On 2 February Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano left office, handing power over to Armando Emilio Guebuza, general secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party, and the victor in the 1-2 December presidential election. In his last address to the nation as Head of State, at the public ceremony in Maputo's Independence Square, Chissano described the inauguration of his successor as "a glorious page in our history" - because, for the first time, "the transition in political leadership is proceeding normally, in a climate of peace and stability".
The two men who preceded him as leader of Frelimo, Eduardo Mondlane and Samora Machel, "were not given the chance to bid their people and their comrades farewell", said Chissano. "Theirs were sudden and tragic departures which plunged us all into mourning".
Mondlane, the founder of Frelimo, was assassinated by a parcel bomb sent to his Dar-es-Salaam office by the Portuguese secret police, the PIDE, almost exactly 36 years ago, on 3 February 1969. Machel, who led Frelimo to victory and became the country's first President, died in a plane crash, generally believed to have been caused by the apartheid military, on 19 October 1986.
So Chissano was pleased that he had been given the privilege, denied to his predecessors, "of addressing my fellow countrymen at the moment that I am leaving the highest office of state".
He called for a minute of silence in memory of Mondlane, Machel and all the other Mozambican heroes who had fallen so that the Mozambican people could win their sovereignty and independence.
Chissano said he had come "to the end of a long and difficult journey in the service of our motherland", and offered his thanks to the Mozambican people "for the opportunity they gave me to be their servant". The country's success was due mainly to the determination and commitment of its people who "with perseverance and optimism, were able to take advantage of the prevailing peace and stability, and relaunch the productive process".
"Since I dedicated part of my time in office to seeking peace, and another part in consolidating it, I feel happy and fulfilled, when at the moment of my departure, I find that the culture of peace is sinking roots among the Mozambican people, in an irreversible way", declared Chissano.
"With every passing day, the possibility is becoming ever more remote that any Mozambican who issues a call to war will find any supporters", he added. "Nobody wants any more war in Mozambique".
"War as a means of political pressure or of destabilisation, belongs definitively to the past", insisted Chissano. "Dialogue is the weapon that the people wish to use".
Among the enormous challenges that would face Guebuza and his government was the struggle against poverty, continued Chissano. By voting for Guebuza and Frelimo, the electorate, he said "conferred legitimacy on our project for promoting the balanced and sustainable development of the country".
A further challenge was to achieve the potential of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development), which involved "promoting the development of Africa, consolidating democratic practices and good governance, as well as eliminating conflicts on the continent".
In a message clearly aimed at the heads of state and other high ranking dignitaries from other African countries present, Chissano called for the full economic integration of the continent. "Integrated we will better position ourselves to take advantage of globalisation, and we will be better prepared to minimise its negative effects", he said.
He concluded by predicting "new and greater victories with President Guebuza at the helm of our state".
He asked the people to give Guebuza "full support and encouragement, just as you gave them to me", and called on the international community "to continue to support Mozambique, its new President, its people and its institutions, for success in the fight against poverty, for the consolidation of peace and stability, and the deepening of democracy".
Speaking to the nation from Maputo's Independence Square immediately after taking the oath of office, at his inauguration ceremony President Guebuza promised "an unrelenting fight against poverty" and said he would work towards his dream of a Mozambique where all its citizens enjoyed a decent standard of living.
He did not think it too far-fetched to dream "that there should not be any Mozambican, regardless of political affiliation, religious belief, ethnic origin, race, gender, age or physical condition, who is unable, from his or her own work, to provide for themselves and their dependants a set of basic conditions for their subsistence, welfare and dignity".
"We have hard working people who have already proven to be enterprising and devoted to Mozambique", said Guebuza. "We have a country endowed with many resources. What we have already achieved strengthens our conviction that we can overcome poverty in Mozambique".
Integrated rural development would be one of the key areas on which the new government would concentrate, he pledged. "We will spare no efforts to ensure a speedy establishment of economic and social infrastructures so as to equip the rural areas with better living conditions and make them more productive". He also promised that "special attention" will be paid to technical and vocational training "in order to meet the needs of local and national development and to encourage self-employment".
Guebuza also promised support for the national business class "so that it becomes stronger, more enterprising and more competitive, contributing more decisively to the growth of the national wealth". His government would pay special "to small and medium enterprises, given their greater potential to increase job opportunities and state revenue, and to reduce regional asymmetries".
But he also praised those multi-national corporations who had invested in "mega-projects" in Mozambique, which had contributed to the country's "positive image" abroad. "We will continue to attract other large scale projects and facilitate their establishment and operation in our country".
