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By Time Magazine 2002
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Dos Santos calls for participation of all in combating poverty

Addressing a mass rally in Kuito, capital of Bié Province, on 31 October, President José Eduardo dos Santos said that all Angolans should work together to eradicate poverty and eliminate hunger completely.

The government, he said, was doing its part, and ‘now it is necessary for every worker, every peasant, every entrepreneur and every intellectual to do his or her part too, so that all together we may be strong; and we are going to win this war of ending poverty and eradicating misery’.

‘War has made us poor, we are producing ever less because we have had many difficulties. The population has grown a lot, making us even poorer,’ he said.

Stressing the need to start on the reconstruction of Angola, the President said that he and those accompanying him had come to examine and approve programmes to start repairing roads, schools, medical posts and hospitals, to improve water and power supply systems and so forth.

‘What we have come to do here is very important, because we know that people want to work. Peasants want to till the soil, but they need to move freely, they need to receive fertilisers, they need tractors,’ he said.

As an inland province, he said, Bié had no access to the sea. ‘Many of the goods we use, the equipment, the work tools, are not produced in Angola. We have to import them from other countries and they have to come in through our ports. The port that serves Bié Province is in Benguela Province,’ he said. Therefore, the Benguela Railway had to be rehabilitated ‘as soon as possible’.

The President also spoke of the need to rebuild Kuito, to start to make it ‘even more beautiful than it used to be’.

Among those present, in addition to the governor of Bié Province, were the governors of Huambo, Benguela and Kwanza Sul provinces.

There were also programmes for those provinces, dos Santos said.

‘They too can make investments, create new jobs, create more wealth, because only with more wealth will we also have more money to distribute to all the people, improving everyone’s living conditions and earnings.

President starts consultations on appointment of Prime Minister

It was reported on 19 October that President dos Santos had started consultations with a view to the forthcoming appointment of a Prime Minister.

According to a press statement issued by the Office of the President, this was being done as a result of the final end of the armed conflict in Angola and the speedy carrying out, within the framework of the regular activity of the Joint Commission, of the outstanding tasks of the Lusaka Protocol. The completion of these tasks, it said, ‘favours the progressive normalisation of life in the country’.

Addressing a press conference earlier in the week, Norberto dos Santos, the MPLA information secretary, said it was a fact that the country was going to have a Prime Minister. What was being done now, he added, was to ensure that the duties and powers of the President and Prime Minister were duly clarified, so as to avoid some confusion there had been in the past.

Prime Minister of East Timor visits Angola

President José Eduardo dos Santos said in Luanda on 15 October that Angola was fully prepared to support East Timor in the great task of national reconstruction, ‘despite the difficulties inherent in a post-war situation’.

Speaking at the start of official talks with Mari Alkatiri, Prime Minister of East Timor, the President stressed the relations of friendship between their two peoples, saying that despite the geographical distance, ‘we felt deeply involved in the problems that affected the Timorese for many years’.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said: ‘Angola never vacillated, never hesitated in supporting us at any time, even in the most difficult moments of our struggle.’

He said that the first time his country had voted in the United Nations was in favour of Angola as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

An agreement on cooperation was signed during the visit. One of the items agreed was that Angola will be training Timorese military pilots.

Mari Alkatiri also said during his visit that his country planned to benefit from Angola’s experience in the oil industry.

Angolan involvement in Ivory Coast denied

The Office of the President has denied the involvement of the Angolan Armed Forces in the internal crisis in Ivory Coast. A source in the Office of the President categorically denied on 15 October that Angolan armoured cars had arrived at Abidjan military airport and that one of them had had mechanical problems on the route into the centre of the city.

The Ivorian Ambassador to Angola, Anne Gnahouret, had earlier given a press conference in Lunda to deny any such participation.

‘Our relations are diplomatic,’ she said. ‘It is not true that Angolan soldiers are involved in the conflict in our country.’

