"The struggle against poverty requires the participation of each and every one of us", declared President Armando Guebuza, as he addressed the nation on 25 June, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Mozambican independence. President Guebuza was speaking from Independence Square in the heart of Maputo shortly after "the flame of unity", a torch that had been carried the length and breadth of the country, under the slogan "Together in the Fight against Poverty", arrived in the square.
President Guebuza took the torch from the hands of a Mozambican child, and used it to light a larger flame in the centre of the square.
As it travelled from Nangade in the far north of the country to Maputo in the far south, "this Unity Torch brought about immense enthusiasm, emotion and patriotic sentiments in all of us", declared President Guebuza. "Everyone wanted to hold it, and those who actually touched it will relay the sentiments of unity and of Mozambican identity, of the certainty of victory against poverty that the torch carries, to other thousands of Mozambicans who did not have the opportunity to be near it".
President Guebuza added he was certain "that the flame of unity will burn forever inside every Mozambican to keep us united and focused on the purposes of peace and the prosperity of Mozambique".
He urged all Mozambican citizens to struggle against "the obstacles to development", which he named as "the spirit of apathy and drift, red tape, corruption and crime, alongside diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and cholera".
"We have to seize this opportunity history has afforded us to make a difference in the fight against poverty", President Guebuza added. "This is a challenge we should take up with pride, patriotism, self-esteem, and confidence in our ability to turn our legitimate aspirations into reality".
President Guebuza recalled that the whole purpose of winning independence had been "to turn into reality the dream of building prosperity for all".
A stream of ambitious projects were undertaken in the early post-independence years to develop the country and break the chains of poverty - but as Mozambique came under increasing attack from the white minority regimes, first in Ian Smith's Rhodesia and later apartheid South Africa, "we had to redirect our resources to the area of defence when we felt our sovereignty and territorial integrity threatened".
It was in that battle to "preserve Mozambique as an independent and sovereign state, that we lost one of the most cherished sons of the Mozambican people, an unwavering fighter for the liberation of Mozambique, Africa and all peoples of the world, the first President of our Republic, Samora Machel, murdered by the apartheid regime in the hills of Mbuzini". (Machel died in a plane crash at Mbuzini, just inside South Africa, generally believed to have been engineered by the apartheid military.)
President Guebuza also praised his immediate predecessor, Joaquim Chissano, for "visionary leadership" which "after a long and sinuous path full of labyrinths and uncertainties" led to the end of the war of destabilisation.
President Guebuza acknowledged the widespread scepticism in 1992 as to whether the peace accord could possibly hold. There were doubts as to "the patriotism and the political will of Renamo and its leader", and as to "the seriousness of Mozambicans to embark on the road to reconciliation".
But "as days knitted together to become weeks of harmony and rapprochement amongst divided brothers and sisters, now ready to open a new page in the history of their country, and as months grew into years of social, economic and political stability", so it became possible to resume the dream of freeing Mozambique from poverty and underdevelopment.
President Guebuza pointed to the successes of the past decade, including the decline in poverty between 1997 and 2003 from 69.4 per cent to 54.1 per cent of the population (as measured by the household surveys undertaken by the National Statistics Institute).
Also among the successes he listed was the expansion of the mass media "in terms of quality and quality". He saluted the country's journalists "for their contribution to deepening our understanding of the diverse views of the Mozambican people about their country and its development".
President Guebuza concluded with the hope that these anniversary celebrations will "strengthen our conviction that united we shall over come poverty in Mozambique. Mozambique is ours, and it is incumbent on us to develop our country".
President Armando Guebuza on 5 July reaffirmed his personal support and that of the Mozambican people to building up the prestige of Africa, and consolidating its continental organisation, the African Union (AU).
Speaking at the AU heads of state summit in Libyan city of Sirte, President Guebuza paid tribute to his predecessor, Joaquim Chissano, generally regarded as one of the architects of the AU. "I have the difficult mission of succeeding a great statesman, Joaquim Chissano, who, together with you, built up the admiration and prestige that our continental organisation enjoys today", President Guebuza told his fellow leaders. "During this journey I witnessed the support that you and your countries gave to Chissano's leadership and to our country".
