Marcopolis presents the Mozambique Report focused on topics such as investments, doing business, economy and regional integration, featuring interviews with Mozambican leaders. The sectors under review in this issue are agriculture, banking, energy, industry, telecom, IT, tourism, logistics and many more.
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Joaquim Alberto Chissano was the second President of Mozambique, serving from 1986 to 2005. Since leaving the presidency, he has campaigned for peace through his work as an envoy and peace negotiator for the United Nations. Chissano also served as Chairperson of the African Union from July 2003 to July 2004. In 2007, he was awarded the inaugural Prize for Achievement in African Leadership by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Joaquim Chissano is also a member of the Fondation Chirac's honour committee, as well as an eminent member of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Joaquim Chissano Foundation, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of peace, economic and cultural development in Mozambique.
Joaquim Chissano shares his experience on working with Nelson Mandela, remembering some highlights of the time they shared.
"Among the first problems Mandela encountered when he came to power was the fear some Afrikaners had about losing land, since these were people of the land and relied heavily on agriculture. They felt they didn't have enough land, and that if their lands now had to be redistributed among the majority, this would cause problems. This was something Mandela had to solve, and he thought that he could get a hand from Mozambique, in order to help him solve this problem. We obliged and we created the conditions for Afrikaners to come here. There was a leader of the Afrikaners called General William, who was the head of their cooperatives and had fought against both Angola and us in Mozambique. Mandela sent him to talk to me and we did so. We shook hands and this General William said: "You are a good General, because I did not defeat you. I was a good General, because you did not defeat me. But now we have to be on the same side, in order to bring good things to our two countries. If we agree on these terms, then we shake hands". And this is the signature among Afrikaners. The way you sign a deal is by shaking hands, which we did. The project started, but some other forces did not particularly agree with it, and Mandela had some issues in obtaining the financing in time - given that the South African side had subsidised some farmers in Mozambique; because what we did was to also create an association of Mozambican farmers, along with an association of South African farmers, in order to implement a joint programme in Mozambique. This programme was taken to the Niassa province, where we provided land and the infrastructure was built. I don't know whether some of these Afrikaners are still there, but because of the road conditions, things didn't quite move so fast. Why did we go to Niassa? Because there's more land there and a smaller population. The land is fertile and there is more water, yet South African farmers wanted to farm closer to home. But that programme was not in vain, because there are many South Africans farming in Mozambique today. Some Afrikaners came to settle here, and they're farming. This is something that we did together", says Joaquim Chissano.
"Mandela and I worked on many other things. It was during Mandela's time that we began building the Maputo 'corridor', with a highway linking both countries. During his time, we also began discussing Emocil and the gas in southern Mozambique, in Inhambane province, although much of this was concluded during the time of President Thabo Mbeki. It was also during Mandela's time that we began discussing 'Spatial Development Zones', i.e. spaces for common development, namely the Lebombo development area, comprising Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. During Mandela's term, we began to talk about joining the Kruger Park and those in Mozambique, in order to create the Greater Limpopo, although the treaty as such was signed during Mbeki’s term. During Mandela's time in office, we also decided to have regular meetings between both governments. Two delegations were on standby to meet frequently, at least four times a year, in order to exchange reviews and the like. That's when we began discussing the need for a common border and for bringing our countries closer together. As you can see, there were many things. We also discussed SADC. Mandela had to take the place left behind by Nyerere in trying to achieve peace in Burundi. We also worked together on that. You name it! There were many occasions when we met, even if it wasn't a long period, as he was in power for just five years. But following that, we created the forum for former heads of State and Government - an initiative that I conceived and I shared with him. He agreed to take part in the first constitutive meeting, although he wasn't feeling too well by then. He became a member and made a speech at the opening session of this forum", he adds.
"He had the fullest respect for me, although I sought to reverse things, given his age and his intellectuality. I recognised him as senior, but he would refuse this treatment and wished to place himself lower than me. Thus, when I found him sitting somewhere, he wouldn't allow me to greet him while he was sitting. He had to stand up and would refer to me as "my President". "Welcome, my President", he used to say. Of course, he also involved me in his private life, when he started to become close to Graça Machel, who became his wife. During the early days, he approached me to inform me about his intention, respecting the fact that I was head of State, but also in keeping with African tradition. He thought there should be a family 'to be talked to' before proceeding, which was a symbolic gesture. We had some good moments", he concludes.