Guebuza promised a government that would be sensitive to gender issues "granting greater visibility to women amongst the actors who create wealth in the country".
"Victory over poverty is first and foremost the responsibility of Mozambicans", he stressed. "We would like to repeat our invitation to everyone to become involved in this noble mission, and no-one should shy away from this historical responsibility that we all bear".
There could be plenty of partnerships with foreign institutions "but we cannot delegate to anybody else this opportunity of a new epic of liberation".
"We are convinced that our international cooperating partners will feel more encouraged to support us, if they realise that the commitment we have to fight against poverty is unreserved", Guebuza declared.
The fight against crime and corruption will be "a central point on my agenda" President Guebuza promised.
Crime and corruption were "insidious enemies" that "present themselves as alternative means of reaching wealth", said Guebuza. "They erode citizens' trust in institutions and undermine all efforts aimed at enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in the public service and at strengthening a society in which the values of justice, ethics and respect for human life and for citizens' rights and freedoms prevail".
Guebuza pledged that his government "will strive to strengthen the institutions responsible for public security and the administration of justice throughout the country, doing its best to provide them with the necessary human, material and financial resources".
In particular, he would "encourage the courts to be more expeditious in settling conflicts and restoring the rights of individuals and companies when breached, and in consolidating professional ethics".
Guebuza also promised that his government will demand that civil servants improve their performance. The type of public administration he desired "is not compatible with the red tape and apathy found among some in the civil service".
"We will strive for a public service that encourages development", said Guebuza, "through greater productivity of its officials, whose key function is to support, help and facilitate transactions of individuals and institutions".
The duty of state employees was to improve the services provided to the public in offices, schools, hospitals and other state department, "in strict respect for the law and their professional obligations".
He was not demanding anything new, Guebuza stressed. "In the past, our civil servants succeeded in rendering an exemplary service to citizens, despite the prevailing professional and material constraints", he said, clearly thinking of the years immediately following Mozambican independence in 1975.
He wanted to see today's civil servants "take leadership in the current public sector reform, and to show more respect for citizens".
Guebuza promised to announce his government in the next few days. He gave no names, but said that the qualities for inclusion in the government included, apart from a commitment to the Frelimo election manifesto, "humility, love and respect for our people, and a commitment to provide them with increasingly better services".
Members of the new government should also be committed to "transparent management of public assets", "respect for gender equality", "participatory democracy and the culture of peace".
Guebuza said they should also be "committed to fighting against intrigue". He pledged that a style of "open presidency" would be followed at all levels "so that our people can follow every step that each member of the government is making in the fight against poverty".
The runner-up in the December presidential elections, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, boycotted the inauguration. Dhlakama was not only invited, but was given a prominent position in the protocol of the inauguration ceremony. But he did not show up, and neither did the 90 Renamo deputies elected to the new parliament.
According to the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, Dhlakama was not attending because he does not recognise Guebuza as the new President.
Mazanga also confirmed that the Renamo deputies had received instructions not to attend.
All 250 deputies elected in the general elections of 1-2 December attended the first sitting of the new Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 31 January, and took the oath of office.
Among them was Francisco Machambisse, the national election agent of the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition who thus defied members of the Renamo leadership who told him to give up his seat. Supposedly it was the Renamo Political Commission which decided to sack Machambisse from parliament, although no leader of Renamo will say as much in public.
Renamo is divided over Machambisse. Some of the party's leaders blame Machambisse for failing to lodge Renamo's protest against the election results within the deadline set by the electoral law. Others point out that Machambisse was just one member of the Renamo electoral office, and should not be treated as a convenient scapegoat.
A Renamo figure who takes the latter position confirmed to AIM that there was indeed pressure from Renamo leaders on Machambisse not to take the parliamentary oath of office. But interviewed on Radio Mozambique Renamo general secretary Viana Magalhaes said he knew nothing about the matter, and that it was up to Machambisse whether he took his seat or not.
Machambisse insists that Renamo ought to set up its own internal inquiry into why the party failed to deliver its appeal against the results on time. Such a commission, he says, could also investigate the claim made in certain Renamo quarters that the ruling Frelimo Party paid him a bribe of $1 million to hand in the Renamo appeal late.
The Assembly of the Republic went on to re-elected Eduardo Mulembue for a third five-year term as its chairperson (equivalent to the post of Speaker in Westminster-type parliaments).
The Political Commission of the ruling Frelimo Party had proposed re-nominating Mulembue the previous week, and as Frelimo has 160 seats in the new Assembly, to just 90 for the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition, Mulembue's election was a foregone conclusion.
