Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

 


No.353, 30th January 2008


Contents


Flooding hits Tete city

Increased discharges from the Cahora Bassa dam have led to low-lying parts of Tete city being swamped. On 29 January the level of the Zambezi rose sharply to 7.56 metres – a three-metre rise over two days. Heavy rains in central Mozambique and in neighbouring countries forced the Cahora Bassa dam to increase its discharges into the Zambezi.

The flood is far worse that the one in mid-January. According to a report in "Noticias" on 30 January, dozens of houses in the Nhartanda valley, and in the Chingale, Matondo and Chingodzi neighbourhoods on the two banks of the river have been inundated. So rapid was the rise of the river that most of those whose homes were flooded did not even have time to remove their possessions.

Tete City Council provided transport to move the flood victims to safety, and the city's mayor, Cesar de Carvalho, visited Chingale, the worst affected area. Higher parts of the city are also affected, because the Tete water supply comes from the Nhartanda valley. According to Carvalho one of the five wells used to abstract water for the city has been submerged, leading to restrictions in water supply. A separate water system for the Mpadue neighbourhood is out of operation as the flood has knocked out the electricity supply.

The Tete health authorities are worried that water borne diseases such as cholera could now spread, because so many latrines in poor parts of the city are now under water.

On the south bank of the Zambezi, in Sofala province, the small town of Chemba is in danger of being isolated from the rest of the country. Flooding on the Sangadze river, a tributary of the Zambezi, threatens to cut the main access road to Chemba.

The situation has been worsened by flooding on the Revobue river, a major tributary that joins the Zambezi just east of Tete city. The river whose alert level is 4 metres, rose to 5.37 metres on 28 January, adding to the threats facing Mutarara and the lower Zambezi.

Meanwhile torrential rains in the north are threatening to cut the road between Nampula and Niassa provinces. Two concrete bridges are in danger of collapse and trucks have already been barred from using the road.

Rains brought flooding to the Buzi valley. At Goonda, the Buzi rose from 4.44 metres to 4.98 metres.

In the south of the country, there has been a rush of water from South Africa down the Elephants river, the major tributary of the Limpopo. This water has all been contained behind the Massingir dam.

Meanwhile the Mozambican relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC) is working to ensure that stocks of food for flood victims will not run out. INGC director Paulo Zucula has warned that simple hand-outs could lead to a food crisis in two or three weeks.

A meeting of INGC senior officials with representatives of foreign cooperation partners in Caia on 25 January reached agreement that families will only receive food supplies through food-for-work schemes. People in resettlement areas are expected to pay for their food by building at least their own houses and latrines. It is expected that the demand for work will reduce the attraction of the resettlement areas for people who are not flood victims.

By 25 January 92,000 people had been evacuated in central Mozambique. The official death toll stands at four people who died during the flood on the Pungue river, but there have been press reports of four people were swept away by the Buzi river in Manica province. A further three people have been killed by crocodiles.

Relief supplies are being distributed by Mi8 helicopter provided by the World food Programme (WFP) to resettlement areas accommodating tens of thousands of flood victims in the Zambezi Valley.

The helicopter is based at the town of Caia, which has become the operational headquarters for Mozambique’s relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC). UNICEF is distributing tents, plastic sheeting and mosquito nets. The helicopter will also carry WFP food aid.

The WFP releases stressed, "all flight and cargo decisions will be taken in consultation with the INGC and other partners". If necessary, a second WFP helicopter will be sent to Caia to boost the relief effort.


 

African Union Summit

Mozambican support for Zambian candidate

Mozambique is supporting the bid by the Zambian Ambassador to the United States, Inonge Mbikisa-Lewanika, to succeed Alpha Oummar Konare as chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The new chairperson and deputy chairperson of the commission will be elected by the Tenth African Union Heads of state summit due to be held in Addis Ababa between 31 January and 3 February.

There are four other candidates for the job - former Mauritian President Cassam Uteem, Gabonese Foreign Minister Jean Ping, Abdula Conteh of Sierra Leone, and Barnabas Dlamini of Swaziland.

As for the deputy chairperson, Mozambique, like most members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), is supporting the Kenyan candidate, Erastus Mwencha, who is currently the general secretary of COMESA (Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa).

Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu told AIM that, given Mwencha’s experience, she was confident that he could defend the interests of the African Union. "The conflict in Kenya does not change our position of supporting the Kenyan candidate", said Abreu.

Mozambique opposes report on "United States of Africa"

Mozambique is among the African countries that oppose adoption by the African Union (AU) of a report calling for the creation of the "United States of Africa".

According to Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu, the proposal contains grey areas – notably it fails to specify what type of government this "United States of Africa" would have, and what would happen to the sovereignty of the individual states.

She told the Mozambican reporters in Addis Ababa for the AU summit that the report, analysed by the AU Executive council (consisting of the continent’s foreign ministers), merely presented the powers of the putative "African Government", and the common values it would hold.

Mozambique, she said, thought that this was a matter that had first to be discussed by each AU member state, and recommendations emerging from such discussions could then be debated in "an appropriate forum".

