Official Government Wires

Maputo, 21 May (AIM) - Cuban Vice-President Esteban Lazo Hernandez on Monday began a four-day official visit to Mozambique to boost cooperation between the two countries. On his arrival at Maputo International Airport, he was received by Prime Minister Aires Ali.

During his stay he is due to meet Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and the Chairperson of the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Veronica Macamo.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the arrival of the Cuban Vice-President, Mozambican Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze said that the visit seeks to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. 'We will review our bilateral cooperation and other issues that may be of interest to both countries and our citizens', said Banze.

He stressed that both countries have cooperation ties that date back many years, with Havana helping Mozambique mainly in the areas of education and health. "We will focus primarily in these two areas, where Cuba has been supporting us in the training of teachers, doctors and medical staff", said Banze.

Besides bilateral cooperation, both countries are expected to discuss other issues of common interest, particularly the United Nations.

According to Banze, the Mozambican government is also looking forward to expanding the existing cooperation to other areas. 'We have been enhancing our diplomatic ties, and it is possible to extend this relationship to include business", said Henrique Banze.

Later in the day the Cuban Vice President held a formal meeting with Prime Minister Aires Ali, where it was agreed that new areas of interest should be identified.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the meeting, Esteban Lazo Hernandez said his visit is linked to the historic relationship between the two countries which was cemented by the late Mozambican President Samora Machel and former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

'Our visit aims to review this relationship, but also to study, consider and define other areas in which we can establish mutual collaboration', said the Cuban Vice-President, stressing that 'we must multiply this cooperation'.

Prime Minister Ali suggested that Mozambique might send more students to Cuba, where they could be trained in a number of fields.

Ali recalled that in the not too distant past about 3,000 young Mozambican students went to Cuba where they graduated in several fields. Then, cooperation between the two countries was focused on education, teachers training, health and sport.


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Maputo, 21 May (AIM) - The governments of Mozambique and Japan on Monday in Maputo signed an agreement under which Japan is to donate rice worth 360 million yen (about 4.5 million US dollars at the current exchange rate), to be delivered in the first three months of 2013.

The agreement was signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Cerina Mussa, and a representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Kenjo Kashiwake.

The donation will help to cover the shortfall in domestic rice production, currently estimated at 361,000 tonnes per year, which is about 67 per cent of the country's needs.

The distribution of the donation will be made through a public tender in the country's three economic regions (the south, centre and north) and, after the deduction of profit, retailers will channel the remaining revenue to the Treasury.

Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Kenneth Marizane, said that annual domestic consumption of rice is estimated to be about 534,000 tonnes.

The charge d'affairs of the Japanese Embassy in Mozambique, Keiji Hamada, said that his country intends to continue supporting Mozambique's development by cooperating with the government at central and provincial level, seeking to improve the standard of living.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry expects that in the current farming season the country could produce about 190,096 tonnes of rice, a figure well below the country's needs.

In Mozambique rice is mainly grown in the provinces of Maputo, Gaza, Sofala, Zambezia and Cabo Delgado.


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Maputo, 21 May (AIM) - The wave of kidnappings of Asian citizens in Maputo continued on Saturday when the owner of the fruit processing plant Incompal was abducted in the outlying neighbourhood of Machava, in the southern Mozambican province of Maputo.

According to the daily newspaper "O Pais", the abduction took place when the victim, who has only been publically identified by his first name, Ibrahimo, was driving his niece to a Mosque in Machava.

The police and family members have refused to comment on the situation. However, the kidnapping was confirmed by a source in the Police Command for Maputo province.

This is the latest case in a string of kidnappings in Maputo which began last year.

The previous case was reported on 8 February, when the wife of one of the managers of the company Delta Trading was seized.

Giving his annual report earlier this month to the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Attorney-General Augusto Paulino said that between late 2011 and the first quarter of this year 14 people were kidnapped in Maputo city and Maputo province, with demands for ransoms running into millions of dollars.

Paulino lamented that the current Mozambican legislation is inadequate to deal with some of the new forms of crime that have recently emerged, and urged a toughening of the laws on kidnapping.

For Paulino the concept of abduction in the Penal Code and in the law against the trafficking in people is not adequate for dealing with this type of crime.

