Mozambique News Agency

No.213, 6th August 2001


Mozambican exports to EU reach record highs

Mozambican exports to the European Union in 2000 have increased by more than 52.5 per cent from the previous year. Exports jumped from 111.8 million to 170.5 million euros. The major exports were sea-food, and aluminium.

Agricultural products in proportional terms decreased from 64 to 54 per cent. Sea-food accounted for 48.2 per cent, aluminium for 13, and cotton for 11.8. Recording one-digit were granite with 5.5 per cent, tobacco and copra 3.5 and 3.4 per cent, respectively.

Sea-food grew from 6,800 to 7,990 tonnes in volume, corresponding to an increase from 57.9 to 82.1 million euros, and cotton rose 1,600 tonnes from 14,300 which brought the country 20.1 million euros - in the previous year the figure reached 17.4 million.

Granite exports rose from 25,000 to 38,300 tonnes, corresponding to an increase from 6.1 to 9.7 million euros, and 1,600 tonnes of tobacco brought in six million euros - the previous year tobacco exports were 750 tonnes corresponding to two million euros. Copra which accounted for 11,100 tonnes yielded 5.8 million Euros. The new-comer aluminium contributed with 12,000 tonnes which corresponds to 22.1 million Euros.

Since the completion of building works at the Mozal aluminium smelter, Mozambican imports from the EU decreased by 24.1 per cent, from 266.9 to 202.7 million euros.

The decrease is explained by the fact that Mozambican imports consist mainly of machinery and accessories, as well as electrical equipment which were mostly needed during the smelter's construction stage. Although the imports of the above capital goods decreased by 44 per cent from 164.2 to 92.6 million euros, they still represent 45.7 per cent of the country's total imports.

Other imports were vehicles, aeroplanes and other transport equipment which registered an increase of 70 per cent from 12.5 to 21.3 million euros - 10.5 per cent of all imports.

Chemical products accounted for 8.3 per cent of imports, while foodstuffs registered an 11 per cent increase.

The trade balance improved considerably in 2000 with the deficit decreasing by 80 per cent, from 155.1 to 32.2 million euros - the lowest figure in the past ten years.

National plan on landmines

The Mozambican government is currently drafting a national plan against landmines, according to Artur Verissimo, the director of the country's Demining Institute (IND).

Verissimo told AIM that this arises from a recent survey which identified 791 mined areas, and 1,374 suspected areas throughout Mozambique.

Demining consumes between $15 to $20 million annually, he said, stressing that it costs two dollars to demine each square metre.

Even almost a decade after the end of the war of destabilisation, landmines remain a danger in some areas, particularly in Maputo, Inhambane, Sofala and Zambezia.

He thought that if the demining process continued normally, the country could be free of landmines in 15 to 20 years.

Afrovita demines 850,000 square metres

The Mozambican NGO, African Association for Demining and Development (Afrovita), is to hand over to the government some 85 hectares of demined land belonging to the Police Basic Training Centre in Matalane, in the Maputo district of Marracuene.

Afrovita had beat various companies in a bid undertaken by the country's Demining Institute (IND) for the rights of demining an 851,560 square metre area for the training of police corporals and sergeants, and comprising a shooting range, an obstacle ground, and an area for animal husbandry.

The first stage of the demining activities, which started in February, constituted the "number one priority" in the clearing the Matalane police training centre of landmines. Funded by the Swiss government, the demining of the area is costed at $400,000.

Afrovita used over 70 sappers and support staff, including 11 women trained by the NGO.

Apart from manual demining, the sappers also used mechanical systems and 16 sniffing dogs in order to guarantee quality to the works.

The second stage is to start shortly, and it will involve the demining of about 40 hectares - the process is scheduled to last between three and four months.

The Matalane grounds were mined during the 1986-88 period by government troops in order to protect the centre from attacks staged by the former rebel movement Renamo.

The attacks had led to the closing of the training process in 1985.

Mozambique praised for gender promotion

Mozambique earned praise as a "rare-example nation" in the promotion of women to power and decision-making bodies during a journalists regional conference held in Lusaka to take stock of "The last 10 years of Multiparty Democracy in Southern Africa".

Mozambique has made great strides to meet the minimum target of having a parliament where 30 per cent of its deputies are women. The goal is enshrined in the "Regional Declaration on Gender and Development", a document signed by the heads of states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in 1997. The document recommends that the target should be attained at the latest by 2005.

