Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza on 12 January stressed the importance of the Nacala Corridor, in the north of the country, not only for the development of Mozambique but for landlocked countries of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region, such as Malawi and Zambia.
Speaking at the opening of a Mozambique-Japan investment seminar, held as part of the visit to Mozambique of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Guebuza praised the intervention of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in the Nacala Corridor, which runs from Nacala port, across Nampula and Niassa provinces, to the Malawian border.
JICA’s participation in the Nacala Corridor Economic Development Strategies Project, he said, was aimed at stimulating investment in the Corridor and “maximizing the enormous potential of that region”.
With the implementation of the project, President Guebuza continued, “the Nacala Corridor region will make viable local poles of economic and social development, making use of the existing synergies”, involving agriculture on a small, medium and large scale, forestry plantations, agro-processing, and the transport corridor itself.
He stressed the Japanese introduction of “the innovative concept of trilateral cooperation”, resulting in the Pro-Savana programme between Mozambique, Japan and Brazil. President Guebuza described this as “a vast agricultural programme which will transform the Nacala Corridor region into a powerful instrument in the struggle against hunger and poverty, by raising levels of productivity and integrating more of our fellow-countrymen into large scale agricultural production”.
A separate trilateral programme, involving Vietnam rather than Brazil, has led to a programme for rice production at Nante in the central province of Zambezia.
President Guebuza also stressed the Agreement on Liberalisation, Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments between Japan and Mozambique signed in June last year, in the Japanese city of Yokohama during the fifth edition of TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development),
This was an instrument “of major importance”, said the President, which will “promote and consolidate economic relations, create stability and ever more favourable conditions for investors, stimulate flows of bilateral trade, capital and private investment, and promote prosperity for our economies and peoples”.
This was the first investment protection agreement that Japan had signed with any country in sub-Saharan Africa. Guebuza noted that Japanese companies had been waiting for this agreement “in order to increase the flow of their investments to Mozambique”.
About 50 Japanese businessmen, accompanying Abe on his African visit, attended the seminar.
The man murdered on 14 January when Renamo gunmen attacked the locality of Mavume, in the southern province of Inhambane, has been named as 21 year old policeman, Alves Filipe.
Filipe was a newly trained police recruit and was on his first day of work at Mavume.
The gunmen were not local people. They had to kidnap Mavume residents who were obliged to show them where the police station and health post were located. According to eye witnesses, they did not speak local languages, but only Portuguese and Ndau, one of the main languages spoken in the central province of Sofala.
The 12 heavily armed men attacked Mavume at about 3 am. Bullets penetrated the wall of the police station and one of them killed Alves Filipe.
The gang then moved on to the health post where they stole medical and surgical material, particularly material used to treat wounds. It is suspected that they hoped to use the material to treat some of their colleagues who were injured in clashes with the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) last week in the neighbouring district of Homoine.
Patients sleeping at the health post, including pregnant women, fled from their beds in search of somewhere safer to take shelter.
The gunmen then returned to the police station where they looted the police stores stealing items of police clothing and various utensils. They were unable to take any police weapons.
The group also broke into stalls in the local market and stole everything they could carry, particularly sacks of rice and alcoholic drinks.
The general secretary of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party, Filipe Paunde, on 18 January condemned attempts to distort and damage the image of President Armando Guebuza through a campaign of insults.
Speaking at the end of a march through Maputo by thousands of Frelimo members and supporters, called to praise the achievements of President Guebuza during his nine years in office, and to mark his 71st birthday (on 20 January), Paunde said the President does not deserve the harsh treatment meted out to him by some critics.
“To say that Guebuza is avoiding dialogue with the leader of Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, is a gross falsehood and an injustice”, he said. “Guebuza visited Nampula twice to speak with Dhlakama”. (Dhlakama lived in the northern city of Nampula from 2009 to October 2012).
