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No known threats against shot business association chief, say police; Cabo Delgado insurgency forces out Quissanga district government

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 13 July, 2020

NOTICE: The Zitamar Daily Briefing now has a sister publication — the Angola Economic Briefing. Click here to find updates, analysis, and forecasts on Angola’s economic and political developments, twice a week.


  • Tomorrow: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting
  • Tomorrow: Webinar hosted by OMR, ‘Economia política dos recursos naturais’ (The political economy of natural resources), 11:00
  • Wednesday: UNFPA-organised ‘virtual round-table’ on premature marriage, 10:00 — sign up here

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

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Mozambique announced another 46 cases of covid-19 over the weekend, of which 21 were in Maputo Province, 16 in Boane

The best of the rest:

  • Cabo Delgado insurgency forces Quissanga district government to leave district (AIM)
  • Mozambique to seek French military aid as neighbours disappoint (Africa Intelligence)
  • Terrorism crisis could become health crisis, authorities warn (O País)
  • No known threats against shot business association chief, say police (VOA, Carta de Moçambique)
  • Trial begins of alleged Renamo Military Junta members (AIM)
  • Three arrested for trafficking in precious stones in Inhambane province (O País)
  • Mozal negotiates buying power from national grid (Notícias)

Cabo Delgado insurgency forces Quissanga district government to leave district (AIM)
The local administration in the district of Quissanga, in Cabo Delgado province, has been forced to move to Metuge district because the insurgency has made Quissanga town unsafe. District administrator Bartolomeu Muibo told STV that all the district’s government institutions were operating temporarily out of Metuge. There are also 20,000 displaced people in Metuge who have fled Quissanga. The district government building was destroyed in an insurgent attack on Quissanga town on 25 March, and state records and archives have also been destroyed; Muibo said that the administration was trying to recover records from information held by the provincial government.
The coastal town of Quissanga, headquarters of the district of the same name, seems to have been under the control of the insurgency for some time now. It is less strategic than Mocímboa da Praia in terms of being able to supply northern Cabo Delgado — including the gas projects — which may be why the FDS have not prioritised reclaiming it. But the Quissanga jetty is surely a handy piece of infrastructure for the insurgents to control — potentially using it as a way to import firearms, and possibly also the drug trade, which some claim is financing the insurgency, though experts are divided on whether that is the case.

Mozambique to seek French military aid as neighbours disappoint (Africa Intelligence)
Defence minister Jaime Neto has been stuck in Maputo since taking up his job in January as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, but will attend the Paris Peace Forum from 11 to 13 November where he hopes to persuade his French counterpart Florence Parly to provide aid for the fight against the Cabo Delgado insurgency. Neto's predecessor, Atanásio Salvador Mtumuke, had already been working on creating a French connection, having already discussed several ways France could step in, including the provision of French military intelligence satellite imagery of the province to Mozambique's intelligence agency. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also raised the idea of maritime cooperation when he met up with Neto and his director of national defence policy, Omar Seranga, in Maputo in February. Neto is hoping to get France to commit to supporting Mozambique as early as November. Tanzania’s John Magufuli recently agreed to talk with Nyusi, but is not planning to provide any material aid to Maputo, while Angola and Zimbabwe have yet to come through on promises of help. South Africa is still somewhat red-faced after Dyck Advisory Group, a local private firm, provided military aid to the Mozambican army, and has not made an official response to Maputo's call for help. Meanwhile, Portugal has said it would be ready to step in, but is waiting for an official request from Mozambique.
One major disincentive for any outside power getting involved in Cabo Delgado are the increasing reports of human rights abuses by Mozambique’s security and defence forces. But as the insurgents appear to be  more highly trained and with access for better weapons, the arguments in favour of intervention to support the Mozambique military — for neighbours, and for distant powers with economic interests in the region — also increases.

Terrorism crisis could become health crisis, authorities warn (O País)
Health authorities are sending mobile health brigades to serve the population in Cabo Delgado, where medical centres have been forced to close by the terrorist attacks in the province. Thirty-seven health units out of 130 in the province are shut because of the insecurity, especially those in Mocímboa da Praia, Quissanga, Macomia and Meluco districts. “Whenever the security situation has improved, we have sent some mobile brigades to serve the population, especially in the district headquarters”, Magido Sabuna, Cabo Delgado’s provincial health director, said. In addition to mobile brigades, “we are working with multipurpose community agents, who live in areas with difficult access, who receive medicines to serve the population,” he added. Officially, the government still does not know how many people continue to live in areas considered to be at high risk of attacks, much less the state of their health. “The population must not let their guard down, because in a war situation they are susceptible to contracting diseases that can aggravate the vulnerability of many families”, Sabuna said.

