Mozambique News Agency

Number 111, 5th June 1997


Frelimo Congress elects new Central Committee

The Seventh Frelimo Congress, meeting in the outskirts of Maputo, on 23 May elected a new Central Committee, replacing over half of those previously elected. At the last Congress, held in 1991, there was a 46 per cent turnover in Central Committee membership.

Following the Congress, of the 163 members of the Committee, 54 per cent are new entrants. Women now hold 46 seats (28.2 per cent) on the new committee - a decline from 53.

Present at the Congress were 647 delegates. The social composition of the delegates showed the predominance of administrative and political leaders, who accounted for 42 per cent of the total. Workers and peasants, who, in Frelimo's marxist days, were supposed to be the bedrock of the party, accounted for 19.7 per cent of delegates. 38 per cent of the delegates were women, compared with 28 per cent of delegates at the Sixth Congress in 1991.

The average age of the delegates was 46, and 16 per cent had participated in the liberation war against Portuguese colonial rule in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Membership of Central Committee

Almost all the leading figures in the party easily secured re-election. They received a massive vote of confidence from the delegates in the secret ballot elections. Apart from President Joaquim Chissano (elected separately and unopposed), the most popular man at the Congress was the head of the Frelimo parliamentary group, Armando Guebuza. In the ballot for the largest section of the Central Committee, the 50 representatives of "central structures", Guebuza scored 568 votes (92.6 per cent).

He was followed by former defence minister Alberto Chipande and Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi (both on 90.9 per cent), Frelimo General Secretary Manuel Tome (90.8 per cent), former education minister and widow of the country's first president Graca Machel (90.2 per cent), veteran nationalist and former chairman of the Mozambican parliament Marcelino dos Santos (87.3 per cent), the man in charge of Frelimo's 1994 election campaign Mariano Matsinhe, and former information minister Rafael Maguni (both on 85.3 per cent), a veteran of the women's detachment of the Frelimo guerrilla army during the independence war Deolinda Guezimane (83.3 per cent), former cooperation minister Jacinto Veloso (81.7 per cent), the current parliamentary chairman Eduardo Mulembue (81.6 per cent) and Defence Minister Aguiar Mazula (80.9 per cent).

New blood

New blood came onto the central committee in the other 12 sections - 11 for the provinces, and one for "economic and social sectors". The latter was initially entitled "new entries": those elected from this section are almost all government members, leading parliamentarians, or demobilised army officers.

In a change from previous practice, the 11 provincial first party secretaries come onto the Central Committee ex-officio. All were elected in their provinces in the meetings and conferences in the run-up to the Congress.

Some new members are only new in the sense that, for various reasons, they were not elected in 1991. Thus former security minister Sergio Vieira, surprisingly dropped from the Central Committee in 1991, returns in triumph from his home province of Tete, with 484 votes (72.6 per cent of valid ballots in the provincial section).

More surprising is the election from Sofala province of former Interior Minister Manuel Antonio (58.6 per cent), who was sacked last year by Chissano, after sustained protests concerning corruption and incompetence in the police force.

This Congress also marks the return of leading Frelimo military figures. Serving officers had to leave the Central Committee in 1991 because the new constitution effectively banned political activity in the armed forces. Now they have been demobilised there is nothing to stop them resuming a political role.

Back on the Central Committee go two former chiefs of staff, Sebastiao Mabote and Antonio Hama Thai (who is also a deputy defence minister), the former commander of the army, Tobias Dai, and the former chief of operations in the general staff, Atanasio M'tumuke.

The most prominent figures in the outgoing Central Committee who failed to secure re-election were Mineral Resources Minister John Kachamila, Carlos Klint (who owns the private television station, RTK), and the mayor of Beira Lucas Renco.

The Minister in the Presidency for Parliamentary Affairs, Francisco Madeira, and the chairman of the board of Mozambique Railways, Mario Dimande, drop from full to candidate membership of the Central Committee.

Among those who were not standing for re-election were one member of the outgoing Political commission, Bonifacio Gruveta, the mayor of Maputo, Joao Baptista Cosme, and businessman Americo Mpfumo.

Among the new members of the committee are Environment Minister Bernardo Ferraz, veteran journalist Albino Magaia, and some of the most prominent members of the Frelimo parliamentary group - Helder Muteia, Virginia Videira and Virgilia Matabele.

