Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza on 16 May called for a more open dialogue between the population and state institutions in order to consolidate the achievements attained so far in the fight against poverty. Addressing a rally in Palma district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, President Guebuza said "the only way to increase our achievements and for them to benefit more Mozambicans is for us to promote dialogue. Mozambicans must not be afraid of speaking among themselves, and they also must not be afraid to criticise when something is wrong".
He added that today, dialogue is becoming ever more important in the relationship between state institutions and the people. The President insisted that state officials must understand that they are there to serve people, not to make people's lives difficult.
President Guebuza said it is important that all those who wish to obtain, for instance, a registration or a license, should find a friendly environment when they make their applications in state institutions.
He noted that the wages state officials receive every month come from taxes paid by the citizens, and so the citizens must be respected and served in the best possible manner.
But there were still situations where people who want to see their problems solved do not find answers from those who should give them. Such situations end up leaving people waiting for months or even years, while the state official knows perfectly well what should be done.
"The civil servant must find answers to people's problems, because the pen he is using, the chair where he sits, the paper and all other materials that he uses are purchased with tax payers' money", said President Guebuza to the applause of the participants.
Solving people's problems is one of the central objectives of the government programme. He explained that for the state to serve people ever better, schools have been created to train state officials in matters of public administration.
During the rally, residents complained of wild animals that kill people, the lack of credit and savings institutions in the district, the poor performance of the mobile phone service and poor quality electricity.
They also complained to President Guebuza of the illegal exploitation of timber, the expulsion of local residents from some of the islands that are now allegedly being turned over to tourism companies, and the lack of transparency in the use of the Local Initiatives Investment Fund (OIIL).
Answering these concerns, President Guebuza told the residents that the government is taking notes and will investigate those cases.
On the problem with wild animals, a report from the provincial government presented by provincial governor Eliseu Machava says that "despite the prevention and mitigation measures adopted to try and solve the problem, there are still people being killed. In 2008, the province recorded 28 deaths, plus five in the first quarter of this year".
Mitigation measures included government investment to train community hunters, and assistance in fencing 1,020 fields with ropes impregnated with chilli, in an attempt to keep elephants away from the crops.
The population of the southern province of Gaza only grew at 1.54 per cent per annum between the last two population censuses, in 1997 and 2007, despite relatively high birth and fertility rates.
According to the definitive results for Gaza from the 2007 census published by which the National Statistics Institute (INE) there were 1,226,272 people living in the province in August 2007 - 163,892 more than ten years earlier - a growth of 15.4 per cent. This is considerably lower than the national population growth rate of 2.4 per cent a year, and much lower than the growth rate of nearly five per cent a year in neighbouring Maputo province.
Yet the Gaza birth rate has risen from 38 to 40 births per 1,000 inhabitants between 1997 and 2007. The fertility rate has also risen: in 1997 the average adult woman in Gaza had five children. The figure in 2007 was 5.3 children.
These figures suggest that a lot of people have left Gaza. Indeed, while the sharp rise in the population of Maputo province, particularly its capital, the city of Matola, is due to migration from Maputo city, some must also be due to people drifting in from Gaza.
The age structure of the Gaza population shows a shortage of adults. 44.9 per cent of the population is under 15 years old, 49.9 per cent are aged between 15 and 64, and 5.2 per cent are aged 65 and above. Compare this with Maputo province, where 40.7 per cent are under 15 years old, 55.8 per cent are aged between 15 and 63, and 3.5 per cent are 65 and over.
Gaza is also suffering heavily from the AIDS pandemic. The census found that 40.7 per cent of deaths in the province were HIV/AIDS related. AIDS has thus overtaken malaria as the main killer in the province. 18.8 per cent of deaths were attributed to malaria, and 4.4 per cent to respiratory infections.
Only 9.5 per cent of the population lives in the provincial capital, Xai-Xai. 78.1 per cent of the province's labour force works in the primary sector (agriculture, fisheries, forestry and mining). Only 6.8 per cent work in industry and construction, and the remaining 15 per cent in services.
The literacy rate has improved considerably between the two censuses. In 1997 52.7 per cent of adults in Gaza could not read or write. By 2007 the figure had fallen to 38.5 per cent. But there are sharp gender differences. Only 23.5 per cent of Gaza men are illiterate, but the figure rises to 48.8 per cent among women. As expected, Gaza lags well behind Maputo - in Maputo city, the illiteracy rate has fallen to 9.8 per cent, and in Maputo province it is 22 per cent.