"This report doesn’t answer the question about the kind of government it is intended to create", Abreu said, "whether it should be a confederation, a federation of states, or the model chosen for the European Union in which each state is autonomous. At the last meeting, held in Accra, the heads of state and government recommended that the nature of the state to be created for the continent should be analysed. But so far we don’t have this information".

Abreu said that the AU members who want immediate adoption of the report include Libya (which is the main force pushing the idea), Sudan, Benin, Gabon, Senegal, Chad, Cameroon and other countries that receive Libyan support.

Within SADC (Southern African Development Community), there are some countries, which Abreu did not name, which believe that certain aspects of the report should be developed and adopted immediately.

"Most countries on the continent don’t want the report on the project to be adopted immediately", she said. "During the meeting the proposal was made to set up a group that will hold a specific session to go into these grey areas concerning the nature of the State, and what will happen to the sovereignty of each AU member".

This issue dominated the meeting of the Executive Commission, and seems likely to take up much of the time of the summit as well, even though its main theme is supposed to be the industrial development of Africa.


Biofuels must not rob farmers of their land – President Guebuza

Biofuel projects will not be allowed to dislodge Mozambican farmers from their land, President Armando Guebuza has pledged. In an interview given to Mozambican Television (TVM) and the daily paper "Noticias", President Guebuza declared "we do not want the production of biofuel to disinherit Mozambicans from their land or to have a negative impact on food production".

The government’s perspective, he stressed, was that biofuels should be grown "in areas where they can help increase the income of Mozambicans, and that can industrialise our country".

He added that it would make no sense to produce the raw materials for biofuels in Mozambique (such as the jatropha shrub) and then have them refined abroad. "They must be refined in the country to bring added value", insisted President Guebuza.

As for his calls for a "green revolution", President Guebuza said "we want to increase production and productivity, and hence the income of peasant farmers". This would solve problems, not only in the countryside, but also in the towns, by increasing the supply of cheap, locally produced agricultural goods.

To achieve such a revolution required the availability of improved seeds, better management of water resources, and improving rural roads, telecommunications and electricity supplies. Also key was the training of agricultural extensionists.


World Bank praise for Mozambique

The reduction in rural poverty in Mozambique "is one of the greatest success stories anywhere in the world", according to a new World Bank study.

A summary of the study, entitled "Beating the Odds: Sustaining Inclusion in Mozambique’s Growing Economy", was unveiled in Maputo on 24 January, first at a two hour meeting with government officials, and then at a press conference.

The study is remarkable in that is more effusive about the success of poverty reduction than the Mozambican government’s own documents (even though drawing on similar statistics provided by the country’s National Statistics Institute, INE).

It declares "the continuity in growth and in poverty reduction in Mozambique is one of the longest in low income countries". Usually, growth cycles in non-oil producing low-income countries "exhaust themselves after about seven years", but Mozambique had avoided cyclical booms and busts.

"Through good policies, which have provided political and economic stability, Mozambique has so far managed to beat the odds in terms of sustained economic growth", the study declares.

The lead author of the study, Louise Fox, told reporters that the economic growth strategy followed by the government "has been very effective in reducing poverty, because it has supported both agriculture and a major growth in employment in urban areas".

The researchers had found that "the urban informal sector has been a major force in poverty reduction". The factors driving poverty reduction, Fox claimed were "household farms" in agriculture, and "household firms" in the towns.

There had also been significant growth in formal sector employment, particularly in privately owned enterprises. "Good jobs with good wages were created in industry and mining, as well as in the service sectors", said Fox.

She also praised the expansion of services, particularly schools, into the rural areas, and suggested that Mozambicans "perhaps underestimate the success the government has had in reaching rural people with public services since 1997".

The key achievement was in education. The number of first level primary schools (teaching grades one to five) in the countryside had doubled between 1996 and 2005, and the number of EP2 schools (sixth and seventh grades) had quintupled. Furthermore the government had "eliminated the gender gap" between numbers of girl and boy pupils in primary schools in the south of the country, and was advancing towards the same goal in the central and northern provinces.

Fox accepted that the number of teachers had not grown at the same pace, resulting in a deteriorating pupil-teacher ratio. However, she was sure that an overcrowded rural school was better than no school at all. Asked about the impact of spending ceilings on teachers’ wages, Fox replied, "we don’t have a position on teachers’ wages".

She noted, "other sectors were not as effective as education in reaching the poor. Other sectors should learn from the success of education".

As for issues of governance and accountability, Fox declared, "the government strategy is excellent, but implementation is weak". The World Bank team had found that most households are unaware of the rights they enjoy under Mozambican legislation. "We found that most rural households known nothing about the provisions of the Land Law", said Fox.

When it comes to recommendations, the Bank’s study actually calls for increased public expenditure. It argues "to maximize the effects of public expenditure on the poor, the government needs to increase its expenditure on the infrastructure and services used by the poorest and most vulnerable".

This includes continued expansion of the education and health networks, but the study also suggests direct monetary transfers to poor households, in order to ensure that they send their children to school.

