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Mozambique: Recent Documents, 2
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Mozambique: Recent Documents, 2
Date Distributed (ymd): 951206
MOZAMBIQUE PEACE PROCESS BULLETIN
Excerpts from Issue 16 - December 1995
Edited by Joseph Hanlon. Published by AWEPA, the European
Parliamentarians for Southern Africa, Prins Hendrikkade 48,
1012 AC Amsterdam, Netherlands. Tel: (31) 20 626 66 39; Fax:
(31) 20 622 01 30; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Material may
be freely reprinted.
The following are excerpts from a much longer document, with
some sections rearranged for greater readability. For a
complete copy by e-mail (50K+ total), contact
email@example.com. For the printed version contact AWEPA at
the address above. The AWEPA office in Maputo is moving to:
Rua Licenciado Coutinho 77 (CP 2648) e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel +258 (1) 41 86 03 Fax +258 (1) 41 86
(continued from part 1)
Excerpts on Parliament:
HOME OF CONSENSUS
In sharp contrast to the tensions between the parties
outside and the sharp disputes that marked the first
parliamentary session last December, consensus is now the
word inside parliament. Cooperation is close between parties
and between MPs. Few issues actually come to a vote; both
sides have withdrawn bills which would otherwise have been
defeated. The standing committees largely work by consensus.
This has led to divisions and some tensions between the two
parliamentary parties and their respective non-parliamentary
leaderships. One Frelimo MP complained that the government
still thinks in a one-party way and can simply tell Frelimo
MPs what to do, while the MPs themselves are now thinking in
a multi-party way. "We are changing because we work with
Renamo and influence each other," the MP commented.
Helder Muteia, the Frelimo chair of the Agriculture and
Regional Development Committee, said: "We are not just
legislators; we have to monitor the government and keep a
critical distance from it. We want to be constructive
critics and the government must react to comment from
Under the new standing orders, the government comes to
parliament to answer questions three times in each session.
Frelimo's first questions to its own government were
pointed, raising issues which were the subject of widespread
public discussion: privatisation and who benefits, the
soaring cost of living, criminality and drugs, IMF
negotiations, and education (especially corruption). As
Savana's headline said: "This week, MPs remembered the
Frelimo decentralised the drafting of its questions. Each of
the 11 provincial groups of Frelimo MPs meets weekly during
the session, and each group was told to draft a question.
The heads of the 11 groups then met to combine the different
questions into a shorter set.
MPs showed themselves not quite aware of how to use the
question system, however. Neither Renamo nor the UD
submitted their questions in time, and Renamo's two
"questions" were actually statements.
The government was only prepared to answer the last two of
the Frelimo questions at its first questions time. But the
education replies provoked such a lengthy debate - 40 MPs
asked to speak and there was extensive criticism of the
education system by Renamo - that there was no time for
Finance Minister Tomas Salomao to answer the IMF question.
RAISING HOT ISSUES
Privatisations and agricultural marketing are two of the hot
issues discussed by committees. The Economic Activities
Committee has been openly critical of the privatisation
programme, warning that there has been "a lack of
transparency", there has been a failure to give preference
to Mozambicans, workers are not always being given the 20%
share they should get, and in some cases people who have won
the bidding for companies have not kept the companies
running and have even "turned factories into warehouses".
Committee chair Francisco has taken a particular interest in
the Beira corridor and its railway and port, which he says
shows that state companies can be profitable - "they prove
that you don't need to privatise to end inefficiency and
make a profit."
The Committee also warns of the "danger of the extinction of
the national textile industry."
Both the Economic Activities and Agriculture committees have
looked at agricultural marketing and warned that the
(IMF-imposed) credit squeeze means that traders are unable
to buy peasant produced maize and oher products. The
Agriculture Committee warns that traders are paying peasants
less than the official minimum price for maize. It also
calls for a new agricultural finance system.
Excerpts on Donor Politics:
OPPOSITION TO IMF
Donor representatives in Maputo issued an unprecedented
statement attacking IMF policies.
