Mozambique News Agency


No.290, 6th January 2005


Contents


President Chissano gives final New Year message

Over the past five years, "the Mozambican people, led by the Frelimo Government, have taken significant steps in the battle for the eradication of absolute poverty", declared President Joaquim Chissano, in his New Year message to the nation. This will be the last such message President Chissano makes in his capacity as head of state and he chose to stress the achievements made since he was re-elected in December 1999.

He stated that "We have increased the production and marketing of maize, cotton, cashew nuts, beans, tea, sesame and tobacco". The second phase of the MOZAL aluminium smelter had been built, engineering factories have been revived, "and we have set up small cashew processing industries", said the President.

The sugar industry has revived, with production growing by over 400 percent, and over 20,000 jobs created at the four sugar companies now functioning. Electricity is now available in all 128 district capitals, and fixed and mobile phones services are available "in all the provinces and in several of the districts and localities".

President Chissano stressed the expansion of the health and education services. Over the past five years, more than 5,000 classrooms have been built or rehabilitated, and five new teacher training colleges have been built "which have trained more than 11,000 primary school teachers".

President Chissano said that the Mozambican economy in this five year period has grown at an average rate of 7.5 percent a year, and that the level of absolute poverty has fallen from 69.4 to 54.1 percent of the population.

He praised Mozambicans for "the orderly and peaceful way in which you exercised your right to vote" in the 1-2 December general elections.

The convincing victory won by the ruling Frelimo Party, and its presidential candidate Armando Guebuza, "prove that the socio-economic results from the government's performance are positive and are reflected directly in the life of each Mozambican", said President Chissano.

He called on Mozambicans to remain calm as they wait for the Constitutional Council to validate and proclaim the election results, probably in mid-January.

President Chissano also urged opposition parties and candidates "to accept the results that are proclaimed". Such an attitude would reflect well on the opposition and "will consolidate still further democratic practice in the country".

Turning to the future, President Chissano said that Armando Guebuza and his government would continue such major projects as the rebuilding of the Sena railway and the construction of new bridges over the Zambezi, Limpopo, Incomati, Lugela and Rovuma rivers.

"We must create spaces for all of us to participate, and for us all to march together in the development process. There is space for everyone", stressed President Chissano. "We should stretch out our hands to support each other. Nobody should be excluded".


Renamo attacks CNE "arrogance"

Mozambique's main opposition force, the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition, on 5 January accused the National Elections Commission (CNE) of "arrogance and abuse of power".

The coalition was reacting to the CNE's rejection of the Renamo demand that the 1-2 December general elections be annulled, and new elections held.

Jose Samo Gudo, leader of the Mozambique United Front (FUMO), one of the minor parties in the coalition, told a press conference, that the CNE's outright rejection of the Renamo complaint "is not the attention one expected from an institution responsible for conducting democratic elections that should be characterised by justice and transparency".

Samo Gudo, who said he was speaking for the entire coalition, said that the ruling Frelimo Party was using its majority on the CNE "to override the law and take decisions merely to satisfy its party interests".

Thus Renamo and its allies were now taking their demand for annulment of the elections to the Constitutional Council, the body charged with validating election results. "We hope that the worthy magistrates of the Constitutional Council will use their wisdom to take the best decision", said Samo Gudo.

"We remain firm in our determination to follow the legal channels and use peaceful means to re-establish the legality and justice desired for Mozambican elections", he added.

Samo Gudo mentioned that the illegalities that marred the elections had been noted, not merely by Renamo, but also by international observer groups, including those from the European Union and the US-based Carter Centre.

But what the observers also said, but Samo Gudo omitted to mention, was that the irregularities were not on a large enough scale to change the result of the election. Calls have thus come (e.g. from the EU, from the US government, and from Mozambican election observers) urging Renamo to accept the victory of Frelimo and its presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza.

Asked to comment on these calls, Samo Gudo said "We respect the recommendations of the observers". However, the observers based their conclusions on "only a sample" of polling stations, whereas Renamo's work "was complete".

"We know the real events and we say the elections were not just and transparent", insisted Samo Gudo.

Samo Gudo also denied the claim made by CNE spokesperson Filipe Mandlate that the Renamo protest was delivered beyond the legal deadline. "What we did was within the time limit, and if it hadn't been, the CNE wouldn't have bothered replying". he said.

Samo Gudo was convinced that the Constitutional Council "will do a better job than the CNE", but could not say what the coalition would do if the Council rejects its demands.