25.5 per cent of all Gaza children aged between 6 and 17 are not at school. Here the numbers are fairly similar between boys (25.9 per cent) and girls (25.2 per cent).
While in both Maputo city and province there has been a sharp rise in the number of people speaking the official language, Portuguese, and even giving Portuguese as their mother tongue, in Gaza the Xichangana language is absolutely dominant. Gaza is the most ethnically homogenous province in the country, and this is probably why 87.2 per cent of respondents gave their mother tongue as Xichangana, compared with just 4.8 per cent who said their mother tongue was Portuguese.
The number of homes with electricity has risen from 4.8 per cent in 1997 to 12.3 per cent in 2007. Improvements in water supply have been more modest. 10.2 per cent of homes had piped water (inside or outside the house) in 1997, and the 2007 census found the figure had risen to 12.4 per cent. Sanitation remains poor - 29.2 per cent of homes have no basic sanitation, not even a pit latrine.
As for durable household goods, 48.9 per cent of homes have a radio, and 15.1 per cent have a television - so more homes have TV sets than have electricity. Only 3.9 per cent of Gaza households own a car, but 18.7 per cent have bicycles. Internet penetration is minimal - only 0.6 per cent of households own a computer. And 45 per cent of households have none of these goods at all, not even a radio. 15.2 per cent of Gaza adults have a mobile phone.
As for religious beliefs, 37.8 per cent said they belonged to Zionist churches (African Christian sects that often display a mixture of Christianity and traditional animist beliefs). 15.8 per cent said they were evangelical Protestants, 15.4 per cent were Catholics and three per cent were Anglicans. 19.8 per cent said they had no religion - but this means no organised religion, and therefore includes not only atheists and agnostics, but also followers of traditional beliefs, that are not centred on any churches.
The population of the southern province of Inhambane grew by only eight per cent between 1997 and 2007. The population grew from 1,158,875 to 1,252,479 ten years later. That is an average annual growth rate of 0.8 per cent, much lower than the national growth rate of 2.4 per cent a year.
The gross birth rate fell over the decade, but not by much - from 42 births per thousand people in 1997 to 39.6 per thousand in 2007. Fertility rates were pretty much unchanged. The average Inhambane woman had 5.3 children in 1997 and 5.2 children in 2007. The inescapable conclusion is that a lot of people have been migrating out of Inhambane.
As in Gaza, the age structure of the Inhambane population shows fewer adults than one would normally expect. 45.2 per cent of the population is under 15 years of age, 49.1 per cent are of working age (between 16 and 64), and 5.1 per cent are aged 65 and above.
HIV/AIDS has overtaken malaria to become the main killer disease. But the HIV prevalence is not as high yet in Inhambane as in the rest of southern Mozambique. The INE found that 30.6 per cent of deaths were HIV/AIDS related and 25.5 per cent were from malaria.
The illiteracy rate in Inhambane fell from 54 per cent in 1997 to 41.8 per cent in 2007.
Only 5.8 per cent of Inhambane respondents gave Portuguese as their mother tongue. But the dominant languages in the province are Xitswa (55.7 per cent) and Bitonga (23.6 per cent).
The overwhelming majority of Inhambane's economically active population, 79.2 per cent, work in the primary sector. Only 5.8 per cent work in industry or construction and the rest work in services.
Only 4.2 per cent of homes in Inhambane have electricity - a miserable figure, but much better than the 1.7 per cent found in 1997. The number of homes with piped water (inside or outside the house) has risen slightly - from 3.7 to 4.4 per cent. 34 per cent of Inhambane homes have no basic sanitation whatever.
Only 48 per cent of Inhambane households own a radio set. 11.4 per cent said they own a television. 2.2 per cent of households own a car, 0.9 per cent have a motorbike, and 17.8 per cent have a bicycle. 0.6 per cent have a computer. But 46 per cent of Inhambane households have no durable household possessions at all.
Inhambane also has the lowest mobile phone penetration in southern Mozambique with only 9.6 per cent of individuals saying they had access to a cell phone.
The official campaign for Mozambique's presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections will begin on 13 September, according to the calendar announced by the National Elections Commission (CNE). The campaign ends on 25 October, two days prior to voting on 28 October.
