Mozambique News Agency
President Filipe Nyusi declared on 3 February that the heroes who fell in the struggle to liberate the country from Portuguese colonial rule “do not signify only the past, but also the present, and they will signify the future - the future that we are all building”.
President Nyusi was speaking after laying a wreath at Maputo’s Monument to the Mozambican Heroes on the occasion of Heroes’ Day – the anniversary of the assassination 47 years ago of Eduardo Mondlane, the founder and first President of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), generally regarded as the founder of Mozambican nationality and the architect of national unity.
The future that Mozambicans are building, the President said, should reflect the efforts and sacrifices made by the country’s heroes during the liberation war. He stressed that the goal of the country’s heroes, was not merely to throw out the Portuguese colonialists, but to ensure independence in the economic as well as the political sphere.
“While the people still do not have drinking water, electricity, sufficient schools and hospitals, we still have not competed the mission for which our heroes fell”, he declared. “This is a moment for reflection, for commitment to the development of Mozambique”.
Among those who came to the monument to pay tribute to Mondlane and the country’s other heroes were members of the ruling Frelimo Party and of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), carrying the flags of their respective parties. However, as usual with all state occasions and commemorative dates, the main opposition party Renamo were not present.
After the ceremony, President Nyusi called on Mondlane’s widow Janet, and the couple’s three children, Eduardo Jr, Chude and Nyeleti.
At the end of the visit, Eduardo Jr, speaking for the Mondlane family, said 3 February remains a tragic day in the family history, but it was also an occasion to renew their determination to continue the work begun by Eduardo Mondlane.
Janet Rae Mondlane was born in 1935 in the United States, where she met and fell in love with Mondlane, who was studying at Northwestern University, Illinois. She accompanied her husband when he returned to Africa to found Frelimo and to lead the liberation struggle.
Janet became director of the Mozambique Institute, the Frelimo secondary school in Dar es Salaam. After independence she worked in the Health Ministry and later in the Mozambique Red Cross, and in the National AIDS Council (CNCS). In recent years she has dedicated much of her time to documenting the life of her husband.
President Filipe Nyusi met with that chairperson of the African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwumi Adesina, on 30 January in Addis Ababa, where the President was attending the heads of state summit of the African Union.
Adesina said President Nyusi “explained to me his priorities for Mozambique, which include, at the top of the list agriculture, infrastructures, tourism and energy”.
Adesina said that Mozambique is a country of extreme importance for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), particularly because of the role that Beira and Nacala ports can play in regional integration.
Since cooperation began between Mozambique and the ADB in 1977, ADB funding for over 200 projects in Mozambique has reached about US$2.3 billion, according to a recent statement made in Maputo by the ADB representative in Mozambique, Joseph Ribeiro.
Inflation in Mozambique in January, as measured by the consumer price indices of the three largest cities (Maputo, Nampula and Beira) was 2.48 per cent, the National Statistics Institute (INE) announced on 9 February.
This is considerably less than the December rate of 4.76 per cent, but it is still a high rate for a single month, and compromises the government’s target for an inflation rate for all of 2016 of no more than 5.6 per cent.
Inflation over the past 12 months was 11.25 per cent – up from 10.55 per cent in December.
Most of the price increases in January were for foodstuffs. The main increases noted were for maize (13.2 per cent), cowpeas (22.5 per cent), rice (13 per cent), tomatoes (11.5 per cent), coconuts (10.2 per cent), maize flour (6.7 per cent) and onions (5.7 per cent).
Other items in the package of goods and services used to calculate the consumer price index also rose in price, but very slightly – for example, transport by 0.03 per cent, health by 0.04 per cent, education by 0.11 per cent, and clothing and footwear by 0.18 per cent.
Inflation varied between the three cities. Beira saw the sharpest rise in prices of 3.53 per cent, followed by Nampula (2.83 per cent), and Maputo (1.97 per cent).
Mozambique’s largest opposition party Renamo on 8 February threatened to set up road blocks on key highways in the centre of the country.
Speaking at a press conference in the central city of Beira, the Renamo head of mobilization in Sofala province, Horacio Calavete, said Renamo would set up armed road blocks on the main north-south highway between the Save River and the Inchope crossroads in Manica province. There would also be “control points” on the roads from Inchope to Caia, the bridge over the Zambezi River, and from Inchope to the western city of Tete.
This threat to use the Renamo militia to interfere with traffic on major roads is similar to the threat made by the head of the Renamo information department, Jeronimo Malagueta, in June 2013. That was the prelude to a low-level Renamo insurgency, mostly in Sofala, which included lethal ambushes against vehicles travelling on the north-south road.
