Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

 


No.333, 22nd January 2007


Contents


Flooding hits Zambezia – over 3,500 seek shelter

At least 3,500 people are being assisted in government accommodation centres in the central province of Zambezia following torrential rains and flooding, according to the director of the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC) Paulo Zucula. Speaking at a Maputo press conference on 22 January, Zucula said that five centres have been set up in schools.

In the space of 24 hours, 340 millimetres of rain fell on the Zambezia provincial capital, Quelimane, leaving parts of the city submerged. Roads were blocked by fallen trees, and by vehicles buried in mud.

The INGC has 188 tonnes of food (rice, maize flour, beans and vegetable oil) is available for emergency purposes in Quelimane.

Zucula said a distribution plan was drawn up with the provincial government, and is now being implemented. Apart from food distribution, the plan also includes the provision of clean drinking water and the construction of additional latrines in the accommodation centres.

The local naval base and infantry units of the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) are on standby for rescue operations. So far there are no reports of any deaths caused by the Zambezia floods.

Provincial government teams are working in the rural districts affected to draw up full details of the damage caused by the rains. All indications so far are that the most serious situation is in Quelimane.

Zucula said that so far the INGC has been able to respond to the emergency with Mozambique's own resources, and there has been no need to seek outside help. But a serious deterioration in the situation could spark off a call for foreign assistance.

In some of the low-lying neighbourhoods of Quelimane the waters were a metre deep, and at least 400 families were forced out of their homes. The Mozambican electricity company, EDM, was forced to halt the flow of power to Quelimane for safety reasons.

The torrential rains are also affecting several other districts in Zambezia, particularly Mocuba, Maganja da Costa, Mopeia, Gurue and Chinde.

Water from neighbouring countries is pouring down the Zambezi into the lake behind the Cahora Bassa dam.

Sofala and Nampula also hit

Flooding on the lower Zambezi has swamped 11,000 hectares of crops in Caia district, in the central province of Sofala, where the Zambezi has been above flood alert level since 9 January. The area inundated is on the south bank of the river, between Caia town and Sena, a distance of about 80 kilometres

Further downstream, parts of Marromeu district have also been inundated, and the district administrator, Joao Chavica, warns that people living on islands in the river are particularly at risk.

The torrential rains have turned roads into quagmires, making it impossible to reach parts of the district from Marromeu town. Chavica said it is known that in the Malingapansi administrative post, some 60 kilometres from the district capital, the fields of some 330 families have been swamped, affecting about 1,600 people.

Meanwhile the torrential rains that hit Moma district, in the northern province of Nampula on 13 and 14 January has hit 4,790 people.

Speaking at a press conference Fatima Belchior, director of the coordinating office of the INGC, said that 958 houses were destroyed, as well as 10 mosques, four churches, 24 shops and eight classrooms.

Nearby districts were also hit, but on a much lesser scale. Thus in Mogovolas 26 houses were destroyed.

A few days earlier heavy rains destroyed nine houses and inundated a further 14 in the coastal town of Angoche.

Belchior said that heavy rains have also destroyed homes in the central provinces of Tete and Manica. In the Tete district of Mutarara, 400 houses were destroyed, and the access road to the district capital was blocked.


Cashew marketing a success

Recent figures point to the 2006-07 cashew nut marketing campaign being more successful than initially envisaged. Latest figures from the National Cashew Institute (INCAJU) show that the northern provinces may well exceed their marketing targets.

The three producer provinces north of the Zambezi have so far marketed 58,500 tonnes of nuts. The most productive province is Nampula where 42,000 tonnes have been sold with a target of 45,000 tonnes.

The neighbouring province of Zambezia has a target of 10,000 tonnes and has almost reached it - so far, Zambezia producers have sold 9,800 tonnes of nuts.

Similarly for the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado: it has marketed 6,700 tonnes of nuts, and is thus close to meeting its target of 7,000 tonnes.

"Right now the nuts have all been harvested, but sales are continuing", Santos Frijone, of the INCAJU Economics Department, told AIM.

This is a very different picture from the pessimistic forecasts of late 2006. Then it was feared that Nampula would only produce 35,000 tonnes of nuts, because of the damage done to cashew trees by high winds that hit them as they were flowering, and also because many thousands of the trees have fallen victim to uncontrolled bush fires.

The average price offered to farmers for their nuts in Cabo Delgado and Nampula has remained stable at 5.5 meticais (about 20 US cents) a kilo. But peasants are receiving considerably higher prices in Nampula, where the average rose from 6.5 meticais a kilo last month, to eight meticais now. This is possibly due to increased competition for the nuts in Nampula, which is where most of the new cashew processing factories have been established.

INCAJU says that some 10,000 tonnes of nuts have already been purchased by the factories. Projections are that the Mozambican industry will process between 25,000 and 30,000 tonnes of this season's production. This would mark a significant increase on last year, when the factories purchased 21,943 tonnes of nuts - which was 35 per cent of 2005/06-marketed production.

The bulk of the nuts will still be exported, unprocessed, to India. The first such shipments this season, of 9,500 tonnes, will take place from the port of Nacala by the end of this month.

