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Businessman kidnapped in broad daylight, but kidnapped woman released; Frelimo must save itself and Mozambique

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 16 November, 2020


  • Tomorrow: Renamo leader Ossufo Momade to speak at Maputo conference on peace and reconciliation in Mozambique. More details (and live transmission) at
  • Tomorrow: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting

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Covid-19 death toll hits 113
Mozambique announced another 221 cases over the weekend, and 305 recoveries — bringing total active cases in the country down to 1,788, of which 1,357 are in Maputo City

Today’s headlines:

  • Businessman kidnapped in broad daylight; kidnapped woman released (O País, AIM, CanalMoz)
  • Frelimo must save itself and Mozambique, says UNU-Wider report (Joseph Hanlon News Reports and Clippings)
  • Britain should send 700 crack troops to form ‘elite fighting force’ for Cabo Delgado — Simon Mann (The Times)
  • Two radio journalists still missing in Cabo Delgado (DW, Visão, CDD)
  • Zimbabwe can’t help Mozambique because of sanctions, says politician (Bulawayo24)
  • Government transfers refugees from Paquitequete beach (DW, AIM, Savana)
  • Operations postponed after flooding in Beira hospital (Rádio Moçambique)

Businessman kidnapped in broad daylight; kidnapped woman released (O País, AIM, CanalMoz)
A Mozambican businessman of Asian origin was kidnapped in broad daylight in central Maputo on Saturday. Ismael Harron, one of the owners of the Uzeir Trade Centre in Beira, Sofala province, was intercepted at about 11am, near the Shopping 24 building on the junction of 24 de Julho and Salvador Allende avenues. An eyewitness said Harron was going to a nearby barber’s shop when he was attacked. There were four kidnappers, the eyewitness said, who threatened him with a gun and made him get into their car. This kidnapping happened less than a fortnight after the abduction of a Portuguese woman, Jessica Pequeno, the daughter of a restaurant owner in the southern city of Matola. She was released after her family paid a ransom believed to be MZN4m ($54,000).
The kidnapping of Harron suggests that the gang which seized him in Maputo was in contact with criminals in Beira who had been tracing his movements, AIM says, adding that the scene of the crime is within a few minutes’ walk of the Maputo city police command and of the Ministry of the Interior. Yet there was no sign of any police in the vicinity. Social networks are referring to Harron as an affluent businessman in Beira and very prodigious in donations to the Frelimo party.

Frelimo must save itself and Mozambique, says UNU-Wider report (Joseph Hanlon News Reports and Clippings)
"It is fundamental to recognize that political power and authority in Mozambique continue to be almost exclusively vested in Frelimo. … It takes visionary and brave leaders with strong economic backing to take on the necessary reforms to put Mozambique back on a favourable institutional and socioeconomic trend," says UNU-Wider in a new study ‘Mozambique at a Fork in the Roads’ and summarised by Hanlon in his newsletter. "Existing poverty, inequality and lack of inclusion will generate frustration, which must be addressed rather than suppressed. The events in Cabo Delgado are a wake-up call."
Hanlon provides lengthy highlights from the report written by a team of very well-informed Mozambique-watchers, both Mozambicans and foreigners, including in-depth comments from former ministers such as Magide Osman, Ivo Garrido, Leonardo Simão and João Carrilho.

Britain should send 700 crack troops to form ‘elite fighting force’ for Cabo Delgado — Simon Mann (The Times)
Britain should send cash and troops to Mozambique to prevent Islamic militants from establishing a caliphate in southern Africa, according to Simon Mann, who has led effective mercenary campaigns on the continent. Mann, who was imprisoned in Equatorial Guinea for his part in a coup attempt there, believes that an elite, 3,000-strong Mozambican fighting unit trained by serving or former soldiers, seconded or contracted from Britain and elsewhere — “who would then go into battle with them” — is the best hope. A special division with 700 top-flight trainers could be in the field within three months, he said. Mann, who co-founded Executive Outcomes, regarded in the 1990s as the world’s most successful mercenary outfit, and who was at one time a general in the Angolan armed forces, bases his proposal on his own experiences of helping to end the civil wars in Angola and Sierra Leone in the 90s.  The price of doing nothing will end up being much higher in the end, Mr Mann believes. “The UK has a great fund of money available only for aid. We surely have a simple duty to help relieve suffering, when we are able? How better to spend that money than by ending a war? That’s real aid.”
Mann has been linked, by some observers, to mercenary outfits that have in turn been linked with bidding for a role in Mozambique — but nothing has been properly proven. Mann’s co-venturer in Executive Outcomes, Eeben Barlow, launched his new book ‘The War For Africa’ in Pretoria last week — telling attendees that Executive Outcomes was being relaunched. It seems Mozambique will have no shortage of willing helpers from the private military sector — but official military assistance still seems a long way off.

