Mozambique News Agency

Number 112, 18th June 1997


Dhlakama promises more protests

The opposition party, Renamo, will continue to head street demonstrations against the alleged "misgovernment" of the ruling Frelimo Party, according to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.

The first phase (in which a series of demonstrations were held, throughout May, mainly in Renamo strongholds in the central provinces) was "a rehearsal, to test the pulse", claimed Dhlakama.

The protests would now reach Maputo, he boasted, but would give no date. "We are preparing a demonstration for Maputo", he said. "We shall inform the municipal authorities beforehand, and I think they themselves will announce it".

In many cases, the Renamo protests were deemed illegal by the authorities, since the organisers had not acted in accordance with the law that regulates street marches. On several occasions, notably in Beira, protesters clashed with the police.

In the latest march, held a week ago in the city of Tete, everything was peaceful, there was no police intervention - but the demonstration was a miserable flop, since less than 100 people turned up.

Dhlakama also claimed that the government was preparing to send a "special contingent" of police to Canxixe, in the Renamo heartland of Maringue district, in the central province of Sofala. "What public order is it that the government wants to maintain in Canxixe when there is no disorder there?", he asked.

This is the second time within a week that Dhlakama has accused the government of sending strong police contingents into Maringue. The first accusation was that 85 police were going to Maringue town.

Dhlakama claimed that there was a Frelimo conspiracy at work. The police would take "Frelimo's guns" to Maringue, hide them, and then tell the press and the international community that they had discovered Renamo arms caches.

"These are provocations that Renamo will never respond to", he said. "Frelimo is pushing Renamo into a conflict situation, but Renamo is not interested in responding or becoming involved in such conflicts".

Conflict in Savane

Renamo is currently involved in serious conflict elsewhere in Sofala, notably at Savane, on the road from Beira to the Zambezi. Savane is an administrative post (the rung on the ladder of local government in between a district and a locality), and the government is trying to restore normal state authority there.

However, Renamo - and particularly a group of disabled former Renamo fighters who live in Savane - has reacted violently to the attempt to reinstall state officials there.

They held violent demonstrations in an unsuccessful attempt to expel, not only civil servants, but also government-appointed teachers and nurses from the area. A police contingent was then sent from the nearest sizeable town, Dondo, to maintain law and order.

The police have started legal proceedings against one of the leaders of the Renamo disabled, who goes by the expressive nom-de-guerre of Satanas (Satan). He is accused of assault, and of damaging property in the local market.

The Renamo district delegate, Domingos Dhlakama, who is also a member of the Mozambican parliament, argues that there is no point in re-establishing an administrative post at Savane, because only 300 people live there.

Furthermore, if there is to be an administrative post, Renamo insists that the administrator be one of its own men, on the grounds that this was an area controlled by Renamo during the war of destabilisation.

The Dondo district government believes that the real reason for Renamo's obstructive behaviour in Savane is that the area is rich in forest resources, and Renamo wants to extract its own illegal taxes from the timber merchants operating there.


UN Human Development Report

The latest UN report on the state of the world development shows improvements in the standard of living of the Mozambican people. However, it points out that Mozambique is the tenth poorest country in the world.

The United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) annual human development report, published on 12 June, places Mozambique in 166th position out of 175 countries in terms of its "human development index".

This index is constructed out of four variables - life expectancy, real GDP per capita, adult literacy, and the percentage of children attending school.

The index has a maximum possible value of 1. The country with the highest human development index, Canada, scores 0.96. Mozambique's score is 0.291.

Poorer than Mozambique on this scale are Guine-Conakry, Eritrea, Burundi, Ethiopia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. It is noteworthy that the 19 lowest countries in the human development index are all in sub-Saharan Africa. Some other countries, such as Afghanistan and Somalia, would almost definitely fall below Mozambique, but are in such a terrible state that it is impossible to collect statistics.

One problem with the statistics used is that they are from 1994. In Mozambique's case later figures are certainly available, and given the good harvests of the last two years, they would probably improve the country's ranking in the UNDP's table.

Mozambique's human development index is gradually improving. In 1960, under Portuguese rule, it was only 0.169. Ten years later, in the final days of colonialism, it was 0.248. This dipped slightly, to 0.247, in 1980, five years after independence, but rose to 0.252 in 1992.

These figures correlate closely with variations in GDP per capita. Mozambique's real GDP per capita, as calculated by the UN, rose from $111 in 1990 to $133 in 1994.

Other indices show improvements

The UNDP draws up a series of other indices, and in some of these Mozambique is much higher up the list.

Perhaps the most impressive index is the "measure of participation adjusted by sex". The variables it uses are the percentage of parliamentary seats held by women, the percentage of managerial and administrative jobs occupied by women, the percentage of professional and technical workers who are women, and the percentage of income that goes to women.

Using this index, Mozambique rises to number 43 - in front of such countries as Singapore (number 47), Greece (56), South Korea (73), and the United Arab Emirates (84), and only three places behind France (40).

