Mozambique News Agency
The Bank of Mozambique has decided to put the face of Samora Machel on the new banknotes that will come into circulation on 1 July. These notes are part of the currency reform whereby the national currency, the metical, will lose three digits. Thus the current 1,000 metical coin will be worth one metical "of the new family", as the central bank designates the new notes and coins. The largest existing banknote, for 500,000 meticais becomes worth 500 "new family" meticais. At current exchange rates there are 25 "new family" meticais, to the US dollar.
The governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Adriano Maleiane, unveiled the new notes on 16 June. There are six of them, with the face value of 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50 and 20 meticais.
The last time Machel's face was seen on banknotes was in the mid-1980s, on the 5,000 metical note. At that time, prior to the massive devaluations of the currency of the late 1980s and early 1990s, this was the highest denomination note - but it has long since disappeared from circulation.
Many will regard it as deeply appropriate that, in this year, which marks the 20th anniversary of his death, the face of the founder of the Republic reappears on the national currency.
Minister of Public Works, Felicio Zacarias, on 15 June promised to introduce administrative measures against all contractors who take state money, but then fail to complete the jobs awarded to them or produce work of poor quality.
Zacarias was speaking in Cumbeza, a locality in Marracuene district, 30 kilometres north of Maputo, where he visited a low cost housing scheme built by the government's Housing Fund (FFH), to rehouse people currently living in degraded conditions in central Maputo.
Accompanied by the chairperson of the FFH board, Maria Ribeiro, and by the bodies responsible for inspecting building work, Zacarias declared that he was appalled by the quality of the work, which no official should ever have accepted.
The scheme consists of 100 single storey houses, each consisting of two bedrooms, a living room and a bathroom. The companies Marcleusa Construction, Humberto Construction, and Duarte Construction each built 20 houses, while a fourth contractor, Edgar Miller, built 40 houses. The worst problems were found in the Edgar Miller houses.
Zacarias was angered to find that in none of the houses he visited had the contractors bothered to put mosquito netting on the windows - even though malaria is the country's number one killer, particularly of children.
The contractors have been paid, and are now unwilling to correct their shoddy work - though Zacarias is threatening to take legal action against them. He warned that all those contractors who failed to comply with the building specifications included in the contracts would lose their permits, and could be banned from any further building work anywhere in the country.
A fifth contractor, Vumba Construction, was supposed to build the water supply system for the Cumbeza scheme. It did not finish the job and, according to the FFH, gave no plausible pretext to justify interrupting the work.
The governor of the central province of Sofala, Alberto Vaquina, has announced that eight contractors are to face court proceedings for breach of contract, reports "Noticias" on 13 June. The eight companies, all involved in construction or water supply, either delivered work of poor quality, or abandoned jobs before finishing them.
Thus Profuros Internacional and Hidrofuros were hired to open boreholes in the district of Chibabava, to provide drinking water to the local population. But they did not finish the work. Hidrofuros told the Sofala government that the people in this part of Chibabava now had water - but in reality not a drop was available from the water sources it was contracted to build.
A company called Moz-Construcoes had received 100 per cent of the agreed sum for building work in Marromeu district - but abandoned the job unfinished. The company SCME provided poor quality and unfinished work in Marromeu, Nhamatanda, and Beira.
The list extends to four other companies, all accused of the same breaches of contract.
Vaquina admitted that the contractors face real problems, for some of which the government is responsible - such as late and irregular payment of agreed sums, and delays in granting civil construction permits. But he did not see how such problems could justify producing poor quality work.
Thirty five new buses, out of the 55 ordered by the Mozambican government from China, have arrived at Maputo port. According to Transport Minister Antonio Mungwambe 13 of the buses will strengthen the fleet of the Maputo public transport company, TPM. The others will be distributed to Beira, Nampula, Inhambane, Quelimane and Pemba. Mungwambe said that the remaining 20 Chinese buses should arrive in November or December. Four of these will be adapted to run on gas, in a pilot project to seek alternatives to liquid fuels.
Ten buses were imported from South Africa in December last year, but 65 vehicles is nowhere near enough to meet the demand for urban public transport, and will still leave much of the travelling public at the mercy of the unsafe, overcrowded and relatively expensive minibus-taxis, known colloquially as "chapas".
Asked to address the Maputo Municipal Assembly about the capital's transport problems, Mungwambe said the government wants to shift passenger traffic from road to rail by increasing the number of passenger trains from Maputo to the districts of Marracuene and Moamba.
