Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

 


No.369, 8th December 2008


 

Contents

 


Frelimo triumph in local elections

On 4 December the chairperson of Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE), Joao Leopoldo da Costa, announced the official results from the 19 November municipal elections. The results confirmed that Frelimo mayors have been elected in 41 of the 43 municipalities, and a Frelimo majority in 42 municipal assemblies. The main opposition party, Renamo, suffered a humiliating defeat, losing four of the five municipalities that it had won in the previous elections in 2003. Renamo’s defeat was so crushing that there are now nine municipalities in which it does not hold a single seat on the municipal assembly (in 2003, there were only two assemblies without Renamo representation).

The worst of Renamo’s defeat was in its key stronghold, the central city of Beira, where the current mayor, Daviz Simango, who was expelled from Renamo in September. Renamo had originally planned to run Simango for a second term. But on 28 August, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, at the urging of a handful of former guerrillas in Beira, notably the Renamo Sofala provincial delegate, Fernando Mbararano, ditched Simango, and imposed a Renamo parliamentarian, Manuel Pereira, as candidate for mayor.

Simango refused to go quietly, and Renamo supporters in Beira flocked to him rather than Pereira. The result was a personal triumph for Simango.

The final Beira mayoral result was:

Candidate
Votes
Percentage
 
Daviz Simango (Independent)
76,734
61.61%
 
Lourenco Bulha (Frelimo)
42,003
33.73%
 
Manuel Pereira (Renamo)
3,316
2.66%
 
Antonio Romao (PDD)
1,718
1.38%
 
Filipe Alfredo (Independent)
768
0.62%
 

 

Renamo also lost its majority in the Beira municipal assembly:

Party
Votes
Percentage
Seats
Frelimo
51,374
41.51%
19
Renamo
46,063
37.21%
17
GDB
19,333
15.62%
7
PIMO
4,169
3.37%
1
PDD
2,823
2.28%
1

 

The GDB is the Group for Democracy in Beira, an independent organisation, appears to have done well because it was in last position on the assembly ballot paper, the same position occupied by Simango on the mayoral ballot. Many Beira citizens apparently thought that this was the independent group backing Simango. In fact, the group supporting Simango is the GRM (Reflection and Change Group), which ran no candidates for the assembly.

In the northern port of Nacala a second round must be held because no candidate secured 50 per cent of the vote on 19 November:

 

Candidate
Votes
Percentage
 
Chale Ossufo (Frelimo)
22,736
49.84%
 
Manuel dos Santos (Renamo)
21,812
47.81%
 
Cesar Caisse (OCINA)
558
1.22%
 
Juliao Cipriano (PDD)
512
1.12%
 

 

The second round, between Ossufo and dos Santos, will probably be held in January.

In the election for the Nacala municipal assembly, Frelimo had the same narrow margin of victory, and so the new assembly will consist of 20 Frelimo members and 19 Renamo ones.

Renamo did well in the town of Gurue, in the central province of Zambezia. Here the Frelimo candidate, Jose Fernando, was almost forced into a second round. He won exactly 5,000 votes: this was 50.03 per cent of the valid votes, and thus he avoided a run-off against the Renamo candidate, former catholic priest Latino Ligonha, who won 47.17 per cent.

Costa announced that Renamo had lodged a series of appeals with the CNE, some of them dating back to irregularities that supposedly occurred during voter registration in July. The CNE rejected all of them, because none of them were based on complaints submitted by the Renamo monitors at the polling stations.

The electoral law is clear: political parties must protest against any irregularities during voting or the count at the time they occur, and not days later. The Renamo monitors did protest against a handful of ballot papers that the polling station staff ruled as invalid, but which they said expressed a preference for the Renamo candidates. These “protested votes”, like all the votes declared invalid at the polling stations, were re-examined by the CNE, and where the CNE considered that a preference could be detected they were added to the total for the candidates concerned.

But there are no other complaints from the Renamo monitors recorded in the minutes from any of the 3,125 polling stations. Renamo subsequently complained that Frelimo trucked in huge number of its supporters from outside the municipal areas to vote illicitly – but no Renamo monitor made such a complaint.

