Mozambique News Agency

Number 116, 8th August 1997


Population census begins

President Joaquim Chissano on 31 July called for active participation by the entire population in the country's second national population census, scheduled to run from 1 to 15 August.

The President urged all Mozambicans to cooperate with the census brigades. Admitting the logistical problems facing the census, Chissano appealed to all those who could provide the brigades with transport to do so. "This is in everyone's interest - the state, civil society, businesses, investors, and individual households", he stressed.

Chissano said that in future the census should be updated every five years. "After this census we will make an effort to ensure a more normal rhythm with more regular censuses", he said.

The last census was held 17 years ago, in August 1980, and counted 12.1 million people. A second census was scheduled for 1990, but the war of destabilisation made it impossible to carry out. Instead, there was a "National Demographic Inquiry" in 1991, based on what the National Statistics Board hoped was a representative sample of the population.

To prepare for the national count, the government organised a pilot census in August 1996 in five widely differing localities (three rural and two urban) with a total population of around 600,000.

The census brigades' first task will be to count people living in institutions - military barracks, hospitals, prisons, hotels and the like. They will also attempt to count the homeless - street children, beggars and others who sleep rough in the capital and other cities.

The aim of the census is to take a snapshot of Mozambique on 1 August 1997: the brigades aim to count everyone living in the country on that date, including foreign residents, tourists, and even passengers in transit in airports.

The main difficulty facing the census is undoubtedly transport. The Central Census Office has distributed 125 vehicles, 128 motorbikes and 1,000 bicycles throughout the country.

There may well be political difficulties in some areas. Mauricio Vieira, first secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party in the southern province of Inhambane, has already accused Renamo of attempting to sabotage the census.

But most of Inhambane is a Frelimo stronghold. More worrying is whether Renamo will allow the census brigades access to sensitive areas in the central province of Sofala that are still under its control.

President first to be counted

President Joaquim Chissano, his wife Marcelina and three of their children, were among the first residents of Maputo to be counted on 1 August.

The chairman of the central census office, Environment Minister Bernardo Ferraz, and its director-general, Joao Loureiro, went personally to the presidential palace to ask the Chissano family the 68 questions on the census form.

The President stressed that the census is not a disguised way of raising taxes, thus responding to a rumour that all citizens will have to pay 2,000 meticais (about 17 US cents) for the privilege of being counted. He said that the census was entirely free of charge, and that if anyone did ask for money, they could not be genuine members of a census brigade.

Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, was counted at his Maputo residence shortly after midday. He told Radio Mozambique that Renamo fully supported the census, denying reports that Renamo intended to hinder the work of the brigades in various parts of the country.

"This is to find out how many people there are in the country. It's not a party political matter", he said. "Everyone should be counted regardless of what party they support".

In the outlying suburb of Magoanine, the mayor of Maputo, Joao Baptista Cosme, registered the first house in the area (the census is counting houses as well as people), thus formally launching the census in the capital.

The census brigades throughout the country include 82,000 people, many of them teachers and students. The total cost of the operation is estimated at $14.9 million US dollars.

Transport links central to Maputo Corridor

The Mozambican and South African governments on 1 August praised the private sector of the two countries for the "support and enthusiasm" businesses have given to the Maputo Corridor, the ambitious project to upgrade the transport links between Maputo port and the South African industrial heartland.

The transport ministers of the two countries, Paulo Muxanga for Mozambique and Mac Maharaj for South Africa, were speaking in Maputo at the opening of the 11th annual conference of the French stockbroking concern Societe Generale Frankel Pollak, a subsidiary of the largest French bank, Societe Generale, which has extensive interests in South Africa. This is the first time the conference has been held in Mozambique.

Muxanga told the business sector "it was the enthusiasm of your response and your support in making the commitment to invest that has assisted us in overcoming the many difficulties associated with such a huge international capital project".

Transport links to be upgraded

He said that, following the signing of a contract with the French-led consortium TRAC in May, it is expected that work on building a toll road between Maputo and the South African town of Witbank will begin in early 1998.

He noted that this was the first privately financed BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) contract in southern Africa, "and one of the few examples of cross-border toll roads in the world".

Muxanga added that "the project incorporates high levels of capital expenditure throughout the life of the concession (30 years), in line with expected traffic growth". The two governments will be paid a highway usage fee in return for handing over the road to the concessionaire.

As for Maputo port itself, plans for upgrading are well advanced. The tender had gone out in June, and Muxanga expected a preferred bidder to be announced in December, followed by the signing of the contract in February 1998.

The port rehabilitation project would be structured as a joint venture concession with 51 per cent of the equity held by the private sector, 33 per cent by Mozambique's publicly owned port and railway company, CFM, and 16 per cent by what Muxanga described as "regional investors".

