Mozambique News Agency

No.236, 18th July 2002


Vaz resigns as Renamo general secretary

Joaquim Vaz resigned from his post of general secretary of Renamo on 29 August after it became clear at a meeting of the 60 member Renamo National Council in Beira that the great majority of the Renamo provincial delegations had lost confidence in him. For the next six months, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama will take on the position of general secretary.

According to a source in the National Council, for the second time in two days, Vaz was given a rough ride by the delegates, and so, rather than suffer the humiliation of a crushing defeat in a vote, he stood down. But not before he had made a few final comments. He remarked that, even on taking office in November 2001, he had noted the hostility of some members of the National Council towards him.

Now he was hearing "the same old song", about his friendship with Raul Domingos, the former head of the Renamo parliamentary group, who was expelled from the party in 2000, and about his alleged ineffectiveness as general secretary. But the real reason why he had not been able to do his job properly was Renamo's shortage of money, he said.

Dhlakama said he regretted Vaz's resignation. He claimed that he still had confidence in Vaz, but he could not go against the wishes of the party's grass roots. In democracy, the party's members have more power than the party leader, he said piously.

Dhlakama said he would need six months to propose a name for a new general secretary to the National Council. During that time, he would run the party. More than ever, absolute power in Renamo now rests in Dhlakama's hands.

Delegates from just two provinces, Sofala and Tete (his home province), argued in favour of Vaz. The other nine provincial delegations were drawing up a motion of no confidence in him.

According to a report in "Mediafax" on 30 July, Vaz proposed that the general secretary should have the power to appoint Renamo's provincial delegates, since they are the people who must work closely with him, and in whom he must have confidence. To date Dhlakama has had the sole power to appoint provincial delegates. The monthly subsidy that Renamo receives from the state (thanks to its parliamentary representation), Vaz argued, should be split between the Renamo president's office, and the general secretariat of the party. This is a veiled criticism of how Dhlakama has handled the party's funds.

He also wanted the political commission, in charge of the day-to-day running of the party, to include the general secretary automatically. One of the problems that faced Vaz right from the start was that he was never a member of the political commission.

Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga told reporters "The performance of the general secretary was zero on the ground, and this caused discontent among the party members". He insisted that it was Vaz's alleged ineffectiveness that led to his removal, rather than his opinion that Raul Domingos should be re-admitted to Renamo.

The National Council also re-elected the political commission that had been dissolved the previous day, but minus two of its members, Gulamo Jafar and Maria Macuacua - both regarded as moderates.

Jafar is a jurist, who was prominent in the 1994-99 parliament, where he was the rapporteur of the Legal Affairs Commission. Maria Macuacua was the spokesperson for the 1999 National Elections Commission (CNE), on which she showed some independence, refusing to accept orders from the senior Renamo figure on the CNE, Jose de Castro.

Renamo dissidents accuse Dhlakama

Dissidents within Renamo have claimed that Dhlakama took the post of general secretary as well as that of president "in order to foment corruption".

Lucas Taimo, a former colonel in the Renamo army during the war of destabilisation, cited in "Diario de Mocambique" on 7 August, declared "Dhlakama says that in democracy there ought to be decentralisation, but he centralises everything. What does he want? He wants to encourage corruption during the six months in which he will be managing the party. Who will he be accountable to?" Taimo and his group are believed to be behind leaflets that circulated in the northern city of Nampula last month calling for Dhlakama to be sacked as party leader.

A second group of demobilised soldiers, headed by former Renamo general Mario Franque, rallied to Dhlakama's defence. They claim that Taimo has been "bought" by the ruling Frelimo Party, while Taimo dismisses Franque's group as "yesmen" and "bootlickers".

An embittered Joaquim Vaz, claimed that he was only appointed to the job in the first place as a manoeuvre by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama to remove him from Portugal, where he had represented Renamo for a decade.

Interviewed by the Portuguese news agency LUSA, Vaz said that after analysing all that had happened since October 2001 (the date of the Renamo congress at which he was appointed general secretary), he could only conclude that Dhlakama had suggested his appointment because he wanted to get Vaz out of Portugal. But he admitted that another plausible hypothesis was that Dhlakama was trying to improve Renamo's image in the centre of the country, badly shaken by the expulsion from the party of Raul Domingos.