Costa announced that, for the first time, the declaration of results was signed by all members of the CNE (in other words, the two CNE members appointed by Renamo signed, alongside the three appointed by Frelimo and the eight from civil society. This is a sharp contrast to the bitter divisions within the previous CNE that supervised the 2004 general elections).

Costa also said that all the polling stations had opened, and all the polling station results sheets could be used to calculate the results. This was very different from 2004, when hundreds of results sheets were stolen or went missing, or contained mistakes that could not be corrected.

The immediate response to the results from the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, was that “these elections are the assassination of Mozambican democracy”. He said that Renamo has appealed against the results to the Constitutional Council, the body that must validate the results and has the final say in all election disputes.

The Constitutional Council must give its ruling on the elections within 15 days (i.e. by 19 December).

Split in Renamo widens

The split within Renamo widened on 2 December when the leader of the Renamo parliamentary group, Maria Moreno, attended a ceremony to congratulate the mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, on his re-election.

Moreno’s public demonstration of support for Simango came the day after the Renamo Sofala provincial delegate, Fernando Mbararano, and the defeated Pereira, had demanded that Simango resign and hand Beira over to Renamo, on the grounds that he had won the election “with Renamo votes”.

Several other Renamo parliamentary deputies attended the victory party for Simango organised by a group calling itself “Natives, Friends and Sympathisers of Beira, Resident in Maputo”. Some, such as Joao Colaco and Maximo Dias, are known critics of Renamo President Afonso Dhlakama. But others, such as Luis Boavida, had previously given an image of unconditional loyalty to Dhlakama.

Asked by the independent television station STV what she was doing congratulating a man expelled from her party, Moreno said she feared no reprisals. “I came to congratulate Daviz as I have done before and as I will always do”, she said. “Renamo is a great family, and one day it will be reconciled. Daviz and the people of Beira deserve this victory”.

Simango himself dismissed the call from Mbararano and Pereira that he should resign. Why should the person who won 79,000 votes resign in favour of someone who just won a couple of thousand, he mused.

Simango also flatly denied speculation in some of the press that he is about to form a new political party. “I completely reject the possibility of setting up a party, my commitment right now is to the citizens of Beira”.

It was in Beira that he had been elected, and it was in Beira that he would work. Even if his supporters advised him to do so, he would not create a political party.

International observers praise local elections

The Mission of International Observers believes that despite some problems the electoral process was transparent. A statement by the Mission asserts that “in general, the elections held on November 19 were well conducted, took place in a peaceful environment and the staff involved in the electoral process were polite and committed with the process”. “In general, all electoral regulations have been complied with, and the process was transparent”, adds the document.

The mission, made up of 89 observers chosen from diplomatic missions and international cooperation agencies operating in Mozambique, took notice of some areas where people were unable to cast their votes, because some polling stations closed before the scheduled time. Therefore, the mission urges the National Election Commission (CNE) to review this situation to allow all voters to exercise their constitutional rights in the incoming elections.

The observers also commented that the process of ballot counting, which began shortly after the vote, proceeded throughout night with staff and party delegates showing visible signs of exhaustion.

 


BIM opens hundredth branch

Mozambique's largest commercial bank, the Millennium-BIM (International Bank of Mozambique) on 5 December inaugurated its 100th branch, located in the district of Moatize, in the western province of Tete.

Earlier Finance Minister Manuel Chang, and BIM chairperson Mario Machungo inaugurated branch number 99, in Tete city. This brings the number of BIM branches in the province to four - two in Tete city, one in Moatize, and one at Songo, the town built for workers of the Cahora Bassa dam.

Despite Moatize's enormous agricultural and mining potential, and its position on the main road to Malawi, it has never possessed a bank before.

Addressing the Moatize ceremony, Chang declared that financial decentralisation down to district level implied fighting against "financial exclusion", and guaranteeing that financial services "are extended to all districts, so that they become accessible to all Mozambicans and to all sectors of the national economy".

But most of the country still has no banks, and the commercial banks remain largely concentrated in the cities. In 2005, there were banks in just 28 of Mozambique's 128 districts. There years later, that figure has risen to a rather more respectable 42.

