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Canal de Moçambique suffers arson attack; Total signs new MoU with Mozambique government for LNG project security

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 24 August, 2020


  • Tomorrow: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting
  • Tomorrow: Owners of the Ressano Garcia gas-fired power plant hold press conference to mark five years of operations, at Hotel Southern Sun, Maputo at 2pm
    Sasol is currently selling its 49% stake in the power plant

The latest from Zitamar News:

Offices of Canal de Moçambique newspaper burned in arson attack
The premises of independent weekly newspaper Canal de Moçambique and the daily CanalMoz were attacked with molotov cocktails and burned last night

Total signs new MoU with Mozambique government for LNG project security
Total has signed a new MoU with the government of Mozambique for a Joint Task Force to provide security for its LNG project in Cabo Delgado

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Mozambique announced another 200 cases of covid-19 over the weekend
86 of the new cases are in Maputo City

The best of the rest:

  • Mozambique’s hidden debts case in London to finally go ahead in January (VOA, Mediafax)
  • Demobilisation of Renamo guerilla leadership begins (Carta de Moçambique)
  • More than 100 companies closed by covid-19 restart work (AIM)
  • Government investigates alleged illegal mining in Niassa (O País)
  • Frelimo official calls for more help for Cabo Delgado refugees (DW)
  • Five months’ construction delay expected at Gaza airport due to covid-19 (Rádio Moçambique)
  • South Africa appoints ex-armed forces chief ambassador to Mozambique (Sunday Times)

Mozambique’s hidden debts case in London to finally go ahead in January (VOA, Mediafax)
The next hearing on Mozambique's “hidden debts” lawsuit in London will be in January 2021. The case, brought by the Mozambican government, alleges that the ProIndicus coastal protection and fishing project was a fraud and so the government guarantee issued by the former finance minister, Manuel Chang, to support the $622m of debt borrowed for the project, arranged by Credit Suisse, should be cancelled. Mozambique’s transparency watchdog, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), saw the court order from the High Court of Justice showing the hearing will go ahead, after Privinvest’s petitions to reject the case were overturned. Privinvest was the main supplier of goods and services for the projects. In the new hearing, some Credit Suisse companies, former employees of the bank, and Privinvest’s owner, Iskandar Safa, will be defendants. CIP understands that the court has spoken to some of the Mozambicans involved in the hidden debts scandal, including ex-president Armando Guebuza, his son Armando Ndambi Guebuza, former vice-minister of Finances Isaltina Lucas and Chang, to help understand the case.
The decision by Mr Justice Waksman, the judge in the case, to reject Privinvest’s arguments means that the case can finally proceed after having been stuck in arguments for several months as to whether it should be heard at all. His decision was actually made in July, but the official order was only released to social media last Friday.  Privinvest tried to argue that the government’s lawyers had named the wrong Privinvest company on their application, but the judge accepted that this was a mis-naming rather than a misidentification, and allowed it to be corrected. The company also said that the case should not go forward while related arbitration proceedings were going on in Switzerland. This too was rejected. However, Privinvest still has until Friday to ask the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal the judge’s rulings.

Demobilisation of Renamo guerilla leadership begins (Carta de Moçambique)
The demobilisation of 384 former Renamo general staff members, near Mount Gorongosa in Sofala province, began on Thursday as part of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process of Renamo party guerrillas. The demobilised troops are part of a select group of officers who lived with the late former leader of the party, Afonso Dhlakama. Speaking at the disarmament ceremony, André Magibire, Renamo’s secretary-general, appealed to the group to follow civilian life, warning that anyone who returned to the woods would be responsible for their own actions. The conclusion of the DDR process, as President Filipe Nyusi has said, is scheduled for July 2021.
This news may mean that a hardcore of Renamo’s best fighters, who served as Dhlakama’s personal guard, is being demobilised — despite scepticism from some quarters that Renamo would hang on to this cadre. However, it could be that this represents a defanging by the new leader, Ossufo Momade, of soldiers loyal to his predecessor who could ultimately prove a threat to him. As part of the peace deal Momade has the right to his own armed guards.

