Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza on 1 June urged District Consultative Councils to take the responsibility to decide, without hesitation, on the programmes and projects to promote and speed up the development of their districts. Addressing a rally in Xinavane, 90 kilometres north of Maputo, President Guebuza explained that as part of the government's decentralization policy it is the responsibility of the districts to decide on the best development strategies and initiatives through their respective Consultative Councils.
"A Consultative Council is a powerful instrument to promote the development of a district", he said. "The development of the district lies in the hands of the Consultative Council".
The first stage of the fight against poverty was the winning of political power by Mozambicans to decide on their own destiny, President Guebuza argued. Now that fight must be continued at district level - and the greater the development, the greater would be the possibility of the government increasing the budget for the Local Initiatives Investment Fund (OIIL).
This fund started out as an annual seven million meticais ($263,000) per year for each of the country's 128 districts, for projects intended to create jobs and increase food security. Maputo province received 246 million meticais ($9.25 million) between 2007 and 2009.
Data given to President Guebuza by the Maputo provincial governor, Telmina Pereira, said that up to the end of 2008 the money had created 5,824 jobs in the province, and a further 248 were added in the first quarter of 2009.
According to the provincial government report, this fund financed projects to build and rehabilitate small irrigation systems covering 429 hectares, benefiting 2,686 people. The money was also used to purchase six tractors, 12 motor pumps, 70 ploughs, 20 carts, 110 head of cattle for breeding purposes and 225 others for use as animal traction.
Residents of Magude presented President Guebuza with other concerns, that included rustling, land conflicts, and problems with wild animals that destroy crops. They asked the government to help build dikes for water retention, more frequent trains to help in marketing and transport of people and goods (currently there is only one passenger train a week making the return trip from Maputo to Magude), a bridge over the Incomati River, and the expansion of electricity supply through solar panels.
Local investment should not be judged by repayment
On 27 May President Guebuza argued that the success of the OIIL should not be judged by how much of the money lent is repaid. He was speaking at a press conference in Moatize, at the end of a working visit to the western province of Tete.
There is increasing concern at failure to repay the loans from this fund. Across the country the reports are of repayments totalling only a few per cent of what has been lent.
"It is true that the level of repayment should be higher", said President Guebuza. "But reimbursement is not the key indicator of success".
The evidence of success, said President Guebuza, consisted of the new jobs created by the fund, the increase in production, and the growing awareness of the importance of using the money well.
"Today there are people who have flour mills, which wasn't the case in the past", he said. Transport conditions had improved, with people using newly acquired bicycles and motorbikes rather than walking.
The Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, went further and challenged the accuracy of the figures used by the provincial governments. These figures included the entire amount of the OIIL right from its inception in 2006 - even though much of the money in the first two years had not been lent at all.
There had been considerable confusion initially about the purpose of this fund, and in many districts the local governments did not lend the money to private operators but used it as a supplement to the normal budget.
Cuereneia told reporters that if the first two years were excluded, the rate of return (essentially on 2008 loans) "is very encouraging and shows that we're on the right path".
The 19 donors and funding agencies which give direct support to the Mozambican state budget have pledged a total of $471.8 million in budget support for 2010 - an increase of six per cent on the $445.2 million pledged for 2009.
The group has also pledged $332.7 million for 2010 aid earmarked for common funds (in health, for example) and sector programmes, bringing the total promises from the 19 to $804.5 million.
The group, known as the Programme Aid Partners (PAPs), delivered their 2010 commitments on 28 May to the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia.
The PAPs include the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Commission, 13 individual members of the European Union, Canada, Norway and Switzerland.
Although the United States cannot, under US law, provide direct budget support, both the US and the UN system have been admitted to the group as "Associate Partners". The US has pledged $373 million for sector projects. The UN component is not yet known apart from a pledge of $28.2 million from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
15 of the PAPs are maintaining 2010 budget support at the same level as in 2009. Canada and the World Bank, however, are making significant increases. The Canadian contribution doubles to 15 million Canadian dollars, while the World Bank increase is by 57 per cent, from $70 to $110 million.
The British commitment rises from £42 to £44 million in order to counteract the effect of the recent depreciation of the pound against the US dollar,
One donor, Sweden, which has in the past expressed sharp criticism of the Mozambican government's record in the fight against corruption, has cut its budget contribution from 330 to 320 million Swedish crowns.
