Mozambique News Agency

Number 109, 8th May 1997


Extra session for Assembly to discuss land bill

The Assembly of the Republic on 30 April ended its sixth ordinary session, having deliberated on 72 per cent of its agenda, during which time was taken up by strong opposition from Renamo to the municipalisation in the country. The first municipal elections in Mozambique will take place in November in 33 municipalities (23 cities and 10 towns), according to a bill approved by the Assembly of the Republic.

Speaking during the closing session, parliament's chairman Eduardo Mulembwe said that of the 29 items of the agenda "we discussed and deliberated on 21, highly relevant to people's life".

Renamo voted against the bill on municipal elections, the bill on electoral census, the statute of titulars and members of municipalities, the municipal statute of Maputo, the bill on administrative subordination of local authorities, the bill on the creation of municipalities and the one that creates the National Elections Commission. The Democratic Union (UD), a coalition of three smaller opposition parties, abstained or supported Renamo.

The 128 Frelimo deputies present in the last session all voted for the bill on municipalities. Justifying its negative vote, Renamo alleged that the documents' final versions have been adulterated, and do not reflect what has been approved by consensus during the plenary session. Renamo claims also that Frelimo "has, without shame, run over the most elementary rules of democracy", and the bill on municipalisation is "so void, so discriminatory and so harsh".

Renamo justified its vote against the bill on electoral census saying that it includes Mozambicans living abroad, saying that "there will be lack of inspection on the part of the opposition political parties during the census abroad".

The parliament also approved the bill on the second General Population and Housing Census, scheduled for August 1997. On the last day session, the parliament also approved bills on the regulation of the Third Section of the Administrative Tribunal (Court of Accounts), the framing of the State's General Account Budget, preliminary inspection of public expenditure, the resolution on the participation of the Mozambican parliament in the ACP/EU Assembly, the joining of the Mozambican parliament to the parliamentary forum of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the parliament's Standing Commission report for 1996.

Extraordinary session

Because the sixth ordinary session did not complete its agenda, the Standing Commission has called an extraordinary sitting for June.

The parliament did not have time to broach the bills on land, environment, electricity, on the governing ethics and the creation of the High Authority Against Corruption. This last issue had been postponed from the fifth sitting, in 1996. The extraordinary sitting is to discuss legislation on National Defence, a resolution on parliament joining the Commonwealth parliamentary association. The controversial bill on the two Islamic holidays (Ide-Ul-Fitre and Ide-Ul-Adha will be rediscussed.

Parliament normally sits in two sessions per year, with extraordinary sessions called whenever needed.

Computers donated

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on 2 May donated computer equipment to the Assembly of the Republic, to allow smoother operation of that organ's secretariat.

Speaking during a ceremony to hand over the computers, parliament's secretary general David Sibambo said the machines will improve efficiency in the production of documents and make the secretariat's work easier, increasing the parliament's performance by about 80 per cent. Efficiency of the secretariat has been severely questioned by deputies .

Sibambo praised USAID's support, and appealed to them to give more support of the kind, saying that "needs are ever greater".

Mike Mckinley, charge d'affairs of the United States Embassy in Maputo revealed that USAID will give five more computers during the extraordinary sitting in June.

USAID is also prepared to train parliament's staff in the usage of the donated equipment. It has, so far, donated 25 computers to the Assembly of the Republic.


Modernisation of transport links

Mozambican Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi said in Maputo on 5 May that work will start by September on the rehabilitation and modernisation of Maputo port.

"Efforts are being made to provide the resources that will allow the beginning of the modernisation of the Maputo rail and port complex", said Mocumbi, speaking during the signing ceremony of agreements on the Maputo Development Corridor (CDM).

Toll road agreed

The agreements were on the contract to build a toll road linking the port to the South African industrial centre of Witbank, and on freight and passenger road transport. The international tender to build the toll road was won last December by the consortium TRAC (Trans-Africa Concessionnaire), headed by the French company Bouygues.

Signing the contract were the Minister of Public Works and Housing, Roberto White, South African Transport Minister Mac Maharaj, and the Executive Director of TRAC, Trevor Jackson. The signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi and South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki.

Under the contract, the consortium undertakes to build the road, operate it for 30 years, regularly maintaining and upgrading it, and then hand it over to the two governments. This is the first building project in Mozambique undertaken on the BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) system.

The new road is a key component of the Maputo Development Corridor. The Mozambican government clearly hopes that upgrading the transport links between the two countries will encourage South African businesses to make much greater use of Maputo port.

Thabo Mbeki said he was sure that the other main components of the Development Corridor - namely Maputo port, and the Maputo-South Africa railway - could also benefit rapidly from rehabilitation. "This is the first project on this scale in the region", he declared. "And it's one of the few projects involving two countries, but relying on private finance".

Mbeki also stressed that investment in infrastructure will create a large number of jobs, not only in the construction industry, but in all the spin-offs that the new road will generate. It is estimated that the corridor projects will create 7,900 jobs in construction, and about 19,700 in other activities.