Angola’s Ambassador to Ivory Coast, Dombele Mbala Bernardo, said in Luanda on 13 October that reports that Angolan troops were fighting with Ivorian government troops were unfounded and had originated from the rebels there.

‘Speculation that there are Angolans fighting in Ivory Coast was started by the rebels themselves, as a way of getting the attention of the international community. Countries accredited in Ivory Coast know that there are no Angolan troops in that country.’

MPLA accuses Médecins Sans Frontières of gross interference

The MPLA has accused Médecins Sans Frontières of ‘gross interference in Angola’s internal affairs’ and wanting to give the government orders.

Information secretary Norberto dos Santos said this at a press conference on 11 October.

In a report entitled ‘Angola, after the war abandonment’ presented during an earlier press conference, MSF accused the authorities of having abandoned to their fate the population ‘sacrificed by the warring parties’.

‘We accept opinions and suggestions. They have the right to say what they think, but they have no right to tell the government what it should do,’ Norberto dos Santos said, adding that the government had a programme for reception areas and was carrying it out.

‘We think the government should establish norms and rules to govern the activity of non-governmental organisations here in Angola,’ Norberto dos Santos continued, ‘because there is in fact interference that is beginning to put our sovereignty in question. It is beginning to put in question our fitness as a state.’

National army marks tenth anniversary

Minister of Defence Kundy Paihama said in Luanda on 9 October that the Angolan Armed Forces, FAA, were celebrating their tenth anniversary with a feeling of having performed their duty by giving the Angolan people ‘what they had always longed for most - peace, freedom and the legitimate right to determine their own destiny in tranquillity’.

It was, he continued, ‘a truly national army, which had shown itself to be outstandingly capable of fighting in defence of Angola’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, giving of its best for the consolidation of peace, national concord and social well-being’.

FAA was created on 9 October 1991, through the merging of FAPLA, the government’s army, and Unita’s army FALA, within the framework of the Bicesse Accords signed in Portugal that same year. The Accords provided for the establishment of a single national army.

‘The first and most important thing,’ Paihama stressed, ‘is that we succeeded in putting an end to the internal armed conflict and that we ourselves, in our own country, found the requisite mechanisms in record time to silence the guns, to start dialogue and, in a spirit of fraternal understanding, to unite on the basis of the highest ideals of our martyred people.’

Re-united Unita forms standing committee

Unita’s new standing committee met in Luanda on 9 October to discuss future plans. The meeting came a day after the re-unification of Unita, which culminated in the swearing in of the members of a political committee.

Unita information secretary Marcial Dachala told the press afterwards that all that remained to be done was to hold a congress to elect the top leader.

The members of the political committee include, among others, Paulo Lukamba ‘Gato’, Jorge Valentim, Correia Victor, Abílio Camalata ‘Numa’, Jerónimo Wanga, Samuel Chiwale, Demósthenes Chilingutila, Abel Chivukuvuku, Isaías Samakuva, Alcides Sakala, Eugénio Manuvakola, Jaka Jamba, Fernando Heitor and Jardo Muekália.

Government not to close reception areas in October

The government delegation in the Joint Commission said in Luanda on 7 October that it had no intention of closing the reception areas for Unita soldiers and their families as from 15 October, thus refuting what had been stated in a report published by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance.

A press release issued after the meeting said the commission ‘welcomed with satisfaction the clarification provided by the government delegation’. It also welcomed the government’s decision to draw up a programme for the social reintegration of former Unita and government soldiers, to arrange joint visits (government, Unita and UN) to reception areas, and the government’s ‘positive response to other logistical and functional questions raised by Unita’.

It was agreed that meetings of the Joint Commission should be based on the Memorandum of Understanding and the Lusaka Protocol, although the parties could raise any other issues they regarded as important to the implementation of those instruments.

Government programme for period 2003-2004 approved

The government approved its programme for the period 2003-2004 and made an initial examination of the 2003 general state budget at a meeting on 23 October chaired by President José Eduardo dos Santos.

