Mozambique News Agency
Continued rainfall in the upper Zambezi
basin has forced the management of the Cahora Bassa dam to open still further
the dam floodgates, thus worsening flooding downstream. At every measuring point
along its length, from the Zimbabwean border to the Indian Ocean, the Zambezi
is in flood, and the National Water Board (DNA) has declared a 'red alert' for
the entire valley.
Over the weekend the amount of water pouring into Cahora Bassa lake reached about 8,000 cubic metres a second. With the level of the lake rising rapidly, the releases from the dam has risen from 3,587 cubic metres a second to 4,400 cubic metres a second.
At Tete city, where the flood alert level is five metres, by 4 February the river had reached 5.65 metres. Further downstream at Caia, in Sofala province, where the alert level is also five metres, the river was measured at 6.25 metres.
In Tete province, the constant rains have washed away many roads, making it difficult to assist people who were victims of flooding on the Shire river in Mutarara district. The Mutarara district capital, Nhamayabue, can no longer be reached by road from Tete city. The alternative is a long detour through Manica and Sofala provinces, adding enormously to the time and fuel costs of such a journey.
Rain has persisted in parts of the basin, particularly in Zambia and Malawi. This has ensured increased flows into the Zambezi from its major tributaries, the Shire, the Revobue, the Luenha and the Aruanga rivers.
The government's relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), has assisted 36,000 victims of storms and flooding in the centre and north of the country, according to INGC director Paulo Zucula. Ten people have died, all of them in Zambezia province.
INGC is to move its operational headquarters to Caia, to coordinate relief activities throughout the Zambezi valley. INGC staff in provinces where there is no emergency will be summoned to Caia.
The people in most danger are those who live in islands in Caia district. Zucula said there are no immediate plans to evacuate them - because the islanders know the river very well and have their own risk assessment systems. They have built houses high above the waters, where they have stored food. They also have their own canoes ready. Nonetheless, the INGC is placing a boat nearby.
Most of the dikes on the lower Zambezi are in good condition he said, and this will protect the sugar plantation and mill at Marromeu.
As for earlier flooding on the Zambezi's major tributary, the Shire river, in Mutarara district, Zucula put at 400 the number of people evacuated from islands in that river. This, he stressed, was the work, not of the INGC, but of other Mutarara villagers, who used their own canoes to ferry islanders to safety.
Zucula was worried that the Zambezi had risen so much in January - because the peak of the rainy season is not usually reached until February. "We have another month of rain ahead of us", he said. "And the cyclone season doesn't end until late March".
So far Mozambique had not asked for any foreign assistance. The contingency plan for dealing with natural disasters envisaged a minimum scenario costing 80 million meticais (about $3.2 million), drawn from the Mozambican state budget. Zucula said that to date about 20 per cent of this had been disbursed with 44 tonnes of food distributed to those in need.
The INGC has been supplying isolated groups of people (such as those in Inhangoma administrative post, in Mutarara) by boat. However, two helicopters are on stand by, and could be used to drop supplies or to evacuate people, should the situation deteriorate.
Zucula warned that, while floods pose a threat in the Zambezi Valley, in the southern provinces the opposite problem, a serious shortage of rain, is now being felt. It seems that southern Mozambique is once again facing drought conditions, particularly in the interior of Gaza and Inhambane provinces.
Between 200,000 and 300,000 people could be affected by drought, Zucula said. Such numbers indicated the need for further food aid - but the country's stock of food aid will only last until late March.
President Armando Guebuza on 3 February inaugurated a new monument to the founder of Mozambican nationalism, Eduardo Mondlane, on the 38th anniversary of his death.
Mondlane, the founder and first president of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), died on 3 February 1969, when he opened a parcel bomb that had been sent by the Portuguese secret police, the PIDE.
Accompanied by Mondlane's widow, Janet, President Guebuza unveiled the monument designed by Julio Carrilho. It contains a bronze bust of Mondlane mounted on a metallic plinth, alongside a painting of dozens of joined hands that form a map of Mozambique.
