Mozambique: Natural Resources Need Skilled Labour

Maputo — The continual discovery of natural resources in Mozambique must be accompanied by the training of technical staff so that they can be exploited by Mozambicans rather than foreigners, urged the country's first lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, on Tuesday.

Speaking in Majune district, in the northern province of Niassa, where she is on a working visit, Guebuza said today's children must be educated and trained so that they become tomorrow's producers of wealth.

Mozambique, she said, has vast resources, particularly reserves of coal and of natural gas, but lacks the skilled technical staff to work in these areas. Professional training of the younger generation was key to ensuring that the jobs created are not all occupied by foreigners while Mozambicans remain unemployed.

"The government wants these resources exploited by Mozambican labour rather than by foreigners", Maria Guebuza stressed. "This involves creating the conditions so that our children can study".

If children do not study, the country will become ever poorer, she warned.

She took the opportunity to criticize the interference of initiation rites with education. When the time of the rites arrives, parents pull their children out of school in order to be initiated. This problem was easy to solve, said Guebuza - if initiation rites were held during school holidays, there would be no clash.

She urged community leaders to ensure that the rites should no longer coincide with the school timetable. "We are not opposed to initiation rites, since they are another form of learning", she said, "but we have to be organised and hold the rites when the schools are on holiday".

At her meeting in Majune, Maria Guebuza also stressed that Mozambique is about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1992 peace agreement between the government and the Renamo rebels.

"Peace is not just the guns falling silent", she said. "It is also necessary that people should be at peace with themselves, since violence and vandalism of the infrastructures built with so much sacrifice are other forms of destabilisation".

A man named Fabiao Gia, speaking in the name of the residents of Majune, denounced the resurgence of tribalism in the district. Some local leaderships, he claimed, were trying "to monopolise everything, claiming that they are the owners of the land".

Maria Guebuza said that such attitudes were the work of opportunists who want to divide Mozambicans. "United we defeated colonialism, and only united will we overcome poverty", she said. "Mozambique belongs to the Mozambicans and each of us is free to live where we want, without any kind of discrimination".

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