Paunde pointed out that it is Renamo that has been murdering citizens in its recent armed attacks. “You can’t say that someone who kills has reason on his side”, he said. “Society must condemn this sort of violence”.
There were those who claimed that President Guebuza does not wish to leave power, despite his repeated public statements that he will not seek a third term of office.
“Guebuza is a man of his word”, declared Paunde. “He has promised that this will be his last term of office, and then he will leave. We should be proud that we have the tireless President that we have”.
He said that Guebuza’s entire life has been devoted to improving the conditions of the Mozambican people. He took part in the national liberation struggle, despite his detention by the Portuguese secret police, the PIDE, during his first attempt to leave the country and join Frelimo in Tanzania.
He recalled that, in the transitional government set up in September 1974 after the fall of Portuguese colonial-fascism, Guebuza was Minister of Internal Administration, and after independence in June 1975 he held several senior government posts including Minister of the Interior, National Political Commissar of the Armed Forces and Minister-Resident in Sofala Province.
He also headed the government delegation to the peace talks with Renamo in Rome, which lasted two years.
As head of state, President Guebuza had led such major initiatives as ensuring majority Mozambican ownership of HCB, the company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi River. “Today we have power from the national grid, based on HCB, in 118 of the 128 districts”, said Paunde.
President Guebuza had set up the District Development Fund (FDD), still commonly known as “the seven million”, since it started, in 2006, as a flat allocation of seven million meticais (US$232,000 at current exchange rates) to each district to be lent to citizens who proposed viable projects that could create jobs and increase food production.
This fund, and the later fund set up to combat urban poverty were revolutionizing the lives of people living in both urban and rural areas, stated Paunde.
Other achievements listed by Paunde included the expansion of the education, health and water supply networks, and the construction of roads and bridges throughout the country.
The Brazilian mining company Vale has agreed to compensate residents of the 25th September neighbourhood, in Moatize town, in the western province of Tete, for loss of access to farming land.
The families concerned had been resettled from the area now occupied by Vale’s open cast coal mines. Initially, Vale had dismissed the demand for compensation on the grounds that the land was still available for farming and had not been covered under the resettlement plan of 2008.
In response to this rejection, about 290 families blockaded road and rail access to the Vale mine on 23 December. The blockade lasted for more than a day, until the Moatize district government agreed to meet with the affected families in early January.
According to a Vale press release, negotiations between the 25th September community, Vale and the Tete provincial government took place and reached “a peaceful outcome”. The talks achieved “a platform of understanding about the need for and flow of compensation payments for the fields claimed and which were not envisaged in the Resettlement Action Plan approved in 2008”.
Vale admits that this “constitutes an impact that is not included in the Resettlement Plan jointly approved by the government, the company and the community”.
According to Vale, the new compensation will cover 283 fields belonging to 171 residents of Moatize.
Mechanisms for the compensation, Vale says, will be announced in a memorandum of understanding that will be signed by the provincial government and the company.
The Singapore based newspaper “The Straits Times” on 16 January reported that a Vietnamese citizen has been jailed in Singapore for fifteen months for the illegal possession of rhino horn.
Pham Anh Tu was arrested on 10 January at Singapore’s Changi airport where he was in transit from Mozambique to Vietnam. During a routine X-ray of his luggage the authorities spotted that he was carrying eight pieces of black rhinoceros horn.
The criminal claims to have bought the horn in Mozambique for US$15,000. He then travelled to Uganda, before flying to Singapore via Dubai. He was arrested whilst waiting for a connecting flight to Laos, where he was to switch flights to his final destination of Vietnam.
The court found him guilty of having 21.5 kilogrammes of rhino horn, worth about US$1.4 million, without valid permits from Mozambique or Vietnam.
It is suggested that he took his roundabout route in an attempt to evade detection. Since there are no direct flights from Mozambique to Uganda, he must have travelled via at least one other African country, possibly Tanzania or Kenya.
