February 14, 2005

Provincial governors must lead fight against poverty, says president

The main task of Mozambican provincial governors is the fight against poverty, declared President Armando Guebuza in Maputo, at a ceremony where he swore into office the 11 provincial governors, as well as three ministers and eight deputy ministers. But one of the main opponents the governors would face, he warned, was the fatalism of the poor themselves, "the belief of citizens that their poverty cannot be changed, that their ancestors were always poor and that they cannot aspire to anything different". "We rely on you", Guebuza told the governors, "to explain at every opportunity to all Mozambicans that poverty is not divinely ordained and that, through their work, Mozambicans can abolish poverty". As a second enemy he described "the prophets of misfortune", those who saw something noble in poverty, and regarded "poverty as a synonym for honesty". For such people "those who don't know where their next meal is coming from, those who have no access to education, health, clean water or electricity, are examples of moral integrity, and are the standard we should wave proudly", said Guebuza. "But we soon discover they are hypocrites, because they don't accept such tough and difficult conditions for themselves - they subtly demobilise the acts of the Frelimo government and of all Mozambicans in the struggle against poverty".
He stressed that each of the governors had sworn to devote all their energies to serving the Mozambican people, and so "the people will be watching to see how your oaths of today are translated into implementing the promises contained in our election manifesto". Guebuza returned to a longstanding Frelimo theme - that it is the district that must be the basis for planning and development. The district is the administrative level below that of province - there are over 120 districts in Mozambique, most of them rural. "That is where the overwhelming majority of our people live", said the President. "It is in these rural districts that the drama of absolute poverty is at its sharpest. It is in the countryside that we find most of those Mozambicans who are unable to guarantee minimum basic conditions for subsistence for themselves and their dependents". But this poverty was in shocking contrast with the natural resources of the districts. The poor were surrounded with resources that could be exploited to improve their lives. In parts of the country "we have not sufficiently exploited the opportunities for creating small units to process local production and what we currently regard as waste". (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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