Mozambique News Agency

No.174, 13th January 2000


Dhlakama refuses to attend investiture

Renamo's leader, Afonso Dhlakama, is refusing to attend the investiture of his rival, incumbent President Joaquim Chissano, who is to be sworn into office for a further five year term at a public ceremony on 15 January.

Dhlakama has also made it known that he will not be attending the inaugural session of the newly-elected parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, scheduled for Friday, at which the 250 deputies (133 from the ruling Frelimo Party and 117 from Renamo and its allies in the "Electoral Union" coalition) should take their oaths of office.

On 12 January the Renamo general secretary, Joao Alexandre, confirmed to AIM that Dhlakama will not be present at either ceremony. Alexandre declared that the Renamo leader's refusal to attend was "legitimate", because neither Chissano nor the new parliament "have any legitimacy".

He added that, although the Renamo deputies will take up their seats on 14 January, they will all boycott President Chissano's investiture the following day "as a matter of consistency".

"The fact the our deputies will take their seats does not necessarily mean that Renamo recognises the legitimacy of the Assembly and the President that have emerged from the December elections", said Alexandre. "We are only taking up our seats so that, from the Assembly, we can demand that the votes be recounted".

Renamo continues to claim that Dhlakama was the real winner of the election, and that there should be a Renamo, not a Frelimo, majority in the Assembly.

Renamo appealed against the election results to the Supreme Court, and asked it to order a recount. On 4 January, the Court gave its ruling, finding against Renamo.

The Court then validated the results, saying that the elections had been free and fair. There is no appeal against a Supreme Court ruling.

No power sharing

Frelimo Party has insisted that there can be no question of sharing power in any form of coalition government with Renamo.

Interviewed in the Portuguese paper Jornal de Noticias Frelimo general secretary Manuel Tome pointed out that, since Renamo is the largest opposition party, if it were to enter a Frelimo-led government, "either it ceases to be an opposition force, or it would be there to destabilise the government". Putting Renamo into the government alongside Frelimo would be "to defraud the electorate", added Tome.

"I don't think the president is going to form his list of government members with people who are not in agreement with Frelimo's programme", he said.

Call for depoliticisation of election bodies

The general director of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), Antonio Carrasco, has called for a depoliticisation of electoral bodies.

In response to demands by the main opposition force, Renamo, the majority of members of the National Elections Commission (CNE) - the body in overall charge of elections - were appointed by the political parties represented in parliament.

As for STAE, which operates as the CNE's executive arm, it contains hundreds of staff who were appointed by Renamo and by the ruling Frelimo Party, for political rather than technical reasons.

Carrasco, in a lengthy interview in Noticias on 10 January, said that he did not regard appointing political cadres to STAE as "the best solution for the system".

"I think the Mozambican state has to start functioning normally", he said. "We cannot go on doubting people. We cannot go on saying ''if he's not from party X, he must be from party Y''. It's not true. Not everybody is a member of a political party, and even if they are members, people have their integrity, they know they are doing a particular job and have to do it with professionalism".

The way the 1999 elections were organised, Carrasco said, meant that "the political parties moved from their headquarters into the electoral bodies. This is bad".

He argued that STAE in particular should be "a body that is not influenced by political parties, a non-party body which inspires confidence among the political forces and in society".

Some of the political party appointees, he said, "instead of coming to STAE to undertake technical tasks, came to do political work, came to defend their party. That's not how it should be. They should have come here to work normally, and perhaps to inspect STAE's work, to calm the fears of their parties".

He exempted from his criticisms the two deputy national directors of STAE, one appointed by Frelimo and one by Renamo, who behaved "above all, as professionals. They were more than simple representatives of political parties".

But they contrasted sharply with technical staff appointed by the political parties at other levels "who frankly left a great deal to be desired. These people didn't know what their jobs were. They didn't know what they had come here to do. This happened at all levels. It was a real headache, and was an experience that should not be repeated".

Fraud and errors

Asked about the problem polling station notices (editais), which could not be processed, because they contained serious errors or irregularities, Carrasco said these could not have altered the election results.

According to STAE's figures, 550 presidential editais, and 727 parliamentary ones contained problems so severe that the data could not be recovered. These editais covered 6.61 per cent of the presidential polling stations, and 8.74 per cent of the parliamentary ones.

Carrasco explained that some of the editais "showed signs that they had been falsified, adulterated". Others presented numbers that were, in principle, impossible: the register used at each polling station should contain the names of a maximum of 1,000 voters - yet some of these problem editais were giving figures of 1,200 or even 1,400 voters per polling station.

There were also those that had been so badly filled in that the electoral bodies "had difficulties in attributing the votes. That being the case, it is impossible to process this data".

Carrasco stated that tiredness of polling station staff and counting votes by candlelight, might account for some mistakes. He thought that the polling station staff had been properly trained, and that such a large number of problem editais could only be the result of "an outside hand which tried to disturb the process. These editais show signs that something happened outside the polling stations, with data introduced in bad faith to adulterate the results".

