Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Mozambique Airlines (LAM) plans to resume direct flights between Maputo and Lisbon as from April, according to the company’s chairperson, Jose Viegas.In an end-of-year message, Viegas said that initially LAM will fly to Lisbon twice a week. Since LAM currently does not possess planes capable of non-stop intercontinental flights, it will use a Boeing 767-300 on loan from Air Seychelles.“We are ambitious and we want to be in the vanguard of the industry, growing in a secure and sustainable fashion”, declared Viegas. “That’s why we are going to expand our medium-haul fleet, and also begin flights to Lisbon”.Currently flights from Maputo to Lisbon are only operated by the Portuguese airline TAP, in a code-sharing arrangement with LAM.Viegas said that LAM’s trading income rose by nine percent this year. Over the previous 12 months the airline carried 533,775 passengers – which is 76,608 more than in 2009 (an increase of 16 per cent).This is largely due to an increased number of flights, both on domestic and on regional routes. Within the southern and eastern African region, LAM is now flying to Johannesburg, Luanda, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.Viegas said that LAM had suffered over the year from increased prices of jet fuel, and from the decline in the value of the national currency, the metical. Despite these constraints, in October LAM increased that number of Maputo-Nairobi flights from two to three a week, and in December added a route from the northern city of Nampula to Nairobi.“We broadened our horizons in 2010, flying more frequently to Luanda and Nairobi, and linking the provincial capitals with greater regularity to Johannesburg and Nairobi”, he said.


The Mozambican government has allocated new vehicles to members of the country’s National Elections Commission (CNE), reports Wednesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.12 vehicles, of the Hyundai Azzera V6 mark, had been acquired for the 12 CNE members whose status is equivalent to that of deputy ministers. The 13th CNE member, its chairperson, Joao Leopoldo da Costa, has the same standing as a minister – the report did not say whether he too has acquired a new vehicle. Speaking to reporters last week, the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, confirmed the acquisition of these vehicles, despite the austerity measures the government announced in September.“The government cannot stop carrying out its plans because of the austerity measures”, he said. Vehicles for the CNE members were necessary because of the nature of the CNE’s work, he saiBut currently there is no visible sign of any CNE work. The next municipal elections are not due until 2013, and they will be followed by presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014. The results from the 2009 general elections have been validated, and there are no further appeals for the CNE to consider.There is not even much preparatory work for the 2013 and 2014 elections that the CNE can do, because the electoral legislation is being revised by the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. No-once can predict, at this stage, the exact shape of the rules that will govern the next elections.One thing is quite certain – this CNE will no longer exist by the time the 2013 elections are held. A new CNE must be elected, and widely variant proposals on its size, and how its members will be selected have been made by the three parliamentary parties (the ruling Frelimo Party, the former rebel movement Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement, MDM).This is the second time that the CNE members have received vehicles from the state – the first time was in early 2009.


Nobody has the right to take the life of another citizen, regardless of the motive, declared Mozambican Justice Minister Benvinda Levi, on Monday.She was speaking in the central city of Chimoio, at a meeting with community and religious leaders, and other representatives of civil society, called to discuss the problem of people taking the law into their own hands and lynching those whom they believed to be criminalsAccording to a report in Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, Levi found that her audience made excuses for lynchings, claiming that the people were fed up with seeing the police release individuals whom they believed to be criminals. They said that, once out of jail, the supposed criminals commit new crimes.The people then took the law into their own hands “solving one crime by committing another, and using violence to end violence”. Lynching was the alternative found to reduce the levels of crime and “end the impunity of delinquents”.Levi was less than impressed with such arguments. She stressed that “freeing prisoners is a normal act within the legal process. Once a person has served his sentence, then obviously he has to be released”.“So you don’t want to see anyone released”, she told her audience. “But I tell you that anyone who goes into prison also comes out”. One day “it might be us, and we will need to be set free when we have been acquitted or have served our sentences”.People accused of petty theft and other minor offences are often released and told to await trial at home – this tends to be interpreted as “corruption” or “impunity”. Indeed, the police are only allowed to hold suspects for 48 hours (although this time limit is often disrespected) before presenting them to a magistrate who must decided whether they should remain in detention or not.“We should not think it strange when someone leaves jail and goes back to his family”, said Levi. “Those who go in also come out, and this is normal in any part of the world”.Furthermore, judges often released suspects because the police presented no convincing evidence against them. “All suspects enjoy the benefit of the doubt, and the presumption that they are innocent until proven guilty”, said Levi. “So nobody can be jailed without charge, and without evidence of the crimes they are accused of. It is better to let a bandit go, than throw an innocent person in jail”.Those who were dissatisfied with a court decision, should attempt to have it reversed by a higher court, and never resort to taking the law into their own hands, she stressed


Ruthless price hikes by Maputo wholesalers just before Xmas backfired when consumers simply refused to buy their goods – and tonnes of potatoes and tomatoes simply rotted in the Zimpeto wholesale market on the outskirts of the capital.In early December, a sack of ten kilos of potatoes cost between 180 and 210 meticais (about 6.4 US dollars, at today’s exchange rates). Last week, as Xmas approached, the price soared to between 250 and 280 meticais.Yet potatoes imported from South Africa should have become cheaper, since the metical has made significant gains against the rand in the past couple of weeks. Furthermore, potatoes are among the products on which the customs service charges duties, not according to the real price, but on a much lower “reference price”.The chairperson of the Mozambican Association of Micro-Importers (AMMI), Fernando Matusse, knew who to blame for his members’ potatoes rotting in the late December sun. It was all the fault of the consumers for refusing to pay the prices demanded by his members.”We regret the situation, because we had installed a supply capacity to avoid speculation, but the buyers did not respond and so we made losses”, said Matusse – although many shoppers would certainly regard a price hike of 33 per cent in the space of less than a month as a prime example of speculation.The potatoes rotted, he complained, because there were so few buyers on Friday and Saturday, when the Zimpeto market seemed virtually abandoned. It seemed not to occur to him that, if the vendors had cut the prices significantly, that news would have traveled fast, and the market would quickly have filled up again.AMMI members have yet to learn a fairly basic rule of market capitalism – that high prices do not lead to profits if nobody buys at those prices. It was the same Fernando Matusse who, in early December, promised that the price of a sack of potatoes would not exceed 220 meticais in the festive season – a promise that proved to be worthless. At 220 meticais, the vendors stood a good chance of selling all their potatoes – if the 5,000 sacks which rotted had been sold, that would have earned them 1.1 million meticais. They threw that away in the vain hope of making an extra 50 or 60 meticais per sackMuch the same thing happened to 1,500 boxes of overpriced tomatoes. Some importers complained that the high temperatures on 24 December contributed to the tomatoes going rotten. But such temperatures are normal at this time of year, and anyone who listened to the weather forecast knew that Friday was going to be a particularly hot day.The reality was that buyers refused to pay 400 meticais for a box of tomatoes. The sellers appear to have recognised this – when the independent television channel STV visited the Zimpeto market on Tuesday, it found that the price of a box of tomatoes had slumped to 100 meticais.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Mozambique’s Minister of Youth and Sport, Pedrito Caetano, announced on Monday that the ceremony at which the Chinese contractor should have handed over the new National Stadium to the government has been postponed. Caetano, accompanied by his deputy minister and other senior officials of the Ministry, all turned up at the Stadium, built in the outlying Maputo neighbourhood of Zimpeto, clearly expecting the ceremony to take place, as did the large number of journalists in attendance. But nobody from the Chinese side, from the contractor or from the Chinese embassy, was present, although the Chinese have provided the money (about 65 million US dollars) for building what is the largest, and most modern sports facility in the country.Caetano said this debacle “due to the fact that there are some unexpected matters that were not discussed at the time we were working, but once we decide the next date we will communicate it to everyone”. The construction of the National Stadium began on April 28, 2008, and it should have been completed by the first quarter of 2010, a deadline that proved impossible to meet.The inauguration of the stadium, with the capacity to hold 42,000 spectators, was originally scheduled for December 11, but this ceremony (quite separate from the formal handover of the building) was postponed because of the need to consolidate the pitch. No matches can e played there until March or April.Jose Pereira, director of the construction work, also present at the abortive ceremony, said that the National Stadium has been built with quality and its structural soundness is not in any doubt.“We had a laboratory to analyse the materials that were used in the construction, thus both the Mozambican and the Chinese governments were careful to assess all the materials used in the stadium”, said Pereira.


