Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports


No.372, 3rd February 2009




President calls for consolidation of national unity

President Armando Guebuza declared on 2 February that the best way to honour the founder of Mozambican nationalism, Eduardo Mondlane, is to consolidate national unity, deepen peace and achieve economic progress. The President was speaking at Marracuene at the annual “Guaza-Muthini” celebrations, marking the anniversary of the 1895 Battle of Marracuene in which Mozambican warriors resisting colonial rule were defeated by the invading Portuguese army.

President Guebuza declared that by fighting for peace, progress and national unity, and affirming their Mozambican identity, citizens would honour not only Mondlane, but also the earlier generations who fought against foreign conquest. “Let us fly still higher, as Eduardo Mondlane taught us, and free ourselves from this scourge called poverty”, he continued.

He recalled Mondlane’s words of 1961, when he remarked that an eagle does not lose its ability to fly just because it is locked in a chicken coop. “Today we are understanding that we are not birds in a chicken coop, and that poverty is not a divine punishment”, said the President. “We know that we can free ourselves from this scourge by working, and by each one of us pulling their weight”.

Mondlane, who founded the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo) in 1962, was assassinated on 3 February 1969 by a parcel bomb sent to his Dar es Salaam office by the Portuguese secret police, the PIDE. The government has declared 2009 “the Year of Eduardo Mondlane”.

President Guebuza praised the heroism of all those who, despite the superior firepower of the Portuguese, had resisted the colonial invasion. “The defeat of our ancestors on the battlefield did not mean the end of Mozambican resistance to foreign rule”, he stressed. “There were many creative ways in which our people protested against colonial domination”.

He recalled how peasants had resisted forced cotton cultivation, sometimes by boiling the cotton seeds so that they would not germinate, how Mozambican dockworkers had taken strike action, how many evaded forced labour by fleeing into neighbouring countries, and how Mozambicans maintained their traditions by continuing to hold ceremonies in forbidden places.

The Battle of Marracuene was the prelude to the Portuguese invasion of the strongest of the pre-colonial states, the Empire of Gaza. But before they could advance on the Gaza capital at Manjacaze the Portuguese had first to defeat an alliance formed by the most powerful chiefs of what is now Maputo province.

At Marracuene, the Portuguese did indeed prevail, since the courage of the Mozambican warriors was no match for modern firearms. The Portuguese always marked 2 February in memory of their solders who fell in the battle. Only after independence in 1975 was it possible to pay tribute to the Mozambican dead.

Opening of Canhu season

Speaking on 31 January, President Guebuza stressed the importance of using the lessons of Eduardo Mondlane to strengthen the unity of all citizens, indispensable for the development of the country.

The President was speaking at Xitevele, in Boane district, west of Maputo, at the opening of the canhu (amarula) season. Canhu is a traditional drink. He tied this traditional ceremony to the commemorations of the anniversary of the assassination of Eduardo Mondlane.

He stated that the success of Mondlane’s teachings is linked to valuing the country’s traditions. He argued that traditions that were once localized are now spreading, so that canhu is no longer drunk only in the south, but is appreciated in other parts of Mozambique. Likewise traditional dances and other forms of cultural expression have spread well beyond their birthplaces.

Thus the Xitevele ceremony saw not only southern dances, but dances originating from Cabo Delgado, in the far north. “The sounds and the rhythm are familiar because they are ours”, said the President. “It doesn’t matter what part of Mozambique we come from”.

President Guebuza said that Mondlane had valued traditions, as an important means of building a Mozambican identity that would span linguistic, ethnic and racial differences.

Election campaign underway in Nacala

The Mozambican cabinet, meeting in extraordinary session on 20 January, decided that the second round of the mayoral election in Nacala would be held on 11 February. A second round is necessary because no candidate won more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, held on 19 November 2008. Chale Ossufo, candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party, won 22,736 votes (49.84 per cent) against the 21,812 votes (47.81 per cent) cast for the incumbent mayor, and candidate of Renamo, Manuel dos Santos.

Clashes between supporters of the rival candidates, and a serious traffic accident, on 31 January marked the first day of the official campaign.

Clashes resulted in two people being seriously injured after candidates held their opening rallies just 300 metres from each other.