More than 100 companies closed by covid-19 restart work (AIM)
Some 122 companies that had closed down due to covid-19 have reported that they have restarted operations in recent weeks, according to Joaquim Siúta, the general inspector of labour at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, who said it was an “encouraging” situation. The companies employ a total of 5,507 workers throughout the country. However, 1,501 companies were still closed, employing 41,748 workers, he added, explaining that most of the companies affected by stoppages were in the capital Maputo, followed by Zambézia and Inhambane provinces. Siúta said that his inspectorate had been monitoring the payment of wages since April, including the situation of workers whose contracts have been terminated, in order to ensure that their rights were safeguarded.
Some companies are re-opening their doors, although workers are often being called back under certain conditions, such as reduced salaries on the grounds that the companies lack funds, with the promise of reviewing later if they can be raised.

Government investigates alleged illegal mining in Niassa (O País)
The Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy has been investigating accusations that two companies are illegally mining gold in the village of Ntulo, in the Lago district of Niassa province. One of the companies, Focus 7 Exploration, holds an exploration licence for gold, diamonds and other resources for block 9615L, but does not hold a license for the area it has been mining near the town of Lupilichi. The illegal mine had been receiving protection from a policeman. The ore was taken to a nearby gold processing plant, with the capacity to process 700 cubic metres of ore per day. The manager at the site, who said he was Chinese, said he did not know the name of the company that installed the plant. Niassa Oro Mining had applied for an exploration license at the site of the plant in 2016, but the application has not been approved yet
While the licensing, award and conduct of oil and gas operations in Mozambique receives a certain level of scrutiny from the media, non-governmental organisations and the regulator, mining operations are rarely reported on and there remains little understanding of what goes on in the industry.

Frelimo official calls for more help for Cabo Delgado refugees (DW)
A member of Mozambican ruling party Frelimo’s political commission has said that the condition of refugees from the jihadist activity in Cabo Delgado province needs to be improved. Tomás Salomão visited the provincial capital of Pemba and the district of Metuge on Saturday, where most of the refugees from the attacks are concentrated. At the end of the visit he said he had found worrying situations that must be addressed urgently. “Where we were in Metuge, our mothers, sisters and children are sleeping on the floor. When I say floor, they are sleeping on the sand, and it is possible to arrange the means to acquire mats so that the children do not sleep on the sand,” he said. Several teachers asked Salomão for plots of land to build temporary shelters, and he promised to direct them to local government to find a solution. Salomão told locals that the government was working to improve the security situation in the areas devastated by insurgents.

Five months’ construction delay expected at Gaza airport due to covid-19 (Rádio Moçambique)
Construction of the new Chongoene Airport in Gaza province is expected to be delayed by around five months, as specialist workers on the project are being held in China as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. Efforts are underway with the Chinese authorities to allow the workers to come to Mozambique, according to Alberto Matusse, director of the Provincial Infrastructure Service in Gaza. Construction of the airport is estimated to cost $75m, financed by the Chinese government.
This is one of the most useless projects underway in Mozambique. There are several alternative airports in a 200-300 km. radius which could be improved or are well equipped to support economic and tourist activities in Gaza.

South Africa appoints ex-armed forces chief ambassador to Mozambique (Sunday Times)
The South African government has nominated Siphiwe Nyanda, former minister of communications and former head of the South African National Defence Force, as its new ambassador to Mozambique. Nyanda is one of several newly appointed diplomats undergoing training in Pretoria before their credentials are submitted to their host country, the newspaper reports.
Nyanda, an ally of former President Jacob Zuma, appears to have taken the job over the current President Cyril Ramaphosa’s preferred pick, Geraldine Fraser Moleketi. Both candidates are heavyweights of South African politics.

Company Announcements

  • The Bank of Mozambique said that it had held a remote meeting with financial companies and credit institutions to tell them about its plans to create a unique bank identification number, as part of its efforts to make the national payments system more secure

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