Members of the government and other senior officials must set an example in changed attitudes towards work and towards the sufferings of the people: leaders "should be the first to set an example of coherence between what we say and what we do", President Armando Guebuza on 8 July.
The President was speaking at the opening of a three day meeting of the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet), which is also being attended by provincial governors, permanent secretaries of ministries, senior parliamentarians, and leading figures of the ruling Frelimo Party at national and provincial level. The meeting is to draw up a balance sheet of Guebuza's visits to the provinces in the first half of this year.
The President stressed that this was a key moment in improving the machinery of governance. He recommended that all government figures, from central level right down to localities and villages, should be involved "in drawing up strategies to fight against the obstacles to our development", which he identified as "the spirit of apathy and drift, red tape, corruption and crime, as well as the endemic diseases which also try to frustrate our advance".
President Guebuza noted that during his provincial tours he had frequently heard that plans "were achieved in 65 per cent, 80 per cent or 90 per cent". But achieving just 65 per cent of a plan, meant that targets had not been met. "We are saying that we did not carry out what we planned", he pointed out.
When he has asked why targets were not met, "I received pre-fabricated justifications that did not even convince those who were mouthing them".
When he had asked local leaders about the impact of specific government measures, he received "theoretical explanations", or was told the reasons behind particular measures - reasons which he already knew. "Those who answered me like that did not confront the effect of this theory or this project with the results on the ground", said President Guebuza. He was not satisfied with knowing how much land a foot pump could irrigate - "I'm interested in how much land it really is irrigating", he declared.
He was not satisfied simply with officials turning up for work on time. "We must ensure production, productivity and quality results from the work of each person", he insisted.
There were reasons for failing to meet targets, and some of this "may derive from the malfunctioning of institutions, starting with our own (i.e. the government)".
He called for "identifying the bottlenecks", and "drawing the necessary lessons so that we don't repeat the same mistakes". "In this way we shall be better prepared so as not to disappoint the expectations of those whom we have sworn to serve, the many Mozambicans pitilessly scourged by poverty", stressed the President.
He urged his audience to ask questions about failures. Had planning been upset by unforeseen factors? Had the resources available been used in the best way? Had there been problems of organisation and work methods? Had mechanisms been used "to check on and assess regularly the production and productivity of each of us"?
Looking for answers "will generate a new attitude to work, to planning and to our pledges to the people. For when we do not meet the targets initially set, we must bear in mind that we are postponing the satisfaction of the needs of our people".
"As leaders of the process of change, particularly of attitudes and of behaviour, we should be examples of integrity and of honouring the promises we made to others and ourselves", insisted President Guebuza. "We must be the first to demonstrate our concern at the suffering of our people. We must give an example of coherence between speeches and practice".
He demanded "team spirit", and condemned those officials "who waste the precious time available by comparing themselves with their predecessors and competing against their colleagues instead of improving their own performance".
President Guebuza was also concerned at "the lack of a pro-active attitude towards situations that can cause suffering". Everybody knew that in Mozambique there are drought-prone areas, "but measures are not taken in these areas, for example, to guarantee the retention of rain water".
The President urged every official to ask what was being done in their own institutions to combat red tape and the spirit of drift. "We must ask by how much we have speeded up the issuing of documents, how many decisions we have taken to make our institution more dynamic, and what have we done to discipline our staff", he said.
Credibility depended on the attitude towards the problems of the people, President Guebuza warned. He wanted to see "more organisation and improvement in work methods, better use of available resources, and more action, dedication and commitment from each of you".
"Only when we are the first to change, and are seen to change, will we be able to encourage our collaborators and our people to follow our example", he insisted, "We, the leaders of the government machinery, are the face of the force of change". (This phrase, "the force of change", was one of the main Frelimo slogans in the 2004 election campaign).
Former US President Bill Clinton on 17 July visited Maputo Central Hospital, on the first leg of a tour of six African countries where the Clinton Foundation is assisting governments in the struggle against AIDS. Accompanied by Mozambican Health Minister Ivo Garrido, and Irish Minister of State for Development, Conor Lenihan, Clinton visited the paediatric day hospital, set up to care for HIV-positive children.
