Mozambique News Agency

No.188, 28th July 2000


President reacts to Renamo threats

President Joaquim Chissano on 18 July reiterated that, as head of state, he will continue to encourage dialogue with all of the country's political forces, including Renamo. President Chissano was reacting to statements made on 17 July by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who said that all doors for dialogue between Renamo and Frelimo were henceforth shut and that he would not try to calm down "people who wish to demonstrate" violently against the country's institutions.

Dhlakama's veiled threats came after President Chissano had rejected pressure to appoint governors from Renamo in the six provinces where Renamo won a majority of votes in last December's general elections.

"It's possible that he (Dhlakama) has severed relations with Frelimo", said President Chissano. He added "but as head of state I will take a position that promotes dialogue. As the leader of a political party, Dhlakama is free to take whatever position he likes".

Afonso Dhlakama, declared on 17 July that "I'm tired of helping Frelimo and I regret having kept the population calm". "I'll not try to placate the population and the consequences will not be borne by me", said Dhlakama.

His next step would be to send messengers to the provinces to announce that there are no discussions between his party and Frelimo, and if "the people" wished to resort to violence he would do nothing to stop them.

"I want to say that the people can start their violence, which they have held in abeyance since February, if they want", he threatened. "I'll not do anything about it."

President appoints new governors

President Chissano on 14 July appointed provincial governors, thus completing the long drawn-out government reshuffle following the December general elections.

President Chissano has also reversed the previous policy of appointing governors who are natives of the provinces they are to rule over. This was regarded by some as common sense, and by others as a dangerous concession to regionalism.

This time President Chissano has scrambled the map: in general, northerners have been sent to govern southern provinces, and southerners have been sent to the north. The new list of governors is exclusively male.

Five of the new governors were in the previous government, but only one remains in his previous province: Jose Pacheco keeps his post in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. Pacheco, a former deputy agriculture minister, has a reputation for dynamism, and has become a very popular governor.

Aires Ali and Rosario Mualeia, who formerly governed Niassa and Nampula move to the Inhambane and Gaza.

The former governor of Maputo, Soares Nhaca, is to govern Manica, while Felicio Zacarias moves from Manica to the neighbouring province of Sofala.

The deputy health minister in the 1994-99 government, Abdul Razak Noormahomed, has been appointed governor of Nampula, while David Simango, formerly Maputo city Education Director, fills the post left vacant by Ali in Niassa.

Lucas Jeremias, a senior official in the health ministry, is to govern Zambezia, and Tomas Mandlate, a senior official in the Ministry of Education, has been appointed governor of Tete province, in the north-west of the country.

For Maputo province, Chissano appointed Alfredo Namitete, who previously coordinated the Southern Africa Transport and Communications Commission, the transport sector of SADC.

No new posts have been announced for the former governors of Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, Zambezia and Tete, respectively Eugenio Numaio, Francisco Pateguana, Felisberto Tomas, Orlando Candua and Virgilio Ferrao.

Electoral ad-hoc commission set up

The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, has established a 15-member Ad-Hoc commission for the revision of the electoral package.

The 15 members were appointed in accordance with political party representation, with Frelimo choosing eight members and the remaining seven appointed by Renamo.

Meeting on 26 July in a one-day extra-ordinary sitting of parliament, deputies mandated the commission to present proposals on the revision of the electoral package during the next ordinary sitting.

Renamo refused to nominate members for the National Elections Commission (CNE). The CNE consists of 17 members, one appointed by the President, one by the government, and 15 by the parliament. Frelimo went ahead and appointed its representatives - which means that the CNE can meet.

The last point on the agenda was that of the appointment of Carlos Morreira Vasco, a Frelimo deputy, to the parliament's Standing Commission. Vasco replaces Luciano de Castro, a Frelimo deputy from Nampula province, who has recently been appointed Women and Social Welfare Coordination Deputy Minister.

US prepares to disburse aid

The Mozambican government and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on 17 July held a first round of discussions concerning the use of the initial tranche of American aid for the country's post-flood reconstruction.

At the donors' conference held in Rome in early May, the United States delegation promised $131 million, the largest contribution out of the $452.9 million pledged. But disbursing this money, plus a further $29 million for other southern African countries hit by floods and cyclones in February and March, depends on a vote in the US Congress.

