Mozambique - Natural Disasters - Floods

Situation Report
Originally published
Harare - At least 150 people have died in the flooding in central and southern Mozambique, and dozens of others are missing, Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi told the country's parliament.

Briefing the Assembly on the floods, he said that a definitive death toll could only be given once the waters had subsided, communications could be re-established and it would be possible "to assess with greater precision the number of lives lost in this present disaster". Mocumbi said that the number of people directly affected by the floods has risen to 900,000, of whom over 300,000 have been displaced from their homes.

The economic losses were enormous. Mocumbi said that over 100,000 hectares of crops have been washed away, and over 40,000 head of cattle have drowned. The irrigation systems at the towns of Chokwe and Sabie have been destroyed, as have protective dikes at Buzi, Chokwe and Xai-Xai. The Maputo-Zimbabwe railway is severely damaged, as are many roads, electricity transmission lines, and water supply and sanitation systems. From: Mocumbi briefs Assembly on floods / AIM / 1 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/02 - Mz Mozambique - Natural Disasters - Floods

Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano lamented the slow arrival of international aid to assist the victims of catastrophic flooding in the south and centre of the country. Shortly before a visit to the flood areas in Inhambane and Sofala provinces, Chissano told reporters "aid from the international community is arriving very slowly". Asked whether he was disappointed, Chissano said, "He who asks for aid cannot be disappointed. What we are doing is asking for aid. We can't do anything about it, it's a question of aid. But we need more helicopters and boats".

When Chissano was speaking, 13 helicopters were available, nine from South Africa, two from Malawi, one from France, and one from the Mozambican airforce. Late in the day came a promise of five more helicopters from Britain. Chissano also expressed concern at the shortage of tents to accommodate people rescued from the floods, and of food and clean water to give them. From: Chissano laments slow arrival of aid / AIM / 2 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/02 - Mz Mozambique - Legislation - Judiciary Year

Mozambique's Supreme Court admitted that the country's judicial system is encumbered with serious errors of criminal investigation. Speaking at the opening of the Judicial Year, the president of the Supreme Court, Mario Mangaze, said that the factors that are to blame are either technical incompetence or negligence practised by some staff of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) and the magistracy.

Mangaze added that, what was particularly difficult to justify was that "every time criminal procedures are initiated the same errors and irregularities are committed, be it by the Criminal Investigation Police, be it by the magistrates, and at times by the same people". As for the current year, Mangaze said that the Judicial

Council wants to see a harmonious development of all sectors. This implied a close coordination with various other state bodies. For the correct functioning of the sector, the government should provide material and financial assistance, he said. He added that the initiative, started in 1999, aimed at creating a Judicial Training Centre in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, should be pursued. From: Judiciary acknowledges errors / AIM / 2 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/03 - Mz Mozambique - Natural Disasters - Regional Cooperation Four member countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) are meeting in Pretoria to seek a regional response to the disastrous flooding that has hit the region. Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao heads the Mozambican delegation. The other countries attending are South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The original announcement of the event came from the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan. "We are in a very close cooperation with them", Annan told reporters in New York. He added that he has been in contact with several heads of state and government to mobilise aid for Mozambican flood victims. The number of people in need of emergency aid, particularly transport, fuel, medicines and tents, continues to grow in southern and central Mozambique. From: SADC Countries meet on floods / AIM / 3 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/04 - Mz Mozambique - Natural Disasters - Transports And Communication

The publicly-owned Mozambican Ports and Railway company (CFM) is incurring losses estimated at US$50,000 a day, because of the paralysis of the rail system in the south of the country, that has been heavily damaged by the current floods. The chairman of the CFM board of directors, Rui Fonseca, told a press conference in Maputo, that the most critical situation is on the Limpopo line, which links Maputo to Zimbabwe. He said that about four kilometres of this line have been submerged and a further four stretches of track are hanging over huge craters opened by the floodwaters.

