Mozambique News Agency

No.306, 5th October 2005


President Guebuza urges no return to violence

President Armando Guebuza on 4 October urged his fellow countrymen to learn from their history, and never let the country slip back into violence. He was speaking to reporters after laying a wreath at the Monument to the Mozambican Heroes, on the occasion of "Peace and Reconciliation Day" - the 13th anniversary of the peace agreement signed in Rome between the Mozambican government and the apartheid-back Renamo rebels on 4 October 1992.

President Guebuza is very closely associated with this date, as it was he, then Transport Minister, who headed the government's negotiating team in the Rome talks, which took place sporadically for more than two years.

The President said the years of war, and the occasional violent incident subsequently, were part of a tragic history that should serve as a warning "so that it is never repeated again".

"These episodes in our tragic history must not be repeated", President Guebuza stressed. "Cases such as Montepuez and Mocimboa da Praia are to be avoided. To this end, it is important that we always nurture within us the flame of unity, and that we never tire of working for a culture of peace and national reconciliation".

Montepuez, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, was the scene of the worst violence on 9 November 2000, when Renamo organised a wave of demonstrations across the country in protest at the 1999 election results. 14 demonstrators and seven policemen died in Montepuez. Matters became much worse with a wave of indiscriminate detentions: and on the night of 21/22 November 83 prisoners died of asphyxiation in a grossly overcrowded Montepuez police cell. In Mocimboa da Praia, also in Cabo Delgado, in early September this year clashes between supporters of Renamo and of the ruling Frelimo Party left at least eight people dead.

Violent incidents might occur in any political process, President Guebuza added. But they could not be viewed as marking the failure of a peace which was firmly backed by the great majority of Mozambicans. Isolated clashes were not evidence that peace was under threat.

President Guebuza's opposite number in Rome, Raul Domingos, then the number two in Renamo, agrees with the President's assessment. Interviewed on a Radio Mozambique chat show on 4 October, Domingos also said that sporadic outbursts of violence were not sufficient to annul the success of the 1992 peace accord.

Domingos was sure that, rather than the good will of the politicians, it was the firm defence of the peace agreement by ordinary Mozambicans that had been the real guarantee of success. He pointed out that, despite the horrors of the war, once the agreement was signed, members of the public made no attempt to exact revenge for what had happened to them and their families.

Domingos was expelled from Renamo in 2000, and now heads the Party for Peace, Democracy and Development (PPD). He was present at the ceremony in Heroes' Square, as were the leaders of several other minor opposition parties - Yaqub Sibindy of the Independent Party (PIMO) and Miguel Mabote of the Labour Party (PT), for instance.

But, although it was Renamo who insisted that 4 October should be declared a public holiday, there was no sign of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, or any other senior Renamo figure, in the square.

This is consistent with Dhlakama's policy of boycotting national ceremonies - particularly if they take place at Heroes' Square.

Renamo conference to be held in Maringue

Renamo, the country's main opposition party, are to meet on 16-17 October in a national conference in the central district of Maringue. Making this announcement, the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, confirmed that two other conferences will also take place there, one of the party's Youth League, and the other of its Women's League.

Mazanga explained that the main idea behind these events is to reconcile the party leaders with the former guerrillas, who have been complaining of exclusion to the benefit of the party's intellectuals, and also lack of consideration for their colleagues, who have been working as Dhlakama's bodyguards in Maputo.

During these events, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is to inaugurate a monument in memory of Andre Matsangaissa, the man appointed by Ian Smith's Rhodesian regime to head Renamo in 1977, and who died in an abortive raid on Gorongosa town in 1979.

The choice of Maringue has raised eyebrows. The district is important in Renamo history, because it housed the rebels' general staff headquarters during the closing years of the war of destabilisation. But Maringue town has no hotels, no conference halls, none of the facilities normally regarded as essential for holding successful conferences.

