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Public Prosecutor closes case against journalist Armando Nenane; Insurgent attacks intensify in Ancuabe district

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 21 June 2022


  • 18-23 June: Speaker of parliament Esperança Bias leads a parliamentary delegation to Vietnam
  • Tomorrow: Day-long ‘High Level Meeting’ on plans for a sovereign wealth fund, bringing together NGOs, academics, the Bank of Mozambique, and state-owned investment bank BNI

The latest from Zitamar News:

Insurgent attacks intensify in Ancuabe district of Cabo Delgado
Much of the district is in panic, with a widespread feeling that authorities know the security situation is a lot more dangerous than they are letting on

Also in the news:

  • Mozambique is a priority country for Vietnam, says parliament head (Vietnam+)
  • Public Prosecutor closes case against journalist Armando Nenane (Facebook)
  • Imported fuel prices up due to war in Ukraine (O País)
  • Police have shot dead 10 people in Zambezia this year alone (MediaFax)

Mozambique is a priority country for Vietnam, says parliament head (Vietnam+)
Mozambique is one of Vietnam’s five priority countries in Africa for political, diplomatic and economic ties, National Assembly (NA) Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue told his Mozambican opposite number, parliamentary speaker Esperanca Bias, in a meeting yesterday. Bias and her parliamentary delegation will meet Vietnamese firms to discuss investment and business opportunities in Mozambique, and also share experience in natural disaster response, Bias said. Hue said Vietnam and Mozambique should step up partnerships with a focus on fighting terrorism, and crimes including wildlife product trafficking. Also on June 20, Bias visited the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics (HCMA), where she expressed her wish to strengthen cooperatives ties with the HCMA and expected that the academy would make recommendations to help Mozambique to further stabilise and develop.
Vietnam is, economically, some way ahead of Mozambique in terms of development; as regards democracy, however, it is stuck in the pre-democratic era. Freedom House describes it as a one-party state, noting that “although some independent candidates are technically allowed to run in legislative elections, most are banned in practice.” Some in Frelimo probably look enviously at that model.
President Filipe Nyusi and his supporters might also be eyeing the Vietnamese system which separates the roles of president of the country, and head of the ruling party — with the head of the party remaining the de facto most powerful person in the country. (It was him that Nyusi spoke to via videoconference earlier this month, rather than the president of the country.) There is nothing in Mozambique’s constitution that would stop Nyusi remaining president of Frelimo even if a different Frelimo candidate became president of the country. It would be one way of Nyusi holding on to power, without having to alter the constitution of the republic. His predecessor, Armando Guebuza, did try and fail to do this, however; after Nyusi was elected president of the republic in October 2014, the Frelimo Central Committee forced Guebuza to hand leadership of the party over to Nyusi the following January.

Public Prosecutor closes case against journalist Armando Nenane (Facebook)
The Maputo City Prosecutor's Office has closed a case brought by former defence minister Atanásio M’tumuke against journalist and social activist Armando Nenane. Nenane had found out that a bank account, supposedly to receive funds from the LNG consortia to pay for security for the gas projects in Cabo Delgado province, was in M’tumuke’s own name. Oil and gas companies Anadarko and Eni have paid MZN8.6m ($148,000) into the account. After newspaper Canal de Moçambique reported that the account, with BCI bank, was in M’tumuke’s name, Nenane went to a BCI branch and deposited MZN50 in the account, claiming that he wanted to support the so-called joint task force for whom the funds were supposedly intended. The deposit receipt confirmed that the account was in M’tumuke’s personal name. M’tumuke has launched a court action against Nenane and a bank teller, alleging crimes of defamation and forgery of documents. But the public prosecutor's office has concluded no criminal offence was committed, and so has closed the case.
This is a significant victory for press freedom in Mozambique. M’tumuke is no longer in government but he remains a powerful figure. But Nenane cleverly found a perfectly legal way of checking the name on a bank account. If he had indeed forged the document, he would surely be being prosecuted — but he is not, so we can conclude that the story was correct. That leaves the gas companies with questions to answer.

Imported fuel prices up due to war in Ukraine (O País)
The cost of importing fuels into Mozambique has gone up because of the crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine. The daily cost of docking a ship in national ports has increased from $22,000 to $55,000, said O País, while the cost of freight jumped from $200,000 to $550,000. Demand for docking spaces at Mozambique's ports is above installed capacity.
This makes little sense; the blockade on Ukraine and sanctions on Russia has not and would not make Mozambican ports more overcrowded. Shipping constraints globally have caused ocean freight and demurrage rates to increase, but these pressures should not cause Mozambique’s ports to increase their charges.

Police have shot dead 10 people in Zambezia this year alone (MediaFax)
The Mozambican police in Zambezia province have shot dead 10 people in the first five months of this year alone, according to the Defence, Security and Public Order Commission of the Mozambican parliament. These are very worrying figures and even more serious is the fact that life is being taken by those who have a legal and constitutional duty to defend it, said the commission's rapporteur Arlindo Maquival, . He called for a thorough investigation to be carried out to hold the police officers involved accountable.
Almost all the shootings take place in a context of police overzealousness, and identical practices are increasing in the face of impunity for those responsible, something encouraged or backed by the police command, as the implicit order is that no rebellion should be carried out, even if this means resorting to the use of force of any kind.


  • Agriterra said its CEO Rui Sant’ana Afonso has resigned; Hamish Rudland will take over as interim CEO from 1 August (see here)

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