Mozambique News Agency
The public prosecutor's office has charged businessman Nyimpine Chissano, oldest son of former President Joaquim Chissano, with the murder in November 2000 of the country's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso. A legal source contacted by AIM on 11 May confirmed that the charge sheet has been delivered to the Maputo City Court. In it, Chissano Jr is accused of "joint moral authorship" of the murder - in other words, he is alleged to be one of those who ordered the assassination. AIM's source added that the indictment also accuses Nyimpine Chissano of "various economic crimes".
However, the source could not confirm a claim that appears in the weekly paper "Zambeze", according to which a Maputo prosecutor issued a warrant for Chissano's arrest. The Maputo City chief attorney, Virginia Maria, cited by "Zambeze", said the case against Nyimpine was sent to court "because there is sufficient evidence to charge him". But she did not confirm the anonymous claim that her fellow prosecutor, Fernando Cananda, had issued an arrest warrant, which was then suspended because of the intervention of Nyimpine's parents.
Chissano Jr is known to be in poor health, a factor that could be important in deciding whether he should await any possible trial at home, rather than in jail.
The investigations into Nyimpine Chissano's possible connection with the Cardoso murder began in September 2002, when a witness, Opa Manganhela, interviewed by judge Augusto Paulino mentioned discussions in the Maputo top security prison with Momade Assif Abdul Satar ("Nini"), one of the businessmen charged with the murder.
Manganhela, who was serving a sentence for illegal possession of firearms, said he had run errands for Satar. In conversations, Manganhela recalled, Satar claimed he had merely acted as a go-between in the Cardoso murder, and that the person who had really ordered the killing was Nyimpine Chissano.
It was this claim that sparked off an investigation into Chissano Jr, and the opening of a second case file on the murder in which the President's son was one of the suspects.
In December 2002, at the trial of the six people accused of the murder, Nini Satar admitted paying Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the man who led the death squad that gunned down Cardoso, a total equivalent to $46,000 - but claimed he had done so at the request of Nyimpine Chissano.
The money, said Satar, was really a loan to Nyimpine, and he did not question the peculiar arrangement whereby he was to turn over the money, not to Nyimpine himself, but to Anibalzinho.
Satar said Chissano had given guarantees of repayment in the form of post-dated cheques, and he was able to present the court with seven of these, all signed by Nyimpine Chissano, and all drawn on an account of his company, the car hire firm, Expresso Tours. The cheques fell due between 24 October 2000 and 31 January 2001 - immediately before and after the murder.
When called to give evidence, Chissano indignantly denied having anything to do with the murder or any business dealings with Nini Satar. He claimed that Expresso Tours had asked for a loan from his friend, the businesswoman Candida Cossa, and not from Satar. But he was quite unable to explain how the cheques ended up in Satar's hands.
Candida Cossa herself confirmed a string of business deals between Expresso Tours and Satar. After the trial, she told prosecutors she had come under pressure from Nyimpine to agree with his story that the seven cheques presented by Satar, were security on a loan that she had offered Expresso Tours - but in reality, she had never seen them before.
Anibalzinho accuses Chissano
Key to any progress on the charges will be whether Anibalzinho will give a credible version of events in the lead up to Cardoso's assassination. According to the independent newsheet "Mediafax", it was Anibalzinho's denunciation of Chissano Jr that led the public prosecutor's office to file the provisional charge sheet.
"Mediafax" cites "reliable sources" as revealing that Anibalzinho was interviewed by Fernando Cananda. During this meeting, according to the paper's source, Anibalzinho claimed that he had lied during his own trial in December, when he claimed that Nyimpine Chissano had nothing to do with the murder. At the trial Anibalzinho repeatedly insisted that the masterminds behind the murder were former bank manager Vicente Ramaya, and the brothers Nini and Ayob Abdul Satar - and nobody else.
At the first murder trial, held from November 2002 to January 2003, the Satars and Ramaya were found guilty of ordering Cardoso's murder. Their motive, the prosecution successfully argued, was Cardoso's investigation into a huge fraud at Ramaya's branch of the Commercial Bank of Mozambique, from which members of the Abdul Satar family were the main beneficiaries.
But there have always been suspicions that others may also have been involved. During the December trial Anibalzinho insisted that he did not know and had never met Nyimpine Chissano, and claimed that the Satars were simply defaming the Chissano's family when they tried to link Nyimpine to the murder. So vehement was Anibalzinho on this point that he seemed more interest in defending the former president's son than in defending himself.
But now, according to "Mediafax", he has told Cananda that he lied in court, because he had received guarantees that, if he did so, he would not be found guilty.
