Maputo mayor Eneas Comiche on 3 June gave President Armando Guebuza the key to the city, in a ceremony marking the start of a three day visit to selected parts of the city by President Guebuza, who in these first few months of his term of office has made a point of visiting all Mozambique's provinces, thanking the population for their participation in last December's general elections.
In brief statements to the press, President Guebuza said he was aware of the complexities of a city the size of Maputo, but was sure that the current city government was able to rise to the challenges. He said he would take the opportunity of his visit "to assess how the city's leaders are working to attain the objectives laid down in the government's five year programme for the period 2005-2009".
Speaking of the current crime wave in the city, President Guebuza said that one of his election promises was to combat crime, and intensive measures have already begun in that direction.
The President said he detected the start of a new attitude in the fight against poverty, and in the relations between civil servants and the public. "Although there are obstacles, civil servants are paying greater attention to the services they should provide to the public", he claimed.
A report from the governor of Maputo city, Rosa da Silva, delivered to President Guebuza, argued that (unlike other parts of the country), absolute poverty is actually on the increase in the capital. She complained that donors and NGOs refuse to spend resources in Maputo, on the grounds that there is no poverty in the city.
Silva warned that the city's education and health services are over-stretched. There are currently 212,147 pupils in Maputo primary schools, and 39,388 in secondary schools. There was overcrowding with 60 to 80 pupils per class.
The same was true of the health services. Maputo has 19 public health posts, 16 health centres and three general hospitals - and they are not sufficient to meet demand.
In part this is because people from outside the capital seek medical assistance in the city. Thus 51 per cent of people treated at the Jose Macamo general hospital last year came, not from the city, but from Maputo province.
One positive factor in the health service was the declining mortality from malaria. In the first five months of this year 86,248 cases of malaria were diagnosed - a significant increase on the 78,405 cases diagnosed in the same period of 2004. But the death toll from malaria fell from 219 in January-May 2004, to 100 in the first five months of 2005.
As from cholera, there were over 10,000 cases diagnosed in the city from January-May 2004, but none so far this year.
Silva told President Guebuza that the police had "neutralised" 85 criminal gangs, 13 of whom had specialised in car theft. The police were now stepping up "preventive patrolling" on foot and on motorbikes. The latter is a new and welcome addition to Maputo security - 35 heavy motorbikes, each carrying two armed policemen, and particularly visible at night.
Silva added the police would step up operations against people selling vehicle parts in "inappropriate places". This is a clear reference to the informal markets where for years, right under the noses of the police, parts stolen from parked vehicles, have been sold.
President Armando Guebuza on 1 June urged leaders of the G8 group of most industrialised nations to take practical measures to implement their repeated promises to help Africa achieve socio-economic development.
President Guebuza was giving an improvised speech at the opening session of the African Economic Forum, which is a spin-off from the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.
The Mozambican leader went straight to the point - so far, he stressed, promises from the G8 remained just promises. "Our hope is that now the leaders of the G8 will begin to carry out these promises", he said. "We've heard many promises from them, but what we expect now is that they move from words to deeds, and give what Africa really needs to develop, which is mainly financial and technological resources".
President Guebuza argued that one of the reasons for the shortfalls in aid flows to Africa from the G8 and other donors lay in the fact that they do not yet have a full understanding of the problems facing the continent.
Africans had never shown any lack of will to develop their countries, he said. "The problem is that when you're dealing with problems of development, particularly in poor countries such as Mozambique, what is missing is not will, but capital, and the human and technological resources that can ensure socio-economic progress. But when we go to organisations in the industrialised world and ask for aid, we see that there is still no understanding of the reasons behind our limitations".
He noted cases where an African country might have the money to build school, but not to pay the teachers, or to build health units, but not to import the medicines without which hospitals are white elephants. "We need our partners to understand this so that they can help us where we still don't have capacity of our own".
Mozambique's former first lady, Graca Machel, who now heads one of the country's best known NGOs, the Community Development Foundation (FDC), on 1 June launched a campaign entitled "Global Call against Poverty", described as a movement seeking to influence world leaders to take decisions that will speed up the struggle against the structural causes of poverty, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Machel declared that, now that the African continent has freed itself from colonialism and apartheid, it is time for African governments to turn their attentions to eradicating poverty. "There is no justification for the prevalence of high levels of poverty", she said. "It's been shown that Africa has the capacities, and the resources, to respond to the challenges placed before it".
She identified as key factors that could speed up the elimination of poverty the transfer of technology from developed to developing nations, building up the capacity of African institutions, national and regional, governmental and non-governmental, in order to manage and control resources better, investment in human capital in terms of education, health, and water supply, and improving Africa's terms of trade - which meant eliminating the subsidies that the rich nations to the north grant to their farming lobbies.