Calavete’s threats amount to tearing up the agreement of 5 September 2014 on a cessation of military hostilities, signed by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama and by the then President, Armando Guebuza.
Calavete said the decision to set up road blocks was taken by Dhlakama himself, who is currently living in a hideout in the Satunjira region of the Sofala district of Gorongosa. He said the decision had been taken in protest against the alleged murder and kidnapping of Renamo members and officials “every day”.
Dhlakama had met in his camp on 6 February with Renamo “generals” and other military personnel, who were said to have advised Dhlakama “to take measures”.
“Due to terrorism against our members, many of our cadres are not undertaking political activities”, Calavete said. “Plain clothes policemen and soldiers are torturing and murdering our members. Hence the measure of controlling vehicles is irreversible”.
Calavete said that only “suspect” vehicles would be stopped – and by “suspect” he seemed to mean vehicles believed to be carrying members of the defence and security forces.
Renamo states that six of its members have disappeared in Sofala. The bodies of two of them were later discovered.
There have also been a string of abductions and killings of local state officials and members of the ruling Frelimo Party in Sofala, allegedly carried out by members of the Renamo militia. Asked about these killings, Calavete said he had no information.
Meanwhile, the police have made little headway in investigating the attempted assassination of Renamo General Secretary Manuel Bissopo in Beira on 20 January. On 8 February the Sofala provincial police command claimed that the other survivors of the attack are not cooperating in the investigation.
In addition to Bissopo himself, who was driving the car, and his bodyguard, who was shot dead, there were believed to be two other people in the vehicle. The police press officer in Sofala, Sididi Paulo, said the police have notified the other passengers in the car, but they have not come forward to give statements.
Asked about this, Calavete denied that Renamo is not cooperating in the investigation, but remitted all details to a future press conference.
Bissopo is still in South Africa where he was evacuated for medical treatment two days after the attack. His condition is said to be stable.
Armed men, believed to be members of Renamo’s illicit militia, shot a community leader in Nhamatanda district, in the central province of Sofala, on 5 February.
Cipriano Sineque, community leader of the Nhamatanda locality of Bebedo, and his son, 22 year old Antonio Cipriano, were shot at their home. Sineque was seriously injured in the area of his collar-bone, while his son was shot in the right foot. Both are undergoing medical treatment in Beira Central Hospital.
From their hospital beds, they told reporters that the attack was carried out by six men armed with AK-47 assault rifles.
“They knocked on the door, with the intention of murdering my father”, said Cipriano. “Because we took a long time to come out, they started to burn the house down. That was when my father decided to come out to save the other members of the family, particularly the children. They opened fire and my father was the first to be hit. The attackers stole a duck and some money, and then left, thinking my father was dead”.
The head of the Bebedo locality, Bernabe Ndapitaia, who accompanied the wounded men to the Beira hospital, said that Renamo is targeting traditional chiefs and community leaders, in an attempt to weaken these authorities. This was the fourth such incident in the area.
“All the community leaders in that area no longer sleep at home, because they are afraid the Renamo men will come after them”, said Ndapitaia. “The Renamo men have drawn up a list of their victims”.
“Fear has spread through the area”, he added. “People are even afraid to go to their fields”.
The policeman who shot a citizen dead in a market in the central city of Beira on 7 February is facing a charge of first degree murder, according to a spokesperson for the Sofala Provincial Police Command.
The problem arose when a member of the armed forces (FADM), who was in plain clothes, spotted two uniformed policemen drinking in an informal bar in the Matacuane market. According to a report in the news sheet “Mediafax”, the off-duty soldier asked the two policemen to stop drinking, pointing out that the their behaviour was damaging the image of the entire defence and security apparatus,
An argument ensued, and was still under way when a young taxi driver stopped his three wheeler cab (known as a “txopela”) nearby to attend a call on his mobile phone. The policemen jumped to the conclusion that he was using his phone to film them drinking. Even if this were true, there would be nothing improper about filming in a public place.
One of the policemen pulled out his pistol and shot the taxi driver in the head at point blank range. He died on the spot.
The market erupted in fury and turned on the police. One of the policemen and the off-duty soldier managed to escape, but the crowd grabbed the second policeman, believed to be the one who fired the shot, and beat him severely. Only the arrival of two police cars saved him from lynching.
He was taken to Beira Central Hospital in a coma. The Police Command, however, seems to have accepted that he was responsible for what had happened, and announced that he will face a murder charge as well as internal disciplinary proceedings.
