Mozambique News Agency

No.262, 9th October 2003


Donors promise Mozambique $790 million

Donors, gathered in Paris from 1-2 October for a meeting of the World Bank's Consultative Group on Mozambique, offered the Mozambican delegation more money than requested. The government had hoped for $680 million to finance the economy in 2004: but at the end of the meeting Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi, in a video-conference link between Paris and Maputo, told reporters that the sum pledged was $790 million.

Finance Minister Luisa Diogo added that 75 per cent of this sum will take the form of grants, with the largest donor being the European Union. The remaining 25 per cent will be soft loans, particularly from the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

This concentration on grants rather than loans is to avoid Mozambique slipping once again into a debt trap. "Our partners understand that Mozambique is implementing the second stage of the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative, and naturally we must be careful about any indebtedness", said Diogo.

The donors, Diogo continued, "drew attention to the forthcoming agenda - namely the local and general elections". "They also referred to the reform of the legal system as a fundamental condition for the country's development and to reforms in the financial system so that the money that arrives is really allocated to the country's priorities".

Donors also wanted the financial system reformed, so that Mozambican banks "respond to the major challenges before the country".

Diogo said the government is making efforts to reduce the country's dependence on foreign aid. She estimated that in 2004 aid will only account for 48 per cent of government expenditure, a very significant reduction from the current 60 per cent. Prime Minister Mocumbi said that the amount promised shows the trust that the donors have in the government, and reflected their commitment to sustainable development in Mozambique.

A World Bank press release issued in Paris on 2 October said "The government and its partners agreed that PARPA (the government's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty) continues to reflect Mozambique's development priorities, and that its implementation has led to visible results on the ground in recent years".

The release cites Mozambique's continued high growth rates, despite the floods of 2000 and 2001, and its success "in the consolidation of peace and democracy, and in continuing to attract foreign direct investment".

The main challenges ahead, according to the World Bank, are "encouraging growth led by the private sector and the extension of the benefits of this growth to all Mozambicans, particularly the poor. To this end, the delegates agreed that it is necessary to increase participation in formulating and monitoring PARPA priorities, and integrating these activities in the government's legislative and budgetary procedures".

The release stressed that many of the donors thought it urgent "to improve efficiency and transparency in the legal system, in order to provide businesses with expeditious forms of solving disputes, and help reduce both grand and petty corruption, which affects the business environment and the Mozambican social fabric".

The scandal of the near-collapse in 2000 and 2001 of the two privatised banks, BCM and Austral, has not been forgotten. The donors at the meeting, "while recognising that the government has made progress in solving the problems of the banking sector, requested greater action, including the rapid recovery of credit, the strengthening of supervision of the financial sector, and the withdrawal of the government from this sector".

Japan promises to co-finance Zambezi bridge

President Joaquim Chissano revealed on 1 October that Japan is willing to provide $25 million towards the construction of a new road bridge over the Zambezi river. The estimated total cost of the bridge is around $70 million and with $45 million already guaranteed, and the Japanese pledge means that, in principle, the money required is now all available.

Speaking to Mozambican journalists at the end of the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III), President Chissano said that the Japanese authorities are willing to advance the first $10 million this year, and disburse the remaining $15 million in 2004.

The bridge will link Caia on the south bank of the Zambezi to Chimuara, and is regarded as a key link in the country's main north south road. Currently anyone wishing to cross the river at Caia has to use an unreliable ferry service.

President Chissano said the Japanese pledge on the bridge was another striking example that "Japan wants concrete cooperation". This follows a more general pledge by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, that Japan will increase its aid to Africa to one billion dollars spread over the next five years (an increase of about 25 per cent).

The Japanese government has also decided to grant Mozambique the equivalent of $100 million for school construction and maintenance, and for the purchase of vaccines to combat infectious diseases.

Mozambique is now easily the largest recipient of Japanese aid in Africa.

President on anniversary of Peace Accord

President Joaquim Chissano on 4 October called on Mozambicans to show their appreciation for the peace agreement signed 11 years ago between the government and Renamo, by committing themselves to the search for social and economic well-being.

The agreement was signed in Rome by President Chissano and by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama on 4 October 1992, and the anniversary is now a public holiday.