Mozambique just reaches the figure: 75 deputies out of its 250-seat parliament are women, corresponding to 30 per cent. Right behind Mozambique is South Africa whose women make up 29.8 per cent in its 400-seat parliament.

Mozambique is one of the only eight countries world-wide, and the only one in Southern Africa, with 30 per cent of women in its parliament.

New university admission criteria considered

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Lidia Brito, said on 3 August that there are studies underway devised to find an improved methodology for the admission of students to higher education public institutions.

Brito told AIM during a national seminar on the Higher Education Strategic Plan that one idea is to consider the student's history throughout high school, and the results obtained in the pre-university final examinations.

"The student who scored good marks at high school level could be excused from the exam, and earn an automatic access to university", she said, adding that the measure could ease the complaints related to university admissions.

This initiative could be discussed by the council of ministers by 2002, she said. It is hoped that it will lend a greater transparency to the process, and guarantee equity and quality to the sector.

"The measure doesn't aim to reduce the autonomy of the universities regarding the evaluation criteria, but defining the parameters of the autonomy in order to avert any anarchy in the process", Brito said, sending a veiled criticism to the vice-Chancellor of Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), Brazao Mazula, for introducing an ad-hoc policy to bail out candidates from other provinces who attained low marks.

Some candidates from Maputo who scored high marks at the admission examination were over-ruled, and instead those with low marks from other provinces were admitted.

Mazula said that he was doing it in the name of National Unity "since we noted that for some courses lectured in the university there are provinces that systematically have more representation to the detriment of others".

The mission of the public universities is to guarantee the participation and equal access to all citizens, and answer the needs of society in order to ensure the growth of capacity, and meet the great challenges of the country's socio-economic and cultural development, she said.

To fulfil its mission higher education must satisfy social and labour market demands, as well as diversify the institutions, training opportunities and teaching methodologies, added Brito.

Call for permanent electoral civic education

Mozambique's deputy State Administration Minister, Aiuba Cureneia, has called on the introduction of a permanent civic education on electoral processes in the country.

Cureneia was speaking on 1 August at the opening of a coordinating council of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the executive body of the National Elections Commission (CNE), in the Bilene tourist resort, in the southern province of Gaza.

A permanent civic education would enable the civil society to be constantly informed on the importance of their participation in electoral activities.

"That will contribute to the consolidation of peace, democracy and national unity", he said.

Cureneia said that one of the priorities of government is to electronically process data on the 1999 electoral registration in order to render the next electoral processes "more simple, fast and less onerous".

Mozambique is to hold local elections in 2003, and the third general elections in 2004.

It is against this background that another government priority is to make STAE more professional since that is one imperative for the consolidation of a state of rule, and a guarantee for the transparency of its acts, he added.

No politicisation of STAE

Speaking on the second day of STAE's coordinating council, Antonio Carrasco, the director of STAE, lashed out at what might he termed attempts to "politicise" the body.

"In almost all corners of the world this type of body is purely technical", said Carrasco, reacting to hopes of some of the country's opposition political parties, notably Renamo, to be included within STAE - allegedly to guarantee transparency of the activities of the body.

Carrasco thought that the current electoral law is not clear as regards the electoral period, a situation which enables political parties to interpret the law according to their interests and whims.

The current electoral law is likely to be revised in the forthcoming sitting of the Assembly of the Republic, the country's parliament.

Minister disappointed by farmer apathy

Agricultural and Rural Development Minister, Helder Muteia, expressed disappointment at peasant farmers apparent apathy in regards to investing in the production of fruits and vegetables in areas covered by the Umbuluzi irrigation scheme in Maputo province.

Muteia who recently visited the Maputo districts of Boane and Namaacha said that the areas have a great agricultural potential, which are not fully explored.

There are 470 peasant farmers spread throughout 312 hectares of irrigated land. However, owing to financial difficulties their activity is not profitable.

The peasant farmers told Muteia at a meeting, of the difficulties they face, mainly purchasing agricultural inputs, payment of water and energy bills, and the hiring of machinery.

Their greatest problem is the lack of agricultural credit because "it becomes difficult for the peasant farmer to have access to credit by following the banks' normal channels".

Muteia told them that government in coordination with the Hydraulic Agricultural Development Fund is to unveil an initiative to support small farmers. During this pilot phase this will benefit the small farmers in Mafuiane and Massaca.

