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Below is our usual Friday pick of the week, after the two top stories for today: results of Kenyan president William Ruto’s state visit to Mozambique this week, and the political party MDM’s decision to form a coalition in its attempt to retain the municipality of Beira, which it has held since the party’s formation. Were it to lose this year, it would be a disaster for the party, which remains strongly identified with the city.
From the Zitamar Live Blog
- Kenya and Mozambique sign security cooperation agreement (Lusa)
- MDM forms coalition with smaller parties for Beira election (VOA)
Kenya and Mozambique sign security cooperation agreement (Lusa)
Kenya and Mozambique have signed agreements to collaborate on defence, counter-terrorism, and other sectors including agriculture, fisheries, energy, and public sector capacity building. Mozambique is to share intelligence with Kenya on the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province as part of the agreements. The nations also plan to work together in law enforcement — allowing exchange of convicted criminals and mutual legal help — and education, with Kenya offering scholarships to Mozambican students in tourism.
MDM forms coalition with smaller parties for Beira election (VOA)
The opposition party Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) has signed a coalition agreement with four smaller parties for contesting the October municipal elections in the city of Beira, where the MDM is in power. The MDM will be allied with the Peace, Democracy and Development party (PDD), the Independent Party of Mozambique, the Ecologist Party and the Democratic Revolution party (RD). “What is intended with these partnerships is to consolidate the power of the opposition and, more than that, to create synergies for the political fight in the 2024 elections, where the objective is naturally to dethrone Frelimo,” MDM spokesman Ismael Nhacucué said.
The MDM already allied last month with the PDD, Ecologist and RD parties for the municipal elections in Matola municipality. But as with that deal, this coalition in Beira is unlikely to make a big difference to electoral outcomes. For that to happen, the MDM would have to form coalitions with largest opposition party Renamo, something the latter has been considering but has yet to agree on.
Week in Review
Mozambique is moving to ensure the state takes its rightful slice of the growing mining industry. To that end, it has just published its first monthly bulletin of minimum prices for mineral exports. Miners must sell to overseas buyers at, or above, these prices — or at least be taxed as if they had. How it works in practice seems yet to be completely concluded.
It also remains to be seen if the monthly bulletin can capture the subtleties of different mineral grades, and the vagaries of global commodity markets. But Mozambique is not wrong to try — and, unlike in the oil and gas industry, there are many more miners operating in the shadows outside of the glare of the media and civil society. The state and its regulators have a job on their hands.
On Tuesday, we reported on suggestions that police might go on strike. Police officers have not announced exact dates for their strike, but Zitamar News understands that some officers are talking about 15 August as the deadline, and admit that they are getting more corrupt for the sake of their survival.
The implications of a nationwide police strike go beyond everyday law and order, important though that is. Through the Rapid Intervention Unit, or UIR, the police are now responsible for much of the counter-insurgency operations against the Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado province. Despite businesses returning to work in some parts of the province, the insurgents are still able to launch attacks and kill troops. If a strike took place and the UIR took part, the insurgents — who have spread murder and panic among Cabo Delgado’s civilian population over the past six years — would be given a freer hand.
On Wednesday, we reported that the British High Commission in Maputo is to establish a brand new ‘defence section’ committed to strengthening relations between the British military and the Mozambican armed forces, as well as scouting for defence sales opportunities.
The team will also be responsible for overseeing the training of Mozambican troops by British soldiers - a new development in UK-Mozambique relations. In an alternate timeline, the UK might have contributed to the European Union’s training mission in Mozambique, which has operated since October 2021, but Brexit has forced, or allowed, the UK to pursue an independent defence policy.
Mozambique may be benefiting from its carefully cultivated policy of non-alignment, typified by its neutrality on the Ukraine war, which has allowed it to court propositions from both East and West. But the EU remains Mozambique’s most important security partner, having provided over $100 million in military aid, and there is likely to be a hard limit to how much Russian competition it is willing to tolerate. The more military support Mozambique accepts from the West, the harder it will be for it to walk a fine diplomatic line. At least that is probably what Western governments are counting on.
The latest Cabo Ligado report provides a reminder that despite the relative quiet, the conflict rages on. At least seven people were killed in an incident at Lake Nguri in Muidumbe district. It is not known if the insurgents or the security forces were responsible. Indeed, several reports have been received in the last two weeks of brutality committed by the forces charged with protecting the population from the insurgents, including the rape of a young girl in Nangade by a local militia fighter.
Zitamar also understands that a Mozambican Armed Defence Forces base was overrun and burned by insurgents in the Catupa forest on Tuesday. It is not yet known how many were killed, but the fire was large enough to be detected by satellite imagery.