Mozambique News Agency

No.207, 15th May 2001


President Chissano to step down in 2004

President Joaquim Chissano has informed Frelimo that he will not stand for re-election when his term expires in 2004. President Chissano made this announcement on 8 May, during a meeting of the Frelimo Central Committee in the southern city of Matola.

Election of the head of state by universal suffrage was introduced in the 1990 constitution. This stated that the President of the Republic may be re-elected twice. Joaquim Chissano was elected in 1994, and re-elected in 1999 - he would therefore be within his constitutional rights to stand again in 2004.

There has been speculation on possible successors - focussing on President Chissano's close friend and ally, Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi, the leader of the Frelimo Parliamentary group, Armando Guebuza, and the chairperson of parliament, Eduardo Mulembue.

One possibility that should not be ruled out is that, if Frelimo cannot reach consensus over a successor, the party may ask President Chissano to reconsider.

The final decision is likely to be taken at the party's eighth congress, due to be held in the first half of 2002. One factor certain to have weighed in President Chissano's decision is his age. In 2004 he will be 65: he would thus be 70 at the end of a further term.

CC meeting final resolution

According to the final resolution from the meeting on 10 May, "Comrade Chissano explained that he has been a member of the Frelimo leadership since 1963. From 1974 up until today he has also been in the state leadership. From 1986 he has been at the head of both the party and the state. These are the reasons that have determined his intention and his desire not to stand in the 2004 presidential elections, despite his excellent state of health, and despite the fact that the constitution allows a further term".

The 15 member Political Commission knew of President Chissano's decision prior to the meeting of the Central Committee, but the rest of the CC did not.

In the following debate, according to the resolution, "several comrades stressed Comrade Chissano's respect for the Party's principles and discipline, his strategic vision of the future, his profound example of democracy, and his concern that changes in the leadership should happen normally, and not merely as a result of tragedy".

This is a reference to Frelimo's two previous changes of president, both of which were caused by violent deaths - the assassination of Eduardo Mondlane in 1969, and the death of Samora Machel in a plane crash, widely blamed on the apartheid military, in 1986.

President Chissano in closing remarks to the meeting, reaffirmed his desire to stand down from the presidency in 2004. "I would like to thank you for the understanding with which you received the announcement of my desire not to stand in the 2004 elections", said the President.

He added that the purpose of his decision was to allow that Frelimo "may always be vigorous" through "the renewal of its forces".

The Central Committee also fixed the date of the 8th Congress as 10-14 June 2002.

As part of the preparations, the Central Committee also decided to hold a National Conference of Frelimo Cadres on 14-16 September this year. This conference will "reflect upon questions of fundamental importance for the Party and for the country, which will allow the 8th Congress to take pertinent decisions".

President's decision explained

According to a senior Central Committee member, President Chissano wants to step down because he has already been in power a very long time, and because he wants to spend more time in his private life.

This perspective was given to reporters on 9 May by Frelimo Central Committee member, Fernando Ganhao, who is a former Vice-Chancellor of the country's largest higher education establishment, the Eduardo Mondlane University.

According to Ganhao, President Chissano believes that standing for the presidency again would violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the Mozambican constitution. President Chissano believes that, were he to stand again, in reality he would be asking for a fourth term. For he was already president when the 1990 constitution, establishing limits on terms of office, was approved.

President Chissano had then been elected in 1994 and 1999, so he now regarded himself as already in his third term.

Some jurists argue that the constitution is not retroactive, and that the number of terms of office should be counted as from the first multi-party elections of 1994. President Chissano's reply to this, according to Ganhao, is "it would be too much to play with words, and to try to distort the constitution to his personal benefit or that of the party".

Furthermore, President Chissano recalled that as a young man he always had personal plans - which had been delayed for decades because of his party and state responsibilities.

New bank opens

The Mozambican financial landscape is set to change with the opening on 11 May of a new private bank, the BDC (Development and Commerce Bank).

With an equity of $3 million, the major shareholder in the BDC is the oldest bank in Portugal, the Montepio Geral financial group, which holds 42 per cent of the bank. 34 per cent of the shares belong to Mozambican companies and institutions. Among the Mozambican shareholders are the National Social Security Institute (INSS), the former defence minister, Gen Alberto Chipande, and W & W Consultores, a company owned by Teodoro Waty, chairman of the Maputo Municipal Assembly.

