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By Time Magazine 2002
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Dos Santos wants position clear on 1992 elections

Speaking at the opening of a meeting of the MPLA central committee on 26 November, President José Eduardo dos Santos said there was a need for the National Assembly and Supreme Court to state clearly whether or not there should be a second round of presidential elections to complete the electoral process started in 1992.

The President stressed that �elections are, for the governing party, a fundamental challenge in this political process, in view of the fact that in a democratic system they are the only way of legitimising the exercise of power�.

All Angolans should therefore gear their efforts to preparing, organising and holding the next general elections, he said, while stability, security and, above all, the people�s confidence in the electoral process should be the major concerns.

�The results of legislative elections and the establishment of a renewed parliament may make it possible to achieve a consensus more rapidly, and permit the adoption of a new constitution with a more realistic view of the system of government we want, and one that guarantees stability,� he said.

Dos Santos went on to say that the MPLA would �continue to be deeply engaged in the process of political stabilisation in Angola�, adding that the Luena Understanding signed by the government and Unita was �an irreversible landmark�.

Peace, he said, had enabled state bodies to determine and programme their plans and tasks more objectively, while enabling the people and society to gauge and evaluate the work of those bodies better.

Parliament dissolves constitutional commission

The National Assembly passed a law on 19 November dissolving the constitutional commission.

The law tabled by the MPLA transfers the work of approving a new constitution to the commission on constitutional and legal affairs, seen as the natural body to deal with such matters.

The constitutional commission started its work in February 1998, but ceased to function on 12 May this year when opposition parties suspended their participation in it. The law dissolving it was passed, with amendments, by 96 votes, with 56 against and four abstentions, after a debate during which the opposition argued that it should be maintained.

The commission on constitutional and legal affairs approved the dissolution, stating that the adoption of a new constitution was not an isolated act, but part of a broader process of ensuring peace, national reconciliation and democratisation.

Bornito de Sousa, leader of the MPLA parliamentary group, said a new constitution was no longer a priority.

Other MPLA deputies said there was now a consensus on the possibility of the next elections being held with the existing constitution, since this was something the opposition had been demanding for months.

�Yet we cannot let the process of adopting a new constitution prevent us from passing the package of laws needed to support the elections,� said João Melo.

Bornito de Sousa said that this was the most important thing and did not rule out the possibility of the new constitution being passed by the deputies elected in the next legislative elections.

Meeting in Luanda on 5 November, the Political Bureau of the MPLA had recommended that the institutions concerned should speed up the approval of a legislative package in support of elections in Angola.

A press release said that this should be a priority on the agenda of the MPLA parliamentary group. It also reaffirmed that constitutional matters should be dealt with in the National Assembly, in accordance with its timetable.

Angola signs Dar es Salaam Declaration on Great Lakes

On 20 November, Minister of External Relations João Bernardo de Miranda signed the Dar es Salaam Declaration in which fourteen countries undertook to make the Great Lakes region an area of peace and lasting security.

In the joint declaration, signed by the Minister on behalf of President José Eduardo dos Santos, the leaders of countries in the region pledged to promote peace and political and social stability.

It was also signed by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, acting chairman of the African Union, and Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

President dos Santos in Namibe for independence anniversary

In the southern province of Namibe on 11 November, the 29th anniversary of Angola�s independence, President José Eduardo dos Santos inaugurated the new branch of the university. The only institution of higher learning in the province, it will open its doors to 5,000 students in the next academic year.

He also inaugurated the repaired 186-km highway between the cities of Namibe and Lubango, rehabilitated by a Portuguese company at a cost of US$30 million, and a health centre in the 5 April neighbourhood of the city of Namibe, which he presented with an ambulance.

Before addressing a mass rally attended by thousands of people from all over the province, the President opened a primary school in the Platon neighbourhood built with local materials at a cost of US$120,000.

Outside the official programme of the President, Minister of Public Works Higino Carneiro opened a bituminous emulsion factory and Minister of Education Burity da Silva officially handed over 20 homes for local personnel.

The previous day President dos Santos had presided over a meeting in the city of Namibe of the standing committee of the Council of Ministers. According to a press statement issued afterwards, the government will allocate US$20,000 for the implementation of programmes to improve and increase the supply of goods and basic social services for the people of the provinces of Namibe, Cunene and Kuando Kubango.