Renamo's traditional heartland is Sofala province, where there are two main ethnic groups, Ndaus and Senas. Dhlakama is the leading Ndau in Renamo, and Domingos was the most high- ranking Sena: it was thus easy to interpret the expulsion of Domingos in ethnic terms.

Since Vaz is a Sena, he wondered whether Dhlakama might have had him appointed in an attempt to cure the damage done by expelling Domingos. Vaz may have sealed his fate in Renamo by repeatedly insisting, and in public, that Domingos should be re-admitted to Renamo.

The official Renamo position, however, is that Domingos will only be re-admitted if he apologises to Renamo members for his alleged "betrayal" of the party - something which Domingos has made clear he will not do.

Better literacy raises human development index

Improved education has led to a surprising jump in Mozambique's human development index (HDI), according to the latest National Human Development Report. The HDI is a an instrument developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to measure progress in human development, defined as "the broadening of people's choices".

The index is a composite measure of the three factors key in allowing people to lead more fulfilling lives - longevity, educational achievement, and a decent standard of living.

Longevity is measured by life expectancy at birth, and standard of living by real GDP per capita measured in US dollars adjusted to parity purchasing power. Educational achievement is broken into two components - the adult literacy rate, and the combined enrolment rate in primary, secondary and tertiary education.

The HDI has a maximum value of one. According to the UNDP's global Human Development Report for 2000, the highest human development in the world was registered in Canada, with an HDI of 0.935. The lowest, of the 174 countries covered, was Sierra Leone, with an HDI of 0.252.

The National Report finds that Mozambique's HDI has steadily increased - from 0.328 in 1997, to 0.338 in 1998, 0.346 in 1999, and a startling jump to 0.362 in 2000, the last year for which full figures are available. Preliminary estimates indicate a further increase in the HDI, to 0.378, in 2001.

The improvement in 2000 is surprising because that was the year of catastrophic flooding in the south and centre of the country, which had a severe impact on economic growth. The economy that year only grew by 1.6 per cent, well below the population growth rate of 2.3 per cent.

The report explains that the rise in Mozambique's HDI is due almost exclusively to a sharp drop in adult illiteracy. The 1997 census found an illiteracy rate of 60.5 per cent, but the survey on basic indicators of well-being (QUIBB), undertaken in 2000, found an illiteracy rate of 56.7 per cent - a reduction in illiteracy of 6.3 per cent in just four years.

This could be regarded as a tribute to the expansion in education since the end of the war of destabilisation in 1992. But sceptics will point out that there is a larger margin of error in the QUIBB figures than in the census ones. For while the census attempted to interview every household in the country, QUIBB used sampling techniques. The sample consisted of 14,500 households, and while the National Statistics Institute (INE) is highly professional in its methods, there is always the possibility that the sample is not fully representative.

Less surprising is the rise in the second component of the educational achievement index, the combined enrolment rate. As schools destroyed in the war are reopened, and new ones built, the number of pupils enrolled increases. Thus the combined enrolment rate has risen from just 25 per cent in 1994 to 30.5 per cent in 1998, 32.7 per cent in 1999, and 35.8 per cent in 2000.

Life expectancy and GDP estimated to be rising

Life expectancy at birth is also slowly rising, from 42.9 years in 1998, to 43.5 in 1999, and 44.2 in 2000. These estimates are extrapolations from the 1997 census, and have come under attack in some quarters for failing to take the demographic impact of the AIDS epidemic into account.

But the INE argues that the effects of AIDS are already captured in the birth and death rates shown in the census. There are no reliable statistics on AIDS deaths, though this gap may well be remedied in the Demographic and Health Survey that the INE is planning for next year.

As for real GDP per capita, this too has risen - but by nowhere near as much as in the late 1990s. Expressed in parity purchasing power (PPP) dollars, GDP per capita rose sharply from 755.3 in 1997, to 817.6 in 1998, to 851 in 1999. In 2000, the rise was much smaller, to 864.6. However, substantial economic growth resumed in 2001, and the estimate for GDP per capita for that year is a leap to 1,049.9 PPP dollars.

