Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports


No.329, 30th October 2006


President pledges to find truth behind death of Samora Machel

President Armando Guebuza on 19 October pledged that his government will continue "to search for the truth" about the causes of the plane crash that killed the country's first President, Samora Machel, and 34 others 20 years ago.

President Guebuza was speaking at Mbuzini, in the South African province of Mpumulanga, at the site where Machel's presidential aircraft, a Tupolev 134, smashed into a hillside on the night of 19 October 1986. Machel was returning from a summit in Zambia, and there were strong indications that the plane was diverted from its correct flight path by a pirate navigational beacon, transmitting on the same frequency as the Maputo airport beacon.

Suspicion fell on the apartheid military, particularly as the then South African Defence Minister, Magnus Malan, had threatened Machel a few days earlier. An enquiry set up by the apartheid regime blamed the Soviet crew for the disaster.

President Guebuza has no doubts - after wreaths were laid at the site of the crash, he told the crowd at the Thursday ceremony that Machel "was assassinated, in cowardly fashion, by the apartheid regime". The investigations into precisely what happened that night must continue, he said. The results were of interest not merely to Mozambique, because "Samora Machel was a citizen of the entire world".

If the apartheid rulers hoped to snuff out the freedom struggle by destroying one of its main icons, they had seriously miscalculated. "His death", said President Guebuza, "strengthened the determination to struggle against the enemies of peace, of progress, and of the well-being of all of humanity. His death exacerbated still further hatred against apartheid, which the United Nations had already declared a crime against humanity".

President Guebuza recalled that Machel always believed that Mozambique would only be truly independent when other oppressed peoples were also liberated - and so, under his rule, Mozambique became "a secure rearguard" for liberation movements from across the globe.

From Maputo those exiles "set off to liberate their own countries and set up a new social and political order", said President Guebuza. In one case, that of Zimbabwe, Machel could see the fruits of the liberation struggle "but he did not have the opportunity to celebrate with Namibians and South Africans the hoisting of their flags that proclaimed the end of institutionalised discrimination and humiliation".

Machel's government also welcomed refugees from despotic regimes in Latin America, and members of the East Timorese liberation movement, as that country groaned under Indonesian occupation. Machel did not live to see victory here either: "he did not see the end of dictatorship in Chile or the independence of East Timor", lamented President Guebuza.

He stressed Machel's commitment to regional integration in southern Africa, and his desire to see the roar of cannon in the region give way "to the sound of machinery producing food and building infrastructures".

To attain a lasting peace in southern Africa, Machel "defended the elimination of all foci of instability in the region". And that was precisely what he was doing on 19 October 1986 - attending a summit in Zambia that was attempting (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to persuade Zairean dictator Mobuto Sese Seko to end his support for the UNITA rebels in Angola.

As if to symbolise Machel's committed anti-racist and anti- tribalist stance, he died at Mbuzini, President Guebuza added, "with Mozambicans of various ages, various races, and from various parts of our country, united by the desire to see our country prosper and to share its capacities with the region and the world".

Machel's legacy, President Guebuza declared, meant that Mozambicans could say "Samora has not died: Samora lives in us".

President Mbeki calls for solidarity

Speaking at the hillside in Mbuzini, South African President Thabo Mbeki called on his fellow countrymen to show continued solidarity with Mozambique - in the spirit of Mozambique's first president, Samora Machel, who defined solidarity as "not charity, but mutual aid in pursuit of shared objectives".

Stressing the unity between the Mozambican and South African peoples, President Mbeki declared, "if there is a Mozambican who is hungry, that means that we are hungry. If there is a Mozambican who is sick, that means that we are sick".

"We are one people - we have developed together", he continued. "When you feel pain, I feel the same pain. One of us cannot be prosperous, if the other is poor".

He recalled that Machel had once remarked "The rich man's dog gets more in the way of vaccination, medicine and medical care than do the workers on whom the rich man's wealth is built".

"That must change - in South Africa, in Mozambique, across our continent", said President Mbeki.

Machel had also believed in the need for a change in the attitudes of African leaders. Again the South African president quoted from Machel: this time from a speech where he remarked "in the course of our struggle we came to understand our objectives more clearly: we felt especially that the struggle to create new structures would fail without the creation of a new mentality".

So President Mbeki posed the question whether, 20 years after the Mbuzini tragedy, "have we succeeded in creating a leadership cadre and a continental African people inspired by a new mentality?"

"Our future rests in our own hands", stressed President Mbeki. "We must know how to rely on ourselves to change our condition for the better. The blood which was shed here at Mbuzini, whatever the enemy thought, was shed so that indeed we can speak and act as one people inspired by the same cause".

