Mozambique News Agency

No.187, 11th July 2000


Crisis in Renamo: Raul Domingos suspended

The National Council of Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, has suspended "temporarily" Raul Domingos, the man once regarded as the likely successor to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, from all his positions within the party. The decision came on 7 July at the end of a session of the National Council, and could cause serious divisions within Renamo.

Apart from Dhlakama himself, Raul Domingos is the best known figure within the party. Domingos was head of the Renamo team that negotiated the 1992 peace agreement with the government, and he continued as Renamo's chief negotiator throughout the implementation of the agreement up to the 1994 general elections.

From 1994 to 1999, Domingos was the head of the Renamo parliamentary group. His prominence in parliament led to speculation that he might mount a challenge to Dhlakama's leadership, if Renamo was ever to hold a congress.

After the December 1999 general elections, Domingos suddenly lost his post as head of the parliamentary group, to be replaced by the unknown Ossufo Quitine.

There followed, from February to May this year, a series of contacts between Domingos and Transport Minister Tomas Salomao, which Renamo presented as "negotiations" with the government over the 1999 election results.

However, when in early June, President Joaquim Chissano spoke of these talks for the first time, he denied that the government was negotiating anything. He said that Domingos had approached the government, with the complaint that he felt persecuted within Renamo, and might need government protection.

According to President Chissano, the talks between Domingos and Salomao centred on money: Domingos asked for half a million dollars to pay off a debt that a company he owned had incurred. He also wanted a million dollars a month for Renamo, and a salary of $10,000 a month for Dhlakama.

Renamo's immediate response was to accuse President Chissano of lying. Domingos flatly denied the President's version of events, and he was echoed by other Renamo leaders.

But this decision showed that most members of the Renamo National Council are more inclined to believe Chissano than Domingos. The Council has set up a Commission of Inquiry to look into what really happened during the Domingos/Salomao talks. While its report is awaited, Domingos has been suspended from the National Council, from the Renamo Political Committee, and from the Standing Commission of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic (Domingos is one of seven Renamo members appointed to the Standing Commission).

The five member commission of inquiry, headed by Raimundo Samunge, Renamo political delegate for the central region, is to report back "as soon as possible".

Domingos has admitted that there are no records of his talks with Salomao. There are no tape-recordings and no agreed minutes, and no-one else was present in the room.

The spokesman for the National Council, David Alone, played down the significance of Domingos' suspension, hoping that he would soon be able to return to his positions in Renamo and in parliament.

He claimed that President Chissano "went public to distort what was going on, and to spread disinformation among citizens about the talks between Frelimo and Renamo".

Renamo member detained for arson

Police in the district of Sanga, in Niassa province, have detained a man, believed to be a member of Renamo, who is accused of an act of arson, which destroyed or damaged several houses in the village of Nansinyenge, about 60 kilometres north of Lichinga, the provincial capital.

Sanga administrator Lizete Sende said the man is part of the Renamo-Electoral Union leadership that "goes around mobilising people in this area not to respect the democratically elected bodies and the country's laws".

Sende pointed out that it is Renamo's practice in Sanga to intimidate people in that district, and urge them to civil disobedience, "justifying this with the worn out claim that Renamo, not Frelimo, won the December general elections".

"We have serious problems here in our district", she said, accusing Hilario Waite, a Renamo parliamentary deputy, of "mobilising people not to let their children attend school, so that they will not learn from the ''communist manuals'', that he alleges are being used by ''Frelimo teachers''".

Sende also accused Waite of telling people not to pay taxes, allegedly because Frelimo did not win the elections and Renamo is preparing a government for Mozambique.

CNE to be elected with or without Renamo

The Standing Commission of the Assembly of the Republic, on 7 July decided to call an extraordinary sitting of the Assembly for 26 July, despite threats of a boycott by the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition. The only point on the agenda of the sitting is the election of a new National Elections Commission (CNE).

With every new legislature, there should be a new CNE, but, for reasons that are far from clear, the Assembly neglected to deal with the matter in its February-May sitting.

The new CNE should have been appointed within 60 days of the deputies to the new Assembly taking their seats - which was on 14 January. Thus the CNE is being formed over four months late.

Under the current electoral legislation, the CNE has 17 members, one appointed by the president, one by the government, and 15 by the Assembly, in proportion to the number of seats held by each party. This means that the ruling Frelimo Party appoints eight, and Renamo seven. However, Renamo is threatening not to fill any of its seats on the new CNE.

