Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza on 14 October declared that the achievements of his government over the past five years “are proof that we can do yet more”. Addressing an election rally at Belane, in Vilankulo district, in the southern province of Inhambane, President Guebuza said, “if today we have created the conditions to build schools, roads, hospitals, mobile phone networks, among other infrastructures, then tomorrow we can do much more”. But to succeed in this effort, he warned, Mozambicans must be united, just as happened in the past, in the struggle to overthrow Portuguese colonial rule. “Let us use this weapon called national unity to defeat poverty” he urged the crowd.
He praised the example set by Eduardo Mondlane, the founder and first president of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), who had launched the struggle for independence on the basis of national unity. He recalled that the childhood and youth of Mondlane was like that of many other Mozambicans – he looked after the family livestock, he walked barefoot, and had to travel long distances to attend school. But because of his determination, he succeeded.
As at all of President Guebuza’s rallies, members of the public spoke – presenting problems which they still face, but which they hope President Guebuza and Frelimo can overcome, if re-elected.
Thus Cacilda Vilankulo said that, despite improvements in telecommunications and in agriculture, the district suffers from water shortages, and households often face a journey of several kilometres simply to fetch a few litres of water.
This is a major problem for all the districts in the semi-arid northern part of Inhambane, and has been raised repeatedly during President Guebuza’s rallies.
On 16 October the president took his campaign to the birthplace of his rival, Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo. At a rally in Chibabava district, Sofala province, local residents who spoke said that one of President Guebuza’s achievements over the past five years has been to eliminate “mental laziness” among many Mozambicans, which has led to an increase in production.
President Guebuza’s campaign reached Muxungue just six days after it had been linked to the national electricity grid based on the Cahora Bassa dam, as part of the drive by the publicly owned electricity company, EDM, to bring power to all of Mozambique’s 128 districts.
President Guebuza urged the local population to use the electricity to create wealth. The district produces cashew nuts and pineapples – President Guebuza pointed out that only now, with the availability of electrical power, would it be possible to set up factories to process these crops.
As in other parts of the country, President Guebuza warned his supporters not to be complacent. Everybody must go out and vote on 28 October, he said, even if they think the result is a foregone conclusion. “It means nothing to say that somebody’s already won”, he stressed. “Victory is only guaranteed with votes, and not with words”.
On 18 October President Guebuza took his campaign to the district of Maringue, which had housed the headquarters of Renamo when it had been a rebel movement.
In the first multi-party elections of 1994 Renamo made it imposable for other parties to campaign in Maringue, and President Guebuza's predecessor, Joaquim Chissano, only received 249 votes in the district in the 1994 presidential race, compared with 14,812 for Afonso Dhlakama.
But the ensuing 15 years have transformed Maringue, to such an extent that President Guebuza was able to hold a triumphant rally there.
There is no sign of any opposition campaign, either in Maringue town, or in Nhamapaza locality, where President Guebuza spoke. This campaign, which is now drawing to a close, has seen almost no Renamo activity in the district. As for Dhlakama, he has restricted his campaigning to north of the Zambezi. He has not set foot, not only in Maringue, but in any of the districts of Sofala province, where Renamo was once considered the hegemonic force.
In the last parliamentary elections, Frelimo only won six of Sofala’s 22 parliamentary seats, with the rest going to the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition.
With the split in Renamo, giving rise to the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), led by the mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, competition for votes in Sofala is more intense than ever before.
Frelimo is trying to break the opposition hegemony in the province, while Renamo is fighting to ensure that Simango’s victory in Beira in last November’s municipal elections is not repeated across the entire province.
The run up to Mozambique’s presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections, which will be held on 28 October, is being hailed as “calm and quiet”. According to the Mozambique Political Process Bulletin, edited by Joe Hanlon, in contrast to elections in 1999 and 2004, this year’s campaign slowing down, and according to the Bulletin’s 120 journalists spread around the country “everything is calm”.
In its latest bulletin, it states, “in the first days the parties had caravans of cars racing around countryside, but this has dropped off considerably. And there has been a similar drop in public involvement in party parades and rallies. Also this year, it seems that fewer party caps, shirts and capulanas are being distributed. There also seems to be less door-to-door campaigning. “You hardly notice we are in an election campaign”, a resident of Gorongosa commented to the Bulletin”.
On 12 October Edson Macuacua from Frelimo stated that the election campaign is “the most peaceful” in the history of the country’s multi-party democracy.
Speaking in Maputo, Macuacua said a meeting of the Frelimo Central Election Office has drawn up “a positive balance sheet” of the campaign so far. Frelimo had demonstrated greater organisation in its campaign than ever before, the meeting claimed, and the party and its presidential candidate, the incumbent, Armando Guebuza, “have received broad popular support”.
