Mozambique News Agency

No.234, 18th June 2002


Guebuza tops Central Committee poll

The leader of Frelimo's parliamentary group, Armando Guebuza, has topped the election for the party's new Central Committee with 92.4 per cent of all possible votes. The result of the election by delegates to the Frelimo Eighth Congress was declared on 17 June.

There were 121 candidates standing for 60 places, and safeguards were in place to guarantee a minimum percentage of women on the Committee, of young members, and of new faces. Out of 1,209 valid ballot papers, and Guebuza took 1,117 votes. Guebuza thus maintains the position he held at the Seventh Congress in 1997, when he was also the most popular candidate. His percentage vote is virtually unchanged - it was 92.6 per cent in 1997.

This strengthens Guebuza's chances of becoming the Frelimo candidate in the 2004 presidential election. The outgoing Central Committee had already voted overwhelmingly to recommend Guebuza for the post of Frelimo general secretary - and whoever becomes general secretary will also be the candidate in 2004.

The second most voted candidate was Graca Machel, former education minister and widow of the country's first president, Samora Machel, who took 1,110 votes (90.81 per cent).

She was followed by Alberto Chipande, former defence minister, and the man who fired the first shots in Mozambique's independence war (1,082 - 89.5 per cent), the deputy chairperson of the Mozambican parliament, Veronica Macamo (1,035 - 85.6 per cent) Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi (1,017 - 84.1 per cent), outgoing Frelimo general secretary Manuel Tome (1,016 - 84 per cent), and veteran Mozambican nationalist Marcelino dos Santos, one of the surviving founders of Frelimo (998 - 82.5 per cent). The parliamentary chairman, Eduardo Mulembue, scored 991 votes (82 per cent).

Agriculture Minister Helder Muteia came close to losing his Central Committee seat, with only 581 votes (48 per cent). It is believed that Muteia probably lost votes because he stood against Guebuza when, earlier in the month, the outgoing Central Committee voted on its recommended candidate for general secretary.

New faces

Newcomers to the Central Committee include Abdul Magid Osman, a former finance minister who currently heads one of the new private banks, the BCI (Commercial and Investment Bank), Carlos Machili, Vice-Chancellor of the Pedagogic University, which gives university level teacher training courses, culture minister Miguel Mkaima, and the deputy ministers of agriculture and of state administration, Joao Carrilho and Aiuba Cuereneia.

After a long absence, Jose Oscar Monteiro, who served in several ministerial positions in the immediate post-independence period, and was a member of Samora Machel's Political Bureau in the 1980s, returns to the Central Committee.

Several prominent members of the Frelimo parliamentary group - including Edgar Cossa, Feliciano Mata, and Edson Macuacua - enter the Central Committee for the first time.

The most prominent casualty was the outgoing Central Committee Secretary for Mobilisation and Propaganda, and spokesman for many party events, Bernardo Cherinda, who failed to secure re-election.

Others who were not elected include Fisheries Minister Cadmiel Muthemba, the Minister for Mineral Resources, Castigo Langa, the country's most experienced diplomat, and currently ambassador in Washington, Armando Panguene, and the chairperson of the parliamentary plan and budget commission, Virginia Videira.

Interior Minister Almerinho Manhenje could only secure election as a candidate member, rather than a full member, of the Central Committee.

The 60 members elected at the Congress, join the 100 already elected at the Frelimo provincial conferences. Others who sit on the Central Committee are the Party President (Joaquim Chissano, elected unopposed), first secretaries of provincial Frelimo Committees, and the general secretaries of Frelimo's three "social organisations" - the Mozambican Women's Organisation (OMM), the Mozambican Youth Organisation (OJM), and the Association of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle (ACLLN).

Congress approves statutes

The Congress on 16 June approved amended statutes containing mechanisms intended to prevent corruption and the illicit accumulation of wealth among the party leadership. Under the new statutes all members of the top Frelimo leadership, centrally and in the provinces, must make a declaration of their assets and of their sources of income, and those of their spouses.

These lists of property must be updated regularly. However the declarations are not to be made public, but will be deposited with the Frelimo Political Commission.

The statutes also make it clear that party members must decline from discussing or voting upon any matter that might brig material advantages to themselves, their spouses or other close relatives.

In an attempt to improve the party's finances, those who consistently fail to pay their membership dues will be disciplined. The new statutes state that anyone who is a year or more in arrears in payment of membership fees will be suspended from the party.