Renamo stood Artur Vilanculos for the post. Vilanculos, the defeated Renamo candidate for mayor of Maputo in the 2003 local elections, was elected to the Assembly from his home province of Inhambane.
The vote was by secret ballot - which allowed five members of the opposition coalition to break ranks and express opposition to the Renamo leadership's imposition of Vilanculos as the candidate.
Mulembue won by 161 votes to 85. There were two blank ballot papers, and two spoiled ones. So one opposition deputy voted for Mulembue, while four others effectively abstained.
For the first time in Mozambique's post-independence history, a woman is to lead a parliamentary group of a major political party. She is Maria Moreno, chosen by Renamo to head the 90 deputies of the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition in the country's new parliament.
46 year old Moreno is a deputy from the northern province of Niassa, and she was the Renamo candidate for mayor of the Niassa town of Cuamba in the 2003 municipal elections.
She replaces Ossufo Quitine, whose performance in the 1999- 2004 parliament was such that the Renamo election conference in his own constituency, Nampula, did not re-select him as a parliamentary candidate.
According to the Renamo newsheet "Imparcial", Luis Trinta Mecupia, number two on the Renamo parliamentary list for Nampula, has been chosen as deputy chair of the parliamentary group. The rapporteur remains Jose Mazuana, a deputy from Sofala province.
A rising star in Renamo, Antonio Namburete, who directed the Renamo election office, and won one of the two Renamo seats in Maputo City, becomes the coalition's parliamentary spokesman. He replaces Zelma Vasconcelos, who resigned from the coalition last year.
The parliamentary opposition is entitled to appoint the second deputy chairperson of parliament, and for this post Renamo has chosen its general secretary, Viana Magalhaes, who was head of the Renamo list in the central province of Zambezia.
But the coalition shows signs of disintegrating, even before the new parliament has met. Angry that they were not even consulted over the coalition's parliamentary leadership, the minor parties allied to Renamo are threatening to break away and set up their own parliamentary group.
The collapse of the opposition vote in the December general elections, was such that only six minor party candidates were elected.
The US-based NGO, the Carter Centre, has announced that it recognises the overall results from the Mozambican general elections of 1-2 December, and has congratulated Armando Guebuza on his victory.
But the Carter Centre's post-election statement also slams the bungling and incompetence shown by the National Elections Commission (CNE) which "did not administer a fair and transparent election in all corners of Mozambique".
The statement adds that the Carter Centre did its best to observe the tabulation of the votes "but was hindered by a lack of collaboration on the part of the CNE". It points out that the final declaration from the Constitutional Council, which validated the election results, also stressed the need to establish adequate conditions for electoral observation, and criticised "the low level of professionalism shown by the electoral bodies and by the representatives of the political parties inside the electoral institutions".
The Carter Centre was concerned that the Constitutional Council had validated the results exactly as they were proclaimed a month earlier by the CNE, and did not correct any of the irregularities noted. While these irregularities could make no difference to Guebuza's huge victory in the presidential ballot, they could affect the distribution of parliamentary seats between Frelimo and the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition.
The most serious abuse was the clear signs of ballot box stuffing at dozens of polling stations, particularly in Tete province (Changara, Chifunde and Tsangano districts), but also in parts of Niassa (Metarica and Marrupa districts) and Gaza (Chicualacuala district).
Furthermore, a large number of polling station result sheets ("editais") were not included in the final results. The CNE failed to process 699 presidential editais and 731 parliamentary ones (over five per cent of the total), and the CNE gave no detailed explanation for this, thus reneging on earlier promises.
The Carter Centre effectively accuses the CNE of lying to former US President Jimmy Carter. When Carter visited Mozambique in December, the CNE gave him guarantees that observers would be told why editais had been rejected.
Subsequently it has become clear that some editais were rejected because the figures they contain do not add up, and could not be corrected, some were spoiled when ink was spilled on them during transport, and some were stolen before they reached the provincial capitals.
Nor has there been any explanation for why the CNE did not use the copy editais in the possession of the political parties to replace the missing original editais- the electoral law was amended last year to allow exactly this possibility.
The Carter Centre bases its confidence that Frelimo and Guebuza really did win the elections, not so much on the final results announced by the CNE, but on the parallel count undertaken by the coalition of Mozambican NGOs and religious bodies known as the Electoral Observatory.
This count, from a sample of over 750 polling stations, chosen to be representative of the country as a whole, gave Guebuza a victory by a similar margin as the final result.
