Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza has delivered
the message that poverty eradication is possible. Speaking in Inhambane province
on 28 August he stated that from all that he has been observing in the various
districts across the country that he has been visiting, he has no doubt that
the Mozambican people will succeed in eradicating absolute poverty.
Addressing a very well attended rally in the town of Jangamo, he explained that his certainty is based on the fact the scepticism about the fight against poverty is now giving way to the conviction that it is possible to build a prosperous country.
President Guebuza said that if he compares what he saw in the past with what he can seen now, he comes to the conclusion that there are an ever greater number of Mozambicans who understand that it is imperative to work hard in order to develop the country.
We must accept sacrifices and work hard, he declared, stressing that prosperity will never drop from the skies.
Backing the Presidents speech, all those who were given the opportunity to speak at the rally reaffirmed that the government's strategy to grant money to the districts to finance community projects has been speeding up poverty eradication.
In this tour of the districts, President Guebuza has broken with tradition by refusing to accept offers made to him by the public. Visits by Mozambican presidents to districts have always been marked by gifts of crops and livestock. In the past, such gifts were usually quietly channelled to schools and hospitals. But this time President Guebuza publicly declared that the gifts should not be given to him, but to those who needed them.
President urges people to build small reservoirs
On 26 August President Guebuza urged residents of Mabote district in Inhambane province to build small reservoirs to retain rainwater, so that it could be used in periods of drought.
Speaking at a rally in Mabote, at the start of a working visit to Inhambane, President Guebuza stressed the importance of harvesting rain water, particularly in those parts of the country, such as Mabote, that are subject to cyclical droughts.
He explained that what the government hopes to achieve with the decision to embark on a Green Revolution is precisely to adopt practices and techniques to maximize food production, even in periods when it does not rain.
President Guebuza added that harvesting rainwater is a common practice in many countries. They do so to avoid the risk of running out of water, for people and for livestock, during the dry season.
The President urged Mozambicans to use their creativity and intelligence to find solution to problems that at first sight might seem insoluble. It was precisely by using that intelligence and creativity, he added, that Mozambicans were able to defeat a European army and win their independence.
At the time, he recalled, there had been a great deal of scepticism when the founder of Mozambican nationalism, Eduardo Mondlane, said it was possible to overthrow Portuguese colonial rule just as today there are many who do not believe it is possible to eradicate poverty in Mozambique.
This scepticism, President Guebuza argued, was irrational, since every day one can watch on television the achievements of countries that have succeeded in throwing off the yoke of poverty, thanks to the hard work of their peoples.
But President Guebuza was optimistic about the future, because he believed that many Mozambicans now agree that poverty can be beaten, and there was hard evidence that poverty is losing ground, and giving way to economic development.
There have been many advances, even in districts which, two or three years ago, were in total backwardness, President Guebuza said in a meeting in Mabote with the Inhambane provincial government.
Four political parties have so far delivered their nomination papers to the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) in preparation for Novembers municipal elections.
On 4 September the Maputo independent citizens group Juntos Pela Cidade (JPC Together for the City) delivered its nomination papers. JPC leader Philippe Gagnaux told reporters that, unlike in the previous local elections (in 1998 and 2003), JPC is running no candidate for mayor of Maputo and will only stand for places in the municipal assembly.
The likelihood of such a victory is minimal. In 2003, JPC won eight per cent of the votes and five seats in the Assembly. The ruling Frelimo Party won 48 seats, with 76 per cent, and Renamo picked up 13 per cent and eight seats.
JPCs decision not to field a candidate for mayor will come as a disappointment for those who wished to protest against Frelimos refusal to run the current mayor, Eneas Comiche, for a second term of office, but who would not consider of voting for Renamo.
Frelimo is standing candidates in all 43 municipalities, while the Mozambican Nationalist Movement, MONAMO, is only standing in the northern town of Cuamba. The Organisation of Nacala Independent Candidates is standing candidates in the northern port of Nacala.
A STAE official told AIM he feared that STAE would be receiving an avalanche of nomination papers from other parties and independent groups on 5 September, the last day for nominations.
Every candidate must provide copies of their identity card, their voters card (since only registered voters may stand), their criminal record certificate, and a declaration of residence, proving that they have been resident in the municipality for at least six months.
Each candidate must also provide a document accepting nomination, and that he or she is eligible to stand. Those ineligible to stand for municipal office include bankrupts, people in debt to the municipality, and serving soldiers, policemen, judges, prosecutors and finance officers.
In addition, every candidate for mayor must provide supporting signatures from at least one per cent of the registered electorate. Independent citizens groups standing for the municipal assemblies must also meet this requirement. This means that anyone standing foe mayor of the largest municipality, Maputo city, must collect the signatures of 6,610 voters. In the smallest municipality, Manjacaze in Gaza province, only 70 signatures are needed.
