Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza declared on 22 June that his government has proved able to mitigate the effects of the international financial crisis, and has ensured “a favourable environment for us to carry on, as a people, the grandiose task of building a prosperous nation”.
President Guebuza was delivering his annual state of the nation address to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. Since this is the last such address in his current term of office, much of the data he presented covered the entire period since 2004.
Opposition deputies of the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition boycotted en masse the President’s address. Renamo issued a statement, signed by the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Viana Magalhaes, justifying its boycott, which blamed President Guebuza for the Assembly’s rejection of changes in the election law proposed by Renamo.
In his address, President Guebuza stated that the number of primary and secondary schools in the country grew from 10,000 in 2004 to 12,000 in 2008, with a corresponding increase in the number of pupils entering education from four million in 2004 to about five million in 2008.
President Guebuza’s government has laid a heavy emphasis on technical education, and he announced that 74 technical and professional schools are operating in the country. They graduated 7,000 students in 2008, compared with 4,500 in 2004.
The number of university level institutions had more than doubled over the four-year period, from 17 to 38, and today the country has 60,000 university students.
Turning to the health service, President Guebuza said that in 2004 only 62 of the country’s 128 districts had at least one doctor – but today the figure has risen to 115. Every district now has at least one ambulance, and this, together with the building and rehabilitation of health units, “has improved access to, and quality of health care for many Mozambicans”.
The battle against one of the major killer diseases, malaria, was now being won. President Guebuza noted that between 2007 and 2008 the number of malaria cases diagnosed fell by 24 per cent and the number of deaths from malaria fell by 35 per cent.
The president added that the anti-retroviral therapy essential for prolonging the lives of HIV-positive people, which was only available in 19 districts in 2004, could now be obtained in every district in the country. Between 2004 and 2008, the number of people receiving anti-retroviral drugs has risen from 6,000 to 135,000.
Electrification had gathered pace. Since 2004, a further 32 district capitals had been connected to the national grid, and the number of electricity consumers had risen from 284,000 to 615,000. “Our target is to electrify the entire country”, President Guebuza declared. “Our priority is to link all district capitals to the national grid, and then expand to all the administrative posts and localities”.
As part of the Green Revolution advocated by the government to guarantee the nation’s food security, wheat production, which two years ago was restricted to the Angonia plateau in Tete province, has now been expanded to nine districts in Niassa, Manica, Gaza and Maputo provinces. Rice production had risen from 174,000 tonnes in 2005 to 206,000 tonnes in the 2008 harvest. Grain production as a whole had risen from 1.9 to 2.3 million tonnes between 2005 and 2009.
The country’s cattle herd had grown from 1.2 million to 1.6 million over the same period, and the number of peasant families breeding cattle had doubled, from 175,000 to 350,000. That, President Guebuza said, meant “there are more beef and milk cattle, and more oxen for animal traction”.
Communications had been transformed with the spread of mobile phones across Mozambique. There were about 600,000 mobile phone subscribers in 2004, but by 2008 the number had reached four million. The number of districts reached by cell phones had risen from 73 to 111.
Members of Renamo on 9 June attempted to assassinate the mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, as he was about to address a rally in the northern port city of Nacala.
Simango was expelled from Renamo last September, and now heads a new opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). He visited Nacala two days after the MDM National Council, meeting in Nampula city, confirmed that Simango would be the party’s candidate in the 28 October presidential election.
When he was preparing to address the rally, two truckloads of former Renamo guerrillas arrived. Two people attacked a member of the police and grabbed his weapon, an AK-47 assault rifle. They then used the stolen weapon to open fire on the vehicle carrying Simango.
Simango said he had no doubt that the attack was ordered by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama and the attackers are believed from Dhlakama’s illegal “Presidential Guard”.
The police took Simango to the Nacala police command. But his car windows were smashed by the Renamo “guards”.
The Nacala police commander, Alexandre Guiador, confirmed Simango’s version of events, and said that, if the police had not intervened promptly, “the worst might have happened”. The policeman whose gun was stolen was beaten by Renamo, and had to receive medical treatment in hospital.
Later in the day, the police recovered the stolen gun from the house where Dhlakama is staying in Nacala.