Two radio journalists still missing in Cabo Delgado (DW, Lusa, CDD)
Seven of the nine journalists who were stranded in the woods after fleeing an insurgent attack in Cabo Delgado province have reached safety. The journalists had to flee with their families 12 days ago during the latest attack in the district of Muidumbe, when the church-run community radio station São Francisco de Assis was targeted. The other two journalists and their families are still missing. The announcement came from the director of the community radio forum, Ferosa Zacarias. According to Edgar Silva Júnior, a Catholic priest and coordinator of the radio station, the station will not reopen until it is safe to do so. Lusa reports that the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique met last week and described the scenario in Muidumbe as highly unstable, adding that information was limited due to the danger in gathering it. Civil rights pressure group the Centre for Democracy and Development says that there are conflicting reports about the 50 people who were allegedly beheaded in Muidumbe, which was not confirmed by the governor of Cabo Delgado. The group adds that the only massacre confirmed by the government was in April, where 52 young people were killed after refusing to join the insurgents, and a report promised by the government about the massacre was never made public.
Community radio network Forcom has already alerted the nation to the fact that many stations in Cabo Delgado have been unable to continue operating during the conflict — meaning people living in fear are also cut off from information on what is happening around them. In Mueda, according to local sources, the existing community radio station is not allowed to report on ‘the military situation’.

Zimbabwe can’t help Mozambique because of sanctions, says politician (Bulawayo24)
A spokesman for Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has claimed that the country is unable to help Mozambique fight the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province because of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States. Patrick Chinamasa said that if the country were operating normally and without sanctions, then it would be a “clear case” for intervention, but this was not possible. “[T]he sanctions have made us not intervene. We are then asking the United States president-elect Joe Biden to remove the sanctions which he co-authored, if he's intelligent enough”, he told reporters. The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 under the presidency of the late Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe intervened in Mozambique’s civil war in the 1980s, to protect a fuel pipeline into Zimbabwe, and later in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This is political opportunism from Zanu-PF, trying to use the Cabo Delgado situation to pressure Western countries to lift sanctions which are targeted to hurt corrupt individuals rather than the Zimbabwean economy as a whole — which continues to fail due to gross mismanagement by the Zimbabwean government.

Government transfers refugees from Paquitequete beach (DW, AIM, Savana)
The last refugees from the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province who were being accommodated on Paquitequete beach in the city of Pemba have left the beach after staying there for a month. Some of the refugees have moved to the accommodation centre in the province’s Metuge district, while others have gone to family houses or been hosted by other families. Joaquina Nordine, the administrator of Pemba district, said that the number of refugees arriving at the beach had reduced considerably in recent days, so they were now dismantling the public toilets and the temporary health centre set up there.

Surgeries postponed after flooding in Beira hospital (Rádio Moçambique, Rádio Moçambique)
Eight operations have had to be postponed in the Beira Central Hospital, as rainwater is leaking into the operating theatres. The two operating rooms were reopened in November 2019, after the hospital was rehabilitated following Cyclone Idai. The hospital’s director, Nelson Mucopo, said the surgery was not urgent and was postponed until next week. The Order of Engineers of Mozambique criticised the allegedly poor quality of the works, and said that since this was not the only case of public works failing to meet basic standards, an investigation should be carried out to determine who was responsible.
Work is now underway to repair the hospital after it was reported the pipes on the roof were not wide enough to deal with heavy rains and got clogged up. The emergency repairs in the hospital were made with funds from Portuguese cooperation and a popular appeal led by NGO Health4Mozambique. Beira got its first proper rains of the season last week, which immediately caused flooding in the city.
This is the second time in as many months that a public building has started leaking. Rain started pouring through the roof off the Bank of Mozambique branch in Chimoio, a few days after the refurbished building was inaugurated. Portuguese company Soares da Costa was responsible for the building works.

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