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Thousands of refugees descend on Pemba — hungry, sick, and vulnerable; President Nyusi declares truce with Renamo Military Junta

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 26 October, 2020


  • Tomorrow: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting

The latest from Zitamar News:

Thousands of refugees descend on Pemba — hungry, sick, and vulnerable
At least 7,402 displaced people arrived on 127 boats in Pemba from 16 to 23 October, according to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

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Five more die of covid-19, bringing total deaths to 86
There were 427 new diagnoses over the weekend, most in Maputo City

The best of the rest / Today’s headlines:

  • President Nyusi declares truce with Renamo Military Junta (VOA, MDM on Facebook)
  • Doctors’ groups criticise unsafe working conditions (A Verdade)
  • World Bank approves $100m to help Mozambique fight covid-19 (VOA, World Bank)
  • Government has no official information on South African border wall (Rádio Moçambique)
  • Nyusi calls again for lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe (AIM)
  • Government requests humanitarian assistance from Asian countries (AIM)

President Nyusi declares truce with Renamo Military Junta (VOA, MDM on Facebook)
The Mozambican government has suspended its attacks on members of the self-styled Renamo Military Junta in order to allow for dialogue with the dissident armed group, President Nyusi announced on Saturday in Pemba. He said that the Defence and Security Forces would be instructed not to pursue the group directly for one week starting yesterday, while remaining alert. Nyusi made the announcement during a Frelimo party retreat. Opposition MDM party leader Daviz Simango said he hoped that Nyusi would make his statement in his capacity as president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, rather than at a Frelimo party function, so that the offer would be binding on the Mozambican state; and called on the Military Junta to reveal the content of the letter he said they had addressed to the government, so that people could know what they were asking for. He also called for the dialogue to be “inclusive” and to avoid the secrecy and exclusiveness that had been a problem in the past.
Nyusi said he wants the Military Junta led by Mariano Nhongo “to return to dialogue” — suggesting that there has been some dialogue in the past that has not been public. Simango’s intervention is an attempt to remain relevant and to pick up support from Renamo supporters who are disenchanted with Ossufo Momade’s leadership of the party — in particular the increasing feeling that he is overly close to Nyusi’s government, rather than providing an opposition to it.

Doctors’ groups criticise unsafe working conditions (A Verdade)
Doctors in Mozambique’s public health system face deteriorating conditions at work, including a shortage of equipment and medicines, according to a statement from two professional bodies. The Mozambican Order of Doctors and the Medical Association of Mozambique said there was a lack of essential protective equipment to face the covid-19 pandemic and that essential medicines and basic equipment for day-to-day operations were unavailable. In their recent survey, out of 139 doctors across the country, more than half said that they had not received personal protective equipment in the last seven days. The statement added that more could have been done to save the life of António Mujovo, a doctor who died from covid-19 recently. It also noted that funding for healthcare under the state budget had fallen by 5.8% since 2018, and that there was one doctor for every 13,000 people. According to A Verdade, the government removed nearly MZN2bn ($27m) of funding for the health sector from the 2020 state budget, after the funding had been approved by parliament.

World Bank approves $100m to help Mozambique fight covid-19 (VOA, World Bank)
The World Bank has approved a $100m grant to support Mozambique’s response to the covid-19 pandemic. The bank said that the funding would be directed to supporting the health sector, including helping the urban poor access water; and to supporting economic recovery by helping small and medium-sized companies access finance. “It will also support reforms aimed at strengthening the country’s framework for fiscal and debt sustainability,” the bank added. The World Bank’s country director for Mozambique said that the grant should help Mozambique avoid a prolonged economic downturn due to the pandemic.

Government has no official information on South African border wall (Rádio Moçambique)
The government has no official information about reports that South Africa is to build a wall on its border with Mozambique, foreign minister Verónica Macamo has said. Macamo explained that she heard about the wall through the press and that the government would have to take notice before or when it was built. She added that it was good to strengthen borders to defend from problems such as terrorism, but did not want to comment as she had not received any official information yet.
The news that South Africa is erecting concrete barriers on Mozambique’s southern border first came out in March, apparently from a reputable source. It was revived this month by something called Savanna News (not to be confused with Mozambique’s Savana newspaper), with an apparently fictional reporter (with a profile picture cropped from a stockphoto) recycling March’s story for clicks. Unfortunately Savanna’s report was picked up by Carta de Moçambique (and Plataforma Media), meaning Mozambican journalists took it seriously enough to ask Mozambique’s foreign minister about it.

Nyusi calls again for lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe (AIM)
President Filipe Nyusi has reiterated the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s call for the lifting of all sanctions on Zimbabwe. Speaking in his capacity as current president of SADC, Nyusi said yesterday that the sanctions undermined the country’s ability to respond to three successive droughts and Cyclone Idai, as well as making it harder to access cheap credit and pay off debts. Nyusi said that the SADC welcomed recent efforts by United Nations secretary-general António Guterres and by the UN Commission on Human Rights to remove “coercive measures”. He added that a recently concluded compensation deal between the government and former farmers, plus the repeal of authoritarian legislation, showed that Zimbabwe was on the right track, and that lifting sanctions would accelerate this process.
Western countries have been keen to point out that Zimbabwe itself is not under sanctions (see Tweet below) — just certain individuals and companies have been targeted, in an attempt to combat corruption and support human rights. Nyusi’s blind statement of regional solidarity does nothing for his, or Mozambique’s, or SADC’s credibility.

Government requests humanitarian assistance from Asian countries (AIM)
The Mozambican government has asked Asian countries with diplomatic representation in Mozambique to help fund humanitarian support for victims of terrorism in Cabo Delgado province. The request was made by the foreign minister, Verónica Macamo, during a meeting with the diplomatic corps of Asia and Oceania on Friday, in which she said that the refugees driven out from their homes and seeking places to live elsewhere in the country were a major humanitarian challenge. Macamo said that the government was unaware of the causes of the terrorist attacks, and denied that they had a religious motivation.

Company Announcements

  • Fura Gems said that its transaction to go private and de-list its shares was expected to close on or around 28 October (see here)
  • Triton Minerals published a quarterly activities update for the third quarter of 2020. It said that it had progressed financing for the bulk earthworks contract at its Ancuabe graphite mining project in Cabo Delgado province, but that the financing time frame could no longer be met, and that it now planned to arrange financing “as soon as possible” and in time to mobilise the contractor to begin construction in the first half of 2021 [Triton had been planning to mobilise the contractor in September 2020 to complete the raw water dam by December]. The company also said that it was continuing to look at capital expenditure cost savings for the project (see here)
  • Kenmare Resources announced the start of production at Pilivili after moving its Wet Concentrator Plant B, leaving the mine “well-positioned to produce 1.2 million tonnes per annum of ilmenite from 2021” (see here)

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