Mozambique News Agency
President Filipe Nyusi announced on 7 April that the defence and security forces have overrun a position held by insurgents in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Speaking at Maputo’s Monument to the Mozambican Heroes, on the occasion of Mozambican Women’s Day, celebrated every year on 7 April, President Nyusi said that firearms were seized in the attack, as well as property stolen from local villagers. An unspecified number of the insurgents, believed to be Islamic fundamentalists, were also captured.
President Nyusi also gave the latest figures on the death toll and damage from cyclone Idai, which hit central Mozambique on 14 March. He put the confirmed death toll at 602, with a further 1,641 people injured. 715,000 hectares of crops have been inundated, and 200,000 houses, 54 health units and 3,359 classrooms have been destroyed or damaged.
The President said the number of deaths would have been greater had it not been for the warnings issued by the National Meteorological Institute (INAM), the red alert decreed by the government three days before the cyclone struck, and the subsequent work of the relief agency the National Disaster Management Institute.
President Nyusi stressed the contribution made by women in the search and rescue efforts in the immediate wake of the cyclone and the ensuing floods, and in the current reconstruction of the affected areas. “Once again, in all moments of the flooding and the cyclone, we witnessed the commitment of Mozambican women who, in the midst of so many adversities, participated in the saving of lives, and remain involved in the recovery”, he said.
He stressed the role of women in the transformation of Mozambican society. “We express our gratitude and admiration for the contribution women are continuing to make for the progress of all of us”, he said.
President Nyusi announced the creation of a Post-Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction Office based in the cyclone-ravaged city of Beira. He promised that the new office will oversee the reconstruction in a careful and integrated manner, with the participation of the local structures. “The priority is the urgent restoration, as quickly as possible, of basic social services such as roads, electricity, water supply, communications and the identification of land for the definitive resettlement of people”, said the President. He also called for a full assessment of losses and damage.
The President took the opportunity to urge all Mozambicans of voting age (18 years old and above) to register as voters, ahead of the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for 15 October. He addressed this appeal particularly to women, because of their role as educators in society. He was sure that women could use their mobilising capacity to boost the number of voters who make their way to voter registration posts.
Voter registration begins on 15 April and ends on 30 May. Initially, it was scheduled to begin on 1 April, but the government announced a delay of a fortnight because of the impact of the cyclone on the central provinces.
But even with the delay, it is not yet clear whether the registration brigades can reach all localities, particularly in the worst-hit province, Sofala. The damage done to communications is such that there are still some areas that can only be reached by air.
Normally voter registration takes place in classrooms. But with over 3,300 classrooms damaged or destroyed by the cyclone, many registration brigades will have to operate in the open, probably in tents.
The vaccination campaign against cholera in the central province of Sofala has reached almost 70 per cent of its target of 884,000. According to the latest figures released by the Health Ministry, as of 7 April, 593,019 people over the age of one had been vaccinated. The majority of these (348,872) were in the city of Beira.
In Nhamatanda district 102,354 people were vaccinated, in Dondo 109,686, and in Buzi 32,107. The week-long campaign began on 3 April in Beira, and on 4 April in the other three districts.
The number of cholera cases, between 27 March and 7 April was 3,161. The great majority of these cases - 2,434 - were diagnosed in Beira. There were 346 cases in Nhamatanda, 315 in Dondo and 66 in Buzi. The death toll from the outbreak is just six so far – three in Beira, two in Dondo and one in Nhamatanda.
Most of the cholera patients were treated quickly and sent home, with only 91 people remaining in the cholera treatment units.
Cyclone Idai, which struck central Mozambique on 14 March, has caused major damage to the region’s fisheries, according to Carlos Sendela, the Sofala provincial director of fisheries, cited in the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
A count of losses along the Sofala coast shows that the cyclone destroyed or damaged at least 2,037 fishing boats. These were mostly artisanal boats, but some industrial and semi-industrial vessels were also affected.
Sendela said that 2,067 artisanal fishermen were directly affected, suffering losses of over a billion meticais (about US$15.7 million).
A preliminary estimate of total losses for the sector in Sofala is much higher, at 333.5 billion meticais. This includes damage to a variety of buildings, including warehouses, workshops and fisheries processing facilities.
