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The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday passed the first reading of a government bill to create three new districts in the southern province of Gaza.
The new district of Mapai results from splitting in two the enormous but sparsely populated district of Chicualacuala. Limpopo district has been carved out of the existing district of Xai-Xai, while Chonguene district consists of areas taken from the current districts of Xai-Xai and Mandlakazi.
Introducing the government bill, the Minister of State Administration, Carmelita Namashalua, said that setting up the new districts is intended “to strengthen the presence of the State in the territory, and make government action more effective”.
It would also “bring the services of the public administration closer to the citizens, by improving access”.
The main opposition party Renamo voted in favour of the bill in committee, but then against it in Thursday’s plenary session. Renamo deputy Mario Ali said the three districts should not be created, because none of them have a hospital, a secondary school, or a district level court. None of these, however, are legal requirements for setting up new districts.
Renamo claimed there had been no consultation with the people living in the areas concerned, but the Assembly’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Commission said it had carried out a consultation, and that the communities in the areas that will be transferred to the new districts broadly agreed with their creation.
Renamo also protested that the population of Gaza is “manipulated” by the ruling Frelimo Party. Frelimo deputies regarded this as no more than a case of sour grapes, arising from the fact that Gaza is a Frelimo stronghold, and Renamo has not managed to elect a single parliamentary deputy from the province in five general elections.
The government bill passed with the 148 deputies present from Frelimo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) voting in favour, while the 76 Renamo deputies voted against.Source: AIM