59612E INSS CHAIRPERSON RESIGNS
Maputo, 15 Jun (AIM) - The Chairperson of Board of Directors of the National Social Security Institute (INSS), Inocencio Matavele, formally resigned on Thursday during a meeting with Labour Minister Helena Taipo.
According to the electronic news sheet "Mediafax" his resignation was prompted by stories circulating in the media accusing Matavele and the Board of gross mismanagement.
Last week it was reported that INSS had spent 100,000 US dollars buying a house in Matola for its executive director, Rogeria Muianga, and another 300,000 dollars on its refurbishment.
INSS was also the target of criticism earlier this year when it was revealed that it planned to spend a million dollars to buy "a decent house" for its chairperson.
Matavele requested the meeting to formally hand in his resignation because the resignation letter he sent to the minister's office on Monday afternoon was unanswered.
It is likely that the letter is yet to reach the Prime Minister, who has to approve Matavele's resignation, because he is currently on a working visit to the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
As for Rogeria Muianga, it is highly likely that she will also resign.
The latest scandal in INSS was triggered when it awarded a 25 million meticais (about 900,000 dollars) contract to the company Ntuzi Investments to supply stationary and information material.
This sum is said to be five times higher than bids from its competitors. This forced the minister to cancel the tender on the grounds that there was a violation of the legal requirements concerning tenders.
However, people close to the tender have argued that all the legal and administrative procedures were followed to the letter, and that there were no grounds for the tender to be cancelled.
In a related development, the Executive Committee of the main trade union federation, OTM, has convened an extraordinary meeting for Monday to discuss the financial scandals at INSS.
This decision was made on Thursday during a meeting of the OTM's leadership, which expressed its concern at what it calls "superfluous spending" and waste of taxpayers' money on perks.
"We are concerned about how workers' money is being spent. We are aware of expenditures on perks and overspending on unnecessary materials, which we condemn", said Boaventura Mondlane, a member of the OTM board.
OTM has a representative on the INSS Board of Directors. However, Mondlane explained that "our member is not involved in financial management".
According to the daily newspaper "O Pais" the Attorney General, Augusto Paulino, has announced that he will appoint a team to investigate the tender and allegations of INSS mismanagement. Paulino has ordered all files relating to INSS to be delivered to the Attorney General's Office.
58612E TAP TO FLY TO MAPUTO FOUR TIMES PER WEEK
Maputo, 15 Jun (AIM) - The Portuguese airline TAP has announced that it intends to fly between Lisbon and Mozambique's capital city Maputo four times per week.
Currently, TAP flies three times a week which is considered to be insufficient to meet the demand.
Yolanda Couto of TAP told the daily newspaper "Noticias" that the number of passengers has recently grown, with the flight occupancy rate averaging 80 per cent.
Speaking on Tuesday at an awards ceremony for the best travel agents, Couto stated that in the future the company might consider flying to Nacala airport in northern Mozambique.
Mozambique's publicly owned airport company, ADM, is planning to extend the existing runway at Nacala so that it can cope with large aircraft such as the Airbus A-340.
Couto also praised the Mozambican Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (AVITUM) for its work in promoting tourism.
At the award ceremony, certificates were received by Cotur, Fly Well and Golden Travel.
57612E FOUR COMPANIES TO BEGIN COAL OPERATIONS
Maputo, 15 Jun (AIM) - Four more coal mining companies will over the next three years commence operations in the central Mozambican province of Tete, increasing to seven the number of multinationals mining in the area.
The companies are Jindal, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), Ncondezi and Minas de Revuboe, and they join Vale, Rio Tino and Minas Moatize who are already coal mining in Moatize.
The Indian company Jindal has a mine in Changara, while ENRC is located in the district of Cahora Bassa. Both Ncondezi and Minas de Revuboe have their mines in Moatize.
Interviewed in the newspaper "Diario de Mocambique", the provincial director of mineral resources, Manuel Sithole, said "the companies are completing the installation of equipment and are preparing to begin production".
There are more than thirty coal mining companies in Tete province carrying out coal surveys, mainly in Moatize, Changara and Cahora Bassa.
According to Sithole, "the surveys are proceeding satisfactorily, as shown by the fact these four companies will soon begin production".
The Mozambican government has already awarded well over 100 coal exploration licences, mostly in Tete province where there are huge proven reserves.
Seven coal basins have already been identified with huge potential in the provinces of Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Tete and Manica.
Over recent years the country has registered massive interest from international mining companies which could turn Mozambique into one of the world's largest coal producers and exporters.
54612E CANADA DONATES 20 MILLION DOLLARS TO REDUCE MORTALITY RATE
Maputo, 15 Jun (AIM) - The Canadian government is to donate 20 million US dollars over a 3 year period to a programme to reduce maternal, neonatal and child mortality rates in Mozambique, with a particular focus on the central province of Zambezia.
On Thursday a programme was launched to increase technical training in the health sector to address Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four and five, which aim to reduce maternal and child mortality and improve maternal health.