The other two international lines in the south, linking Maputo to Swaziland, and to South Africa, also have some stretches of track either dangling over craters or buried under mudslides. Fonseca explained that more substantial rehabilitation would cost much more. He said that, under normal circumstances, the repair of one kilometre of a rail line should cost between US$300,000 and US$400,000. From: Floods cost CFM 50,000 dollars a day / AIM / 4 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/05 - Mz Mozambique - Natural Disasters - Landmine

Much of the mine clearance work done since the end of the war of destabilisation in Mozambique has been annulled by the floods that hit the southern and the central regions of the country in February. The Mozambican Campaign Against Land Mines (CMCM) believes that the strong power of the flood waters may have moved landmines from those areas that were known and demarcated as planted with those explosives, and even into some of those that had already been cleared.

"Now nobody can tell for sure that even the areas previously declared as free of land mines still are free", said Alberto Manhique, CMCM chairperson. Thus, he pointed out that, after the end of the floods, civic education and warnings against land mines should be renewed. Manhique acknowledged the contributions made by various NGOs operating in the country, towards mine clearance, and encouraged them to redouble their efforts in civic education, particularly during the period after floods. From: Mine clearance efforts annulled by floods / AIM / 5 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/05 - Mz Mozambique - Natural Disasters - Floods

The Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Namanga Ngongi, arrived in Maputo, intending to visit the flood-ravaged areas of southern and central Mozambique. According to a WFP press release he made conversations with Mozambican civil servants and humanitarian organisations involved in rescue operations.

The release adds that the WFP is currently providing food for 240,000 victims, and has also been footing part of the bill for the rescue operations carried out by the South African Air Force. Meanwhile, about 240 accommodation centres have been set up in Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Manica and Sofala provinces. These centres currently house about 430,000 people. From: WFP executive in Maputo / AIM / 5 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/07 - Mz Mozambique - Economic Conditions - Economic Policy

The World Bank has decided to grant Mozambique a one year moratorium on its foreign debt service, which means that the country will have a year in which it is free of its obligation to service its debts to the banks' soft loans affiliate, the International Development Association (IDA).

Thus US$2.5 million had already been approved for an emergency programme for the reconstruction of roads, and an additional US$15 million is to be speedily disbursed. This is money left over from the ROCS (Roads and Coastal Shipping) programme. Citing a press release from the World Bank, the source says that a team from that institution is to arrive in Maputo shortly to prepare "sector action plans", and an emergency credit, aimed at keeping the economic programme on its feet.

The IMF representative in Maputo, Arnim Schwidrowski, stressed, however, that this matter is yet to be decided by the IMF board. The note adds that "the directors are also considering the period for disbursing the funds agreed upon with the institution, in the context of HIPC, so that, combined with the maximum possible relief within the enhanced HIPC, there would be very little, or even nothing, to be paid by Mozambique in terms of debt service to IMF for about a year". From: One year moratorium on debt service / AIM / 7 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/10 - Mz Mozambique - Economic Policy - Energy

The company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam in the western Mozambican province of Tete, HCB, is pressing the Zimbabwean Electricity Supply Association (ZESA) to pay its debt of about US$30 million. This debt is owed for HCB power supplied to ZESA over a period of ten months, according to an HCB press release. "We know that Zimbabwe is going through serious financial problems, but the truth is that the situation of the debt is becoming unsustainable", said Veigas Anjos, the chairperson of the HCB management board, quoted in the release.

