Maputo — Mulombo (Mozambique), 20 Jan (AIM) - Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday urged the people of Mulombo district, in the central province of Zambezia, to use the Mozambican currency, the metical, and not to accept payment for their crops in the Malawian kwacha.
"You produce a lot", he told a rally in Mulombo. "But sometimes you think that, by selling your crops for a currency other than the metical, you are gaining something. But our money is much more valuable than many other currencies".
Mulombo borders on Malawi and Malawian traders buy maize from Mulombo farmers. "They say 'I'm going to pay you well' and give you a large amount of banknotes which, in practice, buys almost nothing", said Nyusi.
"We have to open our eyes", urged the President. "We have to sell for the real price of the product".
He admitted that a good maize harvest had pushed down prices - but that was an argument for farmers not to sell their grain all at once. "We have to know how to wait, because there will be good moments", said Nyusi.
But it is hard to argue in favour of the metical, in a district which has no Mozambican banks where local farmers can deposit their savings. Recognising this, Nyusi laid the first stone in Mulombo town for a branch of the BCI (Commercial and Investment Bank), the second largest commercial bank in the country.
The BCI branch will be ready for use in about four months. It is part of the government's "One district, one bank" initiative, launched in 2016, to guarantee that every district has at least one bank and thus speed up the spread of financial services throughout the country.
"I believe that after four months, you will no longer need to go to Milange, to Gurue, or even to Quelimane (the provincial capital) in search of banking services", said Nyusi. Banks, he added, "speak all languages" and so all kinds of money can be handled by the new bank.
The Mulombo branch will be the eighth to be built by the BCI under the "One district, one branch" initiative. The chairperson of the BCI Executive Commission, Paulo Sousa, told the ceremony that 30 per cent of BCI branches are now in the rural districts, rather than in Maputo or other cities.
But there are still 11 districts in Zambezia that do not have any bank branches. The government's target is that by 2019 all districts in the country will have at least one bank.
Nyusi also urged young people in Mulombo not to resort to crime or prostitution merely because they are unemployed. "Not having a job does not necessarily mean becoming a prostitute or killing to obtain money", he said.
He was replying to a young woman who took the floor at the rally to complain of unemployment, alleging that this led women to prostitute themselves, while other people even killed their own parents in order to seize their money.
"This father who was killed also didn't have a formal job", said Nyusi, "He worked on his farm, producing soya, tobacco or other crops for sale. This father didn't deserve to be killed by someone who wants money but doesn't want to work".
Nyusi was sceptical about the young woman's claim, since he had never heard that there was a proliferation of prostitutes in Mulombo because of lack of employment opportunities. "We cannot resort to this kind of thing in order to solve job problems", he said.