Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

 


No.330, 20th November 2006


Contents


President calls on leaders to serve the people

Speaking in the central city of Quelimane at the end of the Ninth Congress of ruling Frelimo Party on 15 November, President Armando Guebuza declared that a leader must serve the people, not his own personal interests. The President was speaking after the Central Committee, elected by the Congress, had held its first meeting during which it elected the Party's new general secretary, Filipe Paunde, and members of the Political Commission, the Central Committee Secretariat, and the party's disciplinary body, the Verification Commission.

Addressing the Congress participants, and those elected to leadership bodies in particular, President Guebuza said, "our personal interests - and everybody has them - should never blind us to the fact that we were elected to serve the people".

"We, the elected, have sworn to serve our people", he insisted. "We must be exemplary and dedicate all our time and our knowledge to seek solutions to the problems of the people. In the villages, localities, towns, everywhere in fact, a leader must be an example, not a problem".

Speaking to the 1,300 delegates to the Congress, President Guebuza declared, "now is the time not to walk, but to speed up our pace. So we must continue to cultivate self-esteem, pride in what is ours, and the spirit of improving ourselves".

He stressed that Frelimo and the government have the responsibility to drive the fight against poverty, and advance to a "green revolution" in the battle against hunger. There is nothing inevitable about poverty, he insisted. Poverty has its weaknesses, and can be defeated - all that is needed to achieve that goal is for "every one of us to do his part".

The new general secretary, the governor of Nampula province Filipe Paunde, was elected unopposed. He replaces Armando Guebuza, who had held the position since 2002.

Since the general secretary must be based at the Frelimo headquarters in Maputo, Paunde will now leave Nampula, and so a new provincial governor must be appointed.

The Central Committee also re-elected Eduardo Mulembue, the speaker of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, as the chairperson of the Verification Commission, which is the Party's disciplinary body.

The Central Committee expanded the Political Commission from 15 to 17 members. The Political Commission is effectively the most powerful body in Frelimo. Whereas the 160 strong Central Committee only holds ordinary meetings twice a year, the Political Commission meets almost every week.

In addition to Paunde, there are five new members of the Political Commission. They are the Planning and Development Minister, Aiuba Cuereneia, the Frelimo Secretary for Cadres and Training, Conceita Sortane, Education Minister Aires Aly, the general secretary of the Mozambican Women's Organisation (OMM), Paulina Mateus, and prominent jurist, and former chairperson of the Maputo Municipal Assembly, Teodoro Waty.

As expected, former Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi and former Transport Minister Tomas Salomao, leave the Political Commission. Both men have demanding jobs outside Mozambique, and so could not possibly attend Political Commission meetings on a regular basis. Mocumbi is the High Representative of the Holland- based Europe-Developing Countries Clinical Tests Partnership (EDCTP), which is a research programme to develop new drugs and vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, while Salomao is Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Two others lost their seats on the Political Commission - the Women's Affairs and Social Welfare Minister, Virgilia Matabele, and the former Minister of Veterans' Affairs, Antonio Hama Thai.

The other 11 members of the previous Political Commission all kept their seats. Thus the composition of the new Political Commission is as follows: Armando Guebuza (President of the Republic and of Frelimo) Joaquim Chissano (Honorary Chairperson of Frelimo, and former President of the Republic) Filipe Paunde (General Secretary) Eduardo Mulembue (Chairperson of the Verification Commission, and speaker of parliament) Luisa Diogo (Prime Minister) Alberto Chipande (former defence minister) Veronica Macamo (deputy speaker of parliament) Manuel Tome (head of the Frelimo parliamentary group) Margarida Talapa (deputy head of the Frelimo parliamentary group) Alcinda Abreu (Foreign Minister) Jose Pacheco (Interior Minister) Eneas Comiche (mayor of Maputo) Conceita Sortane (Frelimo Secretary for Training and Cadres) Aiuba Cuereneia (Minister of Planning and Development) Paulina Mateus (General Secretary of the OMM) Aires Aly (Education Minister) Teodoro Waty (former president of the Maputo Municipal Assembly)

Six out of the 17 members of the new Political Commission are women.

The Central Committee also elected the seven-member secretariat. There are three new members - Paunde, Carmelita Namashalua (Deputy Minister of State Administration), and parliamentarian Castro Morgado.

Not re-elected were Mauricio Vieira (who lost his seat on the Central Committee), Amelia Sumbana and Laurinda Kanji. The other members of the existing secretariat - Edson Macuacua, Conceita Sortane, Aiuba Cuereneia and Eliseu Machava kept their seats.