The programmes to be carried out in 2005 and 2006 are to be geared to improving education, health, fresh water supplies, basic sanitation and the free movement of people and goods.

Monument to the Battle of Kifangondo

President José Eduardo dos Santos unveiled the plaque on a memorial monument to the Battle of Kifangondo on 9 November. Kifangondo, 23 km from the capital, was the site of fierce fighting on the eve of independence on 11 November 1975, when a coalition of forces tried to reach Luanda to prevent the proclamation of Angola�s freedom.

The memorial was built in two and a half years and includes a square, a tourist area and an administrative area. The work of the sculptor Rui de Matos, a high-ranking officer in FAPLA, the former government army, it consists of two bronze statues, one of David Moisés �N'dozi�, one of the commanders of the nationalist forces there, on a base with panels illustrating various phases of the battle.

President dos Santos described the monument as �a great work, an image merited by all those who took part in the national liberation struggle and particularly in the historic military action decisive to the proclamation of independence �.

General João Luís Neto �Xietu�, one of those who took part in the battle, recalled that there was fighting almost everywhere in the country at the time, but that �the capital had to be defended�.

Kifangondo, he said, had been the second line, after the enemy had broken through the first line at Porto Quipiri, about 50 km from Luanda.

General Melo Xavier, another participant, said that �the most crucial moment of the battle was when the enemy troops approached the bridge over the Dande River and Panhard armoured cars started to fire on us�.

�We responded promptly,� he continued, �firing with 76mm guns, preventing the advance of the enemy, who consisted of three battalions of Zairian infantry troops supported by mercenaries.�

Meeting in tribute to Lúcio Lara

The Luanda provincial committee of the MPLA organised a public meeting, on 8 November, in tribute to Lúcio Lara for the political and historical role he has played and his dedication to the cause of Angola.

The meeting took place thirty years after Lúcio Lara headed the first official MPLA delegation that arrived in the capital on 8 November 1974, at the end of the liberation struggle that started in 1961.

It was Lúcio Lara who swore in the first President of Angola, Agostinho Neto, on 11 November 1975, as well as President José Eduardo dos Santos, who had succeeded President Neto when he died in 1979.

Norberto dos Santos, MPLA information secretary, praised the initiative, stressing the important role that Lara, also known by his guerrilla name Tchiweka, had played in the process leading to Angola�s independence. He spoke of the need to honour others, including the anonymous ones, who had given their youth to the existence of the governing party.

In the Ciné Atlântico, where the meeting took place, there was also a photographic exhibition and a documentary film on Lara�s life of dedication.

Speaking at the meeting, Bento Bento, first secretary of the MPLA in Luanda, described Lara as one of the foremost figures in Angolan nationalism, who was a living encyclopedia of the MPLA and a symbol of Angolan-ness, an example of integrity who had been present at all the crucial moments in the history of the MPLA.

Forum of mine-affected countries

A meeting of high-level representatives to the United Nations of countries affected by the scourge of landmines met in New York on 3 November to establish Fomac, the Forum of Mine-Affected Countries.

Ismael Gaspar Martins, permanent representative of Angola to the UN, who chaired the inaugural meeting, said: �Today we unite as victims of these terrible weapons that kill and maim our people. Our collective knowledge and will are the key to freeing � once and for all � our lands from this legacy of war.�

The creation of the forum strengthens what has been to date loose collaboration among countries contaminated by landmines and other debris of conflict and war. It aims to promote south-south cooperation and partnership, and to develop common strategies on landmine issues.

The establishment of the forum came in the run-up to the Nairobi summit on a mine free world held in the Kenyan capital from 29 November to 3 December.

The summit aimed to review progress in the implementation of the Ottawa Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, and to chart the way ahead. The convention was opened for signature in December 1997 and 143 countries are now bound by it.

Queen Noor of Jordan, a keynote speaker at the event and long-time advocate of the rights of the disabled, including mine victims, welcomed the occasion. �The attainment of the goal of zero new victims begins with creative initiatives such as this,� she said.

Mark Malloch-Brown, United Nations Development Programme administrator, also addressed the forum. �The good news is that the landmine and ERW (explosive remnants of war) problem is a finite problem,� he said. �With good impact-based information and strong political will we can solve this problem once and for all � in years, not decades.�

He also emphasised the impact of landmines on development and urged the governments to integrate mine action in their national development programmes, adding that �the United Nations stands ready to support you to achieve your goals�.

