Msawise — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Thursday urged residents of the administrative post of Msawise, in the northern province of Niassa, to exploit mineral resources in a sustainable and wise manner, including rubies which are found in fair amounts in that region.
Guebuza, who was addressing a rally in the district of Mavago as part of his "open presidency" started on Tuesday, added that this is one of the major challenges faced by Mozambicans.
According to Guebuza, everybody wants his share from country's wealth, particularly when those riches are found bellow the ground, but often the exploitation of those resources is carried out in a disorganised manner.
'The government intends to improve the mining of rubies in Msawise, which should benefit all local residents", explained Guebuza, answering to concerns raised by the local residents, who complained that local authorities have forced a number of people to stop their activities.
Ascimo Mbwana, one of the residents, told President Guebuza that there is plenty of wealth beneath the ground in Msawise, which is not benefiting anyone because of police actions.
'When the mines were discovered they used to generate plenty of wealth for the local population, but now we are being chased away by the police. Now, our life standard has degenerated", complained Mbwana.
A report from the local government presented to Guebuza, states that one of the obstacles for Msawise's development 'is the delay in the legalization of area with ruby deposits, which could benefit the local population".
In the recent past, Msawise was invaded by foreigners who used to mine rubies illegally, but they were later expelled by the local authorities.
During the rally, the residents also asked for the increase of the "Seven Million Meticais Fund", construction of another bridge over the Rovuma River to ease the movement of people and goods between Mozambique and the neighbouring Tanzania, better roads, potable water and schools, among other facilities.
As for the 'Seven Million Meticais,' Guebuza said its increase will depend on how it is managed by the beneficiaries themselves.
'That's why we always mention the need to repay the borrowed money in order to benefit more people. In fact, the government has already increased the money it allocates to each district", said Guebuza, adding that now "the fund has grown and varies according to the area and number of inhabitants in each district".
Commonly referred to as "the seven million", this Fund began with the allocation of seven million meticais (251,000 US dollars at current exchange rates) from the state budget to each of the districts, to support small projects that would enhance food security and create jobs.
The original idea was that this should be a revolving fund. Beneficiaries would repay the money lent to them, and these repayments would replenish the fund, which would cease to rely exclusively on the central state budget.
But so far repayment levels remain too low.