Mozambique News Agency

No.279, 6th July 2004


Election dates fixed for 1 and 2 December

President Joaquim Chissano has issued a decree fixing 1 and 2 December this year as the dates for the country's third multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections. President Chissano's decision took into account that the elections must be held before the end of the year, and followed a proposal from the National Elections Commission (CNE).

Voter registration began on 28 June to update the electoral registers, and has been running relatively smoothly, despite some early technical problems. Throughout the country, initial turnout was low. STAE believes that there are up to 700,000 citizens who could register. This number includes those who turn 18 this year, those who, for whatever reason, failed to register last year, those who have lost or damaged their voter cards, and those who have changed their address since they were last registered.

Renamo accuse Frelimo of abuse

On 1 July Renamo claimed that voter registration is being marred by "irregularities and abuses" in several parts of the country. A Renamo press release claimed that in Changara and Chifunde districts, in the western province of Tete, Renamo monitors appointed to follow the updating of the electoral registers "have been illegally expelled" by members of the ruling Frelimo Party. As a result, Renamo no longer has any monitors in those two districts.

The release also alleges that Renamo delegates in Magoe, Songo and Zobue, also in Tete, were beaten up. The Magoe delegate took refuge in Zimbabwe, it claimed, while the delegate in the Songo locality of Nacapirire and his son were beaten on the orders of the local district administrator.

Renamo also claims that in Mueda, Nangade and Muidumbe districts, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, the deputy chairmen of the District Elections Commissions, and the deputy directors of the district offices of STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat) have all been expelled, and have taken refuge in the provincial capital, Pemba. "Currently there is no Renamo representation on the electoral bodies in these districts", the release claimed.

However, Renamo's allegations have been denied by STAE. An official of the STAE provincial office in Tete city told AIM on 5 June that "there is no case anywhere in Tete where any Renamo monitor has been expelled". He said a delegation from the Tete Provincial Elections Commission (CPE), including members appointed by Renamo, went to Changara to investigate "and found that nobody had been expelled".

As to allegations that Renamo delegates in Magoe, Songo and Zobue had been beaten up, the STAE Tete official said that he knew nothing about these incidents, indicating that Renamo has made allegations in Maputo, but has not made the same allegations to the electoral bodies in Tete itself.

In Cabo Delgado, the STAE provincial director dismissed the allegations relating to his province. However, there had been an ugly incident in Muidumbe when local people had attacked the Renamo appointees. The STAE Cabo Delgado office insists that the Renamo appointees are working in harmony with the other STAE officials, and that the attack in Muidumbe had nothing to do with any STAE personnel.

Meanwhile, the Frelimo secretary for mobilisation and propaganda in the central province of Sofala, Djalma Lourenco, has accused Renamo of using its members as witnesses to testify that underage youths are 18 years old and therefore entitled to register and to vote.

Lourenco claimed that Renamo's attempt to pass off minors as 18 years old had been detected in Munhava, the most densely populated suburb in the city of Beira. Lourenco also claimed that an attempt by one citizen to register twice has been discovered in Palmeiras, one of the few areas in Beira where the majority of votes are usually cast for Frelimo. People caught red-handing trying to register twice ought to be arrested on the spot - which does not seem to have happened in this case. In previous elections, people caught registering twice were tried and given suspended prison sentences of up to two years.

Samuge sworn into CNE

On 28 June President Joaquim Chissano swore in Raimundo Samuge, from the Renamo-Electoral Union opposition coalition, as a deputy chairman of the CNE. He replaces Francisco Xavier Marcelino, better known as Jose de Castro, who resigned early this year, alleging "personal reasons".

Samuge was elected as Castro's replacement during the last session of the Assembly of the Republic, the Mozambican parliament, in May. Although the law speaks of 18 out of the 19 CNE members being elected by parliament, the mode of election makes this meaningless. For the 18 must be elected in accordance with the number of seats each party holds in the Assembly - which means that Frelimo appoints 10 and Renamo eight.

During the ceremony President Chissano stressed that the CNE is a key institution that guarantees the development of democracy in Mozambique. He noted that while elections as such do not represent all of democracy, they are a very important step of democratic expression in any country.

