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Mozambique is in the process of reconstruction following cyclones Idai and Kenneth. And its President Filipe Nyusi faces other challenges too such as Islamic extremism in the region of Cabo Delgado, which is rich in natural gas. We met with him at the EurAfrican Forum in Portugal.
Nara Madeira, Euronews: This is a year of significant challenges for Mozambique following the destruction left by cyclone Idai. Mr President, welcome to Euronews. How is Mozambique dealing with this situation?
President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi: The cyclones that hit Mozambique on March 14th and 15th and later on April 25th delayed our country’s growth. We were already trying to revive the economy after the financial crisis that plagued the world and hit Mozambique too: the price of our products went down. We were excited to see growth rising from the expected 3.7% to 4.7%. It seemed that we were moving in that direction. But after the destruction suffered by the city of Beira with the disappearance of cultivated areas and dwellings and so on Mozambique backtracked and we’ve had to review growth targets to 2% and that’s what we’re now working towards.
Nara Madeira, Euronews: The rebuilding effort is gigantic. Where are we in this process? I’m talking not only in terms of infrastructure but about the lives of Mozambicans.
President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi: The reconstruction process begins first with an evaluation: what has been destroyed what should be restored and how should we do it.This process is underway. We had a conference of donors with lots of participants from all over the world and the solidarity was amazing. We got a third of our needs. We estimate the amount we need including international assistance is €2.8 billion. We’ve got €1 billion which means that the process is starting gradually. We’ve begun to distribute the funds that have been pledged and we’re also increasing national initiatives to stimulate the business sector.
Nara Madeira, Euronews: Is the country now better prepared to respond to natural catastrophes – in terms of organisation and governance?
President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi: We’re in a geographical situation that’s prone to this type of problem. Even today we can’t fully evaluate the damage. Idai brought a lot of destruction. Kenneth was very violent, silent, but in a violent way.
Regarding preparation and organisation: Our National Institute of Disaster Management has existed for 20 years so it’s accumulated a lot of experience.
But, are we prepared? I wouldn’t say we’re totally prepared… we’ve a certain amount of resources for managing catastrophes and it’s a question of how they’re distributed. For example a few days ago we deployed some boats and planes to Beira because cyclones were forecast there but in this process some of them ended up being damaged.
Nara Madeira, Euronews: How are these international funds managed? Because we’ve heard talk about the misappropriation of funds.
You have to take into account traditions when speaking about losses and misappropriation.
President of Mozambique
President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi: You have to take into account traditions when speaking about losses and misappropriation. Because if you’ve been without food or water for a week… when a truck or helicopter arrives bringing water and biscuits… you want to be the first there and take them. The carrying off of goods by these people can’t be seen as stealing. People needed this food. It’s true there was some misappropriation by people responsible for the distribution process: some put goods in their houses because there were no warehouses, and then people started saying they were stealing. Others didn’t really ensure goods arrived to the people who needed them. These cases have been treated.
Responding directly to the question, which is a fair one, what we’ve done is to increase inspections – involving civil society in the evaluation process – and we’ve started independent inspections.
Nara Madeira, Euronews: This EurAfrican forum aims to bring Europe and Africa closer together. What is the European Union doing to help boost the Mozambican economy?
President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi: The European Union has been doing a lot. For example, on the peace process with the opposition, we’re working very hard with the EU. We discuss a lot when I come to Europe and I’m waiting for a visit from an EU delegation probably this year, maybe the beginning of next. We’ve been working together on the peace dossier. Peace is the principal condition for all kinds of investment. Mozambique has to be respected. People have to believe their investments have continuity. And we’ve been working on it. But there are also many other European Union investment projects, in sectors like water, roads, hospitals, health. The European Union is one of Mozambique’s biggest partners.
Nara Madeira, Euronews: Natural gas is very important for the Mozambican economy. But you’ve conceded there is some instability in the gas producing regions and that it’s not good for business. Could this jeopardise its exploitation?
We don’t want our partners starting to panic. The good thing is that there’s a lot of collaboration between us and the multinationals responsible for the exploitation of natural gas.
President of Mozambique
President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi: We, the government and Mozambicans, don’t want that to happen. We don’t want our partners starting to panic. The good thing is that there’s a lot of collaboration between us and the multinationals responsible for the exploitation of natural gas. But we’ll have to take measures, extraordinary measures, if needed to make sure this doesn’t overshadow Mozambique’s growth in the region.
Nara Madeira, Euronews: Pope Francis will be in Mozambique in September. What do you expect from this visit?
President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi: It’s an important visit especially at this time of reconciliation. We’re moving towards peace. It’s an important visit in a country where social justice has to be restored – fully and effectively. This visit has a joint message: to promote and encourage peace and reconciliation among Mozambicans, not only in terms of war but also between political parties. Between religions too, even if there’s never been conflict in this matter in Mozambique. Everyone knows that Pope Francis is open to dialogue with other religions, he respects other religions. We will explore this knowledge, this feeling, these teachings. This is also a moment of hope. There are three important words: Peace Reconciliation, Hope… The Pope will meet young people from all over the country, from all dialects. He’ll meet members of the government and other power groups, the diplomatic corps and he’ll pray for Mozambique … we have big expectations.
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