Mozambique News Agency


No.301, 20th June 2005


Contents


President Guebuza calls for South-South partnership

President Armando Guebuza has called for closer South-South cooperation to help the countries of the south escape from backwardness and poverty. Speaking on 15 June, President Guebuza said that if such cooperation is to be successful, the 132 countries of the southern hemisphere must embark upon a genuine and dynamic partnership, allowing them to make common use of the potential and technological capacities of each country.

President Guebuza was speaking in Doha, capital of the Gulf state of Qatar, during the second summit of the Group of 77 plus China. The Group was formed from the 77 developing countries that were members of the United Nations in 1964. Although membership has now swollen to 132, it has kept the original name for historical reasons.

President Guebuza added that south-south cooperation needed to exploit better the potential of those countries "who have already achieved relatively high levels of development, and have accumulated experiences in particular areas, such as health, agriculture, education, and information technologies".

Such sharing of potential and capacities, he argued, would make use of the differences between the nations of the South, and help promote a new, alternative form of cooperation.

President Guebuza said that, while all members of the group were underdeveloped at the time it was founded 41 years ago, many have subsequently made great strides in various spheres. This experience could be transplanted to other members who have not yet mastered such areas.

The Mozambican leader stressed that it is the African nations that currently need a friendly hand from the other members of the Group of 77. While on other continents the percentage of people living in extreme poverty had dropped from 27.9 per cent in 1990 to 21.3 per cent in 2001, in Africa the number of poor people had risen from 44.6 to 46.5 per cent of the population. Given the rapid population growth in Africa, this meant there were now 314 million people on the continent living on less than one US dollar a day, compared with 227 million in 1990.

Only with outside support, President Guebuza said, could many African countries hope to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. These are goals set by the UN's Millennium Summit of 2000 and should be achieved by 2015. They include halving the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, achieving universal primary education, cutting child mortality by two thirds and maternal mortality by three quarters, and reducing by half the number of people with no access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation.

At the current rate of progress, there is no chance for most sub-Saharan African countries to meet the majority of the goals by 2015.

To deal with the ills that afflict Africa, it was imperative that nations of the south should work together in a co-ordinated way, said President Guebuza. Solutions which had proven valid in some countries should be adopted and applied in other countries facing similar problems.

President Guebuza made clear he was not excluding the advanced economies from his vision: all countries, he stressed, should work for a better world where all can live a dignified life. This would be easier if both South and North "combine their efforts so as to build together a safe world and a truly global partnership".

Meetings such as the Qatar summit, he added, had the merit of bringing together leaders and experts from both hemispheres to reflect on the paths to follow to reach a prosperous future for all of humanity.


Malaria remains a major threat

Malaria is responsible for 40 per cent of out-patient consultations in Mozambique, 60 per cent of all hospitalisations, and 30 per cent of deaths in hospitals, according to data from a session of the Ministry of Health's Coordinating Council currently under way in Maputo.

Ministry spokesperson Martinho Djedje told reporters on 7 June that all the provincial directorates who reported to the meeting have mentioned malaria as one of the most serious problems they face. The provincial delegations, Djedje added, were unanimous in stressing the need to redouble efforts to combat malaria.

He said that the Ministry is considering extending successful projects, such as that undertaken jointly by Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland as part of the Libombos Spatial Development Initiative.

In the areas covered by this project, the number of malaria cases has been slashed by more than 50 per cent. The project involves health education, spraying homes against mosquitoes twice a year, and the use of rapid diagnoses and treatment of any cases.

"In that region there are well organised spraying teams, with rigorous control to avoid any theft of insecticides, and to ensure that all houses are sprayed", said Djedje.

The Ministry wants to extend this project to the rest of Maputo provinces, then to the neighbouring province of Gaza and the central province of Zambezia. But Djedje admitted that such anti-malaria projects were "very expensive".


Prime Minister welcomes debt cancellation

Prime Minister Luisa Diogo told reporters in Maputo on 17 June that she believes the debt cancellation agreed by the finance ministers of the G8 group of most industrialised countries provides "a golden opportunity" for Mozambique. Annual debt servicing would be sharply reduced, allowing Mozambique to channel many more resources to the education and health services.