A group of youths in a village in northern Mozambique attacked and killed a policeman on Christmas Day.According to a report in the independent daily “O Pais”, the incident occurred in Matambalale, in Muidumbe district, in Cabo Delgado province. The police officer, whose name was not given in the report, intercepted a young man who was selling food. An angry altercation followed (it is not clear why), and when the policeman walked away, he was followed by a group of young villagers.Realising that he was being followed, the policeman turned and opened fire, shooting one of the youths in the leg.The other youths replied with a hail of stones. When they moved closer to their victim, the members of the crowd used machetes and other sharp objects, and beat him to death.The head of public relations in the Cabo Delgado provincial police command, Henriques Celiano, told the paper that so far nobody has been arrested in connection with this murder. However, he said the police would do all in their power to bring those responsible for the crime to justice.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


At least one case of academic fraud took place during the special mathematics exam held on Thursday in Maputo for 12th grade pupils, reports Friday’s issue of the daily paper “Noticias”.A group of students involved in the fraud have implicated two teachers whom they claim provided them with the answers to the mathematics exam. The police are currently interrogating the students and teachers whose names have not been released.The fraud occurred in the Lhanguene Secondary School. One teacher was found with a cell phone among his possessions in the examination room, although cell phones are strictly prohibited.When the phone was examined, it was found that the message log possessed answers to the exam questions which the teacher was sending to certain pupils.Elsewhere in the same school, a pupil was caught with a cell phone receiving the answers. Questioned by the school authorities, he confessed to cheating, and implicated a teacher, with whom he had struck a deal to provide the answers (presumably in exchange for money).This is highly embarrassing for the Education Ministry since this exam replaces one that had to be cancelled in its entirety when widespread fraud was discovered in Maputo. According to Education Minister Zeferino Martins, there were cases where entire classes scored 100 per cent.Fraud is worryingly common in Mozambican exams. In the first set of exams held this year, the Ministry of Education discovered 112 cases of cheating, 108 of which were blamed on pupils and four on teachers.The pupils involved have lost the academic year, while the teachers are facing disciplinary and criminal proceedings.

For who it does not walk of helicopter, the state of the nation is not good

The President of the Republic was this monday to the Assembly of the Republic to say what every year she repeats, more thing little thing. He only changed the refrão. Before he said that “the state of the nation is good”. Now he says that “the nation is in the good way” and “route to the prosperity goes”. In short, he turns the record and he touches the same. For the citizen Seting Guebuza, filing a suit proper cause, “the state of the nation”, continues to be “good”. For who it does not have To be able and it does not have to praise its proper work, it is well different. Very different. For who not sobrevoa the Country of helicopter, does not have paid stewardships for taxes and other taxes, do not have health insurances and doctors to the headboard, do not have job, sleep seated with the feet in the water when it rains, he has its children in the public schools without wallets or nor obtains to register the children; for who it is assaulted all days here and acolá, it does not have as to buy medicines, it does not have adjusted transports, it deals every day with deficient telecommunications, it is collated every day with holes in the roads, does not receive you arrest of individuals suspicious of envolvement in drug trafficking, do not ask for to it to be partner of multinationals and other great and average companies, do not live of commissions or of lobbies, she does not have twenty mentally ill houses to the state, does not have accomplices as foreheads of iron in railroad, port or mining businesses, do not have great portions of unproductive land in its name to the wait of being able to speculate, or it does not have attributed workmanships of the state to its partners, the state of the nation is péssimo. For who it does not have as to live, it does not have what to eat, it does not have the minimum, the state of the nation is so precarious that until they judge that nor they are children of the same nation of that the head of State and the Government was to speak to the Assembly of the Republic in the last monday. Until many of that they had helped to free the Country today lives in the misery. It is alone to go the Mueda, or to any part of the territory of this “pearl” each peeled time more, to see itself as the majority of the old combatants lives. Already somebody was to ask to them if the state of the nation is good? E the state of them? What would come back to make if still they had the same forces it stimulated that them to free the Country of the colonialismo? They would catch in weapons another time? Frankly Sir President of the Republic! He falls in the Real. He leaves myself of manipulating speeches. He leaves myself to deceive the People. He believes us very sincere in what today we are here to say to it. We do not have skill to bajular nobody. Mr. I eat citizen is of course authorized to say what she goes to it in the soul, as by the way the common citizens. But as head of State Mr. it does not have the right to go to read in the Parliament what its bajuladores prepare and alone increases the indignation of who sees in wealth not justified what lacks to many families. If it was truth that the Country “is in the good way”, “is all good one”, as is that one justifies that the National Institute of Estatística (INE) has proven that the poverty increased? It will be that the National Institute of Statistics lay or did not have as to lie? Mr. President did not read the report of the INE? He will be that the minister of the Plan and hid it to Development of Itself or was its staff not to bother it? How it is that one justifies that the capital of the Country has been pure and simply paralyzed, three days, for pacific manifestations that had been lead for the violence for the authorities, if the Country is exactly good and in the good way as Mr., as head of the Government, despite on vestments of head of State, insists on saying, and repeated before the agent chief executives of the People in the last monday? How it is that the Country can be good and in good way if 90% of our children they every day cover with white lead in our schools and the entrepreneurs if they complain of that diplomee for our universities little or nothing they know, safe, obviously, honrosas and dignificantes exceptions? That future this reserve to the Country? How it is that our Country can be “in the good way” if had exactly you to relieve, has few months, the minister of the Health because already it did not have medicines in pharmacies of the State and the relations State-doctors and State-nurses were to the side to take the Country for a general strike whose causes had been not yet decided? How it is that the Country can be in the good way if the policies, the nurses, the professors, and the public officers who are not heads (same these only while they are heads if disembarass) of a general form do not have conditions to survive until the final o of each month, but you of the séquito of the President they always walk to change of viaturas of luxury and to show fausto supported by the public state treasury? In a country where Justice and the courts are an option already almost alone for who have dom of the patience, can be credível the speech of a head of State that says that the “country is in the good way”? When the expert of United Nations, the female judge Gabriela Knaul, finishes to evidence and to announce, in Moçambique, that “filiation in the Frelimo party is prerequisite for access to the legal career” and insisted “on the necessity of the imparcialidade and transparency of the sentences, that must be based on facts and always be in accordance with the law, without influences, aliciamentos, improper pressures, threats or interferences directas or indirectas”, can be said that “the Country is in the good way”? It finds, Sir President, who a Country where until tomatoe, onion, potato, if has to matter of the South Africa and what it is produced in the Country if ruins due to half placing the production in the commercial centers, if can consider “the way of the progress”? In a country that had industry, that had an agriculture and cattle relatively strong - it is withdrawn 1981 - and now imports everything in time of Peace, can be considered that “the state of the nation is good” and that “the Country is in the good way”? It finds, Sir President, who in a State where the majority of the people does not have a minimum wage and that exactly this of the one diligent not to eat it much less to support its family, can come the head of State to say that “the state of the nation is good” and/or that “the country is in the good way”? It finds, Sir President, who it is well to paint a surrealista picture instead of bringing to the People the real photograph of the Country? It finds that a Country is good when the State is every day to penalizar the entrepreneurs, the investors and the entrepreneurs, to small the e average companies on, so that the managers of this exactly Been live with a proportionate comfort for the public state treasury who do not correspond to its performance and to the quality of services that give to the citizens? It finds that a Country where all the economy is practically in informal somebody can say exactly that this country is in the good way? He stops beyond that they only know to bajular to survive, Mr. Presidente finds that plus somebody in its soul and its perfect judgment he can believe the successes that he relates in its informs to the Nation? Sir President, after “telegrams” published by the WikiLeaks, where if suggests to have had personal benefits of the citizen Seting Guebuza in the business of the reversion of Cahora Bassa, of Portugal for “we”, finds that it is not necessary to create an independent, paid commission for the State, with figures pointed for the respective parties of the Parliamentary Opposition and independent figures, in order to inquire and to esmiuçar the meandros of “arranjinho” on the barrage, with the French bank that “business” financed, and with the authorities of Portugal led by the first-minister Jose Sócrates? The International Transparency, has days, through the Global Barómetro of the Corruption did not leave in the photograph the authorities of Lisbon well. Because it will be? Those individuals that arrange sarilhos in some parts of the World have come to stop the Moçambique. Every day it has notice on them in the press of the countries from where they come. These do not admire that they say that the state of this our nation is good, but to hear the head of State of Moçambique to line up the same for diapasão, worries us. When the moçambicanos scientists prove in them that more was produced, in 1981, when the Frelimo Party said that the country “was surrounded by the imperialism” and to be “victim of a run down war”, as it is that we can leave to question and to doubt this alleged “good condition of the nation” and of “country in the good way”? In a country where who is in the cupola is there for being able more easily to mount its private businesses and to impute to the State the operational costs of these businesses, we can continue been silent? We can agree that “the country is in the good way”? Obviously that not. We want a Country the serious one. The controllers pass, the People are. (Canal of Moçambique)