The spokesman for the Standing Commission, Mateus Katupha, cited in "Noticias" on 8 July, confirmed that Renamo had written to Assembly chairman Eduardo Mulembue saying it would appoint no CNE members because it does not recognise the authority either of the government, or of President Joaquim Chissano.

This is quite different from the argument presented publicly by Ossufo Quitine, head of the Renamo parliamentary group, who told reporters Renamo would boycott the new CNE because Frelimo refuses to amend the laws governing presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections at the same extraordinary sitting.

Katupha said there was no disagreement over the need to revise the electoral legislation. But Frelimo believed it was important first to fill the vacuum in the electoral bodies by appointing a new CNE. Then a parliamentary ad-hoc commission could carefully revise the electoral laws, and propose amendments to the assembly plenary.

Katupha said that initially Renamo agreed with this methodology. "This was the consensus that we obtained in the previous meeting of the Standing Commission", he stressed. "And we also agreed that this (the composition of the CNE) should be the only point on the agenda of the extraordinary sitting. But now we have been surprised by new positions of the Renamo parliamentary group, contradicting everything that was agreed at the earlier meeting".

Katupha warned that Renamo's boycott would not prevent the formation of a new CNE. With or without Renamo, the members appointed by Frelimo would take their seats and start working.

He added that the one day extraordinary sitting should also appoint the ad-hoc commission to review the electoral legislation, and fill a vacancy on the Standing Commission itself, caused by the appointment of one of its members, Luciano de Castro, to the post of Deputy Minister for Women's Affairs and Social Welfare. Under the separation of powers envisaged in the Mozambican constitution, nobody can be a member of the government and of parliament at the same time.

Meanwhile, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, has dismissed the CNE as "not a priority" for Renamo. He claimed that both the CNE and the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the civil service "take orders from Frelimo".

He told "Noticias" that Renamo did not want the government to appoint any members of the CNE: instead only the political parties should appoint members. Furthermore, decisions in the CNE should be taken, not by a simple majority, but by a two-thirds majority "in order to force the majority party to learn how to negotiate".

Dhlakama claimed that if Frelimo appointed its CNE members while Renamo was staging its boycott, that would be "illegal and unconstitutional".

Frelimo plans to re-appoint Taimo

Frelimo intends to propose a further term of office for Rev Jamisse Taimo as chairman of the country's National Elections Commission (CNE), according to "Noticias" on 6 July.

Taimo led the Commission which organised the December 1999 elections. He is a Methodist pastor, and the Vice-Chancellor of the Higher Institute of International Relations (ISRI), the university level body which trains Mozambican diplomats.

Taimo is not a member of Frelimo or of any other political party - although this did not prevent Renamo from repeatedly accusing him of pro-Frelimo bias, and even of rigging the elections in favour of Frelimo.

Frelimo has decided to renominate, in addition to Taimo, four other people who were on the 1999 CNE - Machatine Munguambe, a former dean of the law faculty of the Eduardo Mondlane University, prominent jurist Rufino Nombora (who was also on the 1994 and 1998 CNEs), Percina Sitoe, who is a department head in the Finance Ministry, and Antonio Muacorica, chairman of the board of the Mosagrius Development Corporation, under whose auspices a small number of South African farmers have settled in Niassa province.

Frelimo is also nominating former deputy justice minister Filipe Manjate, former deputy minister of agriculture and fisheries, Isidora Faztudo, and Jose Grachane, of the General Gaming Inspectorate, the Finance Ministry body that supervises casinos.

Study for petrochemical complex in Sofala

The South African oil company SASOL and the Mozambican government on 7 July in Beira signed a protocol for a pre-viability study for the construction of a petrochemical complex in Sofala province.

SASOL has rights to offshore blocs in the bay of Sofala, and prospection work that began there in June 1998 indicates the presence of enough natural gas to justify the envisaged petrochemical complex.

Further prospection will begin in September, when two wells will be drilled to determine the quantities of gas available. Equipment for this work will come from Qatar and the technical staff will be from the Philippines, Britain, the United States and Canada.

If the study shows that the undertaking will be profitable, the next step will be the building of the complex, which is expected to take three years and will employ about 6,000 workers in its construction phase, and 500 when it is operational. The workers, most of whom will be Mozambicans, will receive special training, sponsored by SASOL.