There remains some ambiguity over the exact amount of debt to be cancelled following the agreement on 11 June by the ministerial meeting in London. However, Prime Minister Diogo believed that the cancellation refers, not to the totality of the country's debts to multilateral institutions, but to what remained after the two phases of the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative.

The starting point for the HIPC negotiations was Mozambique's debt as of 1984: this was the cut-off date, because it was then that Mozambique made its first approach to creditors seeking debt rescheduling and cancellation.

The country's total debt stock at the time was about $6 billion. By September 2001, after the two phases of HIPC, most of this had been written off. The remainder of this debt, Diogo said, was $1.3 billion in nominal terms, or $761 million in real, net present value terms. She believed that it was the bulk of this $761 million that was now being cancelled.

But in the two decades since 1984 Mozambique has continued to negotiate loans, with the result that the total current debt stock of the country is between $3.5 and $4 billion. These later loans have been negotiated with long maturities, and low interest rates.

When the G8 ministers talked of "total" debt cancellation, Prime Minister Diogo doubted that they had in mind loans that were only contracted in the last couple of years. The World Bank remains the country's largest creditor. Diogo pointed out that about a billion dollars worth of World Bank soft loans, under various agreements, are being disbursed at the moment.

Diogo was optimistic about further preferential treatment from the country's creditors. "Our hope is that Mozambique continues with the favourable image it has, and our partners will continue granting special treatment. We shall try to obtain the maximum possible relief".

President welcomes debt relief

On 12 June President Armando Guebuza expressed his satisfaction at the cancellation of all of Mozambique's multilateral debt, announced by the finance ministers of the G8 group.

In a statement issued in Washington, President Guebuza stressed that the debt write-off "is an important step in consolidating an environment conducive to the economic and social development of Mozambique".

He added that Mozambique would now cease spending tens of millions of dollars a year in servicing its debts. This money could be ploughed into socio-economic development, so that Mozambique could meet the Millennium Development Goals.

The inclusion of Mozambique on the list of countries receiving immediate debt relief "is a recognition by the international community of the efforts that we Mozambicans are making in the struggle against poverty, and for the consolidation of democracy and good governance in our country", he added.

President Guebuza also described the debt cancellation as an important contribution towards implementing the Mozambican government's five year programme. The Mozambican leader said that, in the wake of the debt relief, there were now expectations that the July G8 summit in Scotland "may adopt other important initiatives in favour of developing countries".

While this statement was distributed to the press, President Guebuza was in a meeting with the four other African leaders whom US President George Bush has invited to Washington - namely Festus Mogae of Botswana, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, John Kufuor of Ghana and Mamad Tanja of Niger.


Money for Sena line now available

The World Bank has started disbursing the $130 million necessary for the rehabilitation of the Sena railway line, work that should be completed by early 2009, reports "Noticias" on 7 June, citing Prime Minister Luisa Diogo.

Prime Minister Diogo was speaking in Chimoio, capital of the central province of Manica, during the second interministerial extraordinary session of the Zambezi Valley Planning Office.

The Sena line runs from the port of Beira to the Moatize coal mines in the western province of Tete, with a spur into Malawi. It was comprehensively sabotaged by the apartheid backed Renamo rebels in the early 1980s, and no trains have run on the line for more than two decades.

The publicly owned port and rail company CFM began rehabilitating the Sena line with its own funds. The work will now be continued by the Beira Railroad Company (CCFB), the consortium dominated by the Indian Rites and Ircon International, which has the lease on the Beira rail system.

The most important result of rebuilding the Sena line will be the revival of coal mining at Moatize: the concession on the Moatize mines has been won by the Brazilian Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), which hopes to market 14-15 million tonnes of coal a year, most of which will be exported, reaching the sea along the Sena line.

The full-scale reconstruction work, capitalising on what CFM has begun will start later this year, Diogo said. Rebuilding the line will provide employment for about 2,500 Mozambicans.

"When we speak of 2,500 workers during the reconstruction phase, we mean that people residing along the line will have employment, besides other impacts that will promote development in the region", she said.

Diogo said that clearing the bush from the line of rail, placing the sleepers, relaying the tracks, as well as auxiliary tasks such as providing meals for the construction brigades, building their workshops, and supplying timber and firewood will reactivate the economy in this entire area.