The traffic accident occurred when a truck carrying Frelimo supporters overturned when it was trying to avoid one of the many ravines in Nacala caused by the serious erosion. 19 people were taken to hospital, several of them with broken arms or legs. Four are said to be in a serious condition.

During his rally, Ossufo promised that if elected he would expand electricity supplies to all schools in outlying Nacala neighbourhoods, and would strengthen policing in the city.

Manuel dos Santos promised improvements in the water supply, and in education and health networks. As for violence in the campaigns, he warned that Renamo would respond to any “provocations” by Frelimo.

Renamo threat to create parallel governments

On 2 February Renamo insisted that it would swear into office several of its candidates who were defeated in the municipal elections.

Renamo national spokesperson Fernando Mazanga refused to give any time frame for the establishment of “parallel governments” in the municipalities, merely saying that they would be announced “in due course”.

Mazanga said that this would take place in the 24 municipalities where Renamo claims there is “clear evidence” that Frelimo cheated by ferrying in phoney voters from outside the municipal area.

These municipalities according to Mazanga are Montepuez and Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province; Cuamba and Lichinga in Niassa; all municipalities in Nampula except for Nacala (where a second round of the mayoral election will be held on 11 February); all municipalities in Zambezia except Milange; Tete city and Ulongue in Tete province; all municipalities in Manica and Sofala; and the city of Matola in Maputo province.

AIM asked Mazanga how Renamo could set up parallel governments in cities such as Cuamba and Matola, where the defeated Renamo mayoral candidates, Maria Moreno and Jose Samo Gudo have publicly stated they will have nothing to do with such plans. That was not a problem: Moreno was “free to be sworn in or not”, he said. And if she did not want to take up office in a parallel government, Renamo might find somebody else.

Mazanga stated that the Constitutional Council had rejected Renamo’s appeals against the election results on “legalistic grounds”.

He complained that the current electoral legislation had been passed by “the false Frelimo majority” in parliament using “the dictatorship of the vote”. Mazanga said that Renamo was submitting a bill to amend the electoral legislation, which would be discussed at the next sitting of the Assembly.

This sitting will run from March to May. The general elections must be held before the 2009-2010 rainy season – i.e. by the end of October. That time frame makes it quite impossible to have new electoral bodies up and running before the general elections.

LAM cuts airfares

Mozambique Airlines (LAM) announced on 20 January that it is cutting its fares on domestic routes by between five and 77 per cent as from 22 January.

The most dramatic cut is on the short hop between the southern city of Inhambane and the resort of Vilanculo. The lowest one-way fare on this route used to be 3,173 meticais (about 125 US dollars). The trip will now cost 720 meticais – a reduction of 77.3 per cent.

The current basic price of a one-way ticket from Maputo to Beira is 3,200 meticais (and this does not include insurance, or airport fees). The new price, with everything included, is 2,400 meticais – a cut of over 35 per cent.

According to the LAM commercial director, Aderito Macaba, these fare cuts are possible because of LAM’s acquisition of new aircraft with lower operational costs. In December, two Bombardier Q-400 planes entered service with LAM, each with a capacity to hold 72 passengers. They are replacing leased 30 seater British Aerospace Jetstream 41 aircraft on such routes as Maputo-Chimoio and Maputo-Vilanculo.

In mid-2009, LAM will acquire two Embraer 190 planes, with the capacity to carry 94 passengers each, and in 2010-2011 a further two aircraft, one bombardier Q-400 and one Embraer 190 will complete the renovation of the LAM fleet. These new aircraft will also gradually phase out the Boeing 737-200s that have been the backbone of the LAM fleet for decades.

The new aircraft are much quieter and more fuel-efficient than the Boeings. LAM estimates that it costs 40 per cent more to run a Boeing 737 than a Bombardier Q-400.

As for LAM’s regional flights to Johannesburg, Durban, Harare, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, Macaba promised “we have something up our sleeve”, but would give no details.