UN to mobilise $300 million for poverty relief

The United Nations plans to mobilise around $300 million in support of the Mozambican government's five-year programme and its poverty relief measures over the next three years, declared the recently appointed UN Resident Coordinator, Ndolamb Ngokwey, on 23 October.

He was speaking to journalists in advance of the UN's 61st anniversary on 24 October. That date also marks 30 years of the UN's presence in Mozambique.

Ngokwey praised President Armando Guebuza and the Mozambican government for their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) laid down by the UN's Millennium Summit in 2000.

Contrary to those who believe that "the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer", as one journalist put it, the figures in the latest National Human Development Report indicate that Mozambique is making advances towards meeting several of the MDGs. Levels of poverty had fallen, said Ngokwey, and so had both child and maternal mortality. (Among the MDG targets are to reduce by half the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, to cut the under-five mortality rate by two thirds, and to cut maternal mortality by three quarters - all by the year 2015.)

Ngokwey admitted that there has been a slight reduction in the percentage of the population with access to clean drinking water, and that although there were advances in school enrolment (particularly of girls), there remained a serious problem of large numbers of pupils repeating years.

But overall, he said, the progress in Mozambique compared very favourably with certain other sub-Saharan Africa countries that, far from advancing to meet the MDGs, were either stagnating, or even going backwards.

While successes had been chalked up over the past 30 years of cooperation between Mozambique and the UN, "we are aware of the major challenges that we still face", said Ngokwey. "We need to ensure greater dynamism in questions concerning the AIDS pandemic, tuberculosis, malaria, and especially the rights of children, orphans and other vulnerable groups".

He pledged that the new version of the UN development framework for Mozambique (UNDAF) would be "completely aligned" with the government's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA).

As for the reforms in the UN system, Ngokwey assured the reporters that the impending change in General Secretary makes no difference, since the reforms cannot be decided upon by the UN administrative staff. The final say will be in the hands of the member countries through the General Assembly and the Security Council.

ADB announces new loans to Mozambique

The African Development Bank (ADB) has announced a Poverty Reduction Support Loan to Mozambique of 60 million units of account (about $88 million) intended to finance the government's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA II).

The government's key target under PARPA II is to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line from 54 per cent of the total population to 45 per cent by 2009.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF - the soft loan branch of the ADB) approved the loan on 27 October.

The ADB said the loan would deepen ADB support for the Mozambican government's reform agenda, which it summarises as "ensuring sound macroeconomic management whilst strengthening public financial management; improving the quality of public services delivered to citizens, and undertaking legal and justice reform including private sector development".

The loan will be released in two instalments, one for the 2006 financial year (but right at the end of that year, in December), and the second for the 2007 financial year, expected to be disbursed in May 2007.

At the same meeting the African Development Fund board approved a loan of 30.1 million units of account ($44.4 million) for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the Montepuez- Lichinga road in northern Mozambique.

Montepuez is the second largest city in Cabo Delgado province, while Lichinga is the capital of the neighbouring province of Niassa.

The ADB says that the road is important "since it improves connectivity of the two provinces to the national road system; opens up the richest but under exploited agricultural region of Mozambique for grains and cash crops (tobacco and cotton); and improves social service coverage to the population in remote rural communities".

The work involves upgrading the Montepuez-Ruaca and Marrupa- Ruaca stretches from a gravel to a tarred surface, fully rehabilitating the Lichinga-Litunde stretch, and building seven bridges between Marrupa and Litunde.

The ADB states that "the project will impact positively on rural communities in the short term through the creation of employment opportunities during project implementation and, in the medium to long term, improve economic activities by reducing transport costs and also provide improved access to markets and social services and integrate the remote rural population of Niassa and Cabo Delgado into the national economy".

It will also make it easier to supply Lichinga by road, reducing the city's dependence on the irregular train service along the Cuamba-Lichinga branch line, which is a spur of the Nacala-Malawi railway.

The road will also make it much cheaper for goods from Niassa to use the port at Pemba, the Cabo Delgado provincial capital.

Plan to build bridge to Xefina Island approved

The Mozambican government on 24 October approved investment of about $300 million in a project to create tourist infrastructures on Xefina Island, in the bay of Maputo, and a bridge to link the island to the mainland.

According to government spokesperson Luis Covane, this project is the result of a partnership between Mozambican and South African companies, contributing with 45 per cent and 55 per cent respectively of the capital required.

Covane said that the plan is to build hotels, restaurants, sports grounds and other facilities on the island. Currently, Xefina can only be reached by boat, and so the investors want to improve access by building a bridge that will start at Maputo's Costa do Sol beach.

Xefina has a grim history. In the colonial past its main use was as a prison, where opponents of the Portuguese fascist regime were incarcerated. The prison, Covane said, "will be turned into a museum, which we believe will be of interest to tourists. It will exhibit items that will help recover the island's history".

