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Mozambique's top lawyer says debts are 'odious'

Welcome to Zitamar's Weekly newsletter for 1 February 2019

Good afternoon. The trial which has transfixed Mozambique since the end of last year continues, though Manuel Chang’s efforts to be released on bail were today frustrated by a power cut at the court in Johannesburg, meaning another adjournment.

In a thundering speech in Maputo today, for the formal start of the judicial year, Flavio Menete, the head of the Mozambican Bar Association condemned efforts by the PGR to try and spring Chang from his South African jail, as “indefensible” - and said the PGR’s failure to take the case of the “odious debts” seriously has discredited Mozambican justice. Menete wants Mozambique to repudiate the debts - and said he would work to try and make that a reality.

FREE TO READ: Mozambique Bar Association pledges to help repudiate ‘odious debts’

Menete also condemned the public prosecutors’ treatment of journalist Amade Abubacar, who is still waiting for formal charges to be laid against him. Tomorrow marks four weeks since he was picked up by police in his home district of Macomia, before being held, handcuffed, and repeatedly beaten in a military prison for 13 days and then returned to civilian authorities - who starved him to the point where he couldn’t speak under questioning in court.

FREE TO READ: Jailed journalist tells of hunger and torture ordeal in Cabo Delgado

Menete’s efforts to repudiate the debts may be pushing at an open door in Frelimo. A statement from the party’s Political Commission - the select group of 19 senior members who decide party policy - last Friday suggested that the party is at least keeping the door open to non-payment.

SEE: Frelimo leadership says keep options open on ‘hidden debts’

The ongoing scandal has likely contributed to a growing perception of corruption in Mozambique - and indeed the latest Corruption Perception Index suggests corruption here is getting worse. That’s likely to hinder development for the population at large, as our Chart of the Week today shows.

Zitamar was able to shed more light on the Ugandan alleged insurgency ringleaders paraded by the police in Nampula last week. They were in fact arrested a year ago, and one at least is linked to a radical mosque in Uganda, where he is suspected of plotting to overthrow the government.

SEE: Alleged Cabo Delgado insurgent leader ran rebel mosque in Uganda

Despite the insurgency, progress on the LNG projects in Cabo Delgado continues apace. Anadarko today announced its first sale and purchase agreement with a Chinese customer, while ExxonMobil signalled its commitment to Mozambique buy buying a huge plot of land in central Maputo.

SEE: Anadarko announces LNG sale to China, financing inches forward

SEE: Exxon buys prime Maputo plot in near-$50 million deal

Monday is a public holiday in Mozambique, so our Daily Briefing and news will return on Tuesday.

Have a great weekend.