Demands for better selection of candidates

The outgoing Central Committee in its report to the Congress called for better selection of candidates for municipal and parliamentary elections, admitting failings in the selection processes for the 1998 local elections and the 1999 parliamentary ones.

All local authorities are currently run by Frelimo, because most opposition parties boycotted the 1998 elections. The Central Committee believe that some of the municipalities had a successful track record, but that others had failed.

"Where local authorities have been inspired in the participatory practices instituted in the years immediately following independence, there have been improvements in the life of the public in that the municipalities have represented an advance in citizens taking responsibility for solving their own problems", said the report.

But where the municipalities were seen as just another institution, reduced to their formal bodies - Mayor, Municipal Assembly, and Municipal Council - "then there have been no significant gains, and citizens view the local authority as just another form of State, from which they continue to expect solutions handed down from above".

Despite a dramatic increase in their territory and in the number of people they cover, there were municipalities that continued to use "the centralised organisational scheme" of the past, "in which everything depends on the Municipal Council, without any democratic, responsible intermediary structures".

The report called for the institution in large cities of further decentralisation through "municipal sub-units with their own powers, appropriate resources and bodies that consult with the residents".

The Central Committee warned that unsolved problems in the municipalities would cost Frelimo votes in the next local elections. Those problems had to be identified now, and measures taken immediately to deal with them.

Furthermore, not only should Frelimo review the process for selecting candidates for mayors and members of municipal assemblies - it should also persuade incumbents who had performed badly to stand down voluntarily.

The report admitted that some Frelimo figures in municipal politics were now an electoral liability - Frelimo was at serious risk of being "penalised by the electorate" because of their performance.

"This analysis must be undertaken with objectivity and rigour in each local authority", said the report, "in the exclusive interest of the communities and in order to safeguard our party".

The Central Committee called on all members of the party to fight for "unequivocal victories" for Frelimo in 2003 and 2004, adding that "Our experience shows that the most skilled and serious of our members, those most dedicated to the cause of the motherland, must be involved in preparing and organising the elections from the grass roots".

As for parliamentary candidates, they must be selected, not only in a democratic and transparent way, but also to ensure "that the lists are filled with comrades who have the qualities necessary to be deputies in the context of intense multi-party political struggle and competition".

Former deputy ministers take over Tempografica

A company owned by two former members of the Mozambican government has taken over Tempografica, the firm that produces the weekly magazine "Tempo".

According to a report in "Mediafax" on 5 June, the government's privatisation unit, UTRE, handed 80 per cent of the shares in Tempografica over to Zekab Investments. Zekab is owned by former deputy education minister Zeferino Martins and former deputy minister of industry, trade and tourism, Abilio Bichinho. The remaining 20 per cent of Tempografica remains in the hands of the state.

This is the second privatisation of Tempografica - the first was a miserable failure. A majority holding was sold to businessman-journalist Filipe Ribas, who proved unable to pay his staff, or other expenses. Publication stopped: it has been many months since a copy of "Tempo" has appeared on the news-stands of Maputo.

As part of the deal with Zekab, the state paid off the Tempografica debts - the heaviest of these was the back wages from January to April, which amounted to almost 570 million meticais (about $23,900). Other debts paid were rent (157 million meticais), electricity (54 million), and water (almost four million).

Tempografica's phone bills are not among the debts. The company had gone for so long without paying its bills, that the lines have been cut and the phone contracts annulled. The new owners will have to start the process of requesting phone lines all over again.

The state has also agreed to meet redundancy payments to 14 workers admitted by Ribas but whom the new owners do not want to keep on the payroll.

"Tempo" was once one of the proudest names in Mozambican journalism. It was founded in 1970, as the nearest thing to an opposition paper that was possible under Portuguese colonial rule. After the fall of fascism in Lisbon on 25 April 1974, "Tempo" became the most radical of the Mozambican media.

After independence in 1975, the magazine had several brushes with the authorities, because its political line was well to the left of Frelimo. It was immensely popular, and at its height was selling 70,000 copies a week.

Some of the greatest figures in Mozambican journalism worked on "Tempo" - among the writers Areosa Pena, Mia Couto, Calane da Silva, Albino Magaia and Carlos Cardoso, and among the photo- journalists Ricardo Rangel and Kok Nam.

But gradually the magazine lost its experienced staff, and ceased to be required reading for literate Mozambicans. It has been in decline since the late 1980s, a decline accelerated by the appearance of other, more attractive weekly papers.

Reviving "Tempo" will be a formidable task for the new owners, not least because of the obsolete state of the printing equipment, and the degraded condition of the building.