A press release said that one of the aims during the period was to ‘consolidate the peace process and promote national reconciliation’. Other goals include combating hunger and poverty, promoting social stability by achieving macro-economic stability, improving health, education and social assistance, and implementing a national strategy to combat Aids and major endemic diseases.

At the same time, economic facilities are to be improved, while promoting the growth of the non-oil sector of the economy and making proper use of Angolan human resources.

The government is also to ensure the normal functioning of administrative institutions and the system of justice throughout the country.

No date yet for donor conference

Ibrahim Gambari, representative of the UN Secretary-General in Angola, said in Luanda on 21 October that no specific date had yet been set for holding an international donor conference, and that it might be held at the beginning of next year.

He added that ‘preparations for holding the conference are continuing’ and that discussions were taking place between the UN and the Angolan government to ensure the success of the conference.

Advocating strengthened relations between the government and the World Bank and IMF, Gambari said the World Bank was already working in partnership with the government on a programme for the reintegration of demobilised soldiers.

More Angolanisation sought in oil industry

The Ministries of Oil and Industry have set up working sub-committees to carry out a study on the involvement of Angolan companies in the oil industry. Oil Minister Botelho de Vasconcelos said the results would be presented to the government. The Minister was at a ceremony to inaugurate the headquarters of Sonangol USA Company, Sonusa, in Houston, Texas.

There were not enough national companies involved in the oil sector, he said. He however welcomed the results achieved in the training and employment of Angolan personnel in foreign oil companies. Many Angolans were already in technical and managerial posts in such companies as Chevron Texaco, TotalFinaElf, BP and Exxon, he said.

Referring to the inauguration of Sonusa, the Minister said the consolidation of Sonangol’s position in Houston would strengthen commercial relations with the USA and enable Angola to participate more fully in the international oil market.

‘It is an import step that will bring benefits in the years to come,’ he said.

Endiama, De Beers and SDM to end disputes

The state diamond company Endiama, De Beers and the Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Mineiro, SDM, have signed a moratorium agreement to end disputes and enter into new contracts. According to a press release issued on 18 October, this could lead to greater mutually advantageous bilateral cooperation in the diamond industry.

Accordingly, the companies have requested Angolan and arbitration courts to suspend pending arbitration proceedings until 31 December.

Under the moratorium agreement, which was aimed at starting negotiations in good faith between the companies by 21 October, if the parties do not achieve a definitive agreement by 31 December, arbitration procedures are to be resumed.

The companies are to make efforts to ensure a positive outcome to the negotiations.

New diamond mining contracts signed

The Luarica and Fucauma diamond projects in Lunda Norte Province will shortly start operations, following the signing of contracts in Luanda on 3 October, under which Endiama, the national diamond company, will resume its role as operator.

The Luarica mine has proven reserves of 789,624.85 carats, and extraction over an estimated six-year period is expected to provide earnings of more than US$170 million. Endiama, which has a 40 percent shareholding, will have as its partner the South African company Trans Hex, with a 35 percent interest. Other companies involved are Micol and Som-Veterang, both of which are Angolan, each with 12.5 percent.

According to specialists, the Fucauma mine will produce an estimated 480 carats over a four-year period, providing earnings of US$70 million. The companies involved, in addition to Endiama (38 percent), are Trans Hex (32 percent) and the Angolan companies Toca Mai, LMJS, CDS, Lunae, Diagema and Afromeira.

Signing on behalf of Trans Hex, Tokyo Cekwale, an ANC veteran and former governor of Gauteng, said his group would be investing US$30 million in the two projects. They were also interested in investing in other areas.

‘We are building a hotel on Luanda Island,’ Cekwale said, ‘and we also have plans in the area of education.’

Reintegration of former Unita soldiers to cost $55 million

João Baptista Kussumua, Minister of Assistance and Social Reintegration, presented to the press on 29 October a special government programme for demobilised Unita soldiers within the framework of completing implementation of the Lusaka Protocol.