Nairobi summit on landmines

The Nairobi summit on a mine-free world was attended by an Angolan delegation headed by Santana André Pitra �Petroff�, chairman of the inter-ministerial commission for demining and humanitarian assistance (CNIDAH) and included also Júnior João, Deputy Minister of Assistance and Social Reintegration, and Brito Sozinho, Ambassador to Kenya.

The report on progress in the implementation of the Ottawa Convention presented summit by the chairman, Austrian Ambassador Wolfgang Pietrisch, stated that Angola was currently completing its study on the impact of landmines, extending the coordinating activities of CNIDAH to the provinces and improving the results of operations without jeopardising quality or safety.

It said that 32 non-governmental organisations, 22 of them Angolan, and 12 commercial companies were engaged in mine clearance and education on the danger of mines.

Between 2002 and the first quarter of 2003, NGOs engaged in mine clearance, reported that they cleared 2.8 million square metres of land and destroyed more than 5,000 mines and 13,000 explosive devices.

Angola needs financial resources for a nationwide survey to establish the number of mine victims, their localities and available facilities in respect of health care, physical and psychological rehabilitation, education, vocational training and social and economic reintegration.

Angola�s eighteen provinces are affected by mines and the survey on the impact of landmines started in 2003 will determine the nature and extent of the problem in the country.

�Financial system has improved significantly�

Aguinaldo Jaime, assistant Minister in the office of the Prime Minister, said in Lisbon on 18 November that the financial situation in the country had made a qualitative leap with the liberalisation of the currency. Addressing a conference organised by the magazine África Hoje, he said that though the measure had initially caused some scepticism, the results were now clear and positive. In the past, he continued, banks were merely bureau de change engaged in buying and selling foreign currency and unable to accumulate savings in national or foreign currency.

Aguinaldo Jaime, who was talking to Portuguese business people, said the current economic situation was satisfactory, having made a radical change for the better. An example of this was the fact that the inflation rate had for the first time in Angola�s history fallen to two figures, as against three or four in previous periods.

�In 2002 there was an annual inflation rate of 105 percent, in 2003 it fell to 76 and this year it is expected to fall to 30 percent, which shows the efforts the government is making to stabilise the economy.�

Part of the Minister�s talk was on the private investment laws which, in his view, provided guarantees to ensure the confidence of national and foreign investors.

He went on to speak of the lack of up-to-date information on economic progress made in Angola since the end of the war and invited those present to consult existing sources, so as to understand the real economic situation in the country and the business opportunities.

World Bank to provide US$200 million

Michael Baxter, World Bank director for Angola and Mozambique, has said that the Bank will disburse US$200 million to Angola in 2005.

Addressing a press conference in Luanda on 18 November, he said the sum was for a many-faceted project and could be increased if the government completed the tasks involved rapidly.

The project, he said, was an emergency reconstruction programme involving infrastructure development, education, health and education, as well as project administration.

The World Bank has already disbursed US$10 million in the country this year for various activities, and US$125 million in 2002-2003.

Michael Baxter was in Angola to discuss the situation in the country with government officials, donors and civil society, and also visited Kuito, capital of the central highland province of Bié.

Sonangol signs agreement with Argentina

China Sonangol International Holding, CSIH, a subsidiary of Sonangol, the national oil company, has signed a letter of intent with Enarsa, the Argentinean energy company, which could result in investments of more than US$5 billion in the next five years. Signed in Buenos Aires on 17 November, it states that CSIH is prepared to cooperate in offshore prospecting and exploration in Argentina, as well as in Enarsa concessions in third countries.

The two companies will also work in partnership to develop petroleum resources in third countries. Another agreement signed by CSIH and Enarsa states that the two companies will consider energy transportation and distribution projects and the building of pipelines.

CSIH is the most recent of Sonangol�s subsidiaries. It has an office in London, Sonangol Ltd, as well as offices in Houston, Texas, Sonusa, and Singapore, Sonasia.

The partnership between Sonangol and Enarsa was described by observers in New York as part of the expansion and globalisation of Sonangol, which has in the past twelve months acquired interests in Angola and the world ranging from banks to telecommunication companies.

The headquarters of CSIH is to be in Hong Kong. The establishment of Sonangol in China coincided with the initial phase of the disbursement of the US$2 billion dollars obtained by Angola from China�s export bank.

