Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Wednesday urged Mozambicans not to be deceived by people who promote tribalism, since this is a phenomenon that endangers national unity.
He was speaking at a rally in the Quionga administrative post, in Palma district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, in reaction to a call that the local Consultative Council should be dissolved.
The man who made this demand opposed the Council because some of its members are not natives of Palma.
Guebuza retorted that eligibility for membership of a Consultative Council could not depend on a citizen's place of birth. "What is most important is that the citizen should be living in the area", he said.
He cited the mayors of Mozambican municipalities who may well have been born in other parts of the country - but any Mozambican can be a candidate for mayor as long as he has been living in the municipality for at least six months.
"People born in Palma can be members of Consultative Councils in other places as long as they live there", added Guebuza. "Regardless of where they were born, Mozambicans have the same rights".
National unity was not an abstract slogan, he said. "We must avoid being manipulated. If we worry about whether this or that person was born in this or that place, that will divide us and nobody gains anything. What is important is that there should be clear and fair working criteria".
The Consultative Councils are the bodies that manage the District Development Fund (FDD). This fund is still commonly referred to as "the seven million", since it started in 2006 as an allocation of seven million meticais (250,000 US dollars at current exchange rates) from the state budget to each of the 128 districts.
The money is to be lent to people who present viable projects that can create jobs and boost food production.
At Quionga there were complaints of discrimination in the allocation of this fund, and in employment and pensions. Guebuza declared that nobody should be discriminated against, and urged Quionga residents to reveal who was practicing discrimination, "so that they can be held responsible".
Guebuza insisted that nobody should suffer reprisals for denouncing abuses or expressing their views publicly. "In Mozambique, people should feel free to indicate in a constructive way the problems that affect them", he said.
He guaranteed that "nobody will be taken to court" because they had spoken out at the Quionga rally, since freedom of expression was a constitutional right.