A three way partnership is involved: the Clinton Foundation negotiates with the manufacturers of generic anti-retroviral drugs to ensure that Mozambique can obtain the drugs at the cheapest possible price. Then the Irish government provides Mozambique with the funds for the drugs. Irish support in this area, from 2003 to 2007, will be equivalent to $50 million.
Clinton said that the anti-retrovirals currently provided to Mozambique under this scheme cost $140 per patient per year.
In one of the wards Clinton visited, he found two elderly women at the bedsides of sick children. Medical staff explained that these were the children's grandmothers: their mothers had already died of AIDS. Now the grandmothers are being trained in how to administer the anti-retroviral drugs to the children.
At a meeting with about 20 mothers and other carers for HIV- positive children, Clinton recalled holding the hand of a dear friend dying of AIDS in an American hospital twenty years ago, before anti-retroviral drugs existed. Now he had other HIV-positive friends who were alive and well, living normal lives, because they were taking the modern drugs. This was what he wanted to see in Africa, too. "AIDS isn't a death sentence any more", he stressed.
The parents at the meeting told him that the day hospital had saved the lives of their children, and made them feel less isolated.
A 10 year old HIV-positive girl gave Clinton a gift from the families (a sculpture), and told him that she wanted to train to be a doctor so that she could help other children.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Clinton said he thought it scandalous that children in Africa were dying of AIDS, but any HIV-positive child in the United States could expect a normal life-span because of the anti-retroviral treatment.
The availability of treatment could transform people's attitudes, he argued. If people regarded AIDS as an inevitable death sentence, there was little incentive for them to take an HIV test, "but if they know they can be treated and live a normal life span, that's a huge incentive for people to get treated". he said.
He said that currently 38 countries are acquiring their anti-retrovirals from the Clinton Foundation contracts, and this is providing treatment to around 110,000 people. This year, Clinton hoped to add a further 50,000 children to this.
In Mozambique, this will involve setting up a second specialised paediatric unit in the central city of Beira. This will operate as a "centre of paediatric excellence" for the entire central region of the country.
Drugs acquired under the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative started arriving in Mozambique a year ago, and have been instrumental in pushing up the number of Mozambicans on anti-retroviral therapy to about 12,000. The Ministry of Health target is to raise this figure to 130,000 by 2008.
About 700 Mozambican children are receiving the drugs: by 2006 this figure should exceed 6,500. The Clinton Foundation has pledged to support the training of staff in over 100 Mozambican health units in the procedures needed for paediatric anti- retroviral treatment.
Clinton praised Mozambican efforts to expand access to anti- retrovirals, and to make the treatment available in rural areas. He was pleased that he had been able to begin his African tour with a visit to children receiving life-saving treatment in the Maputo paediatric day hospital.
The other countries that Clinton plans to visit over the course of the coming week are South Africa, Lesotho, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda.
The executive secretary of Mozambique's National Council for the Fight Against AIDS (CNCS), Joana Mangueira, said in the southern city of Matola on 14 July that the current HIV infection rates show that the campaign needs stronger action, that should also be appropriate to the new realities the epidemic is creating.
Mangueira was speaking during a seminar on leadership issues, attended by the country's 11 provincial governors. She urged the governors not to neglect, at any time, the consequences of HIV/AIDS, particularly in the poorest communities.
She acknowledged that her organisation's work is still facing a number of problems such as lack of management experience on the part of the organisations, mostly NGOs, that implement the CNCS programme.
The complexity of procedures, poor quality of planned activities in terms of mitigation of the effects of the epidemic, and lack of adjustment to the socio-cultural reality in each province, are some of the problems that weaken action against AIDS, Mangueira said.
She recommended that the provincial governors ensure that the Provincial Assessment Commissions, looking into the effectiveness of anti-AIDS work, should meet at least once a month.
She insisted that it is a governor's task, as the chairperson of the provincial nucleus of the CNCS, to follow up all the nucleus activities.
Mangueira stressed that special attention should be paid to prevention of infection, to meet the target of reducing new infection from the current estimate of 500 a day to 350 during the next five years, and to just 150 a day within 10 years.
Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana on 13 July urged his ministry's staff to fight against all forms of arrogance and divisive behaviour. "Nobody should be afraid to point out what is going wrong", he said at the opening of a session of the Ministry's Consultative Council in Maputo. "Nobody is entitled to violate the rights of the people. Nobody is above the law or above social order".