Farmers told not to plant maize despite hunger

Grain SA, the trade organisation of South African grain farmers, has warned its members to think carefully before planting maize, on the grounds that there is likely to be a huge surplus in production. This dire warning that the commodities market is failing southern African farmers came as it was announced that ten million people in Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe face hunger and will need humanitarian assistance until the next harvest.

The Grain SA warning urged maize producers to reconsider their intentions to plant. "If the balance between supply and demand of maize is not restored now, uneconomic price levels will certainly prevail for the next year, and even the following year," it said.

The huge dislocation in the grain market was highlighted earlier this month by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, FEWS NET, which calculates that South Africa will have a surplus of 5.5 million metric tonnes for the 2005/006 year, compared to a deficit of three million tonnes in the rest of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region.

Maize is the staple food for most people in southern Africa, and while farmers in South Africa are complaining that they are making a financial loss, in the rest of the region prices are soaring, leaving people hungry and impoverished.

Yet food aid has not been reaching all those in need, with the World Food Programme (WFP) warning that its regional plea for stocks from donors has been ignored. Earlier this year the WFP launched a appeal for $410 million to feed ten million people in southern Africa, but it has only received $200 million so far.

According to Mike Sackett, WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa, "it can take up to four months to move food to the region, so donations are needed urgently if we are to reach the neediest before the beginning of the lean season. We need food and cash now. Many people who have already eaten their food reserves are surviving on wild foods and relying on other desperate coping strategies".

Situation in Mozambique

According to a 23 September WFP report, results of a recent survey indicate that the availability of food in most areas in Mozambique is lower than previously thought, and that the price of maize has shot up since the beginning of the marketing season, rising by 75 per cent in most districts. The WFP calculates that in Mozambique 588,000 people will rely on food aid until March next year.

According to Kerstin Reisdorf from the WFP office in Maputo, currently only 130,000 people hit by drought are receiving food aid, although recent improvements in funding mean that from November this number will increase to 250,000. However, there is still a shortfall of $19 million, without which the WFP will not be able to feed all those in need until the next harvest in March.

Reisdorf points out that everything is in place for the relief operation - the warehouses, trucks and organisation. All that is lacking is the food.

Already some have paid the ultimate price for the poor donor response. Mozambique's National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) has confirmed that 12 people suffered hunger-related deaths in Chibuto district, in the southern province of Gaza. According to the Mozambican Red Cross a further 11 deaths have been reported in Chemba district, in the central province of Sofala.

The food deficit in Mozambique is caused by the poor rainfall in some districts, particularly in the south of the country. It is exacerbated by the growing AIDS epidemic, which feeds a vicious cycle of illness, lack of labour in the fields, increasing poverty which results in more illness. The poverty and illness in turn leads to people becoming vulnerable to infections such as TB or malaria which in these circumstances can frequently result in death.

Greatest humanitarian crisis

The situation in much of southern Africa was summed up in startling fashion when WFP Executive Director James Morris spoke at the UN Security Council on 30 June, warning that "the greatest humanitarian crisis we face today is not in Darfur, Afghanistan or North Korea - it is the gradual disintegration of the social structures in southern Africa and hunger is playing a critical part".

Morris took up the wider aspects of the food crisis in southern Africa, pointing out that "a lethal mix of AIDS, recurring drought and failing governance is creating insecurity. Last year alone, one million lives were lost to AIDS in the region and we are only now entering the peak impact period for the pandemic".

He closely linked AIDS, development and hunger, pointing out that the prevalence of HIV is not only taking a toll in lives lost and reduced life expectancy, it is directly undermining the capacity of communities to produce enough food. Morris stated that "outside many rural villages the land lies fallow with no one to till it, as weekly funerals have left more graves than inhabitants. Because of the pandemic, a generation has gone missing, and there is no one to teach the next generation to farm. AIDS has claimed the lives of nearly eight million African farmers".

Future harvest depends on rain and food aid

Many in Mozambique have suffered season upon season of hunger. In 2002, 590,000 people needed food aid, rising in 2003 to 659,000. In 2004, the number fell to 108,00 after a good harvest.

