Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza declared on 9 September in the Libyan city of Sirte that Mozambique will do all in its power to support the consolidation of the African Union (AU), and its agendas for the socio-economic development of the peoples of the continent. Speaking at a ceremony marking the seventh anniversary of the foundation of the AU, President Guebuza said that, just as in the past African peoples had to unite against the common enemy of colonialism, it was now imperative that they remain united to fight and win the new battles waged in each of their respective countries.
"Mozambique", he pledged, "remains a strong supporter of the AU and its agenda. Our presence here today bears witness to our desire to see our continental organisation play an ever greater and more pronounced role in regional integration, as well as in the process leading to the peace, security and development of Africa as a whole".
He insisted that, at the current stage of its history, Africa must prioritise the struggle against hunger and poverty, since "poverty affects all sectors of each African country, and each one of us as members of our societies".
As for the project of establishing an African government, the President said there is already a debate on this under way involving all segments of Mozambican society, from which would emerge the decision on whether Mozambique should support such an idea.
Expanding on this theme to journalists shortly before leaving Sirte, President Guebuza said that it is not so much African leaderships that should decide on transforming the continent into a single state with a single government, but the peoples of the 53 current member states of the African Union.
They had to decide whether they wanted to scrap all borders, or whether they preferred the continent to remain in the fragmented state inherited from colonial rule.
President Guebuza thought it imperative not to rush into setting up a "United States of Africa" because, although it might bring benefits to the peoples of the continent, it was a very sensitive and complex issue. He thus advised a great deal of careful consideration before embarking on such an ambitious project.
For him, before taking steps towards setting up a continental government, it was first urgent to consolidate the existing sub-regional bodies. For Mozambique, that means strengthening SADC (Southern African Development Community). When sub-regional bodies such as SADC had become successful, they might serve as platforms for the much broader integration of the entire continent into a "United States of Africa".
It is the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who has championed the idea of a "United States of Africa", and during the anniversary celebrations he was particularly strident, calling for the establishment of this new continental body by a simple decree from the existing African heads of state.
He openly condemned those who regard the idea with scepticism, and said they should be forced to accept it. He claimed that those who oppose the "United States of Africa" are motivated by a wish to maintain their current privileges.
Former President Joaquim Chissano has distanced himself from the demand by President Gaddafi that formal compensation be paid for the crimes of the past.
Speaking to journalists at the AU celebrations, Chissano said it was imperative that the former colonial powers should accept their historical responsibilities and help African nations to emerge from their current economic plight.
But reacting to President Gaddafi's demand for compensation, Chissano pointed out that it was impossible to fix a figure: no monetary sums could pay for the damage inflicted on Africa during centuries of slavery and occupation. Nonetheless, Chissano thought it a moral duty of European countries to recognise that such crimes had been committed, and to help Africa heal the wounds, so that the continent could regenerate and achieve the same levels of development as nations that had benefited from slavery and colonialism.
"I think that when Muammar Gaddafi talks of compensation, it's just a manner of speaking, using what I regard as the force of expression to stress the imperative character of Europe's duty to help us emerge from backwardness", said Chissano. There was consensus, he added, that the main cause of Africa's backwardness was "the slavery and colonialism to which we were subjected for centuries".
Many Europeans, he continued, were now well aware of the damage caused by their ancestors, and accepted a responsibility to assist Africa overcome its current situation. This was the case even at the level of the top leadership of the G-8 group of most developed nations, whose recent summits had regarded aid to Africa as an imperative and immediate issue.
Mozambique has continued to make significant gains in its human development index in recent years, according to the statistics presented in the latest National Human Development Report, published by the Southern African Research and Development Centre (SARDC), and funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The human development index (HDI) consists of three variables - life expectancy at birth, educational level (measured by the adult literacy rate, and the combined enrolment rate for primary, secondary and tertiary education) and real GDP per capita.
The maximum possible value for the HDI is 1, and the latest global Human Development Report from UNDP ranks Norway as the most developed country with an HDI of 0.963. At the bottom of the pile is Niger with an HDI of just 0.281.
The Mozambican researchers have calculated Mozambique's HDI since the start of the millennium. It has risen from 0.366 in 2000, to 0.385 in 2001, 0.402 in 2002, 0.414 in 2003, and 0.428 in 2004. So the HDI has grown, on average, by about four per cent a year.
All the components of the HDI show improvement. Despite the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the report states that Mozambique's life expectancy at birth has risen from 44.3 years in 2000 to 46.7 years in 2004 - which reflects reductions in infant and child mortality.
The adult literacy rate rose from 43.3 per cent in 2000 to 46.4 per cent, which is the figure established by the 2002-03 household survey undertaken by the National Statistics Institute (INE). Given the continued expansion of literacy classes since 2003, the rate is likely to be rather higher now.
As for the school attendance rate, the continued expansion of the school network has ensured that an ever-increasing number of children are able to attend school. There was an average annual increase in enrolment of about 7.6 per cent between 2000 and 2004.