Chibuto project put on hold

The mining of titanium bearing heavy sands in the southern district of Chibuto has been put on hold, and may not go ahead for years, if at all. The giant multinational mining corporation, BHP-Billiton, which controls Corridor Sands Ltd, the company with the prospecting rights, has announced that its pre-viability study “reached the conclusion that the value that can be obtained from this deposit is inadequate to justify its development at this moment”.

Although the pre-viability study for Corridor Sands does not conclude until 31 March, BHP-Billiton states that its findings so far do not justify the start of mining.

At first sight this may seem strange, since Chibuto was reported to hold the largest deposit of titanium bearing sands anywhere in the world. However, the current global recession will certainly cut demand for titanium ores, even in the Chinese market.

The project also faces electricity and transport problems. BHP-Billiton abandoned the original plan of building a titanium smelter in Chibuto, and opted to process the ore in Maputo province, where it is already the major partner in the MOZAL aluminium smelter.

But processing titanium ores uses enormous amounts of electricity, and southern Africa is running out of power. Until new sources of electricity come on stream (such as the proposed new dam at Mpanda Nkua on the Zambezi), it is difficult to see where BHP-Billiton could obtain the power for a smelter. This same problem has already held up approval for a second extension to the MOZAL smelter.

Processing the ore in Maputo would mean moving it there. But the Chibuto deposit is about 70km from the Limpopo railway line that runs to Maputo.

Doubtless these are among the concerns leading BHP-Billiton to put the whole project on hold. But it is not pulling out of Chibuto altogether: BHP-Billiton “will wait for the renewal of its exploration licence for possible future developments of the project”.

A source in the office of Mineral Resources Minister, Esperanca Bias said that BHP-Billiton had already requested an extension of the licence. “In the meeting we had with the project proponents in mid-December, they assured us that in 2010 they would request the mining concession, and within three years after that all the steps would have been taken to begin effective operations”.

The Ministry said it had received no information from BHP-Billiton that the project would be halted, and the staff laid off. The Chibuto district government, which has seen Corridor Sands as a potential source of significant employment in the district, has not received any official communication from BHP-Billiton about the future of the project.

Corridor Sands workers in Chibuto say they are receiving redundancy notices. It was estimated that Corridor Sands would create 1,750 jobs in the construction phase, with 475 permanent jobs for Mozambicans in the operational phase.

Prime Minister criticises poor perceptions of Africa

Prime Minister Luisa Diogo has criticized what she regarded as widespread misunderstandings about Africa, remarking that often lack of knowledge is easier to correct than poor perceptions.

“Africa isn’t unknown – it’s badly known”, she said. “People tend to believe more in what they see through the international media, but the materials shown are selected and report an Africa of conflicts, of endemic and epidemic diseases, of coups d’etat, of slow economic growth, problematic governance, and a leadership of doubtful credentials”.

Prime Minister Diogo was speaking in the Swiss resort of Davos, after a World Economic Forum Plenary session that discussed the transformations under way in Africa in recent years, and the political and economic challenges facing Africa.

The Prime Minister’s critique arose in part because the plenary spent most of its time debating what is going wrong in Africa, and not on any progress that has been made. Even the images cast on the gigantic Davos screen showed the negative rather than the positive side of the continent.

“When they look at Africa, they compare it with other continents that have many years of modernity”, she said. Instead they should be comparing Africa with its own recent past. “Transformations are happening in Africa very quickly, and the situation is not as bad as is thought”.

Among the advances the Prime Minister mentioned was the African Peer Review Mechanism under which African countries submit themselves to an independent review of their political and economic governance. “When an African leader opens his country to assessment by bodies outside of the state, this shows great sobriety and calm, because they feel that they should be accountable to their people for their governance”.

The Prime Minister stressed that it is often easier to deal with lack of knowledge than with wrong perceptions. But she insisted that perceptions ought to change “because today’s Africa is a new Africa, where business opportunities are flourishing, where investments are being made in education, health and infrastructures, and where there is permanent accountability before the African Union”.

“This is an Africa with dynamic regions such as SADC which is bearing its responsibilities in an impressively coherent manner”, Prime Minister Diogo said. “Here the leaders speak with a single voice about what is happening in the region”.

Prime Minister Diogo recognized that there remain problems and conflicts, but asked, “who doesn’t have them?” Compared with the past, she insisted, there are more good than bad situations in Africa.