At the ceremony delivering the commitments, the outgoing chairperson of the PAPs, Irish Ambassador Frank Sheridan, said that several more of the donors could have increased their budget support but chose not to do so because of poor performance by the Mozambican government in 2008.
Sheridan stressed that the amount of budget support is linked to the results of the joint annual review of performance, and so "can never be taken for granted". This year's review showed that "overall performance in 2008 was weaker than in 2007, with only 20 targets having been met, in comparison with 24 the year before".
"In the governance area, and also in the area of economic development, the level of performance was, with some exceptions, disappointing", he added. Severed of the PAPs had asked Sheridan "to highlight that they had scope to increase their budget support for 2010, if the results had been better and that, to some extent at least, the allocations are less than might otherwise have been possible".
Nonetheless, "the commitment of the 19 to Mozambique is sufficiently resilient and the faith in the partnership sufficiently strong that this potential increase will most likely be made available again for 2011, assuming performance improves", he said.
Sheridan said the PAPs were pleased at the IMF's confirmation "that notwithstanding these turbulent times globally, Mozambique has performed excellently at macro-economic level over the past year and has demonstrated tight financial supervision. This has mitigated the impact of the crisis on Mozambique, which may ultimately be less severe than on many other countries".
Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the main opposition party, Renamo, has accused the ruling Frelimo Party of responsibility for the mortar explosions that happened on 27 May in the central district of Maringue.
Maringue is where Renamo had its military headquarters in the final years of the war of destabilisation. Renamo still maintains a military base there, a few kilometres outside the town, where an illegal security force, Dhlakama's "Presidential Guard", is stationed.
Cited in the independent daily "O Pais", Dhlakama spoke of explosions in the plural. However, both the Maringue district administrator, Absalan Chambela, and local Renamo officials, told reporters there had been just one explosion which happened, not at the Renamo base, but in between the base and the town, involving two mortar shells.
Dhlakama claimed this was a planned attack on the Renamo base. "Members of Frelimo went to explode shells, they put explosives which they used as sabotage", he said. He alleged this was "the third or fourth time" Frelimo had tried to attack the Renamo base.
AIM asked national police spokesperson Pedro Cossa if the police knew what had really happened in Maringue. He could only reply that the matter "needs detailed investigation", and that the contradictory reports appearing in the media "don't help the police".
Dhlakama was speaking in the northern port of Nacala, where he took the opportunity to denounce once again the former mayor of the city, Manuel dos Santos, as "a traitor". Dos Santos was elected mayor of Nacala in 2003, and ran the city for five years. In the November 2008 municipal lections, he was the most successful of the Renamo candidates, since he was the only who forced Frelimo into a second round.
When he lost the second round, on 11 February, dos Santos defied Dhlakama by cooperating in the transfer of power to his Frelimo rival, Chale Ossufo. Dhlakama had wanted him to refuse to hand over the keys to the municipal offices.
Dos Santos justified his defiance of party orders by saying that he was avoiding a confrontation that might lead to bloodshed. The repeated insults from Dhlakama make it almost certain that dos Santos will leave Renamo and join the breakaway Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
Asked about the resignation from Renamo last week of the former head of the party's parliamentary group, Maria Moreno, and a second Renamo deputy, Ismail Mussa, Dhlakama said their departure was "not a problem" for Renamo.
Moreno was appointed head of the Renamo parliamentary group in 2005, at the first sitting of the parliament elected in the December 2004 general elections. This was the first time a woman had headed any parliamentary group in Mozambique.
Moreno seemed entirely loyal to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama until his sudden decision, in late August 2008, that Renamo would not run Simango for a second term as mayor of Beira. This backfired badly, since Simango won as an independent, with 62 per cent of the votes, and Renamo cadres in Beira then defected en masse to the MDM.
In March, the Renamo National Council sacked Moreno from her post as head of the parliamentary group, and the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, said the party had lost political confidence in her.
Interviewed by the independent television station STV, Moreno said that she was "disillusioned" by Dhlakama and by the recent turn of events in Renamo.
President Armando Guebuza on 30 May inaugurated the National Dispatch Centre for the country's electricity system. Run by the publicly owned electricity company, EDM, the dispatch centre will, in its initial phase, reorganise, modernize and improve management and operation of the power system in south of the country.
