UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
MOZAMBIQUE NEWS ONLINE/MOZAMBIQUE NEWS ONLINE/MOZAMBIQUE NEWS ONLINE
Edition #10 29 October 1997
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In this edition: Feature
WITCHCRAFT GETS THE BLAME
Common diseases like measles and diarrhoea and sexually transmitted diseases (STD), including AIDS, are the main causes of death among the rural population in the northwestern Mozambican province of Tete.
In the remote area of Capirizanje, about 150 kilometre from Tete city on the border with Malawi, an average of 30 children with measles and diarrhoea are brought for treatment each day at the local clinic which only has the capacity for 20 patients a day. And many of the parents of these children blame witchcraft for the diseases.
Since August, an outbreak of measles has claimed many lives, the head of the clinic,Mr. Gabriel Wacheve said recently. He was unable to give exact figures but said that the capacity of the health post is now well below the needs of the local population. "We only manage to treat normal cases here," he said, adding that serious cases are sent to another clinic some 100 kilometres away in the town of Moatize, or to the central hospital in Tete. The most affected children are those who have not been vaccinated against measles. He also said that transport needs were inadequate and that medicine was in short supply and not enough to cover the needs of the population of the area.
Capirizanje has a population of 20 000 people who live by agriculture, fishing and cattle herding. The majority of the population is young. "This constitutes the main reason for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases," Wacheve said. He went on to say that 60 out of 100 adults visiting the clinic have a sexually transmitted disease.
"We treat those who come to us in time, but there are many who leave it too late and it then becomes difficult to treat them. The other problem we face is that we do not have conditions to carry out any kind of tests, so it is very difficult to provide the correct treatment," Wacheve said.
Capirizanje is the area most affected with STDs, mostly infecting women from 12 to 35 years old. "We think that this is because of the polygamy situation on the one hand and the increasing number of women who do not marry on the other. They end up having affairs with promiscuous men, putting their lives in serious danger," was the way that one health worker put it.
Women in many rural areas marry at the age of 12 to 14, having their first child at 15 or younger. "Because of their age they are not aware that care has to be taken to protect their health and that of their babies," Wacheve said. According to him, it is normal for these young women to become pregnant when the other baby is only three to four months old and they 'pay no attention to advice from health workers handed out through the family planning programme'.
The problem, however, is more likely to be of a cultural nature in these regions where the importance of a wife depends on her capacity to give life to as many children as possible, husbands often taking a new wife when the first one is unable to 'produce'. Emilia Samo, 45 has lived this situation. In a total of 14 births, only five children have survived. Because of this, her husband has now taken a new wife.
With El Nino in mind, Mozambican sanitation authorities are preparing to face the drought's negative effects in the south and central regions of the country.
According to a source from the Department of Sanitation, droughts that could hit the country in the coming months could have implications for the health of Mozambicans with shortages of food and water and the possibilities of diseases like cholera occurring.
Available data suggests that more than three fifths of the Mozambican population could be affected by the coming droughts. In the 1982/84 droughts, more than 100 000 people died while one third of the population was directly affected.
2.MAIZE HARVEST SUCCESSFUL
Mozambique produced 1,100,000 tones of maize in 1996/97 harvest. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery, the harvest exceeded the needs of the country by 100,000 tones.
However, even though the maize harvest was good in northern Mozambique, it is believed that especially in the Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces, there could soon be a shortage of maize. This is because traders from Malawi and Tanzania come into the country, buy up large quantities of the crop and return to sell this in their own countries.
Local people say that Malawians and Tanzanians pay more for the maize than the local traders.
3.PARLIAMENT DEBATES VAT AND CORRUPTION
With 22 points already confirmed in its agenda, the Mozambican Parliament is meeting in its 7th session which started October 28. Points include "burning" ones such as the discussion of the proposal of a law against corruption, and the creation of the VAT (Value Added Tax).
Some observers in Maputo are pessimistic about the VAT introduction to the Mozambican economy, considering it a "hurried import". In a seminar held in Beira , some economists were of the opinion that there was an external pressure to introduce VAT, in order to reduce the 'waterfall effect of the circulation tax'.
Economists also consider that the VAT introduction should have prior requirementssuch as well organised trade circuits from the producer/importer through to the retail sellers, as well as the use of accountancy records, which up to now have not existed in the country.
About 23% of the annual car accidents in Mozambique are due to drinking and driving. This was said during the second National Seminar on Roads Security, held last week in Maputo. Participants said that there was no law to punish those people who drive under the influence of alcohol.
Mr. Elias Chirrime, from the National Institute of Road Transport, said that the law should have the means to punish those who drink and drive and to define the level of alcohol in the blood of a driver.
The draft proposal is ready to be sent to the government. The introduction of the law will mean that Mozambique will have the same regional standards on driving requirements as other SADC countries. It was also said at the seminar that Mozambique is soon to have a new driving license that will be good for use in any SADC country.
Four resolutions were issued to instil more dynamism in the East Timor negotiations after a 5 days meeting of the International Conference on East Timor, held recently in Maputo.
ìThe conference brought us information, data and widened our understanding of the fact that there is genocide happening in East Timor and that it is our duty to make clear to all that this has to be stopped now,"said GraÁa Machel at the closing session.
GraÁa Machel asked for more solidarity in the Southern African region, in defending the case for East Timor. She added that "solidarity is not a charity act, but an imperative, a demand for us to feel more complete and to become more free". The widow of Samora Machel insisted on the necessity of freedom for Xanana Gusmao, the political leader of the east Timor people, imprisoned by Indonesia: "It is not possible to negotiate with a prisoner; only with a free man," stressed Mrs. Machel.
The East Timor International Conference gathered politicians, academics andreligious leaders.
6.MAPUTO CORRIDOR PROJECT
South African enterprises have made available $11 billion Rands for the Maputo Development Corridor. The amount is approximately USD$3 billion, which is 10 times more than what it was expected for starting the project.
A meeting of the Maputo Corridor of Development took place last week in Nelspruit in South Africa, to look at possibilities of investment for the project.
The Maputo Corridor project includes the building of a highway from Maputo to Witbank in South Africa and will provide better road traffic opportunities for South African exporters to the harbour at Maputo.
7.SA TO REOPEN DOSSIER ON SAMORA MACHEL DEATH
Almost eleven years to the day after the death of Samora Machel, South Africa has decided to reopen the dossier to investigate the cause of the plane crash.
During the commemorations marking the anniversary of Samoraís death, many still question the reasons given for the crash.
On the occasion of this anniversary, the South African president, Nelson Mandela, decided to declare the site of the crash a national monument. The plane crashed at Mbuzini region in South Africa, near the border with Mozambique. ************************
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 16:41:32 +0100 Subject: MOZAMBIQUE NEWS ONLINE #10 Message-ID: <email@example.com>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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