December 20, 2005

Assembly passes economic and social plan / Guebuza names appointees to council of state

The Assembly of the Republic, the Mozambican parliament, has approved the government's Economic and Social Plan for 2006 by 152 votes to 80. As expected, all the deputies present from the majority Frelimo Party voted for the Plan, and all from the Renamo- Electoral Union opposition coalition voted against. The plan is the necessary complement to the State Budget for 2006, which had been passed before. Delivering Frelimo's declaration of vote, the party announced that the plan would allow the government to carry out its five year programme, which meant more schools, more hospitals, and more water sources.
The opposition denounced the plan arguing that it contained nothing that would enhance the country's development. The Assembly also approved legislation that will allow the government to revise several of the obsolete legal codes inherited from Portuguese colonial rule - notably the Commercial Code, the Civil Procedural Code and the Civil Registration code. In this context, there was no dispute - the Renamo and Frelimo groups agreed that government experts, rather than the deputies, should handle the nuts and bolts of modernising these complex codes.
Speaking after the closing of the session, and commenting on the performance of the parliament and the government during this year, Prime Minister Luisa Diogo expressed satisfaction, describing it as "very fruitful". "We have managed to maintain economic stability and low inflation, and now, at the end of this Assembly session, we, as the government, have been allowed to produce specific laws, that are within the competence of the parliament, and we will make sure that we deserve the trust of the parliament", she noted and described the year ahead as one of "major engineering work, including the bridges over the Zambezi, Rovuma and Lugela rivers, that will create a large number of jobs".
On the drought, Diogo remarked that Mozambique had no shortage of water. What was lacking was the management of that resource. “We need to improve our water management capacity", she stresses. At the end of the session, Assembly chairperson Eduardo Mulembwe announced that all deputies had agreed to contribute one day of their wages in support of the people affected by the drought. This sum amounts to about 273 million meticais (10.920 US dollars).
Before, President Armando Guebuza had appointed four members to the newly establish Council of State, a body set up under the constitution to advise the President. One of Guebuza's appointees is Graca Machel, the former first lady, and former Minister of Education. She is currently a prominent figure in Mozambican civil society, and an outspoken champion of women's and children's rights. She heads one of the country's most prominent NGOs, the Community Development Foundation (FDC), and is married to former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Guebuza's three other nominees were all prominent guerrilla commanders during Mozambique's war for independence from Portuguese colonial rule. One is Alberto Chipande, the man who fired the first shots in the war, at Chai, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, on 25 September 1964. After independence, Chipande was defence minister, from 1975 to 1994. He is a member of the political commission of the ruling Frelimo Party.
Bonifacio Gruveta is a former guerrilla commander, who later became governor of Zambezia province. He is currently a member of the Standing Commission of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. Eduardo da Silva Nihia was also prominent in the independence war, and later served in several capacities in the armed forces including national political commissar. The Council of State consists of the President (Guebuza), the Prime Minister (Luisa Diogo), the chairperson of parliament (Eduardo Mulembue), any previous heads of state (Joaquim Chissano), or previous heads of parliament (Marcelino dos Santos), the chairperson of the Constitutional Council (Rui Baltazar), the ombudsman (a position not yet filled), and the runner-up in the last presidential elections (Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel movement, Renamo). In addition, the President appoints four "figures of recognised merit", and parliament elects seven such figures. (Agencia de Informaciao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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