Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

 


No.373, 16th February 2009


 

Contents

 


Frelimo victory in Nacala mayoral election

Frelimo candidate Chale Ossufo has won the mayoral election in the northern port of Nacala. On 11 February a second round was held because no candidate gained over half of the votes in the first round, held on 19 November 2008. The results were released on 13 February by the Nacala District Elections Commission (CDE).

Ossufo’s victory was known the day before, due to the parallel count of the polling station results, undertaken by the Electoral Observatory, the largest group of domestic observers. The figures from the CDE count are slightly different from the parallel count, but both counts agree that Chale won by a margin of almost 10 per cent over incumbent mayor Manuel dos Santos, the candidate of the main opposition party, Renamo. The result announced by CDE chairperson Abdre Tique was:

Chale Ossufo (Frelimo) 23,942 54.9%

Manuel dos Santos (Renamo) 19,644 45.1%

There were also 2,373 invalid and 900 blank votes – which accounted for 5.1 and 1.9 per cent respectively of all votes cast. The turnout was 54.1 per cent, high for a Mozambican local election, but a couple of per cent lower than turnout in the first round on 19 November.

Ossufo’s election agent, Faustino Loja, declared that the results reflect the will of the citizens of Nacala who are demanding change in the way the municipality is run.

Renamo, which has already declared that it does not recognize the results, boycotted the ceremony.

The result announced by the CDE is known as the “intermediate count” – because the first count was done at the poling stations, and the final count will be done in Maputo by the National Elections Commission (CNE), which must check all the votes declared invalid at the polling stations, rescuing those where the CNE believes that a choice by the voters can be identified,

The final step is the validation and proclamation of the results by the Constitutional Council, which must also handle any appeal made by Renamo.

According to a report in the “Mozambique Political Process Bulletin”, published by AWEPA (Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa), Renamo has submitted a protest to the Nacala District Elections Commission with five allegations.

Renamo claims that its polling station monitors were not allowed to watch the checking of names of voters against the electoral registers, although the electoral law

specifically states that monitors must be allowed to observe this. But none of the observers or journalists present during the Nacala voting, including the correspondents of the AWEPA Bulletin, confirm this allegation. Nor did any of the observers note any monitor complain that they had been denied this right.

Renamo claims that over 300 domestic observers were in fact plain clothes policemen, bearing voting cards issued in the provincial capital, Nampula, and that they voted at several polling stations.

Renamo also suggests that the polling station staff themselves were not genuine Nacala voters, and alleges that the staff did not show their voter cards before voting.

Renamo states that a young man was intercepted trying to cast two votes for the Frelimo candidate. From this incident Renamo declared “we imagine that several youths cast two votes in each of the 99 polling stations”. The local police commander, Alexandre Guiador, did indeed confirm that one man was arrested for trying to vote twice.

Renamo has accused some of the polling station staff of deliberately invalidating votes cast for dos Santos by adding an extra mark on ballot papers.

AIM is aware of three polling stations where the number of invalid votes was impossibly high. In Mozambican elections there are always some invalid votes, but it is rare for a polling station to have more than five per cent of the ballots cast rejected as invalid.

But in three cases, the number of invalid votes was over 20 per cent – in stations 1893 (29.9 per cent), 1832 (28.7 per cent) and 1894 (22.7 per cent). The only reasonable explanation or such high figures is that dishonest polling station staff deliberately invalidated votes. Indeed, at station 1894 journalists spotted the station deputy chairperson adding an extra ink mark to ballots cast for dos Santos.

Polling station staff involved in such fraud have committed a crime, and the CNE has the power to order the arrest of staff involved. But the number of votes that dos Santos lost at these obviously corrupt stations was about 350 – nowhere near enough to change the result.


Zimbabwean electricity debt “unsatisfactory”

Despite promises to clear its debt, the Zimbabwean electricity company ZESA still owes large sums of money to Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), the company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi River, in the western province of Tete. “The payment of the debt is still not satisfactory”, the chairperson of the HCB board, Paulo Muxanga, told AIM on 12 February at the dam town of Songo.

In January 2008, HCB cut the supply of power to ZESA for 11 days because ZESA had accumulated a debt of $26 million over the previous year. HCB only resumed power supplies to Zimbabwe when ZESA paid $10 million and pledged to make further payments on a regular basis.

That promises has been broken. According to Muxanga, the ZESA payments are neither regular nor for substantial amounts. Muxanga declined to give details on the current state of the debt. However, from a source in the HCB board, AIM has learnt that at the last updating of accounts ZESA still owed HCB more than $5 million.

Currently HCB supplies up to 200 megawatts to ZESA. HCB’s other main clients are the South African electricity company Eskom, and Mozambique’s own power utility, EDM, which receive 1,300 and 400 megawatts of Cahora Bassa power respectively. There are a few smaller clients, notably Botswana which receives 40 megawatts.

HCB’s five turbines can generate a maximum of 2,075 megawatts, and the overwhelming bulk of this power now has committed buyers. “Effectively, we are reaching the limit of our generating capacity”, Muxanga said. “We may have some reserve energy, but that’s not what countries want. They want firm energy that won’t be interrupted at any time because of the level of consumption of other clients”.