The "Call against Poverty", Machel said, will be characterised by mass mobilisation and advocacy, centred on demanding justice in international trade, the cancellation of 100 per cent of the foreign debt of the poorest countries, more and better official development aid, and African national efforts at all levels to tackle poverty.
The demand for fair trade starts from the position that trade ought to stimulate development. But the current position is that international trade in its current form, far from supporting sustainable development, works as an instrument that imposes damaging conditions on poor countries.
This appeal for fair trade will be taken to the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December, and will call for measures that protect public services from forced liberalisation and privatisation, and for increased transparency and responsibility from governments and international organisations in formulating more equitable trade policies.
Action at national level will centre on strengthening civil society bodies so that all citizens are involved in formulating national development priorities, ensuring that resource allocation is handled so as to meet the needs of all.
Minister of Public Works, Felicio Zacarias, on 3 June signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Commission, Sweden and Italy, under which these donors undertook to make available almost the entire sum required to build a new road bridge over the Zambezi river, which will be a key link in Mozambique's main north-south highway.
The bridge, between Caia in Sofala province and Chimuara in Zambezia, could be operational by 2009, said Zacarias, The European Commission has promised €25 million (about $30 million), Sweden €22 million and Italy €20 million.
This bridge has been on the drawing board since Mozambican independence in 1975, and the government has always regarded it as a key piece of infrastructure for the country's development. Work began in the late 1970s but was halted because of the apartheid regime's war of destabilisation.
The South African petrochemical company Sasol and the Mozambican National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH) signed on 1 June an agreement with the Mozambican government for prospection of oil and natural gas in blocks 16 and 19, off the coast of the southern province of Inhambane.
These blocks are to the east of the known onshore Pande and Temane gasfields, that are already in production, pumping natural gas down a pipeline to SASOL's plants in the South African town of Secunda.
The contract is valid for eight years, that may be extended by another 25 depending on the results of the prospection. Under the contract, the prospection will be in two phases, the first of which will consist of geological and seismic studies and drilling, all budgeted at about $7 million. Further investments will depending on the results of the first phase.
The German government, through the German Development Bank (KFW), has granted €5.8 million (about $7.7 million) to assist in the Mozambican government's efforts to develop the Limpopo National Park in the southern province of Gaza.
The contract for this sum was signed in Maputo on 29 May by Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana and by Wolfgang Kroh, of the KFW management.
According to Julieta Lichuge, head of the Department of Parks and Reserves, in the National Directorate of Conservation Areas, the money is to cover costs involved in resettling communities currently living inside the park, over a five year period.
For the Mozambican government, this is an important step in establishing the Limpopo National Park as part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also includes the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Gonarhezou park in Zimbabwe.
The management hopes to launch the Park as a tourist resort this August.
The central port of Beira will have another dredging vessel by 2007, with a suction capacity of 1,000 cubic metres, donated by the government of Japan.
The agreement to this effect was signed in Maputo on 30 May by Transport Minister Antonio Mungwambe, and the Japanese ambassador, Kanji Tushima.
With the donation of the Japanese vessel, valued at $20.4 million, Beira will have two dredgers each with a capacity of 1,000 cubic metres.
Mungwambe said this agreement "demonstrates once again the commitment of the government of Japan to support the programmes our government has been undertaking for the reduction of absolute poverty". It was, he added, a significant contribution "towards overcoming the shortcomings in dredging equipment which have prevented Mozambican ports, particularly the port of Beira, from achieving better results in the movement of national and international cargo".
The Maputo military attorney's office on 30 May ordered the arrest of 12 senior officials in the Defence Ministry for the theft of over nine billion meticais ($375,000) between 2002 and 2004, reports "Zambeze" on 2 June.
The paper names the suspects as: Inacio Gemo (head of staff and wages in the Ministry's finance department), and his two subordinates Joao Oliveira (head of the staff section) and Sebastiao Ndove (head of the wages section); Boaventura Cumbe (an accountant in the data processing centre, CPD); Faustino Mahumane (section head at the CPD); Pedro Matsombe and Jose Guambe (in charge of payments at the General Staff Headquarters); Paulo Machava (in charge of payments at the Ministry's social services); Vasco Maposse (head of personnel in the Ministry's construction services); Alberto Cumbe (head of staff at the Maputo Military hospital); Joao Jose (head of staff at the Maputo military command), and Alberto Manhica (head of staff in the naval command).
According to the report, money was looted from the Ministry in Maputo and in the northern province of Nampula, by falsifying wages sheets for several military units, including the Maputo Military Hospital, the naval command, and the social services directorate.
About seven billion meticais ($305,000), allocated to the Road Rehabilitation Fund, in the provincial directorate of Public Works in Tete province, was stolen last year.
