Mozambique News Agency

No.239, 10th September 2002


Cardoso murder suspect escapes

The general commander of the police, Miguel dos Santos, on 10 September pledged that the authorities will discover who organised the escape from the Maputo top security prison of accused assassin Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior (better known as "Anibalzinho").

Anibalzinho is charged with leading the hit squad that murdered Mozambique's best known journalist, Carlos Cardoso, on 22 November 2000. The trial was scheduled for this month, but Anibalzinho escaped on 1 September.

Speaking at a meeting with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, which reporters also attended, dos Santos was sure that the truth could be extracted from the 11 policemen detained after the escape. "The policemen now in detention will reveal the circumstances of the escape", he said. "They are not going to get away as Anibalzinho did".

Dos Santos was certain that at least one of the commanders of the three police platoons that were supposed to be guarding Anibalzinho will reveal the truth. He pointed out that it should have been impossible for Anibalzinho to flee, since additional security had been mounted at the prison, after earlier attempts to escape had been discovered.

On several occasions, dos Santos said, Anibalzinho had tried to knock holes in the walls of his cell. This had led to a strengthening of the garrison: not only were ordinary policemen placed there, but so were units of the presidential guard and the riot police.

Dos Santos frankly admitted that the corruption involved in such an escae went beyond the three platoon commanders. He said that honest professionals in the police had aborted Anibalzinho's initial escape attempts, "but inside the police there are people who are part of organised crime, and who collaborate with criminal networks", he admitted.

Dos Santos also confirmed that Anibalzinho was given a special diet for six months. This was a police tactic to avoid any attempt to poison Anibalzinho.

The police commander said he had neither seen, nor been notified of the letter which Anibalzinho wrote to the ruling Frelimo Party, in which he claimed that the people who really ordered Cardoso's murder were "linked to Frelimo".

Dhlakama told the reporters that he did not believe there was any possibility of re-arresting Anibalzinho. "But you all heard the commander saying that Anibalzinho is alive and will be recaptured", he said.

Frangoulis give his version

In a newspaper interview, the former director of the Maputo branch of the Mozambican Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), Antonio Frangoulis, has said that accused assassin, Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), did indeed give him the names of other people allegedly involved in the murder of Cardoso, but never presented any evidence.

In a letter sent to Frelimo in December 2001, Anibalzinho declared "I showed Dr Antonio Frangoulis the material evidence I possess of the people directly linked to the murder of Carlos Cardoso, people who are linked to the Frelimo Party".

But Frangoulis, who was removed from his job at the end of June, says that Anibalzinho never gave him any proof.

Interviewed in "Domingo" on 8 September, Frangoulis said that Anibalzinho asked to speak to him in late September 2001, shortly after the judge in the Cardoso murder case, Augusto Paulino, had ruled there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Anibalzinho denied killing Cardoso, but by this, Frangoulis said, he merely meant that he had not fired the shots. "His idea was that the murderer is the one who fired the gun. And he did not shoot. He was driving the car, and this he admitted", said Frangoulis. "He even joked about it, saying ''yesterday I was regarded as an Al Capone, and now I'm reduced to a chauffeur''".

But Anibalzinho then threatened that "should this come to court, I will tell everything I know".

So what was this "everything" the paper asked Frangoulis.

"He made some revelations which he did not substantiate", Frangoulis replied. "He told me he would hand over evidence, but he never gave me anything. He wanted guarantees that I could not offer him".

In November 2001 after returning to work after a medical operation, Frangoulis visited one of the other accused, Momade Abdul Assife Satar (otherwise known as "Nini") in prison. "The nature of the conversation was the same", he said, "but nobody substantiated anything".

In June 2002, Frangoulis was removed from his job. It was, of course, more polite than a dismissal. "They told me I was relieved of my duties, but didn't tell me anything else", he recalled. "They told me I was going to study, but didn't give me the means with which to do so. They gave me 18 million meticais (about $750) for me to study English in South Africa".

"Domingo" claims that the person who has taken over from Frangoulis in PIC, Germano Parruque, "is one of the people who created most obstacles in the investigation of the murder of Carlos Cardoso".

The paper also asks what is the real reason for Manhenje sacking Frangoulis. "The man in charge of this entire case was Antonio Frangoulis", it points out. "How can it be explained that he has been removed when there is still so much to be expected from his work?" Even after his removal for office, Frangoulis continued to take a lively interest in the case. So much so that on 3 July he wrote to Manhenje, with a copy to the general commander of the Mozambican police, Miguel dos Santos, warning that Anibalzinho and Nini were planning to escape.