Also elected were Paulina Mateus, general secretary of the Mozambican Women's Organisation (OMM), Ivone Mahumane, who runs the Frelimo children's organisation, and Gilion Michila, secretary general of the Association of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle.

Political Commission elected

The new Central Committee on 25 May re-elected Manuel Tome as the party's general secretary. The 44 year old Tome is a journalist by profession and a former director of Radio Mozambique. He has been general secretary since July 1995 - and has been credited with tightening up the party's organisation.

The Central Committee also re-elected Eduardo Mulembue unopposed as chairman of the Verification Commission, the Frelimo disciplinary body. Mulembue, a former attorney-general, is also chairman of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

Mulembue, Tome and the party's president, Joaquim Chissano, are automatically members of the 15-strong Political Commission, which takes political decisions in between Central Committee meetings and is, in reality, the most powerful Frelimo body.

The Central Committee elected former general secretary Feliciano Gundana back onto the Political Commission. He had lost his seat when he was replaced by Tome as general secretary in 1995.

There are four newcomers to the Political Commission, three of them women: they are Laurinda Kanji, the head of the Frelimo finance department, jurist Veronica Macamo, who has recently been running Frelimo's international relations, Margarida Talapa, a parliamentarian from the Nampula Province, and Artur Canana, governor of the central province of Manica.

Three members of the old Political Commission did not stand for re-election. Bonifacio Gruveta, former Frelimo first secretary in Zambezia, did not even stand for the Central Committee. Deolinda Guezimane, a veteran of the women's detachment in the Frelimo guerrilla army during the independence war, and former cooperation minister Jacinto Veloso, both gave up their seats saying they wanted to make way for younger blood.

The two Political Commission members who were voted out were Katupha and Mazula.

The other, re-elected, members of the Political Commission are Guebuza, Chipande, Mocumbi, Alcido Nguenha (a prominent intellectual and parliamentarian), Eneas Comiche (Minister in the Presidency for Economic and Social Matters), Mariano Matsinhe (organiser of Frelimo's 1994 election campaign), and Rafael Maguni (former information minister).

The Central Committee's executive body, the Secretariat, has been expanded from five to six members. Only Tome and Kanji remain from the old secretariat: they are joined by Amelia Sumbana, Antonio Simbine, Bernardo Chirinda, and Afonso Campa.

Bernardo Chirinda was recently appointed to the job of director of the Maputo International School. Normally posts on the Frelimo secretariat are also full time.

Outgoing Central Committee report to Congress

The report from the outgoing Central Committee, discussed behind closed doors throughout 20 May, stressed that "the priority goal of reconstruction and of normalising national life is alleviating poverty".

Frelimo is therefore concerned "to increase food production, improve the supply of drinking water, restore the health and education network destroyed during the war, as well as increasing job opportunities, including in the informal sector". The report declares that Frelimo "defends the inalienable right of Mozambican citizens to land, while at the same time encouraging private investment".

Because of the importance of land in terms of agricultural production, Frelimo particularly defends the rights of peasants and Mozambican farmers". To attain these goals "a careful study is being made in order to draft pertinent legislation".

The report points to an average annual growth rate of 7.4 per cent in the period from 1991 to 1996, "a rate higher than that of other African countries who have introduced economic reforms".

It notes that Mozambican agriculture now produces about 90 per cent of the grain the country needs - which compares with only 15 per cent in the worst years of the war of destabilisation.

On the country's programme of privatisation, the report expresses some unease. It admits that privatisation "had positive results in increasing the efficiency of production", but also "was negative in that many workers have been made redundant". During the privatisations "there was a great deal of opportunism and many violations of labour legislation by some business representatives".

The report lists, as among the persistent problems facing the economy, the unfavourable terms of trade for the peasantry, low levels of exports, compared with the country's potential and our foreign exchange needs, and the bureaucratic land tenure procedure. It also stresses the insufficient capacity to guarantee the marketing of surplus crops, mentioning in particular a rural trade network that is still feeble, poor storing and conservation of produce, access roads that need repair, insufficient, and sometimes inaccessible, credit for marketing.

This says "in the economic sphere, the Central Committee made a deep appreciation of the Economic and Social Recovery Programme, which is supported by the IMF and the World Bank. The Central Committee analysed attentively the problematic of our relationship to these international financial bodies and recommended measures and paths to follow so as to attenuate the negative effects of the reforms".

