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Nyusi condemns human rights defenders as pressure mounts on critics; LAM to start flights to Lisbon

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 17 August, 2020

The Angola Economic & Political Risk Briefing remains free for the rest of this week. Click here to find updates, analysis, and forecasts on Angola’s economic and political developments, twice a week.


  • Today: Mozambique takes over rotating presidency of SADC
  • Tomorrow: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting

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Covid-19 cases rise by 70 on Friday
Thirty-four of the new cases were in Maputo city

Today’s headlines:

  • Nyusi condemns human rights defenders as pressure mounts on critics (Mediafax, social media)
  • Developers of Matola LNG terminal looking for gas buyers (Engineering News)
  • LAM to start flights to Lisbon on 25 August (Lusa)
  • Human rights group asks government to protect civilians in battle for port (Human Rights Watch)
  • First cooking gas factory in the country to be built in Inhambane (Notícias)
  • Fire at Chinese construction yards in Maputo (Rádio Moçambique)

Nyusi condemns human rights defenders as pressure mounts on critics (Mediafax, social media)
President Filipe Nyusi used a speech in Pemba on Friday to “lament those Mozambicans who, well protected, take the suffering of those who protect them lightly — including certain foreigners who freely choose to live in Mozambique but who, in the camouflaged name of human rights, don’t respect the sacrifice of those who keep this young homeland standing, and guarantee their stay in Cabo Delgado and Mozambique in general.” The President’s statement was followed on Sunday by a post on Facebook by Frelimo propagandist and recent appointee to Mozambique’s Central Ethics Committee, Gustavo Mavie, accusing the Brazilian Catholic Bishop of Pemba of not supporting the government in its fight against the insurgency; and in turn, another government propagandist, Egidio Vaz, saying the Bishop is actively supporting terrorists, describing him as a criminal and calling for his DIRE (Mozambican residency permit) to be rescinded. In an editorial today, Mediafax describes Nyusi’s statement as “shooting in the wrong direction”, and that his government should do more to actively support the work of the FDS, as well as to stop them violating human rights.
Bishop Dom Lisboa has been one of the most consistent voices speaking out on behalf of the people of Cabo Delgado, who have been the principal victims of the insurgency and war in the province. Human rights are unquestionably being violated in Cabo Delgado both by the insurgents and by the state’s defence and security forces (the FDS). Nyusi himself has acknowledged that abuses have happened in the course of the fight against the insurgents, and that vigilance is required to prevent this. Defence minister Jaime Neto last week described part of the FDS’ job as being to defend “the most fundamental human rights” in the province. Nyusi will win no sympathy by campaigning against human rights defenders — even when they point out inconvenient truths.

Developers of Matola LNG terminal looking for gas buyers (Engineering News)
The Beluluane Gas Company (BGC), a joint venture between French energy multinational Total and southern African natural gas group Gigajoule, is looking for customers for its planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal at the port of Matola in Maputo province. BGC needs the market to supply information about industrial energy requirements to enable it to reach a final investment decision as soon as possible, Gigajoule managing director Johan de Vos has said in a paid-for article placed in Engineering News. “Infrastructure is a fixed component, so it is in the interest of all customers that BGC aggregates sufficient volume to have significant economies of scale,” he said. The front-end engineering design phase for the LNG project is underway, with a final investment decision planned for next year, and the project expected to start operating in 2023. The LNG terminal is intended to connect to the 865km Rompco pipeline that currently transports some 150 petajoules a year of gas from Sasol’s gas fields in Inhambane to industrial customers in South Africa; however production from the gas fields is expected to start declining from 2023. Ahead of the covid-19 pandemic, the Industrial Gas Users Association of Southern Africa was forecasting a potential yearly gas shortfall in South Africa of up to 98 petajoules from 2025 onwards.
BGC previously planned to take the final investment decision by mid-2020, with the terminal coming online by the end of 2022 – when Mozambique’s Coral South floating LNG project, which will supply the terminal, is also planned to come onstream. BGC plans first to sell to industrial customers, and then later to increase imports to supply a nearby 2GW gas power plant, which will be built in phases. Sasol is planning to sell its stake in the Rompco pipeline, and Total – which is also the operator of the Area 1 Mozambique LNG project – is one of the bidders, which would mean it has full control of the upstream and midstream supply network into South Africa. Exxon, the operator of the Area 4 Rovuma Basin gas block, is also one of the bidders. As de Vos says in this article, most of the customers for this project were initially expected to be based in South Africa, although they have received strong interest from Mozambique, and they could potentially face competition for those customers from South Africa’s state-owned company Transnet, which plans to build a floating LNG import terminal in Richards Bay to supply Gauteng and surrounding areas. This project is, however, not yet as advanced as BGC’s proposal. Sasol is also desperately looking for new gas supply opportunities, including in Mozambique, to keep its chemical facilities in Secunda supplied with gas beyond 2029, when the Pande and Temane fields are expected to be fully depleted.