STAE needs to verify that all the documents supplied by the candidates are in order. If irregularities are found the party has five days to correct them, and failure to do so results in disqualifying the candidate concerned.
A serious split has developed in Renamo, in the city of Beira. The mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, declared on 3 September that he will accept his nomination as an independent candidate in the municipal elections, following the decision of Renamos leadership to ditch him in favour of parliamentarian Manuel Pereira.
Simango said that the Renamo leadership had not bothered to inform him that he was no longer the partys candidate. Everything he knew about his removal and the subsequent turmoil within Renamo came from the press. He blamed the crisis on ambitious people within the party.
Meanwhile, Frelimo has decided not to select the Mayor of Maputo, Eneas Comiche, as its candidate in the countrys capital. Meeting on 22 August the Frelimo Maputo City Committee decided to select the Minister of Youth and Sport, David Simango. Simango won the Frelimo nomination with 53 votes to only 25 votes for Comiche. The third candidate, Generosa Cossa, the current chairperson of the municipal assembly, only received one vote.
Comiche was defeated despite widespread recognition for the work done by the Maputo City Council, under his leadership, in improving the city. Over the past five years there have been visible advances in the state of the citys roads, one-way systems have been introduced to rationalize the flow of traffic, there have been major investments in the citys drainage system and in protection against coastal erosion, a new wholesale market was built in the outer suburb of Zimpeto, and even the perennial headache of rubbish collection saw improvements.
Comiche was generous in defeat, wishing Simango luck and urging him to continue the various urban improvement projects that the City Council had begun.
By making his loyalty to Frelimo clear, Comiche implicitly dismissed appeals from some quarters for him to stand as an independent candidate. Despite this defeat, Comiche remains an important figure within Frelimo, since he is a member of its most powerful body, the Political Commission.
Before his appointment to the government in 2005, Simango was governor of the northern province of Niassa, where he had a reputation for efficiency and became extremely popular.
Renamos candidate for Maputo will be Eduardo Namburete, who is currently the spokesperson for the Renamo parliamentary group.
Namburete is one of the best known public faces of Renamo, appearing regularly on television chat shows.
In the 2003 municipal elections Eneas Comiche won an overwhelming victory, with 96,035 votes (75 per cent), to only 15,289 (12 per cent) for his Renamo opponent, Artur Vilanculos.
The Mozambican government envisages increased tax revenue over the coming three years that will allow it to reduce its dependence on foreign grants and loans, the government spokesperson, Deputy Education Minister Luis Covane, told reporters on 2 September.
Currently 54.3 per cent of the state budget is funded out of foreign aid. Covane said that the Medium Term Fiscal Scenario (2009-2011) discussed at a cabinet meeting on 2 August envisaged that next year domestic revenue will cover exactly 50 per cent of the budget, rising to 55.7 per cent of state expenditure in 2011.
Total state expenditure this year is budgeted at 90.2 billion meticais (about $3.7 billion). The reduction in dependency on foreign aid would come about because domestic state revenue is projected to rise from 38.8 billion meticais this year to 44.5 billion in 2009 and just over 60 billion in 2011.
The state will be capable of raising more revenue, said Covane. This is not going to overburden the taxpayer, but the tax base will be widened, and more investments will be attracted.
Covane forecast an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of seven per cent a year, and that government revenue would grow by 0.5 per cent of GDP per year. As for annual inflation, the government target is to bring it down to seven per cent in 2009, 6.4 per cent in 2010, and 6.2 per cent in 2011.
Covane admitted that government expenditure will be under pressure from the investment needed for the 2008-2011 food production plan, from next years general elections, from the current reform of public sector wages, and from possible increases in international fuel prices.
The cabinet also approved a further oil exploration contract for the Rovuma Basin. Two blocks have been awarded to a consortium between the Malaysian state oil company Petronas (with 90 per cent), and Mozambiques publicly owned hydrocarbon company ENH (10 per cent).
The exploration period is eight years. If oil is found in commercially viable amounts, Petronas will have a concession to exploit it for 30 years.
ENH has also been granted an oil exploration and production contract on the Buzi block, in central Mozambique, where natural gas reserves (of between 10 and 17 billion cubic feet) are already known to exist. This ENH contract is valid for 25 years.
The Mozambican authorities are negotiating to increase the amount of the countrys natural gas that will stay in Mozambique rather than be exported to South Africa.
The natural gas is treated at Temane in Inhambane province, and pumped along a pipeline to the petro-chemical giant SASOL in the South African town of Secunda. A spur carries gas to the Mozambican city of Matola, where it is distributed by the Matola Gas Company (MGC).
Currently the MGC is allowed to take a maximum of six million gigajoules of gas a year but this amount is not sufficient to meet the growing demand for gas in Matola. Currently the MGC is using 5.8 million gigajoules.
About 114 million gigajoules should be pumped annually to South Africa, but between 10 and 14 million gigajoules of this still does not have a market.