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Among the supposed “revelations” in the US diplomatic cables, signed by the former US charge d’affaires in Maputo, Todd Chapman, and publishing by the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks, is a list of companies allegedly owned by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.Chapman claims that Guebuza has shares in a number of banks, namely the BCI, Mocambique Capitais, Moza Banco, and Geocapital. There are a number of problems with this list – notably the fact that neither Mocambique Capitais nor Geocapital are banks.Geocapital is not even Mozambican – it is the holding company of the Macau billionaire Stanley Ho, and describes itself as a bridge between China and the Portuguese speaking world. In addition to Ho himself, the main shareholders are Portuguese investor Jorge Ferro Ribeiro, and a second Macau businessman Ambrose So Shu Fai, who is also a Committee Member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the Chinese government.Although Geocapital is not a bank, it invests in banks – in this case in Moza Banco, one of the most recent of Mozambican banks, which began trading in 2008.At the time Chapman was writing (late 2009/early 2010), Moza Banco had three shareholders – Geocapital, Mocambique Capitais, and Mozambican businessman Antonio Almeida Matos. Almeida Matos had just one share, simply because there was a legal requirement for three shareholders.
Guebuza is not a shareholder of Moza Banco. Mocambique Capitais is the driving force behind Moza Banco, and was the brainchild of a former governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Prakash Ratilal. It is a private shareholder company, open to any Mozambican businessman or other professional. It started life in 2001 with 13 shareholders, and now has about 300. Armando Guebuza is not one of them.The rumour that Guebuza is a shareholder of Mocambique Capitais can be traced back to an article that appeared in the Maputo newsheet “Correio de Manha” on 28 December 2005. The article was reprinted in the blog “Mocambique para todos”, and was eventually picked up by the Paris-based “Indian Ocean Newsletter” (ION) in its issue of 27 March 2010.At this point, Ratilal wrote a polite letter to the ION, pointing out that Guebuza was not a shareholder of Mocambique Capitais, and that claims by ION that Moza Banco had made losses of 10 million US dollars in 2008 were the reverse of the truth.Ratilal said that Moza Banco had started banking activities in June 2008, and by the end of 2009 could report “sizeable profits”. Anyone who did not believe this could look at the reports from the consultancy company KPMG, which audits Moza Banco’s accounts. The editor of the ION, Francois Soler, had the professional decency to issue a correction in the next issue.The shareholding structure of Moza Banco is about to change after a deal to bring the Portuguese company BES Africa into the bank. BES Africa is a holding company of the Banco Espirito Santo group.The deal has been carefully crafted to ensure that the Mozambican shareholders remain in control. As from January, according to Ratilal, Mocambique Capitais will have 50.4 per cent of the shares in Moza Banco, BES Africa 25.1 per cent, and Geocapital 24.5 per cent. The bank’s capital is scheduled to increase from 15 million to 20 million US dollars in January and to reach 30 million dollars by June. Currently Moza Banco has just two branches and 63 workers – the expansion plan is to reach 30 branches and about 300 workers by 2013.Mocambique Capitais and Moza Banco also lay a strong stress on ethics. In his letter to the ION, Ratilal wrote that all candidates for membership of Mocambique Capitais “have to present their identity card or company’s registration and declare that the origin of their funds do not result from illicit activities or money laundering”.
The company’s articles of association go further and state that any shareholder in Mocambique Capitais will be obliged to sell off his shares if he is found guilty of money laundering “or other crimes that may seriously damage the operations of the company”.This is far removed from the corrupt schemes imagined in Todd Chapman’s cables, which paint a picture of an economy dominated by Armando Guebuza, and mired in drug trafficking and money laundering. As for the BCI, this is Mozambique’s second largest commercial bank. Once again, it is easy to check the list of shareholders and see that Armando Guebuza’s name is not there.
The BCI is dominated by Portuguese capital. The major shareholder is the Portuguese state bank, the Caixa Geral de Depositos (CGD), with 51 per cent. A second Portuguese bank, the BPI (Portuguese Investment Bank) holds 29.55 per cent of the shares. The only Mozambican shareholder in the BCI is the Insitec group, chaired by Celso Correia. Elsewhere in the same cable Chapman claims that Guebuza is the majority shareholder in Insitic. But in fact Insitec was set up as a family company, and the people who own it are mostly members of Correia’s family. Guebuza does not figure in the list of Insitec shareholders.Chapman claims he obtained the information about Guebuza’s supposed business interests from a source whose name has been redacted by Wikileaks. However, the information in the cable makes it easy to identify the source, and AIM has spoken to him – he categorically denies saying most of what Chapman attributes to him. In particular, he said he knows nothing about companies in which Geubuza may hold shares.But more important than Chapman’s dishonest use of his sources, is the apparent US embassy ignorance about Mozambican banks. For the information on the shareholding structure of Mozambican banks is publicly available. A few phone calls, or a few minutes browsing on the Internet would have given Chapman full information on the ownership of all Mozambican banks.Instead, he chose to retail cocktail party gossip put in the mouth of a source who has subsequently denied even mentioning the country’s banking system to Chapman.Was Chapman deliberately trying to damage Mocambique Capitais, Moza Banco and the BCI in the eyes of the State Department? Or are his cables simply the product of an incompetent and unprofessional diplomat?

Thursday, December 23, 2010


A Maputo judge has denied bail to a Mozambican businessman, Momed Khalid Ayoob, who was caught trying to smuggle 18 million rands (about 2.6 million US dollars) in banknotes from Mozambique to Dubai via Swaziland.Ayoob was arrested in Swaziland in 1 December when police at Matsapha International Airport discovered the money. A week later a Swazi court released him on bail of 400,000 rands – but kept the 18 million, until he can prove that he came by it legitimately.Ayoob tried to slip back into Mozambique late in the evening of 13 December at the Goba frontier post. But customs officers and members of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) were waiting for him, and he was immediately driven to a Maputo jail.According to PIC sources cited in the latest issue of the weekly paper “Magazine Independente” (MI), Ayoob was brought before an investigating magistrate on Thursday. Ayoob’s lawyers requested his release on bail, but the judge refused.The judge feared that Ayoob might try to leave the country if he was released, and determined that he should remain under detention while PIC under took further investigations. Furthermore, the judge noted that Ayoob contradicted himself as to the origin of the money. He had told the court in Swaziland that the money came from clients of his businesses in Maputo. But he told the Maputo judge that he had acquired the money in Swaziland.Even in the unlikely event that Ayoob can prove that he came by the money legitimately, he can still be prosecuted under Mozambican exchange legislation, since the maximum amount that any traveler can take out of the country without declaring it is 5,000 US dollars, or the equivalent in other currencies.


In order to carry out a Strategic Irrigation Plan approved by the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) on Tuesday, the Mozambican government needs to mobilise 645 million US dollars by the year 2019.The government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Alberto Nkutumula, told reporters that 135 million dollars are already guaranteed, and the government hopes to mobilise the other 510 million through public and private investment over the next eight years.Implementation of the Strategic Irrigation Plan begins in 2011, and its main objectives are to increase agricultural production and productivity, guarantee food security, generate employment, and increase the incomes of rural households.Currently only 62,000 hectares of farmland is irrigated in the entire country. Nkutumula pointed out that this is a mere two per cent of the total arable land in Mozambique. “The other 98 per cent depends on rain”, he said.With a continually growing population, the country cannot afford to rely so heavily on rain-fed agriculture. Nkutumula said the current situation led to shortages, price rises and reliance for imports of crops that could be grown in Mozambique.He added that a new public institution will be set up to design a national irrigation programme and thus make the Strategic Plan operational.


