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   News Archive News
    12 March, 2013
President Guebuza thanks Australia for past assistance
Sydney (Australia), 12 Mar (AIM) –President Armando Guebuza on Tuesday praised Australia for the assistance it gave Mozambique in the 1970s to mitigate the impact of United Nations sanctions against the illegal regime of Ian Smith, in what was then known as Rhodesia.

President Guebuza was speaking in Sydney, during a meeting with the group of Mozambican businessmen who are accompanying him on the five day state visit to Australia which he began on Monday.

“Australia has a very strong political relationship with us, and this has gone unnoticed by many people”, he said.

President Guebuza recalled that when the racist Rhodesian regime made its Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain in 1965, the United Nations, under strong pressure from African nations, decreed sanctions against Rhodesia.

For its part, Britain sent a ship to the central Mozambican port of Beira, with the task (largely symbolic) of preventing the entry of ships with cargo intended for Rhodesia.

Mozambique proclaimed its independence in June 1975, and a few months later it publicly announced its support for the United Nations position on Rhodesia. It upheld the UN sanctions against the Smith regime – which meant closing the ports of Maputo and Beira to Rhodesian traffic.

The Mozambican government hoped that it would obtain the promised international support to compensate for the loss of revenue and jobs (particularly in Beira) caused by the end of the Rhodesian transit trade.

“We received a lot of praise and a lot of pretty speeches”, recalled President Guebuza, “but the practical part, the promised support, never happened”.  But there were exceptions – the President said that Australia was one of the few countries to extend a friendly hand and help alleviate the impact on Mozambique of the Rhodesian sanctions.

“So this is a friendly country”, stressed President Guebuza. “This friendship needs to be nourished again, and Australia has understood that, in addition to training Mozambican manpower, one of the forms of nourishing this friendship is to invest in Mozambique”.

As examples, he cited the cases of such large Australian companies as BHP-Billiton, which is the largest shareholder in the Mozal aluminium smelter, on the outskirts of Maputo, and the mining company Rio Tinto, which is operating a gigantic open cast coal mine at Benga, in the western province of Tete.

President Guebuza added that he hopes to see Australian concerns invest in Mozambican agriculture, too.

“We are here to tell the Australians thank you very much for all your help”, the President concluded, “and to say we think we can do much more together. One of the things we can do is cement this friendship, and the way of cementing our friendship is to have more Australian investments in Mozambique”.

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