As for attempts to introduce fraudulent data into the STAE computer systems, Carrasco confirmed that this had been detected in three cases - in Nampula and Niassa provinces, in the north of the country, and in Sofala, in the centre.

There was firm proof of this, the technical staff involved in the attempted fraud had been identified, and the cases had been handed to the police. Carrasco declined to name which political parties were involved in this, but it is known that the attempted fraud in Nampula was the work of staff appointed by Renamo.

Carrasco stressed that the computer programme keeps a detailed log of whoever is using it and whatever they are doing. This, he said, had set the minds of the Supreme Court judges at ease, when they came to STAE investigating the complaints against the results made by Renamo.

"When the Supreme Court investigated the data presented by Renamo, they came to work here, they processed the editais, in an operation that was accompanied by the political parties and STAE management present, and they verified that the work done was of quality. The numbers that emerged from this recount checked with those that STAE had presented", Carrasco said.

Electoral law criticised

Carrasco also criticised the electoral law that governed the 1999 polls, and which had been negotiated between Frelimo and Renamo in parliament. He said that, before passing the law, no attempt had been made to consult the people who actually work on election procedures.

He described the law as "an aberration", particularly its requirement that all votes declared invalid at the polling stations should be checked in Maputo by the CNE. Since there were hundreds of thousands of invalid votes, a massive amount of paper was flown down to Maputo, instead of being checked at district or provincial level.

This delayed the announcement of the final results by several days. Carrasco thought that only the polling station notices and minutes should be sent to Maputo, plus anything on which no consensus could be reached at provincial level.

Privatisation of road maintenance companies

The Mozambican authorities are transforming the state-owned provincial road construction and maintenance companies (ECMEPs) into limited companies, in an attempt to make them more efficient and competitive, according to a source in the National Road Administration (ANE).

The ECMEPs were set up shortly after independence in 1975, and there is one in each province.

The ANE source said the change in the legal status of these companies should be concluded shortly. "The perspective is to privatise the ECMEPs, so that they can compete on a footing of equality with other companies in tenders for the construction and/or maintenance of roads", he added.

With this change, the ANE, which was only set up six months ago, will cease to be in overall charge of the ECMEPs.

Throughout the country the work of the ECMEPs has been regarded as below expectation, and as contributing to the current state of degradation of much of the Mozambican road network.

The ECMEP staff are poorly trained, and the management of some of these provincial companies has been accused of corruption, notably through using ECMEP machinery and other assets for purposes that have nothing to do with the company.

ANE excuses the poor record of the ECMEPs, on the grounds that these companies have always been underfunded. "Without money, you can't do anything", the ANE source said.

Transport operators demand fare hike

Many owners of the minibus-taxis that provide much of Maputo's passenger transport have taken their vehicles off the roads, in an attempt to force the city authorities to accept 50 per cent rise in the fare, reports "Metical" on 11 January.

The flat rate fare has been 2,000 meticais (about 15 US cents) since 1997, and the transport operators claim that this is now a completely unrealistic tariff, given the cost of tyres, spare parts, and the excess wear and tear on the vehicles because of the poor state of the roads.

Although the final figures for 1999 inflation are not yet available, it seems certain that inflation for the entire 1997-99 period will not exceed 10 per cent.

"Metical" questioned 30 owners or drivers of the minibus- taxis (popularly known as "chapas") over the weekend, and all said they had taken their vehicles off the roads.

The owners stated that this was a tactic to force the city government to approve the 50 per cent fare hike. They claimed that it had already been approved by official bodies, but they had decided not to introduce the new fares during the election campaign or during the festive season.

The result of this undeclared strike is an increase in the queues of people waiting for those chapas that are still circulating.

One chapa driver, named only as Joane, declared to the paper "I agree with those who are parking their vehicles. If there was an understanding between us all, then in just one day the city government would increase the tariff. It's just a case of every chapa driver not taking his vehicle onto the roads. With the shortage of chapas, the government would be under pressure". Another driver declared "My employer has already parked three vehicles, and only after the fares rise will he put them back on the roads".

Leonel Bila, the owner of six chapas, declared "If the government does not decide to increase the fares over the next few days, there will be a crisis in the transport sector. Most of us will park our vehicles, in order to put pressure on the government to raise the fares".

A spokesman for the transport operators' association, AMOTRAP, told "Metical" that this strike had nothing to do with the association, which had not urged anyone to take their vehicles off the road.

"It's not by punishing the people that we shall persuade the government to accept our proposal", he said.

Cities hit by pylon theft

The cities of Beira and Dondo, in Sofala province, have been experiencing frequent power cuts because of the theft of metallic plates that form part of the pylons that carry the 200 kilometre long Mavuzi-Beira electricity transmission line.

According to a report in the Beira daily "Diario de Mocambique", although the thefts are common in the neighbouring province of Manica, the negative effects are particularly felt in the two Sofala cities because they have no alternative line.

Agostinho Mugoda of the publicly-owned electricity company, EDM said that the transmission line "is currently defective due to the systematic theft of pylon parts". Removing the plates weakens the pylons. Mugoda said that the weakened pylons tend to move about in the wind much more, which places a great deal of stress on the isolators. This leads to breakdowns along the line.