Book on Zambezi Basin launched

Deputy Environment Minister Francisco Mabjaia on 12 June stressed the need for the eight countries of the Zambezi Valley to work together to guarantee integrated and sustainable management of the river basin. Speaking at the launch of the Portuguese version of the book "The Environmental State of the Zambezi Basin 2000", produced by the Harare-based Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), Mabjaia stressed that such collaboration "is a major challenge if we consider that integrated management of natural resources is something which has not been fully achieved either in individual countries, or in the region as a whole".

The countries regarded as forming part of the Zambezi basin are Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The population of the river basin is estimated at 40 million.

Mabjaia said that, in order to ensure their very survival as nations, the members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) needed to manage sustainably their water resources. He pointed out that, despite the existence of large rivers such as the Zambezi, most of southern Africa is in fact an arid region.

This harsh reality has been driven home by the poor rainfall of this year, causing a dramatic drought with serious implications for more than 12 million people.

"In this context, the Zambezi Valley is of great importance, because its potential creates opportunities for sustainable development based on a balance between ecological, social and economic components", said Mabjaia.

Rational use of the valley's resources, he added, would require partnerships between the public and private sectors and local communities, resting on the perceived benefits for all taking part.

Mabjaia stressed that "all the countries who share the Zambezi basin have an interest in maintaining the productive capacity of its ecosystems, so as to guarantee the sustainable development of each one of them, and the region as a whole".

The book was produced by SARDC, in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Portuguese version was financed by the Dutch embassy in Maputo.

The book describes the physical, human and environmental characteristics of the basin, and the threats to its biodiversity, including over-exploitation of resources, habitat loss and pollution.

President Chissano addresses World Food Summit

President Joaquim Chissano on 10 June described hunger as both a consequence, and one of the main causes of poverty.

Addressing the World Food Summit in Rome, organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), President Chissano stressed that "hunger is, above all, one of the major causes of the poverty in which more than 1.3 billion people live throughout the world, with an income of less than a dollar a day".

He noted that, despite all the scientific and technological advances of the last half century, 34,000 children a day are still dying - enough to prove, in the view of UN experts, that there is a lack of political will to eliminate the problem.

President Chissano said that, under the present conditions of globalisation, only a globally coordinated strategy and struggle could remove the spectre of hunger from the planet. "The eradication of hunger and its causes should be a concern with national, regional and world dimensions", he said. And if this battle were to have any chance of success, nations must coordinate their policies and share their technologies.

He said that Mozambique has pledged to reduce the number of its citizens who suffer from hunger by 30 per cent in the next decade, and there are signs that this target will be reached.

But Mozambique could not win this struggle on its own, and the President appealed for continued support from the international community, notably to assist in the construction of dams, dikes and other infrastructures to control the country's water resources. He believed that better management of the country's rivers would minimise the chances of further devastating floods such as those of February 2000.

Mozambique is on the UN's list of 23 countries where the majority of people suffer from chronic hunger, along with Somalia, Afghanistan, Burundi, Eritrea, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea, Ethiopia. Liberia, Niger, Mongolia, Zambia, Sierra Leone and Angola.

President Chissano gave figures indicating that, since the end of the war of destabilisation in 1992, Mozambique has made significant steps in the direction of food security. Thus the estimated grain production rose from 764,000 tonnes in 1993 to 1.4 million tonnes in 1999, and 1.7 million tonnes in 2001.

The President said that debt relief under the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative had allowed the country to channel more resources into increasing agricultural production, and improving living conditions in rural areas.

But one of the main obstacles to further advance, he added, was the AIDS epidemic, which struck at the most productive strata of the population.

Zimbabwean farmers lack money to invest in Manica

Lack of funds is the chief difficulty facing the Zimbabwean farmers who have applied for agricultural land in the central Mozambican province of Manica, reports "Noticias" on 10 June.

The Manica provincial agriculture director, Jose da Graca, told reporters that a group of Zimbabwean farmers had initially applied for 440,000 hectares, but this could not be granted because they were found not to have the necessary money. "They have no equipment, no money, and thus they are not eligible to invest in Mozambique. We treating them as any investor", he said.

Da Graca explained that discussions have been going on for the last three years about agricultural areas in the districts of Barue and Macossa, in the Zambezi valley. He said that the provincial government would grant, in a first stage, about 1,000 hectares to each farmer, and would consider giving more land if available.

Some farmers have been submitting individual projects to the Investment Promotion Centre (CPI), just like any other investor. Da Graca said that, so far, between 70 and 75, out of the 150 inital farmers, have submitted applications individually.