Three other Portuguese companies hold a 15 per cent stake, and the remaining nine per cent of the shares are owned by three Portuguese citizens.

Finance Minister Luisa Diogo, who cut the ribbon to mark the opening of BDC, said that she hoped the bank would boost savings and increase the country's wealth. Diogo thought that the consortium's decision to open the bank meant that it trusted the country's current business environment. The chairman of the BDC board is one of the most experienced of Mozambican business figures, Hermenegildo Gamito, a former chairman of the People's Development Bank (BPD), when it was under state ownership, and also a parliamentary deputy for the ruling Frelimo Party.

Gamito said that with the opening of the BDC, an old dream of his had come true. He told guests and journalists that his relationship with the Montepio Group started many years ago, and over the years the dream had taken shape until in 1999 the Mozambican government authorised the consortium to open the bank.

The BDC simultaneously opened two branches in Maputo: by the end of 2001 it envisages the opening of a further five branches in the capital. During a second stage, it is to expand to all the provincial capitals, and "within a three-year deadline", BDC would like to have 15 branches in all.

Agreement with EU on poverty reduction

The European Union is to grant Mozambique the equivalent of about $65 million in support of a macro-economic programme for poverty reduction, under an agreement signed in Maputo on 11 May.

Signing the agreement were Finance Minister Luisa Diogo and the European Union delegate, Javier Puyol.

The money will be used in those areas believed to have a direct impact on poverty reduction, such as the expansion and improvement of education and health services, the supply of clean drinking water, the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads, and good governance (decentralisation, and the reform of the public sector and of the judicial system).

Speaking at the ceremony, Puyol declared that the agreement was a sign of the EU's confidence in the Mozambican government and its management capacity. He claimed that, despite problems, the reforms undertaken by the government have given positive results.

Roads gradually re-open in flood areas

Bit by bit, the road network in central Mozambique, severely damaged by flooding in the first quarter of this year, is being reopened, and most relief operations for the flood victims now use the roads.

According to Silvano Langa, director of the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), speaking to reporters on 11 May, 420 tonnes of food aid was ready be driven from Beira to the Zambezi valley.

It will take the road from Gorongosa to Caia, on the south bank of the Zambezi. The shortest route from Beira to Caia, via Inhaminga, is still "very difficult", said Langa. Further upstream, the Sena-Mutarara bridge over the Zambezi is fully open to traffic again.

North of Sena, access to the town of Chemba remains a problem, but Langa said supplies could reach this area if four wheel drive vehicles are used. The ferry across the Zambezi, between Caia and Chimuara, is functioning, but with restrictions.

There is no shortage of food aid. Langa said that about 4,000 tonnes are currently in stock, and another 7,200 tonnes will shortly arrive.

A much more serious problem is the delay in distributing seeds and agricultural tools so that peasant families can replant their fields, and bring in a harvest this year.

Of the 56,500 kits of seeds and tools planned, so far only 12,880 (23 per cent) have been distributed. Late distribution will call into question the viability of the second plantings.

But Langa was optimistic that the rest of the kits could be distributed by the end of May. Farmers could benefit from the fact that the soil is still very humid, he said, and they should be able to bring in a harvest, particularly of vegetables, by late July.

Langa said there was now a slow movement of displaced people out of the government-run accommodation centres and back to their home areas - but there were still 203,000 people in camps in Zambezia, Sofala, Manica and Tete provinces.

There have been no further inflows of donor funds in response to the government's emergency flood appeal of late February. The total response so far is still around $20 million - a long way short of the $36.5 million the government had requested.

A donor conference on post-flood reconstruction should be held in Maputo later in May - but Langa said no firm date has yet been fixed.

United States hostile to MOZAL

It has bee reported that the United States no longer supports the largest private sector investment in Mozambique, the MOZAL aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Maputo - apparently because MOZAL competes with US aluminium companies.

According to "Metical" on 11 May, the US treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, used to be head of the aluminium company Alcoa. Now O'Neill is in a position to tell US representatives in international finance bodies how to vote on question of loans that might benefit competitors to Alcoa or to other US companies.

Such a vote took place on 12 April on the board of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank. At stake was a loan of $25 million for MOZAL.

Inside the IFC, praise was showered on MOZAL, the first phase of which was completed last September, six months ahead of schedule and $100 million under budget. One of the IFC directors declared that MOZAL was "a model for others to follow".

