Maputo — Residents of the island on Kanhaka on Monday complained to Mozambique’s First Lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza about lack of jobs and the persistence of tribalism.
Speaking at a meeting addressed by Guebuza as part of a working visit she is making to the municipal districts of Maputo city, some residents alleged discrimination in the allocation of loans from the District Development Fund (FDD).
This fund is still commonly known as “the seven million” because it began, in 2006, as an allocation of seven million meticais from the state budget to each of the country’s 128 districts. The money is lent to individuals who present viable projects that can increase food security and create jobs.
One speaker at the rally, Arlindo Nhaca, declared “there’s discrimination in distributing this money. And if anyone is allocated money, he’s given too little. It’s not enough to achieve the project proposed, because a good part of the amount goes on paying the costs of buying and transporting building material”.
Another resident, Arlindo Samage, asked the First Lady to press the government to create more jobs. He said that currently Kanhaka islanders live only from fishing, which provides low incomes. The declining income from fishing is being blamed on climate change – though it is also likely that there are simply too many fishermen in Maputo Bay, leading to overfishing and a reduction in stocks.
“I’m the only miner here”, said Samage. “I work in South Africa – but nobody comes here to recruit other people for the mines, and the only activity residents have is fishing”.
Nelson Adriano said the island’s protected status as a nature reserve made it difficult to obtain space for undertaking other activities that might generate income.
Guebuza called on the islanders to free themselves from tribalism “because we are all Mozambicans and we all have to fight for the development of Mozambique”.
“Mozambicans are free to work anywhere in the country, without any discrimination”, she said. “We must all see ourselves as Mozambicans. We cannot stir up tribalism and division among us”.
Guebuza insisted that parents should send their children to school – and that they should not bribe teachers to ensure that their children pass from one grade to the next. “We have to end the habit of paying teachers for children to pass”, she said. “We have to follow our children’s progress to know what difficulties they have, so that we are not taken by surprise”.
She stressed that Mozambique contains many natural resources, but lacks the trained cadres to exploit them. “If we don’t take the trouble to educate our children”, she warned, “then we will have to bring foreigners to work instead of them”
She urged her listeners to use the District Development Fund to produce food and create jobs, thus accepting that the fight against poverty is their responsibility.