He said that the Zimbabwean farmers intended to produce a number of cash crops, such as soya, sunflower, wheat and, in the medium term, to raise livestock.

US food aid arrives in Maputo

The United States government on 10 June handed over almost 10,000 tonnes of foodstuffs, valued at $4.8 million, to the Mozambican and Swazi authorities, to assist people at risk of hunger because of the drought affecting much of southern Africa.

At a ceremony on the bridge of the ship carrying the food, the "Liberty Glory", US ambassador Sharon Wilkinson declared "it is our intention to help save lives and reduce human suffering until the next harvest".

She said that this was the worst drought to hit the region since 1992, and hundreds of thousands of households across southern Africa had lost their crops. Mozambique was less affected than several of its neighbours - but even so, many Mozambicans would need food aid for at least a few months.

Thanks to efficient early warning systems, the drought had been forecast, Wilkinson said - and the "Liberty Glory", loaded with maize, vegetable oil and beans, was on its way to southern African ports before the drought was officially declared.

The ambassador said that Mozambique was key in any response to the drought because its three main ports, Maputo, Beira and Nacala, are essential gateways to the landlocked countries of the interior. "We are very grateful to the high level of commitment shown by the Mozambican government, in ensuring that these transport links function effectively", she said.

Silvano Langa, the director of Mozambique's relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), noted that the previous week's report from a mission of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), confirmed that Mozambique's northern provinces have a surplus of 100,000 tonnes of grain, but the south and centre of the country are in deficit "which is where this donated food will go".

The "Liberty Glory" brought 5,000 tonnes of maize and 890 tonnes of beans and oil for Mozambique.

Government makes available 10 billion meticais for drought

The Mozambican government has made available ten billion meticais (about $416,500) to help implement its emergency plan to mitigate the effects of drought in the southern and central regions of the country, reports "Noticias" on 6 June.

The director of the country's relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), Silvano Langa, told the paper that about 60,000 families (around 300,000 people) are in need of emergency food aid in these regions.

Estimates from a recent mission of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) indicate that the number of people at risk of hunger may rise to 515,000 before the next main harvest, in April 2003.

Langa explained that the funds granted from the state budget are to be used in various sectors at district and provincial level, with priority given to the development of drought resistant crops, continuous monitoring of the situation, nutritional surveys, with particular focus on children and women, and also the transport of the goods needed to assist the affected populations. Langa said that the money will be managed by the Planning and Finance Ministry.

The government plan is to buy and distribute maize, beans and vegetable seeds for the second season sowings, and encourage peasant farmers to produce seeds for the future. The government also intends to campaign against uncontrolled bush fires, which are still widely used to clear land, and to urge farmers to create food reserves for their livestock.

"The intention is to encourage actions to mitigate the effects of drought at all levels, and educate people to face the situation", said Langa.

Oil prospection agreement with Petronas

The Mozambican government and the National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH) on 5 June signed an agreement with the Malaysian state oil firm, Petronas, for offshore oil and gas prospection in the Zambezi delta.

The agreement involves an investment of $40 million, of which the Mozambican state is to provide 15 per cent, with an option to raise its stake to 20 per cent. Signing the agreement were the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Esperanca Bias, the chairman of the ENH board, Issufo Abdullah, and the General Director of Petronas, Mohamad Joari Dasri.

The government is optimistic that there are substantial hydrocarbon deposits in the Zambezi delta waiting to be discovered. ENH suggests that the known natural gas fields further south (at Pande, Temane and Buzi) are geologically linked to the hypothetical deposits under the delta.

In the first three years, Petronas should invest about $10 million in geological and geophysical assessment and analysis. It will have access to earlier studies of the potential of the Zambezi delta.

Bias said the government "is aware that so far there have been no commercially viable discoveries of oil in Mozambique. However, the geological and geophysical studies already undertaken, particularly in the Zambezi delta, suggests that the conditions for oil do exist".

Abdullah told reporters that another promising area is the basin of the Rovuma river in the far north, on the border with Tanzania. He said that traces of oil have been found on the surface, and contacts are under way with oil companies attempting to interest them in the area.

Volatility in the oil market damaged earlier attempts to explore for oil in both areas. Esso was prospecting in the Rovuma basin, and BP and Elf in the Zambezi delta - but these companies withdrew when, in 1999/2000 the world market price of oil collapsed from $20 to $10 a barrel. In BP's case, the price fall coincided with its merger with AMOCO, and Mozambique ceased to be a priority for the merged company's investment policy.

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