While recognising the need for a continued increase in the number of buses operated by TPM, Mungwambe also praised a recent decision by the Maputo City council to order private operators to use larger vehicles - 15 seater mini-buses are thus being replaced by one with 25 seats. He believed that the recent introduction of one-way systems in central Maputo, and the banning of heavy goods vehicles from some thoroughfares would help ease Maputo's traffic problems.
Mungwambe said the government is also concerned at the state of the ferry services across the bay of Maputo to Catembe and to the island of Inhaca. The government intends to rehabilitate the crumbling quays used by the ferries, and to equip the boats with life-saving equipment.
Irish President Mary McAleese on 14 June reaffirmed Ireland's commitment to continued support for the Mozambican government's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA). She was speaking at a banquet in her honour offered by President Armando Guebuza on the first day of McAleese's state visit to the country.
"Ireland has committed itself to a long term involvement in Mozambique", she said. "We have pledged to remain flexible, responding to any challenges that may arise".
"Our ambition for Mozambique is to help speed up the day of prosperity and see it generalised, so that as the country makes remarkable progresses in poverty relief it becomes a full trade partner with Ireland", McAleese declared.
She stressed that "all donor countries, financial institutions and multilateral agencies have committed themselves to help developing countries attain the Millennium Development Goals".
Those goals, agreed at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, were "the greatest consensus in history around a development agenda". They include reducing by half the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, guaranteeing full primary education for every child on the planet, cutting the under-five mortality rate by two thirds and the maternal mortality rate by three quarters, and reversing the spread of AIDS - all to be achieved by the year 2015.
President Guebuza said that the talks he held with his Irish counterpart "have allowed us to learn from the valuable Irish experience in bringing about better living standards for its people".
"The Irish example inspires us", President Guebuza declared. "It confirms that we too can overcome poverty in Mozambique".
Irish support to Mozambique amounts to €43 million (about $51.6 million), plus an estimated €6 million in direct support to the state budget this year.
President Armando Guebuza on 6 June decorated the country's best known painter, Malangatana Valente Ngwenya, with the "Eduardo Mondlane Order", the highest distinction in Mozambique, "for his valuable contribution during colonial rule, and for his role as an instrument of political intervention and mobilization among the people".
The decoration took place during a ceremony paying tribute to Malangatana on his 70th birthday in Matalana, his birthplace.
On the same occasion, President Guebuza laid the foundation stone of the "Malangatana Foundation" which the artist is setting up to promote art and culture.
Commenting on the foundation, Malangatana said he would like to see it transformed into an institute of higher education that would also work in such areas as anthropology, archaeology, history, and musicology.
He said that for this purpose there is now a million dollars available, and the sale of his work will also help raise the money needed to start building of the Foundation.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Guebuza praised Malangatana for using his talents to enhance arts and culture, and to promote peace and harmony. "He is a painter, a poet, a dancer, a man of art and culture, a politician and a promoter of peace and harmony among his fellow beings", said President Guebuza.
Malangatana started his career during the 1950s, and within a decade his paintings had won him fame. But he was also a staunch nationalist. In 1965 he was arrested by the Portuguese political police, the PIDE. He was later released, but remained under PIDE surveillance.
After independence he became a familiar figure at both cultural and political events, and for several years was a member of the Mozambican parliament.
The European Commission has granted €475,000 (about $608,000) for the supply of agricultural inputs for this year's second planting season in Mozambique for vulnerable families who were affected by drought and floods in 37 districts of 10 provinces across the country.
In addition, €110,000 has been granted to draw up a plan to mitigate the effects of drought in the southern provinces of Gaza and Inhambane. Both programmes are to be managed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
This is the result of a joint analysis by the European Commission, FAO and the Mozambican government to ensure food security and the functioning of the Early Warning System of SETSAN (Technical Secretariat for Food and Nutritional Security).
It is intended to organise 39 agricultural fairs in the 37 districts, and the target is to distribute about 80,000 tonnes of seeds and 11,000 agricultural implements to about 36,000 households.
The idea is to encourage second season production so that those households will produce an estimated 10,000 tonnes of maize, 3,600 tonnes of beans, and 24,000 tonnes of vegetables.
The drought mitigation plan for Gaza and Inhambane envisages improving management of the water resources available for agriculture and livestock in these two provinces. The plan will identify the investments needed to build or rehabilitate water supply infrastructures, in order to reduce the impact of recurrent droughts in this region.
The German government, through its cooperation institution KFW, on14 June signed a contract which it will grant €20 million ($25.4 million) to the Mozambican state budget for the next two years.
The agreement, signed between the governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Adriano Maleiane, and the representative of the KFW in Maputo, Carsten Sandhop, determines that of this money Mozambique will receive €10 million for the present year, with the other half provided in 2007.