But the sharpest improvement has been in real per capita GDP, which rose from 996.3 to 1,640.6 dollars between 2000 and 2004. That is an average growth of 9.2 per cent a year.
As in previous editions, this report breaks down the GDP by province - which shows that GDP growth has been very uneven, ranging from an average of 18.9 per cent a year in Maputo province (largely due to the construction here of the country's largest factory, the MOZAL aluminium smelter) to just 5.4 per cent a year in the neighbouring province of Gaza.
A strong showing is also made by Inhambane, with an average growth of 11.5 per cent a year - due overwhelmingly to the exploitation of natural gas at Temane, and the building of the gas pipeline from Temane to South Africa.
When the HDI is calculated by province, it is starkly clear that the capital is far and away the best place in Mozambique to live. Maputo city had an HDI of 0.651 in 2004, and Maputo province an HDI of 0.588.
The lowest HDIs were all in the north of the country - 0.353 in Niassa, 0.340 in Nampula and 0.313 in Cabo Delgado. Although these figures are low, they are still rather better than in earlier years - thus in 2000 the HDI for Cabo Delgado was only 0.259, and for Nampula 0.297.
Zambezia, the province with the second worst figures at the start of the millennium, has improved its HDI substantially, rising from 0.287 in 2000 to 0.376 in 2004.
A further useful composite measure is the Human Poverty Index (HPI). The components of this index are the percentage of people who do not live to the age of 40, the percentage of adults who are illiterate, and the deprivation of decent living standards (given by an arithmetical average of the percentage of people without safe drinking water, the percentage without access to health services, and the percentage of children under three years old who are moderately or severely under weight).
Unlike the HDI, with the Human Poverty Index the higher the figure, the poorer the society in question is. In Mozambique the HPI has gradually fallen - from 55.9 in 1997, to 50.9 in 2000, to 48.9 in 2003 (the last year for which full figures were available when the report was written).
The HPI shows Zambezia as the poorest province, with an index of 59.1, followed by Cabo Delgado on 57.6. As expected, Maputo City remains the richest province, with an HPI of 18.4.
Ten of the 11 provinces saw a decline in their HPI between 2000 and 2003 - the exception is the northernmost province of Niassa, where the HPI rose from 53.2 in 2000 to 55.9 in 2003.
Gap between urban and rural shrinking
The figures also show that the gap between rural and urban areas is shrinking. In 1997, the percentage of the urban population below the poverty threshold was 62 per cent, while in the countryside the figure was 71.3 per cent. In 2003, the figures were 51.5 per cent and 55.3 per cent respectively.
So in the space of six years poverty in rural Mozambique fell by 16 percentage points, while in the urban areas it fell by only 10.5 percentage points.
The details show sharply the difference between Maputo and the rest of the country. In Maputo city only 19.03 per cent of people die before their 40th birthday. Even in Gaza, just 100 kilometres up the road, the figure is 32.25 per cent, and in Cabo Delgado it reaches 43.6 per cent.
Only 6.8 per cent of adults in Maputo City were illiterate in 2003 - even in Maputo province the figure was 28.6 per cent, while in the northern provinces two thirds of adults are illiterate (68.4 per cent in Cabo Delgado).
Only 8.98 per cent of Maputo city children under three years old are under weight - but the figure rises to 43.23 per cent in Cabo Delgado.
The Brazilian mining giant, the Companhia do Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), which has the concession to exploit the Moatize coal basin in the western province of Tete, has abandoned plans to export the coal from the northern port of Nacala.
Since there is no rail link between Tete and Nacala, the CVRD plan would have entailed building a new line from Moatize, crossing southern Malawi, and joining the existing Malawi-Nacala railway somewhere in Nampula province. But negotiations over this ambitious scheme have broken down.
Fernando Amado Couto, a director of the Northern Development Corridor (CDN), the private consortium which holds the lease on the Nacala port and rail system in the northern province of Nampula, told the Maputo daily "Noticias" that CDN had decided to cancel all negotiations with the Brazilian company because there was no progress. "The negotiations did not produce any positive results, and thus we, within CDN, decided to put a stop to them", he said.
"Right from the start, CDN's plans did not include the Moatize coal. We thought it was high time for us to concentrate on our central objectives that dictated the intervention of private management in the corridor, although we admit that the inclusion of the Brazilians would bring more profit".
In addition to the new railway, CVRD had intended to build a coal terminal in Nacala port. It had already started preparing the ground for constructing the terminal, but has now had to stop such plans.
Speaking of the rehabilitation of the Nacala Corridor, Couto said that work is due to start soon on rehabilitating the 77 kilometre branch line between the towns of Cuamba and Lichinga, in Niassa province. This had been interrupted, pending the results of the negotiations with the Brazilian company.
"We are also to consolidate our markets, to compensate for the loss of cargo from our traditional customer, Malawi, due to certain constraints", added Couto.