President Clinton, however, has signed authorisation to advance the first $25 million ($20 million for Mozambique, and $5 million for other flood-stricken countries).

This first part of the American grant covers three programmes: $1 million for road rehabilitation projects, $1.5 million for repairing the Limpopo railway line from Maputo to Zimbabwe, and $17.5 million for the private sector.

Of this $17.5 million, $14 million takes the form of credits, guarantees and grants for flood-affected private companies. The other $3.5 million is to be used as credit for marketing campaigns by the rural trading network. The money for the private sector will be handled by a consultancy company via the commercial banks.

Portuguese aid for flood victims

The representative of Portugal's Special Commission for Humanitarian Aid to Mozambique, Maria Jose Ritta, on 17 July signed a protocol in Maputo to fund 14 post-flood reconstruction projects.

The total sum involved is $1 million to be spent on health care, rebuilding damaged infrastructure, and the resettlement and reintegration of flood victims, particularly children.

Maria Ritta said this money was raised among the Portuguese community, and that a second phase in the solidarity campaign was about to start.

National health director Alexandre Manguele, who signed the protocol for the Mozambican authorities, declared that the projects in the health area would help improve the quality of hospital services.

Italian funds for agricultural relaunch

The Italian government is to disburse $4 million for the relaunching of agriculture activities in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala.

The Italian funds will cover 77,400 families, and will involve the distribution of maize, bean, sorghum, millet, groundnut seeds, apart from agriculture tools.

The distribution of the inputs will start in September when the 2000/2001 season starts.

For its part, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has disbursed $270,000 for the purchase of seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. FAO's aid will benefit 30,000 families.

1.8 tonnes of seeds donated by the Egyptian government were unloaded at Beira port recently, intended to relaunch agriculture activities in Sofala

The European Union has also expressed interest in supporting 40,000 families in Gaza, Inhambane and Sofala.

For the agriculture emergency programme the government needs about 10,650 tonnes of seeds, and 429,900 tools.

Denmark to disburse $10 million

The Mozambican and Danish governments have signed an agreement under which Denmark is to disburse $10 million intended for post-flood reconstruction.

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry the funds have been earmarked for the rehabilitation of electricity infrastructure destroyed in the floods.

Dutch to disburse $20 million

The Netherlands have promised to shortly disburse $20 million out of the $45 million pledged in May during the Rome donor conference.

This was disclosed on 24 July by the Dutch ambassador Arie Van Der Wiel after signing an agreement for the disbursement of the funds with Foreign Affairs Minister Leonardo Simao.

The funds are to disbursed in two tranches over the 2000-2001 fiscal year. The remaining $25 million will be channelled "after the evaluation stage of the progress of the reconstruction activities".

The money is aimed at minimising the impact of the flood in the education, water sanitation sectors.

Chokwe irrigation scheme

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Helder Muteia on 26 July said that the Chokwe irrigation scheme, in the province of Gaza, will be repaired by November.

The irrigation scheme, the country's largest, was badly damaged in the height of the February and March floods in the Limpopo Valley.

Muteia told AIM that the ministry is determined to create conditions for the rehabilitation of all the irrigation schemes damaged by the floods in Gaza, namely Xai-Xai, Chibuto and Chokwe, and in Maputo province, chiefly Umbeluzi, as Buzi in the central province of Sofala.

Muteia said that $17 million out of $22 million pledged by the donor community in Rome for the agriculture private sector are to be disbursed soon. This will allow the private sector to repair infrastructure destroyed in the floods.

Almost all displaced people in Gaza resettled

More than 243,300 victims of the floods in February and March have been resettled in the province of Gaza.

The figure represents 97 per cent of those displaced by the floods in the province, the out-going provincial governor, Eugenio Numaio, told an extra-ordinary sitting of the provincial government.

Numaio said that parallel to the resettlement of the population in secure areas, the provincial government has passed a post-flood reconstruction plan which envisages the repopulation of the Limpopo Valley, the development of the "high city" of Xai-Xai city: Xai-Xai is divided into a "high city" and a "low city" besides the banks of the Limpopo protected by a dike.

