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Mozambique awaits new government as floods hit Cabo Delgado

Welcome to Zitamar News' round-up of the biggest headlines from the 2019-20 festive season

Happy New Year! In one sense, the new year doesn’t get going in Mozambique until the middle of next week, when Filipe Nyusi is sworn in for his second term as President on Wednesday 15 January. Two days earlier, on Monday 13, he will swear in the new parliament, which will then elect a new speaker.

Those swearings-in are made possible by the Constitutional Council (CC) rubber-stamping the election results on 23 December, despite the final document submitted by the election authorities containing several unresolved anomalies. As the CIP/Joseph Hanlon Bulletin reported yesterday, the CC did go back and fix one of these errors — the exclusion of the diaspora vote from the original count — but they did this retroactively and without acknowledging it.

The Prime Minister was in Cabo Delgado over the weekend, viewing the destruction wrought by the latest disaster to hit the province — heavy rains and flooding which has affected 10,000 people in northern Mozambique, washing away homes and causing at least five deaths at the latest count. The rains have also washed away roads and bridges, something the Prime Minister promised solutions for within two weeks.

The collapse of the bridge over the Montepuez river and the fall of some electrical pylons along the road to Palma, is affecting routine work at the LNG site at Afungi, which is now running on emergency generators. However, operations should speed up following the opening of the Afungi airstrip, which is now ready and waiting for approval from the aviation authorities.

The flooding had seemed to put a dampener on the ongoing insurgency in the province, although there was another attack on Friday 3 January in which between four and 10 people were killed when a minibus carrying around 20 passengers travelling from Palma to Pemba was torched while passing through Macomia district.

The conflict in central Mozambique intensified over the period, forcing the police to institute armed convoys for traffic travelling between Muxungue and Gorongosa on the EN1. General Mariano Nhongo, leader of the dissident Renamo Military Junta, effectively claimed responsibility for the attacks when he said they would stop if Ossufo Momade renounced leadership of Renamo.

Momade’s leadership also came under fire from a former Secretary-General of the party, Manuel Bissopo, who said Momade’s vague call for nationwide demonstrations was “a way of saying that we're doing politics,” but otherwise pointless, and accused the party leader of a “strategy of failure.”

The editor of Mozambique’s most stridently opposition newspaper Canal de Moçambique, Matias Guente, was attacked in Maputo on New Year’s Eve, when men armed with automatic rifles as well as baseball bats and golf clubs, set on him as he got out of his car in the Alto Mae neighbourhood of the capital. Guente fought back and his would-be kidnappers eventually gave up but not before severely injuring and hospitalising the journalist.

Guente’s newspaper has been heavily featuring leaks tying President Nyusi and his family to the proceeds of the notorious ‘hidden debts’ in recent weeks — something which may or may not be connected to the fact he was attacked. But the issue also hit the front page of Savana on Friday, where public intellectual Severino Nguenha pointed out that it is high time Nyusi said something to the public about the issue.

The defenders of the coastal protection projects for which the ‘hidden debts’ were contracted have tried to capitalise on a pair of busts of boats smuggling drugs off the coast of Cabo Delgado over the last month. But what the incidents really show is that the Mozambican navy along with the Indian navy are able of carrying out such operations, without the help of Proindicus.

Another project related to the "hidden debts", the controversial Ematum fishing company — now rebranded Tunamar as part of a joint venture with American mercenary Erik Prince — is now finally operational, according to fisheries minister Antonio Mondlane. Industry sources say that actually the 24 fishing boats are still at Maputo port, although two of them were put to sea in December with the help of South African crews.

Subscribe to Zitamar News today to ensure you stay up to date with developments in Mozambique through 2020 — as a new government is appointed, the gas projects move forward, definitive peace in central Mozambique remains elusive, and extreme weather events pose an increasing threat — as well as the unknown unknowns that will surely come our way.

Have a great year!