There were many challenges facing Africa, she added, but the continent was already showing what it is capable of doing. This was why African leaders in Davos were not afraid to invite the world to visit Africa, and experience its realities.

WFP makes record purchases

In 2008 the UN World Food Programme purchased over 30,000 tonnes of food from Mozambican suppliers. This was part of a total of 552,000 tonnes of food that the WFP bought throughout southern Africa last year. The agency says that was “the equivalent of providing nearly 2.75 million hungry people with a full food basket for an entire year”.

According to Mustapha Darboe, WFP Regional Director “these record purchases played a huge part in ensuring that WFP was able to provide timely and sufficient food assistance to millions of hungry people across Africa”.

The purchase of grain, pulses, vegetable oil, maize-soya blend, salt and sugar, cost the WFP $190 million. Most of the food came from South Africa where the WFP bought 430,000 tonnes for $141 million. 35,000 tonnes was purchased in Mozambique for $13.9 million, 32,200 tonnes in Malawi for $15.6 million, and 31,700 tonnes in Zambia for $10.8 million. The Mozambican, Malawian and Zambian purchases were used mostly for food aid programmes within those same countries.

Smaller amounts were purchased in Lesotho (12,100 tonnes), Zimbabwe (6,200 tonnes) and Namibia (4,700 tonnes).

Organic fertiliser unit inaugurated

Maputo now has a small factory capable of producing 600 to 700 kilos of fertilizer a day based on solid organic waste collected from the city’s markets.

This is the first undertaking of the kind in the country. It was designed by the Maputo City Council and implemented by the council’s Health and Cleaning Department in partnership with the Catholic charity Caritas and the Italian NGO LVIA.

It cost €39,000 (about $50,000) to set up the unit, known as the “Compost Production Centre – FERTILIZA”. Among those who provided the money were LVIA, Caritas, the Dutch Embassy, and two more NGOs, Regione Veneto and CAFOD.

According to the interim mayor of Maputo, Armindo Matos, “although this is a small undertaking, it is extremely important, not only because it contributes to keeping the city clean by collecting solid waste, but also because it creates jobs”. Currently 12 people work at FERTILIZA.

Matos hoped that more units of the same kind would be set up in the city, since Maputo can supply large amounts of the raw material necessary for the production of organic fertilizers. For example, the Zimpeto wholesale market, the largest in the city, produces seven tonnes of waste a day (although this figure also includes non-organic waste). The sprawling informal market of Xiquelene generates around 1.5 tonnes of organic waste a day.

Tourism investment falters

New investment in tourism in Mozambique fell by 24.3 per cent in 2008 after several years of growth. According to data from the Ministry of Tourism, $977.2 million were invested in tourism projects in 2007. This figure fell to $739.9 million in 2008.

The National Director of Planning and Cooperation in the Ministry, Dina Ribeiro, told AIM that this reduction was due to the delay in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, approving a law altering the Tax Benefits Code. Tourism is one of the sectors favoured by the changes in the code, which were only approved in December.

Ribeiro admitted, however, that the international financial crisis has also have played a role in slowing down the flow of investment to tourism. However, she thought that the tax benefits were determinant.

"We think that the reduction in tourism investments has to do with the fact that the investors were anxious to see the approval of the Fiscal Benefits Code, which they knew the government had been working on", she said. "The information we have indicates that the investors were waiting for the code to be approved".

Ribeiro though that with the parliamentary approval of the code, 2009 would be a better year for Mozambique in terms of attracting tourism investment. "We're optimistic, and we think that this year the investment figures will rise, although the economic crisis may have some impact on reducing investment".

Ribeiro stressed that the holding of the football World Cup in South Africa in 2010 could be an incentive for attracting investment to Mozambique.

In 2008, she added, 265 tourism projects were submitted, and the government approved 237 of them. She said these projects involved building 7,756 rooms, with 13,205 beds and the creation of 5,448 new jobs.

There were more projects in 2008 than 2007, although the sum of money invested was smaller. In 2007, 133 projects were approved out of 171 proposals. These involved the building of 8,040 rooms, with 15,668 beds, and the creation of 17,936 new jobs.



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