Damaged bridges to be restored

Herculano Nascimento, spokesman of a National Highway Institute, Inea, technical and scientific conference held in Luanda, said on 15 November that at least 700 bridges would be repaired next year.

He said most of them had been destroyed in the war or by landmine explosions, adding that priority would be given to those linking the capitals of provinces with their municipalities. Re-opening these routes, he said, would boost economic and social development.

Nascimento said restoring the bridges would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and that studies were still underway to set priorities and to confirm sources of funding, in order to establish the full budget.

Strategy for agro-mineral resources approved

The Council of Ministers has approved a strategy for the rational use of agro-mineral resources and the fertiliser industry.

According to a resolution published in the Diário da República, the official gazette, in mid-November, the Council of Ministers took into consideration the enormous agro-mineral potential in Angola, particularly natural phosphates, potassium salts, dolomite, sulphur and natural gas, crucial to mineral and industrial projects needed for relaunching agricultural production.

The initiative also stemmed from the need to use these natural resources for relaunching the fertiliser industry.

The Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Oil and Energy and Water are to promote projects for implementation, to be coordinated by the Ministry of Geology and Mines.

Government programme and budget presented to National Assembly

The government programme for 2005-2005 is aimed at combating hunger and poverty and achieving social stability. These goals are reflected in the draft general state budget for 2005. Both documents were presented to the National Assembly on 12 November for discussion.

The budget proposals provide for expenditure of 805,584.3 million kwanzas (equivalent to more than US$9 billion) and estimated tax revenue of Kz638,234.3 million, resulting in a budget deficit of Kz167,349.9 million (US$1,889.4 million), representing 8.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product. The state intends to finance the difference through the use of donations (4.2 percent) and external financing (49 percent), with 46.8 percent of the deficit financed by internal financing.

According to Minister of Finance José Pedro de Morais, who presented the budget, current expenditure has fallen from 36.2 percent to 30 percent of GDP, as a result of the reduction of expenditure on goods and services from 14.5 to 10 percent of GDP and the reduction of subsidies from 4.5 to 1 percent of GDP.

The Minister said that economic growth would be about 16 percent next year, 21.4 percent in the oil sector and 10.4 percent in the non-oil sector. This, he said, was a result of an increase in oil production and the more dynamic growth

rates in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, construction and public works. He said the rapid and substantial reconstruction of physical infrastructure was proposed, so as to permit the relaunching of production and job creation as soon as possible.

�Nominal cuts in expenditure on goods and services and on subsidies are compensated for by a significant increase in capital expenditure to be financed mainly through external credit lines,� he said. He added that financing capital expenditure by increasing indebtedness was justifiable, given that state revenue was still lower than what it would be in the long term. Higher tax revenue in 2007, with the increase in economic activity and an expanded taxpaying base, he said, would enable the state to ensure sustained payment of the foreign debt.

In the general government programme presented by Minister of Planning Ana Dias Lourenço the guidelines of all action are geared to combating hunger and poverty. This means consolidating peace and national reconciliation, laying the foundations for an integrated and self-sustaining economy and restoring domestic production.

She said this involved action in many sectors, including institutional and legal support for social stabilisation. Among the measures set out in this respect are the coming into operation of a constitutional court and drafting the statutes of an ombudsman and high authority against corruption.

The government also plans to revise Law No 18/88 on the unified justice system and promote conflict resolution by non-judicial means, which probably means more thoroughgoing studies of customary law.

With regard to expenditure planned in the coming year, expenditure on production is to increase by 9.1 percent, amounting to 14.8 percent of the total. Administration and the social sector have each been allocated 23 percent, and defence and public order 17.9 percent, while 21.3 percent is to be spent on debt service, 10.4 percent less than in the current year.

Caimbambo railway station re-opened

The railway station at Caimbambo, 116 km from the city of Benguela, was re-opened on 11 November, as part of the Independence Day celebrations. The repair of the station, which was destroyed in the war, was part of the project to rehabilitate the Benguela Railway.

The ceremony, attended by Minister of Transport André Luís Brandão, took place shortly before the resumption of rail traffic on the 140-km stretch of line between Benguela and Cubal.

Among the most important action taken so far has been the repair of the bridge over the Cubal River and mine clearance along the line.

Minister forecasts agricultural self-sufficiency within three years.

Minister of Agriculture Gilberto Buta Lutucuta has said that the country will be self-sufficient in basic crops within three years and will therefore be able to minimise poverty, especially in rural areas.

