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European Union to support Mozambique in fighting Cabo Delgado insurgents; Elias Dhlakama says he’ll run for leadership of Renamo

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 12 October, 2020

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  • Tomorrow: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting

Today’s headlines:

  • European Union to support Mozambique in fighting Cabo Delgado insurgents (Lusa)
  • Nhongo claims more Renamo members being murdered, as Nyusi offers talks (VOA)
  • EDM planning 10% rise in tariffs to “balance the books” (AIM, Lusa)
  • Elias Dhlakama says he’ll run for leadership of Renamo, which is ‘going from bad to worse’ (DW)
  • Mozambique to apply for membership of UN Security Council (DW)

European Union to support Mozambique in fighting Cabo Delgado insurgents (Lusa)
The European Union (EU) is to provide support for the Mozambican armed forces to help them fight the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province, the union’s ambassador in Maputo has confirmed. The news comes after the Mozambican government asked for help last month. Antonio Sánchez-Benedito Gaspar told the media that the EU would provide training, logistics and medical services for forces, and that there were no plans to send troops.
The details of how this support will be provided are still not clear. The Portuguese government in particular appears willing to train Mozambican special forces, as some in Lisbon still dream of a return to their former African colonies.

Nhongo claims more Renamo members being murdered, as Nyusi offers talks (VOA)
Mariano Nhongo, leader of the Renamo Military Junta dissident armed group, has claimed that five members of opposition party Renamo were kidnapped and murdered in the town of Dombe in central Mozambique on Wednesday last week. A sixth member was murdered in the Púnguè-sul area nearby, he said. Nhongo was responding to President Filipe Nyusi, who reiterated his willingness on Friday to talk to the Junta in order to end the attacks on roads and villages in the centre of the country. As a condition of talks, Nhongo demanded an end to attacks on the bases of his forces and to alleged assassinations of Renamo members. “It is not possible to negotiate, being hunted with weapons,” Nhongo said. In a statement issued on Friday, Mirko Manzoni, the personal envoy to Mozambique of the United Nations’ secretary-general, invited both sides to find the best ways to end the conflict.
Nhongo cannot eat his cake and have it; he cannot continue to kill civilians in Manica and Sofala and not expect to be chased by government forces, despite the official line that the government is ready to negotiate with him. At his recent meeting with Nyusi, Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera said Malawi is concerned its trucks could potentially be hit by Nhongo’s men. Malawi is even prepared to consider sending a small force to patrol the corridor used by Malawian trucks.

EDM planning 10% rise in tariffs to “balance the books” (AIM, Lusa)
Mozambique’s state-owned electricity company, EDM, is planning to increase tariffs by 10% next year, in order to “balance the books,” the director of its strategic and performance office, Antonio Nhassengo, said at the launch of its five-year business plan on Friday. The government will have to approve the price increase, however, which it may be reluctant to do, given that the economy is reeling from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. As part of plans to invest $1.6bn over the five years, Nhassengo said EDM aimed to increase its number of customers to 3.6m by 2024, up from 2.4m today. A range of projects has been identified to generate the extra power needed to supply the new customers, of which the most important is the planned 420MW gas-fired power station at Temane, in the southern province of Inhambane, which should start operations in 2023.
It is essential for EDM to raise electricity prices if it doesn’t want to get into more debt and wants to continue receiving funds from multilateral agencies, particularly the World Bank. Former EDM chairman Mateus Magala planned this increase, but he was unable to implement it due “political disapproval”, after being successful in two previous price increases. Talk of a rise is already generating political opposition, with the MDM calling a press conference this morning to condemn the move. Others have pointed out that the government promised a rate cut, not rise, this year. The popular perception — which has some basis in fact — is that EDM sells power from Cahora Bassa too cheaply to South Africa, leaving Mozambicans to pay for expensive power from privately-owned gas-fired plants. Ironically, some of the investments EDM is trying to pursue under this latest business plan should mean the company receives energy straight from Cahora Bassa, without being dependent on the power lines coming from South Africa. EDM’s finances will already suffer this year after agreeing to reduce tariffs for disadvantaged families and small and medium-sized companies. The utility warned in June that this would cost it around $15m.

Elias Dhlakama says he’ll run for leadership of Renamo, which is ‘going from bad to worse’ (DW)
Elias Dhlakama, the younger brother of Afonso Dhlakama, is going to run again against Ossufo Momade for the leadership of Renamo, he said — saying that the party is “going from bad to worse.” In an interview with DW, he also accused current leader Momade of having removed all those party delegates who supported Dhlakama’s candidacy at the last congress, as well as the delegates closest to Afonso Dhlakama, which he called a “witch hunt”. Elias Dhalkama denied the claim from the Public Prosecutor’s Office that he was a supporter of the Renamo Military Junta dissident paramilitary faction, saying that the claim was politically motivated “because people are very afraid of the name Dhlakama.” Previously, "to talk about Renamo was to talk about an elephant, but today we are talking about an ant,” he said, asserting that if elected, he would bring innovations and have the support of many party members. He had little to say about his nephew, Henriques Dhlakama’s intention to run for president of Mozambique — saying only that he is free to do whatever he wants, within the framework of the law.
The rise of Elias Dhlakama is evidence of Ossufo’s incapacity to deal with Renamo’s support base in the central part of Mozambique, as Ossufo’s power base is further north, in Zambezia and Nampula.

Mozambique to apply for membership of UN Security Council (DW)
Foreign minister Verónica Macamo has asked African and Middle Eastern countries with diplomatic representation in the country to support Mozambique’s candidacy to be a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2023-2024 term, whose elections will take place in 2022. The request, which Macamo said has been endorsed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), came in a meeting with diplomats to review the government’s programme. At the meeting, Macamo asked for cooperation to end the insurgent attacks in Cabo Delgado province, humanitarian aid for displaced populations, cooperation from international defence and security organisations, and support in setting up an SADC humanitarian and emergency operations centre in Nacala, Nampula province.
The recent replacement of Mozambique’s ambassador to the UN can be seen as preparation for this campaign to take one of Africa’s spots on the Security Council.

Company Announcements

  • The National Institute of Statistics published details of consumer price inflation in September 2020. Year-on-year inflation was 2.98%, inflation in the year to date 0.77% and monthly inflation 0.32% (see here)
  • Xtract Resources published an update on redevelopment work at its Manica hard rock open pit gold mine in Manica province (see here)
  • The Bank of Mozambique published changes to the payments system made in response to the government’s declaration of “public calamity” over covid-19, including an increase in the limit per mobile account transaction from MZN25,000 to MZN50,000 ($682). The bank also announced an auction of MZN1bn of type B treasury bills, in two tranches (one with a 182-day maturity and one with a 364-day maturity) of MZN500m each, to be held from 9am on Monday. The bank separately announced the inauguration of its new branch in Chimoio, Manica province, on Friday last week

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