The Mozambican and British governments signed a memorandum of understanding in Maputo on 8 February on solar power and other renewable energies.
The memorandum was signed by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Pedro Couto, and the British Minister of International Development, Nicholas Hurd, who was on a two day visit to Mozambique.
The purpose of the memorandum is to create a partnership between the two governments to promote a more active market in renewable energies and expand access to solar power in the more remote rural areas.
The memorandum, Couto said, “draws attention to the importance of this link in the national energy system and of the great possibilities which are currently being opened with the technological advances in the area of renewable energies and solar power, which could allow us to produce these forms of energy at lower costs”.
Couto said Mozambique has an energy programme that covers all the various forms of electricity generation, both for domestic consumption and for export to other southern African countries. Solar power and other renewables were part of this mix.
The memorandum is part of the British government’s “Energy Africa” campaign which seeks to speed up universal access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, through expanding the use of solar power. According to a British government press release, this will be achieved “through removing regulatory and political obstacles to expansion of the market, and better coordination of support from donors to the sector as a whole”.
Hurd said that Mozambican and British governments have been working together for many years “to improve access to education, water and sanitation and health care. But our vision is a future in which Mozambique can sustain itself with its own resources”. Essential to this vision, he added, was economic development which depended on access to clean energy. “We think it important that Mozambique should make use of all its resources, including the sun”, he said.
45 people have died in the storms and floods which have hit parts of northern Mozambique since the start of the current rainy season in October.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference on 5 February, the director of the National Operational Emergency Centre (CENOE), Mauricio Xerinda, said that the deaths were caused by high winds, lightning strikes, and floods resulting from torrential rains.
Since October, the number of people affected by flooding is around 26,000. Over this period, 1,202 houses have been destroyed and a further 3,941 have been damaged.
While heavy rains have hit parts of the north, in southern Mozambique severe drought, blamed on the “El Nino” weather phenomenon, has plunged 167,000 people into food insecurity. If the drought continues until March, the number of people at risk of hunger could rise to two million.
According to the Crops and Early Warning Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, in the southern provinces 256,591 hectares of crops have been lost, which is 43 per cent of the total area sown. The figure for the central provinces is 180,440 hectares, which is nine per cent of the area sown. About 200,000 producers have lost their crops.
In the north of the country, however, good harvests are expected of maize, cassava and rice.
The fire that broke out at on13 December at the grain terminal in the port of Matola during an abortive attempt to steal fuel from a pipeline running past the terminal caused damage estimated at US$2.4 million, the government spokesperson, Deputy Health Minister Mouzinho Saide, announced on 2 February.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a session of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), Saide said the theft and fire were caused “by the vulnerability of the place, since security measures were not taken with due rigour, notably access to the port installations by land and by sea, which has proven to be very fragile”. This was no accident, since police and private security staff were involved in the theft.
Summarising the conclusions of the report from the commission of inquiry set up to investigate the fire, Saide revealed that the management of the grain terminal has been suspended, and a number of arrests have been made.
The Council of Ministers also approved a bill that will create three new districts in the southern province of Gaza. The bill establishes the boundaries of the new districts of Chonguene, Limpopo and Mapai, and will now go before the parliament for approval.
These places are currently all administrative posts (the next rung down the ladder of the public administration from districts), and are now being upgraded. If the bill is passed, it will bring the total number of districts in the country to 154.
The Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) on 2 February reported a decline in traffic in the port of 19.2 per cent in 2015. The port handled 19.1 million tonnes of cargo on 2014, but this dropped to 15.6 million tonnes in 2015.
MPDC blamed this decline on “the current difficult conditions in international markets, with a sharp fall in commodity prices compared with previous years”. The most serious declines were in two minerals exported from South Africa via Maputo – coal and magnetite. But there were also declines in goods handled by the sugar and vehicle terminals.
“To combat this negative trend”, the release continued, “MPDC in mid-2015 embarked on a strategy to diversify its markets, while maintaining the level of investment in its port expansion programme”.
MPDC remain optimistic about the future, and by the end of its lease on the port, in 2033, it expects to have achieved a capacity to handle 40 million tonnes of cargo a year.
Some of the main investments in 2015 were a new port road, expansion of the ferro-chrome terminal, the start of expansion of the container terminal, and the acquisition of two new mobile cranes. Despite the decline in traffic, the planned investments will continue, MPDC pledges.