President Chissano said that well organised and well supervised elections not only bring honour to the country, but will also ensure that citizens' right of choice is respected.

President Chissano opens ACP summit

President Joaquim Chissano on 23 June opened the Heads of State summit of the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) group in Maputo. During his opening speech he stated that no strategy for the fight against poverty can be sustainable "if we are not capable of ensuring, in the best way possible, the integration of the Least Developed Countries into the world economy".

President Chissano stressed that this integration must happen in a way that defends the interests of the poor countries. In particular, future trade relations between the ACP and the European Union should be negotiated "in a framework of openness and transparency, taking into consideration not only commercial issues, but other questions concerning development, particularly the transfer of technology and know-how".

He argued that the expansion of the EU should not be a factor that distorts the objectives that have guided ACP-EU cooperation. As for the negotiation of new "Economic Partnership Agreements" with the EU, this should be used "to strengthen regional cooperation, and not to dismantle our organisational blocs".

President Chissano acknowledged that the "regime of non-reciprocal trade preferences" initially established under the Lome Convention was no longer compatible with the rules of international trade demanded by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). So the principle of reciprocity was "a new element in our relationship with the European Union, and a requirement for making the Economic Partnership Agreements compatible with the multilateral trade rules defended by the WTO".

But President Chissano warned that reciprocity "should be analysed and applied with due thought, and taking into account the asymmetries that prevail between our countries".

President Chissano stressed the need, not only for a striking a good deal with the EU, but also for improved cooperation among the ACP states themselves. Such cooperation "can give us more strength to better coordinate our negotiations with our partners from the developed countries, and contribute to safeguarding the environment of peace, security and stability that we should create and maintain". But to date the balance sheet of intra-ACP cooperation showed that it remains "insignificant compared with the scale of the challenges we face".

"Lack of political will, of support mechanisms and of the ability to mobilise the necessary resources are at the root of the poor results obtained in intra-ACP cooperation", President Chissano said. "Commitment to promote, facilitate and strengthen regional integration and intra-ACP cooperation is a fundamental requirement for the pursuit of our goals", he urged. "We must pass from intentions to action".

President Chissano added that the ACP group should "define a clear agenda, which not only deepens our unity and solidarity, but also legitimises us as a coherent force on the international stage".

Speaking on behalf of the EU, Irish Trade Minister Michael Ahern claimed that the ACP countries would benefit from the EU's expansion from 15 to 25 members, because of the massive growth in size of the EU market. "The ACP can export to the new countries on the same terms as to the old ones", he said.

Ahern claimed the EU wanted to get the Doha Development Agenda "back on track following the breakdown at Cancun". This was the WTO ministerial meeting in Mexico which collapsed when the developed countries refused to make concessions on such major issues as the huge agricultural subsidies they offer to their farmers.

He also argued that the Economic Partnership Agreements to be negotiated will prove beneficial to development and will lift the level of ACP access to European markets.

Final declaration calls for poverty eradication

The final declaration on 25 June urged the European Union "to ensure and maintain the central role of poverty eradication and sustainable development in ACP-EU relations. Although the ACP "values and places high priority" on its relations with the EU, it insisted that the EU should accord development "its rightful place" in ACP-EU relations and that EPAs "must be instruments for ACP development and poverty eradication".

Furthermore, ACP countries "should have recourse to simple and pre-emptive safeguards for sensitive products within EPA arrangements", the document urged.

Although ACP countries have long called for reform of the EU's extravagant Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with its massive subsidies for European farmers, the summit clearly believed that if reform is not properly thought through, it may damage the interests of ACP farmers.

The declaration urged the EU to look carefully at the impact of CAP reform on ACP economies "with a view to mitigating any possible deleterious effects". "We are concerned at existing and potential damage to commodity export earnings through changes in the Common Market organisation for key products", the document added. "We urge the EU to give due consideration to these adverse effects, in particular, with regard to bananas, sugar, rice and tuna".

For sugar, the ACP leaders wanted the EU to ensure that ACP sugar supplying states "are guaranteed the same level of export earnings on a stable and predictable basis as provided to the EU sugar producers under the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)".