Singapore zoological experts examined the horns and determined that they came from the critically endangered black rhinoceros, rather than from the more abundant species, the white rhinoceros.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has concluded that the growth of the Mozambican economy remained strong in 2013, recovering quickly from the floods that occurred at the beginning of the year.
According to the IMF representative in Mozambique, Alex Segura, the country’s GDP grew by 7.1% in 2013.
He noted that inflation remained “relatively stable”. The average 12 monthly inflation rate was 4.2%, below the government’s medium term target of 5.6%.
Segura added that tax collection also beat the government’s targets – mainly due to the capital gains tax paid on transactions involving shareholdings in the Rovuma Basin, where massive deposits of natural gas have been found. These one-off payments amounted to US$624 million in 2013, which is four per cent of GDP. But even without capital gains tax, revenue collection was “satisfactory”, said Segura.
Despite the government’s guarantees for the US$850 million bond issue by the Mozambican Tuna Company (EMATUM), public indebtedness on commercial terms remains below the limit fixed in the government’s programme with the IMF.
Segura said there had been “progress in structural reforms, particularly in the management of public finance, banking supervision and the payments system of the central bank”.
He believed that perspectives for the immediate and the medium terms remain strong “based mainly on coal exports and on investments in the natural gas industry”.
Segura forecast growth of 8.3%, based not only on mineral resources, but on a strong recovery in agriculture. Over the next five years he expected growth to continue at a rate of around eight per cent a year “sustained by the continual increase in coal production and exports, the construction of the natural gas liquefaction plant, and vigorous growth in transport, communications and construction.
Risks over the short and medium term, Segura said, included the impact of climate change, fluctuating international commodity prices, and a potential reduction in foreign aid. Domestic risks included possible delays in the improvements in the railways and ports so essential for the logistics of coal exports, and in expanding the electricity grid.
As for the insecurity arising from clashes, mostly in the central province of Sofala, between gunmen from Renamo and the Mozambican defence and security forces, Segura brushed it aside as not forming part of the IMF’s projections. “Our projections and analyses are based on a system of political and social stability. That is our base scenario”, he said.
But he recognised that insecurity could lead to problems in the supply of goods and services, leaded to “localized price rises”. It was therefore necessary “to avoid this type of situation which can have a negative effect on the people affected”.
The Mozambican General Labour Inspectorate (IGT) has given the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) a 15 day deadline to correct all the anomalies detected during the strike of CRBC’s Mozambican workforce earlier in January.
CRBC is the contractor building the Maputo Ring Road and the bridge over the Bay of Maputo linking the centre of the city to the neighbourhood of Katembe. The IGT, in a statement issued on 16 January, said it intervened “to restore labour order” by mediating between CRBC and its workers.
Among the workers’ complaints were poor health and safety conditions – particularly the lack of protective equipment, and of medical care, and the failure of the company to take out insurance against work accidents.
CRBC had also not complied with its legal duty to enrol its workers in the National Social Security Institute (INSS). The workers said that in some cases the company had not given them written contracts.
President Armando Guebuza on 16 January laid the first stone for the construction of a major extension to Maputo’s Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre.
Budgeted at US$250 million, the project is a partnership between the Mozambican and Chinese governments. The extension will be built over two years by the Chinese Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (AFECC).
The new complex will include a 290 room hotel, an international conference hall that can hold up to 2,000 people, and a banqueting hall with the capacity to serve 1,500 people.
The Mozambican police on 14 January said they have arrested four people suspected of involvement in the murder in South Africa of Patrick Karegeya, the exiled former head of Rwandan intelligence.
Police spokesperson Joao Machava told “Mediafax” that the four suspects are currently being held in police cells in Maputo, while the procedures are under way which will lead to their deportation to South Africa.
Among the group is a senior official in the Rwandan armed forces, Lt-Col Francis Gakwerere.
