Thursday, March 31, 2011


Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, on Wednesday attempted to reopen debate in the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on a government bill amending the country’s honours system. The bill passed its first reading last Thursday, and then went into the Committee stage for amendment. Inside the Assembly’s Social Affairs Commission, just as in the plenary last week, Renamo insisted that honours and medals be created that recognise figures and places in Renamo’s own history.The bill maintains the existing “Eduardo Mondlane Order”, named after the founder of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), and adds a “Samora Machel Order”, named after the man who led the country to independence and was its first President.Renamo demanded orders named after its first commander Andre Matsangaissa, and his successor Afonso Dhlakama. Matsangaissa was the man chosen, in 1977, by the Rhodesian racist regime of Ian Smith to head Renamo, when it was an irregular unit in the Rhodesian armed forces. The Rhodesians put Dhlakama in charge, after Matsangaissa was killed in an ill-judged attack on the town of Gorongosa in November 1979.Renamo also wanted medals named after Gorongosa and Maringue, the two central Mozambican districts which housed the Renamo headquarters in different stages of the war of destabilisation.The Frelimo group on the Social Affairs Commission declared that Matsangaissa and Dhlakama “were distinguished in the destruction of social and economic undertakings, including factories, railways, schools and hospitals”.“You cannot compare the architect of national unity and founder of Frelimo, Eduardo Mondlane, or the first President of the Republic, Samora Machel, with people who were used as instruments to destroy the sovereignty, integrity, independence and peace of Mozambicans”, Frelimo added.Defeated on the commission by 11 votes to three with one abstention, Renamo tried to bring the matter back to the plenary. This involved some adroit rewriting of history. Moving the motion to re-open the debate, Renamo deputy Armindo Milaco claimed that at the peace talks in Rome in 1990-1992, “Frelimo agreed with the objectives of Renamo” – though no Frelimo leader has ever said anything of the sort.He claimed it was inconsistent to have a “4th October Order” (named after the date in 1992 when the peace accord between the government and Renamo was signed), without decorations to recognise “the places where the struggle for democracy flourished, Maringue and Gorongosa”.The Assembly declined to reopen the debate, with the 180 Frelimo deputies present voting against the motion. The 45 Renamo deputies and the seven present from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) voted in favour.In explaining, the MDM’s position, Gerlado de Carvalho said his party favours an honour named after Matsangaissa, but not one named after Dhlakama, because the latter is still alive.Giving Frelimo’s “declaration of vote”, Francisco Mucanheia said the Mozambican people had “sad memories” of the acts committed by Matsangaissa and Dhlakama. Their names were linked to “massacres and destruction”.


he Brazilian company Embrapa is to open a unit for processing vegetable products in Umbeluzi, Maputo province, according to Brazilian press reports.The Centre for Agro-Food Processing is the fruit of a joint investment of 1.65 million US dollars disbursed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Mozambique Agricultural Research Institute (IIAM), the Brazilian Cooperation Agency and Embrapa itself.Umbeluzi was chosen because of its close proximity to the city of Maputo, about 30 kilometres away. The area also has a factory for cassava processing, which can be used by Embrapa.The processing unit will be able to desiccate or pickle vegetables, and carry out other vegetable processing in accordance with high food safety standards.The objective of this initiative is to promote improved food security and nutrition. The processed products will also be exported, mainly to neighbouring South Africa.Last week a delegation of researchers and analysts from Embrapa was in Mozambique to study the best area to locate the processing unit. During the visit the mission travelled to Umbeluzi, Chokwe and Moamba to choose the location of the unit, check the availability of materials and recruit workers.No date has been set for the opening of the Centre.


The Mozambican government will gradually increase fuel prices, with monthly rises of no more than 10 per cent, between April and August, until the price at the pumps is in line with market prices.In this way, the government will gradually eliminate the subsidies it is currently paying to fuel distribution companies in order to keep the price of diesel and petrol artificially low, according to Planning and Development Minister Aiuba Cuereneia, in an interview published in Thursday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, explaining the measures announced by the government on Tuesday night.These measures replace general subsidies with subsidies targeted at the most vulnerable strata of Mozambican society. “The country does not have the capacity to live off subsidies”, stressed Cuereneia.As the price of fuel rises, so the fuel subsidy for passenger transport operators will kick in. The deal between the government and the owners of the minibuses (“chapas”) that provide much of the country’s urban passenger transport is that, if the price of diesel goes above 31 meticais (about one US dollar) a litre, the government will pay the difference. This arrangement was reached in the wake of rioting over fare increases in February 2008.Since May 2010, the government has held the price of diesel at 30.98 meticais – just two centavos short of the subsidy threshold. As from April, it seems certain that the diesel price will exceed 31 meticais a litre, and so the government will be obliged to pay the subsidy to the chapa owners.But in August that subsidy too will be scrapped – instead, Cuereneia said, the government will introduce a system of bus passes for workers and students. Thus the subsidy will be paid, not to the transporters, but to some of the people being transported.The new passes complement those that already exist on the Maputo bus company, TPM, for the elderly and for veterans of the national liberation struggle.The bus pass subsidy “will be directed at those who work and those who study”, said Cuereneia. “Currently the government is even subsidizing transport for those who want to go to the beach. We want the subsidies to be channeled to the people who really need them”.People who are self-employed, working in the informal sector, will not have access to the new passes. “This is a selective process”, said Cuereneia.
But the government hopes that people who work in the informal sector will gradually formalize their businesses, and start paying taxes. When that happens, those employed in this sector may gain access to the new bus pass.Currently fuel subsidies are costing the government around 120 million dollars a year, Cuereneia said. He expected the bus pass subsidy to cost just one million dollars.He admitted that the spiralling price of oil on the world market has forced the government’s hand. “Perhaps if the situation had remained the same as in December, we would not have to take these measures”, he said. “We are taking them because we forecast an increasingly complicated and worsening situation”Cuereneia said that, when the 2011 budget was presented to parliament in December, the government forecast an average 2011 price of oil of 69 dollars a barrel. But it is currently at 115 dollars a barrel, producing a situation “completely different from what we had foreseen”.As from July, the government also plans to scrap the current subsidy for the wheat flour used to bake bread. This has allowed all urban Mozambicans, rich and poor alike, to eat bread at unrealistically cheap prices.The government is replacing the flour subsidy with a basic food basket aimed at the poorest strata in Mozambican cities. This basket (consisting of such goods as grains, bread, vegetable oil, beans and second grade fish) will be sold at subsidised prices to anyone with an income equal to or lower than 2,000 meticais (about 65 US dollars) a month.When he first spoke about the food basket, on Tuesday, Cuereneia used the word “wage”, which gave the impression that only people earning wages in the formal sector could benefit. But he told “O Pais”, that the government envisages 1.8 million people living in Maputo and the 10 provincial capitals as being eligible for the food basket – which is much larger than the entire formal sector of the urban economy.The major task ahead was to register all these people, licence the shops where they will obtain the food basket, and put in place a system for subsidizing these shops. The subsidy will be paid once the price of the goods in the basket exceeds 824 meticais a month.Existing food subsidies, such as those paid to the indigent poor by the National Social Welfare Institute (INAS) or in the shape of snacks given to school children, will continue.Cuereneia dismissed the idea voiced in some quarters that the All-Africa Games, to be hosted by Mozambique in September, are just a waste of money. “Despite all the problems, we cannot opt out of the international community. We need it, and we need to continue projecting the image of our country beyond its borders”, he said.Furthermore, the games were not simply a cost, since the houses, stadiums and other facilities under construction would not be used solely for these games. “While we may not make a profit, we shall at least have compensation for what we are spending”, he claimed.Asked about the repeated calls by some economists and much of the press to renegotiate the contracts signed with mega-projects in order to eliminate their fiscal benefits, Cuereneia remarked “when people talk about mega-projects, they talk with a lot of emotion, and a country can’t be run on the basis of emotions”.Even those countries which have renegotiated contracts with mega-projects “did not do so in the pages of the press”, he added. “We are talking about an economy in which any bad signal that is given could damage our objectives”.Furthermore the contracts were all different. “There is not one contract for everybody”, Cuereneia said. “You have to analyse each of contracts clause by clause, and some of these projects are reaching the end of their tax exemptions. They had ten years, and as from the next year they enter the normal tax regime”.New mining mega-projects, such as the open-cast coal mines of the Brazilian company Vale and Riversdale of Australia, have contractual terms completely different from those offered to the first of the mega-projects, the Mozal aluminium smelter. Riversdale has told reporters that the only fiscal benefit it enjoys is exemption from customs duties on imported mining equipment.