The challenge, he said, is to make the irrigation schemes profitable by fully exploiting potentialities in order to boost the emergence of a class of competitive farmers "since only by doing this can Mozambique's agriculture develop".

Most of the fruits and vegetables consumed in Maputo come from South Africa.

However, there is a project for the growing of bananas involving a Mozambican and a South African. The project covers 40 hectares and the bananas are sold in South African markets. It cost the investors, Samuel Chissico and South African Pieter Gows, four million South African rands. The two expect to increase the farming land to 300 hectares, and they currently employ some 70 people.

Petromoc and Sasol form partnership

The Mozambican publicly-owned petrol company "Petromoc" and South Africa's Sasol Oil on 31 July signed an agreement for the establishment of a joint-company geared for the marketing of fuel.

The company, Petromoc and Sasol, is to invest within the next four to five years about $12 million in the building of petrol stations and supply posts.

According to the agreement, Petromoc is to hold the 51 per cent majority stake, with the remaining shares going to Sasol.

Manuel Viola, the chairman of the board of directors of Petromoc, the new company will build six petrol supply posts by the end of the year. Three will be in Maputo, and the remainder in the northern province of Nampula. By 2002 the joint-company will have in place 14 petrol stations, and within the four- to five-year period it will have 20 stations throughout Mozambique.

Under the new arrangement, Sasol Oil will no longer be directly involved in the distribution of fuel. The role will be played by the joint-company.

ABSA wins tender for Austral

The Amalgamated Banks of South Africa (ABSA) has won the tender bid for the reprivatisation of 80 per cent of the country's third largest commercial bank, the Austral Bank.

The sale of Austral scheduled for 4 July was postponed because the companies interested in acquiring the bank had requested more time to study the documentation, forcing the deadline to be extended to 27 July.

In keeping with the new deadline they have decided to award the reprivatisation bid to the regionally-expanding ABSA, according to the Portuguese news agency, LUSA.

ABSA vied with International Commercial Bank (BCI), which is 60 per cent controlled by the Portuguese group Caixa Geral dos Depositos, and 40 per cent by the Mozambican shareholder SCI. BCI has been operating in the Mozambican financial market for four years.

Awarding the tender to ABSA, the state has ensured that the financial market is diversified - currently it is dominated by Portuguese interests.

The 80 per cent share belong to the state after it repossessed the bank from private management. The remaining 20 per cent belong to the management and staff. Thus the state is relinquishing its hold on the bank..

The Austral was privatised in 1997: 60 per cent of the bank was bought by a consortium headed by the Southern Bank Berhard (SBB) of Malasya, while the Mozambican state retained a minority shareholding of 40 per cent.

However, at a shareholders meeting in April, private investors, unable or unwilling to provide the funds required to recapitalise the bank, pulled out and their shares reverted to the state. The central bank appointed a provisional board of directors to run Austral, ascertain the true state of the bank, and prepare a second privatisation.

According to the provisional board, the Austral made losses equivalent to over $65 million in 2000, and that 34 per cent of its credit portfolio consisted of non-performing loans, disclosed the new board. It is clear that it was provision for bad loans granted during the three and half years of private management that brought the bank to its knees.

Dutch foundation to finance political parties

The Dutch foundation NZA is to disburse in 2001 some $200,000 earmarked for training of staff and institutional capacity of Mozambican political parties, reports "Noticias" on 30 July.

Jan Niko, NZA representative in Mozambique, said that the disbursement of the money is however subject to certain conditions such as a guarantee of transparency in its use, official registration, and the results obtained by each party in the 1999 general elections won by the President Joaquim Chissano, and his ruling Frelimo party.

NZA is a foundation that comprises various political Dutch parties, and started operating in Mozambique in 1998 with a pilot project of support to some parties. Its programme in Mozambique is to extend until August 2003.

Niko thought that the most important asset for any political party is not money but its staff, members and supporters. "We can give money, but the money dries up", he said, adding that "the fundamental base of a political party are its staff, and members. Political parties have the role of training and take part in the country's democratic process".

Renamo releases hostages

On 27 July Renamo released the two hostages it had been holding illegally for over a week in the central Manica province. The two men abducted by the armed guards of Renamo's leader, Afonso Dhlakama, were handed over to the authorities of the administrative post of Machaze.