The programme is in four phases: social and economic reintegration, resettlement of population directly affected by the armed conflict, vocational training, and general programme of demobilisation and reintegration.

The Minister said the plan would benefit more than 70,000 demobilised Unita troops and would cost an estimated US$55 million, 50 percent of which had already been funded by the government.

Among the trades included in vocational training are basic and advanced agriculture, electricity, brick-laying, metalworking, plumbing, nursing, teaching, driving and carpentry.

The Minister added that government action also included a series of programmes already under way aimed at combating poverty.

Demobbed soldiers informed of their rights

The institute for the social and economic reintegration of ex-servicemen, Irsem, started a process of informing demobbed soldiers of their rights and duties in civilian life on 31 October at the Galangue reception centre, Huíla Province.

Thirty activists provided information and advice aimed at cultivating in the former soldiers a spirit of peace and reconciliation. Mr. Azevedo Pio, head of the Irsem information department, said this would be done at the three Galangue centres.

There are more than 20,000 demobilised soldiers in Huíla Province, 16,000 from the Bicesse Accord, 4,000 from the Lusaka Protocol and around 2,500 from the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Moxico Province last April.

Irsem is also to undertake a survey among demobilised soldiers to collect information to help them to find employment later on. NGOs involved in human rights issues were helping the government with this in Huíla Province.

Children vaccinated against measles

It was reported on 23 October that 257,687 children between 6 months and 14 years old had been vaccinated against measles in reception areas for Unita families and other emergency centres, as part of the vaccination campaign promoted by the Ministry of Health and Unicef.

Financed by the European Union, the campaign also had the participation of Angolan and foreign NGOs, provincial health departments and volunteers.

Ana Vaz, head of the hygiene and epidemiology department of the National Directorate of Public Health, said that measles was one of the major causes of infant mortality in Angola.

It was hoped to vaccinate more than 300,000 more children by the end of December, she said.

Uíge: 3,702 former Unita soldiers return home

Three thousand seven hundred and two former Unita soldiers and their families in the Uamba and Vale do Loge reception centres in Uíge Province were returning to the areas where they lived before joining in the war.

This was announced on 21 October by Cordeiro Ernesto Nzakundomba, governor of Uíge Province, at a meeting to discuss the provision of transport for the return of the former soldiers.

New social projects in Huíla Province

Huíla provincial governor Ramos da Cruz revealed on 20 October that the provincial government would complete more than 20 social projects by November. Schools, health posts, low cost housing for public sector workers and recently repaired secondary roads would be presented to the population as part of the festivities of the 27th anniversary of independence.

The projects, he said, were part of the strategic programme for the development of the region, scheduled to take five years.

Other projects completed were the first phase of an irrigation canal from the Matala hydroelectric scheme, built by the Brazilian company Odebrecht at a cost of US$6 million, the Chicungo dam in the agricultural municipality of Quipungo, and fully repaired roads such as those in the Capunda mining region, Cavilongo and Chibia, between the city of Lubango and the Tundavala tourist area.

The governor was speaking after a local government meeting. He added that there were serious problems in the area of education.

‘We have around 400,000 children studying in Huíla Province, with extremely deteriorated facilities,’ he said. ‘And despite the fact that the government has made great efforts in recent years to remedy this, the truth is that we have not achieved what is needed. We shall continue to spend 50 percent of the public investment programme budget on education, since we have been given specific guidelines to improve the sector as soon as possible.’

It was earlier reported that local government in Lubango, capital of Huíla Province, had invested more than US$93 million in building homes for public sector employees on the outskirts of the city.

António Venâncio, assistant administrator, said 70 homes would be built for media, health, education and construction workers, so as to reduce the housing difficulties they faced.

He said that more than 50 homes had already been built, within the framework of the public investment programme.

Humanitarian situation improving

Meeting in Luanda on 18 October, the standing commission of the Council of Ministers noted that, although it was still worrying, the humanitarian situation in the country had improved substantially. A press statement said the most humanitarian critical conditions were in areas where there had been greatest instability during the last phase of the war, with many people displaced and the destruction of crops.

