Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza has demanded that the agreement on transferring majority ownership of the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi river from Portugal to Mozambique be concluded rapidly. Speaking in Bissau on 17 July to Mozambican reporters covering the summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), President Guebuza made very clear his disappointment at the Portuguese government's failure to abide by deadlines set last year.
During President Guebuza's first official visit to Portugal, a memorandum of understanding was signed, on 2 November 2005, under which the Portuguese government was to transfer a majority shareholding in HCB, the Cahora Bassa operating company, to the Mozambican state.
The current shareholding structure is that the Portuguese state owns 82 per cent of HCB, and Mozambique the remaining 18 per cent. Implementing the November memorandum would reverse this situation - Mozambique would have 85 per cent of the shares, and Portugal 15 per cent. For this transfer, Mozambique would pay $950 million.
At the time, it was assumed that the final documents on the transfer of ownership would be signed in December: but in fact, eight months has passed, nothing has happened, and the Portuguese government has passed the buck to the European Union.
The Portuguese excuse is that the issue is being studied by the EU's statistics body, Eurostat, to examine the impact the agreement might have on Portugal's national accounts, and whether it would breach the EU's rules on budget deficits.
President Guebuza was not impressed with such excuses. "I negotiated with Portugal, and not with the European Union", he told a reporter from the independent newssheet "Mediafax".
"We always worked in good faith", he said. "We hope that Portugal can honour its position in the shortest possible time. Deadlines were set during the negotiations and these deadlines are not being met".
Cahora Bassa was of fundamental importance to Mozambique, he told the reporters, but "everything depends on Portugal. We will continue working with the good faith that led to the signing of the memorandum of understanding and we believe that conditions exist for signing the final agreement".
From President Guebuza's terse statements it is clear that, during last year's negotiations, the Portuguese side did not inform their Mozambican partners that the deal would require a stamp of approval from Eurostat.
President Guebuza flew on from Bissau to Brussels, for an official visit to the EU headquarters. He will meet with the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, and doubtless the Cahora Bassa issue will figure prominently in their discussions. Durao Barroso is a former Portuguese prime minister, and thus is fully aware of the history of the Cahora Bassa negotiations.
As for the CPLP summit, President Guebuza stated that, at the diplomatic and political level, this Lusophone Commonwealth has advanced, but it is showing limitations in terms of economic performance, which he blamed both on the geographical distances between the member countries, scattered over four continents, and also on the lack of resources of some of them.
He also said that this summit was an opportunity for the member countries to express their solidarity with Guinea-Bissau and its people to help it overcome the difficulties it is facing to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
Host President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira stressed the need to create strong and dynamic partnerships with the international, regional and sub-regional organizations with which the CPLP has good relations.
Vieira said that despite the political will and efforts of his government, Guinea-Bissau's deep economic crisis and poor institutional capacity have placed serious difficulties in the way of implementing strategies for meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
Five of the eight heads of state of the member countries took part in the summit: the three absent were Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Xanana Gusmao of East Timor, and Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe (even though he is the outgoing chairperson of the CPLP).
One oddity is that the summit was also attended by Teodoro Obiang, President of Equatorial Guinea. This country is trying to join the CPLP, even though its official language is Spanish, not Portuguese, and the Obiang regime has an unenviable record of corruption and human rights abuses.
The Mozambican and Portuguese governments signed in Maputo on 17 July a protocol and joint declaration on cooperation in water affairs. Signing the joint declaration were the Minister of Public Works, Felicio Zacarias and the Portuguese Minister of the Environment, Francisco Correia, while the protocol, a more technical document, was signed by National Director of Water, Juliao Alferes, and the director of the Portuguese Institute of Water, Orlando Borges.
The protocol envisages three main areas of cooperation, the first of which is direct investment. The first funds for such investment have already been pledged: Portugal has guaranteed €5 million (about $6 million) for studies on the proposed construction of the Bue Maria dam on the Pungoe river in central Mozambique. Such a dam would greatly improve the quality and quantity of drinking water supplied to the country's second largest city, Beira.
The second area is the security of the country's dams. Portugal has promised to send annual missions of technical staff to verify the physical condition of Mozambican dams.
The third area of cooperation concerns training, capacity building and similar activities.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Zacarias warned that "today we are witnessing an increasingly frightening drama concerning the availability of water in the world, which is why the United Nations has often drawn attention to the need for rational and sustainable use of this scarce resource".