The monument is in front of the Frelimo Central Committee building, and this has led to claims from some opposition figures that Frelimo is "politicising" the figure of Mondlane.
Leaders of some minor opposition parties attended the ceremony, but no leader of Renamo showed up.
Addressing the thousands of people who attended the inauguration, President Guebuza argued that Mondlane had expressed "in a clear and visionary form the struggle against poverty that we are pursuing today".
Earlier in the day President Guebuza laid a wreath at the Monument to the Mozambican Heroes, where Mondlane, the country's first President, Samora Machel, and others who gave their lives are buried.
Speaking to reporters at Heroes' Square, President Guebuza stressed that it will take hard work to end the country's poverty, and that nobody should imagine that merely talking about ending poverty will make it disappear. On the contrary, each and every Mozambican had a role to play to ensure that the dream of a country without poverty could be achieved.
"There are peoples who took centuries to combat poverty", he said. "We've had just 30 years, but now we have the great opportunity of making the dream come true - if each of us pulls their weight".
Deputy Minister of the Interior, Jose Mandra, said on 2 February that there is no plausible explanation for the recent armed robberies against establishments that are supposedly guarded by private security companies.
Concern over the ease with which gangs of armed thieves have overcome security guards led Mandra to visit several of the security companies, and the training centre for guards in the city of Matola.
Mandra pointed out that security guards are prepared and trained to protect the banks, shops and other establishments. Yet these places are regularly the victims of armed robberies. The most spectacular such raids were attacks on two banks in central Maputo, within the space of a week, both protected by private security guards.
"We have to ask ourselves whether it is worth training men who, on the ground, do not apply or develop the little they have learnt", declared Mandra. "In all the establishments attacked by the thieves, the security guards did not react. That raises questions since during their training they were taught techniques for neutralising criminals".
There were also serious problems inside the security companies including failure to pay wages on time, and sackings without just cause. Mandra wanted the relevant authorities to look into these issues.
Nonetheless, he admitted that some of the companies are managing to complement the role of the police in the fight against crime. It was precisely because the Mozambican police do not have all the necessary resources, that close cooperation was required between the police and the security companies.
The Mozambican and Dutch governments signed in Maputo on 1 February a funding agreement for improving water supply and management in several towns and cities in central Mozambique.
Under the agreement, signed by the Chairperson of the Water Supply Assets and Investment Fund (FIPAG), Nelson Beete, and by Dutch Ambassador Frans Bijvoet, Holland will provide €29 million (about $37.8 million).
According to Public Works Minister Felicio Zacarias, who witnessed the signing, €5 million is to be spent on rehabilitating existing infrastructure, and upgrading the management of the water companies in Tete and Moatize, in Tete province, and Chimoio, Manica and Gondola, in Manica province.
The remaining €24 million will finance part of the costs of new water supply infrastructures in Chimoio, Manica and Gondola. The current water systems in these towns are dilapidated, suffering frequent breakdowns. Half of the water that enters these systems is lost to leaks, and the vast majority of the residents of the three towns have no access to safe drinking water.
Chimoio (the Manica provincial capital) had a population of over 171,000 at the time of the 1997 census. Manica town had a population of 52,000, and Gondola over 26,000. Only between 10 and 15 per cent of these people enjoy access to good quality water.
Construction of these new infrastructures is budgeted at about €46 million. The missing €22 million will also be provided by Holland, Zacarias declared, but through a separate programme named ORET. The Minister added that the Coca-Cola company and the US Agency for International Development are also supporting this programme to the tune of $1.6 million.
The government's overall target, Zacarias said, is to supply 60 per cent of the total urban population with clean drinking water by 2009, and 70 per cent of the total Mozambican population by 2015.
At the start of the current government's term of office, in February 2005, only 40 per cent of the urban population had access to clean water. To raise this to 60 per cent "is a huge challenge", said Zacarias. "We are aware that it's ambitious, but we believe we can do it".
