Maputo - Foreign donors urged Mozambique on Thursday to
preserve peace like "a treasure" after an increase in political
violence, and they questioned a government-guaranteed $850m debut bond issue
that has raised concerns over financial transparency.
Since April, Renamo opposition guerrillas have staged
sporadic attacks and clashed with government forces mostly in the centre of the
southern African nation, following two decades of peace after a devastating
1975-1992 civil war.
The threat of fresh conflict, along with a spate of
kidnappings in Maputo and other cities, has alarmed donors and investors in
Mozambique who are developing some of the world's largest untapped reserves of
coal and gas.
The IMF sees Mozambique's economic growth accelerating to
8.3% next year from 7%c this year, boosted by increased business including
operations by mining and energy companies like Brazil's Vale, Rio Tinto, US oil
company Anadarko and Italian group Eni.
But there are fears the multi-billion dollar resource
investment boom in what is still one of the world's poorest states could be derailed
by attacks by Renamo, the main opposition party and former rebel group which
accuses President Armando Guebuza of monopolizing economic and political power.
Renamo, whose leader Afonso Dhlakama is on the run from the
army in the bush, is boycotting municipal elections next week.
Speaking on behalf of foreign donors after meeting with the
government, Italy's ambassador Roberto Vellano said the talks focused on
management of public finances, ways of improving the business climate and
applying anti-corruption laws.
Vellano said Mozambique was "living a political moment
that requires more than ever the gifts of dialogue and defending the peace
which have characterized its recent history".
He called this peace "a treasure to be preserved"
which he said was essential for economic growth and fighting poverty.
Request for transparency
The ambassador said donor governments in the so-called G19
donors' group, which include Britain and other European states, wanted
Mozambique to provide more information on the recent bond issue by EMATUM, a
new state company which is buying French-built tuna fishing boats and coastal
The issue totalling $850m has puzzled some investors and analysts,
who have questioned the destination of the funds and asked why the money was
not going towards more conventional projects in road, power or transport
"We recognise that Mozambique needs coastal protection,
but for the donors who are providing budget support who see their core business
as fighting poverty, this doesn't quite seem to be going in that
direction," one donor country diplomat, who asked not to be named, said.
The Mozambican state effectively controls more than 86% of EMATUM, created in August this year, through stakes held by state
entities that include an investment company, GIPS, controlled by the Mozambican
Last month, an International Monetary Fund team visited the
country and its report said Mozambique should make sure that the new tuna
company's non-commercial activities are reflected in the government's budget
and accounts next year.
Vellano said more information from the government would help
respond to donors' concerns over the financial operation "in a spirit of
openness and transparency".
Responding to journalists' questions after the meeting with
the donors, Planning and Development Minister Aiuba Cuereneia said his ministry
was working with the finance ministry to include EMATUM's non-commercial
spending activities in the 2014 budget. But he gave no details.
Cuereneia said the government was committed to economic
growth and stability and fighting poverty.