He added that there are plans to build a satellite city in the outskirts of the Chokwe district, which is home to the country's largest irrigation scheme.

The plans include the dissuade huge investments along the Limpopo valley, an area most vulnerable to flooding.

The government had distributed seeds to peasants in a measure aimed at reducing the dependency of the population on aid as they lost most of their tools and produce.

Government plans for Nacala Corridor

Transport and Communications Minister Tomas Salomao said on 27 July that the government has big plans to transform the Nacala Development Corridor into a competitive and quality service to regional importers and exporters.

"We want the big navigation companies, importers and exporters of Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to look at this corridor as one above par to carry out their activities", he said.

Salomao said that at a meeting on 26 July in Balantyre with his Malawian counterpart Brown Mpingagira it was agreed that the launch of the corridor will be on 28 September.

Mozambique publicly-owned Ports and Railways company (CFM) holds 33 per cent of the shares, Malawi 16 and the SDCN (Nacala Development Corridor Company) has 51 per cent.

A consortium to manage the corridor was established in 1999, consisting of Mozambican, Malawian and foreign partners. The consortium has scheduled a donor conference for October to take place in Tanzania aimed at raising funds for the project. Works for the improvement of the infrastructure are costed at more than $99.6 million.

Brazil cancels debt

Brazilian president Fernando Henriques Cardoso on 17 July announced the cancellation of 95 per cent of Mozambique's debt to Brazil.

He made the announcement in Maputo during the opening session of the Third Heads of State Summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).

The amount of debt cancelled is the equivalent of $450 million. Brazil is one of the few creditor nations that is not a member of the Paris Club.

Three Sofala districts at risk of hunger

About 50,000 people in the districts of Chemba, Caia and Cheringoma, in the central province of Sofala, are at risk of serious food shortages if they do not receive assistance urgently, reports "Noticias" on 14 July.

Citing Chemba district administrator Francisco Matal, the paper says that the situation was caused by late rains and devastation of crops by elephants and hippopotami, particularly in the administrative post of Chiramba.

Matal said that to try and minimise the situation of food shortages, local authorities had advised peasants not to sell what they harvested in the last season. Furthermore, the authorities also advised peasants to plant crops resistant to drought, such cassava and sweet potatoes.

"Despite the fact that the peasants heeded the advice, they could not have a good harvest because elephants and hippos devastated these crops", said Matal.

He also lamented that, despite repeated advice to hang on to their food stocks, peasants still continue selling their produce in neighbouring Malawi because they need money to purchase clothes and domestic utensils.

Matal said that the local governments have been contacting the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC) to acquire the needed food aid.

Agricultural institution for private sector

The Mozambican government is to establish an institution intended to help solve the problems of the country's agricultural private sector.

Speaking on 25 July at the opening of a National Agriculture Directorate meeting in the western province of Tete, National Director Sergio Gouveia said that "we want to establish this institution because we recognise the need for a bridge that will allow us to reach the subsistence sector".

Gouveia said that one of the major constraints the sector faces is the non-availability of credit. Consequently, the institution could encourage the banking sector to start providing credit to private farmers.

Collapse of northern maize price

The price of maize in northern Mozambique fell sharply in the 1999/2000 commercial year, when compared with the 1998/99 year, according to the Agricultural Markets Information System (SIMA) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The retail price of maize in Nampula province fell from 2,400 meticais a kilo in April 1999 to between 1,200 and 1,400 meticais a kilo in March of this year (at current exchange rates, there are 15,375 meticais to the US dollar).

SIMA says that one of the reasons for the price collapse has been the dramatic reduction in exports of Mozambican maize to neighbouring Malawi.

This is largely because Malawi increased its own maize production by 30 per cent, when compared with the 1998 figure. This was thanks both to abundant rains in Malawi, and to programmes which provided smallholder farmers with fertiliser at subsidised prices.

Maize exports were also penalised because of Mozambique's withdrawal from COMESA (Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa), leading to Mozambican maize paying a 25 per cent tariff to enter Malawi.

Northern maize should find a ready market in the food deficit areas of southern Mozambique, but in practice poor roads, high transport costs, and lack of appropriate storage conditions in Nacala all conspire to deprive the maize of markets in the south.

