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First 100 days of President Armando Guebuza

[Mozambique] Frelimo candidate. IRIN
President Guebuza's govt has committed itself to tackling the penal system
In his first 100 days as Mozambique's new president, Armando Guebuza has continued where he left off on the campaign trail - committing himself to action against corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency. In his inaugural speech on 2 February, Guebuza said crime and corruption were "insidious enemies" that "present themselves as alternative means of reaching wealth". He promised that battling graft and wrongdoing would be "central" to his agenda. Guebuza's populist efforts to shake up government, and his stated commitment to public service reform, are seen as a positive beginning. Ministers have shown up unannounced in remote corners of their ministries to see who was at their desks; the health minister has made visits to hospitals and spoken openly about the prevailing unsatisfactory conditions; and in April the government ordered the collection of all vehicles irregularly assigned to civil servants. "People are more aware now of the problems the country faces," Fernando Goncalves, editor of the independently weekly, Savana, told IRIN. "It has been brought to their attention that problems of corruption and bureaucracy have to be fought against in a political way." Guebuza, the ruling FRELIMO party's former secretary general, succeeded Joaquim Chissano, who stepped down in January after 18 years in power. Chissano led Mozambique out of a brutal 16-year civil war against RENAMO rebels, oversaw the country's transition from Marxist-Leninism to a surging free market economy, and ushered in multiparty democracy - handsomely winning the country's first plural elections in 1994. Mozambique's economic growth has averaged over 10 percent per annum - albeit off an extremely low base - but wealth distribution has remained desperately unequal. The benefits enjoyed by a super-rich elite are yet to trickle down to most Mozambicans, especially those living beyond the relatively well developed south of the country, and corruption is seen as endemic. "To reduce poverty, first you need to create wealth - here we don't have wealth; we have opulence," Manuel Araujo, an economist, told IRIN. "Wealth is the result of a productive process; opulence comes out of corruption." The assassination in 2000 of investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso, in which Chissano's own son, Nyimpine, was implicated, cast a shadow over the country's good image abroad. Cardoso was investigating the disappearance of US $14 million from Mozambique's then largest bank, BCM, when he was shot in his car in the heart of the capital, Maputo. Guebuza, one of Mozambique's wealthiest businessmen, was also a veteran of the country's liberation struggle. He has a reputation for a no-nonsense approach, but, having been at the centre of politics since independence in 1975, critics have questioned whether he should not share some of the blame for the new materialism. "The real corrupt people he [Guebuza] has not dealt with - he needs to name names," Araujo charged. As an example, he gave the lack of progress in the investigation into the August 2001 murder of economist Antonio Siba Siba Macuacua, chairperson of Austral Bank at the time. Nobody has been charged with his murder. Araujo said he hoped the new government would create an enabling environment to accelerate growth in the private sector, but added that he had seen little evidence of this. He also questioned the type of foreign investment Mozambique was attracting. "So far, it is the wrong kind," Araujo commented. "It is too capital intensive and too linked to industry, whereas the majority of our people are in agriculture; and there is too much growth in the south, whereas the rest of the country is starved of foreign investment." Goncalves noted that three months was too soon to judge the new administration. "I don't think this government will do better than the previous government - Guebuza will do what he can, and others will pick up from him where he has left it." Alcina Silvano, a 27-year-old hairdresser, told IRIN that "when you [need] a document ... from the ministries, you have to pay an official to get it done quickly. I would like to see this changed". "I would like to see more evidence that the new government is serious about tackling crime - I don't feel safe when I walk on the streets," she complained. "If Guebuza does all he says he will do, then he will be helping us a lot."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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