Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Friday passed the government's five year programme for the period 2020-2024, but with all the opposition deputies voting against.
The 173 deputies of the ruling Frelimo Party in the chamber voted in favour of the programme, while 55 deputies of the main opposition party, Renamo, and six deputies of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) voted against.
The government says that the programme is intended to lead Mozambique to a more diversified and competitive economy, with a greater potential to generate income and create jobs.
It states that the priority areas for the next five years are: "to develop human capital and social justice; to drive economic growth, productivity and job creation; and to strengthen the sustainable management of natural resources and of the environment".
Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario told the Assembly that the successful implementation of the programme would depend on "the selfless work of each Mozambican".
He stressed that the new challenges the country is facing, notably the pandemic of the respiratory disease Covid-19, "can in no way make us abandon the commitment we have with the Mozambican people, which is the implementation of the present Five Year Programme".
Stimulating the growth of agriculture, industrialisation, and the major hydrocarbon projects on the drawing board were, he said, key parts of "the foundation for us to achieve the employment targets envisaged in the programme".
Rosario said the government will continue to guarantee macro-economic stability and improve the business environment so as to stimulate investment. The government hoped to keep inflation low, and preserve the value of the Mozambican currency, the metical.
Rosario added that resources will be mobilised for the state budget through broadening the tax base and obtaining soft loans. He insisted on improving the efficiency of public expenditure, so that "every metical in the budget generates a greater impact in the welfare of the public".
"The moment has come", the Prime Minister said, "for us to unite our efforts and capitalise upon our comparative advantages so as to raise increasingly production and productivity, particularly in agriculture, to increase the availability of foodstuffs, and gradually reduce imports".
The opposition was not impressed, and MDM deputy Fernando Bismarque, giving his party's position, said "with this programme, Mozambique will remain among the poorest countries in the world. There will be no reduction in poverty and social inequality".
He protested that the government had not shown how it would generate the three million jobs the programme promises , nor how it could possibly maintain peace while two wars were still raging - the islamist insurgency in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and the ambushes on roads in the centre of the country generally believed to be the work of the "Renamo Military Junta".
"While these threats persist", said Bismarque, "the environment for private investment is undermined and there will be no way to improve the quality of life for Mozambicans".