This undertaking, which cost about $5.5 million, is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, allowing control over the flows of electricity in southern Mozambique. There are 1,000 kilometres of high voltage transmission line and 28 sub-stations currently controlled from this centre.
EDM chairperson Manuel Cuambe said the centre would greatly improve data transmission, and hence the management of electricity generation and transmission. "This will imply a significant increase in the reliability of the supply of electricity, essential for domestic and industrial needs", he said.
The previous, decentralized system was highly wasteful. Cuambe put last year's losses, in terms of power not supplied to the transmission network, at 9.6 gigawatt-hours. The new system, he added, would result in immediate savings of 21.3 million meticais (about $800,000) a year. The centre would reduce maintenance and rehabilitation costs, save on production costs in the back up systems, and in general "optimise the production of electricity generated by EDM".
The dispatch centre was financed by aid from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
The Assembly of the Republic on 27 May passed unanimously a bill establishing a National Human Rights Commission, after it had been purged of an unconstitutional clause.
The original bill was passed in December 2008. President Armando Guebuza declined to promulgate the bill, and instead asked the Constitutional Council, the highest body on matters of Constitutional Law, to rule as to whether the bill as in line with the Constitution.
The problem clause said that the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the Human Rights Commission "are elected by their peers and appointed by the President of the Republic".
Renamo claimed that appointment by the President meant that they could not possibly be independent. A more serious objection was that it is impossible to have someone occupy a post both by election and by appointment.
The Constitutional Council declared that an official cannot be both elected and appointed. Furthermore, the Constitution contains a list of people who are appointed by the President, and that list does not include the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the Human Rights Commission. The Council said that no ordinary law can add to the list.
The problem was easily solved. When the bill came back to the floor of the Assembly an amendment was passed deleting the phrase "and appointed by the President", and the amended bill was then unanimously passed.
The commission envisaged by the bill consists of 11 people - four appointees of the civil society organisations working in the human rights area; three figures active in the areas of education, justice and health appointed by the Prime Minister, after consulting with the relevant ministers; three figures "of recognised suitability and merit, with knowledge or experience in the promotion and defence of human rights" elected by the Assembly, on the principle of "parliamentary representation" (which means that Frelimo will appoint two of them and Renamo one) and one representative of the Mozambican Bar Association.
The African Development Bank (ADB), the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the EXIM Bank of South Korea have agreed to finance construction and rehabilitation of road links from the northern port of Nacala, across Malawi and into Zambia.
The total length of road involved is 1,033 kilometres, but the first phase, costing about $293 million will deal with 365 kilometres within Mozambique and Malawi. The bulk of this sum, $270 million, will be spent in Mozambique. Most of the budget for this first phase will be financed by the African Development Fund (part of the ADB Group). The rest will be financed by JICA and the Korean EXIM bank, with the Mozambican government contributing $34.14 million.
According to the ADB, inside Mozambique the project will benefit about 787,000 people directly.
The Mozambican government has suspended Jose Amade, the administrator of Angoche district, in the northern province of Nampula, for improper use of state funds. This follows President Armando Guebuza's visit to Angoche in May, when local residents complained of the administrator's behaviour. They said there was a "lack of transparency" in the allocation of the Local Initiative Investment budget (OIIL).
President Guebuza promised that these concerns would be investigated. The result was the suspension of Amade.
One of the accusations against Amade is that he awarded public works contracts to his son. This is not the first time Amade has faced accusations of abusing state property. He was previously administrator of Muecate district, but was transferred after he was accused of misusing OIIL money.
The economy of the western province of Tete grew by 36.7 per cent in the period between 2005 and 2008, or at an average of 9.2 per cent a year, according to provincial governor Ildefonso Muanantatha.
Addressing an extraordinary session of the provincial government in the town of Nhamayabue on 24 May, chaired by President Armando Guebuza, Muanantatha said that this growth was particularly influenced by the positive performance of peasant agriculture.
Exports from Tete, the governor added, grew from 2.38 billion meticais (about $89 million) in 2005 to 3.48 billion in 2008, a growth of over 46 per cent. The most significant exports were electricity from the Cahora Bassa dam (sold to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana), Lake Tanganyika sardines (harvested on the Cahora Bassa lake and sold in Zimbabwe), and tobacco.