He was speaking during a visit to the dam site by Swazi King Mswati III. Energy Minister Salvador Namburete confirmed to journalists that Swaziland is interested in obtaining electricity from Mozambique.

“This visit is an expression of interest in closer cooperation between our countries”, said Namburete, “and I hope it will transform the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Energy and our Swazi counterpart into concrete projects”.

He confirmed that Swaziland has submitted a request to purchase Mozambican electricity. Some months ago, EDM chairperson Manuel Cuambe confirmed that negotiations were under way with Swaziland for the landlocked kingdom to purchase 30 to 40 megawatts from EDM.

But if Mswati hoped that this power could come from HCB, he was clearly disappointed. Muxamnga warned that HCB did not have enough extra energy to sign any further contracts. “We have 50 to 60 megawatts”, he said. “But it’s not firm power and can be cut at any time”.


Oilmoz hopes to have refinery operational by 2014

The Mozambican company Oilmoz hopes that it will have an oil refinery up and running in Maputo province by 2014. The company presented its plans for the refinery at a meeting in Maputo on 2 February. Oilmoz Chief Executive Officer Fausto Cruz puts the total cost of the refinery at $8 billion. The refinery would produce 350,000 barrels of fuel a day.

The exact location of the refinery has not yet been chosen, but there are five possibilities. Despite this uncertainty, Oilmoz hopes that construction will begin in late 2009 or early 2010.

Cruz estimated that the construction would employ 15,000 workers, and that when operational the refinery will provide 2,000 full time jobs.

The construction will also include an offshore terminal to receive the tankers bringing the crude oil, water and waste treatment stations, new roads, and a variety of other social and economic infrastructures.

Asked who the Oilmoz shareholders are, Cruz refused to give a straight answer, replying simply “it’s a company owned by individual Mozambicans”.

But one of the partners of the project is the Joaquim Chissano Foundation, set up the country’s former President. The company has turned to the foundation to assist in matters of “corporate social responsibility”, said the Foundation’s executive director, former Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao, who is also the Oilmoz chairperson. Chissano himself was among those attending the meeting.

The chairperson of the board of directors of the state fuel company Petromoc, Mateus Katupha, thought the planned refinery could be of great importance for the national and regional economy, since it would make refined fuels available at a lower price than imported fuels. Katupha argued this would provide an opportunity for Petromoc “to enter the regional market”.

Mozambique currently consumes an estimate 17,000 barrels of fuel a day. Since Oilmoz expects to produce 350,000 barrels a day, the bulk of this production will be exported to other countries in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region.

A second refinery, in which the main shareholder is the American company Ayr Logistics, is planned for Nacala in the north of the country. Cruz said Oilmoz was not worried by competition from this refinery. He was sure the market would prove large enough for both of them.


Gloom and doom from the IMF

The effects of the world financial crisis on the prospects for investment and development aid have led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to review its projections for Mozambique’s economic growth for the next two years downwards.

The IMF’s forecast is that the Mozambican economy will grow at 5.5 per cent in 2009 and 5.4 per cent in 2010. This contrasts with the Mozambican government’s target of a 6.7 per cent growth rate this year, rising to seven per cent in 2010 and 2011. According to the Bank of Mozambique the economy grew last year by 6.5 per cent.

Speaking at a Maputo press conference on 13 February the IMF resident representative in Mozambique, Felix Fischer, said that the forecasts are preliminary, and have not yet been discussed with the Mozambican authorities. Final projections will emerge from a discussion of the report on the third assessment of Mozambique’s economic performance, under the three year Policy Support Instrument (PSI), between an IMF team from Washington and the Mozambican government in late March.

“The economic crisis will result in a decline in investment, and will increase the uncertainty about the provision of official development aid”, said Fischer. He predicted a sharp drop in aid and investment from those countries that have poured vast sums of money into rescuing financial systems ruined by their bankers.

Fischer noted that many development projects were approved at a time when commodity prices (such as for oil, aluminium or coal) were high, and when donor countries could finance them, thanks to the apparent stability of the financial system. But today commodity prices have fallen, while the costs of financing credit have risen, making it difficult for donors to maintain the pre-crisis levels of investment.

Fischer proclaimed that Mozambique could rely on less international support and will have to “reprioritise its plans” and divert funds to new priorities in an exercise marked by public expenditure cuts.

Thus the IMF has returned to its traditional recipe of slashing public expenditure in poor countries – which is at odds with its support for the Millennium Development Goals, which will require more, not less, public expenditure.

“Mozambique’s dependence on foreign aid for more than 50 per cent of its budget means that the possible reduction in official development aid may call into question the economic growth so far recorded”, claims an IMF press release.

None of Mozambique’s main donors has announced any cut in aid – though certainly the recent decline in value of the British pound and of the Euro will affect the contribution of European countries when expressed in US dollars.

Nonetheless, the IMF’s assessment of the country’s performance in 2008 is positive. The report from the third review under the PSI states that Mozambique “is continuing to meet the macro-economic objectives of its medium term development strategy”.