Mozambique’s Constitutional Council, the country’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, has decided to institute disciplinary proceedings against its former chairperson, Luis Mondlane, and to submit evidence of criminal behaviour by Mondlane to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. These decisions followed a report from the Commission of Inquiry which found compelling evidence for all the main accusations in the press concerning Mondlane’s illicit use of Council funds to cover his personal expenses.The Commission consisted of three of the six other judges on the Council – Lucia Ribeiro, Manuel Franque and Norberto Carrilho. It submitted its report to the Council plenary on Wednesday.The most serious accusation is that Mondlane used Council money to pay for his mortgage on a luxury house in central Maputo. The mortgage contract had been signed in 2009 between Mondlane and the country’s second largest bank, the BCI. The house cost 24.3 million meticais (900,000 US dollars at the time, but only 784,000 dollars now, due to exchange rate fluctuations).Mondlane was to pay the mortgage off in 180 monthly installments over 15 years. Including the interest, the payments were slightly more than 295,700 meticais a month. But Mondlane agreed with the bank that only 71,721 meticais a month would be taken from his personal account at the BCI. The other 224,000 meticais a month would be paid by the Constitutional Council as rent for a house that was not even registered in the Council’s name.This rent agreement was signed by the BCI and by the then Council general secretary, Geraldo Saranga, acting on Mondlane’s instructions. The rent contract was flagrantly irregular, since it did not even specify the address of the house being rented. Nonetheless, throughout 2010 the Council paid the “rent” – which in reality was not rent at all, but the greater part of Mondlane’s monthly mortgage payments.The money, the Commission of Inquiry concluded, was used to pay the service on Mondlane’s debt to the BCI “arising from a mortgage contract which he and his wife had signed in their personal capacities”. Mondlane could not even pay from his own funds the agreed 71,721 meticais a month, and fell into arrears with the BCI. By November 2010, the arrears had reached 3.6 million meticais. So Mondlane and his wife, Claudina Macuacua, wrote to Finance Minister Manuel Chang, asking the state to take over the mortgage, a plea that was rejected.The Commission of Inquiry also found that Mondlane had indeed used Council funds to purchase furnishings for the house, and a vast range of other personal goods and services, costing about 8.8 million meticais. The purchases violated the rules for the procurement of goods and services by state bodies such as the Constitutional Council. Instead of opening tenders for the goods required, Mondlane or his wife personally visited shops, ordered the goods or services they wanted, and presented the invoices to the Administration and Finance Department (DAF) of the Constitutional Council.
Both Saranga, and the head of the DAF, Carlos Magaia, repeatedly told Mondlane that he should obey the norms laid down for purchases by state bodies, and he repeatedly ignored this advice.Furthermore, the goods were never shown to the DAF so that it could check that what was on the invoice was what was really delivered. Instead the goods were taken straight to Mondlane’s house. In one case, for furniture costing two million meticais, Mondlane ordered the DAF to pay this sum without even presenting an invoice. And when an invoice from the shop did show up, it contained no list of the items that this large sum had purchased. Such a list was only provided, at the insistence of the Council, in an e-mail from the supplier sent on Tuesday this week.1.5 million meticais was spent on importing furniture from South Africa – although the Council’s budget has no line for importing furniture, and the rules governing state imports were not followed.The Commission of Inquiry thus proposed disciplinary proceedings against Mondlane, and the dispatch of its report to the Public Prosecutor’s office for criminal proceedings. Furthermore, it proposed that Mondlane should be notified to hand over all the goods he had purchased with Council funds. The plenary of the Council, meeting on Wednesday, accepted all these proposals and appointed Council member Joao Guenha to chair the disciplinary hearings.Even before receiving the report from the Commission of Inquiry, Attorney-General Augusto Paulino ordered a forensic audit of the accounts of the Constitutional Council. This decision by Paulino, based on the press reports of the irregularities committed by Mondlane, seems to have been taken quite independently of the Council’s own inquiry.Mondlane is already facing criminal proceedings for his attempts to use the position of chairperson of the Council several days after he had resigned from this office, which constitutes the crime of impersonation.


Seven Somali illegal immigrants died in a road accident, on Wednesday, in the district of Guro, in the central Mozambican province of Manica.The seven foreigners, who, according to police, had fled from the Maratane Refugee Centre, in northern Nampula, were heading to the Cuchamano border post in Tete province, in order to enter Zimbabwe. “The seven immigrants died on the spot, when the front tyre of their vehicle, which was traveling at high speed, burst, in the early hours of Wednesday”, said Belmiro Mutadiua, police spokesperson in Manica. In accordance with Mutadiua, other people traveling in the vehicle survived and were treated at the Guro district hospital. They will be sent to the Agricultural Penitentiary in the Manica provincial capital, Chimoio, and will later be returned to Maratane. According to the management of the Maratane Centre, Somali and Ethiopian asylum seekers usually only stay in the centre for two or three days, rather than the three months set by law for individual evaluation and screening for refugee status.When they manage to leave the centre in most cases they head south to Zimbabwe and South Africa.


Large quantities of expired medicines have been found in a warehouse hired by the Mozambican Health Ministry, in the southern city of Matola – and nobody can explain who is responsible for allowing millions of dollars worth of drugs to deteriorate in this way.The independent television station STV visited the warehouse on Wednesday and discovered boxes full of pain-killers (Ibuprofen and paracetamol), oral rehydration salts, anti-malarial drugs (coartem), the antibiotics ampicillin and metronizadole, and even anti-retroviral drugs. Health units across the country have been complaining bitterly about shortages of medicines, yet here were box after box of medicines that had been allowed to lie in a warehouse until they passed their expiry dates. STV discovered that some of the medicines had expired five years ago.The recently appointed director of the Health Ministry’s Central Medical Stores, Paulo Nhaducuo, said the losses could be more than two million US dollars – though the full amount will not be known until an exhaustive survey of the materials in the warehouse is undertaken. He could not say who was responsible for this waste, but just blamed the problem on “management errors”, which had allowed the medicines to accumulate over years. He said the medicines are now useless and will have to be destroyed by incineration.The scandal of the Matola warehouse was uncovered because the Ministry is now taking supplies out of warehouses that it had been renting, and is transferring them to new central warehouses, owned by the Ministry, in the outlying Maputo suburb of Zimpeto.Every year the Health Ministry spends about 100 million dollars in importing medicines.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has threatened to remove the ruling Frelimo Party from power “within 24 hours”, if what he called “negotiations” between Frelimo and Renamo have no effect.According to a report in Tuesday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, Dhlakama was speaking on Saturday in the northern city of Nampula, where he was chairing a Renamo cadre training session.Dhlakama said it was “a victory” for Renamo that Frelimo had agreed to “negotiate” and had set up a commission for this purpose. He claimed that the course of these negotiations so far was positive, but warned that if they do not bear any fruit, and are just “a cosmetic game of Frelimo”, then he will order his team out of the talks, and “I will expel Frelimo from power in 24 hours”.However, Frelimo has repeatedly said that there are no negotiations under way at all, merely a dialogue between the two parties. The Frelimo and Renamo delegations met in early February, without any publicity, and will meet again on 24 March. According to Antonio Nihiroe, the Renamo head of mobilization and propaganda in Nampula, the demands raised by Renamo in the talks include the abolition of the riot police. It has also tabled such questions as illicit enrichment, the alleged partisan nature of the police and the state, and the fight against electoral fraud.Frelimo has declined to comment on the matters under discussion, on the grounds that it is unethical to make public claims about talks that are still under way.Dhlakama declined to reveal how he planned to remove Frelimo from power in just one day, but claimed he had a strategy that “will not fail”.Dhlakama has made a string of empty threats over the years. Thus after the 2008 municipal elections, in which Renamo did not win control of a single municipality, Dhlakama boasted that he would swear the defeated Renamo candidates into office to run parallel municipal administrations. To date, well over two years later, no parallel administrations exist.After Renamo’s crushing defeat in the 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections, Dhlakama threatened to hold nationwide demonstrations against what he claimed were fraudulent election results. To date, not a single Renamo demonstration has been held.Dhlakama announced that the Renamo deputies elected in 2009 would boycott the new parliament. But all the Renamo deputies defied him and took up their seats.