An important question now is whether exceptionally dry conditions will continue into the 2005/06 agricultural year. The weather forecast from the National Meteorology Institute (INAM) paints an optimistic picture, predicting normal rainfall for the first part of the rainy season (October to December).

Although the outlook may be positive, the immediate task remains to feed those on the front line of hunger immediately so they can build up their strength and health to be able to farm their land successfully.

The common sense approach would be for donors to buy maize in South Africa and transport it to those in need in the rest of the region. Yet most donors do not work in this way, preferring to purchase the surplus from their own farmers and ship it - at great expense with fatal delays.

According to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), "The Development Effectiveness of Food Aid", it is estimated that the global inefficiency of providing tied food aid instead of commercial imports is at least thirty per cent, with the actual costs of tied direct food aid transfers on average 50 per cent higher than local food purchases and a third higher than buying food in third countries.

The researchers looked at the cost of delivering food aid from the donor country compared with the cost of buying food on the international commodities markets. In the case of Mozambique, the report found that tied aid was 23 per cent more expensive than sourcing the food on the basis of the best price.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the region people are dying as hunger sets in. In Malawi, according to WFP figures, 29 children in the district of Nsanje, south of Blantyre, died of hunger-related illnesses between January and September - even before the lean season kicked in.

Across Malawi it is estimated that 4.2 million people will need food aid, but it is going to be difficult for the WFP to meet the need since it has so far only received $15 million for aid to Malawi, though it had requested $88 million.

Labour Party gives Luisa Diogo warm welcome

Britain's ruling Labour Party gave Mozambican Prime Minister Luisa Diogo a standing ovation on 26 September, as she called on the rich nations of the world to make good the promises on aid and trade given at the G8 summit in Scotland in July.

Prime Minister Diogo was speaking as guest of honour at the Labour Party conference in the coastal city of Brighton. Conference chairman, Jeremy Beecham introduced her to the delegates as "someone from the front line in the struggle against poverty".

Prime Minister Diogo warned that at the current pace it will be impossible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in all developing countries by the cut-off date of 2015. The MDGs were agreed to by all UN member states at the world body's Millennium Summit in 2000. They include cutting the number of people living on less than a dollar a day by half, achieving universal primary education, and cutting the under-five mortality rate by two thirds.

Diogo noted that, according to some estimates, the MDG targets for education and child mortality will not be achieved in 100 years, and it will take even longer to halve world poverty, unless the pace is picked up.

But Diogo was not without hope. "Although the chances of fulfilling all the MDGs by 2015 are becoming slimmer, a quick and harmonised action can make a difference", she stressed.

Both developing and developed countries had a role to play in this. "Developing counties have the responsibility of adopting reforms and strategies for poverty reduction; promoting an environment attractive to international capital and for private sector investment, including measures to fight corruption", she said. "From the developed countries we seek the delivery of the commitments of $50 billion a year and 0.7 per cent of GNP for development aid, a greater flow of resources in quantity and quality with better flexibility. predictability and long term commitment".

She reminded Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Gordon Brown of the visit both of them had made in January to the Maragra sugar plantation, about 80 kilometres north of Maputo. Then Brown had stopped to chat with a group of women sugar workers - who protested at their low wages and asked how they could afford to send their children to school when they earned the equivalent of five dollars a week.

"I know that your passion for justice will not have allowed you to forget that moment", Diogo told Brown, "and I think you must have had it in your mind when you called in your speeches yesterday and this morning for universal and free health and education to be our next mission, and the test of what aid and debt relief can deliver".

Diogo stressed the importance of education, particularly for girls - since every year of a mother's education "reduces child mortality by eight per cent".

Making schooling free had led to "dramatic increases in enrolment" in countries such as Uganda and Malawi, "but investment in free schooling can only be made if we know we can count on funding over the long term. Predictable finance is fundamental to raise the hopes of those children".

