Maputo — Residents of the locality of Chala, in the northern Mozambican province of Niassa, have complained that they are not benefitting from the public and private investment seen in other parts of the country.
These concerns were expressed on Tuesday during a rally addressed by President Armando Guebuza, who is on a tour of the province as part of his "open and inclusive presidency".
The residents told President Guebuza that the lack of access roads is the major problem in the region. They said that people are often forced to cross through Malawi to reach the nearest health unit or maternity hospital.
According to a resident of the village of Chipanga, Saimone Aly, there have been cases of seriously illness patients being carried on bicycles to hospital, sometimes dying on the way.
Rosario Mustafo complained "we have been asking for roads for quite some time now, but nothing has happened".
Mustafo argued that the village of Chipanga has missed out on the development that has taken place in other parts of the province.
Another citizen highlighted the humiliation experienced by community leaders when they attended an official event in Chala. "They were forced to strip off their uniforms as they passed through Malawian territory because they were mistaken as high ranking officials", he said.
Alaica Munama, from the village of Matipa said "we ask not to be forgotten". Munama, who claims to be a former freedom fighter, also complained about the lack of payment of their pensions, even though Chala used to be one of Frelimo's strongholds during the struggle for Mozambique's independence.
According to Dipeta Matola, "only four former fighters are receiving their pensions here in Chala".
Elephants and drought are other problems faced by residents, who expressed their alarm at an impeding food crisis in coming months. Residents warned that if it fails to rain in the next few months deaths could occur from hunger.
Answering to these concerns, President Guebuza said that it shows that a lot more has to be done to ensure the wellbeing of all Mozambicans, and that "we must work harder to eradicate poverty".