Mac Maharaj declared that work on the road should begin within six months. He said there would be three toll gates on the road.

Maharaj and Mozambican Transport Minister Paulo Muxanga also signed agreements on the road movement of passengers and freight between the two countries.

Prime Minister points to ports and railways

Prime Minister Mocumbi stressed that procedures that will lead to the launching of tenders for the management contracts for the port of Maputo and for Mozambique Railways southern division are in their final stages.

He stressed the Mozambican government's commitment to handing over these infrastructures to private management, and hoped that this would be completed by the third quarter of 1997.

The port of Maputo is 3,375 metres long and allows the mooring of vessels of up to 40,000 tonnes. It has terminals for containers, for sugar, steel, general cargo, for oil, grain, two terminals for coal, one for coastal shipping, and a fishing port.

The port has a capacity to handle between eight and 10 million tonnes of cargo a year, but it has handled only an average of 2.6 million tonnes during the last two years.It is served by three railways, the Limpopo line to Zimbabwe (534 kilometres), the Goba line to Swaziland (74 kilometres), and the Ressano Garcia line to South Africa (88 kilometres).

On the modernisation of the port, World Bank representative Roberto Chaves said that "a study is being completed to finance the rehabilitation of the port equipment. We will contribute by investment through the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), that mostly deals with the private sector".


Mozagrius formalised

Mozambican and South African governments on 5 May signed an agreement to formalise the development society Mozagrius (SDM).

The document was signed by Sergio Gouvveia, for the Ministry of Agriculture, and Matthew Phosa for the South African Chamber for Agricultural Development in Africa (SACADA).

Witnessing the ceremony were Finance Minister Tomaz Salomao and the South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Alex Erwin, who signed a separate agreement on the mutual protection of investments.

SDM has an initial capital of a million dollars, half provided by the Mozambican state, and half by SACADA. The Mozambican money will be to finance the Mozambican associates to Mozagrius, whereas a similar amount, contributed by the South African counterpart, will fund activities of that country's farmers. The company is headquartered in Maputo, and has an initial management board of four - two Mozambicans and two South Africans.

Antonio Cabral Moacorica, from the Mozagrius management, said that with the signing of these two agreements, all obstacles will have been removed that were hindering the development of the northern Mozambican province of Niassa in particular, and of Mozambique as a whole.

The original protocol was signed by President Joaquim Chissano and President Mandela in May 1996.


News Round-up

Swedish aid agreed

The governments of Mozambique and Sweden signed in Maputo, on 5 May, two agreements on the continuation of Swedish support to the Mozambican national seed company (SEMOC) and the National Mapping and Surveying Directorate (DINAGECA), the department in the Ministry of Agriculture that deals with land tenure. The first agreement on technical assistance for SEMOC, is valued at $900,000.

The money will be allocated to maize and rice breeding, seed processing and storage and accounting.

The support for DINAGECA involves about $6 million to be used in the establishment of a land allocation system, specially protecting the peasant family sector. This assistance is aimed at updating geodetic and cartographic data concerning land rights and duties.


South African finance for projects

More than 2,000 families of Mozambican migrant labourers who used to work on the South African gold mines will benefit from an agricultural development project estimated to cost more than $450,000.

The project is being financed by the South African government, and it will benefit, not only the former mine workers and their families, but also displaced people and demobilised soldiers.

It is being implemented in the districts of Manhica and Chibuto, in the southern Mozambican provinces of Maputo and Gaza respectively.

According to the project coordinator, Joseph Bimba, the South Africans intend to install high voltage power lines in both districts, to power 380 KVA water pumps, with a capacity to pump 1,100 cubic metres of water per hour, for irrigation.

He said that to irrigate the project's 300 hectares in Chibuto, water will be pumped from the Limpopo river and, because the power line will be stretched over "Samora Machel" village, the village will benefit from electricity. In Chibuto, the idea is to start by planting about 10 hectares of banana, to help pay for the electricity.


Unused arable land identified

The Centre for Investment Promotion (CPI) is carrying out a process of identification of arable and unexploited land, to be allocated to investors. This measure is aimed at avoiding possible land conflicts between Mozambicans and foreign land users. There are 36 million hectares of arable land in the country, of which "only about nine million are being exploited".


Portuguese Presidential visit a success

President Joaquim Chissano said on 3 May that the visit of his Portuguese counterpart Jorge Sampaio surpassed the objectives initially planned.

"I hail your excellency for the time you spent among us, and for a better knowledge of each other", said Chissano during a press conference that marked the end Sampaio's visit to Mozambique.

Sampaio arrived in Maputo on 28 April, and for Chissano, this was more than just a state visit, it was a working visit.

During his six day stay in Mozambique, Sampaio visited the provinces of Nampula, in the north, Zambezia and Sofala, in the centre, and Tete, in the west of Mozambique, where he checked on various economic and social undertakings and had talks with local authorities.

"During contacts that Sampaio had (in Mozambique), there was always the clear impression that there must be continuity (of those contacts)", said Chissano, highlighting Sampaio's visits to the Eduardo Mondlane University, and his speech at the Assembly of the Republic, the Mozambican parliament.