Speaking during a SADC meeting on plant genetic resources held in Luanda in early November, he said the Council of Ministers had already approved a programme to combat poverty involving many sectors of national life. He added that there was also an agricultural extension and rural development programme to provide small family groups with implements, seeds and fertilisers, supported by agricultural development stations.

The Minister said that grain production was expected to attain more than a million tonnes by the end of the current agricultural year, principally in central and southern regions.

Benguela to spend US$2 million on agriculture

The Benguela provincial government is to spend US$2 million on seeds and agricultural implements for the 2004-2005 agricultural year, which started last month, when the land started to be prepared. The sum will cover seeds � 300 tonnes of maize, 100 tonnes of beans and 60 tonnes of sorghum � as well as 60,000 machetes and hoes and 300 ploughs.

This was announced by provincial governor Dumilde Rangel at the end of a visit to Cubal, to see the conditions for the new agricultural year.

He added that the programme also included the distribution of 600 teams of draught cattle to the 20,000 peasant families involved.

18,000 people have benefited from micro-credit

António João, coordinator of the national micro-credit programme of the Ministry of the Family and Advancement of Women, said in Luanda on 18 November that 18,000 people had already received micro-credit for small-scale community businesses and to ensure food self-sufficiency. He was speaking to the press during the first national forum on micro-funding as a decisive factor in reducing poverty.

He added that these figures were, however, merely a drop in the ocean, given the number of people who needed micro-credit.

`Apart from Luanda, he said, other provinces where the programme was gaining strength were Huíla, Huambo, Benguela, Namibe and Bengo, and he appealed to banks, many of which had branches in the provinces, to show greater awareness of the need.

The Ministry launched the micro-credit programme in 1999.

Cattle repopulation in Kwanza Sul

The Kwanza Sul provincial government is to furnish 500 head of cattle bought in Uruguay to help to boost herds in the province. The programme of the provincial directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that priority would be given to municipalities with most potential and those most affected by the war.

According to the report, there were satisfactory numbers of cattle, goats, sheep and pigs in the province and more cattle would contribute to agricultural programmes using draught animals.

Chicken breeding for needy families

Six hundred needy families in Uíge Province are receiving chicks as part of a project to repopulate the region with various animals.

Joaquim Pedro, provincial director of the Ministry of Agriculture, said his department had already distributed 1,000 chicks to the families of returnees and demobilised soldiers in the municipalities of Uíge and Negage.

Another project, he said, was clearing arable land, and 900 hectares had already been cleared and handed over to 90 families in Uíge and Negage to grow beans, groundnuts, sweet potatoes, cassava and other crops, though he feared the heavy rains might jeopardise production in the current agricultural year.

Joaquim Pedro appealed to farmers in the region to organise themselves in peasant associations and cooperatives, in order to benefit from financing.

HIV/Aids is �growing concern�

The Minister of Health, Albertina Hamukwaya, said in Luanda on 30 November that Aids had become a growing concern in Angola, owing to the current situation in the country, with the opening of borders and the increased mobility of the population.

She was speaking shortly before leaving for the southern province of Cunene to address the main national public meeting to mark World Aids Day. The Minister stressed the need for all Angolan men, young people and women, to act to prevent infection.

Regina Antonio, director of the Luanda provincial anti-Aids programme, addressing the first national conference on sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/Aids, on 30 November, said that in Luanda alone there had been 6,195 cases registered between the first case, in 1985, and August 2004.

US$200 million spent on water in seven years

The water and sanitation departments have spent US$200 million in the past seven years to increase water harnessing capacity and treatment and distribution for the population of Angola.

This was stated by Kianu Vangu, spokesmen of a meeting on water and sanitation held in the northern province of Cabinda in late November. He added that the investment of about US$562 by million by 2007 was planned.

Kianu Vangu went on to say that 61.6 percent of the population had access to fresh drinking water and 59.4 percent to adequate sanitation services. It is estimated that 70.9 percent of the population has fresh drinking water in urban areas and 25.5 percent has sanitation equipment of one kind or another. In rural areas, however, those figures are 39.9 percent and 25.5 percent.

Angola currently produces about 555,000 cubic metres of fresh water a day, but would need to produce another 900,000 cubic metres a day to meet the millennium target of 1,500,000 cubic metres a day by 2015.

