PROMOVE Agribiz presents intermediate results and looks to the future with confidence | Mozambique
The strike by workers at the Xinavane plantation and mill, about 90 kilometres north of Maputo, is likely to affect Mozambique’s sugar production levels, according to a report in Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
In order to avert the situation, the Minister of Agriculture, Celso Correia, on Thursday stressed the need for urgent consensus between the workers and the employer, after the meeting he held with the subsector’s stakeholders at the Maragra sugar company, also located in Manhiça district.
The strike, Correia added, will have a great impact on the country’s sugar production levels, so there is a strong need for the establishment of permanent dialogue, to avoid situations that cause huge financial losses to the companies.
“Now conditions have been put in place for workers and employers to return to the negotiating table and, consequently, for the workers to return as soon as possible to their jobs, so that the mill resumes production,” Correia said, pledging that the government will keep a close eye so that such scenarios are once and for all overcome.
The General Secretary of Mozambique’s main trade union federation, the OTM (Organisation of Mozambican Workers), Alexandre Munguambe, deplored the low wages paid by the sugar industry in Mozambique, unlike the other countries, where the same companies operate.
Munguambe pointed out that the companies pay the equivalent of 2.6 US dollars a day, far below the workers’ expectations. “We urge dialogue between the two sides, not only when there is a strike, but at every moment of the production process. Today it is Chinavane, but tomorrow it might be another mill”, said Munguambe.
A report in the independent daily “O Pais” indicates that sugar production levels fell by 12 per cent, as a result of the rains, cyclones and the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic between the 2020-2021 seasons. Production was reduced from 306,000 to 271,000 tonnes.
The installed production capacity in the four operational mills is 530,000 tonnes – but the highest production ever reached in recent years was 425,000 tonnes in 2014. Correia, however, believed it is possible to raise production to 500,000 tonnes a years by 2030.
Mozambique employs about 34,000 workers, permanent and seasonal, in the mills and sugar cane plantations which cover nearly 47,000 hectares. The average annual value of sugar exports between 2019 and 2021 was 86 million dollars, which was 14 per cent of all agricultural exports.
Meanwhile heads have rolled in the police force, apparently because of the violent scenes in Xinavane on Wednesday, when houses, cars and 50,000 hectares of sugar cane were set on fire. The General Commander of the police, Bernadino Rafael, ordered the removal of the Maputo provincial police commander, Inacio Dina, the Manhica district commander, Jose Jofrice, and two other officers.
The official police line is that these changes in command had nothing to do with the Xinavane events. In fact, Rafael was angered that the police had taken no preventive measures although it had been known well in advance that the Xinavane workers were planning to go on strike. So poorly prepared were the police that the rioters were able to burn down much of the Xinavane police station.
Watch the Miramar report.