He said the government is acutely aware of the country's problems in distributing water to its people - a problem worsened by the fact that Mozambique, as a coastal country, is where nine of the 15 major rivers in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region flow to the sea.
The danger is that Mozambique bears the brunt of flooding on these rivers in wet years, but in dry periods the water may be used in countries upstream before it reaches Mozambique.
The government, Zacarias said, is thus attentive to international agreements, such as those reached at the 2002 summit on sustainable development in South Africa, which stressed the key role of water in economic growth,
To meet the targets laid down for Mozambique, the Minister said, the percentage of people with access to clean drinking water must rise from the current 40 per cent to 70 per cent. Coverage by sanitation services, he added, must rise from 37 to 60 per cent.
The government was thus undertaking a programme of reforms in the water sector, to make it possible to sustain the high level of investment needed if the water supply services are to be expanded so as to reach an ever larger percentage of the Mozambican population.
Zacarias cited, as one of these reforms, the farming out of management of water supply in the major cities to the private sector. He was referring in particular to the Portuguese led consortium "Aguas de Mocambique" ("Waters of Mozambique"), which is now responsible for managing water supply in seven cities, including Maputo and Beira.
For his part, Correia declared that adequate and sustainable water management is a basic condition for achieving the economic growth that will alleviate poverty and improve living conditions.
The capacity of the water supply system in Mozambique's second city, Beira, is about to double, according to Luis Neves, the Beira delegate of the government's Water Supply Investment and Assets Fund (FIPAG).
A second mains pipe from the reservoir in the suburb of Munhava to the centre of the city is nearing conclusion, and will allow an increase in the water pumped to Beira from 30,000 to 64,000 cubic metres a day.
The fibreglass pipe is 3.6 kilometres long, and 600 millimetres in diameter. Work on installing it is expected to be completed within a month. Tests and cleaning will follow, and the pipe is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of 2007.
The second pipe from Munhava supplements construction of a new treatment station at Mutua in Dondo district, drawing water from the Pungue river. The pipe from Mutua to Munhava, also made of fibreglass, is 10.9 kilometres long and 900 millimetres in diameter. The Mutua station will be able to treat 64,200 cubic metres of water a day.
The existing impoundment and treatment of Beira's water is based on the irrigation channels at the Mafambisse sugar plantation. But this is an area where there is heavy saline intrusion, and the salinity has often forced interruptions in the supply of water to Beira.
Neves said that, with the new pipe, not only will more water be available but the quality will improve.
The work is being carried out by Jiangsu Geology and Engineering, and will cost $5.1 million, financed by the Mozambican government and the World Bank.
The Mozambican government is committed to raising funds from its partners to fulfil the election promise made by the ruling Frelimo Party to build an industrial park in the central province of Zambezia.
Prime Minister Luisa Diogo, who went to Zambezia to assess implementation of the government's Economic and Social Plan in the province, declared that contacts are under way with partners (whom she did not name), both inside the country and abroad, to implement the election pledge.
Cited in "Noticias" on 18 July, Diogo said that basic infrastructure, such as roads, telecommunications and a reliable supply of energy, based on the Cahora Bassa dam, now existed in Zambezia. The industrial park would take advantage of these conditions, and would be an anchor project for the region, creating jobs, and processing the agricultural goods cultivated on Zambezia's fertile soils.
It is likely that the industrial park will be installed in the town of Mocuba, on the site of what was to have been a gigantic textile factory. The factory was never concluded because in the early 1980s sabotage by the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels made it impossible to move equipment, by road or rail, from the port of Quelimane to Mocuba.
The derelict site could be occupied by a range of smaller industries, which could export goods to overseas markets via the port of Quelimane, or possibly via Beira, if they use the main north-south highway, and the new bridge being built over the Zambezi.
Among the ideas for new Zambezia industries are timber processing, fruit canning and juices, and processing of other food and cash crops.
The Italian NGO, the Sant'Egidio Community, on 15 July inaugurated a centre in Maputo for children infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as part of its programme known as DREAM (Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition). The centre is expected to open to the public within about four months.
The founder of the Community, Andrea Riccardi, who chaired the ceremony alongside First Lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, said the centre would use advanced technology to monitor progress of the infection among its victims.