The Maputo City Court on Tuesday sentenced former Interior Minster Almerino Manhenje to two years imprisonment for violations of budgetary legality and abuse of his position.Judge Octavio Tchuma found Manhenje guilty of three counts of violating budgetary legality, one of abuse of his position, and two of paying undue remunerations. The offences dated to 2004, when Manhenje was one of the most powerful men in the country.His two co-accused, Rosario Fidelis and Alvaro de Carvalho, former director and deputy director of the financial department of the Interior Ministry, were also sentenced to two years.The court found it proved that Manhenje had ordered the payment of 91.4 million old meticais (about 3,000 US dollars) to acquire fixed and mobile telephones for senior Interior Ministry staff, without any coverage for this expenditure in the budget.He had also ordered the payment of a payment of a phone bill of 8.226 million old meticais (265 dollars) run up by his wife, which also had no budgetary coverage.The court also found that Manhenje had used Ministry funds to pay almost 1.2 billion meticais in various expenditure not covered by the Ministry’s budget. The Manhenje household had also benefitted personally from 551 million meticais worth of foodstuffs and hygiene products acquired from Ministry funds, and air tickets for his wife and niece.The crime of abuse of position refers to Manhenje’s decision to lease two ministry warehouses to UNIPOL, a company set up to produce police uniforms, and in which he had an interest.Fidelis and Carvalho were found guilty of implementing the illegal expenditure ordered by Manhenje. In short, while Manhenje was the “moral author” of the crimes, they were the “material authors”.In addition to the prison term, the court ordered the three to pay legal costs and compensation to the state of slightly more than a million new meticais (about 32,700 dollars).Manhenje received a relatively light sentence because many of the original charges brought against him by the Public Prosecutor’s Office were thrown out. Initially, Manhenje faced 49 charges – but the investigating magistrate dropped 48 of them.The prosecution appealed to the Supreme Court, which reinstated some of the charges. But the Supreme Court rejected the charge of diverting state funds (which could have carried a sentence of 20 years imprisonment) on the grounds that Ministers do not normally have funds from the state budget under their direct control. This is a gaping loophole in the Mozambican legislation. Because Ministers do not sign the cheques, it is assumed that it is impossible for them to steal the money. Thus only lower ranking officials are likely to face charges of diverting state funds.The trial, held in December, was notable for Manhenje’s refusal to answer questions from the court on grounds of “national security”.Asked by Tchuma how he could authorise communications costs for people who were not even employed by the Interior Ministry, and how such expenditure could possibly be reconciled with the Ministry budget, Manhenje claimed “there are certain missions that because of their sensitivity cannot be revealed. If we are sitting here today, it’s because many people are doing their best for national security”.Manhenje’s lawyer, Lourenco Malia, immediately announced that he will appeal against the sentence. Given the huge backlog of appeals in the Supreme Court, it will thus be many months, if not years, before Manhenje, Fidelis and Carvalho have to find the million meticais to pay the compensation.The appeal also suspends the jail term. But in any case, none of them are likely to spend any more time in jail. They were held for 16 months in preventive detention before the Supreme Court ordered their provisional release. That time must be deducted from the sentence. Since it is normal practice that prisoners who have shown good behaviour are released on parole after completing half their sentence, it is thought unlikely that they will return to prison.


A court in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane on Monday sentenced a member of the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR – the Mozambican riot police), Castro Fernando Filipe, to four years imprisonment for the murder of a man named Juliao Macul on 8 November 2007, in the Inhambane district of Massinga.
Filipe’s excuse was that he believed the man he shot was Agostinho Chauque, the most wanted criminal in the country at the time.Macul was staying at a room in the Massinga Sporting Club, when the police burst in and shot him at point blank range.According to the report of the trial in Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the court found that when Filipe opened fire with his AK-47 assault rifle, his intention was to kill. He was just two metres from Macul when he fired.The presiding judge, Hirondina Pumela, pointed out that Filipe had 20 years experience in the riot police, and so certainly had the skills to neutralize suspects without shooting them dead.At the time, the police tried to recover from this fatal mistake by claiming that Macul was also a criminal. They alleged that Macul was involved in trafficking stolen vehicles between South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. Certainly the Nissan Hardboard that was in Macul’s possession when he was shot turned out to have been stolen from a building company in South Africa, and Pumela ordered it returned to its legitimate owner. But the penalty for car theft is not death.Macul’s relatives are far from satisfied with the court’s sentence, because it says nothing about any compensation for the family. Macul’s brother, Alberto Welemo, pointed out that, under the Mozambican constitution, the state is responsible for damage caused by the illegal acts of its agents. “The state should compensate the family of the victim, and not merely condemn the culprit”, he said.


The Mozambican government on Tuesday approved the criteria and procedures for access to a fund of 140 million meticais (4.5 million US dollars) set up to finance the Urban Poverty Reduction Programme (PERPU).The programme has two major facets. The first is job creation, including the informal sector, small and medium companies, labour intensive services, and improving the business environment, while the second is social protection for the vulnerable strata of the population.Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, said that, in the initial phase, the programme will cover Maputo city, and the ten provincial capitals. The fund will be managed by the Municipal Councils.The fund will be divided into a fixed slice of seven million meticais per municipality and a variable slice depending on the size and population of each city, the incidence of poverty in each municipality, and the level of municipal revenue.Applying the government’s formula to the largest cities, this year Maputo will receive 20.7 million meticais, Matola 19.1 million, Beira 14.9 million, Nampula 14.4 million, Quelimane 10.4 million and Tete 9.9 million.Like the District Development Fund for the countryside, this fund will be available for citizens who present viable projects. In particular, the target groups include young people, vulnerable women and widows, and the disabled (if they are still able to work), who have no access to formal funding sources such as banks. People applying for money from the fund must be Mozambican citizens resident in the municipality, and regarded as suitable persons by the local administrative and community authorities. They must also have a tax number (NUIT), since the projects financed by the fund must pay taxes.Associations and small companies can also apply for funding, in which case they must be legally registered. Cuereneia explained that this is to prevent individuals setting up phony associations merely to obtain the money and then disappear. At least 25 per cent of the members of any beneficiary association must be resident in the municipality.The areas eligible for funding including agriculture, fish-farming, the production of clothing, footwear and furniture, electrical workshops, small building companies, and he collection and recycling of garbage. Cuereneia stressed that the fund must not be used to finance cross-border trade, the production of alcoholic drinks, scholarships, the acquisition of vehicles, furniture, books or clothing for personal use, or the building of infrastructures such as schools, health posts, roads or houses.The money is not a grant but a loan and must be repaid at interest rates that will vary between one and three per cent, depending on the nature of the activity.Applicants must present their projects to the Consultative Council of their administrative post. This will analyse the projects before submitting them to the municipal council.Asked what would happen to lenders who fail to repay the loans, Cuereneia promised that “coercive measures” would be taken against them. The contracts signed with the beneficiaries will stipulate repayment periods. “If someone refuses to repay”, said Cuereneia, “he may face criminal proceedings and go to jail”.