Speaking at a mass rally in the Maputo suburb of Mavalane, President Chissano stressed the need to transmit the Mozambican experience of achieving and consolidating peace to future generations, as well as to other countries that are still suffering from armed conflicts. "We have to teach the others about the path we travelled along to win and then to preserve peace", he said. "It is this peace that has allowed us to install the democratic regime in the country".

It was because of this success, he added, that Mozambique was "very well-known" internationally, and had contributed to peace keeping missions in other parts of the planet.

President Chissano, who was accompanied by Armando Guebuza, general secretary of Frelimo, and Frelimo candidate for the 2004 presidential elections, assured his audience that "peace will be guaranteed and will last for ever".

He urged all Mozambicans to be watchful against statements that he regarded as dangerous to peace. Referring to recent declarations by Dhlakama, President Chissano said "There's a leader who goes around saying that in the name of change he's already won the elections. We cannot start saying now that if such and such a party wins the election, it's because there was fraud".

Speaking in the central city of Chimoio in late September, Dhlakama claimed that Frelimo could not possibly win an election, and that if it won in 2004, it could only be through fraud. In that case, he threatened, he would set up his own government, even if it meant splitting the country in two.

President Chissano said that peace is made, not only by Frelimo and Renamo, but by all Mozambicans who express their will through voting in elections. "You can't have parties alternating in power by imposition, but only as a result of the people's will", stressed Chissano.

Phase two of MOZAL breaks records

The newly completed phase two of the MOZAL aluminium smelter, at Beluluane on the outskirts of Maputo, has broken industry records, by coming in ahead of schedule and massively under budget.

Speaking to reporters at the smelter on 7 October, MOZAL managing director Peter Wilshaw said that phase two was initially budgeted at $860 million, but came in at $195 million under budget. Phase two took 26 months from go ahead to full commissioning. This compares with 31 months for phase one (completed in 2000), which came in at around $100 million under budget.

Phase two is more or less a carbon copy of phase one, and it doubles MOZAL's production to 506,000 tonnes of aluminium ingots a year. Wilshaw said this makes MOZAL the third largest aluminium smelter in the world, beaten only by two Russian smelters. However, he acknowledged that expansions to MOZAL's sister smelter at Hillside in the South African port of Richards Bay, and to a smelter in Bahrain, will push MOZAL down to fifth place in a few months.

Wilshaw pointed out that the aluminium produced at MOZAL is exceptionally pure. This exceptional quality means that clients who a few years ago might not have been able to locate Mozambique on a map, are now demanding MOZAL aluminium by name. He attributed the high quality, not to the raw materials, or to the equipment (for the French Pechiney AP30 technology is shared by many modern smelters), but to the skills and diligence of the Mozambican workforce.

During the construction of phase two, industrial relations had been "excellent", said Wilshaw, with not a single strike. So in 14 million manhours worked, not one was lost to an industrial dispute. This was a considerable feat among a work force that, at its height, numbered 5,033, 70 per cent of whom were Mozambican. The construction of phase two also had an exceptional safety record.

MOZAL has already made an enormous contribution to the Mozambican economy. In 2003, it accounted for 53 per cent of the country's exports (but also 28 per cent of its imports, largely because of the construction of phase two). MOZAL was responsible for about a quarter of the 2002 GDP growth rate of eight percent. In other words, in 2002, this one factory alone added 2.1 per cent to Mozambique's GDP.

MOZAL delivers school

The MOZAL Community Development Trust (MCDT) on 7 October delivered to the government the first part of a new secondary school in the locality of Matola-Rio, within sight of the giant MOZAL aluminium smelter.

This is the first secondary school in Matola-Rio, and it is one of the largest projects in the MCDT portfolio. When the first children sit at desks in the new classrooms in January 2004, it will have cost half a million dollars. This sum will have risen to a million dollars by the time the school is complete.

Deputy Education Minister Telmina Pereira, who unveiled the marble plaque marking the occasion, said that MOZAL's commitment to the communities living in the vicinity of the smelter "is an example of the kind of partnership that the Mozambican government would like to see from all those interested in education", she said.

MOZAL managing director Peter Wilshaw recalled that since 1998 the MCDT has built 25 classrooms in six primary schools within a ten kilometre radius of the smelter, benefiting about 4,500 children.

"As the project was extended, a vision grew that we in MOZAL should get our workers directly from the community", said Wilshaw. He said he was "looking forward to the day when MOZAL employs the first students graduated from this school".