The MDM has laid a formal complaint against Renamo, but so far nobody has been arrested – even though a Renamo member of parliament, Manuel Lole, was recognised as one of the leaders of the attack.
Speaking to reporters Dhlakama denied that Renamo had anything to do with the attack, but he also claimed that Simango tried to “provoke” and “humiliate” him by holding a rally in the same city where he was staying.
As for Dhlakama’s denial of Renamo involvement in the Nacala assassination attempt, Simango said he knew the person who seized the police weapon. He was a member of the Renamo “Presidential Guard” known as Castigo who also used the nickname “Mwatho Muno”.
Furthermore the vehicles that carried the attackers flew Renamo flags, and belong to Renamo members of parliament. “I don’t know how Renamo and its leaders have the nerve to deny this”, Simango said.
Simango insisted that the MDM was pressing ahead with its legal action against Renamo over the Nacala incident, and “we shall continue to wage our political campaigns throughout the country”.
Two more parliamentary deputies, Joao Colaco and Agostinho Ussore, have announced their resignation from Renamo. The two sent letters of resignation to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama on 4 June.
Colaco told the independent daily “O Pais”, that he resigned because of a loss of trust and a hostile environment inside Renamo. “Ever since I resigned as advisor on public administration to Afonso Dhlakama (in late 2008) there has been a climate of hostility”, he said. “I would like to do political work in a perspective of hope”.
Ussore said that he too had lost hope in Renamo, and accused Dhlakama’s party of a “lack of political strategy”.
Between 2006 and 2008, the Local Initiative Investment Budget (OIIL) financed about 26,000 small projects in Mozambique’s 128 districts, and created over 108,000 new jobs, according to the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia.
Speaking on 4 June in the Assembly of the Republic, in the second day of a question and answer session between the government and the deputies, Cuereneia said that the OIIL was the government’s response to the legal definition of the district as “the main territorial unit for the organisation of the state’s local administration, and the basis for the planning of economic, social and cultural development”.
At first, the OIIL was a transfer of seven million meticais ($263,000) from the state budget to each of the 128 districts. In 2007, however, the government introduced criteria to differentiate between the districts. Cuereneia said these were population size (with a weighting of 35 per cent), the poverty index (30 per cent), the area of the district (20 per cent), and the level of revenue collection (15 per cent).
An additional sum of 2.5 million meticais per district was introduced in 2007 to cover local small-scale infrastructure. But the bulk of the OIIL, Cuereneia stressed, was to be channelled exclusively “to locally prioritised projects, aimed at producing food and creating jobs, which will stimulate a business spirit, and thus contribute to generating income and reducing poverty”.
The projects are chosen by the District Consultative Councils. Cuereneia said “these Councils are formed by influential people in the community including traditional chiefs, religious leaders, business figures and civil servants, elected by the public. It is within the Consultative Councils that the interests of communities locally are harmonised”.
The total OIIL expenditure from 2006 to 2008 was in excess of three billion meticais ($113 million). The projects financed were mostly in agriculture and small-scale industry (such as flour mills, oil presses, brick making plants, and fruit and vegetable processing).
Deputies of Renamo had asked why pockets of hunger still exist in the Mozambican countryside. Cuereneia replied that the improvements brought by the OIIL, including an increase in the area under cultivation, and the adoption of better production techniques, had led to a reduction in hunger. The “pockets of hunger” had affected 801,000 people in 2005, but by 2008 the figure had dropped to 450,000.
Cuereneia acknowledged that agricultural development plays the key role in improving food and nutritional security, and thus in eliminating pockets of hunger. He said that the “green revolution” advocated by the government “is intended to speed up food production and increased income through greater agricultural productivity, in a perspective of developing the entire value chain, from production to storing, processing and marketing”.
Renamo had complained of inadequate mechanization of agriculture. Cuereneia replied that the government’s Food Production Action Plan “envisages a combined intervention to increase capacity to prepare the land, through the use of animal traction and of mechanization, taking into consideration the production systems appropriate for each region”.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on 20 June appointed former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano as the organisation’s mediator in its attempt to restore Madagascar to constitutional rule.