After rehabilitation, "a joint venture private port management concessionaire will maintain and operate the assets of the port, including the improvement of port access channels at an initial depth of 9.4 metres". The total cost of the rehabilitation was estimated at $85 million.

At the same time upgrading and managing the southern Mozambican rail network will be farmed out to the private sector. Muxanga reckoned that the cost of capital works on the railways would be $67.3 million.

He stressed that "one of the most innovative features of the Maputo Corridor is a single, shared border post between our two countries. We are introducing a one-stop facility with the necessary procedural mechanism to handle both road and rail traffic efficiently and effectively".

Huge industrial projects planned

Maharaj sketched out some of the major industrial projects planned within the corridor area. The largest is the MOZAL aluminium shelter, which will be built about 30 kilometres outside Maputo.

The smelter, he explained, is a two phase project. Capital expenditure on the first phase is estimated at $1.3 billion for an output of 245,000 tonnes of aluminium per year. Phase two involves further investment of $2.4 billion, pushing yearly output up to 490,000 tonnes.

Construction of the first phase should be complete in the year 2000, with full production six months later.

A second major factory for Maputo is an iron ore reduction plant, which should produce four million tonnes of metallic iron per year, mostly for export through Maputo port. Construction of the plant is budgeted at $1.1 billion.

The raw material will be granular magnetite transported from Phalaborwa in South Africa by a 300 kilometre long pipeline. The energy for the plant will come from the natural gas of Pande in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane. This will require a 600 kilometre long gas pipeline.

Premier ecotourist attraction

Maharaj also mentioned a visionary scheme for a cross-border game reserve, involving not only South Africa and Mozambique but also Zimbabwe. This is entitled the "Kruger/Banhine-Zinhave/Gonarezhou Peace Park", and will add 95,000 square kilometres to existing nature reserves. (The Kruger Park is in South Africa, Banhine and Zinhave are southern Mozambican reserves, while Gonarezhou is in Zimbabwe.)

The cross-border park "has the potential to become the premier ecotourism destination in Africa", declared Maharaj.

The South African minister also mentioned plans to set up a Maputo Corridor Company, as a joint venture between the two governments aimed at "promoting investment opportunities in the corridor and ensuring optimal working relationships between the private and public sectors".

News Round-up

Military radios seized

The Mozambican police have recently seized military radio equipment in the administrative post of Zitundo.

Maputo provincial police spokesman, Joao Machava, says that the radio equipment was being operated from a private residence, and had a range that could cover the entire country.

The police also found in the house a computer used for military purposes, in good working condition.

There is little doubt that this is equipment used by the former rebel movement Renamo: there was no secret about its existence, and AIM, with the full knowledge and consent of local Renamo officials, visited the building with the radios in late 1994.

Machava said that Matutuine, specifically the area of Zitundo, is an area of proliferation of military equipment and the Mozambican police have been working to deactivate it.

Zitundo was the only part of Maputo province controlled by Renamo at the end of the war of destabilisation in 1992.

In May the police seized Renamo military radios in the northern city of Nampula, leading to loud protests from the Renamo leadership.

Customs staff selected

The selection of new staff for the Mozambican customs service, now run by the British firm, the Crown Agents, is entering its final stage.

The National Customs Board announced on 30 July that 357 candidates have been selected out of the 915 who took an examination set in June by Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University "in line with the most rigorous standards".

The candidates must now attend personal interviews by panels consisting of Mozambican and British customs specialists. 291 will be interviewed in Maputo, 46 in the central city of Beira, and 20 in Nampula, in the north.

The customs service expects to select around 240 of the candidates. This large scale recruitment is part of the drive to overhaul thoroughly the customs service, and modernise all its procedures.

The new management of customs has the task of boosting customs revenue by about 40 per cent, so that this year it will reach $125 million.

Electricity company threaten cut-offs

In the northern city of Nampula, the local branch of the publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, has threatened to disconnect state institutions that have not paid their electricity bills.

Many state bodies are months behind in paying for their electricity. EDM is not demanding that they settle the debts immediately - merely that, by the end of September, they should reach written agreements with EDM on paying off what is owing in instalments. Those institutions that fail to sign such agreements will be switched off.

Some of the institutions concerned owe EDM more than 50 million meticais (about $4,300). Among them are the Provincial Directorate of Industry, Trade and Tourism, and the Nampula Provincial Court. The latter has already been disconnected.

"If we manage to recover at least half of what both state and private consumers owe us, then we would be able to improve the electricity distribution network, not only in Nampula city, but also in other parts of the province", said Sousa.

EDM has about 15,000 customers in Nampula and its suburbs - including individual households, companies and public services. However only ten per cent of them pay their bills regularly.