The Beira fishing port, which was rehabilitated only last year, suffered losses put at eight million meticais, and the five fish markets in Beira were damaged including their cold storage and ice-making equipment.
Two units producing fingerlings and feed for aquaculture were destroyed. 53 aquaculture tanks were damaged, causing losses to 104 fish farmers. 14 fisheries extensionists in Sofala have lost their homes, making it very difficult for them to carry out their professional duties.
“The losses are very great”, said Sendela, “and so right now a ministerial mission is on the ground, including consultants from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), making an exhaustive survey”.
He warned of a shortage of fisheries produce in Sofala this year. The cyclone damage would make it very difficult for the 23 industrial and 14 semi-industrial fishing companies based in Beira to meet their production target of 73,000 tonnes.
This will have an impact on Mozambique’s fisheries exports, notably of prawns to Europe (particularly, Spain, France and Portugal), and of tuna to the US and various Asian and African markets.
The closed season for fisheries ended on 1 April, but many fishermen and fishing companies are unable to put out to sea because of the damage to their equipment.
Mozambique’s publicly owned electricity company, EDM, on 5 April renewed its contract to sell power to the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC). The contract is for a year, renewable. EDM will earn US$7.2 million through the supply of 35 megawatts, which is 20 per cent of Lesotho’s total electricity consumption.
Announcing the agreement in Maputo, the EDM chairperson, Ali Sicola, pointed out that Mozambique, through EDM, has had a contract to sell power to Lesotho since 2008.
At the signing ceremony, the chairperson of LEC, Victor Ketso, also stressed the importance of the contract. “Reliable supply of electricity is indissociably linked to the economic development of our countries”, he said. “The agreement strengthens the existing friendship between the peoples of Lesotho and of Mozambique”, he added. “Let us all collaborate in various fields of mutual interest, in order to improve the lives of the people we serve”.
The African Development Bank (ADB) has promised US$100 million to reconstruct those areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi that were devastated by cyclone Idai in March. The pledge was made in Maputo on 4 April by the ADB Vice President Mateus Magala, shortly after a meeting with President Filipe Nyusi.
Magala said the money will mainly go to Mozambique since it was the most severely affected. “We shall be ready to march forward together until we see that lives have been re-established and normality restored”, said Magala. “We have made US$1.7 million available for immediate, emergency support. But as I said, we are looking to the future. From this perspective, we are mobilising support for reconstruction, and we have raised about US$100 million. We want to participate on a large scale”.
Magala added that the ADB intends to work with the Mozambican government to bring sustainable solutions, “creating more resilience and restoring normal life and the economic activities of the country”.
The Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, on 4 April met with representatives of several cooperation partners to harmonise terms of reference for the Post-Disaster Recovery Programme (PREPOC) approved by the government on the previous day.
Attending the meeting were representatives of the World Bank, the African Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations and the European Union. In addition to the physical aspects of reconstruction, the meeting was also concerned about how PREPOC will be paid for.
Machatine said a reconstruction office is being set up, which will have all information on the cyclone damage, the budgetary impact of the disaster, and the recovery strategy. “We intend this office to be the body that will promote the international donors’ conference that will be held in Beira”.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the meeting, the European Union ambassador, Antonio Gaspar, said it was still too early to know how much reconstruction would cost in the cyclone-affected areas. He added that a team of international experts are currently on the ground in the central provinces surveying the damaged infrastructures.
Funding reconstruction could take many forms, but the money would certainly mostly come in the form of grants. “The government has many partners, and each has its own mechanisms, rules and procedures”, said Gaspar, “but I think there is a willingness not only to add to current programmes but also to adapt, reprogramme the projects underway so that they are reoriented towards the most affected areas”.
At the meeting, the chairperson of the government’s Road Fund, Angelo Macuacua, said the reconstruction plan will include road works already underway – but the contracts might well have to be renewed since they were signed with the various contractors before the cyclone. “This will require an additional financial effort”, said Macuacua, “since we are talking about an event that was outside of our initial forecasts when the costs of these jobs were determined”. Road repairs could not wait, he urged, and a speedy response was needed immediately.
The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 4 April altered the electoral legislation to cut the period for presenting candidates for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 15 October from 120 to 75 days. The reason given was the postponement of voter registration. Under the original timetable, registration should have begun on 1 April and ended on 15 May. But the devastation in the central provinces of Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia, caused by cyclone Idai, was such that the government decided to postpone the registration by a fortnight. It will now run from 15 April to 30 May.