He stressed that the guidelines from the recently expanded meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) apply as much to tourism as any other sector. They included the demands "to carry out to the full our plans and promises", and "to rationalise expenditure and procedures".
The Cabinet meeting, Sumbana added, had insisted on "the need to adopt a dignified and humble posture as servants of the people, acting as a cohesive team fighting for common objectives: the elimination of poverty and the creation of national wealth".
In the first six months of this year, he said, significant strides had been taken in organising the tourism sector, including the implementation of a decree that provides local communities with 20 per cent of the income raised under wildlife and forestry legislation.
A joint memorandum with the Defence Ministry was now being implemented whereby the two ministries organise joint inspections of conservation areas to combat poaching.
Looking to the future, Sumbana said the Ministry had drawn up a programme whereby Mozambique can benefit from the football World Cup that is to be held in South Africa in 2010, and which is expected to bring many thousands of tourists to the region.
Speaking to reporters during an interval, Sumbana said the Ministry "is in the final stages of defining its approach to the Gorongosa National Park". This park, in the central province of Sofala, used to be the jewel in Mozambique's wildlife crown, but it was ravaged during the war of destabilisation, with many of the animals shot, or fleeing from the area.
Now the government is restocking the park and has programmes to train and equip game wardens. "Our aim is to transform Gorongosa into one of the best parks in the region, with the minimum possible confinement of the animals. We want it to be a reference point in Africa and the world".
All the work needed at Gorongosa would take about $30 million. "We are working with partners who will guarantee this amount", Sumbana said. As for the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Sumbana thought that the "basic conditions for small scale tourism on the Mozambican side of the border will be ready in August".
The Transfrontier Park includes the long-established Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Gonarhezou in Zimbabwe. But the Mozambican component, the Limpopo National Park (PNL) in Gaza province, is a former hunting area that was only recently declared a park.
As of August, once the access roads are complete, there should be a small, state-run tourist camp in the PNL, allowing people to visit the Mozambican side of the transfrontier park. In the same month, the new border post will be opened, Sumbana said, allowing tourists to cross easily from the Kruger Park to the PNL.
Future developments would depend heavily on private investment. The government intended to hold tenders for companies to bid for the rights to establish tourist ventures in parts of the park.
People living in the PNL are being resettled. Sumbana insisted that their new homes "are better than where they are living now, with access to drinking water, health care and schools". The communities "are involved in discussing where they will live", he added. "It's not easy, and some people misinterpret this".
The government's idea, he added, was that the local communities should benefit materially from the PNL, and would be encouraged to enter into partnerships with private companies. "They won't be marginalised", Sumbana stressed.
Oil tankers are to resume the use of the port of Nacala, in Nampula province, following a two month interruption after the only tug boat in use broke down. To solve the problem, the Northern Development Corridor Company (SCDN), the consortium that is managing the Nacala port and rail system, has hired a tug from neighbouring Tanzania while awaiting the arrival of a new unit purchased in Holland.
The new tug is set to arrive in Nacala within the next two months. The one that broke down is under repair in Beira, and SCDN has signed an agreement with Alpha Logistics to hire a tug boat for one month, at a cost of $65,000.
Tugs are essential in the complex operations of entry and exit of oil tankers into the port.The interruption of the traffic in oil tankers has been causing fuel shortages, in Nampula, particularly of the aircraft fuel used at Nampula airport.
President Guebuza declared on 13 July that his government is determined to continue improving the business environment in the country, and to remove barriers to investment, by simplifying procedures. The President was speaking in the northern port city of Nacala, where he inaugurated a new cement factory, owned by the ARJ group (named after its founder, businessman Abdul Rahim Jussub).
President Guebuza said he was confident that prospects are good for attracting further private investment, that will stimulate the struggle against poverty. "We are on the right path to attract and encourage domestic and foreign investment, in order to combat poverty", said the President.
He added that the new cement factory will reduce the shortage of cement in northern Mozambique, and help cut the price of a material that is so essential for the construction of housing, schools and health units.
The representative of the ARJ group, Abdul Latif Rahim, announced a donation of eight billion meticais ($320,000), 50 motor-cycles, 1,000 sacks of cement, and a variety of hospital equipment. He said the hospital equipment will be used by the local health post to improve its services. He gave the government the responsibility of distributing the rest of the donation.