The spokesman said that the provinces of Cunene, the southern part of Huíla, Namibe and some parts of Benguela were the most critical in the country in respect of fresh water supplies.

Vaccinations in Huíla Province

At least 41,513 children, women of childbearing age and pregnant women were protected against polio, diphtheria, tetanus and measles during routine vaccinations carried out this year in the municipality of Caluquembe, Huíla Province, in southern Angola.

Manuel dos Santos, head of the local health department, told the Angop news agency that the vaccinations were done in the three communes of the municipality. He said health activists had campaigned to increase awareness of the importance of vaccinations, especially in the most densely populated places. He added that 33,423 children aged up to five had been immunised against polio during the two phases of the campaign in July and August this year.

The most frequent illnesses in the area, he said, were diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections and malaria.

Technical vocational school re-opened

The technical vocational and pedagogical school in Ukuma, 82 km west of the city of Huambo, was re-opened on 11 November, to mark national independence day, following rehabilitation work by the local government.

The school, for children and young people from the municipalities of Ukuma, Longonjo and Tchinjenje, provides courses in dressmaking, computers, metalwork, mechanics and electricity.

Malaria prevention

The Ministry of Health organised a conference from 9 to 15 November to encourage people to take effective measures to prevent malaria and reduce its effects, principally in respect of pregnant women and children under five. A Ministry press release stated that the conference was sponsored by Unicef, Esso and a number of national NGOs.

The aim was to provide information on national strategies to control malaria, emphasising the importance of access to diagnosis and treatment in the 24 hours after the appearance of the first symptoms, ensuring that at least 60 percent of pregnant women and children under five used mosquito nets treated with insecticide and 80 percent of pregnant women had intermittent preventive treatment.

The statement said that the Ministry planned to introduce a new treatment policy in the next two years, as proposed by the National Malaria Control Programme, supported by the World Health Organisation.

Angola, it continued, may be receiving US$25 million from the Global Health Fund in the next two years to be spent on mosquito nets, medicines, training and health unit management, with the support of the WHO, Unicef and several NGOs.

According to Ministry of Health statistics, there are more than two million clinical cases of malaria a year in Angola.

A study on the economic impart of malaria in Angola carried out in 1995 estimated that it cost the country US$125 million a year.

Reintegration of former Unita soldiers

The institute for the social and vocational reintegration of former soldiers, Irsem, is to facilitate the economic, social and productive reintegration of 16,346 former Unita soldiers and 70,811 of their family members in Benguela Province.

Irsem is carrying out vocational training courses in the municipalities of Ganda and Cubal, an auxiliary programme to cost US$180,400, which will provide 790 former soldiers and their dependents with tools and basic subsistence requirements for their reintegration in the areas of their choice. The project also includes the distribution of teams of oxen and ploughs.

In Ganda, about 200 km from the provincial capital, the demobilisation programme is financed by the World Bank, through the United Nations Development Programme, carried out in partnership with the NGO People to People Aid, and provides for the reintegration of 3,669 former soldiers and 11,522 dependents, while in Cubal, about 150 km from the city of Benguela, 2,780 former soldiers and 12,621 dependents are to be reintegrated.

The six-month training programmes started in June are in the areas of agriculture, animal husbandry, construction, carpentry, electricity, house painting, sewing and cooking.

Apart from training, Irsem, in partnership with PPA, Horizonte and other local government social partners, is building dams for irrigating fields and distributing teams of oxen, ploughs, animals for reproduction and land to former Unita soldiers and their families.

In Kuando Kubango Province, in southeast Angola, José Feliciano Pinto Soares, provincial representative of the National Institute of Vocational Training, Inafop, said that 530 former Unita soldiers in the province had followed courses at the Institute. He added that the plan had been to train 736, but the lack of transport facilities to the places where the courses were given had prevented the others from attending.

His institute had received kits from the local office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to enable those who had completed the courses and their families to work in agricultural associations in the municipalities of Menongue and Kuchi.

It was later reported in Lubango, capital of the southern province of Huíla, that at least 5,000 demobilised troops of the 8,100 on Irsem�s books were reintegrated in society in the province this year. Azevedo Pio, chief Irsem information officer, said they were now working in the areas of agriculture, carpentry, building and metalworking.

He added that more than 1,900 former Unita soldiers were following vocational training courses at the National Institute of Social and Vocational Reintegration, at a cost of US$400,000.