Bill Gates visits Manhica for fight against malaria

American multimillionaire Bill Gates, the founder of the software corporation Microsoft, announced in the southern district of Manhica on 21 September that his foundation is granting $168 million for various activities in the fight against malaria.

Gates was speaking shortly after a visit to the Malaria Health Research Centre in Manhica, about 80 kilometres north of Maputo, where he was accompanied by his wife Melinda, Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi, and representatives of partner organisations in this initiative.

Of the grant, $100 million are earmarked for research for the production of a malaria vaccine. The Gates Foundation, together with the British-based company GlaxoSmithKline, are paying jointly to conduct the vaccine research in 2,000 Mozambican children.

Manhica is now the scene of the most advanced research into malaria prevention ever undertaken.

A second component of the grant is $28 million to help research a potential strategy called intermittent preventive treatment in infants, who are particularly at risk since they have not lived long enough to develop the partial immunity that many adult Africans enjoy.

The new strategy would give babies three doses of a new anti-malarial drug (one to which the parasite is not thought to have developed resistance) at the time they are given their regular vaccinations. Preliminary tests indicate that this could cut malaria in infants by 60 per cent. The calculations are that each life saved would cost about 18 US cents.

The final $40 million announced by Gates is going to the Medicines for Malaria Venture of Geneva, which is researching new drugs and hopes to keep the prices in a range that would be affordable to African countries. This is crucial because standard anti-malarial drugs have become much less effective, due to problems of resistance.

Prime Minister Mocumbi thanked the Gates Foundation for its support, stressing that it will help in the tasks of improving health care, reducing mortality rates, and eradicating absolute poverty in many African countries.

The $168 million dollars pledged comes on top of the $120 million the Gates Foundation has already allotted to the fight against malaria. These sums make Bill Gates far and away the largest single donor to the battle to eradicate malaria. It is calculated that the Gates Foundation has increased the world wide budget for malaria research by 60 per cent over the past four years.

Gates remarked that at first, he had not realised how indifferent the west was to malaria. "Before we got involved, we thought other people were dealing with these problems", Gates said. "We thought human life was being valued at some reasonable amount around the world. We thought medical research was being driven by how many lives it could save. We're still in a state of shock, saying there's this vacuum here."

Prosecution appeals against escape acquittals

The Public Prosecutor's Office is appealing against the acquittal on 29 September of the seven policemen who were accused of facilitating the September 2002 escape from the Maputo top security prison of Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho"), the man who organised the death squad that murdered the country's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso.

According to the Sunday paper "Domingo" on 5 October, the verdict of judge Carlos Caetano has infuriated the country's attorneys. Caetano made extremely harsh criticisms of the man who handled the prosecution of the seven policemen, Maputo provincial chief attorney, Arone Nhaca, accusing him of grave negligence, and of not producing evidence to sustain the charge sheet.

The prosecutors, he said, should have undertaken a much more thorough investigation, instead of relying on data supplied by the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), and the commission of inquiry set up immediately after the escape.

The problem with the judges criticisms, "Domingo" points out, is that, if there was no evidence, then Caetano should never have let the case come to trial in the first place. For, under the Mozambican system, the judge is also an investigating magistrate, who accompanies the case right from the start.

It is the judge who decides whether the case against the accused is strong enough to go to trial. So if Caetano really thought the prosecution had no solid evidence against the seven police, then he should have declined to hold a trial and ordered their release.

In his speech acquitting the policemen, which claimed they were "scapegoats" hiding the guilt of unnamed "untouchables", Caetano behaved "more like a demagogic politician than a judge", the paper remarks. He did not name a single "untouchable", it added.

His task should have been to judge the accused brought before him: if, during the trial, evidence emerged implicating other people, then his duty was to order copies of the evidence to go to the public prosecutor who could then start another case.

Caetano does not possess a sparkling record. He was the judge initially in charge of the fraud case involving the theft of 144 billion meticais ($14 million at the exchange rate of the time), from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique (BCM), then the largest bank in Mozambique, in 1996.

He was quite prepared to let this case go to trial - even though corrupt attorneys, such as the fugitive Diamantino dos Santos, had hidden evidence and completely disorganised the case papers. It took protests from the BCM's lawyer, Albano Silva, to ensure that the case did not go to trial in a form that would make convictions completely impossible.

