Maputo — Workers of Nampula Municipal Council, in northern Mozambique, have gone without their wages for the past two months, reports Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".
This is a recurrent problem in Nampula. Since January, the municipal council has been paying wages late - but blames the central government for this situation.
The Council, which is currently run by the largest opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, claims the government has been irregular in transferring to Nampula its share of the Municipal Compensation fund (FCA).
It says Nampula has the right to receive 16.9 million meticais (about 272,000 US dollars) a month from the FCA. The sums it received from the FCA in February and March fell well short of this, the Council complained. The shortfall was 6.7 million meticais in February and 3.3 million in March.
The Council adds that it has been putting pressure on the Ministry of Economy and Finance to solve this problem urgently.
Effectively, the Council is asking the central government to take over responsibility for paying wages to the over 2,000 people the Council employs - which makes a nonsense of the decentralisation that Renamo has always demanded.
Nampula, with a population of over 663,000, is the third largest city in the country (after Maputo and Matola) and so has a significant tax base of its own. It should be raising money from the municipal poll tax, the municipal property tax, and the municipal taxes levied on commercial establishments, in addition to the annual vehicle tax, market fees and other smaller sources of income.
But if Nampula requires central government money simply to pay wages, then the concept of municipal autonomy seems empty of content.