But the province's economy also faces some constraints, said Muanantatha, including the poor conditions of some of the roads, the feeble state of the agricultural, marketing and transport infrastructures, associated with high rates of HIV/AIDS infections and malaria, that have reduced the capacity of the local workforce.
As for the Local Initiatives Investment Fund (OILL), which began in 2006, Tete has approved the investment of 317.53 million meticais in its 12 districts. Muanantatha reported that the 1,828 projects supported by the fund had created 8,633 jobs.
Mozambique's climate has been changing for the past 45 years, according to the first detailed study on the matter unveiled in Maputo on 25 May by the country's relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC).
The study on "Adaptation to Climate Change in Mozambique" shows that, between 1960 and 2005, temperatures rose by an average of between 1.1 and 1.6 degree centigrade.
"The number of cold night and cold days has fallen, and the number of warm nights and warm days has increased, with the greatest changes occurring in the north of the country", says the study. A further conclusion is that the rainy season is starting later than it used to. In some parts of northern Mozambique the rains begin 45 days later than was the case half a century ago.
Annual rainfall in southern Mozambique has been increasing - but this is more than cancelled out by increased consumption of water, notably for agriculture. The study warns that, even with an increased average flow of 15 per cent in the southern rivers, at the current population growth rate there will be a 64 per cent decrease in the availability of water per capita by 2050. With a larger population, consuming water at current rates, the Limpopo River, for instance, will be dry for most of the year.
In central Mozambique, the flow of the Zambezi River is predicted to decline, because of an expected reduction in rainfall in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The study notes that additional research is needed to assess the implications for the generation of electricity at the Cahora Bassa dam
Cyclones are becoming more frequent and more intense. Between 1980 and 1993, Mozambique was hit by four cyclones, only one of which had wind speeds in excess of 100 kilometres an hour. But between 1994 and 2007, there were 11 cyclones, six of which were more devastating than any in the preceding period.
The worst was cyclone Eline in 2000, which reached wind speeds of over 180 kilometres an hour, and played a major role in the catastrophic flooding in southern Mozambique that year.
The data on sea levels along the Mozambican coast is of poor quality, but consistent with global trends. A continuation of the current trends, the study suggests, will lead to a rise in sea level of between 10 and 20 centimetres by 2060.
But current trends may not continue. If, as many scientists fear, there is massive melting of the polar ice caps, that could lead to catastrophic sea level rises. The study posits a scenario of "extreme increase" in which the sea level off the Mozambican coast rises by five metres by 2100. But the study's authors admit that this is largely guesswork: on the most alarming of all scenarios, the melting of the East Antarctic ice sheet, the sea level rise would be 55 metres.
The central city of Beira, large parts of which are already below sea level, is at serious risk. Currently Beira's sea defences will cope with a tidal surge of 3.4 metres. But a weather event where the water rises by 3.8 metres would overwhelm the defences. Such extreme events are expected once every five years now - and once every three years by 2030.
If the "extreme sea level increase" scenario occurs, Beira is doomed. By 2050, the higher parts of Beira will be an island, cut off from the rest of the country. That implies moving Beira port, and its connecting railways to somewhere safer.
The people will also have to move. "A strategy for organised evacuation must be drawn up", warned university researcher Rui Brito, who presented the study
Other coastal cities do not face quite such a dramatic future. But Maputo port, and the city's coastal area are at risk, and much of the northern city of Pemba could disappear under the waves, if there is significant melting of the polar ice caps.
The researchers warn that, even today, Mozambique cannot cope with a major cyclone. Major investments in coastal protection are needed immediately. The longer the delay, the more expensive remedial action will become.
Speaking at the launch of the study, the Resident Representative of the United Nations System, Ndolamb Ngokwey, stressed the need to act speedily, and for all bodies involved to coordinate their efforts.
"Climate change will exacerbate the existing political and humanitarian problems, and will reduce access to water, with a direct impact on agriculture", he warned.
INGC General Director Joao Ribeiro told reporters that there would now be a second study to draw up specific action to be undertaken by each sector of the Mozambican state.
For an in depth analysis of events in Mozambique, read MozambiqueFile. Subscription rates are individuals $40 institutions US$50. Send International Money Order to AIM, CP 896, Maputo, Mozambique.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact email@example.com
email: Mozambique News Agency
Return to index