Mozambique’s publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, will continue to invest around 120 million dollars a year in expanding the national grid and improving the quality of the electricity supplied, according to the EDM chairperson, Manuel Cuambe.Speaking to reporters in Maputo, during an interval in a meeting of top EDM managers drawing up a balance sheet of the company’s activities in 2010, Cuambe said that, out of its own funds, EDM is investing 60 million dollars a year, “and on top of that comes support from the government and cooperation partners, bringing the total to an average of around 120 million dollars a year”.According to Cuambe, in 2010 EDM connected 181,000 new clients to the grid, an increase of 10 per cent on the figure for 2009. There are now 858,000 clients on the grid, and 78 per cent of them use the “CREDELEC” system of pre-paid vouchers, which allows consumers to control how much electricity they use. This year, EDM plans to connect between 140,000 and 150,000 new clients.In 2010, a further seven district capitals were connected to the grid, namely Zumbo (in Tete province), Mocimboa da Praia (Cabo Delgado), and Sanga, Mechanhelas, Maua, Metarica and Marrupa (Niassa). This year two more Cabo Delgado districts, Macomia and Mueda, have been connected.There are now 96 district capitals electrified, compared with 87 at the end of 2009. “Our perspective is to continue connecting more district capitals so that, by 2014, all 128 district capitals are on the national grid”, said Cuambe.

Friday, March 18, 2011


The British Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Stephen O’Brien, announced in Maputo on Thursday that British aid to Mozambique will rise to 85 million pounds (137 million dollars) a year as from 2013.This is an increase of 10.4 per cent on the 2010 figure of 77 million pounds. The figure for 2011 and 2012 is 82 million pounds.According to a press release from the British Department for International Development (DFID), O’Brien, who visited Mozambique from Tuesday to Thursday, reiterated British support for the Mozambican government’s poverty reduction strategy, but also “stressed the importance of demonstrating results, particularly at a time when the UK is increasing its budget in Mozambique”.O’Brien, in his meetings with government officials, “reiterated the UK government’s interest in seeing progress on governance, including transparency, accountability and tackling corruption, and a rapid improvement in the environment for doing business”.Mozambique is one of the winners in the British government’s review of its foreign aid strategy. The current coalition between the Conservative and Liberal Democratic Parties, has, just like the previous Labour government, reiterated a commitment to raising the amount Britain spends on overseas development aid to 0.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Project, the target figure for industrialized countries set by the United Nations.But the government has cut funding altogether to certain countries (including China. Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Vietnam, Angola and Niger), while increasing it significantly to others. In addition to Mozambique, other countries to receive significant aid increases include Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh.According to the DFID release, “there has been a re-orientation of programmes to countries most in need of assistance, and where results in addressing poverty can be achieved”. But it added “results matter, and this is what we will be looking to hear about in the years ahead”.O’Brien also announced that the British government is allocating a further 2.7 million pounds (4.3 million dollars) this year to the Mozambican Education Ministry.The payment, according to DFID, will go into the Education Sector Common Fund (FASE), and will support the Education Ministry’s annual plan “that includes the recruitment and salaries of an additional 1,200 secondary and vocational training teachers in 2011”.Due to its budgetary constraints, the government was only able to recruit additional teachers for primary education this year. The Education Ministry thus agreed with the donors who support FASE that the FASE money could be used to finance the hiring of 1,200 secondary teachers for their first year. From 2012, the Mozambican government will take responsibility for paying the wages of these teachers. The release said that the additional aid “will enable the Ministry to implement its annual plan that aims to reduce high pupil-teacher ratios and bring about improvements in quality”.To date, British contributions to FASE have been 4.5 million pounds a year, but this year the figure rises to 7.2 million pounds. The total FASE annual budget, from 13 donors and funding agencies, is 128 million US dollars.O’Brien also met with Mozambican Health Minister Alexandre Manguele, and promised an extra two million pounds for the PROSAUDE donor common fund for health. This money is in response for the government’s request for funding to distribute a further 2.2 million mosquito nets. The long lasting insecticide treated bed nets have already been purchased with funds from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and are in the country. The logistical challenge facing the Health Ministry is to distribute them throughout the country, to protect young children from malaria.There are no conditions attached to the British funding, but the release points out “the success of this unconditional funding will inevitably be judged on whether the Ministry of Health is able to meet its commitment to deliver these 2.2 million bed nets to those who need then by the end of 2011”.The release noted that the Ministry has launched a universal bed net coverage campaign, which aims to ensure that every household containing children under the age of five has at least two long lasting insecticide treated bed nets. A further specific grant was 6.5 million pounds for the Beira Agricultural Programme over the next three years, aimed at increasing agricultural production and creating new jobs in the Beira Corridor.


The president of the Confederation of Mozambican Business Associations (CTA), Salimo Abdula, has argued that negotiations on fixing the statutory minimum wage must take into account the country’s economic reality.Speaking on Tuesday during a debate about the technicalities of fixing the minimum wage, Abdula said that “the economic reality should be discussed with total frankness, to secure the few formal sector jobs we have”.He claimed that if “emotional decisions” are taken then companies will not recruit new workers, but will merely do what they can to continue paying the workers they already have.The employers’ position shows that it will be difficult to reach consensus between the parties involved in the current negotiations over increasing the minimum wage, since the unions are arguing that the cost of living, based on a basket of goods and services for a family of five members, should be used as the reference point.The unions want a minimum wage of 7,200 meticais (about 200 US dollars), which is more than four times the current minimum wage is paid in the agricultural sector..  Although Mozambique’s economy has been growing at an annual average of seven per cent, last year the country’s economy suffered various external shocks, arising from the international financial crisis and the rising prices of food and fuel on the world market. These factors have affected the performance of many companies.Because of this, the unions expect that the negotiations this year will be “very difficult”, especially when taking into account the high cost of living which last September led to violent protests.If there is no consensus on an increased minimum wage at the Labour Consultative Commission, the tripartite negotiating body between the government, the trade unions and the employers’ associations, the government will impose a decision.


Nine of the crew of the hijacked Mozambican fishing vessel the “Vega 5” are believed to be lost at sea, following clashes between Somali pirates and the Indian navy last Saturday night.A pirate gang seized the “Vega 5” in the Mozambique Channel on 27 December and took it northwards to the Somali coast. They then turned it into a pirate mother ship used to tow and to refuel the skiffs used by the pirates to attack merchant shipping.On Friday, the “Vega 5” pirates tried to attack a container ship, the “MV Vancouver Bridge”. Indian naval aircraft, responding to the distress signal from the “Vancouver Bridge”, spotted the “Vega 5”, and two fast vessels of the Indian navy gave chase.They caught up with the “Vega 5” on Saturday night, and there was an exchange of fire with the pirates. In this shootout, the “Vega 5” caught fire, apparently because drums of fuel stored on deck were hit.In the darkness, pirates and the kidnapped crew members jumped into the water from the blazing ship. The Indian vessels picked up 74 people – 61 pirates and 13 crew members, 12 Mozambicans and one Indonesian.The original crew consisted of 24 people – 19 Mozambicans, three Indonesians and two Spaniards (including the captain). The two Spaniards are still being held prisoner somewhere in Somalia: doubtless the pirates hope to extort a heavy ransom for them. The remaining nine crew members, seven Mozambicans and two Indonesians, are believed to have jumped into the sea when the “Vega 5” caught fire, but they are not among those rescued. Now, five days later, there must be little hope of still finding them alive.According to a report in Thursday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the 13 rescued crew members are now in the Indian port of Mumbai. Their state of health is said to be good, although three of them required medical treatment for injuries sustained during the Saturday night gun battle and fire. The Mozambican embassy in India is assisting the crew members in coordination with the companies Pescamar and Pescanova. Pescamar is the Mozambican-Spanish joint venture that operated the “Vega 5”, while Pescanova is the Spanish partner in the joint venture.