The release points out that "the ZESA debt to HCB is an extremely serious situation for Mozambique, particularly at this moment, since it deprives the country of the entry of foreign exchange from its major exporters, foreign exchange which is so necessary for national reconstruction". From HCB presses Zimbabwe to pay electricity bill / AIM / 10 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/11 - Mz Mozambique - Natural Disasters - Regional Cooperation

Five Southern African Development Community health ministers agreed to formulate an interim strategy for managing the current crisis caused by the flooding in the region. Speaking at a Maputo press conference, South African Health Minister Manto Tshabala-Msimang said that the strategy will be formulated by an interim committee established to develop procedures and guidelines on disaster management. The team would comprise health experts from the five countries, namely Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

In the short term the team would monitor the current disaster by collecting and sharing the already existing information on the number of people who are still displaced, number of people needing shelter, number of people without access to clean water, safe sanitation and incidence of priority diseases - malaria, diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, meningitis and respiratory diseases - as well as other health related information. The ministers put the number of those displaced in four of the countries more affected by the flooding in excess of 10 million. It was agreed that Mozambique was the most affected country. From: SADC health ministers on flood crisis / AIM / 11 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/14 - Mz Mozambique - Regional Cooperation - Floods

An extraordinary summit of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) convened in Maputo to analyse, among other things, the effects of the flooding and cyclone "Eline" cyclone that hit the region in general, and Mozambique in particular, in February. A press release from the Mozambican Foreign Ministry, said that the meeting is to "adopt additional measures in support of the affected people and discuss more effective ways of regional cooperation to face the natural disasters that hit the region". The document adds that the meeting also "aims to express the region's solidarity with the Mozambican people and government following the disaster situation". From: SADC extraordinary summit in Maputo / AIM / 14 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/15 - Mz Mozambique - International Cooperation - Health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has granted US$50,000 to the Mozambican Health Ministry for the programmes against malaria and cholera in the areas affected by flooding in the south and centre of the country. According to a WHO press release, the plan is for the next three months and its total cost is estimated at about US$177,000. The document says that the main objective of the programme is to help improve the quality of the health services rendered to the people in accommodation centres and in residential areas in Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane provinces in southern Mozambique, and Sofala and Manica in the centre of the country, all areas affected by the floods. From: WHO grant for malaria and cholera programmes / AIM / 15 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/15 - Mz Mozambique - Government - Mozambican

Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi presented the country's parliament with the government's programme for the five year period 2000-2004, the major target of which is to reduce levels of absolute poverty by at least 30 percent. Mocumbi said the programme also aims at continued rapid economic growth, building on the successes of the previous five years. The state budget and the Economic and Social Plan for 2000 must be written to take account of the floods.

The Prime Minister stressed that the five year programme is aimed at satisfying the majority of the population: that meant targeting the programme at the poor, at the countryside, at women, and at the young, all of whom, in one way or another, formed a majority. The continued expansion of primary education, it adds, "will be complemented by literacy programmes aimed particularly at women and young people of both sexes". Economic development should be aimed at "eradicating poverty, reducing imbalances between the country's regions, and strengthening the national business sector".

In the agro-industrial sector, the government proposes "to guarantee the food security of the population, and to supply raw material to national industry, thus contributing to import substitution, to improving the country's balance of trade and to expanding the national supply of manufactured goods". Mocumbi repeatedly mentioned "sustainable development", which should "rest on the basic resources of the country". The country's ecosystems should be protected, and environmental education promoted. From: Mocumbi presents government programme / AIM / 15 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/16 - Mz Mozambique - Investment - Natural Resources

The United States corporation Enron has announced that it has found five partners to work with it on a proposed factory to manufacture steel slabs in Maputo. MISP (Maputo Iron and Steel Project) seemed in deep trouble last year when Enron's original partner, the South African Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) pulled out.

An Enron press release says that the other 50 percent will now be held by the Swiss steel company Duferco, Kobe Steel of Japan, Midrex of the United States, VAI of Australia and Techint of Italy. The Enron release says that Midrex has technology for smelting iron filings that will be used at MISP, while VAI is "one of the major suppliers and manufacturers of integrated steel equipment in the world". Techint is also a leading manufacturer of steel-making equipment. From: ENRON finds new partners for steel factory / AIM / 16 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/17 - Mz Mozambique - Investment - Industry

An Australian ship, carrying the first 6,300 tonnes of raw material for the production of aluminium, is now moored in the Matola aluminium terminal at Maputo port. Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, David Munro, the director of Billiton, said that the building of the smelter is about 80 percent complete, and the first ingot of aluminium should be cast by the third quarter of the year. This means that the factory will have been built in just 26 months and, according to Munro, it will cost less than the US$1.3 billion estimated initially.

