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Insurgents rampage through villages of coastal Macomia; Driver killed in minibus attack in Niassa

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 6 October, 2020

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  • Today: Malawian President Lazarus Chakewa meets with President Filipe Nyusi and Mozambique’s ministers of the interior Amade Miquidade, foreign affairs Veronica Macamo, trade and industry Carlos Mesquita, energy and mineral resources Max Tonela, and transport and communications Janfar Abdulai. The meeting is taking place in Songo, Tete, the town next to the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam
  • Today: Public prosecutor Beatriz Buchili begins four-day working visit to Inhambane province

The latest from Zitamar News:

Insurgents rampage through villages of coastal Macomia
Insurgents have carried out a series of attacks over the last week in and around Mucojo, burning houses and killing civilians in an apparent attempt to clear out the local population

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

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Two more covid-19 deaths reported on Sunday
There were also 317 new cases registered between Saturday and Monday, mostly in Maputo city

The best of the rest:

  • Driver killed in minibus attack in Niassa (Rádio Moçambique, VOA)
  • Tanzania deports 836 Mozambican refugees (RFI)
  • Government to increase state budget by MZN28.7bn to deal with covid-19 slowdown (O País)
  • Graduates fear unfair job market in Mozambique (UNU-Wider)
  • Parliament to report this month on violent attacks (O País, Carta de Moçambique)
  • Ex-president Guebuza suggests civil war veterans as solution to insurgency (Lusa)
  • Former oil and gas head appointed bank chairman (O País, CanalMoz)

Driver killed in minibus attack in Niassa (Rádio Moçambique, VOA)
An armed group attacked a minibus in Mavago district, Niassa province, on Friday morning, killing the driver. The attackers escaped with six mobile phones and MZN85,000 ($1,160) in cash. The attack took place in the so-called Makuas climb, 40km from the Mavago district headquarters. The local police have classified the incident as an armed robbery, and a spokesman said it had no connection with the attacks in neighbouring Cabo Delgado province.
The police are playing down the incident, but it will be difficult to convince people that it was just a “normal crime”, as they have not presented any evidence as to why they think this is the case, and as attacks in Cabo Delgado are intensifying. After a village in Niassa was attacked in February, an investigation by Carta de Moçambiqueconcluded that there seemed to be a link with the jihadist group that has been operating in Cabo Delgado since 2017, some of whose members were recruited in Niassa.

Tanzania deports 836 Mozambican refugees (RFI)
Tanzania has deported 836 Mozambican refugees who fled the attacks in the northern province of Cabo Delgado carried out by groups claiming to be Islamic militants. Armindo Ngunga, secretary of state for the province, said that the refugees were at the Negomano border post in the district of Mueda, and they had what they needed to survive there as long as necessary. The refugees were currently being tested for covid-19 and some test samples would be sent to Maputo to speed up the process, as the group should leave the border post soon, Ngunga added.
Sources in Tanzania tell Zitamar the group was moved from a school in the town of Kitaya to an army camp at Mtambaswala, by the Unity Bridge, and later moved over the bridge.

Government to increase state budget by MZN28.7bn to deal with covid-19 slowdown (O País)
The government has submitted a request to parliament to increase the state budget by MZN28.7bn ($393m), to take into account the economic slowdown as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. This will bring the total budget for 2020 to more than MZN374bn. The budget deficit will be fixed at MZN159.9bn.
At the end of August, the government revised the economic growth forecast for this year down to 0.8%, from 1.6%, as a result of the pandemic. Government revenues for this year are expected to be approximately MZN345.4bn ($4.8bn). Last week, finance minister Adriano Maleiane said some of the state’s resources were having to be redirected to the war effort in Cabo Delgado.

Graduates fear unfair job market in Mozambique (UNU-Wider)
Graduates from Mozambique’s technical and vocational training institutes see the labour market as neither fair nor meritocratic, according to interviews conducted by the University of Copenhagen. Three major concerns were highlighted. Firstly, job vacancies are sold, which means qualified but less affluent students miss out on opportunities. Research found that 15.4% of university leavers were asked to pay a fee that was, on average, roughly equal to a month’s income. Secondly, interviewees said that having good social contacts and sponsors, or “padrinhos” (‘godparents’ or ‘sponsors’) was more important than any skills or qualifications. Thirdly, students need to spend money to progress their careers, whether through starting their own business, migrating to another part of the country with more opportunities, or undertaking further studies. However, students often take on a large financial responsibility for their families as soon as they start work, such as paying household expenses and younger siblings’ school fees, which can prevent them furthering their own careers.

Parliament to report this month on violent attacks (O País, Carta de Moçambique)
The parliamentary committee on human rights is to present a report by 30 October on the violence in Cabo Delgado province and the centre of Mozambique. Meanwhile, Carta reports that Renamo members of parliament have submitted a second request to the parliament’s Permanent Commission to set up a commission of inquiry into alleged human rights abuses by government security forces. A previous attempt was rejected in May by the Frelimo members who control the commission, but recently released footage of alleged military personnel beating and killing citizens has increased pressure for a commission, according to Renamo member of parliament Venâncio Mondlane.
Thanks to Frelimo’s majority in parliament, this inquiry is likely to end up the same way as the report into the existence of mass graves in Manica and Sofala, where there was a clear manipulation of the evidence, and no conclusion of the report.

Ex-president Guebuza suggests civil war veterans as solution to insurgency (Lusa)
Former Mozambican president Armando Guebuza said that the government should make use of the experience of veterans of the country’s civil war in order to deal with the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province. “It is essential to explore the abilities gained over these years, even those of [main opposition party] Renamo. They did [the civil war] for 16 years; are we working with them to find solutions to this problem? I don't think so,” Guebuza said in a video posted on Facebook. He also questioned the leadership of the police and military forces in Cabo Delgado.
Guebuza’s latest intervention is another thinly-veiled criticism of his successor, President Nyusi — in what could be seen as the opening salvoes in the fight to determine who succeeds Nyusi in 2024.

Former oil and gas head appointed bank chairman (O País, CanalMoz)
Omar Mithá, who formerly led state-owned oil and gas company ENH for five years, has been appointed non-executive chairman of National Investment Bank (BNI) since 24 September. The appointment was confirmed by BNI’s general meeting in April. With extensive experience in banking, the economist has also been an economic adviser to President Filipe Nyusi since April.
Current chairman Tomas Matola, who rose through the ranks at BNI, will remain executive director. There are a number of audits going on at ENH checking the performance of Omar Mitha as head of the national oil company.

Company Announcements

  • MRG Metals announced that it would carry out a second phase of aircore drilling at two areas of the Nhacutse target of its Corridor South heavy mineral sands tenement in Gaza province, beginning in mid-October (see here)
  • The National Institute of Statistics released tourism statistics for 2019 (see here)

Photo of the Day

President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi (left) meeting with Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi today in Songo, Tete (see Agenda)