no criminal record. They must also present a list of supporting signatures from at least 10,000 registered voters. Each of those signatures must be authenticated by a notary.
Dhlakama told reporters that he had presented the Constitutional Council with about 58,000 signatures from all 11 provincial constituencies. It is a wise move to present many more signatures than the legal minimum, in case the Constitutional Council discovers that some of the signatures are invalid.
Dhlakama accused Frelimo of "making many mistakes in its period in power". Furthermore, he claimed, Frelimo had been in power for so long (ever since independence in 1975) that it was like an old vinyl record played so many times that it was worn out.
The Renamo leader is the third candidate to present his papers. The others are the Frelimo general secretary, Armando Guebuza, and Yaqub Sibindy of the Independent Party of Mozambique.
The general secretary of Frelimo,
and its candidate for the December presidential elections, Armando Guebuza,
said in Johannesburg on 29 September that he is convinced that, just like the
country's previous elections, these ones will be held peacefully.
Speaking at a press conference, Guebuza stressed the importance of the national unity of all Mozambicans, regardless of the political parties they may support. "If I am elected in December my greatest concern will be to consolidate the unity, democracy and development of the country. It is imperative that we remain united as a people, regardless of whatever party each of us may be members of, or may vote for" he said.
Guebuza denied the frequent claim by Renamo that it is the policy of Frelimo to concentrate investment in the south of the country. That had indeed been the policy of the Portuguese colonial regime, he said, "but since Frelimo came to power it has done all it could to ensure development in all parts of Mozambique".
A clear example of this was electrification. The power produced at the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi has been preferentially channelled along the Centre-North power line towards the north of the country, Guebuza said.
He also pointed to the reactivation of industries ruined during the war of destabilisation. Thus the sugar mill at Marromeu, in the central province of Sofala, reduced to a heap of twisted metal by Renamo, has been rebuilt and is now fully operational.
The head of the Renamo parliamentary
group, Ossufo Quitine, has dismissed the internal elections in his party to
select candidates for the forthcoming general elections as "a joke in bad
taste", reports the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique".
Quitine was referring in particular to the elections in his home province of Nampula, in which he was not selected. A Renamo conference held in Nampula on 12 September drew up a list of candidates for the province's 50 parliamentary seats, in which Quitine's name did not figure.
According to "Diario de Mocambique", despite his position as one of Renamo's most prominent spokesmen, not a single delegate at the conference voted for Quitine.
Quitine brushed aside this apparent lack of popularity, and told the paper the Renamo elections in Nampula had been marred by "serious irregularities" - but he gave no details. In any case, the list was not binding on the Renamo leadership, he stressed. It had to be analysed by the party's Political Commission, which could make changes.
Quitine forecast "a lot of changes" when it came to drawing up the final lists, since "it is not enough for people to want to be parliamentary deputies without having done any practical work". "Here (in Nampula) we can play about, but it's up to the Political Commission to ratify the list before it can become effective", he declared.
Only 910 Mozambicans resident in
Portugal have registered as voters at the Mozambican consulates in Lisbon and
The registration of emigrants as voters, thus giving them, in principle, the right to vote in the general elections scheduled for 1-2 September, took place between 6 and 25 September.
The Mozambican consul in Lisbon, Jose Miguel Nunes Junior, put a brave face on the poor turnout. The registration was not a failure, he told AIM, bearing in mind that everything had to be done at the last minute, and there was no widespread publicity of the registration through Portuguese radio and television. But the hard fact remains that only 687 Mozambicans registered in Lisbon and 223 in Oporto.
Nunes Junior says that the consulates have records on rather more than 8,000 Mozambicans living in Portugal - but this figure includes children.
The consulates' figures clash with those of the Portuguese immigration services, which say there are about 5,000 Mozambicans living legally in the country. Nunes Junior admits that his figures may be exaggerated. They may include Mozambican students who have already finished their courses and returned home, as well as people who have died, and others who have taken Portuguese citizenship.