This is the first AU summit that President Guebuza has attended, and he said he was sure that he and his government "will receive the same support and solidarity that you gave to my predecessor".
President Guebuza's statement added "the government that I have the honour to lead has been committed, since it took office (in February), to valuing the rich experience our country has accumulated in the tough struggle to defend its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and to affirm its dignity".
His government, he declared, "is a government of continuity and renewal, guided by the ideal of building a just, free and democratic society for the well-being of all. This project that we have been building since we launched the national liberation struggle is not compatible with the poverty that lamentably is still a reality in our country".
"In our relations with the world, we prioritise our African family", said President Guebuza, "the family that was our sure rearguard, our base since the first days of our liberation struggle. It is in this family that today, together, we are seeking the strength and the inspiration to overcome poverty and secure development in the context of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development)".
It was in the AU that "ideas and strategies are drawn up that will bring prosperity to our continent", he continued, "that will make it more proud of itself in an ever stronger partnership with the other regions of the world".
High up on the agenda of this summit is the question of reforming the United Nations, particularly the composition of the Security Council. Africa wants two permanent seats on the Security Council, and two extra non-permanent, rotating ones.
Speaking on the eve of the summit, the chairperson of the AU Commission, Alpha Konare. said that Africa expects to play "a more important and influential role" within the UN.
In principle, the AU is opposed to the power of veto exercised by the current five permanent members of the Security Council. But if the right to a veto is maintained, then it should also be exercised by any new members of the Council, Konare said.
It is thought unlikely that this summit will take a decision on which countries Africa will propose for permanent Security Council membership. The obvious choices are South Africa and Nigeria - but several others have expressed an interest, including Egypt, Angola and Libya.
The draft resolution adopted by the AU Executive Council regards an African presence among the permanent members of the Security Council, with all the privileges that brings, including the veto, as "non-negotiable".
The full proposal is to expand the Security Council from 15 to 26 members. There would be six new permanent members - two from Africa, two from Asia, one from Latin America and the Caribbean (almost certainly Brazil), and one from Europe (a seat coveted by Germany).
The five new non-permanent members would be two from Africa, and one each from Asia, eastern Europe and the Latin America/ Caribbean region.
Among the other demands are the full democratisation of the World Bank and the IMF. This stakes out a position of principle, but the likelihood of it being granted by those who currently dominate the Bretton Woods Institutions, most notably the United States, is next to zero.
The AU has also moved towards solving its financial worries through a proposed new arrangement, in which the five wealthiest countries on the continent - South Africa, Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria - will pay 65 per cent of the AU's ordinary budget, leaving the other 49 members to pay the remaining 35 per cent in proportion to their GDP.
Support for Commission for Africa proposals
During his trip to Sirte President Guebuza confirmed Mozambique's support for the conclusions of the report from the Commission for Africa, set up on the initiative of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The Commission found that there were three components needed for poverty reduction in Africa - debt relief, a doubling of development aid, and the removal of trade barriers.
President Guebuza met with the British Minister for Overseas Development, Hilary Benn, on 4 July in Sirte and reiterated that the objectives expressed in Commission for Africa's report coincide with the economic and social development objectives laid down by the Mozambican government.
President Guebuza believed that the report complemented NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development). He thought it "fundamental" that the Commission's recommendations "be implemented as soon as possible and in an efficient manner so that they may have an impact on the lives of Africa's peoples".
On the debt relief announced last month by the Finance Ministers of the G8 group of most industrialised nations, President Guebuza said it was "an important contribution to the fight against poverty".
The relief announced is the cancellation of debts owed to the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank by the 18 countries that have qualified for the second, "enhanced" phase of the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative, 14 of which are in Africa, including Mozambique.
Full details of the relief are not entirely clear. Although the write-off is said to cover 100 per cent of the debts, it mayy not include the most recent loans from the three institutions. This week's G8 summit in Scotland may clarify the cut-off date. According to the British Treasury, the full amount of Mozambican debt cancelled under this deal is $2.3 billion.
The Mozambican public health sector spent $50.7 million on the import of medicines and related equipment in 2004, which was the biggest increase in expenditure in the last 10 years, according to an article in "Noticias" on 5 July. The health authorities put this increase down to the growing number of cases of AIDS and malaria.