It contains a substantial laboratory, including equipment to measure the viral load, and the CD4 count (CD4 cells are the part of the human immune system attacked by the HIV virus - doctors recommend that when a patient's CD4 count has fallen to 200 per micro litre of blood, he should be put on anti-retroviral therapy).
"The centre wants to empower activities for the treatment of children, and wants to guarantee to HIV-positive mothers the possibility of not transmitting the disease to their children", said Riccardi. "We want both mother and child to survive and enjoy a good quality of life".
Riccardi also inaugurated a nutritional centre, named "Rainbow Village", in the city of Matola. It is attended by 709 children, aged from 3 to 13, who are infected with HIV, or whose parents have died of AIDS.
At this centre the children's state of health is regularly checked, and they are taught basic personal hygiene.
"We give food and medical care to the children", said the centre's director, Lidia Lisboa, "because sometimes the children appear here ill, and their parents don't take them to hospital saying they have no money. We can't leave the children like that. So when the doctors visit the centre, they look at the children and give them medicine".
According to data from the Sant'Egidio community, 8,000 patients are now receiving anti-retroviral drugs through the DREAM programme (which is about a third of all those receiving this therapy in Mozambique), and 2,620 HIV-positive pregnant women have gone through the programme of preventing mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
Speaking at the ceremony, Maria de Luz Guebuza said work is need to expand treatment to cover all HIV-positive children. She stressed that the introduction of anti-retroviral therapy was a major step for Mozambicans to recover self-esteem and hope, faced with the suffering, stigmatisation and premature death sentence that used to be the fate of those with HIV.
For Guebuza, prevention could not be regarded as the sole response when so many children are already living with HIV. Prevention campaigns had to go hand in hand with treating those who are already sick.
The latest statistics suggest that at least 1.4 million Mozambicans are HIV-positive, and in perhaps 300,000 of these the disease has reached the stage at which anti-retroviral treatment is needed. Of this group, an estimated 52,000 are children under the age of 15.
"In our country only a few thousand patients are receiving specific treatment for HIV/AIDS", said the First Lady. "We must work so that more babies of infected mothers can be born healthy. We must work so that they do not become orphans, and so that those already infected are helped to live well".
President Armando Guebuza on 13 July presided at a ceremony to launch the country's national forum for the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
The APRM is the method chosen by the African Union to check on member states' record in political, economic and corporate governance. To date, however, only 26 of the AU member states have signed up for peer review - Mozambique was among the first to put itself forward for review.
President Guebuza stressed that the APRM "is a genuinely African instrument designed to strengthen governance through assessing the political, economic and social performance of African count".
The first countries to undergo peer review were Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya, and President Guebuza stated that the results from these exercise "are very encouraging and show that we are on the right path".
"We Africans have a common destiny", stated President Guebuza. "This is a destiny that was forged in the struggle against foreign rule and racial segregation". Those battles against colonial oppression were won "because we were united. We won because we believed in our own capacity to dispatch colonialism and racism to the pages of history".
Today's challenge was to overcome poverty "and once again our self-esteem, unity and solidarity are called upon to play their role", stressed the President.
That new challenge required "strengthening our democratic institutions and the prevalence of an environment of peace and stability". That had been the perspective behind setting up the APRM, he added.
Mozambique had plenty of experience in setting up consultative forums. President Guebuza mentioned such bodies as the national and provincial poverty observatories, in which the government works alongside civil society bodies, the annual conferences of the private sector, and the Consultative Labour Commission, the tripartite body between the government, the trade unions and employers.
The National APRM Forum was thus the latest in a long line of consultative and inclusive bodies. "What we seek from this type of forum and from consultative practices is the involvement of more national synergies, on an open, expanded and participatory basis", said President Guebuza.
The National Forum is the body that will draw up Mozambique's own country assessment prior to visits by external Peer Review missions. At the core of the Forum is the National Council of Agenda 2025 - the long-term vision for Mozambican development published three years ago.
Those who worked on Agenda 2025 included politicians from both Frelimo and the opposition, prominent churchmen, academics and other civil society figures. In the new National Forum they are joined by the chairpersons of the working commissions of the parliament, provincial governors, and vice-chancellors of public and private universities.
The focal point for the Peer Review Mechanism is the Planning and Development Minister, Aiuba Cuereneia.