That was why Diogo enthusiastically endorsed Brown's proposal for a new International Finance Facility (IFF) - which would fund development immediately, by raising money on the international bond market, to be repaid out of future aid commitments. "Rather than the halting and unpredictable aid of the past", she said, "the IFF provides a mechanism that may actually ensure that the large sums promised by the G8 can be delivered and, what is more, delivered in a way that allows the long term investment needed in health and education".

Diogo also stressed the importance of fair trade, warning that the potential of trade as a tool for poverty reduction had been undermined by the volatility in the prices of primary goods, the tariff and non-tariff barriers in the way of developing countries' exports, and "the perverse effects of the policy of agricultural subsidies in the developed world".

Hence the main trade demands Africa made of the developed world were "the removal of barriers to trade and the opening of markets to developing countries", and "a more flexible framework of intellectual property to facilitate the transfer of technology".

Diogo pointed out that "trade liberalisation has been pursued consistently by our countries, and we would like to see reciprocal measures by the developed countries".

Diogo praised the commitment to Africa shown by Brown and by Prime Minister Tony Blair - she was sure that the positive outcome of the July summit in Scotland of the G8 group of most industrialised nations would not have been possible "without the leadership of the British government".

She thanked Brown in particular "for ensuring the delivery of the G8 promise on debt relief this weekend at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Washington".

The whole of the conference, including Blair, Brown and most other members of the British government, rose to their feet as Diogo concluded "the UK Presidency of the G8 and European Union has been crucial and a turning point. In Mozambique we know that promises are easier to make than to fulfil. So we look to you again to lead the international community to deliver on the commitments you extracted on our behalf on aid and trade, as you have already done on debt. And I look to the Labour Party with its long and unique history of fighting for justice, of showing solidarity and friendship to sisters and brothers all over the world, to remind your leaders of these promises beyond this special year of 2005".

Washington debt deal

Earlier in the day, Brown spoke of the successful meeting in Washington over the weekend where the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed to support the debt cancellation initiative of the G8.

Among the countries to benefit is Mozambique, which would no longer have to make the huge annual debt service payments which currently stand at around $57 million a year - more than the entire health budget.

Most of Mozambique's debts were cancelled under the two phases of the World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative, which wiped out about $4.3 billion off Mozambique's debt stock, with the debt falling to $1.6 billion in nominal terms, or to $750 million in net present value terms. This remaining debt now looks likely to be largely written off.

The deal went ahead in Washington after a promise by the G8 nations to finance any losses that the World Bank would suffer from writing off its loans to the 18 poor countries covered by the deal.

Brown also spoke of his initiative to set up an International Finance Facility, which will initially raise four billion dollars to pay for the immunisation of children in the poorest countries.

The Chancellor also dealt with the central issue of protectionism, stating that "this year we must also make the scandal and waste of agricultural protectionism history" - apparently a commitment to fight for abolition of the European Union's irrational farm subsidies.

During her four day visit to Britain, Diogo held talks with Blair, Minister for International Development Hilary Benn, and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. She has had several meetings with Brown, the man strongly tipped to succeed Blair as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister prior to the next general election. Prime Minister Diogo also addressed a seminar in London organised by the Mozambique-Angola Committee, commemorating thirty years of independence of Angola and Mozambique.

Signs of oil in the Romuva basin

The Mozambican authorities believe there are signs of the presence of oil in the basin of the Rovuma river, that marks the border between Mozambique and Tanzania, and an international tender has already been launched to select suitable specialised companies for the necessary prospection in that area.

Nelson Ocuane, exploration manager of the research department at the Mozambican National Oil Institute, told AIM "areas can be found in that basin that contain heavy oil", and explained that in geological terms, the Rovuma basin "can be compared with neighbouring Madagascar", where oil was found.

The Mozambican government launched in London recently a six month international tender for the concession of oil prospection areas in the Rovuma basin, but there has been no response, so far. Ocuane explained this apparent lack of interest with the fact that this area is "very specific and complex, and oil companies need to study every detail before they start prospection".