New Frelimo programme

National Unity remains the corner stone for the policy of Frelimo, declared Alcido Nguenha, a member of the Party's Political Committee, in introducing a new draft Frelimo programme on 21 May. "For the party, national unity is decisive for the consolidation of national sovereignty and independence, in the country's economic and social development, and in establishing a state ruled by law where all citizens are equal", said Nguenha.

The programme defines Frelimo's goal as democratic socialism, defined as "the basic principle of achieving a more just and humane society, resting on freedom, equality and solidarity" Frelimo's socialist idea, said Nguenha, "embraces all the practices of granting value to individuals and the community that we have undertaken since the time of the national liberation struggle".

Part of Frelimo's commitment to socialism and democracy, he said, was its support for "major intervention by all organisations and associations in the life of the country". He laid a particular stress on the trade unions and their "struggle for better living and working conditions".

Frelimo favoured "a democratic system in which trade unions have freedom of action and organisation in order to strengthen their contribution towards the formulation of economic policy". The economic order advocated in the programme "combines state property with private property, the activity of the state with free and socially responsible individual initiative, and business freedom with the control mechanisms established by the state to regulate economic activity".

Frelimo will fight to promote the peasant family and cooperative sectors of the economy "and other forms of voluntary collaboration". The programme views the state largely as a regulator, intervening in the economy through monetary, exchange rate, and pricing policy. But the state should also "stimulate private initiative and guarantee effective social security". The Frelimo view of privatisation, said Nguenha, is that "it must take place through contracts that maintain jobs, or guarantee retraining for the workers, thus avoiding an increase in unemployment".

The programme maintains the principle that all land is state property, and that the conditions for land tenure are established and controlled by law. Land titles, stressed Nguenha, should protect the rights of Mozambicans who occupy and use the land. AIM-2/6/97

News Round-up

Mauritius to invest in Zambezi valley

Mauritian private businesses have expressed an interest in producing sugar and raising cattle in the Zambezi valley in central Mozambique. Three companies from Mauritius, named as Fuel, Epsitalier-Non, and Mon Loisier, have come together in the consortium "Societe Marromeu". As a priority, the consortium is looking into the massive problems facing one of the Mozambican sugar companies, the Sena Sugar Estates. Both mills owned by this company on the banks of the Zambezi were destroyed by the Renamo rebels during the war of destabilisation. AIM-26/5/97

Barracks to be used for health and education

Defence Minister Aguiar Mazula has revealed that some disused military infrastructures are being handed over to social sectors such as education and health. The decision was taken because of the reduced number of soldiers (about 12,000) in the Mozambican army.

He explained "we have completed assessment of the barracks and we have handed over large barracks in some provinces, such as Zambezia and Tete, to education".

Mazula said that currently "one of the largest barracks we have, in Cuamba (in the northern province of Niassa), is being requested for transformation into a university agronomy faculty. We are analysing that request and I think the answer will be positive". AIM-26/5/97

Cost of living claims denied

The provincial government in the province of Tete has denied opposition claims about the cost of living. Renamo has made the allegedly excessive cost of living one of its major themes in the wave of demonstrations it has organised over the past three weeks.

The provincial government has pointed out that the cost of living in Tete is comparable with that in neighbouring countries. Although wages are higher in Malawi and Zimbabwe than in Mozambique, so too are the prices of many basic goods. The statutory minimum wage in Mozambique is 311,794 meticais (about $27) a month. In Zimbabwe the monthly minimum wage is the equivalent of 500,000 meticais and in Malawi 498,000 meticais, claims the provincial government.

But Mozambican wages go further than Malawian ones. A 50 kilo sack of maize costs 106,000 meticais in Malawi, but only 50,000 in Tete city and 75,000 in Angonia district in the northern part of Tete.

A kilo of potatoes costs 4,000 meticais in Tete City, 2,500 meticais in Angonia, but 11,050 meticais in Malawi. A kilo of beef costs 20,000 meticais in Tete, and 33,000 meticais in Malawi, while a litre of cooking oil costs 17,000 meticais in Tete and almost twice as much (30,940 meticais) in Malawi.