A seven member Independent Panel of Eminent Persons oversees the APRM mechanism across the continent. It was represented at the Maputo ceremony by Kenyan diplomat Bethwall Kiplagat. The others on the independent panel are Graca Machel, Chris Stals, Prof. Adedayo Ajedeji, Marie Savane, Dorothy Njeuma and Mohammed Babes.
The Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) has received 46 new officers who have just finished training at the Academy of Police Sciences (ACIPOL), specializing in the identification of drugs, fingerprints and forged documents.
The course was taught by three American experts with the support of the United States Embassy in Mozambique, that has also offered ACIPOL various equipment and infrastructures, including three forensic laboratories, photographic dark rooms, a finger print lab and another for drug and document testing.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony on 13 July, the American Charge d'Affaires, James Dudley, said that democracy in the world depends on professional police forces that act according to the law. He explained that professionalism among the police means a full investigative capacity, collecting evidence in an intelligent manner and processing it according to the law.
For his part, ACIPOL vice-chancellor Machatine Munguambe urged the new graduates to commit themselves to their job and do justice to the efforts of the Mozambican government and of the United States in offering these specialised courses.
He also urged them to show dedication to their job as a means to improve Mozambicans' lives. "One cannot fight against poverty in an environment of generalised crime", Munguambe stressed. "ACIPOL has the duty to participate in the development of the national economy through staff training".
"A diploma should not be just another document", he said. "It should imply the obligation to apply the acquired knowledge in the defence of the interests of citizens".
ACIPOL has 478 students, with 120 due to end training before the end of this year.
The number of land mine incidents and casualties in Mozambique increased significantly in 2005, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze. Speaking on 13 July at a one-day meeting in Maputo between the government and its partners in demining operations, Banze said that whereas 13 land mine incidents in 2004 caused three deaths and 27 injuries, in 2005 the number of such explosions rose to 23, with 23 deaths and 34 injuries.
Banze stressed that further research was needed to locate mines. Maputo and Gaza provinces, in the south, are the last parts of the country to benefit from this work, with intervention from the NGO, Norwegian People's Aid from June.
Since the start of the current five-year mine action plan, in 2002, about 30 million square metres have been cleared, announced Banze, with the removal and destruction of over 36,000 mines. Since demining began, after the end of the war of destabilisation in 1992, about 150,000 mines and 131,000 other items of unexploded ordnance have been destroyed, added the Deputy Minister.
Finance Minister Manuel Chang declared in Maputo on 5 July that after ten years, during which the customs services have been under the operational management of the British company Crown Agents, Mozambican staff are now able to resume full control.
Chang was speaking during a ceremony to mark the end of the contract signed in 1996 between the government and Crown Agents, which formed a key part of the programme to restructure and modernise the customs services.
"The essential objective of the contract has been met", said Chang. "After ten years we now have a modern customs service that is continually adjusting to the demands in terms of facilitation and security of international trade and there is now a sustainable structure and capacity to continue the work begun in 1996"
He recalled that following the signing of the peace agreement between the government and Renamo in 1992 it became clear that restructuring was needed to adjust to a market economy and to implement a tax collection system that would bring in more revenue and give "financial strength to the state".
The tasks given to crown agents were to modernise the services, increase customs revenue, facilitate trade, ensure better training of staff, and help update customs legislation.
The government believes that all this has been achieved. Customs revenue has increased by 350 per cent, and senior customs staff claim a significant decline in corruption and fraud among customs officers.
Customs clearance time now meets international standards, the key legislation has been amended, and all major customs posts are now computerised.
Norway and Sweden have signed an agreement of "delegated cooperation" whereby Norway will provide additional funds for rural electrification in the central provinces of Sofala, Manica and Tete, through a project in which Sweden plays the leading role.
The Mozambican and Swedish authorities had signed an agreement on this project in 2004, under which Sweden provided 174 million Swedish crowns ($24 million).
According to a press release from the Norwegian embassy, the additional funds pledged by Norway amount to 50 million Norwegian crowns ($8.2 million). The extra funds will be used to rehabilitate the transmission line between Tete city and the coal-mining district of Moatize, to upgrade power supply on the outskirts of Chimoio, capital of Manica province, to extend the transmission lines in the Manica district of Barue, and to build a new line between the towns of Chemba and Sena in Sofala.
The project, scheduled to last for a further three years, will be implemented by the publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, and the electricity used will come from the national grid based on the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi.
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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