The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday approved a resolution moved by the majority Frelimo Party to set up an Ad-Hoc Commission to draft constitutional amendments.Both the opposition parliamentary groups, from the former rebel movement Renamo, and from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), voted against the proposal. The opposition is perplexed because Frelimo has not stated exactly which aspects of the constitution it wishes to change. It has, however, ruled out fundamental change, talking instead of “improving” the existing constitution, which was approved in 2004.Frelimo has also repeatedly denied that it has any intention of changing the constitutional limit on presidential terms of office to allow the current head of state, Armando Guebuza, to stand for a third term of office. Guebuza himself has categorically denied that he has any wish for a third term.A further opposition objection was that Frelimo had argued against setting up an ad-hoc commission to revise the country’s electoral legislation, largely on financial grounds, yet when it came to the Constitution, the objections to an ad-hoc commission fell away.“Frelimo wants to change the Constitution through a mere ad-hoc commission, and using methods that are not clear”, protested Renamo deputy Ivone Soares.The current constitution, she argued, corresponded to political consensus that had been reached in 2004, and any alteration might endanger political harmony in the country. She was suspicious of the speed with which Frelimo was moving on the issue, and claimed “this is a danger for the future of democracy in Mozambique”. Saimone Macuiana, also from Renamo, demanded that, if the constitution were to be revised, the work should be done by the existing parliamentary commission of legal and constitutional matters – just as Frelimo had insisted that revising the electoral legislation was a task for the existing commission on public administration.Then, Frelimo had argued there was no money for an ad-hoc commission, said Macuiana, so where had the money been found for an ad-hoc commission this time?For Frelimo, Nyeleti Mondlane pointed out that previous amendments to the constitution had been discussed in ad-hoc commissions, and Cidalia Chauque, said there was no reason to be afraid of improving the country’s fundamental law.“We should bear in mind that we live in a world in constant transformation, and it is opportune that the constitution be brought into line with domestic and international dynamics”, said Chauque. She added that, at a timely moment, Frelimo would deposit its own proposals for amendments with the ad-hoc commission.The commission will have 21 members and a budget of 20 million meticais (about 590,000 US dollars) for 2011. Its task will be to collect suggestions, not only from the parliamentarians, but from civil society bodies and the public at large.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Mozambique’s Minister for the Public Service, Vitoria Diogo, announced in Maputo on Monday the creation of two new instruments to improve the state’s capacity for administrative inspections.They are a manual of procedures and an inspector’s guide, recently approved by ministerial diploma. Speaking at the opening of a Council of General Inspectors, Diogo said the two documents fill a gap, and respond to one of the main concerns of the Strategic Plan for State Supervision and Administrative Inspection, which is the standardisation of procedures,Through the new documents “it is intended to improve the performance of the inspectors so that the public administration is imbued with a culture of accountability, transparency in the management of public affairs, and that it should be ever more oriented towards results, and centred on the citizen, continually providing better services, and thus contributing to the fight against poverty”, she said.Diogo said the two instruments will strengthen the role of inspection in the public administration, making it an essential element in promoting the public good, in preventing illicit acts, and in educating state employees.She added that the training of inspectors remained a major challenge, since professionals in this area must have a thorough knowledge of the legislation in force, a high sense of responsibility and of confidentiality.


Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in the number of corruption cases brought to trial, according to Mozambique’s Attorney-General, Augusto Paulino.Addressing the opening session on  a meeting in the southern city of Matola of the Coordinating Council of the Attorney-General’s Office, Paulino said that between November 2009 and October 2010, of the 190 cases where corruption was alleged, 102 were brought to trial. This compares with just 27 trials the previous year.In 22 cases, the public prosecutor’s office declined to press charges (compared with 43 the previous year). The remaining cases are ongoing.Paulino gave no details of the cases – but the most high profile ones included the prosecution of the former director of the government’s Data Processing Centre (CPD), Orlando Come, who was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for embezzlement, and of former Interior Minister Almerino Manhenje. The judge will give his verdict in the latter case in March.There have been a series of cases involving lower level officials. Most recently, 11 civil servants in the northern province of Cabo Delgado were jailed for between 16 and 20 years for their part in stealing five million meticais (about 147,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates) from the public treasury in 2006.Paulino warned that it was too early to claim victory in the fight against corruption, “but it is fair to recognise that we are striking heavy blows against corruption”.“The existence of cases that have come to trial, which became a notable reality as from last year, shows unequivocally that results are emerging from the reorganization of our institution, and in particular of our operational instrument, which is the Central Office for the Fight Against Corruption (GCCC)”, he said.Under Paulino’s predecessor, Joaquim Madeira, sacked in 2007, there had been no perceptible progress in the fight against corruptionAssistant Attorney-General Taibo Mucobora told reporters from the independent daily “O Pais” that the Public Prosecutor’s Office is not going to investigate the various allegations of corruption and drug trafficking made against senior government figures by the former US charge d’affaires in Maputo, Todd Chapman, in diplomatic cables published by the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks.“The Public Prosecutor works on the basis of information from credible sources”, said Mucobora. “So far it doesn’t seem to us that there are any grounds on which an investigation can be based”.Despite claims of “revelations”, made in some of the press and by the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, many of the allegations of drug trafficking in Chapman’s cables are years old, and could have been gleaned from the Mozambican press. Chapman laced these stories with gossip picked up at diplomatic receptions, and outright fabrications.Much more serious than Chapman’s cables was the naming by US President Barack Obama in June, of Mohammed Bachir Sulemane, one of the richest businessmen in Mozambique, as a drug baron. This case is known to be under investigation by Paulino’s office.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Mozambique’s National Meteorology Institute (INAM) has forecast above normal rains for most of the country for the second half of the rainy season (January-March).In most of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and parts of the adjacent provinces of Niassa and Nampula, the forecast is for “normal rains with a trend to above normal”. Everywhere else in Mozambique, the forecast is for above normal rains “with a trend to normal”.The rainfall trends were discussed at a meeting in Maputo on Monday to update the weather forecast for the first quarter of 2011. The rains are expected to be “excellent”, not only in Mozambique, but throughout the southern African region.Indeed, the heavy rainfall in neighbouring countries is already leading to concerns about possible flooding in central Mozambique. INAM warns that the southern part of Tete province and the northern part of Manica province are particularly liable to flooding.Complicating matters is the decision by the management of the Cahora Bassa dam to increase the dam’s discharges from 3,200 to 4,400 cubic metres a second as from last Saturday. This is likely to lead to flooding in Caia and Marromeu districts in Sofala province later this week.INAM meteorologist Arlindo Meque said that this time of year is favourable for the formation of Indian Ocean cyclones. But it is quite impossible to predict how many will be formed, and how many might hit the Mozambican coast.


As the Xmas and New Year holidays approach, the Maputo police are cracking down on drunken driving.According to the spokesperson for the Maputo City Police Command, Arnaldo Chefo, last week the police confiscated the driving licences of 60 motorists who were breathalysed and found to be over the limit.Speaking to reporters today, Chefo said that these were among 820 motorists who were breathalysed.Many more motorists, however, lost their licences for speeding. Chefo said the police fined 699 motorists for driving above the speed limit, and confiscated licences from 199. A further three people were detained for illegal driving.The police campaign is aimed at reducing the number of accidents on Maputo’s roads. Chefo said that last week the police recorded 17 accidents. Although these did not cause any fatalities, 30 people were injured, seven of them seriously.


For the third consecutive year, Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, on Monday boycotted the State of the Nation address delivered by President Armando Guebuza, to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.Before Guebuza spoke, Renamo deputies attempted to raise a “prior question”, but since the Monday gathering was a solemn session called with just one point on the agenda, the State of the Nation Address, Assembly chairperson Veronica Macamo, refused to give them the floor.When Guebuza took the rostrum, all the Renamo deputies stood up and noisily abandoned the chamber.Outside, the spokesperson for the Renamo parliamentary group, Arnaldo Chalaua, justified the boycott on the grounds that Guebuza has not responded to allegations of drug trafficking contained in diplomatic cables from the US embassy, released by the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks.The government has, in fact, responded to the cables, signed by the former US charge d’affaires in Maputo, Todd Chapman, by issuing a brief statement last week describing them as entirely false.This was not good enough for Renamo which demanded that the government should appear before the Assembly to answer allegations based on the old press cuttings and cocktail party gossip that Todd Chapman had diligently forwarded to Washington.In last week’s parliamentary debate which rejected the Renamo demand, former Prime Minister Luisa Diogo declared “We were elected to discuss matters of national interest. It is not our job to discuss material published in the papers, and based on opinions that have not been supported by their country of origin, and some of which have been denied”.Chalaua’s supposed concern at the narco-trafficking allegations in the Wikileaks cables would bear more weight, were it not for the fact that Renamo also boycotted the State of the Nation address in 2008 and 2009, long before anybody in Maputo had ever heard of Wikileaks.The excuses in those years were changes in the electoral laws, which Renamo blamed personally on Guebuza. A statement issued by Renamo in 2009 claimed that Guebuza had “eliminated democratic dialogue in the country” – though it is rather difficult to hold a dialogue with people who are forever boycotting meetings.At least Renamo did not repeat the performance it gave during the 2000 State of the Nation address, delivered by Guebuza’s predecessor, Joaquim Chissano. Then they had actively sabotaged the speech, chanting, banging on the tables, and trying to drown out Chissano’s voice.The sole result of Renamo’s absence from the chamber during Guebuza’s speech will be that all the Renamo deputies should lose a day’s parliamentary wages.