The proposal was adopted by consensus among the three parties represented in the Assembly – the ruling Frelimo Party, Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
The period granted to the National Elections Commission (CNE) to announce the distribution of seats among the provincial constituencies has been reduced from 180 to 105 days.
The amended legislation also makes it easier for parties or candidates to protest against alleged irregularities or fraud. Parties can appeal to district courts without proving that they made any “prior objection” at the polling station. It was the demand for proof of “prior objection” that sank most of the appeals against irregularities in last year’s municipal elections. The district courts threw out appeals when parties could not show that they had protested against irregularities at the polling stations. This was often because dishonest polling station staff refused to accept appeals, although this was part of their responsibilities.
This change brings the law on presidential and parliamentary elections into line with the law on electing provincial assemblies, where the demand for “prior objection” had already been dropped. On the basis of these amendments, all appeals will be heard first by a district or city court. Parties or candidates can appeal against the court decision to the Constitutional Council.
A further change is that party election agents can no longer be excluded from any stage of the vote counting and tabulation. One of the scandals of the municipal elections was that some meetings during the count were held without the knowledge of agents of the opposition parties – and so were unable to protest at irregularities in good time.
Altering this anomaly took a one-word change in the law. Previously the law said party agents “may” (“podem”, in Portuguese) attend the district count. That has been changed to the much stronger “should” (the Portuguese word “devem”) attend the count.
Discretion in distributing results sheets (“editais”) from the count has now been abolished. The amendments say that all election agents, polling station staff, observers and journalists are entitled to copies of the editais.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the CNE, Abdul Carimo, has expressed concern at the conditions facing voter registration brigades, despite the 15-day postponement. Cited in the newssheet “Mediafax”, he admitted that the conditions “are difficult”. Many of the places where registration brigades were placed for past elections (mostly schools) were destroyed by the cyclone or are still under water. Some people displaced by the disaster have returned to their home areas, but many have not, and are still in government accommodation centres.
President Filipe Nyusi on 28 March inaugurated the first radiotherapy unit in the country’s history. The new unit is in the Oncology Department of Maputo Central Hospital (HCM). It cost about US$17 million, disbursed from the Mozambican state budget, which covered the costs of construction over a five-year period (2014-2019), the purchase of equipment, and the training of specialist staff. The unit is expected to treat 300 patients a year.
President Nyusi said the new unit will complement the integrated package of care offered to cancer sufferers. It would also reduce costs since it will no longer be necessary to send Mozambicans abroad to receive radiotherapy.
For example, in the three-year period 2016/18, 251 patients suffering from various forms of cancer left Mozambique in search of care abroad, in countries such as South Africa, India and Portugal, which cost US$4.8 million, or an average of US$20,000 a patient.
The new service should not be seen in isolation, stressed the President. It was part of the government’s strategy to strengthen and modernise the health service and flowed from work to identify needs and define priorities.
The director of the HCM, Mouzinho Saide, put the number of known cancer cases in Mozambique in 2018 at 25,600, which led to the death of 17,800 patients. This situation had led the government to increase services to prevent and screen for cancer and to treat it.
HCM registered 3,600 new cases of cancer in 2017/18, said Saide. The most frequent cancer diagnosed was cervical cancer, accounting for 33 per cent of cases, followed by breast cancer, prostate cancer and Kaposi’s sarcoma (a cancer that causes skin lesions, and which is usually found among people suffering from HIV).
The World Bank has approved a grant of US$82 million to Mozambique, to increase access to electricity in the northern provinces of Niassa, Nampula and Cabo Delgado, and Zambezia and Sofala in the centre of the country. This project is also supported through a US$66 million Multi-Donor Trust Fund administered by the World Bank. This financing will benefit about 1.5 million people and help with the implementation of the Mozambican government’s Energy for All project, also known as ProEnergia.
“The nexus between poverty and lack of electricity has long been established,” said Mark Lundell, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique. “This project is part of our multipronged approach to poverty reduction by expanding energy access in Mozambique.”
The project will contribute to the government’s National Electrification Strategy by broadening electricity access to peri-urban and rural areas, expanding existing grid networks and promoting the use of off-grid energy solutions in those areas where the grid extension is considered economically unfeasible.