The men, Adamo Judas and Madoda, were kidnapped allegedly because they sabotaged Dhlakama's rally - they charged bicycle license fees on a day that he was to hold the rally. Dhlakama blamed the two for a poor turn-out to his rally.

President Joaquim Chissano on 27 July said that the act was a crime and Dhlakama was guilty. Furthermore, he should not construe government tolerance of his keeping armed guards as a license to perpetrate abuses.

"Neither Dhlakama nor his men has the right to act in that manner", he said, adding that government was tolerating his special armed protection, but "he should not abuse (the privilege) since it isn't the task of the force to beat up and detain people".

The President added that the "the appropriate authorities will continue investigating (the matter) and if his culpability is ascertained, he shall be duly punished".

Boat wreckage found

The wreckage of a vessel that sank on 23 July off the Zongoene coast, in the southern province of Gaza, has been found on the mouth of the Limpopo river with three bodies trapped in it.

This brings the known death toll to ten. The vessel carried 14 crew members and a passenger, and so far there have been three survivors.

The vessel "Alpha" belongs to the cargo company "Maritimos Ali Hussen", based in Quelimane, the capital of the central Zambezia province.

Bad weather has been blamed for the sinking of the ship which was carrying 1,700 logs.

President Chissano inaugurates religious radio station

President Joaquim Chissano on 27 July described the inauguration of a radio station in Maputo as an important factor in the relationship between churches and society.

Speaking at the ceremony of Radio Capital, President Chissano said that the event also showed the important role that mass media plays within a society in transition such as in Mozambique.

Churches and other religious organisations render a valuable historic contribution in the shaping of a society "ever more healthy, more constructive and conscientious of its responsibilities in the building of the state and in the day-to-day most urgent patriotic tasks", he said.

The station, Radio Capital, belongs to a group of the country's Protestant churches.

President Chissano thought that the radio station should use its 80 kilometres radius to broadcast such important messages as the struggle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. All efforts to eradicate absolute poverty and carry out sustainable development strategies would be curtailed if the fight against the scourge HIV/AIDS is not won, he said.

156 policemen expelled

Mozambican police have expelled 156 policemen from their ranks for alleged involvement in various illegal activities, according to "Noticias" on 26 July.

The expelled policemen are accused of abandoning their work posts, using firearms unduly, selling and renting guns, as well as homicide.

Included in the group of policemen are 60 riot police. In a short and terse statement, the general command of police said that the expulsions aim to clean up the image of the police.

Dike maintenance to begin in September

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Helder Muteia has said that works to shore up protection dikes along the rich agricultural valleys of the Incomati and Maputo rivers, particularly in Manhica and Matutuine districts, are to start in September.

Muteia was speaking on 25 July to journalists during a round of visits to some of Maputo agricultural-rich districts.

These are only emergency repair works aimed at ensuring that commercial and peasant farmers resume their activities in time for the 2001/2002 planting season. By way of example, in Manhica both peasant and commercial farmers have been preparing for the start of the 2001/2002 planting season, but they cannot do much unless dike walls damaged by the devastating floods in February 2000 are repaired.

However, in Matutuine there has been a slight delay in the preparations, notably because the ministry is yet to make an assessment of the total damage. Muteia said that he will send out a team of technicians to survey the dikes, and identify the places where it be will necessary to shore them up.

The complete repair works of the dikes are costed at $5 million - this money was pledged by donors in the Rome donor conference in 2000. Since the money is not forthcoming the ministry is seeking alternative funding for emergence repair works which are estimated at $2.5 million, he said.

Libyan food for flood victims

The Libyan government on 25 July donated an unspecified quantity of foodstuffs intended for the victims of the catastrophic floods that hit central and southern regions of Mozambique in 2000 and 2001.

The measure is part of a Libyan government programme to support African countries in need of help.

Australia grants scholarships

Mozambique and Australia on 24 July signed an agreement under which the latter is to provide 300 scholarships for Mozambican students wishing to pursue a university education.

According to Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) the scholarships are budgeted at $600,000.

The scholarships are valid for Mozambican public universities, namely Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) and the Pedagogic University.

The aim of the programme is to give support to students from provinces and poor families in order to encourage them to seek a university education.

Signing the agreement were Education Minister Alcido Nguenha, and the Australian High Commissioner, Jonathan Brown.

Mozambique receives an annual aid of $6.5 million from Australia.

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