The most important activity planned for 2016 is to dredge the port access channel to a depth of 14.2 metres, allowing the port to accommodate ships of up to 80,000 tonnes.
Work will also continue in 2016 on the ferro-chrome and container terminals, and a new grain terminal will be built.
MPDC is a consortium between Mozambique’s publicly-owned port and rail company, CFM, with 49 per cent of the shares, and Portus Indico with 51 per cent. Portus Indico is owned by DP World of Dubai, Grindrod of South Africa and the Mozambican company Mozambique Gestores.
The Mozambican government leased the port to MPDC in 2003 for 15 years, and in 2009 the lease was extended for a further 15 years expiring in 2033.
Maputo Municipal Council on 2 February claimed that the first day’s experience of exclusive bus lanes in the city was a success. In this phase the bus lanes are being used on the routes from the outlying neighbourhood of Zimpeto to the downtown area of Maputo, near the port, and to the terminal at the Natural History Museum. The bus lanes are only in effect during the morning rush hour - from 05.30 to 08.30. Later the scheme will be extended to cover 15.30 to 19.00.
With one entire lane dedicated solely to buses and minibuses for several hours every day, private car owners are inevitably the losers and find that their journeys to and from the centre of the city are taking much longer.
The City Council has acquired 50 new buses for the two routes from Zimpeto at a cost of US$8 million. By the end of June, the number of new buses in the city, using the dedicated bus lanes, should rise to 120.
Up until now, there have not been enough buses and minibuses to cater for the demand for transport – and so, although it is technically illegal, pick-up trucks are being used to transport passengers. Conditions in these vehicles are dangerous and overcrowded.
The Mozambican and Chinese governments on 2 February signed an agreement exempting the citizens of both countries who hold diplomatic or service passports from the need to obtain entry visas.
The agreement was signed in Maputo by Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
Speaking to reporters immediately after the signing ceremony, Baloi stressed the longstanding relations of cooperation between Mozambique and China. The visa agreement, he said, “places another stone in the building, which is always under construction, as we move towards the well-being of both peoples and states”.
As for his bilateral talks with Wang, Baloi said the two delegations reviewed various international questions, including the situation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and reform of the United Nations Security Council.
Wang said the visa waiver marks the start of implementing programmes covering industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructures, finance, trade, investment, poverty reduction, welfare, health and peace and security. These were the areas defined as priorities during the Second Summit of the Africa-China Economic Cooperation Forum, held in December in South Africa.
At this summit, China announced that it is making available the equivalent of US$60 billion over the next three year to strengthen economic cooperation with African countries.
The European Union has pledged to disburse €200 million (US$217 million) to Mozambique in direct budget support under an agreement signed on 31 January in Addis Ababa.
The agreement was signed by Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi and by the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, after an audience granted to the European official by President Filipe Nyusi, who was attending the African Union heads of state summit.
Speaking immediately after the signing, Baloi said the main areas of cooperation between Mozambique and the EU are support for the state budget, rural development and infrastructure. The meeting between Nyusi and Mimica, he added, also discussed “other strategic matters”.
For his part, Mimica said the meeting with President Nyusi allowed an assessment of political and economic cooperation, and of the partnership between the EU and Mozambique. “We discussed the disbursement of EU support for Mozambique, and signed with the Foreign Minister an agreement worth €200 million in direct budget support”.
Over 46,000 Mozambicans who receive pensions from the National Social Security Institute (INSS) must present “proof of life” to the Institute by the end of April. These are people who were registered as receiving pensions (old age, invalidity and survival pensions) up to December 2015.
The annual “proof of life” exercise involves all pensioners presenting themselves to the INSS. This is intended to ensure that pensions are only paid to people who exist, and to eliminate fraudulent payments to “ghost pensioners”.
In 2014, of the 40,898 registered pensioners, 5,652 did not present themselves for their proof of life. This number dropped in 2015 to 1,897.
Launching this year’s “proof of life” in Maputo on 27 January, the Deputy Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security, Oswaldo Peterburgo, said he hoped that all the pensioners will show up this year.
The “proof of life”, he said, “is an act constantly bringing together the INSS and its users who during their lives gave a great deal so that today they and their families are not unprotected because they knew how to make their savings within the principles of legality and solidarity that are the fundamental pillars of the compulsory social security system”.
Checks carried out last year showed there were around 2,000 “ghost pensioners” in Maputo City alone, who were then weeded out of the system.
The most serious problem with “proof of life” is with pensioners living in remote, rural areas who may face serious difficulties in reaching an INSS office, particularly if they are old or ill.
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