The study also calls for ensuring that decentralization favours the poor, and that changes be made in the legal systems "so that justice may be accessible to the poor". This should go alongside campaigns to ensure that citizens known about their rights and responsibilities.

One problem with the study is that it relies heavily for its data on the INE’s Household Survey of 2003, which means that much of the report could have been written four years ago. The next Household Survey will only be published in 2009.


Agreement on science and technology

The Mozambican and Chinese Ministers of Science and Technology, Venancio Massingue and Wan Gang, on 21 January signed an agreement to step up cooperation in scientific and technological matters.

Under the agreement, signed at the end of Wan’s two day visit to Mozambique, China will help Mozambique train staff in the area of science and technology, boost the transfer of agricultural technology, and promote innovation as a fundamental condition for accelerated development.

Wan told Massingue "everything is difficult at the beginning, but with joint efforts we can attain the planned objectives".

Massingue thanked China for its solidarity and declared "our struggle is for sustainable development and the weapons we need are the technological skills to transform production and to add value to our raw materials, generating services and products that increase our country’s GDP".

The agreement also envisages the establishment of a centre for research into transmissible diseases, and twinning arrangement between regional science and technology centres.

China is already committed to supporting an agricultural research and technology transfer centre at Umbeluzi and a Technology Park in Moamba, both in Maputo province. These are large-scale projects, with a total cost of $700 million.


72,000 tonnes of cashew marketed

Since the start of the 2007/08 cashew marketing season in November, farmers have sold 72,000 tonnes of cashew nuts, out of a national target of 85,000 tonnes.

The major cashew producing area, the northern province of Nampula, had marketed, by the first week of January, 40,800 tonnes, slightly more than 90 per cent of its target of 45,000 tonnes.

The marketing campaign may fall short of its national target. North of the Zambezi river, the campaign will end in the first week of February, and there may not be much more left to sell. The campaign continues longer in the southern provinces, but here heavy rains have severely affected many cashew trees.

The National Cashew Institute (INCAJU) looks on the bright side. Speaking to AIM on 17 January, Santos Frijone of the INCAJU Economics Department, pointed out that the real marketing figure may have reached as much as 75,000 tonnes.

Furthermore, the projection of an 85,000 tonne harvest might have been unrealistic. The figure was set two years ago, and it is a bad idea to set targets in agriculture that far in advance.

The producer price of cashew has risen substantially. According to Frijone, this season buyers are offering an average price of eight meticais (about 33 US cents) a kilo, a considerable increase on last year’s average price of six meticais a kilo.

Last year 74,397 tonnes of cashew nuts were marketed. Of this amount, only 20,280 tonnes (27 per cent) was absorbed by the Mozambican processing industry, which was eight per cent less than in 2006.


Italian support for artisanal fishing

Italy has promised to support artisanal fisheries in the southern provinces of Gaza and Inhambane.

Fisheries Minister Cadmiel Muthemba, the Italian ambassador, Guido Larcher, and the representative in Maputo of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Maria Zimmerman signed an agreement on 15 January under which Italy will provide €3 million (about $4.2 million) for an artisanal fisheries development project in the two provinces.

The project will last for three years and is intended to benefit 60,000 households in Gaza and Inhambane. It will be coordinated by the National Institute for the Development of Small Scale fishing (IDPPE), and the FAO office will manage the Italian funds.

The funds will be used to improve the techniques employed by artisanal fishermen, to organise credit for individual fishermen and groups of fishermen, and to improve the systems of conservation, processing and sale of fisheries produce.


Inflation higher than expected

Hopes that Mozambique’s 2007 inflation rate could be kept below 10 per cent were shattered by price rises in December, according to the latest figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE).

Combining the consumer price indices of the three main cities, Maputo, Beira and Nampula, the INE concluded that the accumulated inflation in 2007 was 12.1 per cent, much higher than the government’s target of 6.4 per cent.

When the three cities are looked at separately, the annual inflation rate in Maputo was 10.26 per cent, in Beira 14.78 per cent and in Nampula 13.32 per cent.

In calculating the inflation rate, the INE uses the prices of 245 goods and services. It collects the prices of fresh produce every week in 30 markets in the three cities, and the prices of non-perishable goods every month in 597 shops and markets.


Disciplinary proceedings against policemen

The Mozambican police began disciplinary proceedings against 182 policemen of the Maputo city police command in 2007. Of these cases 86 concern crimes allegedly committed so should also result in criminal proceedings.

According to a source in the Maputo police command the remaining 96 cases concern disciplinary matters. The most common offence is disobedience (32 cases), followed by abandoning one’s post (21 cases). The other offences include extortion, theft, drunkenness, and misuse of police firearms.

In the 21 most serious disciplinary cases, the command is proposing that the offenders be expelled from the police force.

As for deaths within the police force, the source said that 69 policemen died in Maputo in 2007, compared with 44 in 2006. The causes of death range from HIV/AIDS, assassination while on duty (five cases), and suicide. Some policemen were also among the 107 people who died as a result of the 22 March explosions at a military arsenal.

 


 

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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