So far Guebuza in his whirlwind tour of the country has visited nine of the 11 provinces and 52 of the 128 districts. He has held 55 rallies, and 26 meetings with various influential groups in civil society. Macuacua pointed out that this put him at “a comparative advantage” over his two rivals, Afonso Dhlakama of the main opposition party, Renamo, and Daviz Simango, leader of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
The presidential candidate of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), Daviz Simango, has promised that an MDM government would reduce Value Added Tax (VAT) from 17 to 14 per cent.
Interviewed in “Wamphula Fax”, an electronic newsheet published in the northern city of Nampula, Simango also promised to modernize agriculture, stimulate rural trade, and reduce unemployment.
He called for “real equality of opportunity” which would allow all citizens equal conditions of development. Thus, should he win the election, Simango promised that his government would open lines of credit to finance small and medium companies while taking care, at the same time, not to boost inflation, and to rationalise public expenditure.
An MDM government, he added, would speed up decentralization and guarantee that more than 50 per cent of the state budget is allocated to the provinces.
By his calculations, under the present system, 67 per cent of the budget is managed centrally, 30 per cent in the provinces and only three per cent in the districts.
The MDM argues that this lopsided distribution of the state budget contributes to the perpetuation of regional asymmetries.
Mozambique’s main opposition party Renamo has published its election manifesto. The manifesto is just 350 words long. This compares with a manifesto that is 24 tabloid newsprint pages long from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), and nothing short of a small book, which the ruling Frelimo Party has published.
The manifesto promises, “with Renamo, you will have peace, stability, more democracy and development”.
There will be “equality of all before the law and equal opportunities”, and “freedom of expression and opinion about the state, governance, the administration and politics of the country”.
Renamo also pledges “the abolition of party branches in state institutions such as schools, hospitals, ministries and others”.
There will be more tolerance, guarantees of freedom and pluralism in access to the media, and inviolability of the right to life. This does not only mean no capital punishment (the death sentence was abolished in 1990), but also that there will be no deaths from hunger in a Renamo-run Mozambique.
With Renamo in power, the manifesto continues, there will be no arbitrary arrests, and nobody will be deprived of their freedom except by a court in terms of the law.
Renamo promises the right to difference, elevating the dignity of traditional power, promoting the defence of human rights, and reforming and depoliticising the judiciary. Justice will be simple, speedy and free of red tape.
Renamo promises to fight against corruption, crime and drugs, and to decentralize the public administration. Civil servants will also be given deadlines for responding to citizens’ requests.
Under Renamo, the Manifesto pledges, the police will respect citizens and their rights. There will be transparent governance, and legal protection for domestic and foreign investment.
There will be “more schools with desks, good teachers and an expansion of higher education”. There will be “more hospitals, more doctors and nurses, and more medicines”. Poverty will be eradicated, irrigation schemes will be built, and supplies of clean drinking water will be supplied to the population.
The environment will be protected and trees will be planted. Main and secondary roads will be improved, and more houses will be built. Jobs will be created through local and foreign companies, and Mozambican workers will be protected.
The Electoral Observatory, the largest organisation of Mozambican electoral observers, currently has around 850 long-term observers scattered across the country monitoring the election campaign that began on 13 September.
Interviewed by AIM, the Observatory’s spokesperson, Sheik Abdul Carimo, said that they would be joined by another 500 short-term observers for polling day itself.
There will thus be a total of 1,350 observers, accompanied by 47 provincial coordinators. At the end of the vote, the observers will collect the results from polling stations indicated by the Observatory leadership, which will allow the organisation to make its parallel count, as it did in 2004.
The 850 long-term observers are the same people who observed the November 2008 municipal elections for the Observatory. “We are using the same people because of their experience”, said Carimo.
In 2004, the Observatory’s parallel count produced results very close to the final figures as announced by the National Elections Commission (CNE), and was a valuable check on the CNE’s figures.
The observatory consists of the three main religious bodies in Mozambique, the Christian Council, the Islamic Council and the Catholic Bishops Conference, plus several well-respected NGOs, including the Human Rights League (LDH), and the Civic Education Institute (FECIV).
Observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have arrived in Mozambique to accompany the general and provincial elections.
The 20 observers, from Zambia, Namibia, Tanzania and Swaziland, were briefed by the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), Joao Leopold da Costa, and on 16 October met with officials from the CNE’s executive arm, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE).
During this meeting the observers, asked about the voting materials and how they will be distributed to the 12,694 polling stations, the voting procedures themselves, and the software that will be used during the count.
The STAE director of election organisation, Mario Ernesto, assured the SADC team that, in remote areas, the voting materials will arrive at the polling stations two or three days before polling day, while in the cities the materials will be distributed in the small hours of the morning of 28 October.