LAM to start flights to Lisbon on 25 August (Lusa)
Mozambique’s state-owned airline Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique (LAM) will resume commercial flights to Europe by flying between Lisbon and Maputo from 25 August until 30 September, but this may be extended, the company announced yesterday. The flights will be carried out by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft with 278 seats, owned by Portuguese private airline Hi Fly, which will connect the two capitals twice a week: Maputo-Lisbon on Tuesdays and Lisbon-Maputo on Wednesdays. The return of LAM to European airspace, initially scheduled for 31 March, was postponed three times due to restrictions imposed by covid-19. The last time LAM flew to Portugal was in 2011, the year in which Mozambican airlines were banned from flying in Europe.

Human rights group asks government to protect civilians in battle for Mocímboa (Human Rights Watch)
The campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Mozambican government to protect civilians during the military operation to recapture the port of Mocímboa da Praia town in Cabo Delgado province, which was taken by insurgents on Wednesday. Africa researcher Zenaida Machado reported speaking to a local resident just before communication with the town was lost on Wednesday, who said the insurgents were burning homes and driving people into the bush. The resident described an environment of fear and hopelessness after seeing “total destruction” and “bodies of ordinary people and soldiers on the streets”, she added. Machado says that the authorities should protect civilians from violence and degrading treatment, and should allow humanitarian organisations to access Mocímboa to deliver essential supplies.

First cooking gas factory in the country to be built in Inhambane (Notícias)
Mozambique will have its first factory to produce liquefied petroleum gas, popularly known as cooking gas, President Filipe Nyusi announced on Friday in Pemba, Cabo Delgado. The factory, which will be built in Inhambane province from 2024 and have a production capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year, is intended to remove the need to import fuel, Nyusi said. Nyusi added that the project envisaged the installation of regional gas cylinder filling centres in the cities of Pemba and Nampula in the north of the country, and Mocuba and Tete in the central region, to allow low-income families access to the gas. He did not say how much the project would cost.
This is not the first time a project like this has been launched. FDC, an organization run by Graça Machel,developed a network called VidaGas which is trying to help rural communities to switch from timber and charcoal to gas consumption.

Fire at Chinese construction yards in Maputo (Rádio Moçambique)
A fire broke out on Saturday morning at the builder’s yards owned by China Road and Bridge Corporation in the Maputo city district of Katembe, where it destroyed part of the construction company's equipment. The fire is believed to have been caused by a group of young people who were doing some welding on site. It was brought under control by around 1pm, according to a source at the fire and rescue service, who said they would investigate the cause.

Company Announcements

  • MRG Metals said that it would begin aircore drilling in around three weeks at its Nhacutse, Poiombo and Bungane heavy mineral sands targets in Gaza province, seeking “even higher unit value heavy mineral sand deposits” (see here)
  • Sasol published annual financial results for the year ended 30 June (see here)
  • The Bank of Mozambique published its supervisory policy for the national payments system, the infrastructure supporting payments in the financial markets. The bank also published its financial inclusion report for 2020 (see here)
  • The National Institute of Statistics published national accounts for the second quarter of 2020, reporting that GDP was estimated to have fallen 3.25% year-on-year in the quarter (see here)

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