Candidates for the parliamentary and provincial elections must deliver their nomination papers to the CNE between 1 June and 29 July.
Voter registration takes place from 15 June to 29 July, so the exact division of seats among the provincial constituencies will not be known until after the deadline for delivering nomination papers. The CNE has therefore decided to issue a provisional breakdown of seats, based on the existing registers, by 29 June.
Parties can only deal with this problem by submitting more candidates than strictly necessary for each constituency.
The presidential nomination papers are dealt with, not by the CNE, but by the Constitutional Council, which in addition to its role as guardian of the constitution must also vet presidential candidates. In late April, the Council announced that all candidates wishing to stand for the presidency must deposit their nomination papers at the Council's Maputo offices by 29 July.
The lists of parliamentary and provincial assembly candidates are made public by the CNE by 1 August.
As for the count, this takes place at the polling stations immediately after the polls have closed, and the results sheets are posted on the walls of the polling stations. The results are then tabulated by district or city by 31 October, and by province by 2 November. The national results must be announced by 12 November.
15,000 polling stations
Meanwhile, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) has announced plans to set up 15,000 polling stations for the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections.
In the last general elections, in December 2004, there were 12,741 polling stations. As a rule, each polling station should have no more than 1,000 voters on its electoral register. In practice, while many urban polling stations have around 1,000 names on the register, in rural stations there are often many fewer, due to the scattered nature of the population.
These will be the most complex elections ever held in Mozambique, since there will be three ballot boxes and three ballot papers, instead of two.
Each polling station will be staffed by seven people, rather than five as in previous elections. STAE plans to hire seven helicopters that will fly voting equipment to remote areas difficult to reach overland.
Mozambique's regulatory body for judges, the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistrature (CSMJ), has appointed Supreme Court Judge Jose Norberto Carrilho to the Constitutional Council, the body that has the final word in matters of constitutional law.
The Council also plays an important role in elections, checking the nomination papers of candidates for the Presidency, acting as an appeal court in electoral disputes, and validating and proclaiming election results.
Mozambique Airlines (LAM) on 14 May launched its Direct Internet Sales, enabling passengers to make reservations and buy and receive LAM tickets on the Internet. The launch coincided with the 29th anniversary of the foundation of the company.
The Internet service is part of LAM's drive for greater efficiency, which also includes investing $100 million in six new aircraft, the first two of which, Bombardier Q-400s, arrived in December. These can hold 72 passengers, and are replacing leased 30-seater British Aeorspace Jetstream 41 aircraft on such routes as Maputo-Chimoio and Maputo-Vilanculo.
In August, LAM will acquire two Embraer-190 planes, with the capacity to carry 94 passengers each, and in 2010-2011 a further two aircraft, one bombardier Q-400 and one Embraer 190 will complete the renovation of the LAM fleet. These new aircraft will gradually phase out the Boeing 737-200s that have been the backbone of the LAM fleet for decades.
The new aircraft are much quieter and more fuel-efficient than the Boeings. LAM estimates that it costs 40 per cent more to run a Boeing 737 than a Bombardier Q-400.
LAM is also investing in the training of young pilots to replace those who are reaching retirement age. 10 pilots, recruited from the Defence Ministry, are being trained in Ethiopia, and a further 12 are beginning their training in the National Aeronautical School.
The Mozambican government approved a bill on 12 May to abolish the current Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), replacing it with a Criminal Investigation Service (SICRIM), which will no longer be part of the police force.
Although SICRIM will still form part of the Interior Ministry, it will enjoy administrative autonomy, and will be directed by the Public Prosecutor's Office.
Taking criminal investigation away from the National Police Command is a longstanding request from successive attorney-generals, but one that has met with considerable resistance.
Speaking to reporters the government spokesperson, Deputy Education Minister Luis Covane, said "'the idea is to create a scientific criminal investigation service, prepared and provided with human and material resources to ensure their its effectiveness".
A corollary of the abolition of PIC is a new organic law on the police, establishing a new structure for the police force minus criminal investigation, but maintaining most of the other existing units, such as the frontier guards, the riot police and the transport police.
The same government meeting also approved a bill on explosives, which lays down norms for the licensing, manufacturing, storage, possession, use, import and transport of explosive substances, updating the existing regulations on the matter. Like the two bills on the police, this will not take effect until it has been passed into law by the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.