Chang pointed out that that still leaves 86 districts without banks. He called on the commercial banks "to expand to the districts that are still not covered, and to be more innovative in designing financial instruments that will allow economic activity to flourish in these districts".

He urged banks to pay particular attention to small and medium companies "because of their potential to create jobs and their effectiveness in combating absolute poverty".

 


No credit for food crops

Almost no Mozambican farmers producing food crops have access to credit, according to Fernando Songane, coordinator of the government’s National Agricultural Development Programme (PROAGRI). Addressing a Maputo workshop on “Overcoming the Challenges of Agriculture in Africa” on 2 December, Songane said that, apart from a few vegetable producers, “we can say that no producer of food crops – such as maize or cassava – is able to obtain credit”.

About 70 per cent of the Mozambican population lives in the countryside, the great majority of them scratching out a living as subsistence peasant farmers. They live entirely outside the orthodox financial system.

Songane said that agricultural credit in Mozambique is available to just five per cent of the producers, and only for cash crops such as cotton and tobacco. Much of this credit is supplied by the companies that market the crops, and is provided in kind rather than cash, Thus cotton producers receive seed and other inputs from the companies, and the money they owe is deducted when they sell their crop to the companies after the harvest.

However, food producers received nothing at all, said Songane, not even credit in kind. But that may be about to change. He said that during the present agricultural campaign, launched officially in October, some producers will receive credit – but mostly from the government, rather than from commercial banks. This will take the form of the government providing oxen for animal traction, or tractors, and other inputs, at a subsidized price. The producers will repay this credit over a lengthy period.

Tractors have been acquired by the Ministry of Agriculture, and are being handled by the Agriculture Promotion Fund through a credit system. Each tractor (complete with plough and trailer) costs 1.5 million meticais (about $61,500). The beneficiaries must make a down payment of five per cent of the cost of the tractor, plus the insurance, and then have five years to pay off the rest.

This form of credit is among the activities in the National Food Production Action Plan, approved by the government in June, and intended to reduce drastically the country’s dependence on imported foodstuffs. The government hopes, for example, that within three years it can eliminate imports of rice.

The workshop also heard Mark Cackler, of the World Bank’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, warn that African counties are grossly under-investing in agriculture. The African Union summit in Maputo in 2003 agreed that governments should spend 10 per cent of their budgets on agriculture.

Cackler said that African governments are not living up to this promise, and so far are, on average, only spending four per cent of their budgets on agriculture. “Poor countries spend little on agriculture, and when they do spend it‘s in the wrong way”, he said.

The major challenge these countries face, he said, is that of increasing productivity, particularly of small producers, and using this as a means of reducing the disparities in development between urban and rural areas.

Mozambican Agriculture Soares Nhaca admitted on 1 December that currently Mozambique only spends six per cent of its budget on agriculture, but said this figure will rise to eight per cent in 2009.

 


President inaugurates rural university

President Armando Guebuza on 21 November inaugurated a private higher education institution set up, not in a major city, but in a rural area near the border with Swaziland.

The new, university level body, the Higher Institute of Education and Technology (ISEP), is an initiative of the NGO ADPP-Mozambique, and has been set up in Changalane, an administrative post in Namaacha district, about 80 kilometres west of Maputo.

“I would like to praise ADPP-Mozambique for this gamble, which is helping us deconstruct prejudices about where higher education institutions should be set up”, said President Guebuza.

ISET was build with financial support of $2.7 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It will train educational instructors and development agents for the districts (a course which was suggested by President Guebuza himself).

President Guebuza said that ever since the government took the decision to turn the districts into poles of development there have been noteworthy changes in the districts, with an impact on improving the lives of those living there. He believed the new Institute would have a major impact on Changalane, and on Namaacha district as a whole.

“This is an experiment with an institution which, by being part of the local community, will live intensely the challenges that poverty imposes through daily interaction and exchange of experiences”, he said.

President Guebuza stressed that the expansion of the road network, and the mass use of new technologies, including mobile telephony, and the internet, will facilitate the communication of Mozambican districts with the rest of the country and the world.

The ISET premises cover an area of 7,000 square metres, including lecture theatres, two meeting rooms, residence for staff and students, and an administrative block.