The cashew marketing season south of the Zambezi starts this month, and figures are not yet available. Gaza province has a target of 5,000 tonnes of nuts, Inhambane 4,000 tonnes, Manica and Sofala 1,500 tonnes each, and Maputo province 1,000 tonnes.

The foreign exchange earnings from the cashew sector in the 2005/06 season were $19.9 million - 74 per cent of this ($14.6 million) came from the export of 26,349 tonnes of unprocessed nuts to India. The remaining 26 per cent ($5.3 million) came from the export of 1,184 tonnes of processed cashew kernels. This was the largest export of kernels since 2000.


Cotton company loses part of concession

The Mozambican government is cancelling the rights of the private Nampula Cotton Company (CANAM) over parts of the eight districts in Nampula province where it is the sole company entitled to purchase cotton from peasant farmers.

CANAM is one of the concessionary companies that provide cotton farmers with seeds and other inputs on credit, and undertake to purchase all the cotton they produce. But, according to a report in Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique" on 19 January, CANAM has been unable to keep its promises.

CANAM was once the largest cotton company in Nampula, but in the last season it failed to purchase on time more than 12,000 tonnes of raw cotton. According to Deputy Agriculture Minister Catarina Pajume, there are still over 3,600 tonnes of cotton in peasants' hands in the CANAM concession areas.

Pajume guaranteed that the peasants will be paid for their crop, though she feared that it may have declined in quality. She stressed that CANAM is obliged to pay for it according to the quality when it was weighed.

She said the same problem occurred in 2005. CANAM paid for the cotton that was still in peasant barns - but much of it was lost because the company did not collect it, and it was left exposed to the rains.

CANAM's excuse at the time was that much more cotton was produced than it had envisaged, and so it had difficulty in paying for it all on time. The problem has continued, despite CANAM's promise to look for other sources of funding.

Pajume said the government is disappointed, since it had hoped that peasants would grow more cotton, and that the income from this cash crop would help lift them out of poverty. She warned that peasants who still had last year's crop on their hands were unlikely to be motivated to produce more this year. Hence the decision to reduce the area of CANAM's concession.

There are three other concessionary cotton companies operating in Nampula. Between them they had marketed about 32,000 tonnes of cotton by the end of 2006 - this was 16 per cent more than in 2005, but only 83 per cent of the target figure of 37,091 tonnes.

145,000 farmers grow cotton in Nampula, and the province accounts for half of national cotton production.


State administrators for all municipalities

The Mozambican government intends to appoint a state administrator for all the country's 33 municipalities, the Minister of State Administration, Lucas Chomera, has confirmed. Interviewed in the weekly paper "O Pais", Chomera denied that such administration would be encroaching on the powers of the municipal authorities.

The government has now abandoned the earlier idea that state functions in the municipalities could be handled by the existing provincial or district governments. "In several meetings, the provincial governors have said they are not effectively exercising the role of state representatives", said Chomera. This was prejudicing "the correct functioning of state services in the provincial capitals".

The new state administrators would ensure "horizontal coordination of services in a given municipality so that these may function in an integrated fashion", said the Minister. In no way was the government seeking to decapitate the municipalities, he stressed. Nor did he think that the citizens would be confused by the existence of two different structures - the municipal council and the state administration.

"The people know that when the city isn't clean, it's because the Municipal Council hasn't cleaned it, and that when a garden isn't kept properly, that too is a municipal responsibility", said Chomera. "But they know that it is the state which is, for example, running the schools. It's like that all over the world. Nowhere does the mayor represent the state".

He cited the examples of Tanzania and Portugal - in Tanzania each district has both a state administrator and a mayor, while in Portugal the figure of "civil governor" exists alongside that of the elected mayor.

Chomera said these appointments would not result in additional expenditure for the state, as the bodies that would answer to the new administrators (the education and health directorates, for example) already exist. "The only new element is the state representative himself, who can operate provisionally from one of the existing directorates", said Chomera.

"But I also think that quality and efficiency have costs", added Chomera, "and society must accept that there is some cost so that the state services have a head who coordinates, who makes demands under the public sector reform, and who supervises the functioning of schools, hospitals and other state institutions in the municipality".

The main objection to the figure of state administrator comes from Beira, the country's second city, and the largest of the five municipalities won by the Renamo-Electoral Union opposition coalition in the 2003 local elections.

In a recent interview, the Mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, assumed that the appointment of a state administrator was an attempt by the ruling Frelimo Party to regain lost ground in Beira. "They want to compete in this space", he said, "because they feel that they've lost space in Beira. But what is this administrator going to administer in Beira? This measure could be the focus for unnecessary clashes between the municipality and the administration".

Chomera insisted that this was not the case, and the measure is being undertaken in good faith, to improve the functioning of the state within the municipality. "Now, when someone wins the election for mayor, he says he's the government and the state, and rules in everything", remarked Chomera. "I think we have to be careful about this, so as not to distort what is a municipality and what is the state".


Blackouts hit Maputo

The recent huge power cuts in Maputo were due to a combination of high temperatures, damage to electricity cables during excavations by the water and telecommunications companies, and the theft of copper and aluminium cables, according to Jonas Chitsumba, director of distribution for the southern region of the state electricity company, EDM.