Phase two of MOZAL, which will double its capacity to 500,000 tonnes of aluminium ingots a year, is likely to receive the green light in the very near future. Yet the US director of the IFC, Jan Piercy, abstained in the vote on the loan to MOZAL.

Casting around for a reason, she cited "environmental concerns". But MOZAL went through a rigorous Environmental Impact Study, and met all the World Bank's environmental criteria. The Pechiney AP 30 technology used at MOZAL is widely regarded as an environmentally-friendly way of producing aluminium.

"Metical" notes that the United States' refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol "guarantees the continuation of global warming, and guarantees that there will be more violent cyclones and floods in Mozambique, which will cause much more damage than MOZAL".

Minister optimistic about cashew production

Agriculture Minister Helder Muteia told reporters on 11 May that he believed the country's cashew sector could emerge from its current crisis within two years, if it is able to make good use of new investment.

Muteia was speaking after a ceremony to launch an outsourcing operation for the implementation of a cashew master plan, and the promotion of agricultural diversification, supported by the European Commission to the tune of 11 million Euros (about $9.7 million).

According to Muteia, the most viable solution to the constraints facing the cashew sector "is for us to increase our production". For the Minister, producing more nuts was a sine qua non before investing in the processing industry.

He said that the cashew master plan should be approved in June, with the main aim of reaching a production of 100,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts a year. Muteia thought a target of 60,000 tonnes for this year was reasonable.

With the European Commission money, the government intends to sub-contract NGOs and private companies to provide public services ("outsourcing") to the peasant family sector over the next five years.

About six million Euros will be spent on supporting the production and marketing of cashew nuts, while the remaining five million will be used to diversify peasant production in cotton growing areas. The latter is regarded as necessary because the sharp fall in the world market price of cotton in recent years has hit peasant incomes.

It is hoped that this carefully targeted outsourcing initiative will increase household income, and, by increasing the quantity and improving the quality of the cashew nuts marketed, will also raise export earnings.

The project offers precious little to the local processing industry - 14 out of the 16 sizeable cashew processing plants remained closed, and 90 per cent of the sector's 11,000 workers are out of a job.

Agricultural minimum wage up by 20 per cent

Labour Minister Mario Sevene has confirmed that, while the statutory minimum wage for industry and services is to rise by only 17 per cent, the increase in the minimum agricultural wage is 20 per cent.

The new wages are all backdated to 1 April. The difference arises from a decision taken at the tripartite negotiating forum between the government, the trade unions, and the employers' associations, to narrow the large gap between industrial and agricultural wages.

With the new increase the minimum industrial wage is now 667,706 meticais ($33.7) a month, while the minimum agricultural wage is 459,222 meticais ($23.2).

FBI trains police

Fifty members of the Mozambican police force on 7 May in Maputo started to receive advanced training by four officers of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The one week long course is intended to transmit to the trainees "police expertise" and techniques on such matters as patrolling and interrogation, as well as self-defence tactics.

Commenting on the matter, Raul Freire, of the Mozambican police general command, told AIM that this course is not part of any "explicit" agreement between the two police forces, but it is a response of the Mozambican forces to the willingness expressed by the FBI to train Mozambicans. He said that at this first stage this training will only benefit police officers from Maputo city and province.

Plans to upgrade journalism school

Plans have been floated to transform the Maputo Journalism School into a "Higher Media and Marketing Institute". This upgrading has long been on the agenda of the management of the Journalism School in Maputo, and a detailed project has now been submitted to the government's press office, in order to assess its feasibility.

Tomas Jane, the director of the Journalism School, confirmed that the government not only is currently assessing the viability of the project, but has also pledged to finance the rehabilitation of the school, budgeted at $700,000.

The new institute would envisage the training of staff in areas related not only to journalism, but also to public relations, marketing, and documentation. It would also have a language laboratory, as well as a small printing shop - Jane said that the Japanese government has pledged to donate the needed equipment costed at about $500,000.

The courses are to run between two and four years for bachelor's and "licenciatura" degrees. (The "licenciatura" is a degree in the Portuguese language system which has no exact equivalent in English speaking countries - it is usually regarded as something in between a bachelors and a masters degree).

Currently, the school only offers pre-university courses, which Jane though might be scaring off would-be sponsors and donors. Jane told AIM that it is in this light that the school has been negotiating with the Chilean authorities for up-grading the school into a higher education institute.