Huge regional imbalances

Does this mean that poverty is on the decline? Perhaps not - for when broken down by region and by province, the figures show a huge concentration of production (37 per cent) in Maputo city. The other southern provinces account for 14 per cent, the central region for 28 per cent, and the north for 21 per cent.

As the report remarks, "there is an enormous gulf between economic activity in Maputo city and in the rest of the country". The 2000 figures show significant economic growth in only four of the country's 11 provinces - Maputo province (26.5 per cent), the western province of Tete (16.6 per cent), Niassa in the far north (6.9 per cent), and Maputo city (5.9 per cent).

The impressive Maputo province figure is due almost exclusively to the MOZAL aluminium smelter at Beluluane, which began production in 2000. It is MOZAL that is responsible for the enormous jump of 182.9 per cent in the value of Mozambique's manufactured production between 1999 and 2000.

Zambezia and Nampula provinces showed slight increases in their GDP (0.8 and 0.5 per cent respectively). Everywhere else there was a decline: Gaza, Manica and Sofala provinces, all badly hit by flooding, saw their GDPs decline by 17.1 per cent, 11.1 per cent and 10.5 per cent. Inhambane and Cabo Delgado provinces both recorded a fall of 1.3 per cent.

So provincial HDIs give a rather different picture from the national one - particularly as the statisticians have been unable to use the purchasing power parity methodology at provincial level.

With GDP per capita expressed in dollars, three provinces see a decline in their HDI - worst off is Zambezia, where the HDI fell from 0.182 in 1999 to 0.168 in 2000. Sofala fell from 0.293 to 0.290, and Cabo Delgado from 0.193 to 0.185. All other provinces show a slight improvement, due once more to rising educational levels.

Looking solely at real GDP per capita, in 2000 this fell everywhere except Maputo province. The worst fall was in Gaza, from 138 to 93 dollars, certainly the result of the huge floods on the Limpopo. Even Maputo city per capita GDP fell - from 1,221 to 1,068 dollars.

The poorest province remains Zambezia - here per capita GDP fell from 95 to 78 dollars. Maputo province alone went in the other direction with its per capita GDP rising from 168 to 171 dollars.

But a couple of caveats should be added. First, the figures look slightly better when expressed in the Mozambican currency, meticais. And secondly, many of the 2000 GDP losses were reversed in 2001, although the full statistics are not yet available.

Gender gap remains wide

Mozambique's Gender-related Development Index (GDI) is gradually rising, but remains one of the lowest in the world, according to the National Human Development Report.

The GDI is an instrument that measures the difference in human development achievements and capacities between women and men. It takes the same variables used by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to construct the Human Development Index (HDI) and adjusts them to the observed inequalities between the sexes.

The GDI of a country is usually lower than its HDI - which confirms that women still face obstacles to their development all over the world. The larger the gap between the two indices, the larger the inequality between the sexes.

For Mozambique, the difference is very substantial. The researchers who drew up the National Report, calculated that the HDI rose from 0.346 to 0.362 from 1999 to 2000, while the GDI rose from 0.289 to 0.304. The gap between the two indices has thus remained almost unchanged.

The GDI is growing at roughly the same rate as the HDI, and the figures suggest that at least inequality is not getting any worse. The report concludes that "while disparities between men and women are not increasing, the policies intended to promote the advancement of women in a deliberate manner, particularly as regards access to education, health and other social services, are not yet producing the desired effects".

The figures indicate that inequality between the sexes is considerably worse in the centre and north of Mozambique than in the southern four provinces. This edition of the national report deals specifically with gender issues. Looking at political and administrative power, it finds that this lies overwhelmingly in male hands.

The central state bodies have made an effort in the direction of gender equality: thus 29.4 per cent of the members of parliament elected in 1999 are women (one of the highest percentages, not only in Africa, but in the world). In the government 14.3 per cent of the ministers and 29.4 per cent of the deputy ministers are women. 31.3 per cent of the permanent secretaries in ministries are women.

But at lower levels of the civil service the picture is bleaker: only 16 per cent of national directors and 19.6 per cent of deputy national directors are women. Not one of the 11 provincial governors is a woman, and only 7.6 per cent of provincial directors and 20 per cent of deputy provincial directors are women.