Karegeya’s body was found on 1 January in a hotel in Sandton, a luxury Johannesburg suburb. A Rwandan opposition party, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) claimed he had been strangled by agents of the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Karegeya was once a friend of Kagame, and they fought together in the Rwanda Patriotic Front, which overthrew the genocidal regime in 1994. From 1994 to 2004 he was Director General of External Intelligence in the Rwandan armed forces. But he was then arrested, and served an 18 month sentence for alleged desertion and insubordination. He fled Rwanda in 2007.
Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, in his capacity as joint chairperson of the High Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), has sent an open letter to African leaders, calling for an end to all forms of discrimination – including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The High Level Task Force, whose other co-chair is former Finnish President Tarja Halonen, describes itself as “an independent body of 25 distinguished leaders with a record of service as heads of state, ministers and parliamentarians, civil society, private sector and philanthropic leaders”. Its purpose is “to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and young people”.
Published in “Africa Report” magazine, Chissano’s open letter urges the continent’s leaders to “push for three priorities that lie at the heart of sustainable development: the empowerment of women and gender equality; the rights and empowerment of adolescents and youth; and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people”.
Those priorities, Chissano stressed, “represent not only human rights imperatives, but smart, cost-effective investments to foster more equitable, healthy, productive, prosperous and inclusive societies, and a more sustainable world”.
“Sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular”, he added, “are a prerequisite for empowering women and the generations of young people on whom our future depends. This simply means granting every one the freedom – and the means -- to make informed decisions about very basic aspects of one's life – one's sexuality, health, and if, when and with whom to have relationships, marry or have children – without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence”.
In a clear reference to those countries that still discriminate against women and against gay people, Chissano warned “We can no longer afford to discriminate against people on the basis of age, sex, ethnicity, migrant status, sexual orientation and gender identity, or any other basis – we need to unleash the full potential of everyone”.
“As an African who has been around a long time, I understand the resistance to these ideas”, he admitted. “But I can also step back and see that the larger course of human history, especially of the past century or so, is one of expanding human rights and freedoms”.
“African leaders should be at the helm of this, and not hold back. Not at this critical moment”, Chissano urged.
He concluded his letter with a quote from the icon of the anti-apartheid movement, the late Nelson Mandela: "To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
“Let us live up to his immortal words”, Chissano declared.
Mozambique’s relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), on 17 January received a donation from the Chinese government of 185 pre-fabricated houses, and the same number of portable toilets for victims of torrential rains that have hit the country.
Since the start of the rainy season in October, at least 18 people have lost their lives, mostly due to lightning strikes, and about 15,000 have been displaced from their homes. In addition, 200 classrooms have been destroyed.
On receiving the donation the Minister of State Administration, Carmelita Namashalua, said “this material will assist those families who have been severely affected by the rains”.
The Chinese ambassador, Li Chunhua, who delivered the gift, said his government will continue to support Mozambicans whenever they are in need. But he advised people living in areas vulnerable to flooding to move.
Asked which provinces will benefit from the Chinese gift, INGC director Joao Ribeiro said the decision will be taken later by the INGC’s Technical Council.
The Limpopo railway line, which links Maputo to Zimbabwe, has been reopened to traffic after five days of closure due to a derailment.
The derailment occurred on 5 January in the Niza region, 272 kilometres north of Maputo, between Chokwe and Mabalane in Gaza province. It involved a train carrying 26 wagonloads of sugar from Zimbabwe to be exported from the port of Maputo. 20 of the wagons derailed, and 12 of them overturned, spilling a considerable part of their cargo.
According to the engineering directorate of the publicly owned port and rail company CFM, once the fallen wagons were removed from the line the track was declared partially free from obstruction on 10 January. This allowed the first passenger train since the derailment to move along the line.
On 11 January, the line was declared completely free for operations, without any restrictions, and goods trains once again could move to and from Maputo port.
The Limpopo line is 522 kilometres long and is a key route to the sea for southern Zimbabwe. It has a theoretical capacity to handle two million tonnes of cargo a year. The maximum speed for trains using the line is 50 kilometres an hour.
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