Election results in detail

The full results of Mozambique's 1-2 December general elections, as announced on 21 December by Arao Litsuri, chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), are as follows:

Presidential election

 
Votes
Percent
Number who voted
3,329,177
Number of valid votes
3,144,168
94.44

Blank votes

96,684
2.91
Invalid votes
81,315
2.65
 
Candidates
 
Armando Guebuza (Frelimo)
2,004,226
63.74
Afonso Dhlakama (Renamo)
998,059
31.74
Raul Domingos (PDD)
85,815
2.73
Yaqub Sibindy (PIMO)
28,656
0.91
Carlos Reis (MBG)
27,412
0.87

 

Parliamentary election

Number who voted

3,321,926
Number of valid votes
3,045,429
91.68

Blank votes

166,540
5.01

Invalid votes

109,957
3.31
 
Parties    
 

Frelimo

1,889,054
62.03

Renamo

905,289
29.73

Party of Peace, Democracy and Development (PDD)

60,758
2.00

Party of Liberty and Solidarity (PAZS)

20,686
0.88

National Reconciliation Party (PARENA)

18,220
0.60

Independent Party (PIMO)

17,960
0.59

Social Broadening Party (PASOMO)

15,740
0.52

Labour Party (PT)

14,242
0.47

Social Liberal Party (SOL)

13,915
0.46

Ecological Party-Land Movement

12,985
0.40

Movement for Change and Good Governance (MBG)

11,059
0.36

Democratic Union (UD)

10,310
0.34

Greens of Mozambique (PVM)

9,950
0.33

Liberal and Democratic Party (PALMO)

9,263
0.30

Democratic Reconciliation Party (PAREDE)

9,026
0.30

Mozambique Salvation Union (USAMO)

8,661
0.29

Broad Opposition Front (FAO)

7,591
0.25

Democratic and Liberal Party (PADELIMO)

3,720
0.12

United Congress of Democrats (CDU)

1,252
0.04
Popular Democratic Party (PPD)
448
0.01

 

To obtain seats in parliament, a party must have at least five percent of the national vote. Only Frelimo and Renamo meet this requirement, and the seats in the future parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, will be divided as follows (the figures for the parliament elected in 1999 are given in brackets):


Province
Seats
Frelimo
Renamo
Niassa
12 (13)
9 (6)
3 (7)
Cabo Delgado
22 (22)
18 (16)
4 (6)
Nampula
50 (50)
27 (24)
23 (26)
Zambezia
48 (49)
19 (15)
29 (34)
Tete
18 (18)
14 (8)
4 (10)
Manica
14 (15)
7 (5)
7 (10)
Sofala
22 (21)
6 (4)
18 (17)
Inhambane
16 (17)
15 (13)
1 (4)

Gaza

17 (16)
17 (16)
0 (0)

Maputo province

13 (13)
12 (12)
1 (1)
Maputo city
16 (16)
14 (14)
2 (2)
Emigrants
Africa
1 (-)
1 (-)
0 (-)
Europe
1 (-)
1 (-)
0 (-)
Total
250 (250)
160 (133)
90 (117)

 

This is the first election in which Mozambican emigrants have voted, and both seats allocated to the emigrants went to Frelimo. The allocation of seats could be changed when the Constitutional Council comes to validate the elections, some time in January.

A major question mark hands over the seats in Tete. Serious fraud was uncovered in dozens of Tete polling stations, particularly in the district of Changara where impossible turnouts of 90 percent, 100 percent, and occasionally over 100 percent were recorded.

If the results from these polling stations are cancelled, then two, or even three, seats could be shifted from Frelimo to Renamo. But this will scarcely dent Frelimo's crushing parliamentary majority.

The CNE gave the overall turnout in these elections at 36.3 percent. But that is on an inflated voters' roll - inflated because of duplication of names, and the lack of a system for removing the names of voters who have died.

The CNE voters' roll contains the names of over 9.1 million voters - which is absurd since, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE), the total number of citizens of voting age (18 and above), as of August 2004, was only 9.1 million.

When the full electorate was registered, in 1999, the result was that 85 percent of the INE estimate for population of voting age were reached and given voter cards. If the subsequent updates of the registers (in 2003 and 2004) have kept the number of registered voters at 85 percent of the adult population, then the true size of the electorate is 7.7 million - which means that real turnout in the elections was 43 percent.