This company has invested about $70 million in Mozambique, and expects to have spent about $100 million by December, including $10 million that will be the cost of the Sofala offshore drilling.

The complex will transform natural gas into diesel, ammonia and other sub-products to be used as fertilisers. The fuel thus produced is to be sold not only inside Mozambique but also in neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia.

The investment involved in the complex would be huge: the figure of $2 billion has been mentioned.

Seed distribution to start in September

In September the Mozambican authorities will start the distribution of around 4,000 tonnes of seeds and other inputs to prepare the 2000-2001 agricultural campaign, according to the national director of agriculture, Sergio Gouveia.

Gouveia told AIM that the work to ensure the supplies of these inputs was under way, and that a meeting will be held in the western city of Tete towards the end of this month to fix the targets for the coming agricultural campaign.

The campaign is being prepared in coordination with several of Mozambique's international partners, notably the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO.

This involvement is welcomed by the government because of the coordination, regarded as exemplary, during the relief operations following the February floods in central and southern Mozambique. That coordination made possible the establishment of a data base allowing an overview of the exact number of people affected and the possibilities of each of the relief agencies to intervene in support of the needy.

In the provinces hit by the floods, about 26 per cent of the cultivated area was lost. That was 215,000 hectares, 141,000 of which was food crops. This amounted to 10 per cent of the national cultivated area. Direct losses in the agricultural area are now calculated at $66 million, and indirect losses at a further $63 million.

Gouveia said the government wants to distribute seeds for the coming campaign free of charge to peasants in the flood-affected areas. It does not believe that most peasant farmers will be able to buy seeds, nor that the second plantings, where these were feasible, will have produced enough surplus that can be used for seed. But not all Mozambique's international partners agree. Some think the seeds should be sold.

Heavy losses for CFM

The closure of the Limpopo line, linking Zimbabwe to the port of Maputo, caused by the catastrophic floods in Gaza and Maputo provinces in February, has so far cost Mozambique's publicly-owned ports and railway company, CFM, about $7.5 million.

According to CFM press officer Nelson Saute, cited in "Noticias" on 8 July, the losses are running at about $50,000 a day.

With the 534 kilometre line out of operation, any Zimbabwean exports using Maputo must reach the port via South Africa.

CFM has begun emergency rehabilitation on the worst affected stretches, and hopes that this will make the line operational again by September, at a cost of $7 million.

Major work on the line is currently under way in Chokwe district, where 14 kilometres of track were destroyed by massive flooding on the Limpopo river. The most delicate part of this operation will be to rebuild the rail bridge at Macarretane.

Some work was carried out earlier at the Maputo end of the line, making it possible as from March to resume a daily train service between Maputo and the town of Manhica, about 870 kilometres north of the capital.

Damage done between Manhica and Magude by the Incomati river was then repaired, which made it possible, as from 10 June, to run a weekly train between Maputo and Chokwe town. But the most extensive damage is on the Chokwe-Macarretane stretch.

In the emergency repairs CFM is relying on its own funds. Definitive rehabilitation will come later, and will depend on the donor funds pledged at the conference held in early May in Rome to raise money for Mozambique's post-flood reconstruction.

New Attorney-General pledges openness

Mozambique's newly appointed Attorney- General, Joaquim Madeira, has pledged that his term of office will be marked by systematic consultations with civil society, in order to "put my institution functioning at the same level as other institutions", reports "Noticias" on 6 July.

In his first interview with the media, since President Joaquim Chissano appointed him on 4 July, Madeira said that to this end he intends to appoint a team of "honest, competent and loyal" men.

He said he has already selected several assistant attorney-generals, but would not reveal their names to the press immediately.

National Human Development Report

The largest gulf in living standards in Mozambique is not between the southern provinces and the centre and north, as widely believed, but between Maputo City and the rest of the country.

This is one of the major conclusions of the second National Human Development Report on Mozambique, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and launched in Maputo on 5 July.

For the first time the report looks at human development, not simply as a national aggregate, but broken down province by province.

Over the past decade, the UNDP, in its global Human Development Reports, covering all counties for which statistics exist, has worked with the concept of a Human Development Index (HDI). This is constructed out of three variables - life expectancy at birth, access to knowledge (measured by the adult literacy rate, and enrolment in primary, secondary and high education), and per capita income.