The terminal has three silos to store the raw materials, the largest of which, for alumina, has a capacity for 45,000 tonnes, enough raw material for a month's work. The other two silos can store up to 11,000 tonnes of coke, enough for a three month period. For the building of the terminal, Mozal contributed US$13 million, which CFM is to pay back through the funds generated by the port services rendered to Mozal. From: MOZAL receives first consignment of raw materials / AIM / 17 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/18 - Mz Mozambique - Regional Cooperation - Security

The Mozambican and South African defence ministers, Tobias Dai and Patrick Lekota, signed a protocol on military cooperation between the two countries. The protocol covers logistics and information, and will pave the way for further agreements.

According to Dai, there will be joint training between Mozambican and South African troops, and the two countries will work together in the sphere of military health. The signing came at the end of a two day visit by Lekota to Mozambique, during which the South African minister also visited parts of the southern province of Gaza severely affected by the catastrophic flooding of February. He announced that South African troops and aircraft will remain in Mozambique, assisting the flood victims, until the end of the current emergency. From: Mozambique/South Africa: defence agreement / AIM / 18 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/20 - Mz Mozambique - Education - Strike

Lecturers of the Social Science faculty (UFICS) at Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University embarked on a strike for an indefinite time, to demand there instatement of the faculty's director, and a number of other matters concerning the running of the institution. The lecturers demand that the vice-chancellor, Brazao Mazula, reinstate UFICS director, Terezinha da Silva, because they do not agree with the methods he used. Mazula had appointed silva himself in 1997. One of the lecturers, the first UEM vice-chancellor, Fernando Ganhao, said that the sacking of Silva was not the only reason for the strike.

He said that the lecturers were taking the chance to demand the correction of all the errors in the running of the institution, about which they have been complaining for a long time. The lecturers held a meeting with Mazula at which they tabled a letter demanding "more decentralisation in the functioning of the institution, more autonomy, and a sound and transparent management", said Ganhao. He said, "we demand that work methods be improved", adding, "the situation in the faculty is the result of the poor methods" used by the vice- chancellor. From: University Lecturers On Strike / AIM / 20 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/24 - Mz Mozambique - Natural Disasters - Floods

The Zimbabwean authorities are not allowing vehicles carrying relief aid for the victims of floods in Mozambique to pass through there. The problem concerns the Dacata administrative post in Mossurize district, in the central province of Manica. Dacata cannot be reached directly from the district capital, Espungabera, because of damage done by flooding to bridges. An alternative road to Dacata goes through Zimbabwe, but the Zimbabwean authorities are creating difficulties about its use.

Mossurize district administrator Eduardo Gimo said that the Zimbabwean authorities at the Monte Selinda border post sent back to Espungabera two tractors carrying goods for the flood victims in Dacata. He explained that there are about 900 families in Dacata, whose welfare depends solely on supplies from Espungabera in terms of foodstuffs, seeds and agricultural tools, since their crops were destroyed in the floods. From: Zimbabwe accused of hindering flood relief / AIM / 24 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/25 - Mz Mozambique - International Relations - Great Lakes

The European Union's special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Aldo Ajello, told reporters in Maputo that he regards as "encouraging" the latest developments in the peace negotiations for Burundi. He was speaking after an audience with Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, in which the two men spoke of the political situation in central Africa, and in Burundi in particular.