The World Bank and the Mozambican government on 31 January signed the agreement in Maputo on a loan of $70 million in support of the government's poverty reduction strategy. The money, from the Bank's soft loans arm, the International Development Association (IDA), is part of the "Third Poverty Reduction Support Credit" (PRSC 3).
Funds from PRSC 3 will be delivered in three annual instalments, between 2007 and 2009, and disbursement is conditional, according to the World Bank, on "the upfront completion of a number of specific reforms agreed upon by the government and the 18 external partners providing general budget support".
The loan agreement was signed by the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, and the World Bank director for Mozambique, Michael Baxter.
Cuereneia said that this money, channelled directly to the state budget, will help the government achieve the main objectives established in its five year programme for the 2005- 2009 period - namely the reduction of levels of absolute poverty through the promotion of rapid, sustainable and wide-ranging economic growth.
The loan would help ensure economic and social development oriented particularly towards the countryside, and intended to reduce regional imbalances, and would contribute to the fight against crime and corruption.
"This funding", added Cuereneia, "will also support the achievement of the objectives set down in the government's Economic and Social Plan for 2007, which are a growth rate of seven per cent, improvement, both in quantity and quality, of basic services - health, education, water and sanitation, energy, roads and bridges - and to continue decentralising the state budget down to district level".
For the Minister, the disbursement of these funds showed the World Bank's recognition of the government's efforts to create conditions for the reduction of absolute poverty. It would also encourage other donors to continue financing Mozambique's development.
For his part, Baxter acknowledged that the Mozambican government has, in general, obtained "positive results" in poverty reduction and economic growth, which were the fruit of "responsible planning" by the government, and of coordination with its various partners.
He added that the Bank's PRSC is
now starting a new series of credits with the main purpose of supporting the
implementation of PARPA (the government's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute
Poverty) over the coming three years. Mozambique has been benefiting from this
model of financing since 2004, when the first PRSC was approved, under which
$60 million were disbursed. PRSC 2 covered the 2005-06 financial years, and
made a further $120 million available.
The Mozambican government and a series of donors and funding agencies on 31 January approved the Road Sector Integrated Programme (PRISE) for the period 2007-2009. Huge sums of money are involved in this attempt to upgrade the country's road network. According to Francisco Pereira, chairperson of the government's Road Fund, the entire programme will cost around a billion US dollars - 70 per cent of this sum will come from the government's cooperation partners. The other 30 per cent comes from the government's own coffers, via the Road Fund.
The announcement came at the end of a two-day meeting between the government and its partners in the road programme. The meeting reviewed the activities envisaged under PRISE, and agreed criteria for allocating and managing the funds, and for monitoring programme implementation.
Pereira told reporters that disbursement of the money should start this quarter. The donors had agreed that their money will go directly to the Ministry of Finance or to the Road Fund, obeying priorities set by the Mozambican authorities. Thus the donors will cease to finance the road sector project by project, and will allow the government to use the money as it sees fit.
PRISE lays down as top priority guaranteeing that roads are in a passable condition, through construction, maintenance and rehabilitation.
In rehabilitation, the stress remains on those parts of the main north-south highway that have not yet been upgraded, and the road from Beira to Zimbabwe. Another key improvement will be the tarring of the road between Mocuba and Milange, on the Malawian border, in Zambezia province.
Preparatory activities include restructuring the National Roads Administration (ANE), hiring more technical staff, centrally and in the provinces, and strengthening the ANE's institutional capacity.
Closing the meeting, the Minister of Public Works, Felicio Zacarias, stressed that the government intends to strengthen all the institutions involved in road construction and maintenance. "A programme of this nature and size demands that capable staff are in management positions, and that they have a sense of responsibility, and are committed to the interests of the country and to the government's programme", he said.
Such staff must be chosen carefully "and naturally the Ministry of Public Works will run certain risks that a choice of this kind always involves".
Zacarias said that implementing PRISE would bring new challenges - but these could be overcome through "permanent dialogue" between the government and its cooperation partners. "Such dialogue, of which this meeting is an example, has made it possible to bring our points of view closer together, to define the rules that will guide the activity of each stakeholder, and to have a consensual programme of action that will be permanently monitored and adjusted", he said.
