He was accompanied by the Mozambican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Oldemiro Júlio Marques Balói, Minister for Mineral Resources Esperança Bias, Trade and Industry Minister Armando Inroga and the Mozambican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Carlos dos Santos.
President Guebuza said Mozambique welcomed potential support from the Commonwealth Secretariat in helping the country develop various technical skills, especially in the area of education. With recent discoveries of coal and gas, he said, it was important to ensure that people had the right training and the requisite technical skills.
Mr Sharma assured Mr Guebuza of the Secretariat’s readiness to offer such support. He said he had already discussed many areas of co-operation with Minister for Public Service Vitória Diogo on a recent visit to Mozambique. He highlighted the work of the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver, which assists in non-traditional ways in problem-solving in education for Commonwealth members. He also said that educational development was to be the focus of the Commonwealth education ministers meeting in Mauritius this August. He added that there would be parallel events that focused on youth and youth entrepreneurship.
The Secretary-General said the Secretariat was now developing its strategic plan to strengthen its work and make a greater impact and difference for its members, following recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, in October 2011. He explained to Mr Guebuza that a Commonwealth Ministerial Task Force has been established to see the Eminent Persons Group’s recommendations to fruition, that very good progress was being made already, and that a report on implementation of the Eminent Persons Group’s recommendations would be presented to Commonwealth foreign ministers at their annual meeting in New York in September.
The Secretary-General said that the overriding objective was to see the Eminent Persons Group recommendations and the Secretariat’s strategic plan brought together in ways that ensured the Commonwealth remained a proactive, constructive and engaged organisation that was relevant to its members. Key areas of focus would continue to include support and promotion of constitutional democracy and the electoral process, and the independence of the judiciary, human rights and sustainable development.
Mr Sharma reminded the President that the Secretariat had co-organised a government/opposition workshop in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2004, with active participation by the Mozambican House Speaker. The Secretary-General underlined the importance for the Commonwealth of its member countries having political space for both the government and opposition in order to strengthen the culture of democracy.
Mr Guebuza and his host also spoke briefly about the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in 2013. Mr Sharma said that early indications were that the summit was expected to focus on ‘wealth creation’ – promoting growth and development that improved the lives of all Commonwealth citizens.
Mozambique was the first member not to have had a constitutional link with a Commonwealth member. Commonwealth Heads of Government welcomed the country as the Commonwealth’s 53rd member at their biennial meeting held in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1995. Mozambique had sent observers to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings from 1987, the year when the Commonwealth Special Fund for Mozambique was created to furnish technical assistance. In 1995, then President of South Africa Nelson Mandela proposed that Mozambique be admitted to Commonwealth membership as "an exceptional case", a proposal that was accepted by leaders.