The index is constructed on a scale from zero to one. In the latest global report, dated 2000, but using 1998 statistics, Canada proves to be the most desirable place in the world to live with an HDI of 0.935. The country at the bottom of the pile is Sierra Leone, with an HDI of 0.252.

Countries whose HDI is lower than 0.5 are said to have "low human development", those with HDIs of between 0.5 and 0.8 are in the "medium human development" range, and the 46 countries with an HDI higher than 0.8 enjoy "high human development".

Mozambique is certainly very low down the list. The researchers who drew up the National Report put Mozambique's 1998 HDI at 0.343, which would rank the country as 167th out of 174.

But when the calculations were brought down to provincial level, one glaring fact shone out. The capital, Maputo city, enjoys a level of human development that is more than twice as high as that of most other provinces.

The Maputo city HDI is 0.602. This puts the city in the medium human development range. But the other ten provinces all fall into the category of low human development. Next on the list is Maputo province with an HDI of 0.407 - about 33 per cent lower than Maputo city.

The conventional mythology is that the southern province of Gaza, home to both President Joaquim Chissano, and his predecessor Samora Machel, and the neighbouring province of Inhambane, home to Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi, are much better off than any of the central or northern provinces.

However, the report states that the province with the third highest level of human development is Manica, in the centre of the country, with an HDI of 0.337.

Inhambane comes next with an HDI of 0.304, followed immediately by another central province, Sofala (home to opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama), with an HDI of 0.302, marginally higher than that of Gaza (0.301).

The rest of the country has HDIs that fall well below 0.3. The Zambezi seems to mark a real division. Worst of all is Zambezia, followed by Nampula - their HDIs are 0.173 and 0.198 respectively. They also happen to be the two most heavily populated provinces, and between them they account for around 40 per cent of the population.

The full list, arranged geographically from south to north is as follows:

Province HDI

Maputo City 0.602
Maputo Province 0.407
Gaza 0.301
Inhambane 0.304
Sofala 0.302
Manica 0.337
Tete 0.284
Zambezia 0.173
Nampula 0.198
Cabo Delgado 0.202
Niassa 0.225

Maputo city scores better than any other province in all three variables - longevity, knowledge and per capita GDP - from which the HDI is constructed.

Life expectancy at birth in the capital is 59 years, and in Maputo province it is 52.1 years. Everywhere else, it is under 50, and in Zambezia it sinks to 37.5 years.

Adult literacy in Maputo city is a respectable 85 per cent (which is higher than several countries in the "high human development" category). In Maputo province the adult literacy rate is 65.7 per cent, and everywhere else it is under 50 per cent, falling to 25 per cent in Cabo Delgado.

The difference is even starker when it comes to real GDP per capita. In Maputo city the 1998 figure was $1,340. Next on the list is Sofala, with a per capita GDP of $306 (the revenue of the port of Beira that puts Sofala in this position). Bringing up the rear are Niassa and Zambezia with 1998 per capita GDPs of $120 and $126.

Measuring human development is not the same as measuring poverty. The UNDP has developed a separate "Human Poverty Index" (HPI), which again is a composite of three variables - survival privation (the probability of not living beyond the age of 40), knowledge privation (adult illiteracy), and privation of a decent standard of living (measured by the number of people without access to health services, proper sanitation and clean water, and the percentage of underweight children below the age of three).

The National Report alters the criteria slightly, by taking the number of people without access to piped water, rather than clean water - the two concepts are not interchangeable, and one should not condemn all rural water supplies just because they come from wells and boreholes rather than from taps.

The HPI ranges from zero to 100 per cent. With the HPI, the lower the index the less poverty there is in the country. Among developing countries the best HPI is that of Uruguay, on 3.9, and the worst is that of Niger, on 64.9 (no figure is given for Sierra Leone).

The National Report calculates Mozambique's HPI at 56.8, but with vast disparities between provinces. Maputo City has an HPI of 21.1, followed by Maputo province with 37.3. The worst poverty indices are all from north of the Zambezi - Nampula (63.6), Zambezia (65.3), and Cabo Delgado (67.8).

AIDS cuts Mozambican life expectancy

The AIDS epidemic threatens to cut life expectancy in Mozambique, and could become the main cause of death among young adults, warns the National Human Development Report, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and launched in Maputo on 5 July.