 


Assassin walks out of prison again

Mozambique’s most notorious assassin, Anibal dos Santos Junior “Anibalzinho”, the man who led the death squad that murdered the country’s foremost investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, in November 2000, “escaped” from his cell in the Maputo City Police Command on 7 December.

In this breakout he was accompanied by two other murderers, Custodio Luis de Jesus “Todinho” and Samuel Chavangueza “Samito”. The former was one of those charged with the murder of the director of the Maputo Central Prison, Jorge Microsse, while “Samito” is an accomplice of Agostinho Chauque, wanted for a string of bank robberies and murders of police officers.

Interior Minister Jose Pacheco accused the policemen on duty of facilitating the escape. The police guards on duty at the time of the escape have all been detained, said Pacheco, as have the men they relieved.

According to the Maputo city director of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Dias Balate, the escape had occurred in broad daylight, at about 10.00. Balate said the murderers had knocked a hole in the prison wall, through which they had clambered. The escape was carefully planned, since the three men were supposed to be in separate cells. It is believed there was a car outside waiting for them.

Anibalzinho was arrested in February 2001 for his role in the murder of Carlos Cardoso. But in September 2002, shortly before the case came to trial, he escaped from the Maputo top security jail and fled to South Africa.

He was tried in absentia, and Judge Augusto Paulino (now the country’ Attorney-General), declaring that Anibalzinho was “an habitual delinquent”, sentenced him to 28 years and six months imprisonment. The South African police managed to re-arrest and deport him, and he arrived in Maputo a few hours after Paulino’s verdict.

But the assassin escaped again from the same prison in May 2004. This time whoever facilitated his escape provided him with an air ticket to Canada. But at Toronto, the immigration authorities realized that Anibalzinho was travelling on a false passport and detained him. After a legal battle that lasted several months, he was deported, arriving back in Maputo in January 2005. This time he was incarcerated in a cell in the City Police Command itself, in the belief that this was escape-proof.

Anibalzinho’s lawyer successfully called for a retrial. This tactic backfired, and in January 2006 the second judge to hear the case, Dimas Marroa, agreed with Paulino that Anibalzinho was “an habitual delinquent”, but increased his prison term to 30 years.

 


ADB grants poverty relief funds

The Mozambican government signed an agreement with the African Development Bank (ADB) in Maputo on 17 November under which the ADB will grant $90 million during the period 2008-2010 for poverty reduction programmes.

The money is to be applied in the second phase of the government’s Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA II), and will be provided in the shape of direct budget support.

The ADB started operating in Mozambique in 1977 and has, so far, disbursed about $1.7 billion in 70 operations. There are currently 23 projects being financed by the institution, budgeted at $620 million.

 


Agreements signed with China

The Mozambican and Chinese governments signed three agreements in Maputo on 18 November, under which China is to provide a total of $43 million in loan and grant finance.

The largest sum is a loan of $22 million for the fourth funding phase in the construction of Mozambique’s new national sports stadium. The stadium is to be completed by 2010, before the football World Cup to be held in neighbouring South Africa. Since the start of this work China has disbursed about $50 million for what is the largest sports undertaking ever designed in Mozambique.

A second loan, for $18 million, is to support agricultural projects in the Zambezi Valley, while the third agreement is for a grant of $3 million to be used in basic development sectors yet to be identified.

 


World Bank increases budget support

The Mozambican government and the World Bank signed in Maputo on 11 November two agreements under which the Bank will grant $100 million to support the state budget for 2009 and also to help respond to the high cost of foodstuffs.

Of the total amount, $90 million, to be disbursed by July 2009, is a loan to support the state budget, and the remainder is a grant to help in actions of food production to guarantee Mozambican food security.

This is a very substantial increase in direct budget support from the World Bank. In 2008 the Bank has provided budget support of $70 million, and the pledge made in May was that the same amount would be provided in 2009.

The documents were signed by Planning and Development Minister Aiuba Cuereneia and World Bank regional director Michael Baxter.

The $90 million budget support credit comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s soft loans arm. It is the Fifth Poverty Reduction Support Credit to Mozambique and, according to the World Bank, will support the implementation of phase two of the government’s Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (“PARPA II”).

 


 

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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