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  • Christine Chumbler
    Chissano Dissolves Government Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo) January 26, 2005 Posted to the web January 27, 2005 Maputo As part of the transition
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 28, 2005
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      Chissano Dissolves Government

      Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

      January 26, 2005
      Posted to the web January 27, 2005

      Maputo

      As part of the transition to a new head of state, and a new government,
      Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano on Wednesday dissolved the current
      government.

      As of midnight Wednesday, Prime Minister Luisa Diogo, all ministers and
      deputy ministers, and all provincial governors are relieved of their
      duties.

      The government held its final meeting on Tuesday, under Chissano's
      chairmanship, followed by a ceremony at which diplomas of merit or of
      honour were awarded to the members of the outgoing government, and of
      members of Chissano's previous government, in office from 1994 to 1999.

      The newly elected parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, will be
      sworn into office, and elect its chairperson on Monday.

      Presiding over this opening session will be among the last state duties
      undertaken by Chissano.

      His successor, President-elect Armando Guebuza, will be inaugurated at
      a public ceremony next Wednesday, 2 February. He is expected to announce
      a new government within a matter of days.


      *****

      Zimbabwe sculptors struggle with sales

      Harare



      26 January 2005 08:44

      Zimbabwe's traditional stone sculptors, who once earned huge sums from
      Western tourists, museums and galleries, are now struggling to survive
      due to their country's isolation.

      The exquisite soapstone and granite works, crafted for centuries by the
      country's majority Shona people, came to the attention of the world in
      the 1960s when it metamorphosed into a more modern and Cubist art form.

      The representations of humans, birds, beasts and spirits or purely
      abstract pieces started commanding hefty prices abroad and Shona works
      grace the collections of the New York Museum of Modern Art, Britain's
      Queen Elizabeth II and the Rockefeller family.

      But Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's standoff with the United States,
      Europe and Australia since controversial presidential polls in 2002 has
      led to a slump in Western tourists, the main chunk of buyers.

      Mugabe's policy of wooing Asia to offset this drop has not helped.

      "We have suffered perhaps even more than any other industry since the
      problems between our government and the Western countries started," said
      Harare art dealer Newman Chiadzwa.

      "The European markets are virtually closed and since the start of this
      'Look East' policy, we are getting lots of visitors from China and Korea
      coming to us saying they want to exchange sculptures with goods such as
      bicycles. But we need money, not bicycles."

      Shona stone sculptures were picked up as souvenirs by European
      travellers as far back as the 13th century, according to historical
      records.

      Newsweek once described it as probably the most important art form to
      have emerged from Africa in the 20th century.

      Many sculptors now moonlight to supplement their income or sell their
      works at a fraction of the price in a country labouring under a slew of
      economic woes, including hyperinflation and a high unemployment rate.

      Renowned local sculptor Kennedy Musekiwa said business had slowed down
      so much in the last five years that he has resorted to running training
      workshops in the United States and Europe to supplement his income.

      "It's difficult these days to earn a living on stone sculpture alone,"
      said Musekiwa.

      "There is little business as fewer tourists are coming from Europe and
      the United States while most locals have little or no disposable income
      and would never think of buying a stone sculpture."

      Fellow sculptor Tendai Rukodzi used to run a bustling open-air gallery
      along the main road to Harare airport.

      Now he spends most of the time chatting or drinking beer with friends
      while killing time and waiting for the rare customer to turn up.

      "Some of our old clients have said they would never come here until
      Mugabe goes and as a result, I go for months without selling even a
      single item," he said.

      "I end up selling the sculptures at giveaway prices just to get money
      to buy food and pay rent. I don't even get paid enough to buy stone to
      make the next piece."

      However, Elvas Mari, an official with the Zimbabwe National Arts
      Council, insisted there was a silver lining.

      "This slump in business has also helped in a way to separate genuine
      artists from imitators. I believe it's the mediocre artists who are
      feeling the pinch. Talented artists have weathered the storm and
      developed ways to sell their products in the difficult circumstances,"
      he said. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      There's an interesting collection of black & white photos from
      Mozambique on the BBC page, ranging from the 60s to the present.
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/africa_mozambique___illuminating_lives/html/1.stm
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