Ajello, who was United Nations Special Representative in Mozambique during the implementation of the 1992 peace accord, said he had come to Maputo for contacts with Chissano in his capacity as chairman of SADC. He believed that SADC had "a very important contribution to make" to the Burundian negotiations. He also thought that the Mozambican example of pacification could prove very useful for both Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The question of amnesty for offences committed during the war, and the demobilisation of the warring armies, had been solved "in an exemplary fashion" in Mozambique, claimed Ajello. From: Chissano and Ajello discuss Great Lakes / AIM / 25 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/27 - Mz Mozambique - International Cooperation - Floods

The president of the Timorese National Resistance Council (CNRT), Xanana Gusmao, said he was deeply shocked by the trail of devastation left in the wake of the flooding that affected southern and central regions of Mozambique. Speaking to journalists at Maputo airport, after visiting affected regions in Maputo and Gaza provinces, Gusmao said that what he saw was much worse than he had earlier imagined. He had been impressed by the "suffering of homeless and displaced people - especially children and women - now forced to live on humanitarian aid, in barracks and tents without basic conditions in the accommodation centres and by the level of destruction to economic and social infrastructure".

At the accommodation centre in Chihaquelane in Gaza, currently home to 80,000 displaced people, Gusmao announcing the granting of US$50,000 in support of the victims of the flooding. "We're a small people, and very poor, but we can't ignore the suffering of our Mozambican brothers, those who suffer directly from the floods", he said. Chissano, for his part, described the offer as "generous" and said that it would contribute to mitigating the suffering of the affected people. From: Xanana shocked by picture of destruction and suffering / AIM / 27 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/29 - Mz Mozambique - Political Parties - Government

The general secretary of Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, Joao Alexandre, has claimed that negotiations between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo Party are under way over a possible recount of the votes cast in the December general elections. But, Alexandre seemed to recognised that a recount was not a realistic prospect, and added "we are concentrating in the negotiations on two points: the holding of new elections and the formation of a Renamo government in the six provinces where we had electoral victories".

Renamo's concept of a "parallel government" has undergone significant changes since the idea was first mentioned by Dhlakama in February. Alexandre said, "There will not be two governments. The governors and administrators of the six provinces should be chosen by the Renamo-Electoral Union and appointed by Frelimo, but with provincial and district governments". "If these negotiations break down, we shall go ahead and form a parallel government in the six provinces", declared Alexandre. He insisted that Renamo will not recognise the current government, and will not participate in any parliamentary debate in which any member of the government is present. From: Negotiations under way, claims Renamo / AIM / 29 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/29 - Mz Mozambique - Economic Conditions - Economic Policies

The value of the Mozambican currency, the metical, is continuing to fall, despite hopes that it would stabilise at around 15,000 meticais to the US dollar. For a few days in mid-March it seemed to have settled at about that rate. But the slow slide has now resumed: in the legal foreign exchange houses the exchange rate has slipped to 15,600 to the dollar. On the illegal, parallel exchange market the rate goes up to 15,800 to the dollar.

This means that the metical has suffered a 13 percent devaluation since the start of the year. According to the independent newsheet "Metical", the exchange rate on the parallel market on 31 December was 13,900 meticais to the dollar. On the other hand, the devaluation will make Mozambican exports more competitive. It will certainly do something to assist cotton producers, who have been complaining about the low prices they receive. From: Metical still falling / AIM / 29 March 2000

Item No. 00/03/30 - Mz Mozambique - International Cooperation - Germany

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said in Maputo, that his country is committed to strengthening cooperation with Mozambique both at bilateral level and at the level of the European Union.

Speaking during a joint press conference with his Mozambican counterpart, Leonardo Simao, Fischer said that this cooperation will be primarily directed to disaster management, the environment and water supply. Fischer, who is on a two day visit to the country, said that his visit comes at a time when Mozambique is just starting to recover from the damage caused by the floods and cyclone that hit the southern and the central regions as from early February.

For his part, Simao expressed satisfaction with the role played by the German media in publicising the emergency situation that Mozambique is going through. "I cannot speak German but I have seen pictures (on Mozambique) on the local television", said Simao, adding that these pictures "helped stimulate among the German people the will to support Mozambique". From: Germany promises closer cooperation with Mozambique / AIM / 30 March 2000

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