In conclusion the statement said that, while there is no doubt that the Mozambican people have given their support to Frelimo and Guebuza, the Carter Centre remains concerned "at the fact that persistent problems with the voters' roll, proof of serious irregularities and frauds during the voting, and inadequate transparent during the count will continue to cast a shadow over Mozambique's democracy".
The Mozambican police are taking no chances with the country's most notorious assassin, Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), and have locked him in a cell from which, they claim, it is impossible to escape.
Anibalzinho has already escaped twice from the Maputo top security prison - once in September 2002 (which meant that he was tried in absentia for his part in the murder of Mozambique's foremost investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso), and again in May 2004. After his second escape, he somehow made his way to Canada, where he was detained at Toronto International Airport. He was deported from Canada on 21 January, arriving in Maputo the following day.
Rather than risk the supposedly top security jail again, this time Anibalzinho has been locked in a special cell in the Maputo City Police Command.
According to anonymous police sources cited on 24 January in "Mediafax", the independent newsheet founded by Cardoso, the cell has two armoured doors, locked with six separate padlocks. No less than 27 people - 24 police guards and three officers - have been taken from the top security jail to guard Anibalzinho in three shifts.
"Mediafax" also claims that the police are planning to transfer the other five people convicted of Cardoso's murder from the top security jail to cells in the police command, much to the annoyance of their lawyers, who claim that only a court can order such transfers.
The paper claimed that the police hierarchy is divided over this, with some officers warning that it will bring further discredit on the top security jail. Others argue that the most important thing is to avoid any further escapes among the group convicted of the country's most high profile murder.
The lawyers for the other five (who include business brothers Ayob and Momade Assif Abdul Satar, and former bank manager Vicente Ramaya) argue that it is unfair their clients should be penalised for Anibalzinho's escapes. Police cells, they say, are not really prisons at all, but places of transit, and in any case prisoners cannot be moved at the pleasure of the police, but only by court order.
Gross human rights abuses are continuing in the main prison in the central city of Beira, where over 500 prisoners have been awaiting trial for more than 24 months.
The prison has a capacity for 150 inmates, but it is now holding 630, only 97 of whom have been tried and convicted. Of these, 12 are female.
Reporters visited the jail accompanying a team of lawyers recently, and found that most of the inmates are suffering from one kind of illness or another.
The prison director, Antonio Junior, said that the overcrowding in the jail and the shortage of resources have been creating serious difficulties, particularly in terms of the health of the prisoners.
He explained that, whenever prisoners have to be moved somewhere, there is lack of transport, and so they are moved on foot. Investigations are very slow, he said, because of the lack of any modern means of support. With crimes investigated at a snail's pace, this contributes to the overcrowding of the jail.
For his part, the chief of the founding Commission of the central region's Bar Association, Ossufo Domingos, who was among the team that visited this prison, noted that conditions there are not fit for human beings. He commended the efforts of the prison's authorities to deal with the situation, but noted that "a lot more has yet to be done".
"We found that there are prisoners awaiting trial for a long time, and some of them have not even been charged yet", said Domingos, adding that "prisoners are human beings and it is necessary to change this scenario".
He urged the justice authorities and the attorney's office to restore legality. "We have just found the conditions to which the inmates are subjected in Beira Central Prison to be deplorable. It is getting ever more overcrowded. The time limits for the preventive detention of most of the prisoners have expired", said Domingos.
The exploitation of natural gas exported to South Africa from the southern province of Inhambane has yielded $60 million since the first commercial delivery of gas on 26 March 2004.
This figure was disclosed in Maputo on 19 January by the chairman of the National Hydrocarbons Company (ENH), Issufo Abdala, during the inauguration of the company's new headquarters, in a ceremony attended by outgoing President Joaquim Chissano.
Abdala said ENH hopes that in 2005 income from the sale of gas will amount to about $120 million, counting on the planned doubling of production from the Temane and Pande gas fields.
So far, the Inhambane gas has been sold in the South African market, transported through a pipeline from Inhambane to the Secunda petrochemical complex, but is also planned to distribute gas to some Mozambican industries, including the Mozal aluminium smelter, in and around the southern city of Matola.
More than ten multinational companies have lately expressed interest in prospecting for oil and natural gas, and exploiting the known coal deposits in Mozambique.
Arsenio Mabote, of the National Oil Institute, and Estevao Pale, the National Director of Mines, told Chissano, during his visit, that the great interest of multinationals in Mozambican energy resources is justified by last year's sharp rises in the price of oil on the world market.
Speaking of the Rovuma block, on the border with Tanzania, where there are high hopes of finding oil, Mabote said that his institution is planning to divide it into three, and launch an international tender to select the most suitable among the interested companies to undertake oil prospection.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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