Cashew harvest begins in depressed market

The National Cashew Institute (INCAJU) hopes that 75,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts will be marketed in the 2006-07 cashew harvest. Of this amount some 30,000 tonnes will be sold to the 23 cashew processing factories that now exist in Mozambique, and 35,000 tonnes will be exported raw (to India). The other 10,000 tonnes include losses, stocks that will be held to the next campaign, and informal trading in nuts.

According to the director of INCAJU, Filomena Maiopue, speaking at a Maputo press conference on 17 November, cashew marketing began in the northern provinces in early November and will last until March/April. In the south marketing will begin by the end of November.

The major problem, Maiopue said, is that, due to depressed prices internationally, both for raw cashews and for processed kernels, the prices offered to Mozambican farmers for their nuts are also low.

In Nampula, the province with the largest number of cashew trees, traders are offering farmers between four and five new meticais (less than 20 US cents) per kilo. Many farmers refuse to sell at these prices, but hold the nuts back, hoping for higher prices later in the marketing season.

In the neighbouring province of Cabo Delgado, prices are higher and can reach 7.5 new meticais a kilo. That is not enough to stop peasants taking their nuts over the border into Tanzania, where the government has fixed the producer price at the equivalent of 15 new meticais a kilo.

These are cashew nuts that are not in the marketing statistics at all. INCAJU knows that the trade is "substantial", but cannot put a figure on it.

India, both the largest producer and the largest importer of cashews, still has a stock of 30,000 tonnes of nuts imported from various countries last season, which have not yet been processed. INCAJU's international sources warn that west African countries were unable to sell all their nuts last season, and so there are stocks of between 50,000 and 65,000 tonnes of raw nuts in countries such as Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria.

"We are operating on an open world market where all the major players are investing in increasing cashew plantations", said Maiopue. "So we have to concentrate as much as possible on processing cashews, so that we export processed goods rather than raw materials".

The new generation of cashew factories are much smaller than the ones that closed in the 1990s. Of the 23 plants that currently exist, the largest, in the Nampula district of Monapo, can process 5,000 tonnes of nuts a year. Many can only process 1,000 tonnes (which will produce 200-250 tonnes of kernels). They are using labour intensive, semi-mechanical shelling methods, and currently employ about 6,000 people.

The INCAJU deputy director, Raimundo Matule, argues that the new small factories have several advantages over the large ones that are now closed. They produce a better quality kernel, he claims, with a higher percentage of whole, white nuts (the mechanised factories tended to break and burn many of the nuts).

Furthermore, the new factories are in the countryside, rather than the towns, and are thus closer to the farmers. "The transport costs are reduced, and often they don't even need electricity", said Matule.

Last season the government supported the industry by banning the export of raw nuts until January. Thus for the first two months of the marketing season, only the industries were allowed to buy nuts from the farmers.

This year, said Maiopue, the industries and the exporters are negotiating to make a joint proposal to the government for the date on which the export of raw nuts to India should start.

One measure to protect the industry, originally imposed by the Mozambican parliament against the wishes of the government, is a surtax of 18 per cent of the FOB price of the exported nuts. In the past there were various ways of evading this, such as by under-declaring the amount of nuts exported.

Matule said calculating the surtax is now under control. INCAJU is working with the customs authorities and with the pre- shipment inspection company in the Mozambican ports to ensure that the cashew is correctly weighed and valued. "We have reduced this to a minor problem", claimed Matule.

Despite the renewed stress on industry, in 2005 most of the nuts that left the country did so raw. According to the INCAJU statistics, in 2005, 63,346 tonnes of raw nuts were exported for a total price of $43.3 million. Only 1,184 tonnes of processed kernels were exported, bringing in earnings of $5.3 million.

This year INCAJU hopes that the export of kernels will reach at least 2,000 tonnes. Further increases are projected as more factories open over the next two to three years.


China to build national stadium

The Chinese government is to finance the construction of a national stadium for Mozambique with the capacity to hold 42,000 spectators, the Minister of Youth and Sport, David Simango, announced on 18 November. The new stadium will be totally financed by China, and built by a Chinese company, in the outlying Maputo suburb of Zimpeto. It will be the second largest stadium in the country, after the Machava stadium, which is also on the outskirts of the capital.

The contract for building the stadium was signed between the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sport, Joao Loforte, and the head of the Chinese technical team, Lu Xiao Ming, which worked in Zimpeto for the past three weeks, identifying the site for the stadium and gathering other relevant data.