No known threats against shot business association chief, say police (VOA, Carta de Moçambique)
Police have said they do not have any information about threats against Agostinho Vuma, the president of the influential business association CTA, who was shot in his office on Saturday. Vuma was admitted to hospital in a stable condition after being shot twice in the face. According to a witness, a building guard, Vuma identified one of the armed men as ‘Salimo’. The police say they are investigating this lead, as well as footage from surveillance cameras.
The guard of the building that reported the name ‘Salimo’ should be protected by the state, says journalist Marcelo Mosse, who questions the lack of enforcement of the witness protection law approved in 2012. “In the interests of the investigation, the guard should have been brought in. But how? Where to? Here comes the question of the legal void.”
There is a lot of speculation about the shooting. Vuma is claimed to have a lot of enemies, mainly in the business community, where his position as a lobbyist and member of parliament for Frelimo has given him influence over companies winning service contracts, either with the state or in private sector projects. He is also rumoured to have angered Silvestre Bila, a controversial businessman and influential figure in Frelimo, by going out with his girlfriend, according to reports circulating on social media before the shooting. As for the name mentioned by Vuma, there is apparently a ‘Salimo’ who has reportedly been contracted by elite people to carry out contract killings.

Trial begins of alleged Renamo Military Junta members (AIM)
Five men accused of being members of the Renamo Military Junta paramilitary group were recruited to it by a member of the Sofala provincial assembly for the Renamo party, according to prosecutors in the trial of six alleged members, which began on Friday. The most prominent of the six is Sandura Ambrosio, a former Renamo member of parliament who left the party after leader Ossufo Momade stripped him of his position as Sofala provincial delegate. The other five were arrested at Dondo railway station in January, having arrived by train from Marromeu where they were allegedly recruited by Antonio Bauase. Prosecutors say they planned to travel on to Nhamatanda, where they would have worked for the Junta. The first of the accused to testify, Anival Joaquim, said that Bauase and co-accused Gabriel Eugenio had offered him a job in a security firm owned by Ambrosio. He denied meeting the other three accused, and insisted he only left Marromeu to work as a security guard.
Frelimo and its affiliated media are giving major attention to the trial as it may discredit a number of Renamo personalities sympathetic to general Mariano Nhongo.

Three arrested for trafficking in precious stones in Inhambane province (O País)
Police in Inhambane have arrested three people trying to transport quartz illegally extracted in Nhamatanda district, in Sofala province, into Maputo, according to a prosecutor. The drivers were using false documents, which drew the attention of the authorities. They held the lorries, which belong to a haulage company owned by a Chinese man, for investigation. The lorry drivers have since been released on bail, “but the process continues, since there are still many things to clarify around the matter,” said José Manuel, from the Inhambane Public Prosecutor's Office.

Mozal negotiates buying power from national grid (Notícias)
Aluminium smelter Mozal is negotiating with the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy to buy electricity from the domestic market, as its contract with South African state-owned electric utility Eskom expires in 2026, Mozal’s general manager Samuel Samo Gudo has said. The company’s operating consumption is 950MW, producing over 560,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, he said, adding that in the coming years production levels could increase to around 600,000 tonnes as a result of various ongoing investments at its plant in Beluluane industrial park.
Power accounts for 25% of the smelter’s operating costs so it is crucial any new supply contract is cheap. Eskom currently supplies electricity to Mozal for around $0.04/KWh, through the Motraco transmission line, a joint venture between Eskom, EDM and Swaziland electricity company, Zitamar understands, and it will be difficult to continue sourcing power at such a low cost. While, one option would be for Mozal to buy power from a new 2GW LNG-to-power plant planned for Beluluane industrial park in Matola, which is adjacent to the smelter, power from that facility would likely be around $0.08 KWh, according to one energy analyst.

Company Announcements

  • Vale and Mitsui have announced plans for a new joint venture company, together with Kobe Steel, to supply less carbon-intensive steel-making solutions — including using less coal and coke, in favour of biomass, syn-gas, natural gas, and hydrogen
  • MRG Metals published a progress update on metallurgical testwork being undertaken on a bulk sample of mineralised material from the Koko Massava project of its Corridor Central tenement in Gaza province. The report found that the project was “amenable to typical mineral sands process methodologies and conventional equipment” and could potentially yield ilmenite, non-magnetic concentrate and titano-magnetite. A further update would follow when the final report was received, the company added
  • The National Institute of Statistics reported that monthly inflation in June was -0.55%, and that prices had risen 2.69% year-on-year. The food and non-alcoholic drinks sector saw the highest rise in that time of 6.59%, it added. Total inflation for the first six months of the year was 0.58%
  • Pathfinder Minerals announced that its annual general meeting would be held on 4 August 2020 in London, with shareholders required to vote by proxy only

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