As for bananas, the summit urged the EU "to ensure that the regulation of the EU banana market delivers fair and remunerative prices to producers, and continues to provide a level of protection sufficient to ensure a viable outlet for ACP suppliers".

The declaration attacked non-tariff barriers (such as the excessively stringent health measures and rules of origin) designed to keep ACP goods out of European markets. The summit urged the EU "to make a clear political commitment to adopt measures that will support ACP exports, in particular by revising the existing rules of origin so as to permit processing in ACP countries of non-ACP originating raw materials".

The summit expressed concern at the suspension of EU development finance to "certain ACP states" (a reference mainly to Zimbabwe). It called on the EU "to continue its engagement with the concerned ACP states with a view to normalising relations leading to the full and rapid resumption of development cooperation".

Mozambique set to reach poverty reduction target

President Joaquim Chissano said in Maputo on 25 June that Mozambique is one of the few African countries that is on course to reach the target, set by the United Nations in 2000, of a 50 percent reduction in poverty by 2015. President Chissano was speaking during the celebrations of the 29th anniversary of the country's independence, on 25 June 1975, and the 42nd of the creation of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), that won the country's freedom from colonialism.

President Chissano said that poverty in Mozambique has fallen by 15 percent since 2000. "First, we had about 70 percent of our people living below the bread line, but today this has dropped to 55 percent".

Continued progress along these lines should enable Mozambique to reach the first of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, which is to halve the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day by 2015.

President Chissano said that all the credit for this success should go to the Mozambican people whom he described as "good workers", who had, for instance, raised the local production of maize, and reduced the imports of this staple food. He expressed hope that the country will produce enough grain, during the next two years, to end the need for grain imports.

However, he noted that other factors involved in poverty, such as illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases such as cholera have yet to be overcome.

President Chissano pointed to major developments, made possible by the climate of peace, and the government's determination to attract foreign investment. These include the MOZAL aluminium smelter, on the outskirts of Maputo, and the pipeline carrying natural gas from Temane in Inhambane province to South Africa.

Other major projects yet to come on stream include the mining of titanium bearing heavy sands, at Moma in Nampula province, and at Chibuto in Gaza, and the tantalite mines in Zambezia province. President Chissano was optimistic that the graphite mines in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, currently paralysed, will soon be reactivated.

With many more employment opportunities available in the country, President Chissano hoped that Mozambicans would no longer need to emigrate to South Africa seeking jobs on the gold mines.

President Chissano also noted a significant development in terms of infrastructures, since the signing of the peace agreement with Renamo in 1992. Thus the government had restored the entire school network, rebuilding all the schools that Renamo had destroyed, and had gone on to greatly expand the network.

President Chissano expressed the government's pride in the dramatic rise in the country's herd of cattle. Immediately after the war there were only 300,000 head of cattle in the country, but the government's restocking initiatives have raised the number to about a million this year.

Drilling for natural gas in Savane

The Norwegian oil company Det Norsk Olse-Selskap (DNO) started operations on 1 July to drill the first well for the prospection of natural gas at the Inhaminga Block, in the administrative post of Savane, in the central province of Sofala.

DNO director Aasmund Erlansen says that the first results are expected within the next 20 days. Speaking during the launching ceremony, Erlansen estimated at less than 20 percent the probability of finding natural gas in that area, but thought it possible that oil may also exist in Inhaminga.

Speaking of the workforce, he said that few Mozambicans will find employment in the undertaking during the prospection stage because it requires expertise in this field. He said that about 70 workers have been hired. They include some Mozambicans, but also workers from Norway, China, Holland, Yugoslavia and South Africa.

Speaking at the ceremony, Sofala provincial governor Felicio Zacarias expressed hope that gas would be found in Inhaminga, but said "it would be good if oil were discovered, then we could breathe more easily. We need this project to succeed".

The Savane well will be 1,972 metres deep, and the next one, to be bored at the locality of Corone-1, in the district of Muanza, also in Sofala, is to be 2,195 metres deep.

Building of gas pipeline to Matola launched

The first stone in the building of a pipeline to supply natural gas to the city of Matola was laid on 30 June in the border town of Ressano Garcia. The pipeline will be a branch from the main pipeline which links the gas fields in the southern province of Inhambane, to the South African town of Secunda.