Mozambican President Armando Guebuza declared on Monday that, over the past year, food security in Mozambique has notably improved.Giving his annual State of the Nation address to the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Guebuza stressed that the goal of the “Green Revolution” advocated by the government was to make the leap from subsistence agriculture to “an integrated, sustainable, competitive and prosperous agricultural sector that contributes to the economic growth of Mozambique by guaranteeing increased production and food security, an increase in productivity, and an increase in market-oriented production”.He said that Agricultural Research Area Centres were now providing technical assistance to over 400,000 peasant households, notably through ensuring the availability of improved and certified seeds.The government was also encouraging “the allocation of resources for the gradual mechanization of agriculture”, so that farmers would graduate from the simple hoe, to animal traction and then to tractors.“These techniques lead to an increase in the areas under cultivation, and increased production and productivity, in an efficient and sustainable manner, maintaining the existing agro-ecological balance, and promoting the sustainable use of land”, said Guebuza.Irrigation was also key, he added, since it could minimize the impact of climate change and establish condition for producing crops throughout the year. Guebuza said that 27,000 hectares of irrigated schemes had been established for the production of food crops, in addition to existing water resources.Such measures had led to increases in the production of the crops that are basic to food security, such as maize, sorghum, rice, cassava, potatoes, sweet potato and beans, he continued. For conservation and storage, techniques for building improved barns were being publicized, and they were under construction in several districts to reduce post-harvest losses.As for livestock, Guebuza claimed that the growth in the number of cattle and poultry in the country had led to a significant reduction in beef and chicken imports.Turning to energy, Guebuza said that so far 91 of the country’s 128 districts have been linked to the national electricity grid, based on power from the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi river. Alongside the national grid went the development of renewable sources of energy, including mini-hydropower dams in the central province of Manica, and the installation of solar panels in schools, health units, and public office.“They are making a valuable contribution in the diversification of the national energy matrix, and are an alternative solution in many administrative posts and localities”, said Guebuza.The President said that over 50 per cent of the population now has access to clean drinking water. Water supply coverage in rural areas increased from 43 per cent in 2007 to 54 per cent in 209, and in the urban areas, over than same period, from 40 to 60 per cent.Although many households still had to walk long distances to obtain water, it was a fact that “more Mozambicans have water close at hand, and in some cases available for 18 hours or more a day”.When it came to recent discoveries of gas and oil in the Rovuma Basin off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, Guebuza sounded a warning note. Although those discoveries (made by the US company Anadarko) “encourage us to continue exploration to confirm the real quantities of these hydrocarbons”, nobody should imagine that oil and gas constituted a miracle cure for the problems of the Mozambican economy.“Oil and gas, no matter what the quantities are, are not going to solve the problems of poverty”, stressed Guebuza. “We must thus continue to bank on agricultural production”.He also insisted on the need to promote “the knowledge society”, since “knowledge is our renewable petroleum”.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


The Mozambican government and the Chinese company Tong Jian Investment Ltd signed an agreement in Maputo on Friday to set up a vehicle assembly plant in Maputo province.The factory will cost 200 million US dollars, and the first vehicle is expected to roll off the assembly line by July 2011.Initially the assembly plant will be set up in Machava, in the industrial city of Matola. But this is a provisional site, and it will eventually move to Maluana, 76 kilometres north of Maputo city, where a science and technology park is being erected. While vehicles are being assembled at the provisional site, the new factory will be under construction in Maluana.The agreement was signed by the Director-General of the Mozambican government’s Office for Special Economic Zones (GAZEDA), Danilo Nada, and by the Executive Director of Tong Jian, Hong Cao.According to Nala, the project will create 3,000 jobs. Initially the plant will produce 10,000 vehicles a year, but the figure will later rise to between 30,000 and 50,000. Thirty per cent of the vehicles produced will be sold on the Mozambican market, and the rest will be exported.

Friday, December 17, 2010


The Mozambican and Swedish governments on Friday launched in Maputo a project to strengthen Mozambique’s National Research System, budgeted at seven million US dollars to finance activities over a five year period.The project, launched by the Minister of Science and Technology, Venancio Massingue, and Swedish Ambassador Torvald Akesson, covers scientific research, innovation, the development of human resources and the popularization of science and technology. Massingue said that the project, to be implemented between 2010 and 2014, will help maximize the contribution made by science, technology and innovation to Mozambique’s economic growth and development.“Through this programme, we hope to see more dynamic partnerships among the research institutions, and between them and the productive sector, resulting in the generation of products and solutions that can have a positive impact on people’s lives”, he added.For Massingue, implementation of this programme is “a very important step” in transforming science and technology into a productive force with an increasing impact on the economy, and on improving the lives of Mozambicans.The development of human resources that the project envisages, he continued, is an important condition for science and technology to contribute effectively towards the eradication of poverty.”The government believes it is necessary to consolidate the system of scientific research and technological development. For that we need capable staff”, said Massingue. “We are pleased because the number of scientists is rising, and the challenge posed is to make the resources available so that these scientists can work”. Facilitating the work of the scientists, he stressed, involved renovating and equipping the existing laboratories, and setting up new ones, bearing in mind that new research institutions are being created.Akesson said that “Sweden’s position is that developing countries should have the capacity and resources to undertake their own research. Sweden thinks this is vital so that Mozambique can produce its own specific research and acquire, transform and apply the knowledge and technology developed internationally”.


The Zambezi Valley Water Board (ARA-Zambeze) warned on Friday of likely flooding on the lower Zambezi following increased discharges from the Cahora Bassa dam.Large amounts of water have been flowing into the Cahora Bassa lake from Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the dam operating company, Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), has announced that, in order to ensure the security of the dam, the amount of water discharged will, as from Saturday, rise from 3,200 to 4,400 cubic metres a second.According to the ARA-Zambeze alert, when this surge of water from the dam reaches the lower Zambezi it will cause localized flooding in Caia and Marromeu districts. The level of the river is expected to reach six metres in Caia and 5.8 metres in Marromeu – in each case this is a metre above flood alert level. Access roads between Marromeu town and surrounding villages are expected to be flooded.Further upstream, in Mutarara district, the Zambezi will also be above flood level, and is expected to isolate the locality of Inhangoma.Faced with this forecast, the National Emergency Operational Centre is already warning people living near the banks of the Zambezi and its tributaries to move to higher ground. People are also advised not to make any attempt to cross swollen rivers. The warnings cover the entire Zambezi valley from Tete city to the Indian Ocean.Rivers in central and southern Mozambique are also on the rise. The ferry service across the Buzi river, in the central province of Sofala, was suspended when the rising waters completely submerged the ferry cables.In the far south, the Maputo river at Madupula, in Matutuine district, has risen to within 15 centimetres of flood alert level. The Limpopo and Incomati rivers have also risen substantially, but do not pose an immediate threat.


Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Friday urged Mozambicans in the diaspora to display “exemplary behaviour”, because they are the complement to the country’s formal diplomacy.At his traditional end-of-year meeting with representatives of Mozambican communities abroad, Guebuza said that, even in the countries where Mozambique has embassies or consulates, the handful of Mozambican diplomats in those missions cannot possibly contact all the citizens of those countries.“Mozambican abroad play a very important role which complements very well our diplomacy”, he said. “When you are approached by citizens of those countries and are asked about Mozambique, your response is more credible because it comes from a Mozambican. And when those outside of our continent are asked about African issues, their answer is credible because they are Africans”.This was a heavy responsibility because they might perhaps be the only Mozambicans, or only Africans, whom the foreign citizen had ever met. What Mozambican abroad say, and how they behave, might thus be the only reference points that citizens of those countries had for Mozambique and for Africa.They had the task of representing decently Mozambique and Africa, “not only through the replies you give, but above all through exemplary behaviour, and through the culture of hard work. Your behaviour and your relations with citizens of other countries counts greatly for our good name”.But so far, be was pleased to announce that “in our meetings with the authorities of the countries where you live, we hear only praise”.Guebuza took the opportunity to urge Mozambicans in the diaspora to organise themselves into associations, which made it easier to establish a relationship with the authorities of the host countries, and also to have a structured dialogue with the Mozambican authorities.Speaking on behalf of the Mozambicans living abroad, Manuel Massocha, who is an auditor for the company KPMG in Angola, said “we don’t want to be on the margins of the struggle for development, for valuing and promoting the culture of work, and for strengthening Mozambican sovereignty and international cooperation”.He praised the preventive actions taken by the Mozambican government towards the threat of renewed xenophobic attacks against Mozambican living in South Africa”We have seen a greater coordination of our government, through the Mozambican High Commission and consulates, with the South African authorities seeking to prevent similar situations to those that occurred in 2008”, said Massocha. He was referring to the pogroms in South African townships, in which at least 60 foreign citizens were murdered, and tens of thousands were forced to flee.


Strong intervention by the Bank of Mozambique has helped bring both inflation and the exchange rate under control, claimed the governor of the bank, Ernesto Gove, on Friday.Giving his end of year summary of the economy, Gove admitted that, in the early part of 2010, inflation had been much higher than expected, which he blamed partly on heavy rains, which worsened the domestic supply of vegetables, driving up their prices, and partly on the government relaxing some previously controlled prices (he was clearly referrig to the fuel price rises in March, April and May).Volatility in the exchange rate of the Mozambican currency, the metical, began in late October 2009, but became considerably worse in March-April 2010. Gove said this was partly due to the delay in donors disbursing promised budget support funds (often referred to as a “donor strike”), and to increased demand for foreign currency to meet the cost of imports, particularly liquid fuels.The Bank of Mozambique responded by hiking its key interest rate by 400 base points to 15.5 per cent, and by increasing, in August, the sale of foreign exchange on the Inter-bank Exchange Market.These measures appear to have worked. Inflation from January to August was 17.08 per cent – but prices actually fell in the following two months. By the end of November, the inflation rate was 15.06 per cent.The government had revised its target for the average 12 monthly inflation rate over the year from 9.5 to 12.7 per cent, and Gove believed this target can be reached.As for the exchange rate, in commercial banks this had reached almost 40 meticais to the US dollar, but by mid-December it had fallen back to 35 meticais to the dollar. The central bank’s figures for transactions on the interbank market indicate that the metical is continuing to strengthen. By 16 December there was around 34 meticais to the dollar – and, even more significantly, for the first time since early August, there were fewer than five meticais to the South African rand.Since so much food for southern Mozambique is imported from South Africa, the rand/metical exchange rate is crucial for Mozambican inflation. Gove noted that the rand had strengthened earlier in the year on the back of soaring gold prices, and also because of the investments and inflows linked to South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup.The sale of foreign exchange on the inter-bank market reduced the size of Mozambique’s net internal reserves. Nonetheless, those reserves stood at 1.68 billion US dollars in November – enough to cover 4.6 months work of imports of goods and services.Monetary policy for 2011, Gove said, envisaged an expansion in the money supply (M3) no greater than 18.3 per cent, while the increase in credit for the economy should be limited to 22.6 per cent.The bank believes that these limits are necessary in order to reach the government’s targets of a 7.2 per cent growth in gross domestic product, and an annual average inflation rate of eight per cent. Funding for the deficit on the 2011 budget and balance of payment had been negotiated with donors and funding agencies earlier in the year, and Gove announced that the World Bank has promised to disburse this month – that is, a few weeks in advance – its promised 100 million dollars in direct budget support.He promised that in 2011, “the Bank of Mozambique will remain committed to its main objective, which is to ensure a low and stable rate of inflation, since we believe this is the way to make ourselves more attractive to new investment, as well as to preserve the purchasing power of low income households, thus contributing to the fight against poverty”.


The Moztex clothing factory in the southern Mozambican city of Matola has announced that, since it began working in September 2009, it has exported about 120,000 items of ready-to-wear clothing to South Africa.Moztex operates out of premises that once housed the giant Texlom textile factory, which used to be one of the largest employers in Matola. This part of Matola is now an industrial free zone.The factory is owned by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which says that it has so far invested 2.5 million US dollars in the factory, and plans to raise this figure to 7.5 million.As from next year, according to the AKDN ambassador in Mozambique, Nazir Ahmad, Moztex will also export clothing to Europe and to the United States.“We are producers with excellence. We are producing garments to international standards exclusively devoted to exports, contributing to domestic revenue in this way”, said Karim Dost Mohamed, director of Moztex, cited by Thursday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax '.Moztex employs 614 workers, most of them women, and has seven clothing production lines. “Our vision is to reach a total of 1,800 workers and a thousand machines, which will raise our investment to $ 7.5 million, but everything will depend mainly on the success we attain in the market”, said Ahmad.The intensive use of manpower is a major goal that AKDN wants to accomplish through Moztex, as a way of contributing to the reduction of unemployment in Mozambique.Moztex products are not on sale on the domestic market, Karim Mohamad explained, precisely because the factory is in a free zone. “Bercause we’re in a free zone, our production must be for export and not for the domestic market”, he said. “That’s what the law says, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can sell on the Mozambican market, only if there is a surplus”.


Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Thursday invited national and foreign businesses to invest in tourism, given the enormous tourism potential that Mozambique possesses.He was speaking during the re-inauguration of Maputo’s best-known luxury hotel, the Polana, which has just completed a 22 month period of renovation. The hotel is now owned by the Aga Khan Foundation, and forms part of its Serena Hotel Group. The Serena Group is one of 96 companies that form the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). ”We would like to invite the Serena Group and other national and foreign businesses to invest in the Zones of Tourist Interest, that is in the areas that have been earmarked for the development of tourism”, said Guebuza. “So far seven Zones of Tourist Interest have been declared in Inhambane, Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces. I would like to invite you to set up more hotels and other tourist establishments there, to multiply still further the world tourism references that the Polana Hotel gives us”. Guebuza praised the Aga Khan Foundation for respecting the original design and architecture of the hotel, generally regarded as an impressive landmark in the built environment of Maputo. The President declared that the Polana “deservedly and proudly claims an outstanding place among the best hotels of Africa, and of the elite class of the most famous hotels of the world”.The rehabilitation cost around 25 million euros (about 33.3 million US dollars). The hotel, originally built in 1922, now has 142 rooms, including deluxe and executive suites, and one presidential suite.Commenting on the economic importance of tourism in Mozambique, Guebuza spoke of communities who have organised themselves to manage community tourist undertakings, and of citizens who once had no regular income, but are now permanent or seasonal workers in tourist resorts – as cooks, gardeners, plumbers or in other positions needed for the smooth running of the resorts.The Aga Khan (or, to give him his full name, Shat Karim Al-Hussayni, the Aga Khan IV) described the Polana as “a new flagship for the Serena Hotel Group - and a new benchmark in the economic progress of Mozambique”.He said that he felt “enormous respect for this country, its leaders and its peoples, and the progress you made in recovering from an extremely difficult period of post-colonial turmoil”.Prince Amyn Aga Khan, the Aga Khan’s brother, and Chairman of AKFED’s Executive Committee, received the ISO 14001 certificate for the Polana Serena Hotel from Mozambique’s best-known writer, Mia Couto, who is also a prominent biologist and environmentalist. The certificate was awarded in recognition of the hotel’s grey water recycling system, which produces quality water for the gardens from the hotel’s waste water. The Polana is the first hotel in Mozambique to receive this certification.