"We want to underline the understanding that you have shown of our problems and preparedness to help us solve them", he said.

Chissano stressed that Mozambique is in a region that is striving for an economic regional integration. "Our goal in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is to have us all gaining", he said, adding that "Our cooperation with Portugal is already based on this experience".

He put the Portuguese press at easy, saying that the fact that we have joined the Commonwealth "it does not mean the disappearance of the Portuguese language".

On this issue, Sampaio had defended the Mozambican position, on 29 April, saying that "if I were a Mozambican I would as well try and join" this organisation, the Islamic Conference and the SADC.

Sampaio explained that today, countries "are not and may not be alone, they must diversify their contacts, and we should not feel bad about a friend of ours who joined one group or another".

For Chissano, "there is nothing wrong if one deals in English with those who speak English, in Portuguese with those who speak Portuguese, and in French with those who speak French.".

During the same press conference, Sampaio, who left Mozambique on 4 May, said he is sure that the two countries have strengthened, in new basis, an old relationship.

"I am leaving sure that we have strengthened the basis of a mutual trust, based on respect for each country's own identity", Sampaio told Chissano.

He reiterated, as he had done it in the parliament, that his country is prepared to support Mozambique's efforts "in whatever needed. We are prepared to help Mozambique build its future", he said.

According to Sampaio, Portugal should support Mozambique both at official and private levels, strengthening cooperation, and "trying always to keep the strictest ethical and behaviour standards".

He added that his country is "totally" prepared to support the municipal elections in Mozambique and the project of administration decentralisation. "According to our experience and our capacity, we will support the implementation of local power in Mozambique, if such is considered useful and we are asked to do so", he concluded.


President speaks on Labour Day

President Joaquim Chissano has expressed satisfaction at the good performance of the Mozambican economy in 1996, and promised that "we will do our best this year", to grow even further.

"We are happy that in 1996 we managed to increase our production by six per cent", said Chissano, in his speech at the central ceremonies to celebrate the international Labour Day in Maputo.

Galvanised by the award he received during his recent visit to the United States, in recognition of his government's efforts to implement economic reforms in the country, Chissano said that estimations for 1997 show that "we will grow by five per cent". But, he continued, "Mozambican workers can surprise the world, growing a little further".

He said that despite the fact that this growth is not clearly felt in the life of each Mozambican family, "life is better this year than the last".

"There are countries, even here in Africa, which growth went further than one digit, about 10 per cent, but even there, we cannot find a single worker saying that life is going easy", said Chissano, and promised that the government will do its best "to reduce cost of life and improve Mozambican workers' living conditions". He admitted that if he were a worker he would also demand an "effective reduction of the cost of life".

The 1996 balance sheet of the country's economic performance shows that inflation dropped by 16.6 per cent, exports went up by 30 per cent and agricultural production grew by nine per cent.

Prime Minister on improved conditions

Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi recalled that in the context of reduction of levels of poverty and improvement of living conditions, the Mozambican government will continue giving priority to education and health sectors, and promotion of employment.

On education, Mocumbi pointed out that in 1996, first year admissions grew by 75 per cent and, by the end of 1996 620 classrooms had been rehabilitated and about 1,400 new ones had been built.

As for the health sector, Mocumbi said the government has been pursuing policies of making basic health care available to an ever growing number of people.

"Vaccination programme has been enlarged, and the number of pre-natal and post-natal consultations had a significant growth", he said.

On this field, Mocumbi said that 158 health posts had been rehabilitated and 102 new ones built, while rehabilitated health centres were 72, and 70 new ones, many of which with maternity facilities, had been built by the end of 1996.

During the same period, 346 houses for health workers have been built or rehabilitated and more than 450 health technicians have been graduated.


Water supply project to cost $150 million

The National Project of Water Supply Development in Mozambique (PNDA), to be carried out by the government during the next five years, is estimated to cost $150 million and the World Bank (BIRD) has already granted part of the funds.

The project is to be financed by the Mozambican government, together with various organisations of different countries, namely BIRD, the French Development Fund, CFD, NORAD, from Norway, and other organisations from Finland, Switzerland, Germany and the European Union. The project should start late this year or early the next, and will take about five years to complete. The programme is aimed at ensuring that an ever growing number of people have accesses to drinkable water, granting to the country water infrastructures, and storing and managing the country's meagre water resources and reducing dependence from neighbouring countries.

As secondary objectives, the programme should improve the country's water supply policies, improve institutional capacity and upgrade the sector's staff training, to obtain more efficiency and sustainability and good quality services. The project will be carried out in various stages, such as institutional development, technical assistance, training and investments. It will be managed by the Mozambican ministry of Public Works and Housing where a special office has been created.

A report on the impact of the project on the environment says it would substantially increase the number of people in urban and suburb areas that would be served without, however, improving the present inadequate systems of collection and final disposal of residual waters. Thus, new solutions were found for the situation, including the rehabilitation of the sewerage system, and the report recommended that this aspect be given priority as the present situation is endangering the public health and is deteriorating.


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