The failure of the CVRD plan to export through Nacala port means that the company's only realistic option is to use the Sena line that runs from the Moatize mines to the central port of Beira. This line was comprehensively sabotaged by rebels during the war of destabilisation, and no trains have run along it for more than two decades.
It is now being gradually rebuilt. Before reconstruction, however, land mines had to be cleared along the entire 670 kilometres of the railway. The demining began in September 2004 and, according to Adelino Mesquita, director of the Sena Line Reconstruction Brigade, this work is now complete.
Reconstruction of the Sena line is expected to take until 2009, employing about 2,000 people.
The US government's Agency for International Development (USAID) on 1 September signed an agreement with the Mozambican government granting $31.6 million in support for anti-poverty programmes. This is part of total US development aid to Mozambique this year of $88.4 million.
The agreement was signed in Maputo between Mozambican Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu and USAID country director Jay Knott.
According to Knott, total aid to Mozambique channelled through USAID since 1984 now amounts to $1.8 billion.
The greater part of this years funding is to be spent on the fight against AIDS, under US President George Bush's Emergency Programme against AIDS. For 2006, $48.3 million under this programme are to be spent on reducing the transmission of the HIV virus, and on treatment and care for HIV-positive people.
A further $18.5 million will go into improving mother and child care and access to primary health care, including reproductive health.
A rural income programme, aimed at improving production and food security in the countryside, will receive $9.3 million.
Trade and investment also benefits from the USAID funds, with a share of $3.2 million. Some of the money will also be allocated to support the private sector, the expansion of export industries and the development of tourism.
A governance programme will receive $1.3 million, intended for increasing the participation of civil society in decision-making in five municipalities. The programme also caters for support to the efforts in the fight against corruption.
This year's harvest in Mozambique has seen a considerable increase in the production of grains, pulses and cassava, according to the latest report from the Agriculture Ministry. The report puts this year's production of grain at 2.09 million tonnes, an increase of 10 per cent on the 2005 figure.
As for pulses (mostly beans and groundnuts), there was a 10 per cent increase in production, which reached almost 365,000 tonnes.
Despite the brown streak virus that has hit Mozambican cassava fields, production of this staple crop rose by 14 per cent to reach 7.5 million tonnes.
Most of this growth reflects the return to normal rainfall in the 2005-06 growing season. Thus it was the areas of southern Mozambique that suffered most from the 2005 drought that registered the greatest increase in grain production - 33 per cent, compared with 11 per cent growth in the central provinces and six per cent in the north.
Likewise southern production of pulses rose by 29 per cent. The rise in the north was seven per cent, and in the centre five per cent.
Cassava production was up by 20 per cent in the north, 15 per cent in the south and 3.2 per cent in the centre of the country.
Mozambique has only 36 per cent of the number of judges necessary to cover the entire country, according to Mario Mangaze, President of the Supreme Court. Interviewed in the latest issue of the weekly paper "O Pais", Mangaze said that the country needs around 500 judges and a further 500 prosecutors. But currently Mozambique has about 190 judges and 160 prosecutors. "So the deficit is still very large", said Mangaze.
Mangaze hoped that the amendments to the Mozambican Civil Code, which took effect in late June, would help speed the progress of civil cases through the courts.
The revised Code was still not what he would like, but Mangaze declared it was a great improvement on the "enormous labyrinths of the colonial code" that Mozambique had inherited from Portuguese law.
One of the serious problems facing the Supreme Court, he said, was that it received groundless appeals against verdicts given by lower courts. The appeals might be pointless, but, because the accused have the right to appeal, the Supreme Court had to deal with them in exactly the same detailed and scrupulous way that it deals with serious appeals.
Mangaze said that one of the innovations in the amended Civil Code is that it allows the Supreme Court to throw out frivolous appeals as soon as they are received. "Under the old code we had many procedural phases to follow", he explained, "but with the new code, these phases have been drastically reduced".
As for corruption and ethics in the judiciary, Mangaze said "We have inspection mechanisms. Unfortunately the inspectorate is still weak, and we have few inspectors".
He promised that "soon we shall analyse the reports from the inspectors, and the performance of the judges being inspected".
The disciplinary body for judges, the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistrature (CSMJ) would then meet to give its verdict. "This exercise will lead us to draw up the necessary plans to change the system in terms of its integrity", said Mangaze.
A conference last week on integrity in the judiciary was an opportunity for accusations of corruption - but unnamed magistrates cited by "O Pais" warned that concentrating on corruption risks "ignoring almost completely other unethical behaviour which is just as pernicious and damaging to the system, including alcoholism, negligence, apathy, irresponsibility, trafficking in influence, intrigues, and lack of respect for peers, for functionaries and for the public".
Mangaze said there were different perceptions of the question of corruption by those outside the judiciary and those within the system.
"Magistrates don't see corruption within the sector as being as serious and deep-rooted as certain studies indicate", he said. But he thought both sides were looking at the issue "subjectively".
In any case, public perceptions matter,
"and we have the obligation to change that perception, even if it doesn't
correspond to the reality of things overall".
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