The high prices of imported liquid fuels have been a factor in persuading companies to switch to natural; gas. Over 20 companies in the Matola area, including the MOZAL aluminium foundry, are already purchasing natural gas from MGC.
Mozambiques publicly owned electricity company, EDM, generated an operational profit of 4.4 billion meticais ($182 million) in 2007, according to information given to the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, who made a working visit to the companys headquarters on 28 July.
EDMs financial health has improved significantly, since in 2006 it made a loss of over 70 billion meticais.
Cuereneia was discussing with the EDM management the companys compliance with the governments targets in its five-year programme for the period 2005-2009. The government is investing $400 million in electrification programmes that should bring electricity to all 128 districts by 2015.
Cuereneia told reporters that by the end of this year 71 districts will be electrified. The number will rise to 86 in 2009, and to 99 in 2010. The government will then make every effort to ensure that the remaining 29 districts are electrified in the 2011-2015 period, he pledged.
Electricity is the key factor for the development programmes that the districts want to carry out, Cuereneia said. He recalled that the government has defined the districts as poles of development, and EDM has a key role to play in ensuring that this becomes a reality.
Electrifying a district only means bringing power to the district capital. Ensuring that citizens have power in their houses is quite a different matter and, given that most Mozambicans are too poor to pay electricity bills, will take a long time. Currently EDM has just 510,000 clients, in a country where the total population is over 20 million.
The total registered electorate in Mozambiques 43 municipalities is now almost 2.8 million, according to the National Elections Commission (CNE). On 24 August the CNE formally approved the result of the registration process.
The entire Mozambican electorate was re-registered in an exercise that ran from 24 September to 15 March (with a break of a month for the Xmas and New Year holiday).
Further registration took place from 6 July to 4 August, but only in the 43 municipalities. This was aimed particularly at registering voters who reach the voting age of 18 before the municipal elections scheduled for 19 November. This further registration period resulted in the addition of 175,048 new voters.
The final figures show conclusively that the central port of Beira is not the second largest city in Mozambique. That honour goes to Matola, the industrial city that adjoins Maputo. Matola has 323,412 registered voters, against 230,720 in Beira.
Most of the municipalities have a substantially larger registered electorate now than in 2003. The largest increase, of 50 per cent, was recorded in the central town of Manica.
However, in eight municipalities the electorate has shrunk. There was a particularly sharp drop in the northern port of Nacala, which has lost 10,000 registered voters. The nearby towns of Angoche and Mozambique Island also have smaller electorates. Since there has been a rise of 14 per cent in the number of registered voters in the provincial capital, Nampula city, and of 10 per cent in the town of Monapo, this suggests a population drift away from the coastal areas of Nampula province to the interior.
Since Nacala, Angoche and Mozambique Island are all run by the main opposition party Renamo, conspiracy theorists may deduce there has been a deliberate attempt to shrink the Renamo electorate. But the other five municipalities with smaller electorates are all run by the ruling Frelimo party.
Three out of the four existing municipalities in the Frelimo stronghold of Gaza (Chokwe, Chibuto and Manjacaze) have lost voters, but there has been a sharp rise in the size of the electorate in the provincial capital, Xai-Xai.
Dondo, in Sofala province, has seen its registered electorate shrink by 13 per cent, suggesting a movement of people to Beira.
The final municipality to lose voters was Cuamba, in Niassa province, where the registered electorate shrank by three per cent.
The Mozambican governments Water Supply Investment and Assets Fund (FIPAG) intends to expand the water system in the capital, so that it can supply about 1.5 million people in Maputo, the neighbouring city of Matola and the district of Boane.
The project will cost €95 million (about $140 million). The money is now available and comes from the European Investment Bank, the Dutch government, the European Union and the French Development Agency. The Mozambican government is covering 13 per cent of the costs.
Announcing the project on 16 August, the chairperson of the FIPAG Board of Directors, Nelson Beete, said the studies are in their final stages and it is expected that the tenders will be launched later this year, so that work can start in 2009.
The project seeks to expand the water treatment station on the Umbeluzi River so that it can treat 10,000 cubic metres an hour instead of the current 6,000. The project also envisages building a new mains pipe from Umbeluzi to Matola. There will be three new distribution centres in Belo Horizonte, Matola Rio and Boane, and when they are finished the network will have some 500 kilometres of pipes.
Much of the existing network is obsolete, and the majority of the water pumped at Umbeluzi never reaches the taps. FIPAG estimates water losses at an alarming 60 per cent: it hopes to reduce this to 40 per cent.
Beete said that, over the last two years, about $2 million have been invested just in repairing the network. He said FIPAG is continuing its efforts to improve the situation, but results cannot be expected from one day to the next
We are continuing to repair the network gradually, he said. The work done so far has allowed us to reduce physical water losses by about 10 per cent.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact email@example.com
email: Mozambique News Agency
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