The Chairperson of Mozambique’s Constitutional Council, the country’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, Luis Mondlane, announced his resignation on Thursday.In a press release, Mondlane announced that he had already communicated his decision to resign to President Armando Guebuza.Guebuza appoints the Chairperson of the Council, and the President’s choice is subject to ratification by the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. But neither the President nor the Assembly can sack the chairperson of the Council before the expiry of his five year term of office.The chairperson can only be sacked by the Council itself, following disciplinary proceedings. And this had become a distinct possibility following accusations in the press of corrupt and illegal behaviour by Mondlane. Mondlane was accused of using the Constitutional Council budget to pay off personal bills. In particular, he had ensured that the Council pay off his mortgage for a central Maputo house that cost 24.3 million meticais (about 784,000 meticais at today’s exchange rates).The mortgage payments were disguised as rent, even though the house was registered, not in the name of the Council, but of Mondlane himself.In addition, the weekly paper “Savana” published a list of goods and services purchased by Mondlane for himself and his family in 2010, and paid for out of Council funds (not including the mortgage payments). These personal expenses amounted to 8.8 million meticais (about 284,000 US dollars). Faced with this scandal, the Constitutional Council set up a three member Commission of Inquiry to look into the allegations against Mondlane. Depending on the findings of the Commission, the Council could then have begun disciplinary proceedings against Mondlane which might have resulted in his dismissal or compulsory retirement.A second blow against Mondlane came when the Administrative Tribunal, the body that oversees the legality of public expenditure and of state appointments, rejected his choice of Ana Juliana Lucas e Saute for general secretary of the Council.Mondlane had unilaterally sacked the previous general secretary, Geraldo Saranga, and pushed ahead with the appointment of Juliana against the opposition of the other six judges on the Council. They pointed out that, with only three years experience as a judge, she does not meet the requirements to become the council’s general secretary. The Administrative Tribunal agreed, and now the Council has no valid general secretary.In his short press release, Mondlane said he was resigning in order “to contribute towards safeguarding the peace and stability of the country, opening space for the consolidation of democracy and of the democratic rule of law”.”I am leaving the Constitutional Council convinced that I gave the best of myself for the development of the institution”, he said.


Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has solved a problem that has puzzled scholars and biblical exegists for almost two millennia – what is the identity of the Beast mentioned in the Book of Revelation?In Revelation, a book described by Thomas Jefferson as “the ravings of a maniac”, a mysterious beast with seven heads and ten horns appears who “causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads”. This beast has a number, and the author declares “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six”.Over the centuries the beast has been identified with Roman emperors (the favourites were Nero and Domitian), with the Catholic Papacy, with Islam, with Oliver Cromwell, with Napoleon, and many others.All are wrong, according to Renamo parliamentary deputy Armindo Milaco. He told a session of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday that the true identity of the beast with ten horns is none other than the ruling Frelimo Party. For at its head was the country’s first President Samora Machel, and you just have to look at his name to see that he is a clear candidate for the Beast. The President’s full name was Samora Moises Machel – three words, each with six letters. 666. Six hundred three score and six. Case closed.Milaco’s discovery, however, had little to do with the subjects under debate. The Assembly was debating problems of urban passenger transport and illegal immigration, following questions on these subjects asked of the government by the three political party parliamentary groups.Milaco preferred to delve into history, accusing Frelimo of trampling on religious beliefs. He recycled the old stories, denied long ago, that during the one party state, Frelimo had entered mosques with their shoes on, and had obliged Moslems to eat pork.He also cited the discredited cables sent by former US charge d’affaires Todd Chapman to the State Department in Washington, that were published last year by the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks. The cables contain lurid claims of Frelimo and government involvement in drug trafficking, much of which we know to be nonsense because Chapman’s main source is easily identifiable and has denied much of which the US diplomat put in his mouth.“Was the American charge d’affaires lying?”, asked Milaco, as if were impossible for a US diplomat to say anything other than the pristine truth.But Chapman was known to have a large axe to grind against the Mozambican government, and so Frelimo deputy Edmundo Galiza-Matos Junior, had no problem in dismissing the Wikileaks cables as “gossip and intrigue” fomented by a diplomat “whom nobody in Mozambique was sorry to see the back of”.Galiza-Matos cited Renamo dissident and former member of the Renamo Political Commission, Vitano Singano, who told reporters last week that Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama had turned the party into “a school of corruption”, handling the party’s finances personally, without any transparency or accountability.“That’s what you should be worried about”, Galiza-Matos told the Renamo benches.Milaco replied with claims that “the people don’t need Frelimo”, and “nobody votes for Frelimo”. He also made personal attacks on Galiza-Matos, claiming that he was recently divorced. “Didn’t your wife run away from you?”, he asked.Not only was this patently irrelevant, but it was also apparently untrue. Galiza-Matos retorted that he has lived with his wife for the past 15 years, and that the only result of such personal attacks will be to reduce still further the size of the Renamo group in the next parliament.Milaco was Renamo provincial political delegate in Cabo Delgado in 2005, when a dispute over the election of the mayor of Mocimboa da Praia municipality erupted into violence in which 12 people died. The police believed that Milaco masterminded the violence, and issued a warrant for his arrest. But they were never able to detain him, for Milaco fled to Maputo and used his parliamentary immunity to avoid arrest.The Assembly could lift his immunity, which would allow him to be arrested and taken to Cabo Delgado for trial. But that depends on a specific request from the Attorney-General that immunity be lifted, and so far no such request has been forthcoming.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The Mozambican government is investing 13 million meticais (about 420,000 US dollars) in programmes for the social reinsertion of miners and their families in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane.
The Mozambican miners working in the gold and platinum mines of South Africa still make a significant contribution to the Mozambican balance of payments. There are about 41,000 Mozambican miners in South Africa and their remittances amount to around 600 million rands (87 million US dollars) a year.Labour Minister Helena Taipo on Monday visited some of the areas where the programmes are under way in Manhica and Magude districts, in Maputo province. She personally handed over oxen for animal traction, poultry pavilions, ploughs, and other agricultural inputs to the local associations of former miners. The Manhica district administrator, Artur Chindalali, said that the government’s initiative responds to a longstanding dream not only of the former miners, but of widows and orphans who lost their husbands and fathers in the mines.“We shall make good use of the equipment so that it produces the desired effects”, promised Chindalali. He pledged to invite Taipo to return when the project is producing.Speaking to reporters at the end of her visit, Taipo recalled that in the regular meetings that representatives of the miners have held with President Armando Guebuza, they had insisted on the need for projects to reinsert miners who had completed their contracts, and also for the widows and orphans of miners.“This initiative arises in response to those requests”, she said, “and right now we are carrying out pilot projects here”.Taipo added that the South African mining companies would support the projects, because “they are aware of the obligations they have to their former miners”. No money has yet been received from the South African companies. “Perhaps we haven’t been insistent enough in implementing this agreement”, Taipo admitted. “But the South African side knows that it has to participate. They’ve even said that they are waiting for our signal”.Initially, 18 associations, each of which has 20 or 30 members, will benefit from the pilot projects. Taipo believed that, if undertaken well, they will have a major impact on the living standards of the former miners and their families.  Asked if the associations would have to repay anything invested by the government, Taipo said their only obligation is to return the oxen after two years, so that these can then benefit other associations.If the projects are working properly, the associations who initially benefitted should by then have raised enough funds to buy their own draught animals.