Covane said that the project is to start by early next year and is set to be complete by 2010, at the time of the football World Cup in neighbouring South Africa. He said that the idea is to attract tourists who will be coming to the region to watch the World Cup games, and to make Xefina a first class tourist destination.

Crime rate falling

The crime rate in Mozambique is falling, according to figures presented by Interior Minister Jose Pacheco on 25 October to the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

The parliamentary groups of both the ruling Frelimo Party and the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition had requested information from the government on crime, reflecting popular perceptions that crime is on the increase.

But the police statistics cited by Pacheco show a sharp reduction in the number of crimes reported. There were 15,654 crimes recorded in the first half of this year - a drop of 24 per cent, when compared to the 20,478 crimes reported in the same period in 2005.

Crimes against property fell by 19 per cent, crimes against persons by 30 per cent, and crimes against public order by 44 per cent. The most serious crimes also showed a sharp drop. There were 614 armed robberies in the first half of 2005, but only 363 between January and June this year, which is a fall of 41 per cent. The murder rate fell by 25 per cent - there were 557 murders recorded in the first half of 2005, and 418 in the first half of 2006.

When the figures are broken down by province, the crime rate turns out to have fallen everywhere, except in the northern province of Nampula (an increase of 13 per cent), and in the capital (a rise of 0.3 per cent). But the murder rate has fallen in every province.

This overall fall in crime seems to continue the trend from the previous year. In 2005, there were 37,280 crimes recorded - an eight per cent decline on the figure of 40,646 from 2004. The number of armed robberies fell from 1,318 in 2004 to 1,149 in 2005 (but the number of murders rose by two per cent, from 978 to 1,002).

"In general terms, crime is under control, and efforts to cut the crime rate are being undertaken", said Pacheco. He claimed that the "apparent rise" in crime in recent weeks in some Mozambican cities "may transmit a false idea of insecurity. In fact, our country is stable and secure, despite situations that may sporadically arise".

One cause for concern was the continued existence of arms caches, where many weapons were hidden at the end of the war of destabilisation in 1992. Pacheco regarded these caches as "permanent sources for the continual proliferation of firearms in illicit hands".

The police were continuing to dismantle arms caches, and so far this year, the minister said, they had located and destroyed 3,004 guns and about 300,000 rounds of ammunition.

Pacheco stressed the need for community cooperation with the police, through the strengthening of the Community Policing Councils. The number of such Councils has risen to 1,656.

Jatropha project in Buzi

The British-based Climate Change Corporation (C3) is working with the government of Buzi district. In the central province of Sofala, on a project to produce biodiesel, starting in the first phase with planting 1,000 hectares with the jatropha plant.

The Buzi district director of agriculture, Caetano Benedito, told AIM that the areas where jatropha could be grown have been identified, and that the project will also involve farmers from the family sector.

The British company will supply inputs and has signed an agreement with the Buzi government establishing the principles to be followed by any farmer who wishes to take part.

Jatropha is one of the best plants for the production of biodiesel, largely because it does not need much water and land that is otherwise marginal can be used. The plant could thus play a role in the fight against poverty in the Mozambican countryside, and eventually help reduce the country's fuel bill.

To join the project, a farmer must undertake to plant at least one hectare with jatropha. As a demonstration, the project has planted 1,500 jatropha seedlings in various parts of the district.

C3 will supply the farmers with seeds and the full technological package they need (including training), and has promised to purchase their entire jatropha crop

To avoid jatropha becoming a monoculture, the farmers involved are also being given seed for beans. The project insists that food security must be maintained, since jatropha is fairly slow growing and it will take three to five years before the first crop can be harvested.

Agreement with USTDA on airport expansion

The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has granted $445,000 to Mozambique's state-owned airports company, ADM, for studies on the expansion of the airports in the northern cities of Pemba and Nacala, and the southern resort of Vilankulo.

Signing the agreements in Maputo on 20 October were the deputy director of USTDA, Leocadia Zak, the charge d'affaires at the US embassy, Elizabeth Raspolic, and two members of the ADM board, Antonio Loureiro and Hermenegildo Mavale.

The studies will determine the requirements for improving Pemba and Nacala airports, and will also look at the impact of such an expansion on Vilankulo airport in the southern province of Inhambane. Both Pemba and Vilankulo airports cater heavily for the tourist trade.

According to Loureiro, the study will assess the potential for the growth of traffic in Pemba, Nacala and Vilankulo. On the basis of these results, it will choose either Pemba or Nacala for a master plan to cater for developments over the next 20 years.

This is the second agreement between ADM and USTDA. The first led to an air traffic plan now under implementation, and which is credited with improving air safety conditions.