SIMA is optimistic that the establishment of new milling installations in Nampula by Companhia Industrial de Matola (CIM), will provide a new market for the maize.

General strike called off

Trade unions on 25 July called off the planned three-day general strike scheduled to start on 26 July after an offer by the government to increase the statutory minimum wage by a further 10 per cent to 26 per cent.

On 20 July the Executive Committee of Mozambique's largest trade union federation, the OTM (Mozambican Workers Organisation) had called the general strike, the first in the country's history, aimed at putting pressure for the unions' demand for a 30 per cent rise in the statutory minimum wage.

Meanwhile, the employers said they could offer up to 15 per cent. Owing to the ensuing deadlock, the government set the increase at 16 per cent, an increase which the unions said was ridiculous.

Thus the new minimum wage is 568,980 meticais (about $37) as opposed to the previous 522,000 meticais ($33.9) a month announced on 19 July.

The agricultural minimum wage lags far behind. It rises from 352,350 to 382,625 meticais a month.

Labour Minister Mario Sevene told a press conference that "the government offered what was possible to ward off the general strike which would bring untold misfortune to the country". "This misfortune would perhaps cause more drastic damages that the floods" said Sevene.

Egaz Mussanhane, chairman of the Confederation of Business Associations (CTA), said that "we made the concession to avert the threat of the strike". The employers would have great problems to pay the new wages, but the CTA had also given in so as to create a "comfortable climate for a continued dialogue". "We're going to pay with immense difficulties", he said.

Meanwhile, the 26 per cent increase will only fatten the wages of those in the lowest salary brackets. "The other categories will be affected by the 16 per cent already announced", said Sevene.

Water shortage in Nacala

The municipal authorities in the port city of Nacala, in the northern province of Nampula, have decided to abandon a project to drill boreholes to supply drinking water to thousands of residents of outlying suburbs.

The project has been an expensive failure. According to the mayor of Nacala, Geraldo Caetano, 30 boreholes have been drilled so far: but they are not in use because the water they hit all turned out to be saline.

It would simply be a waste of money to drill any more, according to Caetano, since there is no reason to believe that drinkable water would be found.

Instead efforts will now be made to raise funds to re-establish the normal supply of water for the Nacala suburbs. This depends on transporting water from a dam 34 kilometres away. Caetano says that re-establishing this system will cost $300,000.

Currently residents of the affected areas are walking long distances every day in search of water. Those who have access to water are able to sell it for up to 2,000 meticais for a can of 20 litres (at current exchange rates there are 15,375 meticais to the US dollar).

Education Ministry worried over poor results

The Education Ministry has expressed serious concern over the high failure and dropout rates in the country's schools, despite a slight improvement last year, when compared with 1998.

Figures presented during the national planning meeting of the Ministry show that 29.1 per cent of pupils in first level primary education (grades one to five) failed last year and 7.8 per cent dropped out before the end of the year. This compares with figures of 30.9 and 7.9 per cent, in 1998.

The worst failure rates come early on in school life. Grades one and three are those where the lowest results were reported, with no improvement when compared with the previous year.

There is little doubt that the high failure rate is structural: it results from the demand that, even at the age of six, primary school pupils must attain a certain level, otherwise they repeat the year. The fact that they are taught in a language that most of them do not speak, Portuguese, does not help matters.

The highest dropout rates are to be found north of the Zambezi. In Zambezia, Tete, Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces, between 11.3 and 12.7 per cent of pupils drop out before the end of first level primary education.

The lowest dropout rates were recorded in Maputo city and Maputo province, with 1.9 and 3.9 per cent respectively.

High failure rates continue throughout the rest of the school system. In second level primary education (grades six and seven) only 59.3 per cent of the 187,024 students enrolled passed last year. 35.3 per cent failed and 5.4 per cent dropped out. However, this was an improvement on the 1998 pass rate of 56.4 per cent.

In first cycle secondary education (grades eight to 10) there was a pass rate of 59.3 per cent. 37.3 per cent of these secondary school pupils failed, and 3.3 per cent abandoned their studies.

As for the handful of schools that teach the second cycle (pre-university) of secondary education (grades 11 and 12), 30.4 per cent of pupils failed, an increase on the 29.7 per cent failure rate of 1998.

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