But no matter what interpretation is put on the conflicting figures, it seems incontestable that the great majority of Mozambicans of voting age living in Portugal did not bother to register.
"I think the numbers achieved were those that were possible, and we can't regard this as a failure", Nunes Junior insisted. "The Mozambicans who registered have shown that they want to vote".
He lamented that there were no mobile registration brigades in Portugal. Thus anyone who wanted to register had to travel to one of the two consulates. But arguments alleging transport difficulties cannot be taken very seriously: Portugal is a fairly small country with good communications between its main cities.
Outside of Lisbon and Oporto, one might expect to find Mozambicans in the university city of Coimbra, and perhaps in the cities of Braga, Setubal and Evora. None of these places are more than two or three hours by train or road from Lisbon or Oporto.
During the registration, all the top leadership of the National Elections Commission (CNE) visited Portugal - first the chairperson, Rev Arao Litsuri, and later the two deputy chairpeople, Angelica Salomao and Raimundo Samuge.
Salomao told AIM she thought inadequate publicity might have been a problem, so that the information that they were entitled to register simply did not reach many Mozambicans.
Samuge, who is one of the CNE members appointed by the former rebel movement Renamo, said one of the main objectives of this experience is to provide a basis on which the Mozambican parliament can improve the legislation on voter registration abroad.
President Joaquim Chissano argued
in New York on 20 September that development should not be dictated from outside,
but should rely on innovative models that privilege participation and inclusion,
and an approach based on good governance, accountability, transparency, good
economic policies, and a sound trade environment.
He was addressing a meeting of world statesmen on hunger and poverty, promoted by Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
President Chissano called for regional integration, because it allows the replication of successful practices. He stressed the need for developed countries to assist poor nations in these efforts.
He described financial assistance and direct foreign investment as "extremely important for the poor countries". "Without international financial assistance, development will remain weak", he said, adding that fair trade and access to markets are important instruments to mobilise the necessary resources.
He noted that "many developing countries seem to be on the right path in terms of development, but all these gains may be lost at any moment if they do not receive the necessary support from their developed partners".
"In my country, poverty has dropped by 15 per cent during the past five years, but it still affects 56 per cent of the population. How can a country like this be left by itself, with the argument that it has already attained development?", he questioned.
During the meeting the participating heads of state and government all committed their countries to the fight against hunger and poverty, and to increase the volume of resources for development.
In a final declaration they recalled that "extreme poverty affects more than one billion people across the world, who live on less than one US dollar a day. In Sub-saharan Africa alone, about 300 million people are living in absolute poverty.
The same document also noted that millions of children die every year for lack of medical assistance, drinking water, decent housing and food, and about 20,000 of them die every day from hunger-related diseases.
"In the current conditions of technological progress and global agricultural production, the persistence of such a situation can only be described as economically irrational, politically unacceptable, and morally shameful", reads the document.
All agree that dealing with poverty and injustice is essential for the stability of all, both developed and developing countries.
The participants also noted the need to strive for fair multilateral trade, which is deemed essential for the eradication of the deepest causes of hunger and poverty, through the creation of jobs, and generation and distribution of wealth.
President Joaquim Chissano on 29
September inaugurated a new 200 kilometre electricity transmission line from
the northern city of Nampula to the port of Nacala. The line was financed by
Germany, which provided Euro 8.7 million (about $10.3 million). The line also
cost Mozambique's publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, 35 billion meticais
($1.4 million). Of the latter sum, 13 billion meticais was paid in compensation
to people whose land and homes were affected by the line.
The new line, with 607 pylons, runs parallel to an existing line that was built in 1984. Problems with this line, including repeated falls of pylons, plus the growing demand for energy in Nacala, led to the decision to build the new line.
President Chissano also inaugurated the Samora Machel Military Academy in Nampula. This is an upgrading of the existing military school, named after the country's first president, which will now provide university level courses for officers in the Mozambican armed forces, the FADM.