One of the most remarkable aspects of these elections is how well the Frelimo vote held up - it is only 115,000 short of the party's 1999 vote of 2,005,703. In the presidential election Guebuza's vote was 330,000 short of the 2,336,333 that President Joaquim Chissano won in 1999.

The low turnout did not hit all candidates and parties in the same way - it was a much worse blow to Renamo and to Dhlakama, who saw his vote collapse from 2.13 million in 1999 to less than a million this year.



Economic targets will be met - Central Bank

The Mozambican economy is likely to meet the government's targets for an eight percent growth in Gross Domestic Product in 2004, and an inflation rate no higher than 11 percent, the governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Adriano Maleiane, announced on 30 January.

In his end of year speech on the state of the economy, Maleiane said that preliminary estimates for the first half of the year (excluding mega-projects, such as the MOZAL aluminium smelter) indicated a growth rate of 4.1 percent.

Growth in the second half of the year was expected to pick up, particularly in the construction industry, given major road rehabilitation work underway. Maleiane was convinced that, once the contribution from the mega-projects was included, overall growth for the year would be around eight percent.

As for prices, Maleiane said the weakness of the US dollar had helped keep the inflation rate down. The dollar devalued against the Mozambican currency, the metical, by 16.4 percent between January and November, and since fuel imports are denominated in dollars, this meant that Mozambique was to some extent protected against rising oil prices on the international market.

A low rate of inflation in South Africa, Mozambique's major trading partner, had also helped keep Mozambican prices down, added Maleiane. But he admitted there had been a price surge in December, and criticised "those businesses who feel they have to raise their prices at the end of the year".

Maleiane said the country was easily meeting its money supply target. The goal was that money supply should not increase by more than 15 percent over the year: by November the monetary expansion had been only 9.2 percent.

Interest rates were falling, the governor said. Thus the interest on treasury bonds fell from 13 percent at the start of the year to 11 percent in November. But interest rates charged by the commercial banks remain extraordinarily high, at more than double the inflation rate. The average commercial interest rate had fallen from 28 percent in December 2003 to 24 percent in November 2004. Maleiane admitted that these interests rates were high, and blamed them on "institutional constraints and the cost structure that characterises our institutions".

As on similar occasions in the past, he was optimistic that interest rates would eventually fall to reasonable levels. "In a context of growing stabilisation of the economy, we are convinced that the legal reforms under way, together with the rationalisation of operational costs, may, in the long term, lead to a reduction in interest rates", Maleiane said.

The governor said that the total amount of bad loans in the banking system had fallen in 2004 from 17 percent of total credit to just 7.2 percent - but he admitted that much of this fall was due simply to writing off unpayable loans.

As for the country's net international reserves, Maleiane said these had risen to $865 million, considerably more than the December target of $838 million. The current reserves are sufficient to cover imports for seven months.

Maleiane also noted that the general elections had no impact on the economy. In some countries, he pointed out, elections cause severe exchange rate fluctuations - but in Mozambique nothing of the sort had happened.

The governor announced that in 2005 foreign exchange auctions will be introduced on the Interbank Exchange Market "which will ensure greater transparency in the formation of exchange rates". The Central Bank would stop quoting its own buying and selling rates for foreign currencies, but would base its operations on the quotations submitted by the commercial banks.

Also at this ceremony, the Central Bank and nine of the commercial banks signed a code of conduct for the Interbank Exchange Market, intended to ensure transparency and honesty.

The code of conduct tightens the rules for trading in foreign exchange, and is intended to make it more difficult for dealers to engage in money laundering, or to use the system for personal benefit.


Mozambique contributes to Tsunami victims

Although Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the world, the Mozambican government on 29 December decided to donate $100,000 to the victims of the earthquake and tsunamis that have devastated parts of south Asia.

A statement from the government said that the disaster reminded Mozambicans of the tragedies they have suffered, such as the catastrophic floods of 2000 in the south and centre of the country, and of the international solidarity from which Mozambique benefit.

Describing the $100,000 as a "symbolic" amount, the government said it was granting the money in response to the appeal launched by the International Federation of the Red Cross.

It called on Mozambican citizens and institutions to contribute as far as they could to the relief efforts, in "a humanitarian gesture characteristic of the Mozambican people".

The earthquake, which struck off the coast of Sumatra on 26 December, was the strongest in 40 years, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale.

It unleashed gigantic waves, known as tsunamis, that not only smashed into Indonesia and the nearby countries of Malaysia and Thailand, but travelled across the Indian Ocean to devastate the coasts of Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives. The waves even reached the east African coast, causing deaths in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania.