Displaced persons leave Luanda

Five hundred and eighty displaced people from Moxico Province have voluntarily returned to their home areas. They had been asking the government since September to provide transport for them to return to Lumbala Nguimbo and Cazombo.

They left in four trucks and four buses, accompanied by Ministry of Assistance and Social Reintegration, Minars, officials.

These people had been in Bita-tanque, in Viana, on the outskirts of Luanda since 1985, living off donations and crops they grew for themselves.

Maria do Céu, provincial director of Minars, said that according to the programme the Luanda government created conditions for their evacuation, while their reception and resettlement were the responsibility of the local authorities in their home areas, with whom Luanda had been in contact.

She said the government was supporting displaced persons who wanted to return home, while those who wanted to stay could integrate themselves in the local communities. She warned that no one could stay in tents any more, since the camps for displaced persons in Luanda would be closed in December.

Since last year, she continued, 30,000 people from the provinces of Huambo, Malanje, Kwanza Norte, Kwanza Sul, Moxico, Bié, Bengo and Uíje had already gone back to their home areas.

There are still about 5,000 displaced families in seven camps in different parts of Luanda Province.

Forum on rural women

A forum on rural women to examine development constraints and opportunities and set targets for solving existing problems faced by women was held in Kuito, capital of Bié Province, in mid-November.

An initiative of the local office of the Ministry of the Family and the Advancement of Women, it also discussed the effects of education and health on reducing poverty, combating desertification, the benefits of reforestation, the rational and ecological uses of local resources and mobilising communities to combat endemic diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases.

Benvinda Gomes, provincial director of the Ministry, said the purpose was to draw the attention of local decision-making bodies to the need to make the problems of rural women a priority in their programmes.

�Women in Angola provide an important part of agricultural labour and also represent 60 percent of the population. Most of them live in rural communities where they are faced with problems like drought and a lack of support from banks,� she said.

Luanda elected culture capital

Luanda was elected the culture capital of Portuguese-speaking cities on 19 November, during a meeting of the Union of the Luso-Afro-American-Asian Capital Cities, UCCLA, held in Luanda on 18 and 19 November. Manuel Sebastião, provincial director of the Ministry of Culture, said this position which will last a year, would have many benefits for Luanda, which would be able to share cultural events with other cities with Portuguese as their official language, especially music, dance and theatre, as well as debates and festivals.

2004 awards in culture and arts

The five 2004 winners of the culture and arts awards were given their prizes in the Ciné Tropical on 11 November from Prime Minister Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos �Nandó�. Each received a diploma, a statuette and US$35,000.

This year the jury chose the lawyer and former supreme court judge Maria do Carmo Medina for her book Angola: Processos políticos na luta pela independência (political trials in the independence struggle).

The painter António Ole was awarded for the technical and artistic level of his exhibitions.

The film Na Cidade Vazia (in the empty city) by the film maker Maria João Nganga won her a prize, while the jury considered that the guitarist Carlitos Vieira Dias deserved recognition for his more than 40 years of dedicated work, and the writer Arnaldo Santos was also distinguished for his literary contribution.

The evening continued with music and dance from many parts of the country and poetry readings, with speakers from the national radio and television transmitting directly in seven of the national languages, so that everyone could follow the ceremony.

The prize was instituted in 2000 to award those who had distinguished themselves during the year in the fields of literature, cinema and audio visual arts, art, performance arts and human and social science.

National theatre camp

The first national theatre camp, aimed at bringing together different groups and promoting exchanges, was opened in Benguela Province on 11 November.

It brought together representatives of more than twenty theatrical groups from the provinces of Luanda, Huambo, Kwanza Sul, Huíla and Benguela.

The five-day event included discussions on technical aspects of theatre, the performance of plays, singing dancing and games characteristic of the provinces represented.

It was proposed that such events be held annually.

Book and record fair

The first book and record fair was held in Luanda from 3 to 11 November.

The exhibits included technical, academic, literary poetic and other books, records and cassettes, which were all sold at competitive prices in order to attract especially young people. DVD films were also screened and there was live music.

Organised by the Ministry of Culture, the aim was to encourage a taste for music and reading and to provide for contacts between publishers and book and record shops.

Jomo Fortunato, director of the National Book and Record Institute, said they intended to hold such fairs annually and make them international in scope.

By Marga Holness
Embassy of Angola UK


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