The decision came at an extraordinary summit of SADC heads of state and government held in Johannesburg, and chaired by South African President Jacob Zuma.
The final communiqué from the summit said the leaders “expressed serious concern at the deteriorating political situation in Madagascar mainly characterized by exacerbating hostility among the different political groups in Madagascar and noted the slow progress experienced so far in the dialogue among the parties”.
Madagascar’s current leader, Andry Rajoelina, seized power in a coup d’etat in January, which deposed the democratically elected President, Marc Ravalomanana. Rajoelina held a show trial at which Ravalomanana was sentenced to four years imprisonment for alleged “abuse of power” – a sentence that cannot be put into effect because Ravalomanana is currently in exile in South Africa.
The summit called on all those involved “to commit themselves to peaceful negotiated settlement through dialogue and desist from any violent solutions and inflammatory statements which may jeopardize and undermine current efforts in bringing constitutional normalcy”.
Since he handed over to the current President, Armando Guebuza, in 2005, Chissano’s services as a mediator have been in great demand. His latest diplomatic foray, in tandem with former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, was to defuse the pre-election tensions in Malawi.
The Swiss government reiterated on 16 June that it is prepared to continue supporting Mozambique financially, despite its own difficulties because of the current global economic crisis.
The Swiss Deputy President and Economy Minister, Doris Leuthard, told a press conference, after talks in Berne with a Mozambican delegation headed by President Armando Guebuza, that her government understands that, although Switzerland has been suffering the effects of the crisis, those effects will be even worse in emerging economies such as Mozambique that, even before the crisis, were dependent on foreign support.
Leuthard explained that Swiss support to Mozambique encompasses three components - bilateral, whereby her government finances identified projects agreed upon between the two countries, multilateral, whereby the Swiss government contributes to world and African financial organizations (such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank) and, finally, contributions to Swiss NGOs that have been developing social projects within Mozambican communities.
During the press conference, she could not give exact amounts of her country's total financial contribution to Mozambique, but put the bilateral support at about 30 million Swiss Francs ($27.7 million) a year.
For his part, President Guebuza stressed that the friendship and the political, and cooperation relations between Mozambique and Switzerland “couldn’t be better”.
The Bank of Mozambique on 17 June signed with the French Development Agency (AFD) an agreement under which the French government is to grant €1.5 million ($2.1 million) to Mozambique to support the development of aquaculture to cultivate prawns.
The project, aimed at guaranteeing sustainability and the international competitiveness of the country's farmed prawns, will involve the major stakeholders in the sector, namely the National Aquaculture Development Institute (INAQUA), the National Fisheries Products Inspection Institute (INIP), and also the private sector, through the Mozambique Prawn Producers Association (APCM).
The Mozambican government regards the HIV prevalence in the south of the country as alarming, since the incidence of the virus is much higher than the national average of 16 per cent among Mozambicans aged between 15 and 49.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference on 11 June, Prime Minister Luisa Diogo said emergency measures are needed to reverse the spread of the virus in Maputo and Gaza provinces, and Maputo City. She announced that the government is drawing up an emergency plan to fight against HIV/AIDS in the southern provinces, which will be ready by the end of July.
The last epidemiological surveillance round, in 2007, showed that Gaza has the highest HIV infection rate in the country, at 27 per cent. Maputo province was not far behind on 26 per cent, and the figure for Maputo city was 23 per cent. The current projections are that in the short term these infection rates will rise to 35 per cent in Gaza, 34 per cent in Maputo province and 29 per cent in Maputo city.
The figures in the south would be much worse but for the fact that in one southern province, Inhambane, the situation is more or less under control. The current HIV prevalence rate in Inhambane is 12 per cent, which is not greatly changed from the 11.7 per cent found in 2004.
Mozambique intends to learn from the experience of Brazil in combating deforestation, which is now taking on alarming proportions, according to Environment Minister Alcinda Abreu
Every year hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest are lost, due to uncontrolled bush fires and to illegal logging.
According to Abreu, Mozambique will draw from the experience of the Brazilian programme “Bolsa Floresta” which seeks to involve communities in conserving and protecting natural resources, and using them in a sustainable manner, and to encouraging policies to reduce deforestation.
