Christian Council of Mozambique Update Dec 4 2000

This Update from the Communications department of the Christian Council of Mozambique reviews the death of Carlos Cardoso, underlining the emergence of a criminal underworld; the death of 75 Renamo supporters who suffocated in a tiny prison cell; and goes on to cover items on flooding, reconstruction, sugar, world bank, and the new combined tri-country game park.

CCM Update is an irregular digest of Mozambican news in English prepared as a service to CCM partners outside of Mozambique.

Assassination of Carlos Cardoso

On November 22, one of Mozambique's most prominent journalists and founder of investigative journalism in Mozambique, was shot dead in central Maputo.

Carlos Cardoso, editor of the independent daily newssheet "Metical", was ambushed in his car, and gunned down by unknown assailants.

Metical colleagues have pledged that they would continue with his work and would not be silenced by the editor's killing.

Chude Mondlane, daughter of Eduardo Mondlane, the founder and first president of FRELIMO, expressed shock - but "it did not come as a great surprise. I should weep at the mere fact that I no longer believe that those in power today can rid the country of those bent on greed and destruction."

Edouardo Mondlane Jr., son of Mozambiques founder, warned that "unless this death can be the catalyst for the first steps in the true search for the origins of this terrorist violence and its instigators, then we are all hanging on the brink of the abyss".

One week before his death, Cardoso started a campaign against what he called the "gangster faction" in FRELIMO, which he accused of provoking recent political violence in the country.

"They killed Carlos Cardoso,"said the weekly independent Savana, "because his journalistic investigations laid bare the negligence, incompetence, dishonesty and lack of transparency that are taking over this country".

Savana blames criminal syndicates that for several years have increased in power in Mozambique, including within the government. warns that Mozambique, and who are dismantling the remaining clean parts of national governance. The syndicates have installed themselves at the highest level, and control the entire country."

Local human rights groups, unions, government officials, and opposition leaders have all condemned the killing. Outside Mozambique, the US State Department, the European Union, and several African nations denounced Cardoso's murder as a serious setback to press freedom in Mozambique.

Immediately after attending the funeral of Carlos Cardoso, Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano on Friday admitted that the country "is going through a bad period".

President Pascoal Mocumbi told reporters that the police investigation into the murder is "proceeding normally" but admitted that it is "difficult".

Local residents have turned the assassination site into a public shrine to Cardoso and media freedom.

An Internet web page in memory of Cardoso has been opened. It can be consulted on:

Bloodiest Political Violence since end of Civil War

The opposition party RENAMO called for a national day of demonstrations on November 9. RENAMO in protest against the results of the 1999 elections, which it claims, were rigged, despite judgments to the contrary by all international observers.

On that day the death toll from clashes between the Mozambican police and demonstrators of RENAMO, reached over 40, the national news agency AIM reported. This makes these riots the bloodiest political violence in Mozambique since the end of the so-called war of destabilisation in 1992.

The Mozambican Human Rights and Development Association has strongly condemned the police for using live ammunition to disperse the demonstrations, saying that the police opened fire without provocation.

Mozambique's Human Rights League (LDH) has also blamed the police for the violence in the northern city of Nampula which reportedly claimed 11 lives.

As the demonstrators fled, several were arrested "and were severely beaten with rifle butts," said the LDH, and later in the police station the detainees were "tortured and flogged on the orders of the top officials of the police command".

Anglican Bishop Dinis Sengulane called for an independent commission of inquiry to investigate what really happened on what has become known as "bloody Thursday".

Four Renamo deputies were among those arrested. The Attorney General's office is requesting the Assembly to withdraw their parliamentary immunity.

"There is no harassment of opposition parties", President Chissano insisted. "The government takes action against any citizen who is acting unlawfully, regardless of what party he belongs to".

President Chissano blamed Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama for the violence. "On several occasions Dhlakama has publicly said that he can turn the country upside down, and maybe that's what he's doing", he said.

Although the provision in the 1992 peace agreement that granted Renamo bodyguards the right to bear weapons expired after the October 1994 general elections, the party has continued to maintain its own private security force and many arms caches.

75 RENAMO supporters die in jail

Seventy-five people have died after being imprisoned in the Cabo Delgado province town of Montepuez after the riots of November 9.