However the evidence against Anibalzinho was so overwhelming, regardless of who gave the orders, that the judge, Dimas Marroa, gave him a 30-year jail sentence.
The "Mediafax" source says that, during the meeting with Cananda, held at the Maputo police command where Anibalzinho is currently incarcerated, the assassin provided "documentary evidence" tying Nyimpine Chissano to the murder.
Albano Silva to represent Chissano
Nyimpine Chissano's lawyer is Albano Silva, a choice that is bound to prove controversial. Silva was the lawyer for BCM in the investigations of the 1996 fraud, and it was his tireless work, plus Cardoso's campaigning journalism, that finally led to Ramaya and Nini Satar, and several of their accomplices receiving long prison sentences for defrauding the bank.
That trial was in 2004 - by which time the Satars and Ramaya were already serving sentences for the murder of Cardoso. The chain of events also included an attempt on Silva's life in November 1999. A bullet was fired through his car window that missed his skull by a couple of centimetres.
The people charged with this attempted murder include Anibalzinho and Nini Satar. The case may finally come to trial later this year.
Silva's decision to defend Chissano is eloquent proof of his belief that the Abdul Satars have fabricated the charges against Chissano as a smokescreen to hide their own guilt.
The 18 donors and financing agencies that provide direct support to the Mozambican state budget on 11 May announced contributions totalling $595 million to the 2007 budget. This follows the Joint Review of government and donor performance, which on 13 April concluded that performance had been "satisfactory".
Of the funds announced, $372 million is for direct budget support - not earmarked for any particular projects or sectors. For the 17 partners who contributed to the 2005 and 2006 budgets, this was an increase of $44 million over their 2006 contribution. An 18th partner, the African Development Bank (ADB), has just joined the group, and it has promised $90 million in direct budget support - $60 million for this year and $30 million for 2007.
The remaining funds pledged are earmarked for specific sectors: $56 million for education; $38 million for the national agricultural development programme, PROAGRI; $89 million for health, including the essential medicines fund; $36 million for the Road Fund; and $5 million for water supply.
The largest promises for 2007 direct budget support come from the World Bank ($70 million), Britain ($67 million), the European Commission ($55 million), Sweden ($41 million), and Holland ($23 million).
A few of the donors have already announced their budget support for the next three years too. Thus Britain intends to increase its budget support to $76 million in 2008, $80 million in 2009, and $86 million in 2010.
Although the Joint Review had found that progress in 2005 had been satisfactory, it also demanded better performance in the area of governance, particularly in reforming the public sector and the justice system, tangible results in the fight against corruption, implementation of reforms in public financial management, and more ambitious targets for water supply, and for fighting HIV/AIDS.
Six donor countries have granted $39 million to support education development in Mozambique and the sector's second strategic plan.
A memorandum to that effect was signed in Maputo on 2 May by Education Minister Aires Aly and Dutch Ambassador Lidi Remmelzwaal, on behalf of the six donor countries - namely Holland, Canada, Ireland, Britain, Germany, and Finland.
Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, Remmelzwaal said that this sum will be increased to $50 million in 2007.
For the period 2002/2004, when this education initiative was launched, donors disbursed $49 million.
For his part, Aly thanked the gesture, describing it as the result of joint efforts by the government and its cooperation partners to seek assistance to help deal with the budget deficit in the education sector. "This support will allow us to plan better and complement what the country cannot produce, thus contributing towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals. We will do all in our power to speed up the ongoing reform plan in this sector".
He added that this money will be used in teacher training and the building of new schools to guarantee access to the about one million children who are currently not attending school.
During the same ceremony, Aly signed a memorandum of intentions with Jose Angelo Rajoy, the coordinator of the Salesian Training Network, to extend education and improve the quality of education.
Rajoy explained that this agreement, aimed at developing technical and professional education, will cover the training of teachers and managers, to enable the country to adjust itself to globalisation and regional integration.
In 2001, the Salesian Network funded the building of two new schools in Inhambane and Tete provinces, helped rehabilitate the Lhanguene Secondary School, in Maputo, and supplied training equipment for a variety of courses.
As part of this programme, a new training centre for managers of technical and professional education is to be inaugurated in the Maputo suburb of Luis Cabral before the end of this year.
This year's grain harvest in Mozambique will reach about 2.1 million tonnes, an increase of 10 per cent on the 2005 figure, predicted Agriculture Minister Tomas Mandlate on 15 May. Opening a National Meeting of Agricultural Services in Namaacha, on the border with Swaziland, Mandlate said that the maize harvest alone will be about 1.5 million tonnes, a growth of 11 per cent. Total domestic consumption for maize is estimated at 1.4 million tonnes.