When the job is completed, and gas starts flowing to Matola, where much of the country's industry is concentrated, the cost of Mozambican fuel imports could be cut by about $80 million a year.

The building of the 100 kilometres of pipeline was awarded to the newly formed Matola Gas Company (MGC), and the construction should be concluded by June next year. The largest customer for the gas is the MOZAL aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Matola, but the gas will also supply smaller industries. The general public will be able to use it as cooking gas.

EDM expanding electrification

The Mozambican publicly owned electricity company, EDM, is planning to invest about $700 million in an effort to expand its grid to the entire country by 2020. This will involve investing between $50 and $60 million a year, compared with the current $30 to $40 million per annum EDM is investing in electrification projects across the country.

EDM hopes to increase the number of consumers from the current 200,000 to about one million by 2020. The details of this increase are contained in the company's Master Plan for the 2005-2020 period. To produce this document EDM has been working in consultations with the Scandinavian consortium Swedpower/Norconsult for the last 18 months, with funds granted by the African Development Bank.

Health Ministry meets donors

Health Minister Francisco Songane on 30 June met with representatives of the donors who support health care activities to discuss progress with ProSaude, an initiative that seeks to place financing for health care activities into a common fund.

This was the first meeting of a Health Sector Coordinating Committee, which Songane described as "an important forum to coordinate strategic and operational activities within the framework of our partnership".

He stressed that reducing regional imbalances in the allocation of resources, particularly in the rehabilitation and expansion of the health care network was a key objective to be followed under ProSaude.

Songane claimed that it was thanks to the implementation of ProSaude, among other activities, that there have been improvements in key health indicators, such as the infant, child and maternal mortality rates, in recent years.

He added that recent statistics indicated a significant increase in the supply of health services, and an improvement in their quality, in all provinces.

Songane reaffirmed the commitment of his ministry to revise planning procedures and to introduce "new mechanisms to facilitate the monitoring and assessment of the activities of the sector as a whole".

He said that the increased volume of activities concerning with fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic "requires a new attitude from us as regards the reorganisation of our work force". That meant large scale training and reskilling of Mozambican staff. "It must be based on the strengthening of our health system, resting on Mozambican staff, that the sustainability of actions against HIV/AIDS must be guaranteed", Songane insisted.

He called for "primacy to an integrated approach" towards AIDS - and all HIV/AIDS activities should be part of "a single programme". Though Songane mentioned no names, this was clearly an indirect criticism of those donors, notably the Italian catholic body, the Santo Egidio Community, who have been accused of striking out on programmes of their own, without proper liaison with the Ministry.

The minister announced that at the end of the meeting on 1 July an addendum will be signed to the memorandum of understanding on the common fund for medicines. This illustrated "the maturing of our relations, and of progress in consolidating the Health Ministry's responsibility in implementing our various programmes", he said.

Gorongosa Park to receive 500 elephants

The Gorongosa National Park, in the central province of Sofala, is to receive 500 elephants from Botswana, during the second half of this year, as part of its restocking programme. The animals are to be transported by road from Botswana.

Afonso Madope, national director for conservation areas, in the Tourism Ministry, told reporters that the programme is dependent on the outcome of negotiations with donors because the Mozambican government does not have the necessary money. All the work, including identifying the animals, anaesthetising them, and transporting them a distance of about 1,800 kilometres, will cost at least $2,000 per animal.

Madope said that the parties involved are working to have those animals transported to Gorongosa during this winter. To study the future habitat for his country's elephants, a Botswana wild life technician visited Gorongosa late April.

Wild life in Gorongosa suffered a decline in numbers in the 1980s, due largely to massive poaching during the war of destabilisation. The Mozambican authorities had counted about 7,000 elephants in 1979, a number that dropped to only 111 in 2001, while the population of impalas dropped from about 10,000 in 1979 to only 38 in 2001.

In parallel with restocking, the restructuring of the Gorongosa Park also includes the rehabilitation of the infrastructures, for which the government is preparing to launch an international tender to select private investors to develop tourism in the park.

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