Two Malawian police officers were arrested last week in the western Mozambican province of Tete, after entering the country illegally.According to a report on Radio Mozambique, the two have been named as Sub-inspector Khonje and Constable Chiwaya, and they normally work at a police station in Dedza. They entered the Tete district of Angonia, in uniform, armed and on the back of a Malawian police motor-bike. They remained in Mozambican police custody for three days, and were set free on Friday, when a Malawian police team visited the Angonia district capital, Ulongue, to negotiate their release.To explain the illegal entry, the Malawian authorities said the two policemen were on duty in the frontier region of Mphathi, when they became lost and inadvertently strayed across the border. They were detained in the administrative post of Domwe and then transferred to Ulongue.This explanation may not entirely convince the Mozambican side, since it is not the first time that the Malawian police have crossed the border illegally. The worst incident took place in 2009, when a Malawian police unit crossed into the northern Mozambican province of Niassa and destroyed a post of the Mozambican frontier guard in Ngauma district.


The leadership of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party has disowned the forcible collection of Frelimo membership fees from teachers and other staff at a primary school in the northern city of Nampula.The independent daily “O Pais” found that the management of the Murrupinua 2 Primary School was deducting Frelimo membership dues from the employees. Although the school director claimed this only affected Frelimo members, teachers who were not members of the party claimed that their wages too had been docked.Those who were Frelimo members were also annoyed because they said they had already paid via Frelimo branches in their residential areas. They were thus being forced to pay their membership fees twice.Interviewed in Thursday’s issue of “O Pais”, the Frelimo Central Committee Secretary for Mobilisation and Propaganda, Edson Macuacua, said that payment of membership dues is a voluntary act, and nobody should have such payments deducted from their wages against their will.He urged anyone who had been forced to pay to demand their money back from the local Frelimo organisation.“If anyone has suffered deductions from their wages against their will, then naturally this sum will have to be paid back to them”, said Macuacua.He said that the relevant Frelimo bodies are looking into this case to find out what happened, and will “take the necessary measures to clarify the matter”.


Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang told reporters on Friday that the government is drawing up an amended budget for 2011, which will soon be submitted to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.Chang said the government wants the amended budget discussed in May – that is, towards the end of the current sitting of the Assembly. The budget had to be amended, he said, because of the rise in fuel and food prices.“We are going to revise the State Budget because of the crisis in prices”, he explained. “Some of the components in the budget must be altered to deal with the worsening of prices on the world market”. But the Minister gave no specifics about what might be changed in the budget.The existing 2011 budget, passed by the Assembly in December, envisages total public expenditure of 132.4 billion meticais (about 4.3 billion US dollars, at today’s exchange rates).Total state revenue, mostly from taxation, is expected to reach 73.3 billion meticais, thus leaving a deficit of 59.1 billion meticais to be covered by grants and loans.Thus 55.4 per cent of the budget is covered by the government’s own projected revenue, leaving only 44.6 per cent to be covered by foreign aid. This is a considerable improvement on the 2010 budget, in which only 48.6 per cent of planned expenditure was covered by projected revenue. However, the government may now feel obliged to increase the deficit, particularly if it intends to continue the current subsidies on fuel and bread.The government has repeatedly said that it is committed to austerity measures and to holding back unnecessary expenditure, in order to ensure that resources are channelled to priority areas.After the riots against price rises in Maputo on 1-2 September, the government announced a temporary freeze on wages and allowances for senior state officials, and a reduction in the use of air travel, and in the payment of communications costs.


The majority of the judges on Mozambique’s Constitutional Council, the highest body in constitutional and electoral law, are seeking a way to remove the Council’s chairperson, Luis Mondlane, reports Friday’s issue of the weekly paper “Savana”.Mondlane has been deeply compromised by revelations in the press of his illegal use of Council funds for his personal expenses – including paying a mortgage on a house that cost 24.3 million meticais (about 784,000 US dollars at today’s exchange rates). Mondlane also unilaterally sacked the general secretary of the Council, Geraldo Saranga, and appointed in his stead Ana Juliana Lucas e Saute – even though she did not have the requisite five years experience as a judge.The other six judges on the Constitutional Council objected to Juliana’s appointment, since the general secretary works, not just for the chairperson, but for the entire Council. Mondlane ignored all the objections and, on 25 February, swore Juliana into office, in a ceremony that was boycotted by all the other judges.According to “Savana”’s sources, President Armando Guebuza, who appointed Mondlane, was angered when he heard about the crisis in the Council. But the President’s problem is that there is no way, under the law, that he can remove Mondlane.The President of the Republic appoints the chairperson of the Council, and the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, ratifies the appointment. But neither the President nor the Assembly can sack the chairperson during his five year term of office.Guebuza, the paper said, has asked the general secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party, Filipe Paunde, to look into the matter, and Paunde has asked for meetings with both Mondlane, and separately with the other six judges.Judges on the Council are not subject to the normal disciplinary body for the judiciary, the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistracy (CSMJ). Instead the Council must discipline its own members and could, in theory, force Mondlane out.Any Constitutional Council judge can be dismissed or given compulsory retirement in the event of disciplinary or criminal proceedings. This would require the other six judges to launch into an inquiry into Mondlane’s behaviour, which would culminate in a disciplinary hearing.“Savana” also publishes a list of goods and services purchased by Mondlane for himself and his wife in 2010 out of Council funds. These personal expenses amounted to 8.8 million meticais (about 284,000 US dollars). (This list does not include the mortgage payments.)The expenses included over 2.1 million meticais spent on furniture imported from South Africa, and the services used for clearing it through customs. Other furniture and decorations acquired locally cost the council over 3.5 million meticais. Bills for dental services for Mondlane, his wife and daughter at a private dental clinic amounted to over 46,000 meticais, and the Council even paid over 127,000 meticais for an air ticket so that Mondlane’s wife could accompany him to a meeting in Lisbon.


Mozambican Education Minister Zeferino Martins on Thursday demanded efficient and effective inspection to guarantee the quality of education.To this end, he said, the government intends to redesign and reorient the education inspectorate, so that it becomes more pro-active, and contributes to achieving the goals of education policy.”We want an inspectorate that contributes decisively to solving the problems from which education suffers”, Martins said at the opening of a seminar of the General Education Inspectorate. “We want an inspectorate that is committed to improving how the sector functions”.Martins stressed that the inspectorate must guarantee that the reforms under way in the sector provide better quality education for all Mozambicans. This should be an education “which leads us to create the human capital that is so necessary for the socio-economic development of our country”. He added that it was key to break with the spirit of “apathy, indifference and negligence”.The inspectors, the Minister said, should take as their key areas of priority the enrolment of pupils, compliance with school programmes, and the use of time in the classrooms. They should also be concerned with the quality of training offered in the country’s teacher training institutes.The inspectorate, he continued, should also monitor the use of school funds, the hygiene and maintenance of school facilities, and matters concerning teachers’ promotions and their progress along the teaching career.
The General Inspector of Education, Quiteria Mabote, stressed that priorities must be defined, given the scarcity of resources allocated to inspection.“We have to define priorities and redefine our strategy so that we can solve the problem of the quality of education”, he said. “There are many difficulties. Financial and human resources are scarce, and we have to use them rationally”.