President Chissano presided at these ceremonies as part of a farewell tour he is undertaking from north to south of the country. He is spending a day in each provincial capital, bidding farewell to the public, telling them that this is the last time he will address them as head of state, since he is leaving office at the end of this year.
Mozambique hopes to produce more
than two million tonnes of grain in the 2004-2005 agricultural year, Agriculture
Minister Helder Muteia told AIM on 20 September. This would be a five per cent
increase on the results of the 2004 harvest, Muteia added.
To prepare the forthcoming agricultural campaign, the Minister said, agricultural fairs are being promoted across the country, where peasant farmers can acquire seeds, and tools such as hoes, machetes and axes.
This year the agricultural campaign is likely to be delayed somewhat because of late rains. According to the meteorological forecasts, Muteia said, in the southern provinces (Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane), "the rains will start late, unlike last year". Farmers were being warned of this prediction, he added, "so that the campaign may be delayed, just as the rains are delayed".
In northern Mozambique (the most fertile part of the country), "normal rains are expected", said the Minister. "So we think the campaign will be good, which will ensure that we continue at the same rhythm of growth in agricultural production, particularly of grain".
At the same time, stress will be put on cash crops for export - not merely the traditional ones such as cotton, but particularly on newer ventures such as soya production.
In the 2004 harvest, Mozambique produced 870 tonnes of soya, of which 90 tonnes were exported to Norway, under an agreement signed between the two countries three years ago. 450 tonnes of soya were exported to Malawi, and the rest is being used as seed for the coming campaign.
"We hope that in 2004-2005 we will produce about 5,000 tonnes of soya", said Muteia. "As for sesame, in the last harvest we produced 12,000 tonnes, which was an improvement on the previous year".
Almost all of Mozambique's sesame is exported, mainly to the Asian market. Varieties of beans are also now being grown, not merely for domestic consumption, but for canning and export to Europe and Asia.
The Indian government has opened
a line of credit worth $20 million for small scale projects to assist peasant
farmers in the central province of Zambezia, according to a release from the
Mozambican Planning and Finance Ministry.
The memorandum formalising this initiative was signed in India on 10 September, by Mozambican High Commissioner Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, and by the Executive Director of the Export-Import Bank of India, R. Raman. The initiative covers such areas as the processing of coconuts, rural electrification, and the drilling of wells and the installation of hand pumps.
On the same day a second memorandum of understanding was signed under which the Mozambican government and the Export-Import Bank reaffirmed their readiness to continue seeking for alternatives to deal with the problem of Mozambique's private debt to India, which in late December was estimated to stand at 6.8 million dollars.
The Indian government cancelled Mozambique's public debt, of $3.8 million in May 2003, under the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) debt relief initiative.
African countries should provide
essential anti-malarial drugs and insecticide-treated mosquito nets free of
charge to vulnerable groups such as under-fives, pregnant women and displaced
people. This was one of the recommendations from the Fifth Joint Meeting of
Malaria and Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Task Forces, which ended
in Maputo on 24 September. These task forces were set up by the World Health
Organisation's Regional Office for Africa.
The participants also urged that African countries, in collaboration with the African Union, "should declare 2005 the year for massive campaigns to treat/retreat all mosquito nets". But for this, funding is required, and the meeting urged donors to ensure such resources were available, particularly from the Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The recommendations also urged African countries to adopt "the WHO quality of health care assessment tool, as well as improve emergency triage assessment and treatment in the health facilities in order to contribute to the improvement of referral care for patients".
The meeting recognised that inadequate staffing remains a major problem for dealing with childhood illnesses and malaria. It called on WHO to work with health ministries "to find mechanisms for retention of health workers in the public service".
At the end of the meeting, the chairperson of Mozambique's National Movement Against Malaria, Anglican Bishop Dinis Sengulane, called for "responsibility" in implementing the meeting's recommendations. "We are expecting commitment and dedication, both individually and from the institutions", he said.