Last year's grain production was much lower than hoped because of the impact of drought over large areas of southern and central Mozambique. The return of normal rains in the 2005-06 growing season is also reflected in the production of vegetables and cassava, which rose by 9.6 and 13.8 per cent respectively.
Turning to livestock, Mandlate said that restocking over the last decade was now showing results in terms of increased meat production, which in 2005 was 12 per cent higher than in 2004. This has allowed Mozambique to cut its imports of beef, which were 22 per cent lower in 2005 than in the previous year.
Mandlate recognised that, despite this progress there are still severe obstacles hindering growth in agricultural production and productivity. These include vulnerability to pests and plant diseases, low use of modern inputs such as improved seeds, and insufficient use of irrigation and of animal traction.
The four-day meeting is intended to draw up a balance sheet of activities undertaken in 2005 and plan work for 2007. Areas covered include food security, agricultural inputs, plant health, irrigation, and early warning in the event of natural disasters.
Agricultural production in 2005 in the central province of Zambezia fell by three per cent when compared with the previous year. This finding was contained in a report presented to President Armando Guebuza during an extraordinary session of the provincial government on 8 May in Quelimane.
Of the 925,000 hectares for food and cash crops planned for planting in 2005, only 847,000 were worked, against 867,000 hectares planted in the 2003/2004 agricultural campaign.
The provincial authorities blame this poor performance on drought and the late onset of the rainy season.
However, good results are reported from the cashew sector, where more trees were planted than initially estimated, particularly in the districts of Nicoadala, Namacurra, Mocuba, Maganja da Costa, Ile, Pebane, and Gile. The agricultural authorities had planned the production of 140,000 cashew tree seedlings, but 141,000 were actually produced, of which 118,000 were successfully grown and distributed to 6,000 families.
The poor performance of the agricultural sector is probably to blame for Zambezia's failure to meet the targets of the Strategic Development Plan for the period 2001-2005. The target for growth in the provincial economy for 2005 was around 10 per cent, but the final figures show a slight shortfall, with growth of nine per cent.
President Armando Guebuza on 15 May inaugurated the new electricity sub-station in the northern city of Pemba, capital of Cabo Delgado province. With the new sub-station, completed in March, Pemba is finally linked to the national grid, the power for which comes from the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi. The project to link Pemba to Cahora Bassa began in 2003.
The transmission line and the sub-station were financed by the Arab Bank for Development in Africa (DADEA), the Islamic Development Bank, and the publicly owned electricity company, EDM, totalling of $28 million.
The transmission line from Nampula to Pemba runs for 377 kilometres, and has 1,064 metallic pylons. The distribution network within Pemba (both overhead and underground cables), covering a distance of 12 kilometres, was completely replaced, as were 27 transformer posts.
The new sub-station replaces the obsolete, and extremely expensive diesel-powered generators that used to be Pemba's sole source of electricity.
EDM now plans to use the Nampula-Pemba line as the basis for electrifying the rest of Cabo Delgado. Work is now under way to bring Cahora Bassa power to the districts of Montepuez, Chiure, and Ancuabe as well as to Namapa, in the northern part of Nampula. The power should be flowing to all of these districts in 2007.
New water system for Chiure
Whilst on his trip to Cabo Delgado, President Guebuza also inaugurated a new water supply system, budgeted at $940,000, in the town of Chiure.
The old water system suffered a severe breakdown ten years ago, forcing the 31,000 inhabitants of Chiure to resort to wells and streams for their water.
Eduardo Jossefa, an official of the National Water Board (DNA), told AIM that studies presented four years ago gave several options for a new water supply system. Some of these involved building small dams to impound water from the Lurio or Mecopote rivers - but this would have required investment of around $2.2 million.
But exploiting ground water in Chiure was always an option with a very low potential. So a compromise was struck, which involves impounding water at Nkurete, some six kilometres from the centre of the town, and with the capacity to produce about 200 cubic metres of water a day.
A pipe was laid for the six kilometres into the centre of Chiure, and a tank that can hold 100 cubic metres of water was rehabilitated. A chlorinator has been installed to purify the water.
To pump the water, two generators are used, since Chiure does not yet benefit from the national electricity grid.
The system currently only has slightly more than 20 home connections. Most of the beneficiaries will draw their water from seven new standpipes.
Prior to the new system, there were 26 wells (only 16 of which were in good condition) providing water for 41 per cent of the population. The new standpipes will provide water for 53 per cent of the people of Chiure.