Finance Minister introduces revised budget

Finance Minister Luisa Diogo on 10 September presented an amended budget for 2002 to the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, seeking an increase in total expenditure of 11.4 per cent.

It is normal for the government to adjust the budget figures after the first two quarters to take account of such factors as inflation, devaluation, and, in this case, faster than expected economic growth.

In the past, the government has presented the amended budget at the final sitting of the Assembly, in December, and it has thus been a fait accompli. This time, because the Assembly is holding an extraordinary two week sitting in September, essentially to deal with electoral legislation, the amended budget has been tabled in time for changes to be made, if deputies so demand.

Total expenditure in the revised budget rises from the figure approved by the Assembly last December of 27,495 billion meticais ($1.136 billion at current exchange rates) to 30,634 billion. Diogo said the additional expenditure is all covered - but largely by foreign aid.

The primary deficit (i.e. recurrent and capital expenditure minus the state's own revenue) remains huge, at 15,675 billion meticais. This gap, equivalent to $648 million, is plugged by foreign aid.

Diogo told the Assembly that tax collection in the first half of the year had surpassed expectations. The state had collected 5,313 billion meticais in revenue, or 47.5 per cent of the December target for the year. This compared with just 43% of the target collected in the first six months of 2001. Since more taxes are always collected in the second half than in the first half of the year, this meant that the government should exceed the December tax figure.

Diogo attributed this success to reforms which had led to broadening the tax base, and improving fiscal administration, as well as to measures to combat tax evasion.

The minister said that the structure of state expenditure in the January-June period reflected the priorities of the government's Action Plan to Reduce Absolute Poverty (PARPA). In the recurrent expenditure 21 per cent had been spent on education, 10 per cent on health, and eight per cent on security and public order (mainly the police force).

As for capital expenditure, 71 per cent had gone on what Diogo described as PARPA "priority sectors" - 22.5 per cent on roads, 11.8 per cent on other public works and 12.1 per cent on agriculture and rural development.

Diogo said the government is confident that the economy will grow by considerably more than the ten per cent target set in December. She expected the 2002 growth in GDP to reach 12.2 per cent.

As for inflation, the government was now optimistic that this will be no more than eight per cent over the year (compared with 21 per cent in 2001).

Renamo attacks budget as "fictitious"

Deputies from the Renamo-Electoral Union attacked as fictitious the numbers on which the government's revised budget for 2002 is based. Renamo claimed that government documents gave contradictory figures on the economy, and that money is being siphoned out of the budget by Frelimo.

The most extreme speech came from Luis Boavida, who claimed that the Frelimo congress held in June had been financed by the state budget (a claim that Frelimo vigorously denied at the time).

"Luxury hotels are being built, and billions of meticais are being spent on this, and yet you say the country has no money", declared Boavida.

"The money approved in this Assembly for the provinces doesn't go to the provinces. It's stuck in Maputo", he claimed.

"If it's not used, where has it gone?" Boavida was referring to the failure of provincial governments to spend all the money allocated to them. At first sight, the claim by Finance Minister Luisa Diogo that 47.5 per cent of all the expenditure planned in the budget passed last December had been made in the first six months of 2002, is undermined by figures showing much lower figures of budgetary implementation in the provinces.

The Assembly's Plan and Budget Commission (CPO) had visited six provinces and had found none of them reaching even 40 per cent of planned expenditure. The levels of recurrent expenditure in these provinces ranged from 27 per cent in Niassa to 39 per cent in Tete and Zambezia.

For capital expenditure, the figures were much worse. By June, only three per cent of the investment budget had been spent in Nampula, six per cent in Inhambane, and eight per cent in Zambezia.

Yet these figures are not as dramatic as they look, largely because the bulk of the state budget is handled centrally, and not by the provincial governments.

But the apparent contradiction between government documents and the CPO's findings enabled Renamo to claim that no government figures could be trusted.

Some opposition deputies objected to the government adjusting the budget. Abel Mabunda claimed that the 11 per cent nominal increase in expenditure requested would lead to inflation and further depreciation of the currency.

Finance Minister Luisa Diogo retorted "it's very good to have a revised budget that increases expenditure rather than cutting it, which is normally the case in countries where governments amend the budgets".

Diogo was outraged by an opposition claim that extra money on Maputo city garbage collection was just a bribe to the voters prior to next year's municipal elections.

"Collecting rubbish in Maputo is not a luxury, it's a question of public health", she said. "Are we supposed to stop collecting the garbage just because elections are approaching?"

Renamo deputy Lurdes Antonio objected to the government spending five million dollars on building a modern conference centre in Maputo (which will be used for the first time for the 2003 summit of the African Union). She thought the money would be better spent on repairing the water supply in Liupo (a town in Nampula province).