In the 138 districts, it is rare to find a woman in a powerful position. 4.7 per cent of district administrators are women and 4.4 per cent of district directors.

Statistics for the breakdown of work between the sexes are particularly revealing. They show that the formal, wage-earning sector of the economy is largely a male preserve. Thus in urban areas, 62.9 per cent of the men at work, but only 22.1 per cent of working women, are in public companies, the public administration or the private capitalist sector.

The vast majority of urban working women fall into the category of self-employed (51.8 per cent), or "unpaid workers" (23.7 per cent). These are the women workers of the informal economy of petty trading, agriculture in the city suburbs, tiny household businesses and a good deal of domestic service - the latter are usually family members paid not by a wage, but by food and accommodation.

In the rural areas most people, men and women alike, are peasant farmers, and thus do not earn a wage. But what little wage labour there is in the countryside goes overwhelmingly to men - the formal sector (public and private companies, and the public administration) accounts for 9.1 per cent of rural male workers, but only 1.8 per cent of rural female workers.

62.4 per cent of working women in the countryside are described as "unpaid workers", doubtless working on the family fields. Taking the country as a whole, the self-employed and the "unpaid workers" account for 93.7 per cent of all women workers, but only 75.1 per cent of male workers.

The report notes that, while deprivation is generalised in Mozambique, the data show "that women face greater privations than men". Furthermore, it is a delusion to imagine that economic growth in itself will change this, and the report calls on the government to adopt "social policies sensitive to the advancement of women". "The advancement of women and the promotion of equity do not result from a technocratic process, just as human development does not result simply from economic growth", it stresses. "Both depend on political will".

Balance of trade with EU improves

Mozambique's exports to the European Union more than tripled in 2001, due almost exclusively to the MOZAL aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Maputo. Exports to the EU rose from €111.8 million in 1999 to €170.5 million in 2000, €531 million in 2001.

The production of aluminium ingots at MOZAL began in mid 2000, but the smelter was only operating at full capacity in early 2001. EU countries imported Mozambican aluminium worth €22.1 million in 2000, but the figure rose to €391.6 million in 2001.

In 2001, aluminium accounted for 73.7 per cent of Mozambique's exports to the EU. The agricultural goods that once dominated Mozambique's exports declined in both absolute and percentage terms - from €99.4 to €94.7 million, and from 58 to 18 per cent.

Shellfish (mainly prawns) are the second most important export to the EU, and earned Mozambique €74.5 million in 2001 - which was a decline of nine per cent on the 2000 figure of €82.1 million.

Exports of cotton, the third most significant export, fell from 15,900 to 10,588 tonnes, and in value by 32 per cent (from €20.1 million to €13.7 million).

Tobacco looks likely to overtake cotton: exports to the EU rose from 1,600 tonnes purchased for €6 million in 2000, to 4,288 tonnes valued at €12.3 million in 2001.

Imports from the EU into Mozambique have been falling - by 24 per cent in 2000 and by a further four per cent in 2001 (from €266.9 million in 1999, to €202.7 million in 2000, and €194.9 million in 2001). This was largely due to the completion of MOZAL, the construction of which involved large amounts of imported machinery. Now that the smelter's capacity is being doubled, further imports of equipment for MOZAL can be expected.

The release says that the most significant imports from the EU in 2001 were fishing boats (8.8 per cent of the total), telecommunications equipment (5.5 per cent), electrical goods (4.5 per cent), medicines (2.9 per cent), and cables and wires (2.7 per cent).

As a result, Mozambique's balance of trade with the EU has improved dramatically. Up until 2000, the balance was in deficit, but in 2001, for the first time ever, Mozambique exported more to the EU than it imported.

In 1999 the balance of trade with the EU was €155.1 million in deficit. In 2000, the deficit shrank to €32.2 million. But in 2001, the country ran a surplus on the trade balance of €336 million.

Within the EU, Spain and Portugal used to be the main buyers of Mozambican produce (essentially agricultural goods and prawns). But now massive purchases of aluminium by Holland and Belgium make the Benelux countries Mozambique's most important trading partners within the EU. The EU accounts for 75 per cent of Mozambique's exports, and 17 per cent of its imports.