While the existing grid reaches at least the district capitals in all 154 districts in the country, many households and businesses are not yet connected. This project will use existing infrastructure to build additional distribution networks and connect new users; it will also pilot a new business model to promote the development for off-grid energy solutions.
A Mozambican entrepreneur, Dayn Amade, has successfully registered the design of his Community Tablet vehicle with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office. This will protect his design from imitation for up to 25 years and makes taking legal action against infringement of copyright more straightforward.
The Community Tablet is a trailer containing solar-powered computer equipment with touchscreen displays. Its design means that it can be pulled by a 4x4 vehicle, a tractor, or can even be animal-drawn to get it into very remote areas. It consists of a powerful sound system, one giant high-resolution screen and five further touchscreens.
The trailer began operation in Mozambique in 2016 and since then Amade’s company Kamaleon has promoted digital literacy training and internet access. It has also been involved in delivering health and voter education campaigns to remote locations in partnership with Population Services International, the National Elections Commission (CNE), and the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE).
In the run-up to gaining official recognition from the patent office, Amade received mentoring and support from the Duke of York through his pitch@palace scheme. This led to further assistance from the British High Commission in Maputo and access to influential business people.
Commenting on Amade’s development as an international entrepreneur, the Mozambican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Filipe Chidumo, told AIM, “it is very gratifying to see this talented young Mozambican entrepreneur receive such high-level mentoring and business support. His mobile Community Tablet has great potential and the recognition by the patent office here in London means that his invention will be protected. I am sure this achievement will encourage other Mozambican young entrepreneurs to reach higher levels of excellence in their work”.
The potential for the Community Tablet is huge, with less than ten per cent of the African continent having access to the internet. In Mozambique alone, it is estimated that 24 million people are without an internet connection.
President Filipe Nyusi on 29 March inaugurated the road linking the districts of Mocuba and Milange, in the central province of Zambezia. Budgeted at €150 million, 93.6 per cent of the funding came from the European Union and the rest from the Mozambican government.
The road will directly benefit about 1.5 million people. The first phase of the road, from Mocuba to Alto Benfica, covers 80 kilometres and was completed five years ago. President Nyusi inaugurated the second stage, the 110 kilometres from Alto Benfica to Milange.
With the conclusion of the work, a 350 kilometres corridor has been created from Malawi to Quelimane.
On the same day, the Mocuba solar power station, capable of generating 40 megawatts, began operating, and President Nyusi launched a project to speed up domestic electricity connections in Zambezia, which is the province with the lowest percentage of homes electrified.
President Nyusi also inaugurated the electrification of Mulevala district. Mulevala is the last of Mozambique’s 154 districts to be electrified. The medium voltage line carrying power to Mulevala runs for 113 kilometres and cost about 170 million meticais (US$2.7 million).
The fate of Mozambique’s former finance minister, Manuel Chang, now lies in the hands of the South African Minister of Justice, Michael Mashuta, following the decision on 8 April by the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court in Johannesburg that Chang can be legally extradited either to the United States or to Mozambique. Judge William Schutte concluded that Chang can be extradited to the US, where he faces charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and securities fraud.
This arises from Chang’s role in granting state guarantees for the loans of over two billion dollars obtained in 2013 and 2014 by three fraudulent Mozambican companies, Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambican Tuna Company) and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia.
Because American corresponding banks were used in paying the bribes and kickbacks involved in these deals, and because some of the debt was sold on (in the case of the Ematum bonds, for example) to US investors, the US claims the crimes were committed within its jurisdiction.
Schutte found there was evidence that Chang had committed the crimes as claimed in the US indictment, and hence the request for extradition met all the requirements of South African law.
Schutte also found there is sufficient evidence of the crimes of which Chang has been charged by the Mozambican Attorney-General’s Office (PGR), including corruption, abuse of office and money laundering. The PGR document said there is evidence that Chang took bribes of US$17 million, considerably more than the US$12 million claimed in the US indictment.
Schutte found the Mozambican documentation complete, and in line with the requirements of the protocol on extradition of SADC (Southern African Development Community). Under South African law, he can, therefore, be extradited either to the US or to Mozambique.
The decision as to which country receives Chang is now in the hands of Justice Minister Michael Mashuta.
email: Mozambique News Agency