The programme contains a wide range of interventions, including training health professionals and equipping health centres with resources to assist mothers and children.
The programme will be implemented by the Health Ministry and the Zambezia provincial health directorate. Just over half the funds will be spent in Zambezia province.
The child mortality rate in Zambezia province is above the national average. Data from 2008 shows that the child mortality rate (under the age of five) was 206 per thousand live births, compared to a national average of 141 per thousand live births.
In the same year, Zambezia had an infant mortality rate (under the age of one) of 147 per thousand live births, compared to the national average of 95 per thousand live births.
Zambezia also has high rates of neonatal mortality and HIV among adolescents, low per capita expenditure on health, chronic malnutrition and other problems that will be addressed by the programme.
Health Minister Alexander Manguele, who witnessed the programme's launch ceremony, said that despite progresses made by the country, there are still huge challenges lying ahead. But working hand in hand with cooperation partners, the government would be able to meet people's expectations.
"The government will not rest until every woman in Mozambique is able to give birth without the risk of facing death, and until every child can reach the age of five," Manguele stressed.
According to the minister, investing in women and children's health is unequivocally an investment in social and economic development.
For her part, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Mozambique, Jennifer Topping, praised the remarkable progress made by the country in bringing down child mortality.
"In less than 15 years, child mortality dropped from 201 deaths per thousand live births in 1997 to 97 in 2011: which is more than a 50 per cent decline", said Topping, noting that the programme seeks to fast track achievements already made and overcome new obstacles as they arise.
The Canadian ambassador to Mozambique, Alain Latulippe, said that he believes the country is already in possession of the main tools to solve many of the problems, but success depends on strong support for national health policies and robust local leadership to find long term solutions.
Canada, added Latulippe, is committed to supporting Mozambique's plans and priorities, through a comprehensive and integrated approach to strengthen its health systems.
The programme will be implemented in partnership with United Nations agencies including UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP and WHO.
56612E GOVERNMENT TO ASSIST STUDENTS STRANDED IN SUDAN
Maputo, 15 Jun (AIM) - Mozambique's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eduardo Koloma, on Thursday announced that the government will assist a group of Mozambican students stranded in Sudan after losing their scholarships, reports Friday's issue of the daily newspaper "O Pais".
In May, a group of 45 Mozambican students at the International University of Africa (Sudan) denounced their poor living conditions. They also claimed that they had lost their scholarships and would be repatriated because the Education Ministry was refusing to provide assistance.
At the time, the Education Ministry's Scholarship Institute (IBE) distanced itself from the problem, arguing that it was not responsible for the students because they went there to pursue religious studies with scholarships granted by Islamic organisations.
According to a statement from the IBE, "the students in Sudan are not part of the contingent of Mozambicans scholarship holders under the responsibility of the government".
Interviewed by the "Lusa" news agency, Koloma asserted that "the government intends to send a fact finding mission to learn about the problems on the ground".
"We are in coordination with the Education Ministry, which told us that a delegation will be dispatched to Sudan", said Koloma.
Mozambique has no embassy in the Sudanese capital. Therefore, the authorities intend to contact the Sudanese government via "the Mozambican embassy nearest to Khartoum, which could be either Egypt or Algeria", he added.
According Koloma, the government has the responsibility to grant protection to any Mozambican national outside the country, and this is the task of the Foreign Ministry.
55612E JAPAN INCREASES SUPPORT FOR DEMINING
Maputo, 15 Jun (AIM) - The Japanese government is to donate 2 million US dollars to support training and capacity building at Mozambique's National Demining Institute (IND). The funds will also be used to speed up demining operations currently underway in the provinces of Inhambane, Manica and Sofala.
The Japanese ambassador to Mozambique, Eiji Hashimoto, and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Mozambique, Jennifer Topping, on Thursday in Maputo signed an agreement laying the foundations for this increased support.
Ambassador Hashimoto said that the funds will strengthen the capacity of IND to carry out its demining operations and also enable IND to establish a national mechanism for covering the costs of mine awareness programmes.
The diplomat also announced that his government will provide 2.5 million dollars to fund a second mechanical demining machine, which should arrive in Mozambique in December. The first demining machine arrived in May 2011. It cuts through the bush destroying all explosive devices it drives over. A strong magnet then picks up any fragments of metal left by the mines.
Jennifer Topping pointed out that it will be a challenge to meet the extended deadline of the Ottawa Convention to free the country of landmines.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eduardo Koloma, praised the assistance offered by Japan, and said that offer to provide a second mechanical demining machine is a fine example of Japan's commitment to Mozambique's plan of action against mines.
Mozambique is a signatory to the Ottawa Convention, the international legal treaty ratified in 1999 which obliges the 156 signatory countries to conclude demining within 10 years.
Mozambique was unable to complete mine clearance by 2009 and was granted a five year extension.
Countries are also required to develop educational activities to prevent mine accidents and to support the socio-economic reintegration of landmine victims.
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