Austria cancels debt

Austria has cancelled 100 per cent of Mozambique's debt, which stood at €19.4 million, as part of the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) debt relief initiative.

The Kuwait Fund and the Arab Bank for the Economic Development of Africa (BADEA) have also signed debt relief agreements with the Mozambican government. The Kuwait Fund's contribution to Mozambique's HIPC relief is $19.1 million, and that from BADEA is $3.2 million.

The OPEC Fund has signed an agreement with the government granting credit of $10 million to be used to pay off Mozambique's debt to OPEC. This is equivalent to debt relief of $7.7 million. This OPEC Fund relief falls under phase 1 of HIPC - further relief of $1.2 million is expected in the near future since the Fund has expressed its willingness to participate in phase 2, or "Enhanced HIPC".

Government wants elections on schedule

The Mozambican government is concerned over the delay in the revision of the country's electoral legislation, and is urging parliamentary politicians to seek consensus on these matters so that the elections take place on time.

The warning against any further delay was given by the Minister of State Administration, Jose Chichava, on 31 July at the opening of a meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) - the electoral branch of the civil service.

Chichava urged STAE to tune up for the municipal and general elections, scheduled for 2003, and 2004 respectively, even while awaiting the passage of revised electoral laws, which are still under discussion by an ad-hoc commission of the Assembly of the Republic, the Mozambican parliament.

He recalled that one of the most important tasks prior to the elections is updating the electoral registers. This cannot be done yet, because there is no National Elections Commission (CNE) - this body, in overall charge of elections, will only be established after an agreement on the electoral legislation.

Chichava also criticised as "ignorant of electoral procedures" those politicians (of the Renamo-Electoral Union opposition coalition) who insist that STAE should be formed on a political basis, appointing its key officials, not because of their competence, but because of their political party affiliation.

A report presented to the meeting by STAE general director, Antonio Carrasco, said that by the year 2000, STAE's estimates were that updating the electoral registers would cover about 1.6 million citizens, including new registrations of people who had turned 18, or who, for whatever reason, had not registered earlier, transferring the names of voters who had changed address, and issuing new voting cards to people who had lost the old one.

But, since many people were forced to change residence, because of the floods of 2000, the figure has now grown to about three million.

However, Renamo is pushing, not for updating the registers, but for an entirely new registration of the entire electorate, despite the huge additional costs involved, and the fact that this will make redundant all the work done in computerising the 1999 registration.

STAE to abolish mobile registration brigades

STAE has announced that it is to abolish mobile voter registration brigades, as a result of "unfortunate experiences" in the 1999 registration.

Antonio Carrasco told AIM on 2 August that STAE will have only fixed brigades to register voters. He said that STAE had 1,936 fixed brigades in the 1999 registration, "but we also had a lot of mobile brigades, and the experience proved not very good. It is true that they did their job, but there were problems of quality in some aspects, and thus, those brigades will be replaced by fixed ones".

He believed that the fixed brigades could guarantee voter registration, even in the most remote areas, because they would stay there throughout the whole registration process.

The disadvantage of the mobile brigades, Carrasco believed, was precisely their constant mobility, because people are also moving frequently. He thought that with a mobile brigade it was easier for any potential voter to register more than once, just by following the brigade from one place to another.

Carrasco said that the number of fixed brigades should increase to about 3,000, in order to cover the three million or so people expected to register, since every brigade caters for about 1,000 voters. This assumes that the registration simply updates the existing registers: but if a re-registration of the entire electorate is undertaken, as demanded by the parliamentary ad-hoc commission reviewing the electoral legislation, then there will be about nine million people to be registered.

Carrasco also commented on the difficulties created by the mobility of the population, caused by the floods in 2000 and 2001, that forced many people to abandon their original homes, and created new population centres. "We know where people are, and we know where most of them came from. It will be easy to transfer these people (to new voting registers)", he said. Carrasco said that some of these new population centres will now acquire registration posts and polling stations.

Speaking of the second municipal elections, scheduled for 2003, Carrasco said that they will cost about $50 million. He explained that this money is needed to set up the National Elections Commission (CNE), to train the electoral staff, to buy the necessary registration materials, to run the logistics, including communications and transport, and also to hold voter education campaigns. This figure was estimated on the assumption that the elections will be held only in the 33 cities and towns that currently have municipal status.

