Good afternoon. The sorry story of attempts to manipulate the pigeon pea trade for the gain of some narrow interests in ruling party Frelimo may be nearing its conclusion. On Tuesday, in an extraordinarily fast decision apparently issued in less than 24 hours, a judge in Mozambique's Administrative Court ruled that pigeon peas could be exported to India in unlimited amounts, reversing a decision by the same court last week to strike down the authorisation of free exports by the regulator, the Mozambican Cereals Institute (ICM).
Already last week, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce had said free exports could go ahead, but that decision was threatened by a legal challenge from Mazua Comercial, a recently founded company engaged in pigeon pea exports, which had persuaded the court to block the lifting of the quota restrictions. That challenge has now been rejected.
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As we have previously reported, none of this legal and bureaucratic pantomime should ever have happened. The Indian government has for several years allowed an unlimited amount of pigeon peas to be imported from Mozambique. It confirmed this position last year, and India's high commission in Mozambique has reiterated that position this year in the face of reports that exporters were being subjected to an arbitrary quota by Mozambican officials, ultimately motivated by the desire of Frelimo and certain people well-connected to it to squeeze financial gain from a restricted export regime.
The ICM's decision was also a reversal of its position a few months ago, when it was the author of the quotas. And remarkably, the court ruling was issued within a few hours, in response to a request from ICM on the same day, 19 September, to review its blocking decision the week before. On the same day again, ICM reacted to the court ruling, immediately advising the customs service to allow unlimited exports.