Despite serious external shocks, such as the soaring fuel prices in the first half of 2008, “macro-economic policy was generally implemented as envisaged”. All the quantitative and structural assessment criteria and benchmarks under the country’s programme with the IMF by the end of July 2008 were met.

Fischer admitted that the South African financial sector had not been seriously shaken by the international crisis. This means that the remittances of Mozambican workers in South Africa (notably on the gold mines) are unlikely to suffer much alteration – and these remittances are an important factor in the Mozambican balance of payments

But Fischer warned that if there is an economic slowdown Mozambican tax revenue may decline. His answer to this is cutting public expenditure. Yet he wanted to do this at the same time as “expanding social measures to protect the strata most vulnerable to internal economic disruption”.


Mine clearance priorities discussed

The Mozambican government and donor agencies will spend $8.8 million on demining this year under the country’s Mine Action Programme. Of this sum, $3 million will come from the Mozambican state budget, and donors will provide the remaining $5.8 million.

The sum was announced on 13 February during the annual meeting between the government’s National Demining Institute (IND) and the demining operators. This meeting drew up a balance sheet on the activities undertaken in 2008, and analysed the priorities for 2009.

Fernando Mulima, head of the IND’s Studies and Planning Department, said that in 2009 the Institute hopes to clear 93 mined areas in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, and in Sofala and Manica in the centre of the country.

These areas are in addition to 48 others, where demining began in 2008 but has yet to be completed.

Research undertaken in 2007/2008 in these five provinces indicated that they contain a total of 541 mined areas, covering about 12.2 million square metres.

Demining these areas, said Mulima, seeks to provide greater security in the circulation of people and goods, and to allow the land concerned to be brought back into production.

The priorities for 2009 also include consolidating the work of the quality control teams, and the training of a further 250 civic education agents to warn people living in mined areas of the dangers they run.

Mozambique is a signatory to the Ottawa Convention on banning anti-personnel land mines. Under the Convention, Mozambique should have completed mine clearance by this year. But the task has proved too heavy for this deadline, and Mozambique asked for, and was granted, an extension to 2014.


Reforms in Higher Education

The Mozambican government plans a sweeping reform of higher education that will eliminate the current five-year first degree course, known as a “licenciatura”.

Mozambique’s largest university, the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), is notoriously unproductive, precisely because most courses last for five years. They terminate with a dissertation, which is often not completed on time. Many students spend much longer than five years on courses that, in much of the world, would not exceed three years. The archaic system, inherited from Portuguese colonial rule, reduces the number of graduates to a trickle.

The UEM Vice-Chancellor, Filipe Couto, is tackling this problem vigorously. He has proposed replacing the five-year “licenciatiras” with three-year bachelor’s degrees in all subjects except medicine.

This has condemned by professional bodies such as the Order of Engineers and the Bar Association. The Order of Engineers even threatened not to recognise the new B.Sc in engineering from the UEM.

The government has backed Couto, though it prefers to call the new three year courses “licenciaturas” rather than bachelor’s degrees.

On 10 February a meeting of the Cabinet approved alterations of the law on higher education, which will now be submitted to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

The bill establishes that henceforth just three types of degrees will be awarded at Mozambican universities – a licenciatura that will last thee, or in some cases four, years (and is thus equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the Anglophone system), a master’s degree that will take another one and a half to two years, and a doctorate which will take between three and five years.

The government spokesperson, Deputy Education Minister Luis Covane, told reporters the government had decided to advance with this reform because Mozambicans trying to continue their studies in other countries, even in neighbouring South Africa, find that the educational authorities there are sceptical of their qualifications, because they have no idea what the equivalent is, under their systems, to a five year licenciatura.


Sumbana sworn in as Sports Minister

President Armando Guebuza on 10 February swore Fernando Sumbana into office as Minister of Youth and Sport, a post he will hold simultaneously with his existing job as Minister of Tourism.

The previous minister, David Simango, was relived of his duties so that he could take up the post of mayor of Maputo.

At the ceremony President Guebuza stressed the connection between tourism and sport, in that Mozambique hopes to gain substantial advantages from the football World Cup to be held in South Africa in 2010. Tourists are expected to pour into South Africa to watch the matches, and the government wants to persuade many of them to add Mozambique to their itinerary.


Italy to rehabilitate institutes in Boane

The Italian government has granted about $386,000 for the rehabilitation of the Boane Agriculture Institute (IAB) and the Umbeluzi Pedagogic Institute (IPU), both in the Boane district, about 40 kilometres west of Maputo.

The coordinator of the project, in the Education and Culture Ministry, Vadinho Paulo, told AIM that work on the partial rehabilitation of IAB are budgeted at $95,000, and the remainder of the money, $291,000, is for a full rehabilitation of the IPU.

The two jobs were handed over on 10 February to the winner of the tender, the Mozambican company Marcleusa, in the presence of the Italian Ambassador, Carlo lo Cascio.

According to Vadinho, the work on IAB should be completed within four months, and the rehabilitation of IPU should take six months.

 


 

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This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact aim@aim.org.mz

 


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