Of goods regarded as basic, only sugar is cheaper in Malawi than in Tete. It is thus easy to work out that the Malawian minimum wage will buy 4.7 sacks of maize, but a Tete worker on a Mozambican minimum wage could buy 6.2 sacks. The Tete minimum wage will buy 18.3 litres of vegetable oil, while the Malawian one will buy 16 litres. AIM-26/5/97

Renamo radio equipment seized

Mozambican police have seized sophisticated military radio equipment from Fernando Jossias, a Renamo official in the northern city of Nampula.

The equipment, shown on Mozambican Television, includes frequency-hopping radios, and is said to be able to cover the entire country. The police have detained Jossias and sent the radios to Maputo.

A Renamo spokesman described the police action as "a Frelimo provocation". He claimed that the radios were merely used for the Renamo leadership to keep in contact with the party's offices throughout the country. Renamo needed to use radio communication "because we don't have phones or faxes", he said. As for the military nature of the radios, the spokesman claimed that the government had agreed to replace the radios with civilian equipment, but had never honoured this promise. AIM-26/5/97

Denmark pledges to increase aid

Denmark has promised an increase of 70 per cent in its foreign aid to Mozambique over the next three years. The pledge is to raise the level of its aid from the current $25 million a year to $42 million by the year 2000.

Danish aid will concentrate on priority sectors agreed in negotiations in 1995: namely agriculture, primary health care, primary education, semi-industrial fishing, electricity, support for the Mozambican parliament and for the legal system. The Danish government will also provide balance of payments support, and will help finance the municipal elections scheduled for later this year. This assistance is in addition to Danish aid channelled via multilateral bodies or to regional institutions, such as the Maputo based Nordic-SADC Journalism Centre. AIM-31/5/97

New opposition coalition formed

At the invitation of Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, 11 opposition parties met at Dhlakama's residence on 28 May, where they agreed to set up a "Coordinating Council of the Opposition". An anonymous source present at the meeting, cited said there was "total agreement" on the need for such a council.

He thought it could lead "to a future political force with the ambition of becoming an alternative to the ruling party, which at the same time corresponds to the expectations of those who are unhappy with misgovernment and cannot support the high cost of living".

In addition to Renamo itself, the organisations present at the meeting were FUMO (Mozambique United Front), PCN (National Convention Party), PIMO (Independent Party), MONAMO (Mozambican Nationalist Movement), PRD (Democratic Renewal Party), PACODE (Democratic Congress Party), PPPM (Mozambican People's Progress Party), PALMO (Liberal and Democratic Party), UNAMO (Mozambique National Union) and PT (Labour Party).

Of the other 10 parties, only PALMO has seats in parliament - it fought the 1994 elections as part of the Democratic Union (UD) coalition which received slightly more than the five per cent of the votes needed to secure any parliamentary representation at all. The other two UD members, PANADE (National Democratic Party) and PANAMO (Mozambican National Party), were apparently not present at the meeting. AIM-30/5/97

Cotton prices fall

The Mozambican government's recent cut in the minimum producer price for cotton has led to disagreements, with large cotton exporters welcoming the move, but peasant producers dismayed by it.

The producer price fixed for first grade cotton in 1996 was 3,900 meticais (about 34 US cents) a kilo. This year the price has been cut to 3,300 meticais - a reduction of 15.4 per cent. In the province of Nampula, one of the country's main cotton-growing regions, Paulo Cruz, general manager of Namialo Cotton Development Company (SODAN) said that he thought it reflected "the real price" of cotton.

The government's argument - that the price had to come down because of a decline in the world market price of cotton - was correct, Cruz revealed, and so there were no good reasons for hostile comment. SODAN is owned jointly by the private company Joao Ferreira dos Santos and by the Mozambican state. It produces cotton on thousands of hectares of Nampula land, but also buys cotton from the peasant family sector.

Armazens Ibramugy has concessions in the neighbouring province of Zambezia where it buys peasant cotton. One of the company's owners, Assarafali Ibramugy, said that although the new price "approaches the correct figure", nonetheless peasant interests should have been taken into priority consideration.

Private farmer Issufo Noormamade said the price cut was designed to put cotton production "in the hands of the monopolists". These companies grow and market cotton "under government protection", he accused.

Growth in production predicted

The National Meeting of Cotton Companies, held in Maputo on 28 May, has predicted that production of cotton in Mozambique will double this year to 55,000 tonnes. The meeting aims to analyse the impact of the cotton sector on the economy, and to create an association of cotton companies to negotiate with the government, and to define development strategies. AIM-28/5/97

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