President Armando Guebuza warned on 31 January that without the commitment of African leaderships to the development and spread of science and technology, it will not be possible to carry through the decisions taken at the summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa.
Although overshadowed by the crises in Darfur and Somalia, the main theme of the summit was the launch of a campaign for science and technology.
Speaking to reporters President Guebuza said that there was a general consensus to do everything possible to ensure that African peoples could master those areas that are so vital for the establishment of thriving industries so that the continent will be able to process its own raw materials.
"It must be made clear that, without the commitment of the leaderships, there can be no scientific and technological development on our continent", he added.
As for the idea to set up a United States of Africa, a concept pushed in particular by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, President Guebuza said the dominant position in the AU is that before leaders take any position on this, they should first consult their peoples. In Mozambique, the government was preparing just such a consultation, to see whether or not the Mozambican public think the country ought to join such a continental federation.
Those who want a United States of Africa argue that Africa could better defend its interests if it had just one government. President Guebuza remarked that, while the idea is not bad in itself, the establishment of such a union, and of a single executive, needed to be considered very carefully. Otherwise, frontiers might be abolished, only for Africa to wake up tomorrow facing even more problems than those of today.
The Mozambican customs service collected in 2006 revenue amounting to 10,847 billion old meticais (about $433 million), according to the deputy general manager of customs, Danilo Nala. Nala told AIM on 30 January that this was a 20 per cent increase on the revenue collected in 2005, and means that customs exceeded its target for the year by two per cent.
He attributed this result to the good performance of the Mozambican economy, which had led to a larger than expected increase in imports, and hence of taxes on imports. Other important factors were greater efficiency in collecting duties, and the fight against tax evasion.
Nala was optimistic about achieving the targets for 2007. He thought that the integration of the customs service in the newly established Tax Authority would allow better coordination in collecting tax revenue.
The South African Tongaat-Hulett group on 25 January announced its intention to invest a further 1.3 billion rands (about $180 million) in sugar production in Mozambique, where it is a shareholder in two sugar companies, at Xinavane, in Maputo province, and Mafambisse, in Sofala.
Tongaat-Hulett intends to become the majority shareholder in the Xinavane mill. Currently it owns 49 per cent of the mill, with 51 per cent in the hands of the Mozambican state. According to Tongaat-Hulett agreement has been reached with the Mozambican government to increase the South African group's holding in Xinavane to 88 per cent.
The bulk of the investment - 1.163 billion rands - will go into Xinavane, aiming to increase sugar production from 61,000 tonnes in 2005 to 180,000 tonnes in 2009.
The Tongaat-Hulett Chief Executive Officer, Peter Staude, said that in 2007 and 2008 a further 6,500 hectares of irrigated land will be planted with sugar cane "taking the annual cane crush from 509,000 tonnes in 2005 to 1.5 million tonnes".
Some of the increase will be sold on the domestic market - but Staude expected much of the sugar to be exported to the European Union "in terms of Mozambique's duty and quota free access from 2009 under the Everything-But-Arms (EBA) initiative for Least Developed Countries (LDC) countries".
At Mafambisse, where Tongaat-Hulett already has a 75 per cent stake, a further 2,100 hectares will be planted with cane, increasing sugar production here to 82,000 tonnes a year by 2009. "Plans are well advanced for a further 34 000 tonne expansion at Mafambisse, which will result in total production rising to 116 000 tons per annum", said Staude.
The expansion is expected to create 6,638 and 2,145 new jobs in Xinavane and Mafambisse respectively.
Staude explained that at the two Mozambican mills "a solid platform" had been established over the previous six years, and "we will use this base to expand low cost sugar production at our two factories from 115,000 tonnes in 2005 to over 270,000 tonnes at the time when the EU markets open up to LDC sugar producers".
Tongaat-Hulett's targeted cost for producing sugar in Mozambique, Staude added, was just 8.5 US cents per pound, which "compares favourably with Brazil".
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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