Construction of the ARJ factory began in 2002, and cost $18 million. It has created jobs for 120 workers.
ARJ is already selling its cement, not only to Mozambican buyers, but also to Malawi and Madagascar, and hopes to expand sales to other countries in the region.
The governor of the southern province of Gaza, Djalma Lourenco, has commended the people of his province for using the "green line" to phone his office with denunciations of corruption in various institutions. The governor claimed that this whistle-blowing has helped improve the services rendered to the people.
Cited in "Noticias" on 11 July, Lourenco said that he received more than 150 such denunciations during the last four months, made by people from varying social strata across the province.
The people using the "green line" had complained about the education services, the provincial public works and agriculture departments, the police and the courts, as well as some municipal bodies. He said that callers had also alerted him to abuses committed by some teachers in schools.
Lourenco said he was pleased that the number of complaints about poor attendance in the province's health units had declined, and that "the relationship and interaction with the people has improved".
Speaking of the people's expectations about rendering the Chokwe irrigation system, in the Limpopo valley, more productive, following recommendations by the country's President, Armando Guebuza, during his recent visit, Lourenco said that a strategic plan has been designed and approved, and is to be presented to a meeting with donors to raise funds for the project.
"All that is left is to table the project to potential donors at a Gaza Development Conference, that is to take place before the end of this year", said Lourenco.
Lourenco has been visiting various districts in the north of the province, where he found people striving to deal with the effects of drought.
Residents had asked the governor for support in terms of agricultural inputs, including seeds, pumps, and oxen for animal traction. He interpreted this as showing a determination not to depend on handouts of food aid.
In some areas, where equipment has been made available, the residents, organised in associations, have been planting drought resistant crops, such as cassava and sweet potatoes.
The German and Mozambican governments on 7 July signed an agreement under which Germany is to grant €20.5 million ($24.6 million) to assist Mozambique in poverty reduction.
The activities covered under the agreement include support for basic education and professional training, rural development, the strengthening of the micro-finance system, and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The German cooperation programme in Mozambique is centred on three thematic areas: rural development; basic and vocational education; and the reform and development of the market economy. The German aid programme is concentrated on the central provinces of Manica and Sofala, and the southern province of Inhambane.
Total German aid to Mozambique in 2004 is €32 million .
The Mozambican government on 7 July announced the abolition of certain fees regarded as an obstacle to the development of cross-border trade by the informal traders known as "mukheristas".
The traders have complained bitterly at a range of fees demanded at the border in addition to the standard customs duties, and a month ago the government promised to study the matter.
At a meeting on 7 July with representatives of the mukheristas, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Antonio Fernando, announced that the government had concluded that the fees charged at the border by the agriculture and health ministries were "illegal". They were thus abolished with immediate effect. The informal traders had also complained about the difficulties they face in obtaining an official import licence.
In the past they have been told that licences will only be issued to people who have offices - and these petty traders operate out of their homes.
Fernando said the government has decided that it makes no sense to demand that petty traders have offices. Henceforth, to obtain a licence it will be sufficient for importers to give their home address.
The informal traders had also complained that Mozambican tomato producers in Chokwe district, in the Limpopo Valley, opted to sell their product directly to consumers, rather than going through the mukheristas.
So the government, Fernando said, had established the conditions for dialogue between the two sides, sending a group of informal traders to Chokwe to negotiate with the tomato producers.
The minister was optimistic that this would result in a consensus, allowing the mukheristas to obtain tomato in Chokwe, and sell it in Maputo at a reasonable price. They would then no longer feel the need to obtain tomatoes in South Africa.
"What we have done is make procedures easier for them by abolishing the illegal fees that burdened their activity", said Fernando, "and we have also helped them with markets inside the country".
Government representatives and mukheristas will meet again soon to analyse the prices of goods in South Africa, in order to establish a realistic table of customs duties. The mukheristas claim that the customs duties currently charged are exorbitant, and bear no relation to the real prices they have paid to the South African suppliers. Customs retorts that the invoices supplied by the mukheristas are absurdly low, because they have asked their suppliers to provide fake invoices specifically in order to pay less customs duty.
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