In one of the variables covered, that of women in parliament, Mozambique scores much higher than many developed countries. 25.2 per cent of the deputies in the Mozambican parliament are women: this percentage is only exceeded by seven countries - Sweden (where 40.4 per cent of parliamentarians are women), Norway (39.4), Finland (33.5), Denmark (33), New Zealand (29.2), Holland 28.4) and Germany (25.5).

The report gives Mozambique's 1994 life expectancy as 46 years. In only nine other countries (Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Guinea-Conakry, Burundi, Rwanda and Sierra Leone) was life expectancy lower.

The UNDP estimates that 39 per cent of the Mozambican population have access to health services. Only seven countries are known to do worse than this (Sierra Leone, Chad, Malawi, Madagascar, Yemen, Zaire and Benin, where the figure drops to 18 per cent), but for several other countries, mostly in Africa, statistics are unavailable.

As for water supply, 63 per cent of Mozambique's population had access to clean drinking water. This is one of the best figures in sub-Saharan Africa: only outranked in this variable by Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Gabon and South Africa.

The Mozambican 1994 adult literacy rate was 39.5 per cent. Sixteen countries have lower rates. Worst of all is Niger where only 13.1 per cent of adults could read.

The average daily calorie intake in Mozambique was 1,680. Only Ethiopians ate less - their average was 1,610. However, this figure comes from 1992, which was the year of the great southern African drought. Good harvests in subsequent years have certainly improved this variable dramatically.

Mozambique's infant mortality rate in 1994 was 116 per 1,000 live births. 13 countries had worse figures. In Sierra Leone 20% of children died before their first birthday.

Shortage of doctors

Mozambique is desperately short of doctors. The UNDP report says there is one doctor for every 33,333 inhabitants. Only Niger and Malawi have a worse ratio of inhabitants to doctors. But when it comes to nurses, there is one for every 5,000 Mozambicans. 17 countries do worse than this, including several in Latin America, and for many the statistic is not available.

In 1990, public health expenditure in Mozambique stood at 4.4 per cent of GDP. This was a higher percentage than any other developing country with the exceptions of Burkina Faso (7 per cent), Nicaragua (6.7), Algeria (5.4) and Chad (4.7). It was also higher than Russia and Israel who, in 1991, spent on public health care the equivalent of three and 4.2 per cent respectively of their GDPs.

As for Mozambique's military expenditure, in 1985, during the war of destabilisation, this was equivalent to 22.5 per cent of GDP.

By 1995, Mozambique's military spending had contracted dramatically to just 3.7 per cent of GDP. This figure is still rather high - the average for all developing countries is 3.1 per cent, and for sub-Saharan Africa 2.6 per cent. The record in 1995 was held by North Korea, where military spending was equivalent to 25.2 per cent of GDP.


News Round-up

Customs to recruit new staff

Mozambique's customs service, now managed by the British company Crown Agents, has selected 912 candidates who will sit exams to become customs officials.

There were 4,379 responses to a customs recruitment drive. Of these, 912 now face written exams in Portuguese, mathematics and general knowledge. Personal interviews will then be held to whittle the number down to 250.

The 250 candidates approved after the interviews will then undergo a general training course starting on 1 August, and should start work in early November.


Norway support debt relief

Norway has promised to grant $11 million in 1997 to Mozambique's debt relief fund, it was announced on 12 June, at the end of a three day visit by the Norwegian Minister of Development Cooperation Kari Nordheim-Larsen.

The debt relief fund has been established for donors to help pay off Mozambique's foreign debt of over $5 billion, notably that part of the debt which, so far, cannot be rescheduled (such as the money owed to the World Bank and the IMF).

During Larsen's visit, Mozambique and Norway signed a memorandum establishing the general lines for Norwegian aid in the future. Among the priority areas for the cooperation between the two countries, according to the release, are health, energy and the promotion of rural development by strengthening local administration and stimulating rural production.

Norway is also committed to providing direct support for the State Budget and to assist in strengthening the macro-economic management of the Planning and Finance Ministry.

The two countries have also agreed to increase cooperation in the areas of democracy, human rights, the environment, and the promotion of equal rights and opportunities for women. Norway will also switch its aid away from isolated projects and towards "integrated sector programmes and budgets".


New community radio stations planned

The Mozambican authorities plan to set up six new community radio stations by September, according to Felisberto Tinga, director of the government's Mass Communications Institute. Speaking to AIM on 13 June, Tinga said that these new radio stations should be administered by the communities themselves.

One will be in the south of the country, at Moamba, 60 kilometres north of Maputo. Three will be in the western province of Tete, in the districts of Angonia, Mutarara and Zumbo, one will be at Sussundenga, in the central province of Manica, and the sixth will be at Mocuba, in Zambezia province, also in the centre of the country.

Tinga said that each station will cost about $42,000 for their equipment and the training of their technical staff, plus 60 million meticais (roughly $5,000) to assemble the hardware.

These community stations are to be funded by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the American Ford Foundation, and the Norwegian Council for Refugees.