President Armando Guebuza on 10 May laid the first stone for rebuilding the bridge over the Lugela River, which will re-establish the road link between Lugela and Mocuba districts, in the central province of Zambezia. This undertaking, budgeted at $7 million, is to be completed within 12 months.
The previous bridge over the Lugela was swept away by torrential rains that hit Zambezia in February 1997. Since then travel between the two districts has involved a diversion of 200 kilometres. The new bridge will be 270 metres long, 11.6 metres wide, and will have two 4.1 metre wide lanes.
The contract has been awarded to a Portuguese consortium formed by the Tamega and Condoril companies, and inspection will be undertaken by PD Naidoo Mocambique.
"This is a very important step because the two districts will be able to communicate easily again", said President Guebuza during a brief meeting with local residents at the site of the new bridge.
Recorded crime in Maputo city dropped by six per cent in the year May 2005-April 2006 compared with the previous year, according to a report from the city police command given on 10 May to a meeting of the police National Council.
There were 10,234 crimes reported, compared with 10,936 in the previous year. But there were more murders in 2005 than in 2004 - 104 as against 82.
Nonetheless, the number of crimes against persons dropped from 2,833 to 2,640, and the number of crimes against property fell from 7,970 to 7,473.
There was a significant reduction in the use of firearms. The number of crimes involved the use of guns fell from 760 in 2004 to 659 in 2005.
The police also report a decline in the number of traffic accidents in Maputo, again by six per cent, from 1,523 in 2004 to 1,438 in 2005. But this decline masks a rise in the most serious types of accident: 880 people were run over, compared with 783 the previous year. And 133 people died on Maputo's roads, compared with 110 in 2004. The number of serious injuries rose from 474 to 529.
The number of police in Maputo in 2005 was 3,574, of whom 15 per cent (547) were women. But once the desk officers, those who are disabled, those who are chronically ill, and those who are studying are subtracted, there were 2,352 policemen and women to patrol the entire city.
Disciplinary and criminal proceedings were started against 113 Maputo policemen (compared with 132 in the previous year). Of these, 28 were expelled from the force.
The report points out that only 12 patrol vehicles are available for the Maputo police, plus 24 motorbikes. The police budget does not have enough money to maintain them properly, or to provide them with enough fuel.
The inevitable result is that the police arrive late at crime scenes which, the report admits, "leads to justified complaints from the public". There have been occasions in which the police have been unable to pursue criminals because of breakdowns or lack of fuel.
46 policemen died during the year. Two of them were murdered, and 13 died of malaria. 24 were said to have died of tuberculosis, and seven of "other unidentified prolonged illnesses". "Prolonged illness" is often a euphemism for AIDS, and tuberculosis is one of the most common of the opportunist infections that strike AIDS victims.
The Mozambican government, meeting on 2 May, announced a 13 per cent increase in the statutory minimum wage for industry and services, bringing it to 1,443,170 meticais ($57.7) a month. This was the result of consensus reached between the trade unions and the employers' associations during last month's meetings of the Labour Consultative Commission (CCT), the tripartite negotiating forum between the employers, the unions and the government.
The deal is clearly a defeat for the unions, which started out the negotiations with a demand for an 18 per cent rise. The initial bargaining position of the employers was a 9.6 per cent rise, while the government proposed 11.9 per cent.
Since annual inflation in 2005 was 14 per cent, a 13 per cent rise means a decline in real wages.
The situation is more serious in the agricultural sector. The unions wanted a 13 per cent rise in the minimum wage in this sector too, but the employers refused to go beyond 10 per cent. The government decree splits the difference, and so the rise in the agricultural minimum wage is 11.5 per cent - giving the lowest paid workers in the country just 1,023,800 meticais (around $40) a month.
A few years ago, the government had an explicit policy of reducing the differential between agricultural and industrial wages. But now the differential is rising again.
The unions were resigned to the 13 per cent rise, swallowing the employers' arguments that this was all that the Mozambican economy could currently afford. But Amos Matsinhe, chairperson of the largest union federation, the OTM, warned that "the approved minimum wage does not solve the workers' problem, because a basic basket of goods for a five member family costs 3.7 million meticais a month".
As for the employers in the agricultural sector, their spokesman, Jose Chilengue, attacked the 11.5 per cent rise decreed by the government, claiming that "this is above our capacity".
The government only fixes the minimum wage, and any employer who pays less than this is committing an offence. Wages above the minimum are subject to collective bargaining company by company - but clearly the fact that the minimum wage has only risen by 13 per cent will be used by employers to restrict increases at the higher levels.
The pay rise, as in previous years, is backdated to 1 April.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
email: Mozambique News Agency
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