The amount of direct investment in geological and mining activity in Mozambique rose from $101 million in 2004 to $804 million in 2008, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Esperanca Bias, told the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 13 May.
As a result the value of mining production rose from 937.1 million to 7.3 billion meticais (from $35.2 million to $275 million at current exchange rates) over the same period.
The most significant recent investment was by the Irish company Kenmare Resources in the titanium bearing heavy mineral sands deposit in Moma district, on the coast of the northern province of Nampula. Bias said that this investment of $460 million created 1,582 jobs during the constriction phase and 450 jobs in the current production phase.
Since the start of production in April 2007, she said, the mine and its associated processing plant have produced 701,577 tonnes of titanium concentrate. The total taxes that this project has paid to the state so far amount to 9.9 million meticais (about $372,000).
The Moma project could be dwarfed by the plans for massive coal mining in the Zambezi valley. Currently the only coal mine in operation, Chipanga XI, is small scale, and has produced about 122,000 tonnes since 2005. 55,500 tonnes has been consumed domestically, mostly by the tobacco processing plant in Tete city, and by the sugar industry. The other 88,700 tonnes has been exported to Malawi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But the Brazilian mining giant Vale is beginning to develop its mining concession at Moatize, where the first stone was laid at a ceremony in March, attended by President Armando Guebuza. Bias gave investment in this opencast mine as $1.26 billion. She said it would produce 8.6 million tonnes of coking coal a year (mostly for export) and 2.1 million tonnes of thermal coal. Vale plans to use the thermal coal in a 1,500-megawatt power station that it will build at Moatize.
Next door to Moatize, in the locality of Benga, is a second coal mining concession, granted to the Australian company Riversdale. This could prove even larger: Bias said the production targets are for eight million tonnes of coking coal and four million tonnes of thermal coal a year.
Bias argued that the issuing of mining certificates to Mozambican individuals and companies for gold and gem mining had helped combat illegal mining. She said the amount of gold entering the legal marketing channels had risen from 56.4 kilos in 2005 to 297.8 kilos in 2008.
The Minister pointed to a significant increase in international interest in Mozambique's hydrocarbon potential. There were four exploration contracts in 2004, but now there are 14. No oil has yet been found, but increased reserves of natural gas have been identified.
The major gas project is at Temane in the southern province of Inhambane, 70 per cent of which is owned by the South African petro-chemical giant Sasol. Expansion of the production at Temane has recently been agreed, so that, as from 2010, it will rise from the current figure of 120 million gigajoules to 183 million gigajoules a year.
To date, Bias added, 348.8 million gigajoules of gas have been produced, of which 334.4 million gigajoules has been exported by pipeline to South Africa. Inside Mozambique, the gas has been used to generate electricity for the northern districts of Inhambane, and has replaced fuel oil in the Mozal aluminium smelter and in the Matola cement factory.
Bias said that to date the state has earned $39.5 million in royalties and tax revenue from the Temane gas.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that the Mozambican economy will continue to grow in 2009, but at a slower pace than in recent years. An IMF mission which concluded a two-week visit to Mozambique on 13 May predicts that growth this year will be 4.3 per cent, compared to a 6.8 per cent growth rate in 2008.
The IMF team was in Mozambique for regular consultations with the government and for the fourth assessment of the Policy Support Instrument (PSI). A PSI is a means for the IMF to support low income countries, such as Mozambique, that no longer wish to borrow money from the Fund. The IMF states that a PSI "helps countries design effective economic programs that, once approved by the IMF's Executive Board, signal to donors, multilateral development banks, and markets the Fund's endorsement of a member's policies".
The head of the IMF mission Robert Sharer warned that the international financial crisis "poses a serious challenge to all of sub-Saharan Africa". For sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, he expected growth to shrink from five per cent in 2008 to two per cent in 2009, with "a gradual recovery from 2010, contingent on a series of economic measures to stabilize financial systems and stimulate demand".
He expected Mozambique to do much better that the average, although "its strong economic growth will be somewhat affected".
The value of exports would decline because of lower demand for raw materials, and hence lower prices. Sharer expected direct foreign investment to decline as investors postponed ambitious projects. Foreign credit for the private sector would also decline due to more restrictive loan conditions.
The mission believed that, given the low level of Mozambican public debt, "there will be some room to, at least in part, counterbalance the impact of the economic crisis on he country through rather more expansionist fiscal and monetary policies".
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