Three percent increase in exports

In the first six months of this year Mozambique exported goods valued at $100.8 million, according to Nicolau Sululu, National Director of Foreign Trade. This represents an increase of 3.1 per cent on exports in the same period of 1996.

The most important commodity export was prawns, which brought in $41.5 million. Half of this was accounted for by just two companies, the Mozambican-Spanish joint venture "Pescamar" ($10.5 million), and the Mozambican-Japanese venture "Efripel" ($9.9 million).

Cashew nuts were the second most important export, and earned $18.5 million. But exports of raw nuts have overtaken processed cashews in financial importance. Raw nuts, exported unprocessed to India, earned $10.8 million, whereas exports of processed kernels only brought in $7.7 million.

Policemen expelled

The Mozambican police force has expelled 46 policemen from its ranks in Maputo alone over the past two months, according to Jacinto Cuna, of the Maputo City Police Command.

Forty of these policemen were sacked for serious breaches of the police disciplinary code, including systematic abandonment of their posts, drunkenness while on duty, and prolonged absences without due authorisation. In the other six cases policemen have been accused of committing crimes including extortion and bribe-taking.

Shell to return to Mozambique

The multinational oil company Shell has announced the resumption of its activities in Mozambique.

A subsidiary, Shell Mocambique Lda, has been registered and the government has approved its foreign investment project.

What Shell describes as its re-entry project has as its first aim "to establish a small network of retail and wholesale fuel and lubricant facilities and to be involved in the marketing of various other petroleum products".

According to John Drake, the chairman of Shell South Africa, over the longer term Shell may build a refinery in Maputo. The existing refinery, owned by the state oil company Petromoc, is obsolete.

Shell was involved in prospecting for oil in Mozambique in the 1970s, but withdrew after failing to find any. There is now renewed interest in searching for oil, both on and off-shore, and Drake said that Shell may resume this activity.

Dhlakama's bodyguards create disorder

A group of uniformed and armed men, who are part of the "presidential guard" of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, is creating instability in Inhaminga, capital of Cheringoma district, in the central province of Sofala, accuses the district administrator, Chazuco Jojo.

Jojo, who was nominated for the post of administrator by Renamo, on 31 July accused the armed men of preventing freedom of movement and of beating up some of the residents, allegedly because of their links with members of the ruling Frelimo party.

Jojo confirmed that there are armed and uniformed men, moving around Inhaminga, despite the fact that the local government has warned them of the consequences of their behaviour.

According to Jojo, the situation is now deteriorating, and the district government has been meeting every two weeks with representatives of all political parties represented in Cheringoma to try and bring political differences under control.

Repatriations stresses Moamba

The local authorities in the southern district of Moamba say they are worried at the massive numbers of Mozambicans who are constantly being repatriated from South Africa.

These "illegal immigrants" are dumped in Moamba district and have no means to travel further, to their places of origin. Most of those repatriated are not from Moamba, but from other districts in Maputo province, or from the other two southern provinces of Gaza and Inhambane. Some come from even further away, from Manica and Sofala provinces in the centre of the country.

Moamba administrator Romao Muthisse told AIM that "these illegal immigrants that the South African government repatriates and leaves in Ressano Garcia, worsen the problems that affect the district", such as unemployment and prostitution, delinquency and robberies.

It is estimated that about 4,000 Mozambicans are repatriated every month from South Africa. Of these, Muthisse believes that over 2,000 are youngsters who, being unable to study or work, decide to cross illegally into South Africa.

AIM learnt in Moamba that some of the illegals, when they reach South Africa, are given jobs on farms, with the promise of good wages, but after working for a period, instead of paying them, the employers call the police and denounce them as illegal, so that they are arrested and deported without payment.

In the first half of 1997, South Africa repatriated 82,000 illegal immigrants, 85.5 per cent of whom were Mozambicans.

Televisa takes over phone installation

Televisa, a company owned 50 per cent by the Portuguese group Visameira and 50 per cent by the publicly owned Mozambican telecommunications company, TDM, is to take over installing telephones for new subscribers. Televisa will also take on telephone repairs from TDM.

TDM plan to concentrate its activities on telecommunications traffic, farming out complementary services to other companies.

This expansion will also benefit the other three companies jointly owned by Visabeira and TDM - Servisa (which repairs the vehicles of the Luso-Mozambican group), the building firm Sogitel, and the cable television company, Telecabo.

Telecabo will start selling cable TV in September, and the target area is the Maputo suburb of Sommerschield, where much of the country's political and economic elite, and most of the diplomatic corps, live.

Later the cable TV network will extend to other parts of Maputo, using a fibre-optic network already installed by TDM, and which can accommodate 25,000 clients. As from the year 2000, cable TV will also be installed in the central city of Beira, and in Nampula, in the north.

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