It was after Silva's appeal that the Supreme Court stepped in and ensured that the BCM case was handed over to another judge, Abdul Achirafo.

Raul Domingos announces new political party

The Party for Peace, Democracy and Development (PDD) is the name of the new political party, founded in the central city of Quelimane on 4 October by Raul Domingos, once the number two in Renamo from which he was expelled in 2002.

Domingos said that the PDD intends to be an alternative to the political bipolarisation between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo party. He added that the human factor is at the centre of his party's policies, to guarantee changes in the economic and social scenario in the country.

The Quelimane founding conference held lengthy discussions on the party's statutes, principles and programme, to ensure that these documents reflect what the participants believe are the right solutions to the people's problems.

The meeting appointed a 16 member constitutive commission, headed by Domingos himself, to prepare the PDD's founding congress, due in December, at a venue yet to be defined. The congress should also ratify the decisions taken at the Quelimane conference.

Domingos said that the commission will do its best to ensure that the party is registered with the Ministry of Justice in time to prepare for the 2004 general elections.

The PDD is not running for the municipal elections, due on 19 November, but it will support independent candidates proposed by the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPADE), a non- governmental organisation, which Domingos founded shortly after his expulsion from Renamo.

Meanwhile the police have arrested two senior Renamo figures in Quelimane in connection with the attack on delegates to the conference on 2 October by about 50 former Renamo guerrillas armed with clubs and machetes.

According to a report in the independent newsheet "Mediafax", those arrested are Inacio Morgado (a former lieutenant-colonel) and Sebastiao Chapepa. The police are looking for a third man, Francisco Lole, who was once the Renamo delegate in the port city of Beira.

Renamo office destroyed

A fire on 23 September devoured the roof, all furniture, and documents in the offices of Renamo in the town of Moatize, in the western province of Tete. The fire broke out in the early hours, after Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama had held a rally in Moatize.

Renamo and the ruling Frelimo party are accusing each other of responsibility for the fire, and the local police are investigating. The Renamo delegate in Moatize, Antonio Jose Vaz, accuses Frelimo of setting the fire, allegedly because local Frelimo members were infuriated that a large crowd had attended Dhlakama's rally.

For his part, the Frelimo Tete provincial secretary for organisation, Paz Semente Catruza, said that if the fire was indeed arson, then it was the result of internal contradictions within Renamo itself. He said that there is generalised discontent within Renamo because of lack of democracy in the party.

President Chissano calls for UN shake-up

President Joaquim Chissano on 24 September called for Africa to be granted at least two permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, President Chissano, who is also the current chairperson of the African Union, also called for Brazil, representing Latin America, to become a permanent member of the Security Council. These changes, he argued, would make the Security Council more representative of the modern world, and its decisions more legitimate.

Currently there are five permanent members of the 15-member Security Council, chosen because they were the victors of World War II - USA, Russia, China, Britain and France. They are the only countries with the power to veto Security Council decisions.

Some expansion of the Security Council, and probably of its permanent members, is widely regarded as inevitable, given that total membership of the UN now stands at 191 - four times what it was when it was set up.

President Chissano distanced himself from those he called "the sceptics", who argue that the UN is worthless and has been overtaken by history. That was not the view of African countries, he said, who believed that the world body was now more important then ever. "We in Africa reiterate our firm commitment to making our contribution to the United Nations", he declared. It was the only body, he added with the moral force and legitimacy to solve problems that transcend national governments. The UN, he insisted, should therefore be "strengthened, safeguarded and adequately financed".

President Chissano reiterated his conviction that Africa is emerging from its cycle of politico-military disasters. "Step by step, with the help of the international community, Africa is shouldering its responsibilities for preserving peace and stability on the continent", he said.

But he pointed out that Africa could have advanced much further were it not for the unjust economic policies imposed on poor nations by the rich north. It was these unjust policies which had provoked the collapse of the World Trade Organisation negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, earlier this month.

Africa was backward, President Chissano added, "because it has not been given a chance. A chance to be integrated into the world economy. A chance to benefit from globalisation and growing interdependence. A chance to benefit from the liberalisation of trade, finance and investment, rather than suffering marginalisation and exclusion. A chance to gain access to science and technology, particularly information technology".

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