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Aid to Cabo Delgado refugees is being embezzled, says bishop; Baobab Resources scales back $1bn Mozambique steel plant plans

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 30 June, 2021

The latest from Zitamar News:

Cabo Ligado Weekly: 21-27 June
This week's report focuses on the possible SADC deployment to Cabo Delgado, as well as summarising recent events on the ground in the province.
Also available here in Portuguese

Baobab Resources scales back $1bn Mozambique steel plant plans
The $1bn Baobab Resources iron and steel project -- which President Nyusi promised to get off the ground this term -- has been drastically scaled back

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

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Three covid-19 deaths recorded in Mozambique on Tuesday
There were also 406 new cases reported, and 36 recoveries

The best of the rest:

  • Big projects in Gaza lead to human rights violations (DW)
  • Aid to Cabo Delgado refugees is being embezzled, says bishop (Lusa)
  • Refugee association fears “worst has happened” to missing journalist (Lusa)
  • Hundreds flee new wave of attacks in Palma (VOA)
  • Fifth round oil and gas blocks proceeding on schedule, government says (Mediafax, Statement)

Big projects in Gaza lead to human rights violations (DW)
Large-scale mining and infrastructure projects are leading to violations of human rights in three districts of Gaza province, broadcaster DW reports. In Massingir district, thousands of families are still waiting for resettlement from the Limpopo National Park, 20 years after the area was declared a national park. The few who have been moved complain that their houses are falling apart, while economic opportunities have vanished. In Chibuto district, Chinese mining company Deng Cheng has resettled just 300 of the 1,200 people it has displaced, but has already started exporting titanium. And people in Chongoene district, where the province's new airport is being built, are also still waiting to be compensated for their farmland. A graveyard is also being moved ‒ but the government did not contract a proper funeral agency to do it, but rather got a local carpenter to make coffins which were too small, leading to recently-buried bodies having to be chopped up so they would fit inside
The last two stories fit a pattern of Frelimo and the Mozambique government allowing Chinese partners to disregard human rights concerns in order to further their projects in the country. Limpopo Park is a case of appallingly poor management by the government on how to resettle communities. The first few houses have been allocated because it is too dangerous for the population to live inside a park with wild carnivores roaming around.

Aid to Cabo Delgado refugees is being embezzled, says bishop (Lusa)
The Catholic bishop of Pemba has attacked unnamed people in authority for withholding aid from the victims of the terrorist insurgency in Cabo Delgado province. António Juliasse said during a mass that people were announcing aid, but that “a good part of what should help the other, stays with them, that happens”. He went on: “There are many other things that are done in the name of good, but in the end we end up serving ourselves. That’s what we see. Very large salaries in the name of the poor”. Juliasse complained that “millions” in Cabo Delgado were being spent on luxuries rather than on the poor. Asked whom he was referring to, he said that he was talking about anyone who used the refugees for their own benefit. Lusa reports that the bishop’s claims reflect complaints by refugees that they ask officials to record their names on lists of aid beneficiaries, but do not receive aid.

Refugee association fears “worst has happened” to missing journalist (Lusa)
A Rwandan journalist who was reportedly arrested in Mozambique last month is still missing, with the president of the association of Rwandan refugees in Mozambique, Cleophas Habiyareme, fearing that “the worst has happened”. Ntamuhanga Cassien was abducted by people whom witnesses said were police officers on the island of Inhaca and was then taken to Maputo. Mozambican authorities have denied making the arrest and say that the case is under investigation. Cassien, who escaped from prison in Rwanda in 2017, has claimed to be a victim of political persecution by the government of Rwandan president Paul Kagame. Habiyareme was called by Mozambique's criminal investigation service Sernic two weeks ago, but was told that there was no news about Cassien’s whereabouts, he said.

Hundreds flee new wave of attacks in Palma (VOA)
A new wave of terrorist attacks in the district of Palma, in Cabo Delgado province, has driven hundreds of refugees to escape to the neighbouring district of Nangade, authorities and witnesses have told broadcaster VOA. Since Sunday, many people have been arriving in Nangade after walking for tens of kilometres without food, according to some witnesses. According to residents, refugees are being housed in farm warehouses, but there is a lack of aid. One resident criticised the lack of capacity of the local authorities and their aid partners to give humanitarian aid. The governor of Cabo Delgado, Valige Tauabo, confirmed the new wave of attacks but promised that government forces had repelled them. He asked the population to remain vigilant for insurgents who tried to infiltrate areas not yet affected by the conflict.
There are conflicting reports on the current military situation in Palma district. Sources told Zitamar the government is on the offensive in the area trying to move insurgents away from the area, including their bases. As happened in the past in areas like Quissanga and Macomia, heavy fighting created a significant wave of new refugees. Humanitarian sources told Zitamar a new centre to support the displaced has been created in Mueda which is getting flights from Pemba. Mueda is now the transit point for people arriving from Nangade, fleeing Palma and Negomano, after being left there by Tanzanian authorities. The new humanitarian operation established in Mueda will ultimately contain the movement of displaced towards Montepuez and Pemba. An announcement is expected in the next few days from the military on current operations in Palma and points south.

Fifth round oil and gas blocks proceeding on schedule, government says (Mediafax, Statement)
The prospective hydrocarbon blocks awarded to companies in Mozambique’s fifth round are progressing on schedule despite some delays due to travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, deputy trade and industry minister Ludovina Bernardo told journalists after yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Ministers. A total of around $229 million is being invested, she said, in Angoche, the Zambezi Basin, and Pande and Temane in Inhambane, and the first wells should be drilled this year.


  • The National Institute of Petroleum reported energy minister Max Tonela as saying that he had the goal of replacing all projects that used coal to generate electricity with natural gas, and that gas would be the main raw material for power generation in Mozambique and the southern Africa region. Tonela was speaking at the Southern African Development Community’s business forum (see here)
  • The Ministry of the Economy and Finance issued a request for expressions of interest for a consultancy contract to collect and digitise information on Mozambique’s manufacturing sector, as part of a World Bank-funded project (see here and terms of reference here)
  • MRG Metals said that aircore and auger drillhole data from its Koko Massava, Nhacutse and Poiombo deposits had demonstrated the potential for the company to deliver three very high grade mineral resource estimates (MREs), higher grade than the maiden Koko Massava MRE (see here)
  • The Mozambique Stock Exchange published a prospectus for the offering of 300,000 shares representing 100% of the share capital of IT retailer 2Business (see here)
  • Premier African Minerals published its annual report and accounts for 2020, saying that it had applied for additional land around its hard-rock lithium licence in Zambézia province which showed potential for gold deposits (see here)

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