Much of Maputo was blacked out for lengthy periods in mid-January, as temperatures soared to around 40 degrees centigrade. Chitsumba pointed out that when hot air is humid, and is laden with dust and salt, it becomes conductive to electricity and leads to short circuits on electricity transmission lines, thus interrupting the supply of power.

The intense heat also led to a sudden rise in demand, as EDM's clients across the capital switched on their air conditioners. "EDM didn't have the capacity to respond to this sudden increase in demand", said Chitsumba.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the electricity infrastructure in many Maputo buildings is unaltered from the 1950s or 60s. Then it was supporting just a few electric light bulbs - now it has to cope with air-conditioners and many other electrically powered devices.

"Clients should contact EDM to check whether their electrical installation will support the addition of more appliances - but few of them do so", said Chitsumba.

This, Chitsumba stressed, is a problem of growth and of improving living standards. In the mid-1980s, peak electricity consumption in the Maputo-Matola conurbation was just 50 megawatts. Today it is 300 megawatts (excluding the 900 megawatts for the MOZAL aluminium smelter, which is not provided by EDM).

From 2005 to the present, 57,000 more households had been connected to the EDM grid in Maputo city and province, said Chitsumba, putting even further pressure on the electricity infrastructure.

EDM, Chitsumba said, has also identified those parts of the two cities where the electricity network is in need of urgent rehabilitation. The company intended to adopt an alert system, using the radio and other media to warn its clients to rationalise their use of electricity and switch off unnecessary appliances, in the event of heat waves or approaching storms.


Vietnam visit hailed a success

President Armando Guebuza has described his five day official visit to Vietnam as "a total success", not only because of the four formal cooperation agreements signed, but also because of the willingness expressed by the Vietnamese government to do all in its power to help Mozambicans overcome poverty.

In a brief press conference on 20 January, President Guebuza said the expectations he had before arriving were greatly surpassed. He said he was leaving the country convinced that the Vietnamese will once again give their assistance to the struggle Mozambicans are now waging against hunger and poverty.

"As you could see, they are ready to transmit to us their experience in the battle against poverty, just as, during our independence struggle, they transmitted the experience of their struggle against the enemies of freedom and independence", said President Guebuza.

He said he believes that Mozambique can benefit greatly if it applies agriculture, livestock and fish farming techniques similar to those that in Vietnam have virtually eliminated the hunger that was once endemic. The production techniques employed by the Vietnamese, he said, are simple, but are providing visible results.

During his five days in Vietnam, President Guebuza held discussions with Vietnamese leaders, and visited industrial and agricultural undertakings. He was impressed by the techniques used to boost agricultural production, and suggested that they can also be applied to the Mozambican countryside.

Before leaving Vietnam, President Guebuza visited places of historical and cultural interest in and around Ho Chi Minh city, such as the Cu Chi central base, from which Vietnamese guerrillas had set out to defend their country from American aggression in the 1960s and early 70s.


Presidential visit to Japan

On 21 January President Guebuza arrived in Tokyo for a visit that coincides with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mozambique and Japan.

Speaking at a lunch organised by the Mozambican embassy, President Guebuza hoped that this anniversary would take on special significance, strengthening still further the ties between the two countries. He said the

visit is designed to find ways of attracting further Japanese investment to Mozambique.

Perhaps the most significant current Japanese investment in Mozambique is the Mitsubishi corporation's 26 per cent stake in the MOZAL aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Maputo.

According to a source in the Mozambican delegation, President Guebuza will brief his Japanese hosts on the government's five-year programme for the 2005-2009 period, his strategic vision for the elimination of poverty, and the activities under way to achieve this goal.

During the visit, President Guebuza is expected to sign an agreement on Japanese financing for infrastructures, including a 500 kilometre road linking the two northern provinces of Niassa and Cabo Delgado, and allowing Niassa access to the Indian Ocean at the port of Pemba.

"Obtaining technical assistance to train staff in preventing and managing natural disasters is a further objective", said this source.

The current aid from Japan to Mozambique amounts to between $20 and $30 million a year. This figure includes grant aid, technical cooperation and the dispatch to Mozambique of Japanese experts and volunteers. Last year, Japan cancelled commercial debt to Mozambique (which came to about $60 million).


New bridge for Incomati

A new bridge over the Incomati river in Moamba district, about 60 kilometres northwest of Maputo, is due to be concluded within 18 months. This is the period stipulated in the contract signed on 15 January between the Mozambican government and the contractor, the China Hennan Corporation (CHICCO).

The contract, valued at $8 million, will be paid entirely by the Mozambican state. Inspection is in the hands of the Mozambican company "Ninham Shand - Engenheiros e Consultores", who also signed their contract with the government.

The bridge connects the fertile agricultural area of Sabie to Moamba town. It replaces one that was washed away in the catastrophic floods of February 2000. The bridge will be 300 metres long and 10 metres wide.

It will stand two metres above the maximum flood level recorded in 2000, and should therefore avoid the fate of the previous bridge, in the event of another major flood on the Incomati.


 

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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