Around 1.9 million people still needed emergency aid, even in areas already assisted before the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding last April. The people needed sufficient quantities of food, seeds and farm tools, medicines and blankets.

The standing commission also expressed concern about schooling for displaced children. It noted that about 60 percent of them could not take part in organised learning activities, making it necessary to rehabilitate 600 classrooms and additional facilities for around 100,000 pupils.

Although the government had approved a US$267-million programme for the return and resettlement of displaced people and former Unita soldiers, UN agencies and NGOs needed to raise US$170 million to cover part of that humanitarian operation by December 2002.

One of the government’s priorities, the statement said, was to close camps for displaced persons and ensure that people returned to their home areas before the start of the agricultural year. This was to be done in accordance with procedures already approved by the Council of Ministers, to include a programme of support for the social reintegration of people directly affected by the armed conflict and the rehabilitation of rural areas.

Plan for reintegration of displaced people

The national commission for the social and productive reintegration of demobilised and displaced people started a meeting with provincial governors on 14 October to programme the return and resettlement of displaced people and those in reception centres before the next agricultural season.

João Baptista Kussumua, Minister of Assistance and Social Reintegration, said the government had earmarked US$2 million to start to transport them to the areas of their choice indicated during surveys made in reception centres.

He said the reception centres were to be closed by the end of the year. The people there would be leaving areas where they had to wait for supplies that were subject to delays, in order to be able to sustain themselves and contribute to the country’s reconstruction and economic stability.

Kussumua acknowledged that it was not easy to maintain the 27 reception centres, with the heavy costs of supplying them. It would be much better for the former soldiers and their families to settle in areas where they want to live and earn their own living with government support.

The ex-combatants would receive money, tool kits and vocational training, he said. He promised safe conditions, as well as land and water.

The Minister criticised the lack of consistency of NGOs that spoke of food problems in reception areas but did not want people to leave those areas. This was an issue that had to be dealt with strictly in terms of the requirements and not one to be used for political purposes, he said.

Also present at the meeting were Júlio Bessa, Minister of Finance, Ana Dias Lourenço, Minister of Planning, and Faustino Muteka, Minister of Territorial Administration.

Social projects in Bengo Province

Five social projects worth US$331,133 were handed over to the local community in Caxito, Bengo Province, on 12 October. Financed by the Social Support Fund, they were three two-room primary schools and two infant centres.

José da Costa Lembe, deputy provincial governor, stressed the need to preserve the buildings and thanked the Fund for the work it had been doing to improve the lives of the neediest people in the province.

Maria Peixoto, provincial director of the Fund, said that in this second phase of the programme, which had started in 2000, the aim was to finance building projects and rehabilitate social facilities.

Tree planting

One hundred and fifty tree species are to be planted by teachers in the municipality of Bocoio, 110 km north of the city of Benguela, during the months of October and November.

Tavares Ernesto, head of the municipal office of the Ministry of Education and Culture, said that teachers and administrative personnel had been mobilised for the campaign, and they and other people from the community would also be filling in holes on the 25-km road from Bocoio to Lobito.

Paulo Tyamba of the Huíla provincial office of the Institute of Forestry Development, said in Lubango on 12 October that 17,000 trees would be planted in November. The trees, to include mainly eucalyptus, jacarandas and pines, would be planted in streets and schools and religious institutions on the outskirts of Lubango

He added that the project was part of a programme of seed reproduction, under which it was planned to plant 35,000 species of trees in Quipungo, 50,000 in Matala and 30,000 in Chibia.

He added that the Institute had planted 800,000 trees in the province in the past six months.

Truck convoys take food to reception areas

A convoy of 62 trucks left Luanda on 12 October for the centre, south and southwest of the country, taking containers of food, medicines, clothing and footwear to the people in reception centres in what was called Operation Peace. Forty-six of them were taking goods to Kuando Kubango Province, eleven went to Huambo and four to Bié.