"If the politicians decide otherwise, if they go for a complete re-registration of the electorate, and if they expand the number of municipalities, the costs will be higher", Carrasco said.

The Coordinating Council decided that the registration process should this time be done in only 30 to 45 days, instead of the 75 days suggested by some STAE officials.

The entire process of the municipal elections, including the update of the voter registration and the polling itself is estimated to involve about 80,000 staff.

Increase in cargo at ports

Mozambique's five main ports of Maputo, Beira, Quelimane, Nacala and Pemba handled 2.4 per cent more cargo during the first half of this year than in the same period of 2001, reports "Noticias".

Citing sources in the publicly owned Ports and Railway company (CFM), the paper writes that between January and June this year, the amount of cargo carried by the CFM rail systems was in excess of 391 million tonne/kilometres. This is a growth of 1.5 per cent, when compared with the 385 million tonne/kilometres achieved in the first six months of 2001. This growth is due to a gradual increase in the use of Mozambican ports and railways by neighbouring countries.

Most of the growth was accounted for by central port of Beira which handled a total of 1,181,600 tonnes, compared with 1,084,400 tonnes in the first half of 2001. The CFM source explained that part of the cargo handled in Beira is trucked in from Malawi, although in theory it would be cheaper for Malawi to use the northern port of Nacala.

The main problem here is that parts of the northern rail system are in poor condition, particularly the 77 kilometre stretch from the Malawian border to the town of Cuamba, which did not benefit from the same thorough rehabilitation as the rest of the Nacala corridor in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Because of these problems, activity in Nacala port has declined. Although it is acknowledged as the best deep water port on the east African coast, Nacala handled only 334,900 tonnes of cargo between January and June this year, compared with 348,700 tonnes in the first half of 2001.

Maputo port also saw a decline, handling only 1,940,200 tonnes, compared with 1,994,000 tonnes during the first six months of 2001.

EU funds health project in Zambezia

The European Union has disbursed about $2 million earmarked for the extension of the primary health care network in all districts of the central province of Zambezia, but prioritising the least favoured areas in terms of health service coverage, particularly the districts of Alto-Molocue, Ile, Mocuba, Milange, Morrumbala, and Maganja da Costa. Except for Ile district, all the other health centres covered by the project are to be turned into rural hospitals.

The Danish Vale Flor Institute is prepared to pay for the training of 32 basic health technicians.

For its part, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has granted $2 million for the creation of Community Health Councils in seven districts of Zambezia. This project, to be implemented over the coming three years, includes, among other activities, the training of technical staff, medical doctors and community midwives, and the conduct of vaccination programmes.

These projects will benefit about 1.12 million people living in those districts, plus Quelimane, the provincial capital.

New Chinese medical team

The governments of Mozambique and China signed a protocol in Maputo on 1 August, under which China is to send a team of 12 medical doctors to work in Mozambique during the next two years. These doctors are to replace the current Chinese medical team, which is ending its mission, and is due to return home soon.

These teams include specialists in various fields, such as general surgery, obstetrics, acupuncture, and others.

The Chinese doctors are to be distributed between Maputo Central Hospital and the Mavalane General Hospital, the latter on the outskirts of Maputo city, providing assistance and helping train Mozambican health staff.

Since 1976 China has been sending teams of medical doctors to work in Mozambique.

Japanese aid

The Japanese government is to grant Mozambique $3.5 million to finance the third phase of the rural water supply project for the central province of Zambezia.

The money is to be used to drill a further 150 boreholes in the northern districts of Zambezia. Japan is also providing the two drilling machines that will be used in this work.

Japan has already provided $15.8 million to improve the supply of clean drinking water in Zambezia. Part of this money was used to train local staff to ensure that the boreholes will not fall into disrepair but will be maintained properly, on a sustainable basis, by the beneficiary communities.

A second agreement signed between the two governments concerns the placing in Mozambique of Japanese volunteers for overseas cooperation. Young volunteers from Japan should begin to arrive as from next July, intended as a contribution to technological development and capacity building at community level.