The provincial director, Octavio Chicoco, cited in "Noticias" on 31 May, said that investigations into the matter have led to the arrest of the chief accountant of the Road Fund.
The investigations were carried out by a commission of inquiry from the National Directorate of Roads, sent from Maputo to Tete. They concluded that about seven billion meticais was missing, with no valid paperwork to justify such expenditure. The commission found no originals of any receipts or other papers, only copies, that "offer no credibility", said Chicoco.
The arrested official, whose name the paper did not give, despite interviewing him, is being held at the Tete top security jail. He has denied all accusations against him, saying that everything he did was with the knowledge of his superiors, namely Chicoco himself and the chief of the provincial roads and bridges department.
The major road rehabilitation of the last two years in Tete was the rebuilding of the main road through Angonia district to Calomue, on the border with Malawi. This contract was awarded to the Italian company CMC di Ravena, and was budgeted at 527 billion meticais, granted by the African Development Bank. The work is currently being completed.
Transport Minister Antonio Mungwambe has ordered an inquiry into alleged acts of corruption in the National Hydrographic and Navigation Institute (INAHINA), reports "Savana" on 27 May. After INAHINA workers denounced their management, both the Minister and the Anti-Corruption Unit in the Attorney-General's Office decided to act.
"Savana" reports that some INAHINA directors have already been questioned by the Anti-Corruption Unit, which is confirmed by one of those accused, the INAHINA national director, Albano Gove.
The workers' accusation are not new - they date back to 2000. Anti-corruption prosecutors began their investigations in 2004, when the Finance Ministry asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to audit the INAHINA accounts.
The Minister's commission of inquiry is headed by Isaias Muhate, a former deputy transport minister. It was set up on 16 May and told to report back to him by 31 May.
Documents signed by INAHINA, copies of which "Savana" says are in its possession, accuse Gove of nepotism, and of lack of transparency in the management of the fees collected by INAHINA from the use of navigation aids (which amount to about $250,000 a month).
One of the most serious accusations is that the sole vessel belonging to INAHINA was used on work for two private companies, Geoinformatica Lda, and Geosolutions Lda, in which INAHINA directors have interests.
These private companies are in the same line of business as INAHINA - the application of marine science and technology to improve safety for shipping in Mozambican waters. They are, in fact, competing with INAHINA, and the INAHINA staff regard their managers' involvement with the two private companies as a blatant conflict of interests.
The vessel, the "Bazaruto", was working for the two private companies off the coast of central Mozambique for two months in 2004. INAHINA workers point out that this vessel consumes 5,000 litres of diesel a day.
Gove declined to comment on the accusations levelled against him. He simply told the paper "I am responding to the Attorney-General's Office and to the Transport Ministry's commission".
Transport Minister Antonio Mungwambe has expressed disappointment at the poor performance of the private consortium running the railway line from the northern port of Nacala to Malawi.
Nacala port and the railway have been leased out to the Nacala Corridor Development Company (SDCN), a consortium in which the major foreign partner is the Railroad Development Corporation (RDC) of the United States.
Interviewed on Mozambican Television (TVM), Munguambe said he was satisfied at work undertaken at the port, but the same could not be said for the railway. While the port's capacity to handle cargo had increased, the railway has been faced with constant breakdowns in the few locomotives it possesses.
Munguambe was annoyed to find that the chairman of the RDC board, Brad Knapp, has not been in Mozambique since the formalisation of the lease last year. RDC representatives who met the minister said that he was somewhere in the US, seeking to purchase locomotives for the Nacala line.
Among the accusations facing the RDC and it management of the line is that it has closed stations without authorisation, halted passenger trains, and failed to enter into dialogue with local Mozambican businesses.
Nonetheless, one of the Mozambican directors of SDCN, Fernando Couto, is optimistic that matters will soon improve. Cited in "Noticias" on 30 May, he said that before the end of this year SDCN will inject $8 million into rehabilitating the final stretch of the line, the 77 kilometres from the town of Cuamba to Entre-Lagos on the Malawian border.
In the late 1980s, massive amounts of donor aid went into a full rehabilitation of the line from Nacala to Cuamba. Inexplicably, the much smaller sums needed to finish the work and upgrade the line as far as the border were never forthcoming. It is this stretch of line which dramatically slows traffic down, and where most derailments have occurred.
The Mozambican police have announced the arrest in Maputo on 27 May of one of the country's most wanted men, fugitive attorney Antonio Diamantino dos Santos, who had been on the run since a warrant was issued for his arrest in early 2001, in connection with the country's largest ever bank fraud.
The police statement on the arrest gave no details - but "Noticias" reported on 28 May that he was picked up at the home of his in-laws.
Diamantino dos Santos was the attorney initially in charge of investigating the 1996 fraud at what was then the country's largest bank, the BCM, in which the bank was looted of 144 billion meticais (about $14 million at the time).
