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Rwandan president denies French are funding troops in Mozambique; Fuel import contract must be redrafted

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 6 September, 2021


  • Tomorrow: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting
  • Tomorrow: Public holiday for Victory Day in Mozambique. No Zitamar Daily Briefing will be published

The latest from Zitamar News:

NOW FREE TO READ: What does Rwanda stand to gain from its Mozambique deployment?

The best of the rest:

  • Ex-president Guebuza to testify at “hidden debts” trial in December (AIM)
  • Rwandan president denies French are funding troops in Mozambique (Lusa)
  • Mayor invites residents back to Cabo Delgado town, after power restored (Mediafax, AIM)
  • EU finances $147m rural road rehabilitation project (DW, Rádio Moçambique, Diário Economico, O País)
  • “Hidden debts” trial defendant’s silence (AIM)
  • Fuel import contract must be redrafted (Carta de Moçambique)
  • Mozambique elected to World Tourism Organization council (O País)

Ex-president Guebuza to testify at “hidden debts” trial in December (AIM)
The former Mozambican president, Armando Guebuza, will appear in court as a witness in the corruption trial on the $2.2bn “hidden debts” on 2 December. In a new list, which was released on Friday, 64 witnesses were named, including the former fisheries minister, Victor Borges; finance minister Adriano Maleiane; and the former governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Ernesto Gove. The hidden debts trial started on 23 August. It is expected that the defendants’ testimony will be completed on 1 October. The hearings of the witnesses are expected to run from 5 October until 2 December.
Guebuza has returned to the list after the Council of State confirmed that he could be called — though there remains a question mark over whether he will be physically present in court for the testimony, or do it via videolink.

Rwandan president denies French are funding troops in Mozambique (Lusa)
The Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, has denied that the Rwandan troops fighting terrorists in northern Mozambique are being funded by France or by TotalEnergies, whose natural gas project in Mozambique has been suspended since a nearby terrorist attack in March. Kagame told Rwandan broadcaster RBA that Rwanda was funding itself from its own resources and that nobody was sponsoring it, adding that the results were worth the cost. He also justified Rwanda’s intervention by saying that there were Rwandans among the terrorists, without going into details. Kagame said that Rwanda’s military mission was not linked to natural resources, and was just intended to make the area safe. Rwanda has about 1,000 soldiers and police in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province.
Kagame’s intervention (see Tweet of the Day below for footage) appears designed to contradict articles such as that published by Zitamar News last week. But Kagame’s denial that outsiders are financing the intervention does not necessarily preclude that Rwanda is gaining in other ways, as we suggested. Joseph Hanlon put it well, commenting on Zitamar’s article in his latest email: “No one admits to funding the army to go to Mozambique, but Rwanda is very aid dependent, and aid is "fungible" - that is, a $ or € goes into a government bank account to pay for health or education but all $s and €s are the same.” Furthermore, highly placed sources in Maputo have contradicted Kagame, telling Zitamar that “France” is indeed funding Rwanda’s military contingent in Mozambique.

Mayor invites residents back to Cabo Delgado town, after power restored (Mediafax, AIM)
Electricity has been restored to the town of Mueda, in Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique on Friday, a year after the insurgents operating in the province sabotaged a substation supplying the town. Businesses had been forced to buy diesel to use in generators during the year-long blackout. The mayor of Mueda, Manuel Pitalavalave, told Rádio Moçambique that businesses who had left during the attacks should now return. “Power is here to stay; those who had left for other places now know that we already have power. We ask those who are far away to come back and celebrate together the re-establishment of power”, he said. The town of Awasse, where the sabotaged substation was located, was recovered from the insurgents in August by the joint Mozambican-Rwandan military force fighting them.
The return of the Awasse substation should mean that power can be restored to the rest of northern Cabo Delgado too, including Palma, Namacande, Nangade and Mocímboa da Praia.

EU finances $147m rural road rehabilitation project (DW, Rádio Moçambique, Diário Económico,O País)
The European Union (EU) is funding a €124m ($147m) project to construct and rehabilitate 2,240km of rural roads in the provinces of Nampula and Zambézia, in northern and central Mozambique. The four-year project, called Promove Transporte, which also includes access to energy and support for agriculture, sustainable agro-industry and nutrition in the 12 districts it is focused on, was launched by President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday. The project could create 1,500 jobs, 30% of which will be for unskilled workers, “thus opening an opportunity for the local population,” Nyusi said. At least 25% of these jobs will go to women to promote gender equality. The EU ambassador, António Sánchez-Benedito Gaspar, said the project was part of the EU’s “comprehensive northern development strategy,” as the bloc and its partners look at ways to promote development in northern Mozambique to combat the insurgency there. The tender process to select supervisors for the project will be launched in October.

“Hidden debts” trial defendant’s silence (AIM)
The businessman Bruno Langa refused to answer a total of 27 questions from the Mozambican Bar Association during his second day of testimony in the corruption trial over the so-called “hidden debts” on Friday, the AIM news agency reports. Langa, a defendant in the trial, replied “I shall not answer the question” every time. Prosecutors believe that Privinvest, the shipbuilding firm accused of paying bribes to Mozambican officials as part of the scandal, was interested in Langa because of his friendship with Ndambi Guebuza, son of then Mozambican president Armando Guebuza. Langa signed a contract with Privinvest in 2012, and was paid an $8.5m fee a year later. Langa refused to say what services he had provided to Privinvest to earn the fee. Judge Efigenio Baptista remarked that a defendant who confessed to their crimes was unlikely to receive the maximum sentence, but Langa did not respond, answering most of the questions from his defence lawyers with the one word “no”. He denied knowing his fellow defendants or having formed a group with them.

Fuel import contract must be redrafted (Carta de Moçambique)
The government’s national director of hydrocarbons, Moisés Paulino, says that Mozambique needs to amend a fuel import contract with supplier Vitol in order to allow the company to import fuel into Mozambique to supply other countries. Vitol violated the current contract at the end of July by importing fuel not only for the domestic market, but for other countries supplied via Mozambique as well. Clause 6.10 of the current contract says that “all ships, without exceptions, must only carry cargo for delivery under the contract,” to state-owned fuel importer, Imopetro. However this was poorly drafted and should be amended, Paulino told Carta, as in previous years Mozambique has always allowed ships to unload fuel for the so-called hinterland markets. Mozambique earns dividends on this fuel, so not allowing fuel to transit hurts the country. The contract with Vitol runs until the end of December.

Mozambique elected to World Tourism Organization council (O País)
Mozambique is one of five countries elected to the executive council of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the period 2021-2025. The announcement was made at the UNWTO’s global tourism investment forum in Cape Verde last week. Four other countries — South Africa, Cape Verde, Morocco and Zambia — were also elected to represent Africa on the executive council.

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