They were among 94 people crammed into a cell measuring seven by three metres - more than four people per square metre - with the door and windows closed, and in the cell bathroom just two tiny openings through which air could enter. Autopsies by Mozambican and South African doctors established that they died of asphyxiation.

The doctors also found that most of the bodies they examined showed no signs of having eaten anything for at least three days. One Montepuez source cited by Metical claimed the prisoners had not received food for nine days.

Mozambican Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi Thursday announced that the government fully intends to take criminal and disciplinary measures against those responsible.

Lutero Simango, interim spokesman for the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition, declared "compatriots of ours have died in several prisons in the country because of torture and ill-treatment inflicted by the police on the orders of the government."

According to the independent newspaper Savana, the district police commissioner had entered the cell with a pistol drawn and threatened to kill all the prisoners, accusing them of intending to kill him during the riots of November 9. Then he left the cell, and closed the door. The next day, the asphyxiation deaths began.

Corruption in Attorney-General Administration

Mozambique's new Attorney-General, Joaquim Madeira, has said that the situation he found in the Attorney- General's Office is even worse than he expected when he was appointed three months ago.

Interviewed in the independent newspaper "Domingo" Madeira said that he has ordered full inspections of the attorneys' offices in Sofala and Zambezia among other provinces because of allegations of corruption against leading prosecutors.

Some of the major cases in the hands of the Attorney-General's Office, which is responsible for all public prosecutions, have never come to court. The most notorious is the country's largest bank fraud, which robbed the largest commercial bank, the BCM, of 144 billion meticais (about $14 million at the exchange rate of the time) immediately prior to its privatisation in 1996.

Public accusations that prosecutors had deliberately disorganised papers and mislaid important evidence led President Joaquim Chissano to sack the previous attorney-general, Antonio Namburete.

Agricultural investments hit by corruption

As from 2001, Mozambique will produce over 100,000 tonnes of sugar a year.

The director of the Mozambican National Sugar Institute, Arnaldo Ribeiro, said that this is possible thanks to investments in the sugar sector, which have allowed massive replanting of sugar cane, and the rehabilitation of sugar mills.

Of this year's production of 50,000 tonnes, about 13,000 tonnes are for export to the United States market, and corresponds to the quota allotted to Mozambique. The remainder, for the internal market, faces unfair competition from smugglers who import sugar from Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland.

The late Carlos Cardosos last published article was an exposť of conditions in the Mozambican vegetable oil industry, which is suffering serious losses of income and jobs because of competition from smuggled Asian oils. Vendors of these do not pay the 17% VAT imposed in 1999.

In the case of both industries, corruption among Customs officials is the alleged cause of the smuggling.

World Bank dogma disproved

Contrary to World Bank dogma, the liberalisation of the trade in cashew nuts has not increased the prices paid to Mozambican peasant farmers for the raw nuts.

According to a report in Metical, the average price that peasants will receive for the nuts this marketing season is unlikely to exceed 4,000 meticais (24 US cents) per kg.

This is 20 percent lower when compared with the average prices of 1999.

In 1995 the average price offered by India for Mozambican cashews was almost 800 dollars a tonne.

The main justification for the ravaging of the Mozambican processing industry was that, with liberalisation, the peasants would get a better price for the nuts. In fact, the forced closure of most of the factories merely removes the competition, allowing the Indian importers to dictate prices.

The defenders of the processing industry always argued that it made no sense to export the nuts raw, when much more money could be earned for the country by exporting those same nuts in the shape of processed kernels.

Growing inequalities

Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano Monday warned on November 27 that "growing inequalities and injustices are the main threats to international peace, stability and security, and the major cause of frustration, and conflicts in Africa".

Speaking in Maputo during the opening session of the third meeting of the Independent Commission for Africa, under the theme "Africa and the challenges for the third millennium," he said that "Globalization started long ago, slavery and colonisation are the negative side of it .

President Chissano later denounced the hypocrisy of international bodies which demand an end to subsidies and protectionism in Africa, while turning a blind eye to the same thing in the northern hemisphere.