These budget support funds are to assist in implementation of the Mozambican Plan for the Relief of Absolute Relief Poverty (PARPA II), but are not specifically earmarked for any particular project or programme.
Donors and funding agencies have agreed to provide $150 million to finance work in the Mozambican road sector in 2007. The announcement was made on 8 June by the chairperson of the board of directors of the government's Road Fund, Francisco Pereira, at a press conference to mark the end of a three day meeting between the government and its international partners at the Pequenos Libombos resort, about 40 kilometres west of Maputo.
Pereira said that the government is to contribute $80 million, bringing to more than $200 million the total amount available for the work in 2007. The full programme is to be implemented over five years (2007-2011), at an estimated cost of $1.14 billion.
The Italian and Mozambican authorities signed an agreement on 7 June under which Italy will grant financial support of €5.6 million (about $7.2 million) to the Mozambican technical-professional and vocational education programme.
The three year programme is to be implemented by the Education Ministry as part of the government's strategic plan to improve the quality of education. The plan is to train about 3,000 teachers, management staff and technicians in various institutions, update the curricula for the subjects of tourism and agronomy, and rehabilitate at least 10 technical schools.
The programme also includes the equipping of at least 20 technical schools with teaching materials and laboratories, and the training of students graduated from the agricultural schools of Boane and Chokwe, in Maputo and Gaza provinces respectively, in the management of small businesses.
The document was signed by Mozambican deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze and the Italian Ambassador to Mozambique, Guido Larcher.
Banze said that this agreement "will help implement education in the technical and professional area, and will allow the creation of jobs in the rural areas".
All is not well with the accounts of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and on 14 June the Assembly's governing board, the Standing Commission agreed to send the accounts to the Administrative Tribunal, the body that checks the legality of public expenditure, to look into alleged irregularities in parliamentary spending.
The Commission's spokesperson, Mateus Katupha, said the Commission had debated the accounts presented by the parliament's Consultative Administration Board. The discussion identified weaknesses in the accounts, which Katupha attributed to inexperience.
The "anomalies" noted include problems with the suppliers of goods and services to the Assembly, some of whom appear to be overcharging. "The prices they charge are very high, and the Assembly is not obtaining any benefits from their services", declared Katupha. He specifically mentioned the cost of the food and drink supplied for the coffee breaks during the Assembly's plenary sessions.
Katupha admitted that procurement by the Assembly had often been unregulated, with the result that some of the goods purchased had been "too expensive". He thought it urgent to adopt rules governing the Assembly's future procurement.
Deputy Health Minister, Aida Libombo, said in Maputo on 31 May that the government is working to ensure that the number of HIV-positive people in the country benefiting from the life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs increases from the current 25,000 to 55,000 by the end of this year.
She said that this target is attainable because more financial resources are now available, through the increase of the HIV/AIDS budget, and support from the private sector and from international cooperation partners, who are contributing both to treatment and prevention of the disease.
Libombo was speaking during the opening of a seminar on Universal Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment that gathered health professionals from Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania, to discuss innovative ways of funding these programmes.
"HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in Mozambique in particular, has reached a scale that goes well beyond the public health arena, affecting social and economic aspects of the lives of individuals, households and communities, thus jeopardising the economic growth of our countries", she said.
She explained that young people aged between 15 and 24, particularly girls, are the most affected group, which represent about 70 per cent of the number of new cases in the country.
Libombo said that during the last two decades this phenomenon caused an increase in morbity and mortality and a consequent drop in life expectancy. This has wiped out previous life expectancy gains from reduced infant mortality that resulted from better mother and child health care.
The latest statistics put the HIV prevalence rate in Mozambique at 16.2 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 49, and over 1.4 million Mozambicans are believed to be carrying the HIV virus. Most are unaware that they are infected.
The Mozambican customs service collected 9,024.5 billion meticais (about $36 million) in 2005 compared with the targeted 8,892.89 billion meticais, which amounted to 49 per cent of the country's total domestic revenue.
A report from the Customs General Directorate says that the 2005 figures represent a 21.91 per cent growth when compared with the previous year, when the institution collected 7,397.82 billion meticais.
The document says that, despite the gradual reduction in tariffs, as the Southern African region moves towards becoming a free trade area, the Mozambican government believes that the customs services can still collect more money than they are currently doing.
For 2006, these services have the target of collecting more than 10,600 billion meticais in duties.
The trade protocol signed by the member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) seeks to establish a free trade zone by 2015. The logical consequence of this will be that tariffs on most goods produced by SADC member states - most notably South Africa - will shrink to zero, with a consequent dramatic effect on customs revenue.
But the customs directorate is working on a strategy to attain the defined targets through other means, including improvements in the collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT) and sales tax on specific imports that are classified as luxuries.