The SADC observers are now receiving their accreditation, and will then travel to the provinces
The number of journalists accredited to cover the elections now stands at 607.
The ballot papers, ballot boxes and other voting materials for the general and provincial elections scheduled for 28 October are in the provincial capitals, according to the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the Mozambican civil service.
STAE general director Felisberto Naife told a Maputo press conference on 15 October that the material will be distributed to the districts and localities as from 18 October. For areas where access is particularly difficult, STAE has hired four helicopters, which will arrive in the country on 19 October.
Naife was confident that all the logistical problems involved in transporting the voting materials to more than 12,000 polling stations could be overcome.
The tender to produce the voting materials was won by the Mozambican companies SOTUX and Academica, who then sub-contracted South African companies. Naife said he had personally visited South Africa earlier this week to observe the packaging of the voting materials.
These materials include the transparent ballot boxes, the ballot papers, the voting booths, the forms for results sheets and polling station minutes, the indelible ink to stain voters’ fingers so that nobody can vote twice, and oil lamps for those areas that have no electricity.
If the deadlines established by STAE are met, then the embarrassing blunders of the 2004 elections can be avoided. In 2004, a substantial number of voters were disenfranchised because some polling stations did not receive voting material. In some cases this was because of heavy rains, but in others the electoral registers did not arrive, or the wrong ones were sent.
Observers and journalists are now being accredited. So far, Naife said, 1,046 observers have been accredited. 972 of these are Mozambican observers. Of the 174 international observers, 111 are from the European Union and 63 from the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).
An unspecified number of investors have submitted applications to the government’s Investment Promotion Centre (CPI) to build cement factories in Mozambique.
The National Director of Industry, Fernando Santos, said that one of the proposals was submitted by Indian investors, who are planning to install two factories, one in Salamanga, in Maputo province, and the second in the northern port of Nacala.
Another group of business people expressed interest in building a factory in Magude, also in Maputo, while a third has a cement project for the southern province of Inhambane.
Santos said that these proposals are very important, since they will increase the country's production capacity, at a time when demand for cement has been growing – so much so, that there is now an acute shortage of cement in southern Mozambique.
The major cement producer in the country is Cimentos de Mocambique (CM), which is largely owned by the Portuguese cement giant, Cimpor. CM is planning to expand its production capacity in its three factories.
The largest of these factories, in the southern city of Matola, can produce 600,000 tonnes of cement a year. The other two, in Dondo and in Nacala, are much smaller, and can produce 240,000 tonnes and 120,000 tonnes a year respectively.
The shortage in southern Mozambique has led to a price hike from an average of 230 meticais ($8.40) to 330 meticais per 50-kilo sack.
The shortage is being blamed on the increased demand, particularly for major undertakings, such as the construction of the new national stadium and the modernisation of Maputo International Airport.
Faced with the shortage, the government eliminated the surtax on imported cement.
The central province of Manica planted 190 hectares of barley in Sussundenga district this year, which are expected to provide a harvest of 380 tonnes of the product, which is used to produce beer.
Manica provincial governor Mauricio Vieira explained that the introduction of this crop not only increases and diversifies grain production, but can also increase income among the farmers.
Speaking on 4 October, Vieira said that agricultural production in the province has more than tripled during the last five years, increasing from about 460,000 tonnes in 2004 to more than 1,618,000 tonnes this year. He added that marketed production rose from a mere 4,000 tonnes in 2004 to about 725,000 tonnes in 2009.
According to Vieira, this progress is the effect of extending the area under cultivation, which in turn was possible due to the increase in the use of animal traction. 976 oxen for animal traction have been distributed to Manica farmers.
Commenting on the use of the Local Initiative Investment Budget, allocated to every district, Vieira said that this money has financed 2,346 projects in Manica, creating more than 6,600 new jobs. He added that due to the government efforts, the province now has 6,887 commercial establishments, 533 of which are in towns, and the remainder in the rural areas.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged to grant $1.48 million to be used in programmes to prevent and control malaria in nine districts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
This sum is part of $10.5 million to finance similar programmes being developed in six African countries, namely Kenya, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Zambia, and Uganda.
This money is to expand malaria prevention activities in the communities most affected by the disease, benefiting particularly children under five and pregnant women.
In Mozambique, it will finance activities of the Aga Khan Foundation in partnership with the NGO “Progresso” and the Health Ministry, directly benefiting 400,000 people in three years.
Besides prevention programmes, the money will also be used to improve access to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) and promote the use of insecticide treated mosquito nets. Artemisinin is currently the most effective drug against malaria, and it is used in combinations in an attempt to prevent the malaria parasite from developing resistance.
The money comes from the Malaria Communities Programme (MCP), which is part of the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), begun by George W. Bush, and continued by his successor, Barack Obama.
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