Rui Bulha, a senior member of Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, in the central port city of Beira, has reigned from the party, because he was not allowed to occupy a vacant parliamentary seat, reports Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.The vacancy occurred when a Renamo parliamentary deputy, Fernando Mbararano, died at the weekend. Parliamentary elections in Mozambique are held on the basis of provincial party lists. The norm is that, in the event of deaths or resignations of deputies, the next person on the list occupies the vacant seat.Bulha claims that this means that he should have replaced Mbararano in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, but instead, the vacancy has been filled, on the instructions of the Renamo leadership, by Manuel Bissopo, a former Renamo political delegate in Beira. According to Bulha, Bissopo was not even on the list of Renamo supplementary candidates for Sofala province.“I feel that an injustice has been done to me”, said Bulha, “first by Renamo itself, and also by the leadership of the Assembly, which has allowed this to happen. For there are official lists, on which I am the Renamo top supplementary candidate for Sofala”.Bulha promptly resigned from the party, giving his membership card and all Renamo leaflets and flags in his possession to the party’s general secretary Ussufo Momade.He blamed Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama for the current state of the party. “Dhlakama does everything upside down, and I want to corroborate what Vitano Singano said about this”, added Bulha. Singano heads a group of Renamo dissidents in Beira, trying to remove Dhlakama from the leadership of the party.“Dhlakama likes money and I am under pressure from Pastor Carlos, from a local church, because he lent Dhlakama 300,000 meticais (about 9,700 US dollars, at current exchange rates) some years ago, and has not paid it back”, declared Bulha. “I ask you – can a person like this be a head of state?”“I’m suffocated and I can’t take it any more”, said Bulha. “Now I’m going to rest a bit, but I remain a man of the opposition”.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Mozambique’s main trade union federation, the OTM, has demanded that this year’s negotiations on the statutory minimum wage should consider a figure of 7,244 meticais (about 234 US dollars) a month, since this is what it takes to cover the basic needs of a family of five.The OTM decided to table this figure at a trade union meeting in the southern city of Matola last week, discussing strategy for the tripartite negotiations between the government, the unions and the employers’ associations.”In discussing the minimum wage, the trade union committees should use the campaign on social dialogue and the culture of work, launched by President Armando Guebuza, in order to discuss, not only the minimum wage, but also other social conditions”, said the final statement from the OTM meeting.The OTM also called for greater solidarity among all the country’s unions, so that all sectors of activity would take as their basic reference point the basket of goods and services needed to ensure a minimally decent life for the average household – the basket which the OTM now calculates would cost 7,244 meticais a month.The OTM proposal is more than double any of the current minimum wages. There is no longer a single national minimum wage – instead the minimum wage is negotiated by sector. Since there are nine sectors and two sub-sectors, there are effectively eleven separate minimum wages in the country.These range from 1,593 meticais (about 51.4 US dollars) a month for sugar workers to 3,483 meticais a month for workers in the financial sector.


Mozambican Prime Minister Aires Ali declared on Saturday that over the next five years the government hopes to create 4,500 small companies for young people, and about 80,000 jobs, including self-employment. He was speaking in Maputo at the official launch of the Youth Business Programme (Proempresa-Jovem) which is being set up to finance business initiatives of young people. Through the Institute for the Management of State Holdings (IGEPE), in partnership with public companies and other institutions, the government intends to meet the need for youth employment and to set up small companies that can generate income for young people.“The government wants to take this initiative to all the municipalities and regions of the county”, said Ali. “But since we have to start somewhere, it was decided that the cooperation between the Maputo Municipality and GAPI would be a good starting point”. (GAPI is a financial institution with a long record of financing small companies).The launch of this programme, said Ali, marks the start of another action undertaken by the government in order to reduce poverty. The special characteristic of this initiative, he added, is that it trusts in the capacity of young people to create wealth.A further strategic objective of the programme is to create institutional capacities in the municipalities. Municipalities and local government will be supported in order to respond better to the challenges of local economic development.“The resources to be applied under the programme will be channelled via a specialised body accountable to the Bank of Mozambique and to the tax authorities”, said Ali.Although the programme is the responsibility of the Maputo municipality in technical partnership with GAPI, it will also involve youth organisations and their members through a network of local platforms.Ali called on the programme’s beneficiaries to respond with hard work, discipline and a high sense of organisation to the opportunities to develop small scale businesses. “It is with hard work and the spirit of sacrifice that we shall have a competitive economy and a greater capacity to respond to external shocks such as the increase in the prices of oil and foodstuffs on the international market”, he said. The chairperson of IGEPE, Hipolito Hamela, said that the programme has about 500,000 US dollars available to fund business initiatives of young people.
The Mozambican police have dismissed the stories circulating in the media about containers of guns and drugs in the port of Maputo as “a false alarm”.The claims were made by the daily paper “O Pais” and the independent television station STV last week. Initially there was no police response, but on Thursday the police told a rival paper “Noticias” that there were indeed two containers full of weapons – but they were in transit to Swaziland, at the request of the Swazi authorities.It now turns out that the containers on the way to Swaziland are not the same as the ones mentioned in the “O Pais”/STV stories. A statement from the General Command of the Mozambican police says that two other containers were under investigation, following the anonymous tip-off to STV.A team was set up to investigate the containers, consisting of representatives of the police, the customs service and the US embassy (thus strongly suggesting that the source of the alarm was American).But a close inspection of the contents of the containers showed that they contained nothing apart from electrical appliances and children’s toys. There were no guns and no drugs.According to STV, the goods have now been released to their owner, which is a Mozambique-registered import-export company.


There will be no increase in the fares charged by the minibus-taxis that provide much of the passenger transport in Maputo, at least for the time being.This was the main result of a meeting on Friday between representatives of Maputo Municipal Council and the Mozambican Federation of Road Transport Operators (FEMATRO), held to discuss fares.On Monday the Maputo Road Transport Association (AMOTRAP) jumped the gun and unilaterally imposed a 50 per cent fare rise. The basic fare for the mini-buses (known colloquially as “chapas”) rose from five meticais (16 US cents) to 7.5 meticais,This was only in force on a couple of routes for a few hours. FEMATRO moved quickly to dissociate itself from the rise, stressing that it violated the 2008 agreement between FEMATRO and the government.But FEMATRO chairman Rogerio Manuel said that the demand from chapa owners for a fare increase was justified by the sharp rise in the cost of maintenance, spare parts, insurance and licensing. Only the diesel used by the chapas is subsidised. Manuel even suggested that the cost of a chapa journey should be 18 meticais.However, the Friday meeting simply endorsed the status quo – thus the cost of a journey of up to ten kilometres remains five meticais, while a for longer journeys the fare remains 7.5 meticais.According to a report in Saturday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the Maputo councillor for transport and traffic, Joao Matlombe, said the Monday problems arose because some vehicles recently acquired by FEMATRO were charging a flat rate fare of 7.5 meticais. This irritated the other operators, with older vehicles, who also wanted to charge 7.5 meticais.He said that FEMATRO had recognised the mistake and was urging the chapa owners to respect the existing fares.ATROMAP representative Samuel Nhatitima said not only that those operators who raised their fares were in the wrong – so were those who simply parked their vehicles and stopped working. He said that all problems should first be presented to the Municipal Council “so that we can seek the best solution”.