The Health Ministry's records show that in 2002, for instance, Mozambique imported medicines and medical goods valued at $38.1 million, a figure that dropped to $36.3 million the following year, only to rise sharply in 2004.
The same document says that 60 per cent of last year's $50.7 million was spent on drugs and bandages, 21 per cent went on medical and surgical equipment, while the remaining 18 per cent was used in the purchase of reagents and insecticides.
The Ministry claims that about 80 per cent of last year's requests for essential drugs were satisfied, but the institution also notes that there are still major imbalances between the various provinces in terms of supplies.
Nampula, although it is the most populous province, showed the lowest figure: the amount of essential drugs available per inhabitant in Nampula was 40 per cent lower than the national average.
The availability of essential drugs in the southern region was higher than the national average, in the central provinces the figure was more or less equivalent to the average, while the northern provinces had below average availability.
As for the supplies to pharmacists, despite the increase in expenditure, the Health Ministry says that distribution of kits of essential drugs only covered about 90 per cent of prescriptions, a lower figure than in 2003.
The Mozambican government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have signed four agreements under which USAID is to grant $29.2 million for programmes in rural incomes, health, governance and trade and investment. The agreements were signed by Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu and the director of the USAID Maputo office, Jay Knott.
$11.1 million is to be spent on the rural incomes programme, which involves increasing agricultural production and the sale of surplus crops by small producers, expanding rural companies, and improving transport infrastructures.
In health care, $10.9 million will fund greater use of child survival and reproductive health services by target social groups.
For the trade and investment programme, $3.7 million has been earmarked to fund the expansion of export markets, the improvement of an environment favourable to exports, strengthening the capacity of labour-intensive export industries, and developing tourism.
A final $1.8 million will support municipal governance, and the fight against corruption. Five municipalities - Vilanculos, Chimoio, Gurue, Monapo and Nacala - have been singled out for support.
The total US aid for Mozambique in 2005 amounts to $73.2 million. Apart from the four agreements signed last week, this sum includes $25.2 million for the fight against HIV/AIDS, and $18.8 million in food aid.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has appointed former Mozambican Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi as Goodwill Ambassador for maternal, newborn and child health, with special attention to mortality reduction in the African region.
According to the WHO, as Goodwill Ambassador Mocumbi "will serve as the voice of millions of voiceless African women, newborns and children by exploring various mechanisms for the promotion of their health, advocating with governments, communities, philanthropic organisations and foundations to mobilise funds to promote maternal, newborn and child health".
Dr Mocumbi is currently the High Representative of the Holland-based European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), which is devoted to developing new interventions to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
In Mozambique, Dr Mocumbi successively held the posts of health minister, foreign minister and prime minister. The WHO release says that Dr Mocumbi "is credited with restructuring and rationalising Mozambique's health care delivery system to a level that is now recognised regionally and globally as a 'best practice'".
His main tasks as Goodwill Ambassador will be to step up advocacy and resource mobilisation in order to accelerate attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to mother and child health.
This is an area covered by two of the eight MDGs adopted by the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000. These goals are to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015, and, within the same time frame, to reduce the maternal mortality rate by three quarters.
The WHO release says that Dr Mocumbi is tasked with "raising awareness of maternal, newborn and child health issues among target groups e.g. Heads of State, policy-makers, development partners and community leaders".
He will also work with NGOs, parliamentarians, national and professional women's bodies and with the media, in order to promote women's and children's health, and facilitate fund raising for these issues.
President Armando Guebuza declared on 29 June that Mozambican troops on peace-keeping missions play an important role in the resolution of African conflicts. The President was speaking in Maputo as he bade farewell to a group of 180 soldiers who on 30 June departed to join the peace-keeping force in Burundi. This is the third Mozambican contingent to operate in Burundi, alongside troops from South Africa and Ethiopia.
President Guebuza declared that, in an increasingly interdependent world, peace in Africa is an important contribution to world peace. "There are many examples which show that instability in a particular state, no matter how far away it is from our own country, may eventually affect security and stability within our borders", he warned.
President Guebuza argued in favour of solving disputes through dialogue and reconciliation. The military, said the President, should "intervene primarily in implementing the country's undertakings to support peace".