Diogo replied that the conference centre was an appropriate use of resources, since it would generate more business for Maputo, and more tax revenue..

Asked by opposition deputy Maximo Dias how much Mozambique had benefited from debt relief under the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative, Diogo said that in 1998 Mozambique's total debt stock had been around six billion dollars. Now, after both the original HIPC, and "enhanced" HIPC, it has fallen to $761.5 million (in net present value terms).

Renamo opposed to discussing electoral laws

Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, on 10 September demanded that there should be no discussion of electoral legislation in the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, until consensus on the matter has been achieved.

Speaking at the opening session of an extraordinary sitting of the Assembly, the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ossofo Quitine, declared "The electoral legislation is for the benefit of all of Mozambican society. So it must be accepted by everyone. It must be approved by consensus".

The main reason for holding the extraordinary sitting is precisely to approve revised electoral laws, so that municipal elections can take place next year as planned.

For over two years an Assembly ad-hoc commission has worked on the laws, but has been unable to achieve consensus on the issue of how the body that supervises the elections, the National Elections Commission (CNE), should take decisions.

Renamo has consistently demanded a veto over CNE decisions. The mechanism for this is that a two thirds majority should be necessary for any decision on the CNE. The ruling Frelimo Party rejects this, and says that a simple majority should be sufficient.

Since neither side has shifted its position significantly in over two years, the only solution is to put the issue to a vote in the Assembly plenary. Yet Renamo rejects this, and insists that the legislation not be debated at all. "While we have not resolved the existing divergences, we will not have established the conditions for debating and approving this legislation", said Quitine.

"Frelimo rejects consensus because it wants to carry on practicing fraud in the elections", claimed Quitine. "Frelimo wants to endanger the peace achieved almost ten years ago. Frelimo wants to write another page in history. The people are watching and will always say no to these manoeuvres".

Frelimo, however, insists that decisions on the electoral laws must be reached at this sitting. The deputy head of the Frelimo group, Margarida Talapa, stressed that, since the ad-hoc commission had been unable to reach consensus in 26 months, the Plenary "will have to take the decisions it considers pertinent, including the plenary itself discussing those points on which there are still differences inside the commission".

"Revising the electoral legislation cannot go on indefinitely", she stressed. "It must be clear to everyone that the electoral timetable is not negotiable".

It was the work of rewriting the laws that had to fit in with the electoral calendar, and not the other way round, Talapa added.

Distribution of livestock in Tete

About 640 households from Moatize district, in the western province of Tete, will benefit, as from this month, from a livestock project undertaken by the NGO, Mozambican Development Action (AMODESE).

The project, to be implemented over three years, consists in distributing 1,280 goats to households, in order to help them overcome food insecurity.

According to AMODESE General Secretary, Bernardo Ginja, in the first year the project will benefit 80 households, in the second 240, and in the final year, 320, Interviewed by AIM, he said the goats would be purchased elsewhere in Tete, and a supplier has already been selected.

Apart from the goats, the project also hopes to distribute chickens and ducks to the beneficiaries.

The project has the support of the German NGO "Bread for the World", which will make $190,000 available.

Ginja said that AMODESE aims to increase livestock activity in the region, and to alleviate the hunger caused by the drought currently gripping much of Tete. The animals will breed, and the beneficiaries will have to pass on the goats to other households after the first kids are born.

Ginja hopes to expand the Moatize project to include cattle for animal traction, but this will depend on assurances that the project area is free of tse-tse flies.

AMODESE is also running a livestock distribution project in Marracuene district, about 30 kilometres north of Maputo, benefiting households who were victims of the February 2000 floods.

The project has been delayed by an outbreak of Newcastle disease, which has forced the supplier to interrupt the provision of poultry. This project has been compromised by theft of ducks from some of the beneficiary households, and by the opportunism of some households who prefer to redistribute the animals that are bred, not to the households on the waiting list, but to members of their own families.

Micro-credit company grows

The Mozambique Credit Company (SOCREMO), which specialises in small loans that commercial banks will not grant, has gained 6,100 clients and granted about 23 billion meticais (about $950,000) since it was established in 1999.

SOCREMO general director Jeronimo Binda told AIM that the company has granted 16,000 micro-credits to small companies in urban and peri-urban areas, and that most clients earned the right to new loans after successful reimbursements. Of the total number of clients, 4,250 are still working with the company.

Binda said that the micro-credit activity is having a positive impact, since it covers an important sector of the country's economic structure, promotes self-employment and helps increase household income.

He explained that the portfolio of loans considered at risk has fallen from more than 12 per cent in 1999 to less than two per cent by August this year.