Three members of the Mozambican riot police went on trial on Friday in the southern city of Inhambane accused of murdering a man named Juliao Macul on 8 November 2007.The policemen are said to have mistaken Macul for Agostinho Chauque who, at the time, was the most wanted man in the country. Chauque eventually died in a shoot-out with police in Maputo last year.The three men were sent from Maputo to the Inhambane district of Massinga, after receiving reports that Chauque had been seen in a hotel there. According to a report in Saturday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, their instructions were to check out the reports and arrest the suspect.Instead, the police decided to shoot first and ask questions later. Convinced that Macul was indeed Chauque, they burst into the room where he was resting and shot him dead. The police tried to recover from this fatal mistake by claiming that Macul was also a criminal. They alleged that Macul was involved in trafficking stolen vehicles between South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique – much to the fury of Macul’s family, who denied that their murdered relative had anything to do with such crimes.The police did not withdraw the slur. While recognising that the three riot police were wrong about the identity of the man they had killed, the police backed up their story that Macul was a dealer in stolen cars. A police statement was even circulated to the press claiming that Macul was shot after he had resisted arrest. The police even refused to share in the costs of Macul’s funeral. The family are now demanding both justice and compensation.The trial should have begun in December – but the three police did not obey the summons to appear in court. The court then ordered their arrest, and they have been awaiting the current trial in a prison cell.


The Mozambican government’s General Inspectorate of Labour (IGT) has announced that it is imposing heavy fines and will start criminal proceedings against TV Miramar, a television station owned by the Brazilian evangelical sect, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD).A Friday press release from the Labour Ministry said that investigations by an IGT brigade had concluded that Miramar was in serious breach of Mozambican labour legislation.Perhaps the most serious abuse was the theft of social security contributions from the Miramar workers. The Miramar management deducted social security contributions from their wages – but did not send the money to the National Social Security Institute (INSS). This means that Miramar workers are not eligible to receive social security benefits for which they have paid.The Miramar debt to the INSS now stands at over two million meticais (about 64,500 US dollars). The IGT also found that employees doing the same job, with the same duties, were paid different wages, and that two Brazilians had been hired illegally. The Brazilians have been suspended, and a condition for re-employing them is that Miramar must pay off its social security debt.But this will not prevent a court case: Miramar is being charged with “abuse of trust” under the country’s social security legislation.Since early 2010, Miramar has been managed by Record Europa, which is also part of the IURD media empire, so that what viewers see on their screens is “TV Record” rather than “TV Miramar”.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Portuguese Defence Minister Augusto Silva on Tuesday began a four day visit to Mozambique, in order to assess the degree of implementation so far of the framework programme for military cooperation between the two countries, covering the 2010-2013 period.Speaking at a Maputo press conference, Silva said that the main objective of the programme is to train Mozambican officers. He added that over the past 20 years of military cooperation, about 1,500 Mozambican officers have been trained in Portuguese military academies. He also stressed Portuguese support for Mozambican military schools. “Over the past six years we estimate that 5,000 Mozambican officers have benefited indirectly from Portuguese assistance from the fact that they have undertaken their training in Mozambican schools that enjoyed Portuguese support”. Silva added that, over the past two decades, a total of 1,008 Portuguese military personnel had worked in Mozambique as military advisors. Currently there are about 30 such advisors in Mozambique. As for the Cessna aircraft that Portugal has offered to the Mozambican airforce, Silva said “it has three essential missions: it will be an instrument to train pilots, it will be used for medical evacuations by air, and it will operate in maritime surveillance”.His host, Mozambican Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi said there has been Portuguese cooperation in the army, navy and air force, and in training cadres at the level of command and leadership. Mozambique was now designing a higher level military institute and hoped to learn from Portugal’s experience in this area”.Nyussi said that he had also discussed the threat posed by piracy on the high seas with Silva, but gave no details.


The British government has pledged to increase its aid to Mozambique by about four per cent in the next two years, and by a further 6.25 per cent in the following two years.According to a Wednesday statement from the British Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, aid to Mozambique will rise from the 2011 figure of 77 million pounds (about 126 million US dollars) to 80 million pounds in 2012 and 2013, and to 85 million in the subsequent two years. Mitchell said this aid “will support the Mozambican government in its ambition to transform the country into a prosperous centre of regional trade and investment”. He added that support for the Mozambican education and health services will be maintained but the greatest increases in funding will be for projects in “wealth creation and agricultural productivity”. As for direct budget support, the form of aid most favoured by the Mozambican authorities, Mitchell said “It is likely that the support for the general state budget will remain at current levels to start with, but the final decision will be taken at the end of this year”. Britain is currently one of the largest donors of direct budget support“We share Mozambique’s vision of one day overcoming its need for foreign aid”, Mitchell said, “and we believe this will be possible in the early years of the next decade”.He added that Britain “is interested in seeing progress in governance, including in transparency and accountability, bringing rapid improvements in the business environment and in the fight against corruption”.Mitchell said that the current government, a coalition between the Conservative and Liberal Democratic Parties, like the previous Labour government, is committed to raising the amount Britain spends on overseas development aid to 0.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Project, the target figure for industrialized countries set by the United Nations.Development aid is one of the few areas which the government of Prime Minister David Cameron has spared from savage spending cuts – much to the disgust of some conservatives, and right wing tabloid newspapers. Mitchell recognised this, saying “we have faced criticism from those who think this aid should be cut”.The coalition government has, however, reviewed the aid budget – cutting aid altogether to some countries, while increasing it to others. Mozambique is one of the winners. Other countries to receive significant aid increases include Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh.Countries that will lose funding altogether include Russia, China, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Vietnam, Angola, Burundi and Niger.


The Mozambican police and customs service have declined to confirm or deny the story published by the independent daily “O Pais” on Wednesday that containers in which guns and drugs were hidden have been seized in the port of Maputo.The Mozambican Tax Authority (AT), which is responsible for the customs service, sent a note to “O Pais” saying it had been “surprised” by the story, and even asking the paper to reveal its source.“Since the AT is not the source of this information, we request “O Pais” to give an express and public clarification of its source for the good of preserving the ethics of the mass media”, said the note.The ethical position for the paper to take is, in reality, the exact opposite. Across the world the generally accepted ethical practice is for journalists to protect their sources, not to reveal them. In the Mozambican case, the professional secrecy of journalists is guaranteed in the Constitution.The Thursday issue of “O Pais” reports that some senior police and customs officials have privately insisted that the story is not true – but none of them are prepared to say so officially.The paper sent reporters down to the port where an unusually sizeable security operation was under way. Sources inside the port told the paper that joint teams of the State Security and Intelligence Service (SISE), the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) and Customs were overseeing the opening of the containers.One source said the operation was shrouded in secrecy in order not to disturb the investigations, and that the earlier leak of information to “O Pais” had seriously worried the authorities.


The Mozambican police have announced the arrests of three members of a gang of armed robbers who raided banks and other institutions in Maputo city and province.According to the police, this is the gang that stole five million meticais (about 161,000 US dollars) from a branch of the Pro-Credit Bank in the Maputo neighbourhood of Chamanculo on 18 October last year.The thieves had clearly made meticulous preparations for this robbery, since they kidnapped both the bank manager and his deputy from their homes, and drove them to the bank, where they forced them to open the strong box.The same gang, on 26 July, raided in broad daylight a branch of the Commercial and Investment Bank (BCI) in the central Maputo neighbourhood of Alto Mae, where they stole 230,000 meticais.That same day, just two hours later, the gang attacked a branch of the electricity company, EDM, in the Matola neighbourhood of Zona Verde. They overpowered the security guards and stole 214,000 meticais from payments made that day by EDM clients. They also stole mobile phones and other personal belongings from EDM staff and clients. According to a report in Thursday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the police arrested three members of the gang, named as C. Nacatembo, C. Nhalungo and N. Milagre, in a house in Ndlavela, also in Matola, as they were preparing another robbery. The arrests were possible thanks to a tip-off.The police say the gang consisted of seven members. Two of them were injured in a shoot-out with the police, and one later died in Maputo central hospital. No details of this clash have been made public.The other two gang members are still at large.