Teams that should maintain the transmission lines are now doing virtually no routine maintenance work, he said, since they are spending most of their time dealing with the thefts.

"Last year we didn't do any maintenance work on the transmission line. We're acting like firemen, just dashing about in response to the theft of the pylon parts", he lamented.

He said that the thefts are getting worse. "We've informed all the authorities, but so far we haven't had any positive reaction", he said, adding that the power cuts are causing major financial losses for EDM.

River levels falling

The level of the main rivers in southern Mozambique has fallen, according to a statement on 11 January from the southern regional water board (ARA- Sul), and the threat of major flooding has receded.

At Ressano Garcia, on the border with South Africa, the level of the river continued to drop on 10 January. Information received from South Africa, said ARA-Sul, was that the discharges from the Driekopies dam were cut on 10 January from 432 to 300 cubic metres a second.

The Corumana dam on the main Incomati tributary, the Sabie, has been holding back water. ARA-Sul says that it is currently only discharging 22 cubic metres a second for 12 hours a day.

As a result, the dam reservoir has been filling quite rapidly. It was 71 per cent full on 7 January, and by 11 January was 81 per cent full.

ARA-Sul warns that in the coming days, the Corumana dam will have to increase its discharges.

There seems little danger of serious flooding on the Limpopo at the moment. The river is likely to rise in the Chokwe area, home of the largest irrigation scheme in the country, but only "slightly".

Preventive measures, however, are still needed in the Umbeluzi basin, in Maputo province, ARA-Sul warns. A surge of water down the major tributary of the Umbeluzi, the Movene, submerged the access road to the Umbeluzi treatment station, the source of Maputo's drinking water, on 9 January.

The level of the Movene did fall from 3.26 metres to 2.97 metres, but ARA-Sul warns that more water must be released soon from the Pequenos Libombos dam on the Umbeluzi, which was 95 per cent full.

Swiss donation to demining institute

The Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC) is to donate $165,000 to the recently-established National Demining Institute (IND).

The SDC donation aims at boosting mine clearance operations and building up the IND's institutional capacity, said the Institute's director, Artur Verissimo.

"This small scale support that IND will receive from the Swiss government is for institutional capacity building, for opening a delegation in Nampula province, and if possible another in Manica province", said Verissimo.

The agreement also envisages the training of IND personnel, acquisition of equipment and strengthening of the Institute's human resources through the recruitment of local specialists.

Severe storm hits Sofala

High winds and torrential rains hit the central province of Sofala for about two hours on 8 January, leaving behind a trail of destruction, reports "Noticias" on 10 January. A considerable number of flimsy dwellings were destroyed, trees were uprooted, and electric cables torn down.

The capitals of Nhamatanda, Buzi and Dondo districts were engulfed in darkness - so strong were the winds that pylons carrying power to these towns from the Revue dam, in Manica province, were knocked down.

Traffic has been interrupted on some roads in Dondo following the knocking-down of cashew nut and eucalyptus trees.

Gimo Mateus of the National Institute of Meteorology (INAME) said that they had registered 9.9 millimetres of rainfall in Beira on 8 January.

Police Academy opens

Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje on 10 January said that the training of the police is a guarantee for the socio-economic development of the country.

Speaking at the official launching of ACIPOL (the Mozambican Police Science Academy) in Michafutene, about 15 kilometres north of Maputo, Manhenje said that the development of Mozambican society must involve a guarantee of public order and tranquility.

"Without this guarantee it isn't possible to take forward the demands of an economy in growth", he stressed.

The minister said this meant there was an imperative need to raise the technical and professional capacities of the police. The establishment of ACIPOL will allow the ranks of a professional police force to be filled by capable personnel, claimed Manhenje.

He added that the academy will solve various problems caused by the lack of qualified human resources at a technical and scientific level, with the mission of guaranteeing the social well-being of the population.

A source at the academy lamented the fact that the new institution is being launched amid a variety of problems. He said that "we lack pedagogic, organisational, administrative and financial experience", but this would not be allowed to dampen spirits.

There are currently 16 lecturers at ACIPOL for the 130 cadets selected from the various provinces of Mozambique. Some of the cadets already hold a degree in arts or sciences.

Earthquake in Milange

The geophysics department of the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy has confirmed that an earthquake hit the town of Milange on 4 January.

The department head, Francisco Sumbana, said that the tremor lasted for about 45 seconds, and measured 4.3 degrees on the Richter scale.

The tremor was also felt in the neighbouring district of Ile. There are no reports of loss of life, or of significant damage because of this relatively minor earthquake.

Radio Mozambique reported the earthquake on the same day, but the Ministry was unable to confirm it immediately, because most of its seismic monitoring equipment is not operational. The authorities confirmed the tremor through monitoring stations in South Africa.

The tremor caused panic in Milange, since local residents still remembered the mudslides of two years ago on the nearby Mount Tumbine, possibly caused by another earthquake, which claimed over 100 lives.

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