"Building work will begin in the second half of next year", said Simango. "If everything goes according to plan the National Stadium will be ready by the end of 2009, at the latest".


Renamo holds peaceful march in Montepuez

Mozambique's opposition party Renamo held a peaceful demonstration on 9 November in the town of Montepuez, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, in honour of those who died in the bloody clashes there six years earlier, and in the subsequent massacre in a police cell.

On 9 November 2000, Renamo held demonstrations across the country in protest at alleged fraud in the 1999 general elections. The most serious fighting occurred in Montepuez, where Renamo staged a mini-insurrection, occupying the local police station and government offices. 14 demonstrators and seven policemen died in these clashes.

Much worse was to come: the police rounded up people alleged to have participated in the demonstration, and crammed them into a tiny police cell. Here, with scarcely room to move, at least 83 people died of asphyxiation on the night of 21 November 2000.

The qualification "at least" is needed, because the police kept no list of names and addresses of those detained. A partial list was later drawn up by paralegal staff of the Human Rights League (LDH). Two policemen were found guilty of the massacre, and are currently serving long jail sentences.

The Renamo march on went to the cemetery where the victims are buried. Here religious figures of various faiths prayed in memory of the dead. At a subsequent rally, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama described as "heroes" not only those who lost their lives, but also the six ringleaders of the Montepuez uprising, who are now serving 20 year prison sentences for armed rebellion.

According to a report in the Maputo daily "Noticias", Dhlakama urged Renamo members not to allow the Montepuez events of six years ago to intimidate them. "History tells us that any regime that opens fire against the people has its days numbered", he declared.

Dhlakama presented to the rally the Renamo members who had been detained following rioting in the town of Mocimboa da Praia, also in Cabo Delgado, in September 2005. They were conditionally released in early October, months after the preventive detention period had expired. A trial arising from the Mocimboa da Praia events may still be held.

Renamo supporters not only from Cabo Delgado, but also from the neighbouring province of Nampula, attended the event. Security was tight, with police reinforcements from the provincial capital, Pemba, being sent to Montepuez. But in the event, the demonstration and rally were entirely peaceful.

Prior to the march the provincial police commander, Vasco Lino, called in representatives of both Renamo and the ruling Frelimo Party, to urge them to keep their members calm. Renamo had a right to demonstrate, he said, but within the limits laid down by the law.

This attitude was not followed in Maputo, where the Maputo City Council prevented Renamo from holding a demonstration in the capital. Renamo had said it wished to hold the Maputo demonstration in honour of "our militants" who died in the police cell.

The demonstration was aborted when a police unit arrived and showed the organisers a dispatch from the City Council banning the event. According to the interim Renamo political delegate for Maputo City, Jeremias Pondeca, the municipal authorities rejected Renamo's request, but the dispatch gave no reason.

After the police notification, the Renamo members withdrew peacefully from the square chosen for the demonstration, and pledged to pay tribute to the dead of Montepuez at the party's Maputo offices.

Pondeca told AIM that Renamo had communicated its intention to hold the demonstration to the City Council on 31 October, and he could not understand the ban. "In democracy this is not correct", he said. "We are accused of doing nothing in between elections, but when we want to do some dignified opposition work, we are told that we can't".

Renamo had planned to march through several of Maputo's main streets before holding a rally. It is not clear what legal grounds, if any, the Council had for preventing this, since the right to hold peaceful demonstrations is guaranteed under Mozambican law.


Norway supports state budget

The Norwegian government has pledged the equivalent of about $80 million in direct support to the Mozambican state budget for the period between 2006 and 2009.

To this end, an agreement was signed in Maputo on 7 November between Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu and the Norwegian Ambassador, Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether.

Under the agreement, Norway pledges to disburse $20 million every year. This is an increase of 30 per cent in Norway's direct aid to the Mozambican budget (that is, money which is not earmarked for any specific projects or programmes).

After signing the agreement, Abreu said that this money will contribute to reducing absolute poverty and will also assist the government in implementing its five-year programme. "This agreement shows the excellent level of the relationship between the two countries, and also confidence in the implementation of the Mozambican government's programme", she said.

For his part, Gaustadsaether said he had been favourably impressed by the results achieved by the government's poverty reduction measures. He noted that the challenges to be taken into account in the fight against poverty in Mozambique include good governance, the development of human capital, and economic development, particularly in the rural areas.

Norway has been providing direct budget support since 1996. Other areas of Norwegian aid to Mozambique include the fight against HIV/AIDS, mine clearance, the statistics sector, energy, and institutional support.


