“Minerals will not solve all our problems…” says President Guebuza.

President Guebuza

(2012-05-10) Mozambican President Armando Guebuza warned on Monday that the social and economic problems faced by Mozambicans will not be solved simply through the exploitation of mineral resources, but through integrating the mining sector with other areas of the economy.

Guebuza was speaking in London at a meeting with the Mozambican community resident in Britain.

He recognised that Mozambique could have a brilliant future thanks to the mineral resources it possesses, and others that may be discovered in the future. However, this will only come about gradually.

“The minerals we have discovered will not give their best results immediately”, he said. “It will take time for us to recover the investments made, It will take time but that doesn’t mean that we won’t have gains. We shall gain from the jobs created and the taxes paid. Gradually there will be benefits, although not at the level that would be desirable”.

“This situation is creating impatience”, Guebuza admitted. “But we must keep a cool and clear head, because the benefits will come”.

Over the last decade, the President added, Mozambique had maintained an average annual growth rate of between seven and 7.5 per cent.

“We used to have a per capita income of 80 US dollars and today it’s more than 400 dollars”, he said. “It has been rapid and sustainable growth, which has kept on throughout recent years, and even with the global financial crisis growth has not faltered”.

Guebuza explained that this growth was not due simply to coal and natural gas. “We are growing sustainably without gas, and even without coal”, he said. “I would like to remind Mozambicans that we should not think that the use of these resources will solve all our problems”.

“What must happen is that the resources are used to speed up development, and thus bring us to accelerate the fight against poverty”, he added.

Guebuza recognised that recent economic growth is not yet reflected in an improved quality of life for Mozambicans. “Often the question is asked – if there is growth, why is it not reflected in people’s pockets?”, he said. “This is a problem of distribution. The government is distributing wealth through the provision of good quality services, by increasing access to clean water, building schools and improving their quality, and bringing electricity and telephone services to the population”.

He pointed out that, over the last ten years, these services have become more accessible to citizens. In the recent past, there were parts of the country where people had to walk for 200 kilometres to reach the nearest health post. That maximum distance has now been cut to 40 kilometres.

“This is important and has a great impact on people’s lives”, said Guebuza. “These results are most visible for people who live in the countryside”.

Guebuza also noted that access to higher education used to be limited because there were only two universities in the country, both in Maputo. But now it is possible to attend university courses in all 11 provinces.

About 250 of the 600 Mozambicans living in Britain attended the meeting.

Comments

3 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. avatar vanessa vargas,

    As a teacher, I cannot help but think of the fate of children in remote areas of Mozambique. Children need to get educated just as rapidly as the resources are being exploited in this country. They cannot wait for a future promise of prosperity. In order for a country to grow socially, its youth must become active participants in their country’s development. Children can grow to become contributing citizens of a society only if they are educated. In my opinion, education is a topic of urgency. I know president Guebuza has a positive outlook for his country, and he should. However, the success of a country lies with the education of its people. It’s a long term investment that will show gains in the future but precisely because it is a long term investment it must begin immediately. I wonder if Mozambique’s tourism can be further exploited to help fund education. Mozambique certainly looks like a beautiful place to visit.

  2. avatar Elizabeth Fitzgerald,

    Ms. Vargas is exactly right—education must be a top priority in Mozambique. In fact, Mozambique has multiple international treaty obligations that mandate the education of every single child in the country.

    It is internationally recognized that every individual, including children, have the right to education. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 28), the African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Article 17), and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Article 11)—all of which are treaties that Mozambique has ratified—make this explicitly clear.

    The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child specify that member states must make primary and secondary education free to all citizens, and that primary education must be compulsory. They must take measures to reduce drop-out rates and encourage regular attendance. Thus, Mozambique’s low levels of education—only 69 percent of children are in primary school—violate its international legal obligations and must be remedied immediately.

    Other countries rich in natural resources who have attempted to avoid international legal obligations to educate children have been reprimanded. For example, in SERAP v. Federal Republic of Nigeria and Universal Basic Education Commission, the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held that citizens have the legal right to education, and that this legal right can be enforced in international human rights courts. Nigeria argued that education is “a mere directive policy of the government and not a legal entitlement of the citizens,” but the court rejected this argument. Although Mozambique is not a member of ECOWAS, this case sends a clear message that international courts can, and will, enforce citizens’ legal right to education. Mozambique should take note of this and make sure it implements proper educational policies, especially when it begins to accumulate natural resource wealth.

  3. avatar Karen Moulton,

    Every citizen of every country has a right to an education and to better themselves. This should have nothing whatsoever to do with the “law” of that country, but is a basic human right. Everyone should be able to improve their lives, and e…ducation is a part of that. It is well known that a country that has well-educated citizens is better off both economically and culturally. Especially in a country that has natural resource wealth. A well-educated country has less violence and more tolerance because they are economically sound. When people have their basic needs met, they are happier. Isn’t that what we should strive for?