In collaboration with the Brazilian Fundacao Amazonas Sustentavel, FAS, the Environment Ministry intends to design four projects in the areas of the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, climate change, training and capacity building and environmental education.
Recently five of the Ministry’s staff underwent training in Brazil and studied the “Bolsa Floresta” experience in the state of Amazonas.
Recently Abreu met a delegation from FAS, led by its general director, Virgilio Viana, during a working visit to Mozambique.
The Mozambican government and the European Union on 15 June signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which will allow Mozambican goods duty-free and quota-free access to the European market, while negotiations continue between the EU and other members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Mozambique is the fourth SADC country to sign an EPA, following Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. South Africa, Namibia and Angola are still negotiating with the EU (although South Africa already has a separate free trade arrangement with the EU, lasting until 2012).
Other SADC members are not in the SADC EPA group at all. Tanzania is negotiating with the EU as a member of the East African Community, while Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi are all part of a block of counties known as the ESA (Eastern and southern Africa) group. Thus the EPA negotiations have managed to split SADC.
According to the EU Commissioner for Trade, Catherine Ashton, “the signature of this agreement is an important step. In the first place because it guarantees access to the European market for the countries who have signed the agreement so far. More important than this, it is a vote of confidence in the process we have launched to build a strong and lasting economic relationship”.
Based on the interim agreement, the signatories will continue negotiations for a definitive EPA, which will cover not only trade in commodities, but the more delicate and so far unsolved questions of investment, competition and trade in services.
Unlike the previous trade deals between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the Lome and Cotonou agreements, the EPAs have a strong element of reciprocity. The price for access to the European market is that the African signatories must grant the EU access to their markets.
In December the Assembly of the Republic approved a new customs tariff list, taking effect this year, which paved the way for the interim EPA by removing import duties from most imports from the EU. Mozambique has until 2023 to liberalise the rest of its trade with the EU.
The EU is currently the main market for Mozambican exports – mainly because European countries are the main buyers of the aluminium ingots produced at the MOZAL smelter on the outskirts of Maputo. Last year 84 per cent of Mozambique’s exports to the EU were aluminium, followed by tobacco (nine per cent) and shellfish (4.4 per cent).
The EU statement claimed that the SADC region has been “the greatest beneficiary of trade with the EU to date”, and promised that the EPA “will allow the region to improve its competitiveness, diversify its exports, and build strong networks of regional cooperation in support of those that currently exist or are being developed”.
The Mozambican government and the European Commission signed six agreements in Maputo on 4 June, under which Mozambique will receive €442.2 million ($598 million), under the 10th European Development Fund.
The documents were signed by Mozambique’s Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze and the Commission representative in Maputo, Glauco Calzuola.
The largest agreement concerns direct budget support of €303 million– this is the European Commission’s contribution to the Mozambican state budget for six years (2008-2013). The purpose of this sum is to ensure implementation of the government’s anti-poverty programme and its national development strategy, in order that Mozambique can attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
A second agreement concerns €80 million to rehabilitate the 193 kilometre long road between the towns of Milange and Mocuba in the central province of Zambezia, which is a priority in the government’s road programme. Mocuba is on the main north-south highway, and Milange is on the border with Malawi, so an improved road between the two towns will assist in both national and regional integration.
A further €30 million is donated to programmes of the Health Ministry and of the National AIDS Council (CNCS), while €12.1 million finances government programmes to cope with the world food crisis. The same amount – €12.1 million– is added to the “unforeseen requirements” envelope in the Commission’s National Indicative Programme with Mozambique
The European Commission has also pledged an additional €5 million to its contribution to the new bridge over the Zambezi river between Sofala and Zambezia provinces. This is to compensate for additional costs caused by the Zambezi floods of early 2008.
Banze declared that the money concerned is part of a total sum of €620 million agreed between the Commission and the Mozambican government in 2008 to cover the period from 2008 to 2013. He pledged that the government “will continue to manage the funds properly, using the resources for the purposes which the government set down in its five year programme”.
Calzuola said that the European Union is committed to helping Mozambique in its fight against poverty, and to achieve the MDGs. “The commission is continuing to support the country in its struggle for development, and encourages Mozambique to continue on this path, and to improve its performance”, he said.
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