Bill on provincial assemblies passed

The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 16 November passed by acclamation the first reading of a bill to set up directly elected provincial assemblies.

At the insistence of the main opposition party Renamo, these new bodies were included among the amendments to the Constitution approved in late 2004. Under the constitution, the first elections for provincial assemblies should be held within three years of the constitutional amendments taking effect, which was in February 2005. Since it is out of the question to hold elections in January or February, at the height of the rainy seasons, this means that the provincial elections should be held in 2007.

Renamo presented its own bill on the provincial assemblies, but withdrew it in favour of a government bill, which was subsequently heavily amended by the parliamentary commissions on agriculture and municipal government, and on legal affairs.

The Minister of State Administration, Lucas Chomera, told the Assembly that the government accepted all the amendments proposed by the two commissions.

The bill states that the new bodies will approve the programme of the provincial governments, and monitor compliance with the programme. They will also monitor compliance with constitutional and legal norms in the province.

The assemblies will consist of a minimum of 50 members for provinces with an electorate of up to 400,000 voters. For each extra 100,000 voters, there will be another ten members in the assembly, up to 700,000 voters. Beyond that figure, in order to reduce costs, there will only be one extra member per 100,000 additional voters.

Unlike parliamentary deputies, members of the Provincial Assemblies will not have a monthly wage. But they will receive "remuneration, according to criteria established by the government". In practice, this means they will be paid expenses for the days they attend Assembly meetings. The Finance Ministry estimates the annual costs of paying this remuneration at about 10.2 million new meticais ($407,000).

Each provincial assembly should hold two ordinary sittings a year. Extraordinary meetings may be held at the request of the board of the assembly, of the provincial governor, of the Minister of State Administration, or of one third of the assembly's members. Each sitting may not be more than 10 days long.

Unlike the Assembly of the Republic, the elections to the provincial assemblies are not limited to registered political parties. Independent groups of citizens may also stand.

The initial government bill gave the government the power to dissolve provincial assemblies. But the two parliamentary commissions objected to this expansion of the government's powers. The amended bill now states that a provincial assembly can only be dissolved "by the Assembly of the Republic, on the proposal of the government", if that assembly rejects twice the provincial government's proposed plan and budget, and for reasons that can be imputed to the provincial assembly rather than to the government

A provincial assembly can also be dissolved "in the event of persistent obstruction or interference in the operations of other local state bodies or municipalities".

There will be ten provincial assemblies. The 11th province, Maputo City, will not have such an assembly, since it would overlap with the work of the Maputo Municipal Assembly.

This was one of the rare bills in which there was total consensus within the Assembly. The debate was thus a rather formal matter, over very quickly, and parliamentary chairman Eduardo Mulembue declared the bill carried on its first reading by acclamation.

The real problem will come in fixing a date for the elections. There is a strong feeling that it makes no sense to hold separate elections (provincial, municipal and general) in three consecutive years - 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The simplest and cheapest option would be to hold the provincial and general elections at the same time. This would involve very few extra costs - whereas holding the provincial elections on their own, in 2007, will cost the state an extra $26 million.

Unfortunately, if the letter of the constitution is to be followed, then the provincial elections must be held before February 2008. Power to amend the constitution within five years of it taking effect requires a 75 per cent majority in the Assembly - which means that prior consensus between Frelimo and Renamo would have to be reached.


Denmark supports communications sector

The governments of Mozambique and Denmark signed an agreement in Maputo on 17 November, under which Denmark is to grant about €15 million (about $19 million) to finance the second phase of the National Fibre-Optic Transmission Network.

The document was signed by Finance Minister Manuel Chang, and Egil Rindorf, First Deputy Chairperson of the Nordea Bank.

The second phase of the project, which is to start by May 2007, plans to link the northern cities of Cuamba, Lichinga, Nampula and Pemba, to the fibre-optic network. It also includes a link in central Mozambique between Chimoio, Tete and Caia. The project is being implemented by the publicly owned telecommunications company, TDM.


Japan cancels debts

The Japanese government has cancelled all of Mozambique's commercial debt to Japan, amounting to $60 million.

Notes on the debt cancellation were exchanged in Tokyo on 31 October between Foreign Minister, Alcinda Abreu, and her Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso.

The cancellation is in line with decisions by creditor countries in 2000 and 2001 to wipe out the eligible commercial debt of all countries within the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) debt relief scheme.


This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact aim@aim.org.mz


email: Mozambique News Agency


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