Italy donates food for drought victims

About 800 tonnes of rice, donated by the Italian government, is being distributed among the victims of drought in several districts of the southern province of Inhambane.

Inhambane governor Aires Aly told AIM that the food is being distributed in nine districts, namely Massinga, Mabote, Funhalouro, Inhassoro, Vilankulo, Govuro, Panda, Homoine, and Inharrime.

The Inhambane government authorities estimate that some 300,200 people are suffering from drought-related food shortages, mostly in the northern region of the province. For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) says it is prepared to grant further food supplies for some of these people, through "food for work" projects, involving building or rehabilitating schools, health units, roads and water sources.

About 60 per cent of this year's harvest in Inhambane was lost to the drought. The biggest losses were in maize and peanuts which, together with cassava, provide the staple diet for the Inhambane population.

Aly said that in addition to food, his government is also distributing seeds and other agricultural inputs for the 2002/2003 planting season.

"It has rained in Inhambane and we are working to ensure that the agriculture sector will get the inputs to the people", he said.

Ayob Satar charged with attempt on lawyer's life

A Maputo judge has overruled the Public Prosecutor's Office, and has added a seventh name to the list of suspects indicted for the attempted murder, in November 1999, of one of the country's most prominent lawyers, Albano Silva.

The prosecutor charged businessman Momade Assif Abdul Satar with the crime, and five others - namely Anibal dos Santos (better known as "Anibalzinho"), Fernando Magno, Osvaldo Muianga and Paulo Estevao. But he declined to charge Satar's older brother, Ayob Abdul Satar, owner of the "Unicambios" chain of foreign exchange bureaux.

But the judge has agreed with the prosecutor over former bank manager Vicente Ramaya: no charges will be pursued against him in this case.

The attempt on Albano Silva's life is believed to be related to his activity as lawyer for the country's largest bank, the BCM, which was attempting to recover money stolen from it in 1996, on the eve of its privatisation.

At the time, Ramaya was manager of the BCM branch in the plush Maputo suburb of Sommerschield, where a massive fraud was perpetrated, using accounts opened in the names of members of the Abdul Satar family. In a few weeks 144 billion meticais (about $14 million at the exchange rate of the time) was siphoned out of the bank.

Currently, Ramaya, the two Satar brothers, and Anibalzinho are in the Maputo top security jail, awaiting trial for the murder, on 22 November 2000, of Mozambique's best known journalist Carlos Cardoso, who had been investigating the BCM fraud and other activities of the Abdul Satar family.

Murder of Sofala treasurer linked to theft

The Mozambican police in the central province of Sofala suspect that the 17 July murder of Josefa Afonso, head of the treasury department in the Provincial Directorate of Planning and Finance, may have to do with the theft of five billion meticais (about $208,000) from the directorate.

Sources contacted by "Diario de Mocambique" named Belmiro dos Santos, a colleague of Afonso in the Finance Directorate, as one of the six people arrested by the police in connection with the murder.

These anonymous sources say that Afonso had discovered that large sums of money were being stolen, though a corrupt arrangement involving cheques drawn on the Beira branch of the Bank of Mozambique. They believe she was killed in order to hinder investigation into the theft.

A third official in the Finance Directorate, Jose Cumbana, is also said to be involved in the case. He disappeared after the murder, but was subsequently arrested in the town of Maxixe, in Inhambane province, while he was travelling to Maputo.

Dos Santos and Cumbana are suspected of the theft from the Finance Directorate, in connivance with a cashier at the Bank of Mozambique branch, named only as Fernando, who is also under arrest.

The Sofala police command has promised further details as soon as the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) completes its investigations.

TDM making healthy profit

Mozambique's publicly owned telecommunications company, TDM, made a profit of 115.5 billion meticais (about $4.8 million) in 2001, a 32 per cent increase on the previous year's figure, according to the TDM accounts.

The fixed telephone network remains the largest source of income for TDM, generating 57 per cent of its total income. 69 per cent of this income came from domestic calls, and 19 per cent from international calls. The remaining 12 per cent derives from installation fees and line rentals.