Diamantino soon turned into an ally of the men accused of committing the fraud, members of the Abdul Satar business family, and their accomplice, BCM branch manager, Vicente Ramaya. He chose to work in league with the Satars and Ramaya, and against the BCM's lawyer, Albano Silva.
The case ground to a halt. In the hands of corrupt prosecutors, it seemed destined never to come to trial. But the persistence of Albano Silva, and the crusading journalism of Carlos Cardoso, editor of the independent newsheet "Metical", meant that the case was never allowed to die.
In 2000, President Joaquim Chissano ordered a complete shake-up in the prosecution service. He sacked Attorney-General, Antonio Namburete, and all six assistant attorney- generals. Joaquim Madeira, a Supreme Court judge with a reputation for integrity, was appointed Attorney-General.
The Supreme Court also put a new investigating magistrate, Achirafo Abubakar, in charge of the BCM case.
Those who fought to bring the case to trial paid dearly. Albano Silva suffered an assassination attempt in November 1999 - a bullet fired into his car passed millimetres from his skull. Carlos Cardoso was not so fortunate: the country's top investigative journalist was gunned down while driving home from his office on 22 November 2000.
Diamantino dos Santos was moved from Maputo to become chief attorney in Sofala province in 1997. Quietly, the Supreme Court and the Attorney-General's Office ran an investigation into Diamantino's affairs. Evidence was found of criminal behaviour, not only in Maputo but also in Beira. He was said to have been involved in the illicit sale of release papers, and the theft of tonnes of fuel from a boat that was seized and held in Beira port on the orders of a local court.
A small group of people, in January 2001 - Madeira, Supreme Court President Mario Mangaze, two other Supreme Court judges, and Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje - took the decision to arrest dos Santos.
Despite this secrecy, dos Santos was somehow alerted, and when the brigade carrying the arrest warrant arrived in Beira, he was no longer there.
The BCM case did finally reach court in 2004, and judge Achirafo sentenced seven of the 17 accused to prison terms of between eight and a half and 15 years. The longest prison terms went to Momad Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini") and Vicente Ramaya, who were already serving jail sentences for the murder of Carlos Cardoso.
The National Elections Commission (CNE) on 26 May confirmed that Amadeu Pedro was elected mayor of Mocimboa da Praia in the by-election held on 21 May.
The result was close, with only 533 votes separating Pedro from his sole opponent, Saide Assane, of the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition.
The final result of the by-election, read out by CNE chairperson Arao Litsuri, was as follows:
Total number of registered voters 18,968
Number who voted 10,560 (55.67 per cent)
Number of valid votes 9,983 (94.54 per cent)
Blank ballots 133 (1.26 per cent)
Invalid votes 444 (4.2 per cent)
Candidates (percentage of valid votes)
Amadeu Pedro (Frelimo) 5,258 (52.67 per cent)
Saide Assane (Renamo) 4,725 (47.33 per cent)
The number of invalid votes is high, but not as high as reported by Mozambican Television (TVM) after the election, which said that 779 votes had been declared invalid at the polling stations (7.2 per cent of all votes). The CNE only received 574 votes which polling station staff had declared invalid. Officials from STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat), the electoral branch of the civil service, told AIM that this is the correct figure and that the number of invalid votes on the 20 editais do indeed add up to 574.
The CNE considered that 133 of these 574 votes did in fact express a preference, and reclassified them accordingly - giving 33 of them to Pedro and 97 to Assane.
These figures sharply contradict the statement issued by Renamo on 22 May, which claimed that dishonest polling station staff had deliberately invalidated hundreds of Assane votes, by surreptitiously adding a blob of ink to each of these ballot papers, thus making it look as if the voters had tried to vote for both candidates. Renamo claimed that it had identified 551 such stolen votes - most of them in just three polling stations. STAE staff dispute this, saying that the invalid votes were spread fairly evenly across the 20 stations. Furthermore, Renamo said the polling station staff had used the indelible ink to invalidate the votes, yet the STAE staff say they did not detect this type of ink on the invalid votes.
If Renamo wished to make formal complaints it should have entered them in the polling station minutes. On 22 May Renamo national spokesperson Fernando Mazanga told AIM that the polling station staff refused to accept the protests. But according to the STAE officials, Renamo polling station monitors signed the minutes at all 20 polling stations.
Nonetheless, the high number of invalid votes is certainly anomalous. The 574 votes declared invalid at the polling stations are 5.4 per cent of all votes cast, and the 444 left after the CNE's requalification are 4.2 per cent. The comparable figures for the 2003 mayoral election in Mocimboa da Praia were 2.66 per cent and two per cent. The national average in the December 2004 general elections was 2.65 per cent.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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