A community association has signed an agreement to operate an ecotourist lodge in the Maputo Special Reserve, in the southernmost Mozambican district of Matutuine, as part of a tourism project co-financed by the World Bank.The Association, “Hi Zameni Chemucane” represents about 850 people in the Matutuine communities of Mavukuza, Tsolombane ad Mabuluko, and the concession is for a period of 50 years. The Maputo Special Reserve is internationally renowned for its biodiversity, which it combines with unspoilt beaches, and all just a couple of hours drive from the Mozambican capital.A World Bank press release says that the lodge will be developed through a “public-private-community partnership”. The total investment is estimated at three million US dollars, and it is expected to create about 50 direct jobs.Cited in the release, Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana said “The policy of the government has been to involve local communities in the management of natural resources and encourage them to take advantages of the economic opportunities in the conservation areas”.“Through this pilot model of partnership with the communities we intend to assist in relieving poverty and in the sustainable use of resources”.Babatunde Onitiri, the representative in Mozambique of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector funding arm, said “The present agreement contributes to the participation of local communities in the important sector that tourism is for Mozambique”.He added that “helping Mozambique develop the tourism industry is part of the strategy of the World Bank Group to promote economic growth in the country”.This strategy hinges on the “Tourism Investment Anchor Project”, of which the new lodge will be part. The Anchor Project is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Tourism and the IFC. It is financed by the governments of Denmark, Japan and Holland, the African Development Bank (ADB), the Financial Investment Advice Services of the IFC, and the Mozambican government’s National Tourism Institute (INATUR).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Summing up on Tuesday before the Maputo City Court in the case against former Interior Minister Almerino Manhenge and two of his close associates, prosecutor Manuel Candido called for all three to be given jail sentences.He said it has been proven that Manhenje, and the former director and deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s finance department, Carlos Fidelis and Alvaro Carvalho, had abused state funds, and had done so fully aware of the illegality of their acts. Furthermore, they had never shown the slightest sign of repentance.Candido urged the court not only to send the three to prison, but also to repay all the money they had illegitimately taken from the state. Manhenje faces six charges – three charges of violating budgetary legality, two of covering up the payment of undue remunerations, and one of abusing his position. Fidelis and Carvalho also face charges of paying “undue remunerations”.In the defence summing up, Manhenje’s lawyer, Lourenco Malia, said the premise for the charges, a report from the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF), referring to events in 2004, was unreliable. He said that initially, there had been talk of theft from the Ministry of 220 million meticais (about 6.4 million US dollars, at current exchange rates), but when the Supreme Court revised the charge sheet they only accused the three men of offences covering 1.2 million meticais.Malia also claimed that the Ministry accounts had been approved by the Administrative Tribunal, and later by the country’s parliament the Assembly of the Republic. It therefore made no sense to find the three guilty, and they should all be acquitted.Malia’s claim was disingenuous – the Tribunal and the parliament give opinions on the General State Accounts, in this case for 2004, and this does not involve detailed audits, ministry by ministry. Manhenje had reused to give details of the expenses he had authorised, on the grounds of “state security”. Malia, however, was somewhat more forthcoming.“By way of example”, he said, “expenses were paid for members of the riot police to travel to Cheringoma and Maringue (in the central province of Sofala) to attend to an emergency, and another sum was used to buy torches for the police stationed to guard the ballot boxes during the 2004 general elections. It cannot be said that these expenses constitute an illicit act”.On the contrary, the state ought to decorate Manhenje for “having done so much for the security of this country”, declared Malia.In his final statement, Manhenje himself declared that he had never been questioned by the Finance Ministry inspectors who came to the conclusion that there had been colossal diversion of funds from the Interior Ministry’s accounts. He said he only became aware of the accusations against him years later, when he was arrested and thrown into jail.Manhenje said he found the situation very difficult “because this is a country I have served in very sensitive institutions, and in periods that were delicate for the survival of the state”.He said that he had always taken “considered decisions in the pursuit of the highest interests of the state”. He had looked back at his past, and could not see how any of his actions could be regarded as criminal.Fidelis too claimed that all he had done was for the good of the country and the institution. He said he had never been given any opportunity to explain himself to the auditors of the IGF. “Neither the Ministry of Finance nor the Administrative Tribunal ever called on us to explain any anomaly”, he said.The presiding judge Octavio Tchuma said he would give his verdict on 22 March.


The Mayor of Maputo, David Simango and the Executive Director of the Tong Jian Investment Company of China, Cao Hongru, signed on Tuesday a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of a five star hotel in the Maputo neighbourhood of Costa do Sol, and a market for the sale of construction materials.The investment is worth a total of 230 million US dollars. The greater part of this sum, 150 million dollars, will be spent on building the hotel with around 200 rooms, which should occupy an area of 10 hectares.“The most important thing to note is that this hotel will be a Chinese investment, but with the participation of the city council”, said Simango, after the signing ceremony. “The City Council will also have shares in the market for the sale of construction materials”.On the participation of the municipality in both projects, Simango explained “we are involved because we offered the land and transformed our participation into shares in the business”. About the access to the new hotel in Maputo, given the heavy traffic in Costa do Sol, particularly at weekends, Simango acknowledged the problem, and stated that it is the concern of the Government and of other investors.“We are discussing that with the City Council. In addition to the coast road (the normal route for traffic to and from Costa do Sol), there is an alternative, via the Golf Club, that can be used”, he said.
David Simango said that work on the hotel should begin in the next six to eight months, according to the agreement. “If that does not happen, the agreement will cease to be valid”, he said, “which means that the space allocated for the hotel, can be granted to some other body”.The Mayor said that a third proposal from Tong Jian has not yet been finalized. This concerns the development of the Katembe municipal district, on the opposite side of Maputo Bay from the centre of the city. As part of the Katembe Development Plan, Tong Jian had wanted to build a complex for Chinese workers. “We discussed thus and we said it couldn’t be a Chinese complex, it would have to be an international complex”, said Simango. “We don’t want an island solely for Chinese residents”.This project should have also been signed on Tuesday, but in the end it was not included due to issues associated with the construction of basic infrastructures. It is already complete, needing only to iron out some rough edges.For his part, Cao Hongru, head of the Chinese delegation, said his company will do its best to improve the city of Maputo, adding “we welcome the employees and all members of the Maputo city council that want to supervise the work on this project”.


The Mozambican Council of Ministers (Cabinet) approved on Tuesday in Maputo a new regulation requiring Mozambique mobile phone operators to share their masts and other facilities.Speaking to the media after Cabinet meeting, the Government spokesman, Deputy Justice Minister Alberto Nkutumula, said the measure aims to rationalize the resources of the operators through sharing facilities, especially mobile phone masts.Mozambique currently has two mobile phone operators. These are the publicly owned Mcel and the South African company, Vodacom. The number of customers of the two operators taken together is estimated at about six million. Next year the third mobile phone operator, Movitel, in which the main shareholder is the Vietnamese state company Vietel, should start operating.“The goal is the rationalization of telecommunications”, said Nkutumula. “For example, if you go to a district such as Sanga, (in the northern province of Niassa), where there is only one Vodacom mobile phone mast, based on this decree if Mcel and Movitel set up in Sanga, that same Vodacom mast will be used by all three operators”.The expansion of mobile phone network coverage in the country and the rationalization of resources in the maintenance of infrastructure are other objectives of this Regulation, he added. Thus if there is a breakdown in a shared mast, the cost of the repairs will be shared by the companies using the mast.


An Italian woman, Maria Noemi Bambini, has donated 2,000 euros (about 2,700 US dollars) of her own money, to provide a roof for a primary school in the northern Mozambican province of Niassa.Bambini had heard about the plight of the Mavissa primary school from a Mozambican friend, Mickey Rebelo dos Santos, who has lived in Italy for the past 20 years. She was moved by what he told her and decided to make a donation.Like many primary schools in rural Mozambique, the one in Mavissa is built of flimsy materials, and is highly vulnerable to wind and rain. With a decent roof, however, the children will not have their classes cancelled every time it rains.Speaking in Maputo on Tuesday, on her first ever visit to Mozambique, Bambini declared, after handing over the money “With this support, I hope to contribute to the improvement of the school. The roofing of the school will enable the children to study every day”.Present at the ceremony were some of the children of the Mavissa Primary School who vowed never to miss classes because of bad weather conditions.They say they like to study and know the importance of education, but are sometimes deprived from achieving their dreams because of the limitations of their school.“Our school only has two classrooms, we sit on the floor, we have no latrines and our teachers live in thatched huts, and when it rains all the school material gets wet”, said a representative of the Mavissa pupils, reading a message of gratitude for the gift.The children's dream is that the school, which currently only teaches up to fourth grade, will be expanded to teach the full seven grades of primary education, in order to minimize dropouts, since the nearest complete primary school is 20 kilometres from Mavissa village.Bambini told AIM that she and other Italians plan to provide Mavissa School with minimum conditions to transform the lives of the children.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The European Union Naval Force in Somalia (EU NAVFOR Somalia) has reported that a container ship en route from Dar es Salaam to the Mozambican port of Beira was hijacked on 10 December by pirates.The five pirates, using two small boats, attacked the US owned “MV Panama” about 80 nautical miles (128 kilometres) east of the Tanzania/Mozambique border. According to the EU Naval Force a rocket propelled grenade was used in the attack. The “MV Panama” has a crew of 23, all of whom are from Burma.Commenting on the attack, the EU force said that “this extreme southerly attack in the Somali Basin is a further example of the constantly expanding area of pirate activity”.The main task of EU NAVFOR Somalia is to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid for the World Food Program (WFP) and vessels of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).EU NAVFOR also protects vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, deters and disrupts piracy. In addition, EU NAVFOR monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.Currently, Somali pirates are in possession of 35 ships, and more than 650 hostages, according to Ecoterra International, an NGO that monitors the issues of piracy in the region.Most kidnappings end without any victim being hurt and they are only released after paying ransom. However, the negotiations could drag on for several months.