But the most startling aspect of these accounts is the enormous expansion of the mobile telephone service, run by the TDM subsidiary M-Cel. The number of mobile phone subscribers rose from 12,243 in 1999 to 51,065 in 2000, to 152,652 at the end of 2001.

Only 17 per cent of the mobile phone clients are on contracts, paying for the service at the end of each month. The other 83 per cent simply buy the prepaid cards, renewing them when they run out.

Income from the fixed lines rose by 34 per cent in 2001, but that from the mobile service rose by 98 per cent. Thus on current trends, the mobile service is likely to overtake the fixed network as the major source of TDM's income in 2002.

Plans to expand school network

The Education Ministry plans to open a further 450 schools at all levels next year, in order to respond to the growing demand for education.

The spokesperson for the Ministry's Coordinating Council, Pedro Biche, told reporters on 22 August that this measure should alleviate overcrowding in primary and secondary schools, particularly in urban areas. At the same time, the Ministry plans to contract around 10,000 teachers to teach in the new schools.

Biche said the Ministry has decided to make permanent the changes to the school calendar that were introduced experimentally this year. The most important of these is that the school year now starts in January rather than February. Biche said that the simple strategy of expanding the number of days children are expected to attend school had worked, and this year's academic results were an improvement on previous years.

One headache is the school enrolment fee, which is a disincentive for poor families in the countryside to send their children to school. Biche said a study was under way, and the results from this would determine whether to charge poor families a lower fee, or to exempt them altogether.

Beira in danger of water shortage

Mozambique's second largest city, Beira, is in imminent danger of a serious shortage of drinking water as a result of the drought that has hit central Mozambique this year. This would be a repetition of events ten years ago: then, in the great southern African drought of 1992, scarcely a drop of water issued from Beira taps for a period of 60 days.

The warning of impending shortages was issued on 7 August by the central regional water board (ARA-Centro), which also called on the authorities to adopt a contingency plan urgently. Beira draws its water supply from the Pungue river. The director of ARA-Centro, Bernardino Novel, warned that the level of the river has fallen so low, that salt water is now invading the pumping station, particularly at high tides. The pumping equipment is highly sensitive to salt.

Using the current pumping station, the Beira Company has a theoretical capacity to treat 60,000 cubic metres of water a day. In fact, even before the fall in the level of the Pungue, it was only supplying 30,000 cubic metres a day to Beira and the nearby town of Dondo.

About a third of Beira's population of half a million have piped water in their homes. The rest obtain their water from standpipes or from wells.

Prime Minister warning on genetically modified maize

Any genetically modified maize sent to Mozambique as food aid must be milled before delivery to the beneficiaries, Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi said on 7 August.

Speaking at a Maputo press briefing, Prime Minister Mocumbi said that, under current legislation, the Mozambican authorities could accept or reject genetically modified grain, depending on the type of modification. "We want those who supply these goods to tell us what sort of modification they have undergone", he said. "And we want it processed before it is consumed, so that peasant farmers do not mistakenly use such maize for seeds".

Any genetically modified maize that arrived unmilled would have to go from the port straight to the processing plants, he said. The country could not risk the "unpredictable results" that would ensue from the sowing of such maize. "We don't want to create a habit of using genetically modified maize that the country cannot maintain", said Mocumbi.

Genetically modified crops were a high technology input that the Mozambican economy simply could not cope with at its current stage of development, when "we are not even able to produce basic agricultural implements".

As for the transit of genetically modified maize through Mozambican territory to landlocked countries, Mocumbi doubted that the question would arise, as recipient countries such as Zimbabwe did not want such goods.

Date set for trial of rail workers

The Maputo City Court has set 20 August as the date for the trial of the four railway workers accused of manslaughter for causing the worst disaster in the history of Mozambican rail transport.

The tragedy, in which 195 people died, occurred on the Maputo-South Africa line, at Tenga, about 30 kilometres from the Mozambican capital, on 25 May, when passenger carriages rolled down a slope and smashed into stationary wagons full of cement.

The driver of the train and the three other crew members face charges of manslaughter arising from violations of the regulations governing the movement of trains.

While there is a criminal case against the rail workers, there is a civil one against the railway company, CFM. The trial will look into CFM's responsibility, particularly as regards the state of the rolling stock.

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