Speaking in Maputo at the opening of a Council Meeting of the Socialist International, to which Mozambique's ruling FRELIMO party is affiliated, he declared that "In certain financial institutions, they advocate that subsidies to African agriculture should be eliminated. But agriculture is subsidised in Europe and America," he said.

"They demand that Africa's national industries should not be protected," he added, "but it is well known that certain European and American industries are protected. These industries receive subsidies, and determine world market prices."

Banks and oil companies compromise Mozambican sovereignty

One of the most prominent parliamentarians in Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party, Sergio Vieira, has criticised foreign-owned banks and oil companies for opening more filling stations and bank branches in Maputo, while abandoning the countryside.

Speaking Tuesday shortly before the official opening of Parliament, Vieira observed that some of the main streets in central Maputo "have more banks than dozens of districts put together."

The same goes for petrol stations. New ones spring up in Maputo, but in Tete, apart from the three main towns, and two border posts,"You can go for hundreds of kilometres through several districts without finding a drop of diesel or petrol", said Vieira.

"This undermines the country's sovereignty particularly when the interests of the shareholders, mostly foreigners in the case of the banks and the oil companies, are placed above those of many Mozambican citizens," he added.

He also warned against the de facto monopoly situation prevailing in the financial sector, in which the BIM/BCM group, dominated by a Portuguese bank, the BCP, controls more than 53 percent of the Mozambican banking market.

Flooding again

Heavy rains and strong winds lashed central and southern Mozambique November 19-22 resulting in nine deaths and raising fears of a repeat of the catastrophic floods of earlier this year.

Four people died in Nampula province and five in Zambezia province, near the city of Quelimane, and in Milange district near the Malawi border. Trees were uprooted and over 100 homes destroyed. Radio Mozambique quoted a government official in Zambezia province as saying that most of the roads are impassable because of uprooted trees.

An estimated 8,500 people in areas surrounding Xai-Xai district in Mozambique's southern Gaza province were cut off by heavy rains, reported a spokesman for WFP in Maputo.

Some families in poorer suburbs of Maputo and Matola cities found themselves forced to abandon their flooded homes and seek refuge with relatives in safer areas, as some roads were rendered impassable.

Mozambique's relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), has begun making preparations for any possible flooding during the coming rainy season.

Concerns that disaster could strike again this rainy season are based on the fact that much of the land in the southern river basins is still waterlogged. Some of the lakes formed by the flood waters have not yet evaporated, and the level of soil humidity is very high.

In some regions of Chokwe for example, it is not possible to plant because the soil is still waterlogged. Most access roads to outlying Chokwe localities have not been rehabilitated.

The National Meteorology Institute (INAM) on 12 October presented its forecast for the coming months: the country, it said, would face "normal" or "above normal" rainfall in the 2000/2001 rainy season.

Food supplies uncertain

A joint survey, made by INGC and the WFP, found that in September, at the end of the period covered by the government's emergency appeal to the international community, in the wake of the catastrophic floods of February, the number of needy people had dropped from 550,000 to the present 160,000.

INGC says that enough food will be available to supply the 160,000 until the next harvest, in March/April 2001.

But WFP says that "only one or two donors" have responded to the agency's US $5.8 million extended appeal to cover the period September 2000 to March 2001. He said the food pipeline was stable until December, "but after that we'll have to see".

USAID experiment

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is to give 100 dollars each to 85,000 Mozambican rural families affected by the catastrophic floods in February. By current exchange rates this is about 1.65 million meticais, and the expenditure of poor rural families is about 2,500 meticais per person per day.

After the floods there were persistent calls within Mozambique that money be injected directly into the rural family sector. USAID noted that when disaster strikes in the US, the government offers cash to the affected families.

The cash is hoped to help revive rural trade and generate micro-enterprises, depending on how many peasants decide to invest part of the money, rather than use it all for immediate consumption.

Rail line rehabilitation

After seven months of paralysis, the Limpopo rail line that runs from Maputo to Zimbabwe reopened on November 9

The line which was severely damaged during the catastrophic floods has undergone emergency repair works costed at about 7.5 million US dollars. A post-flood assessment put the figure needed for a thorough rehabilitation at 55 million dollars.