Demining operators and donors meet

Although Mozambique has been at peace for over 12 years, anti-personnel mines buried in the soil remain a threat to human life and to free circulation within the country. The annual meeting of demining operators with those of the government's cooperation partners who donate to this activity, held in Maputo on 8 June, also noted that land mines are still a serious obstacle to economic development programmes in parts of the Mozambican countryside.

Nonetheless, Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu, who chaired the meeting, described the overall balance sheet of demining activities as "positive". She stressed that, in its five year programme, the government considered demining as a cross-cutting issue to be taken into consideration in all development areas.

In 2004, the area known to be affected by mines was reduced by more than half. At the end of 2003, suspected minefields affected an area of 528 million square metres, and 583 villages. By the end of 2004, these numbers had been reduced to 171.6 million square metres and 204 villages.

The remaining 204 villages cover a total population of 806,000. The most affected area is the south of the country, with 96 villages affected, containing a population of almost 479,000 - 59 per cent of the total. 87 villages in the central provinces, with a population of 274,000 are affected, and 21 villages in the north, where about 53,000 people are living.

Demining in 2004 freed 379 villages of the threat of land mines, benefiting about 217,000 people. There were 13 land mine incidents in 2004, which resulted in three deaths and 27 injuries.

As for the physical removal of mines, in 2004 a total of 18,600 mines and 80,628 other items of unexploded ordnance were located and destroyed - a considerable increase on the 10,613 mines and 13,499 other ordnance destroyed the previous year.

This is probably explained by the operations of one of major humanitarian demining operators, the Halo Trust in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. There was a high density of land mines in Mueda and Nangade districts, near the Tanzanian border: these were mostly planted by the Portuguese during the war for Mozambican independence.

The priorities for 2005 are continued research (which can narrow down the area where mines are believed to be located), and clearance of mines from areas of "high and medium impact". Mine awareness programmes and assistance to mine victims will be stepped up.

The target Mozambique is aiming for is to find and destroy all land mines by 2009 - that is the deadline set by the Ottawa Treaty outlawing anti-personnel mines, to which Mozambique is a signatory.

The co-ordinator of the UN system in Mozambique, Marylene- Spezzati, told the meeting that this target can only be reached with a coordination of efforts from the government, the demining operators, civil society and the donors.

Over the past ten years or so, about $150 million has been spent on demining. For 2005, the amount pledged for demining is $10.6 million.

The Annual Demining Plan placed before the meeting pointed out that this is nowhere near enough to meet the programme's needs "and so additional efforts should be made in order to obtain complementary support".


Government launches literacy campaign

The Mozambican government on 7 June launched a literacy programme by radio to benefit initially about 20,000 people in Maputo, Manica and Cabo Delgado provinces. The programme was launched by Education Minister Aires Aly in the Maputo district of Manhica, during a visit by President Armando Guebuza.

The radio programme, that involves 45 lessons and takes three months, as well as the production of manuals for the teachers and the students, was piloted in Manhica.

Speaking on the occasion, Aly described the programme, that is also to be broadcast on television, as an important contribution to the fight against illiteracy. By offering fast practical knowledge, it will be an important instrument in the battle against poverty, he stated.

"Poverty is not just the lack of material goods. It is mainly the absence of skills for everyone to perform well in their area of activity. This programme will help develop professional skills", he said.

Aly stressed that only through knowledge can one improve the quality of production, even in agriculture, through the introduction of new technologies and diversification of crops, thus helping the country haul itself out of poverty.


Spain donates to Mozambican budget

The Spanish government on 7 June pledged to provide €3 million (about $3.6 million) in aid, directly to the Mozambican state budget.

A memorandum of understanding on the grant was signed in Maputo by Finance Minister Manuel Chang and the visiting Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Leira Pajin.

With the agreement, Spain has become the 17th donor to provide at least some of its assistance to Mozambique through direct budget support. The only significant donors who have not yet channelled any aid through the budget are the United States and Japan.

Last month the 17 donors (known as "Programme Aid Partners"), at a joint review with the Mozambican government, agreed an aide-memoire with a strong emphasis on fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law.

But they also noted that aid remained "fragmentary", with even members of this group still giving much of their aid via dozens of dispersed projects, instead of through the state budget.

The spokesman for the donors at this meeting, Swiss ambassador Adrian Hadorn noted that over 60 per cent of the foreign aid Mozambique receives still falls outside of the Finance Ministry's normal budgetary procedures.