The technical and managerial staff and the media professionals who will work on the radio are to be chosen from among local residents, said Tinga.


No land shortage - Prime Minister

Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi has stated that "there is enough land in Mozambique for concessions of agricultural land to be made for those who propose the best projects".

Mocumbi was speaking to reporters in Lisbon on 14 June after a meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres. He visited the Portuguese capital with a delegation including 40 Mozambican businessmen and members of the government. They took part in the Second International Convention on "Portuguese Speaking Business Opportunities".

Mocumbi's remarks on the availability of agricultural land follow a renewed interest by some Portuguese farmers in settling in Mozambique. Portuguese Agriculture Minister Gomes da Silva was in Maputo last week, and spoke of the possibility of the Portuguese authorities providing low interest loans to Portuguese farmers operating in Mozambique (who stayed after independence), and those who would like to emigrate there.


Inflation falls further

The Management Board of the Bank of Mozambique, meeting on 16 June in the central city of Beira, announced that the targets for monetary and exchange rate policy for the first quarter of this year were, in general, met, and that inflation is continuing to fall.

Inflation in the first three months of the year stood at 6.9 per cent. But in the two succeeding months, prices fell quite sharply, so that the January to April inflation figure was 5.7 per cent, and the January to May figure just 3.9 per cent.

As for annual rates, inflation from June 1996 to May 1997 was just 6.5 per cent. This compares with a rate of 55 per cent from June 1995 to May 1996.

These inflation figures show a tendency for price rises to be concentrated in the December-February period, doubtless because of the Xmas and New Year holidays. Months in the middle of the year show falling prices, mainly because bringing in the harvest pushes food prices down.

The banks' managers put the encouraging inflation rates down to “increased confidence from economic agents, also reflected in the ever higher level of new investments, and the increase in agricultural production”.


Government reaffirms commitment to children

The Mozambican government reiterated on 15 June its commitment to improving material conditions for the country's children.

Speaking during a ceremony to celebrate African Children's Day, in Manhica district, about 80 kilometres north of Maputo, Deputy Social Welfare Minister Filipe Manjate said the government is carrying out activities to "rehabilitate and furnish schools destroyed by the war and to build new schools so that more children have access to education".

He also promised to improve health care so as to reduce the main causes of death in children, such as malaria, respiratory infections, measles and diarrhoeal diseases.

Manjate added that the government is committed to increasing food production in rural areas and towns so to reduce malnutrition. He also said that the government is committed to supporting abandoned and orphan children as well as "street children".

He urged society as a whole to "protect children against prostitution and sexual abuse", saying this should be Mozambicans' top priority.

"Domestic violence, sexual abuse of children, child prostitution and drug consumption by minors must be fought against", he said.

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has declared 16 June as African Children's Day in the memory of hundreds of children massacred in the South African township of Soweto by the then apartheid regime. The Soweto uprising began on 16 June 1976.

About 1,000 children from the southern provinces of Maputo and Gaza gathered in Manhica to celebrate the date. Children from various schools congregated in Manhica with "street children" from Maputo city, central, provincial and district government delegations, led by Manjate, and representatives of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

A message from the children of Manhica, read out by an 11 year old, urged adults to support abandoned children and fight against child abuse and child labour.

"Street children" were mobilised in Maputo city by a non-governmental organisation, called the Mozambican Association of Children's Friends (AMAC), and transported in a ministry vehicle. But after the celebrations, they were brought back to Maputo and returned to the streets.


Prison condemned as a slaugherhouse

Maputo's top security jail (known as the "B.O.", from the Portuguese initials for "Operational Brigade") "is a slaughterhouse" according to Alice Mabota, chairperson of Mozambique's Human Rights League (LDH).

Cited in the latest edition of the weekly paper "Savana", Mabota said that citizens incarcerated in this prison were still tortured, and as a result some of them died. She accused the police of continuing to carry out "arbitrary detentions".

She made these remarks at a meeting between representatives of human rights bodies, Justice Minister Jose Abudo, and officials from his ministry.

Abudo recognised that irregularities and abuses continue to take place in the country's prisons. He said that, during his own visits to prisons, he had found that the police were detaining minors and even mentally ill citizens.

"Something must be done to put an end to this situation", admitted the minister, "since we all want human rights to be respected".

Mabota, whose work brings her into daily contact with the police, said that matters had improved since the replacement of Manuel Antonio by Almerino Manhenje as Interior Minister in November, but there were still policemen who violated citizens rights, and did not obey the legal criteria for depriving citizens of their freedom.

She warned that, unless urgent measures are taken, "the police will slip back to being what they were in the past". She cited a case she knew of 14 and 15 year old boys who killed another child in a fight. These minors were locked up in the B.O., Mabota said.

Mabota said she was also aware of a case in which two people who owed personal debts had been locked in the cells of the 13th Maputo precinct. "Since when are people jailed over debts?", she asked.

Mabota praised the Justice Ministry for its attempts to protect prisoners' rights in the jails under its jurisdiction, despite the shortage of funds the Ministry faces.


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