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Zitamar Week in Review, 14-21 July 2023

Our picks of the week, plus the latest news on Standard Bank's readmittance to the interbank foreign exchange market

Today’s front pages in Maputo. Photo © Faizal Chauque / Zitamar News

Good afternoon, and welcome to our review of the week. Observant readers will have noticed there was no Cabo Ligado Weekly report this week; the Weekly is now an Update which comes out every two weeks. But fear not — the latest Monthly came out this week, and can be read in individual articles on our home page, or in full here:

Cabo Ligado Monthly: June 2023 — Cabo Ligado
Cabo Ligado — or ‘connected cape’ — is a conflict observatory established by ACLED, Zitamar News, and MediaFax to monitor political violence in Mozambique.

Before we get into the day’s and the week’s top stories, a piece of breaking news on our Blog today: Standard Bank is to be readmitted to the interbank foreign exchange market from Monday, the Bank of Mozambique announced today.

The bank has been suspended from participating in the foreign exchange market in Mozambique for two years, after the central bank accused it of wrongdoing — accusations which have never been satisfactorily proven.

In its statement today, the Bank of Mozambique said Standard Bank has adopted significant corrective measures aimed at bringing its performance into line with current standards and practices.

In reality, the bank has changed its CEO and appointed a chairwoman trusted by the central bank. But the Bank of Mozambique is licking its own wounds, after all the individual penalties levied on Standard Bank directors have been reversed in the Mozambican courts. Perhaps a lesson for the sheriff to pause before he shoots.

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

Zitamar Mozambique Live Blog
Tongaat Hulett selects preferred strategic equity partner Kagera Sugar Limited (Kagera), a sugar manufacturing company based in Tanzania, has been selected as Tongaat Hulett’s preferred strategic equity partner by the business rescue practitioners. Kangera would acquire the complete sugar divisio…


  • Today-Sunday: Prime Minister Adriano Maleiane visits Zambezia province

Also in the news:

  • AGRA to disburse nearly $28m to smallholder farmers (AIM)
  • Generals were manipulated to challenge Renamo leadership, says Ossufo Momade (Canal de Moçambique)
  • More than 70% of civil servants have returned to Cabo Delgado (Lusa)

AGRA to disburse nearly $28m to smallholder farmers (AIM)

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) will disburse nearly $28m to support about two million Mozambican smallholder farmers within the next five years, AGRA’s country representative, Paulo Mole, said on Tuesday. The initiative is intended to improve the living standards of the smallholders, especially young people who will be funded and assisted, so that their activities can pay off, he said. AGRA, which operates in the Beira Corridor and the Zambezi Valley in the country’s central region, intends to extend its activities to the Pemba-Lichinga Corridor in northern Mozambique. With further support from its partners, the strategy will eventually reach the Limpopo and Maputo Corridors in the south.

Sustenta, the World Bank-funded government agriculture initiative, has a new ally with very ambitious numbers. After three years in full force, Sustenta will get its first major review at the end of July by the specialist independent NGO, OMR.

Generals were manipulated to challenge Renamo leadership, says Ossufo Momade (Canal de Moçambique)

The generals who challenged the leadership of Renamo were manipulated by people well placed in the big cities, the same ones who manipulated Mariano Nhongo until his death and today do not care about the family of the deceased, Renamo leader Ossufo Momade said in an interview with Canal de Moçambique. All of these dissidents had space to present their positions to Renamo, but preferred to bypass that route and do it on the margins, he said, calling the act "cowardice". In the interview, Momade again denied accusations that he is not fully complying with his predecessor Afonso Dhlakama's guidelines regarding the process of disarming former Renamo guerrillas. However, he admitted that Renamo members have not been allowed to join the Mozambican secret service SISE and the army, with some of Renamo members' sons being allowed to join the police.

Momade is being challenged by a dissident movement that got accepted to run for municipal elections. How it polls in Sofala and Manica provinces, two traditional areas of support for Renamo but where the Renamo electorate feels disenfranchised by current Renamo leadership, will also be a major test for him.