Charges dropped against some of Montepuez accused

On the last day of the trial of 18 people accused of being ringleaders in the 9 November riot in the northern Mozambican town of Montepuez, the prosecution dropped the charges against five of them.

According to a report in "Noticias" on 9 May, the Cabo Delgado Provincial Chief Attorney, Beatriz Buchili, requested the acquittal of Jaime John, Sumaila Apadre, Alfate Malumia, Silvestre Paulo, and Armando Mondlane, on the grounds that there was insufficient proof that they had taken part in crimes.

Mondlane had been serving a jail sentence in the Montepuez prison on 9 November. The rioters, organised by Renamo, broke into the jail and set free all the prisoners. Mondlane's defence is that he was not an active rioter, and had no choice but to leave the jail when it was invaded.

The prosecution is pressing ahead with the case against the other 13, particularly against the three men accused of masterminding the riot, Secundino Cinquenta, Joao Maulana and Jose dos Santos Pintainho.

The presiding judge announced on 8 May that the court will give its verdict on 5 June.

Renamo demonstrations were held in many cities and towns on 9 November, frequently degenerating into clashes with the police. The worst violence occurred in Montepuez, where at least 25 people (18 civilians and seven policemen) were killed, and the rioters occupied the police command, the district administration and other public buildings.

TDM prepared to invest in Zambezia

The publicly owned Mozambican Telecommunications Company (TDM) is prepared to invest $7.5 million to improve its infrastructures and services in the central province of Zambezia over the next three years, reports "Noticias" on 8 May.

The TDM telecommunications director in Quelimane, the provincial capital, Arnaldo Nhavene, said that most of that money will go into expanding the capacity of the telephone exchanges in Quelimane, and in the district capitals of Mocuba and Gurue, because of the continual increase in demand.

The money will also be used to install a fibre optic cable between Beira and Quelimane, and to set up a telecommunications network to cover the rural areas and the few district capitals that are not yet covered.

Development of infrastructures, notably telecommunications, was among the issues discussed during the Zambezia Development Conference recently held in Quelimane, bringing together local and foreign business people and donor organizations.

In Zambezia, the telecommunications service currently covers 14 of the 16 district capitals, and eight of the 29 administrative posts.

Renamo claims Domingos "double agent"

Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, has claimed that the former head of its parliamentary group, Raul Domingos, was a "traitor" who had been "infiltrated" into Renamo by the ruling Frelimo Party.

Domingos was expelled from Renamo last September. At the time, the reason given for the expulsion was that Domingos had business interests in which Frelimo members were also involved.

But at a Maputo press conference on 4 May, Renamo spokesman Jose de Castro went much further and claimed that Domingos had been a "double agent" since the time of the 1992 peace accord.

"While president Dhlakama always refused to accept money from Frelimo or enter into business with them, Raul Domingos always accepted this", he said. "Dhlakama was always a serious and honest person, and hence Frelimo was unable to corrupt him".

Castro also accused Domingos of plotting to form a new party, a "Renamo Renovada" ("Renewed Renamo" - on the lines of the Angolan "UNITA Renovada" set up by politicians who broke away from Jonas Savimbi).

Castro said of the Institute for the Development of Democracy (IPAD), set up by Domingos, "IPAD is already a political party, but it hasn't been declared as such because Raul Domingos wants to keep his seat in parliament. He wants to survive".

When "Noticias" contacted Domingos for his reaction, he demanded that Castro and the rest of the Renamo leadership produce some evidence for their claims.

New director for Zambezi planning office

Meeting on 2 May, the Mozambican Council of Ministers (Cabinet) sacked Simao Muhai, the General Director of the Zambezi Development Planning Office (GPZ), and replaced him with Sergio Vieira, who is one of the most prominent figures in the parliamentary group of the ruling Frelimo Party.

The GPZ is responsible for overseeing the development of the entire Zambezi Valley, covering the greater part of the four central provinces of Tete, Zambezia, Manica and Sofala.

Vieira, a native of Tete, is one of Frelimo's best-known intellectuals, and has held a wide range of senior positions since Mozambican independence in 1975 - he has been director of the President's office, governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Minister of Agriculture, governor of the northern province of Niassa, Deputy Defence Minister, Minister of Security, and director of the Centre for African Studies at Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University.

He is a member of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and currently sits on the Assembly's governing board, its Standing Commission.

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