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Jailed journalists freed on bail; Tropical storm to hit Palma on Friday

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 23 April, 2019


  • Today: President Filipe Nyusi at the One Belt One Road Forum in Beijing, China

    • Nyusi’s absence means there is no Council of Ministers meeting today

  • Today: Engineer Carmo Vez delivers a public lecture on ‘Lessons to Learn from Cyclone Idai’ on how Mozambique can improve its resilience to extreme weather events; at 17:00 in the amphitheatre of the Direcção Nacional de Abastecimento de Água e Saneamento, Maputo

  • Tomorrow: The Prosecutor-General, Beatriz Buchili, will give her annual ‘state of justice in the nation’ address to parliament

The latest from the Zitamar Live Blog:

Journalists Amade Abubacar and Adriano Germano freed on bail
Journalists Amade Abubacar and Adriano Germano have been released on bail, but will still face trial on charges of 'spreading messages damaging to the Mozambican Armed Forces'.
After huge national and international pressure local authorities concede the journalist were not a “security threat”. They should never be sent to prison in the first place.

Tropical storm expected to hit Palma on Friday
A tropical storm brewing in the Mozambique Channel is expected to make landfall on Friday, 26 April in the district of Palma - home to the Anadarko and Exxon-led LNG projects.

Results of 2017 national census due out next week
The full and long-delayed results of Mozambique's General Population and Residence Census, conducted in 2017, will finally be released next Monday by the National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estatistica, INE).

The best of the rest:

  • Mozambique to analyse capital gains in Chevron-Anadarko megadeal (O País)
  • Sea and fisheries ministry to be given seat on security council (Notícias)
  • Tropical storm set for Cabo Delgado and Nampula (Lusa, RFI)
  • Cyclone Idai to cut economic growth to 1.8%, inflation up to 8.5% (A Verdade)

Mozambique to analyse capital gains in Chevron-Anadarko megadeal (O País)
The Chevron takeover of Anadarko will be analysed by a ‘multidisciplinary’ team from the Mozambican tax authority, energy ministry, and petroleum regulator INP to see if the $50 billion deal should yield any capital gains tax for Mozambique. “Right now we’re waiting for the purchase documentation from Anadarko,” INP chairman Carlos Zacarias said. “Once we get that we will calculate the capital gains for Mozambique.”
Mozambique will struggle to make a case that it is owed CGT in this deal - given it is an acquisition of a whole company rather than just a stake in a Mozambican gas block.  Tanzania is still trying, unsuccessfully, to squeeze Shell on CGT it claims it is owed as a result of the company’s takeover of BG Group four years ago, which included Tanzanian gas assets. Will it be worth the fight? It could amount to several hundred millions of dollars at a time the government is desperate for cash - and Mozambique still regrets letting Rio Tinto buy Riversdale without paying CGT. However, given the limited capacity of the AT, and the critical work it needs to do to review past expense claims and costs for the LNG projects, perhaps its time and attention would be better directed there, rather towards fighting what is likely to be a losing battle.

Sea and fisheries ministry to be given seat on security council (Notícias)
Defence minister Atanasio M’tumuke has proposed that the Ministry of the Sea, Interior Waters, and Fisheries be given a seat on the National Defence and Security Council, a body which meets regularly to advise the President on security threats facing the country. M’tumuke said that it made sense to get the Ministry involved due to Mozambique’s extensive coastline, with the aim mainly of regulating fishing and cracking down on smuggling.
The move makes sense in the context of some hostile actions against local fishermen. It also supports the argument of the securocrats who put together the $2 billion ‘hidden debts’ deals.

Tropical storm set for Cabo Delgado and Nampula (Lusa, RFI)
A low pressure system forming off the north of Madagascar will hit Mozambique later this week, potentially affecting more than 10,000 people in the cities of Pemba and Nacala. It could also cause flooding in the Rovuma River as well as the Messalo, Montepuez, Megaruma, and Lúrio rivers.
The latest forecast says the tropical storm will make landfall at Palma, the Cabo Delgado district where Exxon, Eni, and Anadarko are developing their LNG projects.

Cyclone Idai to cut economic growth to 1.8%, inflation up to 8.5% (A Verdade)
The IMF has revised its GDP growth forecast for this year down to 1.8% - far below the government’s official (pre-Idai) projection of 4.7%. The government has also told the IMF it will revise its inflation prediction for the end of this year from 6.5% to 8.5%.
The damage wrought by Idai could mean even these projections turn out to be optimistic. A donor conference will be held in Beira next month to outline the country’s needs and try and raise money to meet them. But transport and logistics infrastructure in the Beira corridor is not as badly affected as might have been feared.

Company Announcements

  • Fastjet says the losses it’s making in Mozambique “remain our biggest operational challenge today,” following the entry into the market of Ethiopian Airlines Moçambique - prompting Fastjet to scale back frequency on routes, reduce overall capacity supply, and to enter into a codeshare agreement with state-owned airline LAM

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