One of the key findings of the experts was that it is possible to cut sharply the number of deaths from malaria in Africa - but only if governments and other stakeholders take initiatives against the disease.
Fred Binga, the head of the group, said "it is possible to reduce the number of deaths from malaria among children", but he stressed that this requires a joint fight by the different stakeholders in society. In particular, Binga urged governments to take specific initiatives if the challenge is to have any success.
Binga expressed disappointment towards the lack of resources to implement the anti-malaria programmes, particularly in Africa.
He insisted that all governments, particularly in Africa, should adopt specific initiatives to control the disease. Although the disease is at its worst in Africa, the same problem is posed in Latin America and in some Asian countries, he said.
Binga recalled that in some Latin American countries, and in India, malaria treatment is free of charge.
A new ferry boat, purchased in Holland,
will start operating within a few days on the crossing of the Zambezi river,
between Caia and Chimuara, in central Mozambique, reports "Noticias"
on 20 September. In addition to this, the Mozambican government has invested
$850,000 in purchasing four new engines for the two old ferries.
These boats have suffered constant breakdowns, due to lack of maintenance, causing serious headaches for motorists trying to cross the river. The Sofala provincial delegate of the National Roads Administration (ANE), Rui Branco, explained that one of the two old ferries has been paralysed since last year, because of a shortage of parts to repair its engines. This unit ran aground at Chimuara last year, an incident that was blamed on overloading, and negligence on the part of the crew.
Besides these three units, the government is also planning to introduce a fourth ferry in December, while preparations are under way to build a new bridge over the Zambezi at Caia, which is budgeted at between $70 and $80 million.
To build three moorings for the ferries, two in Caia, on the southern bank, and one at Chimuara, the Swedish government has granted $2.6 million.
Branco believes that the new ferries will help solve the current problems of crossing the Zambezi, and ensure easy circulation of people and goods on the main north-south highway.
The Mozambican government, the World
Bank, and the French Development Agency are to invest 343 billion meticais (about
$15.6 million) to improve the quality and quantity of water supplied to four
cities, including Maputo, Quelimane in the centre of the country, and Nampula
and Pemba in the northern region.
To that end, the government's Water Supply Investment and Assets Fund (FIPAG) signed an agreement in Maputo on 20 September with the companies that won the international tenders for the undertakings, that were launched in 2003 and 2004.
The companies, from France, Zambia and China, have started gathering the necessary equipment and are expected to complete the work by mid-2006.
The largest sum is reserved for Quelimane, where 250 billion meticais is to be spent on expanding coverage of the piped water network from the current 43,000 consumers, representing about 20 per cent of the population, to over 100,000 consumers. Plans are to build a new well field and install a pumping system from the district of Nicoadala to Quelimane, which will increase water supply from the current 5,400 to 12,600 cubic metres per day.
In Nampula city, the work is budgeted at 64 billion meticais, and will consist of the rehabilitation and extension of the water treatment station, targeting the pumping of 10,000 cubic metres of water a day, compared with the current 2,000.
In Pemba, the task is to increase pumping capacity from 6,700 to about 14,000 cubic metres a day, and improve the quality of water, which is expected to cost 55 billion meticais.
Finally, nine billion meticais is reserved for a study of water losses in Maputo. It is estimated that between 30 and 40 per cent of the water that leaves the treatment station is lost to leaks before it reaches the taps. This situation makes it difficult to expand the capital's water supply system. The study will also look at improving the reading of the water meters (large numbers of which are out of order), and the invoicing system.
The work in all four cities is to be supervised and inspected by "Aguas de Mocambique" (Waters of Mozambique), the Portuguese led consortium that has the contract to manage water assets in the seven of the country's main cities.
Present at the agreement signing ceremony were the Public Works Minister, Roberto White, the mayors of the four cities, and representatives of the financing institutions and of Aguas de Mocambique.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Mozambique News Agency
c/o 114 Stanford Avenue Brighton BN1 6FE UK.
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