Maputo — Mozambique's First Lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, on Sunday encouraged the people of Lichinga, capital of the northern province of Niassa, to remain determined in promoting and maintaining peace.
At the start of a four day visit to Niassa, she said that one of her major concerns is to see all Mozambicans living in a climate of peace and stability.
“I've come to Niassa to speak with women, young people, children and everybody, to say that together we can keep the peace in Mozambique”, Maria Guebuza declared. “We want Mozambique to remain at peace. We want our children to study in peace. That's why I'm here to say that we should all be united to maintain cohesion and peace in Mozambique”.
She added that she will also use this visit to thank the people of Niassa for the support they have given her husband, President Armando Guebuza, during the almost ten years he has been in office.
She asked that the same support should now be given to former defence minister Filipe Nyusi, the candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party for the presidential election scheduled for 15 October.
“I've come to say thank you very much indeed”, she said, “and to ask our people to continue giving the support they gave to us to our candidate Filipe Nyusi”.
On social issues, Guebuza said she was very concerned at the high rate of premature marriages in Niassa. She warned that this was a phenomenon that wrecks girls' lives and cuts short their dreams.
The available data show that, in 2013 alone, 1,260 girls below the age of 15 dropped out of school in Niassa in order to get married.
Maria Guebuza said she wanted a Mozambique in which girls are educated so as to make a contribution to the continual development of the country. “We want our girls to have ambitious dreams”, she declared. “But all too often their dreams are amputated because of premature marriages”.
She said it is the responsibility of all - parents and guardians, community and religious leaders, and society at large - to seek solutions to reduce the number of premature marriages, or do away with the phenomenon altogether, not only in Niassa, but throughout the country.
“These are girls who ought to be in the middle of their training, so that that can make their best contributions to our country”, she stressed. “At all times, and wherever we are, we must think about the well-being of children”.
As for a rate of chronic malnutrition among children of around 44 per cent, Maria Guebuza called for better training of women and young people in nutrition.
“If there's one province in our country that is rich in foodstuffs and has no food security problems, it's Niassa”, she said. “The problem is how we feed ourselves and what products we use in our diet. This is a challenge n which we must all be involved. Let's work to reduce this problem in Niassa”.