António Machado, one of the drivers, said that under normal conditions the journey would take less than four days, but that owing to the bad conditions of roads it would take longer.

It was the fourth convoy taking goods to reception centres. The first went from the port of Lobito to Huambo earlier in October, the second to Moxico, and the third, a convoy of 70 trucks, drove to Malanje, Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul and Moxico.

Miguel Catraio, an adviser to the Ministry of Finance, said the food taken was aimed at ensuring assistance until December.

The consignment that left Luanda on 12 October included rice, assorted tinned food, salt, cooking oil and soap, among other things, totalling 700 tonnes. Another 300 tonnes of goods were to be distributed in Kwanza Sul Province in the next few days by a convoy that was being prepared.

In addition to goods for people in reception areas, the road convoys were taking assorted articles to the Ministry of Assistance and Social Reintegration to support programmes for the reintegration of demobilised soldiers.

Angola signs treaty on plant genetic resources

The Angolan government signed the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources at a meeting of the interim committee of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation held in Rome from 9 to 10 October. The treaty is to ensure diversity of plant genetic resources for farmers for plant improvement and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of those resources.

During the meeting, Angola was also elected vice-chair of the international bureau for the African region, a post to be held by Liz Matos, director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s National Plant Genetic Resources Centre.

Meeting on agriculture in Bié

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development held the 26th meeting of its enlarged consultative board in Bié Province on 10 and 11 October.

A Ministry source said issues discussed by experts were agricultural development, poverty reduction strategies, food security and institutional legal reforms.

Other items on the agenda were national livestock production, repair of facilities, agricultural investment programmes, natural resource management and the environment, and personnel and training policy.

Rebuilding in Lunda Norte

Local government has spent around US$8 million on building economic and social facilities in the municipality of Dundo, Lunda Norte Province.

A press release issued on 7 October by the provincial directorate of public works and town planning, said the money had been spent on building a library, a medical post and a primary school.

It said that efforts were being made to complete the construction of two housing complexes and a government guest house.

A further US$4 million was needed for a programme to rehabilitate facilities in municipalities and communes in the province.

Agricultural year opened in Lunda Sul

Francisco Sozinho Tchiuissa, governor of Lunda Sul Province, officially opened the 2002-2003 agricultural year in Dala, Lunda Sul province, on 6 October.

He also presented local peasants with hoes, axes, machetes and maize, rice, beans and groundnut seeds, as well as essential articles.

Speaking on behalf of the people of Dala, traditional chief Muacanhica expressed thanks for the donations and called for the speeding up of demining in crop areas and more means of production.

The governor also spoke to the local population, giving details of the provincial government’s programme for the next two years.

Malanje to have university branch

Cristóvão da Cunha, governor of Malanje Province, announced on 7 October that the province would soon have a branch of Agostinho Neto University, teaching nursing, science and technology.

The lack of higher education has long been a problem for young people, who have to go to other provinces after finishing secondary school.

The provinces that currently have branches of the Luanda-based university are Benguela, Cabinda, Huambo, Uíge and Huíla.

Caála rehabilitates institute

The vocational education institute in Caála, about 23 km west of the city of Huambo, is being rehabilitated at an estimated cost of US$40,000.

Mário Chimuco, director of the institute, said work had started in late September and involved considerable rebuilding.

One thousand five hundred students attend classes at the institute, the only one in the municipality.

Elephant poachers arrested

At least seven men engaged in illegal elephant hunting were arrested in the Bicuar National Park, municipality of Quipungo, Huíla Province, in early October, by wardens from the Institute of Forestry Development.

Paulo Tyamba, provincial director of the institute, said the arrested men were carrying PKM weapons and had been taken by surprise in the park in an area frequented by elephants.

He said the Insitute of Forestry Development was very worried about poaching in Bicuar, since they did not have enough wardens, transport facilities or radio communications for their work.

The Bicuar National Park covers an area of 9,700 km2.

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