Losses of $7 million from Pemba fire

The losses caused to Mozambique's publicly owned electricity company, EDM, arising from the fire that swept through the oil-fired power station in the northern city of Pemba on Christmas Day, have been estimated at $7 million, according to a report in the Maputo daily "Noticias" This is the cost of the two generators destroyed by the fire plus the money EDM is no longer able to collect from consumers in Pemba.

In their investigations to ascertain the cause of the fire, the police have detained three EDM workers, who are being interrogated by the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC).

The main theory so far is that an oil leak was to blame for the disaster - not at all unlikely, given the obsolete state of the generators.


Open prison inaugurated

Justice Minister Jose Abudo on 28 December inaugurated an "Open Prison Centre" in the countryside of Matutuine district, 50 kilometres south of Maputo.

Such open centres are intended to ease overcrowding in the country's jails, and provide opportunities to prisoners with a record of good behaviour who are not regarded as particularly dangerous. Abudo said his ministry is committed to providing decent prison conditions so as "to accommodate prisoners in a humane fashion".

According to the Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Abdul Remane Lino de Almeida, the Matutuine Centre has space for 300 inmates. However currently there are only beds for 192 people, in four pavilions. Initially, at any rate, the prisoners will all be men.

He said there would be a careful selection of the prisoners sent to Matutuine. They would be employed productively in growing food for themselves and for other prisons.

Other open centres will be set up in Tete, Nampula and Zambezia provinces. Almeida regarded this initiative as an important step in dealing with overcrowding.

Asked about the overall prison situation in the country, Almeida put at 10,000 the number of people currently incarcerated in the prisons run by the Ministries of Justice and of the Interior. The prisons were all built during the colonial period, and many are now in extremely poor condition.

Almeida said there are plans to build new provincial prisons to modern standards, including help for the inmates to find jobs when they return to society.

He said space has been found for a new prison in Xai-Xai, capital of the southern province of Gaza, to replace the jail that was damaged in the Limpopo floods of February 2000.

Almeida admitted that serious problems of supplies restrict prisoners' diet. Some of the country's jails managed to offer inmates three meals a day - but in others prisoners only ate twice a day.


Soldiers finish hotel training course

As part of a project for social re- insertion of soldiers after they have completed their two years of military service, about 40 members of the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) on 23 December finished a professional training course in the hotel and catering industry.

This was the third such course, covering such areas as hotel supplies, running restaurants and bars, and room organisation.

Vasco Manhica, manager of the Pestana Rovuma Hotel in Maputo, which monitored the course, told AIM that the initiative arose out of a memorandum signed between the Pestana Group and the Ministry of Defence, seeking to provide soldiers leaving the FADM with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to obtain jobs.

Manhica said the soldiers found it difficult to adapt to the norms that govern how hotels should operate. "They had problems because hotels are sensitive places, that receive people from all over the world", he said.

So trainees should ideally already have a fairly advanced educational level, "and when this isn't the case, we are obliged to redouble our training efforts", said Manhica.

High ranking FADM officers present at the close of the course, when the trainees were given their diplomas, promised that there will be other forms of training provided by the FADM that will improve former conscripts' chances of employment after leaving the army.

The soldiers themselves said they were pleased that they had undertaken this course while still in the army. It meant that, on their return to civilian life, they would not have to seek out training courses, but could immediately enter the labour market.


Army to assist fight against poachers

The Mozambican Defence Ministry has promised to provide men and equipment to help the Ministry of Tourism fight against poaching and other abuses in national parks and conservation areas.

Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana and Defence Minister Tobias Dai signed a memorandum of understanding in Maputo on 22 December which formalises the participation of the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) in protecting the conservation areas.

Under the agreement, the Tourism Ministry will instruct soldiers in the duties of game wardens, and will train them in the country's wildlife and environmental legislation.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Dai said he regarded conservation as part of defence and security. "The Defence Ministry has the responsibility to defend the implementation of economic projects", he stressed. "We have been sharing information that point to the prevalence of practices that sabotage our natural resources".

He added that his Ministry has signed similar agreements with the Ministries of Fisheries and of Environmental Coordination.

"Our relations were already good, but now we are expanding them into the area of protecting natural resources", said Sumbana. "We are in a race against time to guarantee the preservation of our resources. We are already working with local communities, but we always thought it was necessary to advance further". The agreement is valid for five years, and is also included in the ten year tourism strategic development plan, for the period 2004-2013.


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


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