The issue came to a head during the visit of an
International Monetary Fund official, Sergio Leite. During a
23 September televised press conference, Leite took the
unusual step of publicly criticising a 37.5% increase in the
minimum wage that had just been agreed in three-way talks
between government, industry and labour. Although only half
the rate of inflation and leading to a minimum wage of less
than US$ 1 per day, Leite called the increase "excessive"
and said it was being given too soon. He repeated his view
during a 26 September meeting with donors, which was
reported in detail the following day in the independent
Leite told donors that Mozambique had made "great efforts",
including cutting government spending even more than
planned, and had satisfied most of the conditions imposed by
the IMF. Nevertheless, inflation was still rising too
rapidly, and this required further cuts in credit and
spending; thus he opposed the rise in the minimum wage.
Further, Leite warned that the IMF might be forced to
declare Mozambique "off-track", which would have had
automatic and disastrous consequences. Some aid would stop
automatically, and Mozambique would not be allowed to
negotiate further debt reductions later this year. Finance
Minister Tomas Salomao was summoned to Washington for
This caused widespread concern among donors in Maputo,
leading to a statement issued on 6 October and sent to the
IMF and World Bank, as well as to the government. The
statement said "the donor community is impressed with the
commitment made by the new government's economic team to
implement an ambitious reform agenda. A disruption in
financial support could jeopardize further progress." It
also appealed, in technical language, for the programme not
to be declared off-track.
And in an unusually open criticism of IMF policy, it
continued: "While we endorse the demand management approach
of the IMF and the government to combat inflation, we are
deeply concerned about the lack of a supply response in the
Mozambican economy." Decoded, this means: making the world's
poorest country even poorer in order to reduce demand will
not rebuild a war-torn economy; something must also be done
to increase production.
In the end, the statement was signed by only five donor
ambassadors or representatives in Maputo, but they were key
ones: United States, European Union, United Nations,
Netherlands, and Switzerland. Nordic donors helped draft the
statement, but were stopped from signing at the last minute
by their capitals, who felt statements about the IMF should
not come from ambassadors in Maputo; privately, however,
they made clear their continued support for the statement.
One donor said: "inflation cannot be fought simply by
monetary and fiscal measures - by controlling the money
supply and government spending - as the IMF believes. The
IMF doesn't understand the Mozambican economy; it is using
the wrong model."
The statement worked. Soon after it was released, the
government confirmed the increase in the minimum wage. The
IMF did not declare Mozambique off-track, and Salomao later
said this was partly due to the donor statement.
But the price was high. The donor statement specifically
called on government to "increase budgetary allocations to
education and health" but Salomao was forced to promise the
IMF further cuts in health and education spending.
Mozambique must also cut back on donor-funded rebuilding of
war damaged infrastructure, such as roads, because this
spending is considered by the IMF to be inflationary. And
government must put aside money to pay debts to Russia, even
though there is no repayment agreement with Russia and no
demand for payment.
The IMF made no concessions on the supply side. Donors
expect to press this when the IMF team returns to Maputo in
"In contrast to what we would like to believe, the rulers of
Africa are not the various African states. ... The rulers of
Africa and of Mozambique are the World Bank and Internatioal
Monetary Fund. ... Their programme is to integrate Africa
into a system of economic neo-colonialism which takes no
account of the needs of people. What counts is the free
market; its god is money." Nova Vida (November 1995),
published by the Mozambican Catholic Church
"The IMF is not a development agency, it is an audit agency.
You cannot leave development to the auditors. Development is
much more complex - you need a vision." Abdul Magid Osman,
former Finance Minister
The World Bank-convened donor Consultative Group (CG)
meeting in Paris which normally occurs in December has still
not been scheduled. The 1994 meeting had been delayed until
14-15 March 1995, because of the elections. Now the 1995
meeting will be delayed until March 1996 or even later.
The more supportive donors see this as helpful to the
government - it has enough donor funds committed until
mid-1996, and this will allow government more space to meet
the targets it committed itself to in March.
They also want to allow government to present a budget to
parliament at this session, before it is given to donors at
the CG; although they admit government will still need to
negotiate the budget with donors before going to parliament,
some donors feel that democratisation requires that
parliament be allowed at least a token say in the budget.