The most important thing is to select a company that is serious, through this international tender, explained Ocuane, adding that the ideal would be to have a number of companies acquiring these concessions (the area has been divided into seven blocks), because thus the job would be faster.

The Mozambican government demand that the interested companies have their own experienced geotechnicians and also prove that they have done similar work elsewhere.

The winners of the tender will be announced in February or March 2006.

Electricity for Gorongosa

The district of Gorongosa, in the central province of Sofala, can see renewed hope for its economy with the supply of electric power from the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi. President Armando Guebuza on 27 September inaugurated the new power transmission line to that district, the construction of which cost 3.6 million Euros (about $4.25 million) granted by the German Development Bank (KFW) and the Mozambican electricity company EDM (which contributed 600,000 Euros). The district has 77,000 residents.

Small and medium sized companies in Gorongosa, such as the animal feed and milling plants, which had been paralysed for years, may now be revived.

"This is a big celebration for safe electric power. Now students can have night classes in improved conditions, and hospitals can also assist patients at any hour", said President Guebuza, addressing a rally during the inauguration ceremony.

Before the completion of this transmission line, Gorongosa had to rely on generators for electricity. Even now, the new power line does not supply all the outlying neighbourhoods of Gorongosa town. The chairperson of the EDM board of directors, Vicente Veloso, said that his company is working to extend electricity to the entire district of Gorongosa and to other parts of Sofala, with EDM targeting to build about 120 km of transmission line by 2008.

Kenya Airways flies into Maputo

On 2 October Kenya Airways operated its first Nairobi-Maputo flight, with promises that it will offer Mozambican travellers "competitive prices".

The Boeing-737 stopped at Harare on the outward trip, while the return journey was direct from Maputo to Nairobi. There were only 28 passengers from Nairobi to the Mozambican capital, while 45 people flew from Maputo to Kenya.

Kenya Airways regional director for Africa, Robert Owusu, declared that it was his company's intention "to connect African cities to the rest of the world via our Nairobi hub".

Under current arrangements, Kenya Airways, in a code-sharing deal with Mozambican Airlines (LAM), is operating two flights a week, on Sundays and Thursdays, between the Kenyan and Mozambican capitals. If there was enough traffic to justify it, said Owusu, Kenya Airways could raise the frequency to once a day.

Faustino Massitela, of the LAM board of directors, said that under cooperation with Kenya Airways "we will be able to offer more routes to our customers". He suggested that this could mean cheaper flights from Maputo to certain European destinations (such as London and Frankfurt), changing planes in Nairobi, than are currently available (via Lisbon or Johannesburg).

Bagamoyo barracks commander suspended

The Mozambican general staff has suspended Captain Julio Nota from his position as commander of the army barracks in the Maputo suburb of Bagamoyo, for failing to discipline his soldiers, who are accused of torturing and humiliating local residents.

Daniel Chale, of the administration and logistics department at the general staff, is cited in "Noticias" on 29 September as saying that preliminary results of an investigation conducted by the military authorities concluded that Nota did not have any control over his men, which contributed to the bad relationship between the civilians and the military in Bagamoyo.

It was found that, contrary to all military regulations, the soldiers leave the barracks, with no authorisation, and go drinking in the informal bars of the neighbourhood where they become involved in violence and vandalism.

Chale said that a team of military experts is conducting further investigations into the bad relationship between the civilians and the military in Bagamoyo. In these investigations, the military will hear the local civilian authorities and residents, including some of the victims that have filed complaints of ill-treatment by the military.

He said that the report on this work will be completed within the next few days. "Once responsibility for those acts is established, further measures will be taken to ensure that such cases are not repeated. With this work, we also want to make sure that the military stationed in Bagamoyo and the local civilians live in a sound relationship", said Chale.

This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact

Mozambique News Agency

c/o 114 Stanford Avenue Brighton BN1 6FE UK.

Tel: +44 (0) 7941 890630,

email: Mozambique News Agency

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