He thought that a priority for donors in coming months was "to reduce the administrative burden on the government", and to reduce drastically the amount of aid that is still off-budget.


Arrests made over Tete roads theft

The Mozambican police have detained Ribeiro Marquebo, head of the roads and bridges department, in the public works directorate in the western province of Tete, on suspicion of involvement in the theft of seven billion meticais (about $292,000), according to "Noticias" on 18 June. Marquebo thus joins an accountant in the roads and bridges department, Zebedeu Maria, who was arrested in April.

The seven billion meticais, intended for the maintenance and repair of roads in Tete, disappeared gradually over the past two years. The Tete provincial director of public works, Octavio Chicoco, made the matter public knowledge at the start of this month.

According to the Tete chief attorney, Arone Nhaca, investigations into the theft are continuing. He believed that this was a well organised theft that must have involved other people in various sectors of the public works directorate.


Resistance to birth registration campaign

The Mozambican government's campaign to persuade parents to register their children is meeting with resistance. The campaign was formally launched on 16 June, in the town of Morrumbala, in the central province of Zambezia. The turnout at the launching ceremony was disappointing - the Minister for Women's Affairs and Social Welfare, Virgilia Matabele, found herself with an audience largely consisting of children and adolescents. The parents of Morrumbala were notable by their absence.

Local officials confirmed to AIM that some parents had taken their children off to the fields rather than attend the ceremony: apparently they believed that the ceremony would be an occasion where adults would be forced to register their children.

"As you can see, there aren't many parents here", one official told AIM. "They allege cultural motives for not registering their children".

Registration of a child's birth is free of charge in the first 120 days of the child's life. After that period, registration should cost 50,000 meticais (about $2). But resistance to registration does not seem to be a financial issue. Rumours circulate according to which parents who register their children will lose paternal rights, or even that this is a ruse to recruit youngsters into the army.

In her speech Matabele made a strong appeal for parents to register their children. For it was only when the government knew how many children of particular ages were living in a particular area that it could plan properly in such areas as education and health.

The representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Mozambique. Leila Pakkala, told the meeting that the registration of births "is fundamental, if we are to support orphaned and vulnerable children".

"Obtaining a birth certificate is a fundamental right for every human being", she said. "It ensures recognition before the law, and safeguards his or her individual rights. When children are not registered, they become invisible to the eyes of the state".

Pakkala took the opportunity to speak of the battle against HIV/AIDS, and stressed that the protection of children should be at the forefront of the national response to AIDS.

"All of us must urgently speed up and expand our efforts in prevention, treatment and support for all children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS", she said. "That way we will not only help stop the spread of the pandemic, but we will also reduce its impact on an entire generation of Mozambican children and youth".

"We cannot wait any longer. We must act now", Pakkala declared. "Our children have the right to know how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, and the right to support if they suffer the consequences of the pandemic".

She warned that the impact of AIDS on children was still being underestimated. But she praised the Mozambican government and its development partners for their understanding of the problem. "Even so", Pakkala added, "the epidemic continues to have a terrible impact on thousands of children in Mozambique".

During the 1997 census, 243,751 people were counted in Morrumbala. About half of these are aged 16 and under, and in most cases their births were not registered.

The registration campaign is run by the Ministry of Justice, with the support of the Ministry of Women's Affairs, and financial backing from UNICEF to the tune of $300,000 a year.


Kenya Airways to open Nairobi-Maputo route

Kenya Airways announced on 14 June that it will operate flights between Nairobi and Maputo as from 4 August.

The Kenya Airways director for southern Africa, Rosemary Adogo, told reporters in Maputo that the airline will fly twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, between the two capitals, via Harare, using a Boeing 737.

The Maputo travel agency Aquarium has been chosen to represent the Dutch group KLM, which is the main shareholder in Kenya Airways, following the latter's privatisation in 1996.

Kenya Airways is expanding its networks, and other new destinations this year include Bamako, Dakar, Freetown, Shanghai and Istanbul.

For Mozambican travellers, the deal also offers an alternative route to Europe. The only European capital that can be reached directly from Maputo is Lisbon: other destinations in Europe are normally reached via Johannesburg.

As from August, it will be possible to fly from Maputo to London and Amsterdam changing planes in Nairobi.


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


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