Under the current international scenario, the new role for armies was to participate in peace-keeping and humanitarian missions - although it was always necessary to bear in mind that the basic mission of the armed forces was to guarantee the country's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
President Guebuza urged the troops to behave responsibly, and abstain from any "undignified" contact with Burundian civilians. They should also "follow scrupulously the basic principles of the United Nations that guide peace-keeping missions, namely neutrality, trust and impartiality", he added. The Mozambican troops were also required "to respect the laws and customs of the host country".
"Your mission is a noble one, which is a matter of pride for all Mozambicans", said President Guebuza. "Your mission is to help ensure that the instability that still prevails in Burundi is replaced by peace, and that uncertainty is replaced by harmony and a greater fraternity among Burundians".
The total cost of the six month tour of duty of the Mozambican contingent is about $14 million. Most of this funding comes from Britain, the United States, the African Union and the UN. Transporting the troops to Burundi is covered by an agreement between the UN and Mozambique Airlines (LAM), which is making two of its Boeing 737s available to carry them.
The Japanese and Mozambican governments on 28 June signed an agreement in Maputo under which Japan will provide 945 million yen (about $8.5 million) in assistance to the Mozambican education sector. Signing the agreement were Education Minister Aires Aly, and Japanese ambassador Kanji Tsushima.
The money will finance the construction of a primary teacher training college (IMAP) in the central city of Chimoio. This is the third such college funded by Japan - the first two were in Chibututuine, in Maputo province, and at Inhamissa, an outlying neighbourhood of Xai-Xai, capital of Gaza province. The latter is still under construction.
Work on the Chimoio IMAP should begin in December and last for a year. The college will have a capacity for 400 students.
Speaking after the signing of the agreement, Aly declared that the government is committed to the proper use of training institutions, both those already existing, and the ones now being built, so that the education sector can meet its targets for training teachers.
The Japanese contribution to teacher training, he added, would help the country meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - the second MDG is to achieve universal primary education.
Increasing the number of training institutions will reduce the Education Ministry's need to rely on untrained staff to fill teaching vacancies in the country's schools.
The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, said on 26 June that the European Union is committed to helping the Mozambican government develop infrastructures in the central province of Zambezia and to finance new projects, including the rehabilitation of approximately 200 kilometres of road between the city of Mocuba, and Milange, on the Malawian border.
For this work, which will improve the road links between Malawi and the Mozambican ports of Beira, Quelimane, and Nacala, the European Commission is set to disburse about €30 million ($36 million).
Barroso was speaking in Mocuba on Sunday, after laying the first stone in the rehabilitation of the road from Namacurra to the Ligonha river. This 375 kilometre stretch of road, through the middle of Zambezia, is part of Mozambique's main north-south highway.
Barroso also visited some of the other infrastructures financed by the European Union in Zambezia, namely the site for the planned bridge over the Zambezi river, and the Mocuba Rural Hospital.
Speaking of the bridge, Barroso lamented the fact that the 16 year war of destabilisation held back the work. In 1976, a year after independence, work on the approach roads started. But everything was interrupted in 1981 because of the war of destabilisation.
"The north and south of Mozambique has been separated by the Zambezi river. We want this separation to disappear within the next three to four years", said Barroso, addressing a group of people who received him at Caia, on the southern bank of the river. He was accompanied by Mozambican Public Works and Housing Minister Felicio Zacarias and the provincial governors of Zambezia and Sofala, Carvalho Muaria and Alberto Vaquina, respectively.
Vaquina declared that the bridge will unite the northern and southern regions of the country, adding that Mozambique's economic potential will thus be fully used to benefit all its people.
The European Commission is granting €25 million to help finance the building of the bridge, while the rest of the necessary money will be granted by the governments of Italy and Sweden.
At Mocuba hospital, rehabilitated with an EU grant of two million euros, Barroso declared that "these infrastructures will generate employment and create things that will be distributed among all".
This is the largest rural hospital in Mozambique, with 190 beds, and serving a population of about 1.1 million people.
In the Zambezia provincial capital,
before his return to Maputo, Barroso insisted that the EU's current internal
crisis did not shake its determination to assist Mozambique and Africa. "In
no way can the difficulties the EU is going through affect our support for Africa",
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