The report notes that the statistics show lover prevalence of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in Mozambique than in nearby countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe or Zambia, but adds "it is not clear whether this is because the pandemic is less serious in Mozambique, or simply because the data available are less inclusive and less up-to-date than in the other countries".

Mozambique has a very small network of "sentinel sites" gathering systematic epidemiological surveillance data on HIV. The report notes that there is just one such site in the south of the country (in Maputo), three in the centre (Beira, Chimoio and Tete) and none at all in the north.

The first Mozambican case of AIDS was notified in 1986. By 1992 there were a cumulative total of only 662 recorded cases, but by 1998 the official diagnosed number had reached 10,863. However, those officially diagnosed with full-blown AIDS are a tiny proportion of the real number of infections and deaths.

The report notes that by 1998 the National AIDS Control Programme was estimating, on the basis of HIV-prevalence among pregnant women under observation, that by then there were 140,000 people either living with AIDS, or who had already died of the disease.

By the end of 1998, the estimates showed that 1.14 million people in Mozambique were HIV-positive, and that the HIV prevalence among the adult population was 14.5 per cent.

Unless measures are taken to halt the spread of infection, the national HIV prevalence among adults will rise to 20 per cent by 2010 (with considerably higher rates along the main transport corridors in central Mozambique).

The number of AIDS-related deaths among adults is expected to rise to 400,000 by 2002, while the infant deaths will reach 170,000. AIDS is already believed to be the main cause of children becoming orphans, and the number of AIDS orphans is forecast to reach 400,000 in 2002.

These figures are merely indicative, the report admits, "and as coverage becomes more systematic and inclusive, the numbers will certainly undergo changes. But the most important thing about these statistics is that they already contain sufficient information for us to understand that silently a new disaster has been taking hold of the Mozambican population".

The report warns of factors that could worsen the Mozambican AIDS epidemic, including the disruption of family and community life caused by migrant labour, and by the war of destabilisation and the population displacements it provoked.

Furthermore, many sexually active adults are not protecting themselves. A 1997 survey found that only 7 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men who were sexually active and unmarried had ever used a condom.

High rates of female illiteracy, plus the low status of women in many traditional, male-dominated communities, makes it difficult for women to protect themselves from HIV infection.

As the epidemic unfolds, it is likely to have profound economic effects, since the disease will cut a swathe through the labour force, and place huge pressure on the social services, particularly the health service.

Companies, in the private and public sectors alike, will face increased absenteeism as their workers fall sick, or care for other family members, or attend funerals. Skilled workers will die, and may prove difficult to replace. Recruitment and training costs will rise, and morale among the workforce is likely to fall.

AIDS could put the brake on the rapid economic growth that Mozambique experienced in the late 1990s. Projections from other African countries indicate that the epidemic reduces GDP growth rates by an average of one per cent per annum.

Population growth will be seriously affected. The 1997 census showed a population of 16.1 million that year, and a population growth rate of 2.3 per cent. Life expectancy at birth was 42.3 years.

Without the epidemic, the Mozambican population was set to reach 22.3 million in 2010, and attain an average life expectancy at birth of 50.3 years.

But with AIDS, population growth slows dramatically: the forecast is that it will only reach 19.3 million by 2010. And life expectancy falls to 35.4 years, which is lower than the figure for 1980 (38.7 years).

Minimum price for raw cotton raised

The Mozambican government has decreed an 8.7 per cent rise in the minimum price of raw cotton. According to Erasmo Muhate, director of the Mozambique Cotton Institute (IAM), the minimum price for first grade cotton has risen from 2,300 to 2,500 meticais per kilo (at current exchange rates there are 15,305 meticais to the US dollar). The minimum price for second grade cotton is now 2,100 rather than 1,950 meticais a kilo.

Muhate told AIM that this increase merely reflected the devaluation of the metical in recent months, and did not show any improvement in the world market price of cotton, which remains low. On the international market, the price of cotton is at much the same level as last year.

It is hoped that the slight increase in the producer price will keep raw cotton production at around 100,000 tonnes a year.

Libombos conservation area established

Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland signed a protocol on 22 June to establish a crossborder conservation area, to share eco-systems, wildlife, and forests. Zimbabwe is expected to add its signature soon.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Helder Muteia explained that this agreement will bring not only economic, but also ecological and social benefits, and will create more ecotourism opportunities.

