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Isaltina out. Chang in?

Welcome to Zitamar News' weekly newsletter for 9 February 2019

Good afternoon. The dismissal of Maria Isaltina Lucas, a key Mozambican official in the establishment and financing of ProIndicus, EMATUM, and MAM, is a welcome but belated move by President Nyusi, according to civil society figures interviewed by Zitamar News this week. However, the timing of her dismissal suggests it could just be a show for the South African authorities so that they can justify returning Chang to Mozambique to stand trial.

Isaltina’s role in approving the government guarantees, as well as sitting on the board of EMATUM, was highlighted by Zitamar in October 2016 and again by the Kroll report in 2017. She is one of the 17 being investigated by Mozambique’s Prosecutor-General, and may be one of the anonymised players in the US indictment - which may ultimately have been the reason she needed to be removed from office. Time will tell.

SEE: Isaltina Lucas dismissal signals Nyusi attempt to ‘wash hands’ of hidden debts

Momentum also appears to be growing within Frelimo to look for ways of repudiating the debts. A series of letters came to light this week, written by a consortium of civil society organisations and co-signed by one of Frelimo’s most influential figures, Graca Machel, calling for Credit Suisse to declare that Mozambique should not be responsible for the $2 billion debts.

SEE: Graça Machel calls on Credit Suisse to cancel Mozambique debts

Zitamar News travelled to Nkondezi in the north of Tete province to look into claims of abuse of the local population by Renamo soldiers, as reported last month by the National Defence and Security Council - but found no evidence that the claims are true. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to prove a negative - but it wouldn’t be the first time that Renamo has been wrongly blamed by official sources for abusing that same population.

SEE: Returned refugees say they live in peace with Renamo, despite claims to contrary

Finally, the saga of onshore oil and gas block PT5-B continues - with the consortium which claims to be its rightful winner now taking the head of the petroleum regulator, INP, to court.

SEE: Head of INP accused of abuse of power and falsifying documents

Have a great week.