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President Filipe Nyusi meets Tanzania's president Magufuli; Covid-19 situation worsens in Mozambique

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 11 January, 2020


  • Today: President Filipe Nyusi visits Tanzania at the invitation of Tanzanian president John Magufuli
  • Tomorrow: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

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President Filipe Nyusi has landed in Tanzania, received by his counterpart John Magufuli, for a two-day visit

The best of the rest:

  • Covid-19 situation worsens in Mozambique (DW)
  • Controversial Trumpist defence official visits Mozambique (US Dept of Defense)
  • UK bans travel from Mozambique to curb covid (Lusa, UK FCDO, Reuters, BBC)
  • Foreigner tried to infiltrate Defence and Security Forces (Carta de Moçambique)
  • MDM says district administrators should be appointed (Notícias)

Covid-19 situation worsens in Mozambique (DW)
More than 130 people in Mozambique were hospitalised with covid-19 in just eight days and 2,000 new cases were recorded in that time, which is a record, according to data from the health authorities released on Friday. There were also 15 deaths in the period. The increase in cases, mainly in Maputo city, was related to the Christmas celebrations and the end of the year when people relaxed, the national director for medical assistance, Ussene Issa, said. Added to this is the arrival of Mozambicans working in neighbouring South Africa, the country with the highest incidence of covid-19 in Africa, where a new variant of the virus has appeared. Issa warned that this meant that efforts to reduce the number of deaths and protect Mozambique’s health system could be overturned. Mozambique has already sent samples to South Africa and the United Kingdom for verification of new coronavirus variants.
The situation got even more serious over the weekend, with 1,457 new cases announced over the last two days, and 11 deaths. The vast majority of the new cases are Mozambicans, confounding suspicions that they might be South Africans taking tests before returning home after the holidays. Although the cases remain heavily weighted toward Maputo City — 59% of all positive cases were in Maputo City and 81% of deaths, as of 10 January, according to data from Miguel de Brito —  there are also much higher numbers now being diagnosed in Inhambane and Nampula provinces. The proportion of positive tests has now nudged over 7% of all the tests conducted in Mozambique to date, statistician Wim Neeleman has pointed out on Facebook; but almost 24% of the tests announced on Sunday were positive.

Controversial Trumpist defence official visits Mozambique (US Dept of Defense)
Anthony Tata, the US acting under secretary of defense for policy, met with Mozambican minister of defence Jaime Neto and minister of interior Amade Miquidade and “discussed potential Defense Department training for the Mozambique military to improve its capability to defeat ISIS” during a visit to Mozambique on 8 January. Tata “highlighted the US government’s interest in growing its partnership with Mozambique to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism in northern Mozambique,” and “both sides agreed on the importance of identifying needs in the areas of equipment and services, including in strategic planning to counter this threat.”
Fox News regular’ and Donald Trump loyalist Tata was nominated under secretary of defence by President Trump in June last year, but was never confirmed in the post after journalists uncovered a string of Islamophobic and racist comments he had made on Twitter and in the media. It seems safe to assume he will be swiftly replaced by the incoming Biden administration — so this African jaunt seems pointless if not counterproductive in terms of inter-religious relations in Mozambique and other countries he is visiting.

UK bans travel from Mozambique to curb covid (Lusa, UK FCDO, Reuters, BBC)
The United Kingdom will ban passengers from Mozambique and 10 other African countries from entering the country, the British government announced last week, extending the measure that it applied to South Africa on 24 December to curb a new strain of covid-19 identified in that country. The restriction went into effect on 9 January, and will stay for at least two weeks, the British Department for Transport said, also affecting people who have been in Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Seychelles or Mauritius in the past 10 days. British and Irish citizens and foreigners resident in the United Kingdom will be able to enter the country, but will have to isolate for 10 days. The new, more virulent strain of covid-19 from South Africa is already present in the UK, and is similar to the new strain first detected in the British county of Kent.
Mozambique has only just sent off samples for testing in South Africa to confirm if the new strain of the virus is already circulating in the country. However, given the influx of South African tourists during the holidays, and Mozambicans who work in South Africa and who returned for Christmas, it seems highly likely that it is already present here. As cases in Mozambique continue to rise at an alarming rate, the government may again close its borders with South Africa. It could also, in a tit-for-tat measure, deny entry for citizens from the UK, given it is one of the worst-hit countries by covid.

Foreigner tried to infiltrate Defence and Security Forces (Carta de Moçambique)
The police have captured a foreigner who tried to infiltrate the Defence and Security Forces’ ranks during their morning exercises, a forces spokesman said. The man was trying to find information about their locations in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, the spokesman added. According to state-owned television channel TVM, he also said that besides trying to infiltrate the forces’ ranks, the insurgents' strategy also involved posting fake job adverts in the region.

MDM says district administrators should be appointed (Notícias)
Opposition party MDM has suggested that district administrators should be appointed by the provincial governor, instead of elected, as recommended in the new decentralisation package approved in 2018. The district administrators’ election is expected to happen in 2024, but the head of the MDM’s parliamentary group, Lutero Simango, told Notícias that the election took away the power of governors. According to Simango, by electing district administrators, the governor will have no territory or population to rule. He added that provinces needed financial and administrative autonomy, and it was not clear where the money to carry out policies would come from.
Simango has a point — that the already largely ceremonial provincial governors will have very little left for them if district administrators also have their own democratic mandate. Scrapping district-level elections would also reduce the amount of administration necessary for the next elections, which is already looking onerous. The democratic benefit of holding elections for administrators is also dubious — they will be even easier for the ruling party to win by fraudulent means, as observation will probably focus on the presidential and provincial polls.


  • The National Institute of Statistics said that monthly inflation was 1.52% in December 2020. Inflation in the year to date was 3.52% and year-on-year inflation was 3.14% (see here)

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