Donors now accept that they forced government to commit
itself to an over-ambitious programme at the March 1995 CG.
The 6 October donor statement also called for the government
"to focus its resources on a few key areas which, taken
together, will enhance the chances for economic recovery."
There must be defined "a more limited set of priorities
within the existing policy ramework."
The statement went on to identify for government the four
economic priority areas on which expected action is demanded
before the CG: "+ tax and custom reform, + financial sector
reform, + private sector development, and + combating
Roberto Chavez, the World Bank representative in Mozambique,
in a Domingo (5 November) interview, said that in all four
areas "things are moving very well."
Democratisation and decentralisation will be the non-
economic priority areas for the CG.
(end of excerpts from Peace Process Bulletin)
Additional note: As the following news item from the
Mozambique Information Agency indicates, Bulletin editor
Joseph Hanlon has long been a critic of the impact of AID in
Mozambique, and during the peace process the Bulletin on
occasion expressed strong criticism of positions taken by
U.S. Ambassador Dennis Jett.
US EMBASSY BANS US JOURNALIST Maputo, 6 Nov (AIM) - The
United States embassy in Maputo has put a blanket ban on any
of its staff talking to US journalist and writer on
Mozambique, Joseph Hanlon. Hanlon was the BBC correspondent
in Maputo in the early 1980s. He has written several books
on Mozambique, including +The Revolution under fire+, and a
devastating exposure of the aid industry entitled
+Mozambique: Who Calls the Shots?+. In recent years he has
covered in detail implementation of the 1992 peace accord
between the government and the Renamo rebels. He has edited
the +Peace Process Bulletin+, put out by AWEPA (Association
of European Parliamentarians for Southern Africa). These
credentials make Hanlon the best informed US journalist on
Mozambique. But apparently the US embassy does not like his
unashamedly left-wing politics. Arriving for one of his
regular visits to Maputo, Hanlon requested, as he has done
many times in the past, interviews with US embassy staff.
But press attache Adrienne O'Neal told him that nobody had
any time to talk to him. +I informed her that the embassy
has been talking to me for the past 15 years+, Hanlon told
AIM. +So I asked her to go back to a higher authority+.
On 25 October Hanlon spoke to O'Neal again. She told him: +I
have talked to people here in the embassy and explained your
concern and they say that nobody in the US embassy or at
USAID will have time to talk to you+.
When Hanlon asked why this ban had been slapped on him,
O'Neal said she did not have to give any reasons. She did
however add +There is a history to this+ - which might
indicate that somebody in the embassy has taken a dislike to
something Hanlon has written. Not O'Neal herself, though -
she claimed never to have read the +Peace Process Bulletin+
or any of Hanlon's books. Hanlon is puzzled by the ban. He
never had any problem in speaking to US officials during the
pacification and election periods, even though what he wrote
was frequently critical of US policy towards Mozambique.
+It's a bit absurd that the US embassy is prepared to ban
all of its staff from speaking to the person who must be the
most prominent US writer on Mozambique+, Hanlon told AIM.
+Had the Mozambican government done this to me, the American
embassy would have raised hell, and claimed that freedom of
the press was under threat+, he pointed out. +For a country
that supposedly believes in freedom of information, the
embassy's position is grotesque+, added Hanlon.
Hanlon could not imagine what had provoked the ban - but the
last substantial article of his that appeared in the
Mozambican press (in the independent newsheet +Mediafax+)
concerned corruption in the United States. Hanlon pointed
out that corruption, far from being a third world
phenomenon, was endemic in the United States, and made the
tongue-in-cheek suggestion that USAID should send experts to
teach Mozambicans how to organise and regulate corruption.
+Perhaps Mozambicans aren't supposed to know that there is
corruption in the United States+, remarked Hanlon. Although
he is a US citizen, Hanlon prefers to live in Britain where
he has permanent resident status. +I really do find Britain
a freer country than the US+, he said. It will be
interesting to see whether the embassy's flagrant denial of
freedom of information will figure in the next US State
Department's report on human rights in Mozambique. (AIM)
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