Binda said that SOCREMO is planning to open new branches in Maputo and other areas of the country, given the growth in terms of the number of clients and the loans granted.

The company has currently only two branches - one in Maputo and one in the central city of Beira.

The company started life as an "inter-governmental project", before becoming a limited company specialising in micro-finance.

A third stage should follow as from next year, when SOCREMO will strive to become a bank, offering a variety of financial services.

The shareholders in the company are the Mozambican state, the Mozambique Christian Council (CCM), the General Union of Maputo Agricultural and Livestock Cooperatives (UGC), and the Small Investments Promotion Office (GAPI). It also receives support from a number of foreign NGOs.

Situation on Zimbabwe border "serious"

President Joaquim Chissano on 30 August described as "serious" the situation on the Zimbabwe/Mozambique border, where Zimbabwean troops are accused of beating, raping and even murdering Mozambican citizens.

President Chissano was speaking in Harare at a joint press conference with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe shortly before returning to Maputo after inaugurating the 92nd edition of the Harare Agricultural Fair. "I informed President Mugabe of this situation and told him that it is a very serious problem", said President Chissano. "I asked him to pay attention to this problem, and he promised to ask his ministers what is going on. Currently the matter is being treated at ministerial level".

The Mozambican press, particularly the Beira daily "Diario de Mocambique", in recent weeks has reported a series of brutal attacks, including gang rapes, near the Machipanda border post, perpetrated by Zimbabwean soldiers against Mozambicans involved in cross-border trade. At least one Mozambican shot in these incidents died of his wounds.

Prime Minister candidate for WHO

Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi on 30 August confirmed that he is a candidate to succeed Gro Harlem Brundtland as General Director of the World Health Organisation.

"Faced with a request from Mozambique's partners, I accept the challenge of putting Mozambique's experience at the service of other members of the WHO", Prime Minister Mocumbi told a Maputo press briefing. Brundtland's term of office ends in May next year. If his bid is successful, Mocumbi will become the first African to head WHO in its history.

The 61 year old Mocumbi certainly has the experience for the post. He is a doctor, specialising in gynaecology, who received his medical degree at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He practised briefly in Switzerland, before taking a Health Planning course in Dakar, Senegal.

Mocumbi returned from Dakar to Maputo in 1975, at the time of Mozambican independence. He worked as a provincial health director, until 1980, when he was appointed Minister of Health.

From 1987 to 1994 Mocumbi was Foreign Minister. After the first multi-party general elections, held in October 1994, he was appointed Prime Minister, a post he has held ever since.

Should he be elected to head WHO, Mocumbi will have to leave the government, and President Joaquim Chissano will have to find another Prime Minister for the last 18 months or so of the term of office of this government.

New commission on legal reform

The Mozambican government has established an Inter-Ministerial Commission to deal with the thorny issue of legal reform, Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi told reporters on 30 August.

Mocumbi said that this was part of the overall reform of the public sector, but because of the special nature of the judicial sector, President Joaquim Chissano had opted for a separate commission, autonomous from the established Inter-Ministerial Commission on Public Sector Reform.

But Mocumbi stressed that courts and attorneys' offices are autonomous and the new commission cannot interfere in their workings. Its task would be to deal with reformulating laws and policies. "It will look at reforms that should be introduced into legislation and procedure in order to speed things up", said Mocumbi.

Asked whether envisaged reforms include Mozambique's crumbling and overcrowded prisons, Mocumbi admitted that the situation in the country's jails "is so serious that it cannot be changed just in the period of one government's five year term of office".

But some measures could be taken immediately, he added, suggesting that prisoners should work in the open, on farms, to produce food to improve the prison diet. He added the caveat that no prisoner should have to undertake "forced labour, if that was not part of their sentence".

Canadian support for education

Canada has pledged to grant 35 million Canadian dollars to support the Mozambican education sector.

The announcement was made by the Canadian International Cooperation Minister, Susan Whelan, following a meeting with President Joaquim Chissano in Maputo on 5 September.

The money is earmarked for use in two different programmes in the education sector.

The first, due to be launched in the 2003/2004 school year, is budgeted at 20 million Canadian dollars, and is mainly aimed at improving levels of access and the quality of basic education in the country.

The remaining money is to be used in programmes to strengthen the education support services.

Canada is Mozambique's largest partner in providing school materials for primary education.

In parallel with assistance to education, Whelan said that her country is committed to granting additional support to other sectors, namely mine clearance, food aid, and environmental conservation.

Canadian cooperation with Mozambique also covers the sectors of rural water supply, micro-credit, transports and communications, and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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