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Vale and government hide dangerous pollution levels from Moatize community; One dead in latest bus shooting in central Mozambique

Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 3 October, 2019

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  • Tomorrow: Public holiday for Peace Day, commemorating
  • 15 October: Elections for the presidency, provincial governorships, seats in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies
  • 23-24 October: Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russian Federation, with Mozambican government delegation due to attend

The latest from Zitamar News:

FREE TO READ: Vale and government hide dangerous pollution levels from Moatize community
Brazilian mining giant Vale and the Mozambican government have been hiding figures that show dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution in Moatize, where Vale operates two coal mines

One dead in latest bus shooting in central Mozambique
One person died and five were injured in the fifth attack attributed to a Renamo splinter group since a peace deal was signed in August

The best of the rest / Today’s headlines:

  • Police arrests alleged insurgency recruits in Nacala (Lusa)
  • Gaza has enough voters to justify parliamentary seats, says Nyusi (Notícias)
  • 200 Russian mercenaries in Mozambique (The Times)
  • Maragra sugar strike suspended as wage talks continue (Notícias)
  • Giving to Maputo beggars punished by fines (Notícias)
  • Bank of Mozambique expects large inflow of forex (Notícias)

Police arrest alleged insurgency recruits in Nacala (Lusa)
34 people were arrested last week by police in Nacala, Nampula province, suspected of being en route to join the Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado. A police spokesman said the group of mostly young men had trouble explaining where they were going, claiming to be headed for a nut factory in Angoche — a claim the police discovered was untrue. The men have been taken back to their areas of origin, and police are now looking for the people responsible for recruiting them.
Although violence from the insurgency has not spilled over to Nampula province, there have been a number of indications that people are being recruited from the area.

Gaza has enough voters to justify parliamentary seats, says Nyusi (Notícias)
The province of Gaza has enough people to justify the number of seats allocated to it in Mozambique’s National Assembly, President Filipe Nyusi has insisted. “Others say that Gaza has no people. Where do all these people come from?” Nyusi asked, pointing to the people who attended his rally in Xai-Xai city yesterday. “They say you are imported people”.
In Gaza, a province where Frelimo always wins all seats, the National Election Commission (CNE) increased the number of seats by nine for the next assembly after the 15 October elections, bringing the total seats to 22. NGOs contend that the number of voters registered by CNE is questionable and the National Institute of Statistics found that there were 300,000 fewer voters than CNE counted.

200 Russian mercenaries in Mozambique (The Times)
Some 200 Russian mercenaries, including “elite troops”, are among the military firepower delivered by the Russian air force to Mozambique recently to fight the insurgency in Cabo Delgado,The Times reports. The British newspaperrepeats claims that the mercenaries work for Wagner Group, which has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and which fought on his behalf in Ukraine and Syria, and cites reports that Wagner competed with Erik Prince’s security firm Blackwater to win the commission. Wagner Group is believed to be financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman known as “Putin’s cook” because of his Kremlin catering contracts. The newspaper notes that Russia has also provided a national security adviser, and is selling arms and training to, the Central African Republic, and that several other southern African countries have asked Moscow for help fighting Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Despite all reporting on this issue, there is no decisive evidence of a Russian presence in Nampula or Cabo Delgado.

Maragra sugar strike suspended as wage talks continue (Notícias)
Workers at the Maragra sugar factory, in the Manhiça district of Maputo province, suspended a 20-day strike on Friday while a wage increase was being negotiated. However, both sides will not move from their positions, said Joaquim Siúta, inspector general for labour. Workers are demanding a 20% increase while the company says it is not possible after the 7.4% increase in April this year. However, Maragra proposes introducing incentives if the production target is reached before 14 December.
The nearby Xinavane sugar mill is being deserted by its majority owner, Tongaat Hulett, with the Mozambican government looking for a new investor to take it on. Maragra, owned by SA giant Illovo, is also affected by the sugar crisis in the region.

Giving to Maputo beggars punished by fines (Notícias)
On average seven commercial businesses a week in Maputo are fined an amount equal to double the minimum wage for giving alms to beggars. Individuals can also get fined one minimum wage for donating. These penalties have been applied since 2016, said Alice de Abreu, city councillor for health and social action. She added that the municipality has also been distributing ‘income generation kits’ to those beggars with the ability to work, while more vulnerable beggars are sent to a nursing home. De Abreu encouraged people to direct their support to nursing homes and religious charities instead of public donations.

Bank of Mozambique expects large inflow of forex (Notícias)
The Bank of Mozambique foresees a high inflow of foreign currency resources in the country over the next five years, resulting from the large investments in the exploitation of natural gas in the Rovuma Basin off Cabo Delgado province. According to Jamal Omar, administrator of the central bank, the most likely result is that the metical will become stronger, warning that “people who continue to maintain their resources or assets in foreign currencies, not with the intention of making payments abroad, but to convert and use them within the country, may lose their resources over time”. The bank's forecast is for continued de-dollarisation due to macroeconomic stability.

Company Announcements

  • Acteon subsidiary Benthic has been awarded an offshore geotechnical and geophysical contract by TechnipFMC for the Golfinho field in the Total-operated Area 1 gas block
  • Kenmare Resources said it has received board approval to set up a sustainability committee which would have “responsibility for ensuring that Kenmare has the appropriate strategies, policies and operational controls in place to maintain a socially responsible business”, and that the committee would be chaired by non-executive director Elizabeth Headon
  • Triton Minerals said that China’s National Development and Reform Commission had approved the acquisition by state-owned company Jinan Hi-Tech of a 34% stake in Triton announced earlier this year, and that it expected all conditions precedent for closing of the deal to be met in “the coming weeks”

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