The Mozambican government on Monday paid homage to the country’s senior photo-journalist, Kok Nam, on the occasion of his 71st birthday.Addressing the ceremony, the Minister of Culture, Armando Artur, described Kok Nam as a living memory of Mozambique, first as a Portuguese colony, now as an independent state.Kok Nam is the son of Chinese emigrants who settled in Mozambique in the early 20th century, but he has always been clear that his own identity is Mozambican, and that has been reflected consistently in his photography.Artur compared Kok Nam with great Mozambican poets such as the late Jose Craveirinha. While Craveirinha was a poet of words, Kok Nam was a poet of images. “He registered images that time will place in the most illustrious galleries of our historical memory”, declared the Minister.Kok Nam’s career as a photographic reporter began in 1966 when he was invited to work for the paper ”Diario de Mocambique”. Over the next four years his work appeared in the papers “Voz Africana”,”Noticias” and “Noticias da Tarde”, where he struck up a friendship with the man regarded as the father of Mozambican photography, Ricardo Rangel.In 1970, Kok Nam was among the journalists who founded the weekly magazine “Tempo”, the nearest thing to an opposition publication in the then Portuguese colony. When Portuguese colonial-fascism fell in 1974, the pro-independence journalists took control of “Tempo” and pulled it in a left-wing direction.“Tempo” was perhaps the most influential of Mozambican publications in the early years of Mozambican independence, and many of the memorable photographs it published in those years came from the camera of Kok Nam.Kok Nam was a founder member of the Mozambican Association of Photography in 1981, and became the Association’s chairperson.He was also a founder of the country’s first independent media company, “Mediacoop”, owner of the daily newsheet “Mediafax” and the weekly paper “Savana”. Photographs by Kok Nam have been published across the globe in papers and magazines that include the “New York Times” and “Time Magazine” of the United States, “The Observer” and “The Independent” of Britain, and “Expresso” of Portugal.At the Monday ceremony, Kok Nam was awarded a diploma of honour, and a work of art depicting the Maputo neighbourhood of Mafalala, where he spent much of his youth.


The Manica Provincial Court, in central Mozambique, on Friday sentenced a traditional healer (“curandeiro”), Samsao Muiambo, to seven years imprisonment for trafficking in people.According to a report in the Beira daily paper “Diario de Mocambique”, the healer was found guilty of purchasing a child, sold by the child’s own father, John Thaunde Mahvahve. The amount of money paid by Muiambo was not specified.Mahvahve was sentenced earlier this year for six years imprisonment, for the crime of selling his daughter. His prison term is shorter than Muiambo’s because he confessed his crime.The girl was bought and sold in the locality of Chitsama, in the Manica district o Mossurize. “Diario de Mocambique” reports that in Chitsama it is quite common for parents to sell children in order to obtain money.This is the first time that such a case has come to court.


The Mozambican police detained 140 illegal migrants, most of them Somalis, in the week between 4 and 10 December, according to the interim spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Raul Freia.At a briefing with the press on Tuesday, Freia said that, in addition to the Somalis, the migrants arrested include citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.108 of the migrants were arrested as they were crossing the central province of Zambezia in two trucks. Freia said that, when the drivers of the trucks realized that the police were pursuing, they accelerated in an attempt to escape. One of the drivers lost control of his vehicle, which overturned, killing one of the migrants.Freia said the authorities are now dealing with the paperwork required to send he migrants back to their countries of origin.But repatriation goes in both directions. Freia said that last week the police received 160 Mozambicans repatriated from South Africa, where the South African authorities regarded them as illegal immigrants.He said the police had also detained 764 people caught crossing the country’s borders illegally. Of these, 376 were Mozambicans, 206 Malawians, 168 Zimbabweans, 10 Tanzanians, two Zambians and two South Africans.Freia said that 118 people were arrested in connection with a variety of other crimes during the week. During these police operations, four cars that had been stolen at gunpoint in Maputo city and province were recovered from criminal gangs,


Even turning down requests from citizens is better behaviour from state institutions than the constant refrain of “come back tomorrow”, declared Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Monday.He was speaking at the inauguration of new buildings in central Maputo for the Ministry of the Public Service, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Youth and Sport.Guebuza insisted that all those who went to state departments with requests or complaints of any kind had the right to receive an answer – even if that answer was “no”.“A negative response is of more value to a citizen than the repeated call of ‘’come back tomorrow’’, that mythical tomorrow which never arrives”, he said. Improving the business environment in Mozambique, he added, was largely dependent on the performance of each state employee or agent. “This improvement in the business environment, like your promise to provide better quality services for citizens”, he told his audience, “necessarily involves reforms to simplify procedures, the elimination of red tape, and the adoption of a practice of excellence and the continual improvement of our public administration”.It was not enough for ministries to have new and modern premises – Guebuza insisted that each person working in the ministries must be able to identify the obstacles to development, and must be clear in their actions. “You can’t fight what you don’t know unless you take the deliberate decision to shoot in the dark”, he warned.When there was lack of clarity, he added, the trend was to seek scapegoats in others. “We externalize the problem, when it is really inside our own institution”, he said.Guebuza said the new ministry buildings represented a major government investment (they cost about 18 million US dollars). They were a part of the government’s commitment to improving the working conditions of state employees.He urged Ministry workers to value the investments made, and to use their new working conditions to improve their performance continually.“We want you to feel increasingly motivated to release your creative initiative and to commit yourselves to the construction of an ever better and more efficient public service that adequately meets the wishes of citizens”, urged the President.Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana said the new premises mean a rationalisation of space, for better efficiency. “We have all the staff, not from one, but from three ministries here at the same place, so when we need to consult we don’t need to carry papers from one place to another”, he said.Some of the facilities, Sumbana added, such as canteens and meeting rooms, would be shared between the ministries, since the staff were all working for the same state and there should be no barriers between sectors.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


The United States Embassy in Maputo on Thursday declined to comment on the content of secret cables from the embassy released by the whistle-blowing organisation, Wikileaks.Three of the cables mostly concern drug trafficking in Mozambique, while the fourth concerns a conversation the former charge d’affaires at the embassy, Todd Chapman, had with an unnamed disgruntled businessman making a series of allegations against President Armando Guebuza.The embassy’s Public Affair’s Officer, Tobias Bradford, told reporters “we don’t talk about the details of classified or allegedly classified information”.But it was certainly true “that we are concerned about narco-trafficking in Mozambique”.In June, US President Barack Obama named Mozambican businessman Mohamed Bachir Suleman as a drug baron under a US law, the Kingpin Act of 1999, which makes it possible for the government to impose financial and economic sanctions against foreign drug traffickers.Bradford said there had been no change since then. Bachir remained on the US list of “Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers”.Bradford stressed that putting people on this list was not a matter taken lightly. It was “a very rigorous process”, which involved several US federal agencies. He thought the investigations which had led to the naming of Bachir as a drug baron were “very trustworthy”.A second Mozambican businessman suspected of drug trafficking, Momed Khalid Ayoob, was arrested in Swaziland on 1 December in possession of 18 million rands (about 2.6 million US dollars) in banknotes. A Swazi court released him on bail on Wednesday.“We are reading about and following this case with interest”, said Bradford. “We hope it will be investigated by the Mozambican government”.Both Bachir and the Ayoob family are mentioned as drug traffickers in the cables released by Wikileaks.Asked whether the leaked cables might damage US relations with Mozambique, Bradford replied “We have worked hard to achieve good relations with Mozambique that can survive difficult matters”.He condemned the publication of classified information, since it “could put individuals and relations at risk”. He recognised, however, that it was not Wikileaks itself that had leaked the cables, but somebody within the United States. The decision by Wikileaks to publish was “a wrong choice”.The US authorities were still trying to trace the source of the leak, Bradford said, and were also “working on ways to strengthen our security systems”.