More than 70% of civil servants have returned to Cabo Delgado (Lusa)

More than 70% of civil servants who had abandoned their jobs due to insurgent attacks in Cabo Delgado have already returned to their districts, according to the deputy minister of state administration, Inocêncio Impissa. The challenge now is for human resources to find mechanisms for the recovery of employee files, since they were somehow destroyed during the attacks, he added.

This is encouraging news after months of tacit resistance to return back to districts affected by violence. The next battle is to provide proper infrastructure and houses for those who are returning, as much of the area has been destroyed – not only by the insurgent attacks but also pillages by ordinary people in the aftermath of the violent incidents. TotalEnergies have been also putting pressure on the return of civil servants as a fundamental step to reimpose the state in those urban centres, providing services, law and order.

Week in Review


Frelimo makes its choices
Given the mismanagement by current mayors and the strong opposition candidates, holding Maputo and Matola will not be an easy task for Frelimo.

Holding Maputo and Matola in particular will not be an easy task for Fremilo in municipal elections on 11 October.

In the run-up to the elections, the incumbent mayors, Eneas Comiche and Calisto Cossa, were promptly rejected.

For Maputo, Razaque Manhique was elected. He is not well known in the public domain. Manhique is Frelimo's first secretary for the city of Maputo, and has also served as vice-president of Maputo's municipal assembly. He will be running against Venâncio Mondlane, a popular — and populist — politician who came close to winning Maputo for the MDM in 2013, before being barred from standing for election in 2018 on a technicality.

In Matola, the current governor of the province of Maputo, Júlio Parruque, will lead the line. Parruque was governor of Cabo Delgado province before taking up the post of administrator in Matola, and then his current job. He is therefore well known locally but will be up against a strong Renamo candidate, the popular António Muchanga, who formally won 47% of the vote in 2018, but was probably the rightful winner, denied by election tampering.


Wheat worries
What Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative means for Mozambique

Russia withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative is worrying news for Mozambique.

UN data shows that Mozambique gets 4.5% of its wheat from Ukraine, making it less dependent on the country than many others. But Mozambique is nevertheless a major importer of wheat, and the global shortage caused by the ending of this agreement will mean wheat prices will go up, wherever the wheat comes from.

Higher wheat and bread prices will have effects across the economy — helping keep consumer price inflation high, and in turn likely leading the Bank of Mozambique to keep monetary policy tighter than it otherwise would have done.

The issue may loom large at the second Russia-Africa Summit, which will take place in St Petersburg next week. But Putin has said his decision is final.


A graphite shut-down
A reminder that Mozambique does not hold all the cards in the scramble for ‘transition minerals’

Low demand for Syrah Resources’ graphite from Chinese battery producers has meant the mine has been standing idle since May, with apparently little prospect of work restarting there soon.

Mozambique would like a slice of the rapidly growing battery producing industry, but is competing with industrialised countries — the US, and the UK, among others — for that. And its infrastructure and skills levels put it at a significant disadvantage.

Blocking exports of unprocessed minerals, be that graphite or anything else, might seem like a way of forcing multinational companies to establish manufacturing projects inside Mozambique. But the country needs to be careful not to make itself an unattractive destination for the mining projects themselves, as the scramble for these ‘transition minerals’, vital for the development of modern energy generation and storage, seeks new resources around the world.


Frelimo get their man
Today’s election of a new head of the journalists’ union is a sad landmark along the road back to greater Frelimo domination of the media

On Thursday, Mozambique’s journalists elected a new head of their trade union — the former head of both state broadcasters, TVM and Rádio Moçambique, Faruco Sadique.

Sadique had the backing of the regulatory body for the industry, the Gabinete de Informação, commonly known as Gabinfo.

Gabinfo has been on something of a power grab lately. Last week, the network of independent community radios Forcom raised the alarm at its state-run counterpart, ICS, trying to forcibly take over independent stations. ICS falls under Gabinfo’s purview.

Strengthening Gabinfo’s hand would likely be a backward step for media freedom in Mozambique, which is already being eroded.

New media laws, which have been approved by the executive although not yet by parliament, suggest the government backs further restrictions on media freedom. Today’s election at the SNJ, although an increasingly irrelevant organisation for many journalists, is a sad landmark along the road back to greater Frelimo domination of the media — albeit it is still being resisted by some independent media and civil society organisations.