Loureiro said the current agreement is in line with ADM's plans for the 2006-2008 period, which include expanding Pemba and Vilankulo airport, and converting the military air base at Nacala into a civilian airport.

Funds needed for Meteorology Institute

Mozambique needs about $8.5 million to be raised among the government's cooperation partners to modernise and expand the meteorology network in the country. To that end, at the last meeting of the Mozambican cabinet, a meteorology development strategy up to 2010 was approved, which includes investment in staff training in new technologies.

Transport and Communications Minister Antonio Munguambe revealed this to reporters on 16 October during an interval in a meeting of the African Forum of Users of the Satellite Products of EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites).

Commenting on training as one of the main components of the strategy, Munguambe said that even if information is available, it will be of no use if people are not trained to interpret, decode and disseminate it".

"On the other hand if we do not have equipment to receive and later to process, decode and disseminate this information there will be no advance", he said, adding that this is why investment is also to be made in technologies to modernise the National Meteorology Institute (INAM).

As an example of what can be done to inform communities of impending weather events, Munguambe said that, for instance, banners of different colours can be used to warn about an oncoming cyclone or any other disaster. "A yellow banner can be given a meaning, and so can a green or red one. But for this to work, it is necessary that communities be given that information", he said.

According to Munguambe, the idea at institutional level is to create an INAM that is not inward looking, but is concerned with rendering services to the users, which calls for adequate technologies to receive information via satellite and other means.

This meeting, gathering experts involved in the mitigation of the effects of natural disasters, will allow Mozambique and other African countries to place themselves individually and collectively in a position to take advantage of services offered by agencies and organizations working in this field.

Munguambe stressed that once the country is able to use the satellite information, it will reduce the level of human and property losses to natural disasters.

Cement factory promises to reduce pollution

The cement factory in the southern city of Matola is to halt production of clinker, which is raw material for cement, for the next 45 days, in order to install filters and replace equipment in a bid to reduce pollution.

The factory is notorious for its pollution, and environmentalists have been campaigning against it for years. Frequently the factory belches out clouds that are visible for kilometres around, and carpets everything in the vicinity with a fine white dust.

This was certainly not what the Mozambican government hoped for when the company Cimentos de Mocambique, with its three factories (in Matola, Dondo and Nacala), was privatised in the mid-1990s, effectively becoming a subsidiary of the Portuguese cement giant CIMPOR.

A source at the factory, cited in the Maputo daily "Noticias", claims that the temporary halt to clinker production will not affect the supply of cement to the market, because sufficient stocks exist for the next six weeks.

Cashew industry recovering

Agriculture Minister Tomas Mandlate believes that, after years of crisis, the cashew processing industry "is showing encouraging signs of recovery". Mandlate told AIM that in the current season about 30,000 tonnes of raw nuts will be processed by the 23 factories that now exist, and which between them employ around 6,000 people. In 2005 some 22,000 tonnes of nuts were processed.

Most of the factories are located in rural areas, and Mandlate said they are making a considerable impact on local communities. The new labour intensive units employ more workers per tonne of nuts than did the old mechanised units.

A recovery in the processing industry is part of the government's overall plans to revive the entire cashew sector. The government is striving to increase the size of the cashew orchard, and reduce the damage done to trees by fungal and insect pests. Mandlate said the current estimate is that this year 75,000 tonnes of nuts will be marketed, as against 63,000 last year.

Of the 63,000 tonnes marketed last year, only 22,000 tonnes were processed by local factories. 26,300 tonnes were exported to India, as raw material for the Indian processing industry, still the largest in the world.

Chissano appointed to ADB panel

The African Development Bank (ADB) has established a "High Level Panel of Eminent Personalities" to advise the bank on its strategic vision, which will be jointly chaired by former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, and former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

According to an ADB press release, this independent panel "will consult widely with stakeholders and is expected to produce an interim Report at the Bank's Annual Meetings in May 2007".

The other 12 members of the panel include Nobel economic laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the former President of the Arab Bank for Development in Africa, Chedly Ayari, the President of the Economic and Monetary Union of Western African States and former Malian Finance Minister, Soumaila Cisse, the governor of the Ugandan central bank, Tumusiime Mutebile, former European Union Commissioner for Development, Poul Nielson, and the former Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development), Wiseman Nkhulu.

ADB President Donald Kaberuka thanked Chissano and Martin for agreeing to chair the panel, "despite many other pressing demands on their time"

Kaberuka was confident that the ideas and recommendations from the members of the panel "will be of great importance in the evolving vision of the Bank to better serve Africa, in the light of fundamental changes taking place in the world economy and in Africa and the need for the Bank to reposition itself."

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

email: Mozambique News Agency

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