Electricity sub-station to be rehabilitated

Mozambique's publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, has obtained the $7 million needed to rehabilitate the Chimuara sub-station, in the central province of Zambezia, reports "Noticias" on 21 October.

The sub-station, which was built in 1983 to stabilise electrical power from the Cahora Bassa dam, was sabotaged by the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels 2 years later. The damage to the sub-station is the main reason for the unstable quality of the Cahora Bassa power that reaches northern Mozambique.

AIDS pandemic in Mozambique

About 30 percent of beds in the general and paediatric wards of Mozambican central and provincial hospitals are occupied by patients suffering from AIDS, according to Health Minister Francisco Songane, in an interview with Radio Mozambique.

"We do not have enough beds to face the burden", he said. "In future, we want to have the community itself take the lead in the basic control of such situations in their own homes, with the support of the health units".

Current estimates are that over a million Mozambicans are living with HIV. An infection rate of around 25 percent exists among the adult population in the central provinces, and 16 percent in the southern and northern provinces.

Mozambican Health authorities have warned that the AIDS pandemic could reduce the average life expectancy in the country by 14 years.

A document on the demographic impact of AIDS concluded that, without AIDS, life expectancy at birth would have risen from 42.3 years (the figure in the 1997 population census) to 50.3 years in 2010 in the country.

But with AIDS, life expectancy is likely to collapse to 35.9 years by 2010.

By 2010, the population, without AIDS, would be around 22.3 million. When AIDS is factored in, the figure falls to 19.4 million.

The INE noted that by 1999 there were 257,000 orphans in the country whose mothers had died of AIDS.

Malaria on the rise

Rather than abating, malaria is increasing in Mozambique. According to Avertino Barreto, the country's Deputy National Health Director, the highest incidence is rural areas where 73 per cent of the population live. Malaria is responsible for 48 per cent of all out-patient consultations. Malaria kills more than one million people annually in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Cuban government has pledged to provide Mozambique with the necessary technology for the manufacturing of an anti-malaria chemical product, Grislet, to help stem the spread of the tropical scourge in the country.

The product is directly applied to stagnant waters where mosquitoes breed, and is said to have a 100-percent efficacy and also environmentally friendly.

Kruger park goes tri-national

South Africa 's second transfrontier park, the Gaza-Kruger- Gonarezhou transfrontier park, was formally established between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe at the weekend.

The transfrontier park, comprising Coutada 16 in Mozambique, South Africa's Kruger National Park and the Gonarezou National Park in Zimbabwe, will consist of national parks, private game reserves, hunting concession areas and community-managed natural resource areas.

The economic activity associated with the Kruger National Park could have an almost immediate effect on the other countries. Kruger has 1-million visitors a year, of which 40% are from overseas.

Obstacles include obvious disparity in skills and funding between the three countries and inadequate law enforcement of poaching and felling of trees in Mozambique. Some land mine clearing may have to be done on the Mozambican side, and restocking of game destroyed during the civil war.

Wheel chair factory to employ disabled veterans

Mozambique's Association of Disabled Soldiers (ADEMIMO) has set up a wheelchair factory in the district of Boane, some 30km west of Maputo, funded by the United Methodist Church of Mozambique and Goodwill Industries in the USA.

"We already have all the necessary equipment for the manufacture of wheelchairs, but we still need the power to start operating," said Association chairman Manuel Chauque. He said the publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, has promised to connect the power in January 2001.

The factory will employ disabled members of the association. All materials will be obtained locally, except for the wheels to be purchased from South Africa.

ADEMIMO has some 10,000 members spread across the country.

Three Mozambicans Tortured by SA Police

A video shown on television of six white policemen and their dogs attacking three black men has caused outrage in South African Church and society, Ecumenical News International said on 9 November.

The attack came to light on Tuesday when the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) showed a 45-minute video of the group of laughing white police officers setting dogs onto detained illegal migrants as part of a dog training exercise.

South African Council of Churches President Bishop Mvume Dandala on 8 November said the video highlighted the countrys state of "spiritual and moral bankruptcy".

The six policemen have been charged with attempted murder and premeditated and intentional assault.

Communications Sector
Christian Council of Mozambique
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tel 258 1 422836/425103
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