He said that game will be free to wonder from one country to another, and the same will apply for tourists, who will be exempted from border procedures.

He noted, however, that, for the implementation of this project, Mozambique will have to train and equip its tourist operators very quickly.

Development plans for Matutuine resisted

An ambitious $520 million plan to build a deep-water port in the district of Matutuine, in Maputo province, has met with stiff resistance from environmentalists.

The plans include the proposed building of a passenger terminal in Techobanine, about 26 kilometres south of Ponta Dobela and 20 kilometres north of the tourist resort of Ponta do Ouro, an inland industrial free-trade zone opposite Techobanine, an inland commercial zone south of Lake Piti, an eco-tourism project adjacent to the Maputo Elephant Reserve, and transport linkages between the development site to the capital.

The whole planned development encompasses an area of 22,000 hectares, and the new port at Ponta Dobela is expected to harbour vessels with a cargo handling capacity of up to 300,000 tonnes.

The developers, the publicly-owned Mozambique Ports and Railways company (CFM) and the British-based company Porto Dobela Developments (PDD), claimed that the port will turn over $344 million per annum. The project would employ as many as 10,000 people and would directly benefit at least 70,000 family members.

However, when on 28 June the developers officially introduced an Environmental Screening Study and Overview, environmentalists and civil society members at the public meeting were sceptical. They thought the project was suspect since they were expected to believe it had benefits and no disadvantages.

"We must look at this study with mistrust since they tell us it only brings benefits, and no risks", said Luis Sarmento, an environmentalist. He also saw no reason why another port should be built in Maputo province when the existing one handles very little cargo.

"This is a turtle nesting zone, and the project clearly conflicts with the National Tourism Plan as well as the Libombo Spatial Development Initiative", said environmentalist Antonio Reina.

The World Bank representative, James Coates, thought that the Mozambican government should compare the proposal with other alternative uses. "We could finance a study", Coates told AIM, adding that Matutuine was an ecological area.

Although the government has already signed a heads of agreement with the developers, it cannot approve of the project without knowing the environmental consequences that will be caused by it.

The nearness of the project to the Maputo Reserve was another issue debated: Felismina Langa of the Forestry and Wildlife National Directorate said that although the project site has been shifted southward from the initial proposal, it will still impact on the Maputo Reserve and some of its components fall within the reserve.

The implementation of the project is dependent on the results of the eventual Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which will be carried out by the Mozambican environmental firm "Impacto", and the South African firm, Manyaka Greyling Meiring.

MOZAL casts first aluminium ingot

The MOZAL aluminium smelter at Beluluane, on the outskirts of Maputo, took another step towards full production on 18 June, when it cast its first aluminium ingot. It was produced 25 months after work on the smelter began, and six months ahead of schedule.

MOZAL has started commission its 288 reduction cells - the furnaces in which aluminium is produced from alumina through electrolysis. Production will be raised gradually until it reaches 250,000 tonnes per year in 2001.

Finance ministers concerned over disbursement delay

Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) finance and investment ministers have called on the international community to disburse speedily the funds pledged at the Rome donor conference in May for post-flood reconstruction in central and southern Mozambique.

At the conference the donor community pledged $452.9 million, but the Mozambican authorities have pointed out that the funds are only entering the country at a trickle.

The appeal was made on 5 July in Maputo at the one-day SADC meeting of finance ministers aimed at discussing the process of regional economic integration, the constraints the flooding has imposed on the country's development, and its experience in relation to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative.

Mozambique target Kenyan maize market

Mozambique is hoping to export large quantities of maize to Kenya, following a decision by that country's government to lift, at least temporarily, the protective tariffs on imported maize.

The Kenyan decision to suspend tariffs on maize is believed to be motivated by a serious grain shortage, caused by years of drought, in parts of the country. The suspension is only temporary.

National maize production in Kenya is protected by adding a specific, variable tariff, to the normal 25 per cent import duties. Only the variable tariff has been suspended, while the normal duties remain in place.

Those involved in marketing Mozambican maize welcome the Kenyan measure as a good opportunity to sell the surplus grain produced in the northern provinces, which is not absorbed by the local market.

Nampula province alone may have a surplus of 160,000 tonnes of grain this year, which risks rotting in the barns of the producers, if a market is not found.

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