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Zitamar Week in Review, 4-9 February 2024

Zitamar's look back at the week that was, and at the week ahead in Mozambique

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

Hello, on what we have described as a "crunch weekend" for Mozambique. As we reported on Friday, President Filipe Nyusi is due to give his shortlist for Frelimo's next presidential candidate to the Frelimo Political Commission this coming week – possibly as soon as tomorrow (Monday).

Once he does so, and once Frelimo makes the list public, it will end months if not years of speculation with very little guidance as to who it will be. Nyusi is understood to have his own strong favourite; but faces equally strong if not stronger opposition to that pick from inside the party. Read more below.

In other news, Eni joined ExxonMobil in the search for contractors to construct facilities for their Rovuma ventures in Cabo Delgado province. Eni has already pressed ahead with monetising the gas in Area 4, with the floating LNG facility on Coral South; but its consortium partner ExxonMobil has yet to take a final investment decision on building onshore liquefaction trains. Last week's announcement was a strong indication that it does expect to do so, and soon; but the security situation in Cabo Delgado is arguably at its shakiest point since the arrival of Rwandan reinforcements in 2021, as explained in Cabo Ligado's latest update, published this week.

Cabo Ligado Update: 22 January-4 February 2024 — Cabo Ligado
Situation Summary Groups of insurgents have made a dramatic move south from Mucojo in Macomia district, crossing the Quissanga district and fanning out across the districts of Metuge, Ancuabe, Mecufi, and Chiure, with some going as far as the Lúrio river bordering Nampula province, ambushing civi

Catch up on the week in Zitamar below, and have a great rest of the weekend.

Week in Review


The government’s communication problem
A failure to explain what it is doing about the insurgency and kidnappings is damaging the state’s credibility
A recent increase in insurgent activity saw President Filipe Nyusi act as spokesman for the security forces and announce the locations for upcoming military operations, amidst the failure of the government to address raids and beheadings carried out by insurgents. It seems district officials are increasingly losing faith in the security forces’ ability to protect them, producing pressure for news that help is on the way. Given the recent silence from the government, Nyusi’s words may well have been directed at his own forces just as much as the public. 


Time for change at MDM
The party risks electoral oblivion without a change of leader
MDM’s secretary-general claimed that none of its members are interested in running for party leadership or presidential candidacy. The party’s current leader, Lutero Simango, won the party’s election through his reputation in 2021, though he faced little in the way of opposition. Since then, many of the party’s most engaging politicians have been sidelined and changed allegiance to Renamo where they have a better chance of taking leadership of the party, which Manuel de Araújo and Venâncio Mondlane, two politicians who did just that, aim to do. MDM performed poorly in October’s elections and faces increasing competition from New Democracy, and with Lutero Simango’s uncharismatic leadership, their prospects for the future look grim. 


Mozambique’s Malawian malaise
Official hostility and mistrust towards Malawians has exacerbated border disputes between the two countries
Disputes have occurred between Mozambican and Malawian farmers over the rights to farm land in Mozambique, resulting in the burning of houses and deaths of Mozambican police officers. Malawi’s overpopulation and depleted soils have incentivized Malawians to cross the border to farm, with many of their cash crops being transported back to Malawi and re-imported to Mozambique, though Mozambican officials dislike goods leaving their borders and lowering their output figures. The two states have a history of border tensions, partially related to Malawi’s demands that it be allowed to access the sea through the Shire and Zambezi rivers, though Mozambique has always refused. 


Frelimo’s private clinic
A new quasi-private healthcare facility, part-owned by Frelimo’s holding company, has reopened questions about who should provide healthcare in Mozambique
Frelimo’s private stake in the new Marcelino dos Santos diabetes clinic contrasts the ideals of the clinic, given that it is a collaboration between the Mozambican and Cuban governments and named for a Frelimo communist idealogue. The clinic advertises lower prices for treatment than Maputo’s publicly owned Military Hospital, aimed at more modest Mozambicans, but why does the state not provide such a facility? And why is a Frelimo owned holding company, STI, the beneficiary of Cuban healthcare support?


Crunch weekend ahead for Nyusi succession
Whoever the president nominates at the Political Commission next week will become the front-runner in the race to succeed him
Frelimo’s Political Commission will likely meet next week to finalise its short list of potential successors to President Nyusi for Presidency of Frelimo. Nyusi's favored choice is the most likely to ultimately secure the position, which according to Zitamar sources is Celso Correia. Though the Central Committee will meet around a month from now to pick the final winner, Nyusi's announcement in the coming days will indicate the most likely future president of the country.