A senior Renamo parliamentarian, Francisco Xavier Marcelino, better known by his nom-de-guerre of Jose de Castro, died in Maputo Central Hospital of an unspecified illness on 11 June.
Castro rose to prominence in Renamo during the war of destabilisation. After the signing of the peace agreement between Renamo and the Mozambican government in October 1992, he moved to Maputo, where he became a familiar spokesman for Renamo, especially during the ill-fated Multi-Party Conference of 1993, charged with drawing up an electoral law.
Castro headed the Renamo side on every National Elections Commission appointed in the country between 1994 and 2003. He resigned from the CNE in 2004, in order to stand as a Renamo candidate in that year's election.
Castro was Renamo general secretary for a brief period in the late 1990s, but was sacked in January 1998 by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
Nonetheless, this fall from grace was far from complete, and at the Renamo congress of November 2001, Castro was elected onto the Party's Political Commission.
In the December 2004 elections Castro stood on the Renamo list for the northern province of Nampula and was elected to parliament. When the new parliament convened in early 2005, Castro was elected a member of its governing board, the 15 member Standing Commission.
Artur Canana, the first elected mayor of Maputo, died in Maputo Central Hospital on 31 May at the age of 59, victim of an unspecified illness.
Canana was born in 1947 in Quelimane, capital of the central province of Zambezia. He entered the civil service under colonialism in 1965, working in the administration of Pebane district.
He joined the ruling Frelimo Party in 1978, and in 1990 was appointed governor of the central province of Maputo. The good reputation he gained there was a factor in his election to the Frelimo Political Commission in 1997, and in his appointment as mayor of Maputo, to end the disastrous reign of Joao Baptista Cosme in the city.
In the first municipal elections, in 1998, Canana was the Frelimo candidate in Maputo. His election to the job he had previously held by appointment was the highest point in his career - and also the start of his decline. For Canana proved unable to deal with the formidable problems of the capital, and found himself under relentless pressure over such issues as garbage collection, and road maintenance.
The crisis in municipal management carried a political price, and at the next Frelimo Congress, in 2002, Canana was not re-elected to the Political Commission. The following year Frelimo did not run him for re-election as mayor, choosing instead former finance minister Eneas Comiche.
Canana returned to the central state apparatus, and at the time of his death he was working as an Administrative Inspector in the Ministry of State Administration.
The Mozambican government has reached an agreement with one of the country's major banks, the Commercial and Investment Bank (BCI), to grant a line of credit of seven billion meticais (about $280,000) to help relaunch vegetable, and particularly tomato, production in some districts.
Agriculture Minister Tomas Mandlate told a press conference in Maputo on 6 June that, given the difficulties that the producers face in obtaining credit from the commercial banks, the government found it necessary to intervene and share the risks and resources to ensure that the farmers are granted the necessary funds.
This comes in the wake of a viral disease that has affected tomato production, mainly in the district of Chokwe, in the southern province of Gaza. The disease wiped out all the tomato crop of some farmers, and others lost between 70 and 90 per cent of their crop.
Mandlate explained that the interested farmers may start applying for the loans to the BCI, but only those who have been certified by the relevant district agriculture authorities are eligible. They will receive, according to their needs, up to a maximum of 500 million meticais for each operation. This money is reimbursable over three years, at an interest rate of 10 per cent.
The leader of Mozambique's largest opposition party, Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, on 1 June accused the government of having no strategy for the development of the country.
Speaking to reporters at Maputo airport, after a visit to the northern provinces of Nampula and Niassa, Dhlakama claimed that President Armando Guebuza's frequent calls for a struggle against absolute poverty were merely "propaganda". He said poverty, unemployment and injustice remain rife in the provinces that he has visited.
In Niassa, he accused, foreigners, notably Tanzanians, of enriching themselves through illicit gold mining, and he claimed that no attempt is made to exploit the enormous agricultural potential of the province, for domestic consumption or for export.
Dhlakama stated that privatisations of once state-owned companies had benefited members of Frelimo, who supposedly "pay no taxes". He also alleged that Frelimo members "intervene in the private sector, discouraging national and foreign investment".
He stated that Frelimo has set up its party branches throughout state institutions, including police stations, courts, schools, hospitals, and even in private companies: "these are visible problems", Dhlakama alleged, "the directors of schools are forced to be heads of party branches, and when they refuse they are compulsively transferred".
Dhlakama said his visit to the north had been "positive", despite alleged attempts by Frelimo to disrupt it. He said that Frelimo had tried to prevent local chiefs and the public at large from meeting with him, "but they flocked to my rallies".
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