He recommended revising the laws "in order to deal with the phenomenon with the vehemence and social revulsion that it deserves".

Measures have been taken to investigate the kidnappings, but Paulino did not confirm whether any suspects have been arrested.


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Xinavane (Mozambique), 21 May (AIM) - President Armando Guebuza has called for every Mozambican to work hard so that they can leave a historical legacy through which they will be remembered.

Speaking on Sunday at a rally in the administrative post of Xinavane, Manica district, the President said that whoever does not construct, plant or leave a legacy, will not be remembered after their death.

According to the President, for someone to be remembered they should leave something behind so that people can say after death that he left these children, planted this tree, or built this house.

"Our preoccupation is to end poverty, with everyone giving their best. People should not concern themselves only with living, without leaving behind something that can be seen and remembered. This is why we remember our heroes because of their role in the struggle for our country's independence".

He gave as an example the nearby town of Ilha Josina Machel, named after one of the country's greatest heroes. He continued, "we also remember Eduardo Mondlane, Samora Machel and others because of the legacy that they left".

The President stressed the importance of Mozambicans working together to combat poverty individually and collectively.

President Guebuza highlighted the importance of the District Development Fund (FDD) as well as the sugar company Acucareira de Xinavane, in the creation of new jobs locally.

The FDD is still widely known as "the seven million", because it started life, in 2006, as a transfer from the central state budget of seven million meticais (about 253,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates) to each of the 128 districts. The money was lent to people with viable small projects that could boost food security or create jobs.

However, the President said that these initiatives do not have the capacity to provide work for everyone, so the struggle to make poverty history will continue.

During the rally, local people took the opportunity to complain about the lack of land available for family farms because of fields under sugar cultivation.

Residents also asked for Acucareira de Xinavane to increase workers' salaries, but the President replied that this issue needs to be negotiated between the workers and the employer.

Other requests to the government included calls for the rehabilitation of access roads, the construction of a technical school and an agricultural college, houses to be made available for teachers, improved transport links and the expansion of the electricity network.

This was the last day of the President's "open and inclusive presidency" tour of Maputo province. On Monday he began a working visit to Gaza province, also in southern Mozambique.


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Maputo, 21 May (AIM) - Zimbabwe has promised that by the end of the year it will repay its debt to Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), the company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam in the western Mozambican province of Tete.

According to the Maputo daily newspaper "Noticias", at the end of April Zimbabwe paid 45 million US dollars of the debt.

The financial director of HCB, Max Tonela, confirmed that Zimbabwe has begun to pay off the debt as a condition for the resumption of the supply of electricity, which had been suspended in February.

According to HCB, it is supplying just 25 megawatts (MW) of electricity to Zimbabwe, under a contract signed with ZESA Holdings, the company that produces and transmits electricity in Zimbabwe.

Under the terms of the agreement, ZESA will repay the remaining debt, estimated to be 31 million US dollars, by the end of the year.

Zimbabwe uses 2,200 MW of electricity at peak periods but only has the capacity to generate 1,300 MW. Supplies imported from HCB normally vary between 100 and 185 megawatts.

ZESA blames the failure of its customers to pay their bills for the mounting debt. The Zimbabwean daily newspaper "The Herald" estimates that domestic and commercial consumers owe ZESA 550 million US dollars.

The paper stated that a wave of disconnections had led individuals and companies to begin clearing their debts to ZESA.

According to the paper, the payment to HCB followed pre-payments to ZESA of 35 million US dollars from the platinum mining companies Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki.

Zimbabwe is suffering from rolling power cuts, worsened by problems at Zimbabwe's Hwange coal fired power station and the Kariba hydroelectric power station. The Herald reported that the Zimbabwean government plans to expand these two power stations to add 900 megawatts to the national grid. This would cost 2.5 million US dollars.

Meanwhile, Noticias also reported that HCB is pressing ahead with the project to expand the Cahora Bassa dam's capacity.

It has completed the public consultation process over the building of a new generator plant known as Cahora Bassa North Bank. The consultations were carried out by the Japanese company Nippon Koei and involved running a series of public meetings with communities and affected parties. These were held in the cities of Maputo and Tete.

The current capacity at Cahora Bassa is 2075 MW and the new plant would increase this by 1,250 MW.


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