1. Continued Death Threats Behind Bishop Lisboa’s Transfer from Pemba

Radio Renascença reports that Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa, who was transferred this Thursday by Pope Francisco from Pemba to Brazil, where he is from, admits that he has received threats and that the concern with his life may have been behind the decision to get him out of the country. The Pope transferred D. Luiz Fernando Lisboa from Pemba to Cachoeiro de Itapemiri, in the State of Espírito Santo, in Brazil. The decision caused distress among many in Mozambique,  given the role that Dom Luiz Fernando played in Pemba in the current context. It cannot be understood as a rebuke since the Pope made a point of elevating him to archbishop on an extraordinary basis, despite his new seat not being an archdiocese.

Speaking to Radio Renascença, Dom  Luiz confirms that the risks to his life may have been behind the Holy Father’s  decision. “It might be. I recognize the delicate situation of the moment and the Holy Father, analyzing all our situation in Mozambique, decided to transfer me. We are not naive, so I think it may have helped in this transfer ”, he says.

The bishop also admits that he has been the target of threats during his ministry in Mozambique. “People who like to do that kind of thing never do it directly. Indirectly, or trying to show that the person is not welcome … Anyway. These things happen. It happens to journalists, it happens to human rights activists and it also happens to members of the Church. We are used to it, everywhere. ”

Dom Luiz Fernando is clear when asked if the transfer initiative came from a request from him. “No! I would never ask to leave, ”he says.

Could these threats have come from the state? Dom Luiz does not deny it, but says that “it is difficult to know. Wherever the Church operates, it always seeks to be on the side of the truth and defend the human being, and that usually bothers,” says the bishop. “When the Church makes this defense, it speaks the truth, seeks to defend the rights of people and this always brings problems for the members of the Church, because those who live in lies do not like the truth, those who practice corruption do not like to be charged for it. So these people are uncomfortable. Whether from the Government, from organizations, whatever they may be, people who occupy positions … This happens everywhere, and it also happens in Mozambique. ”

Dom Luiz affirms that there is a tradition of persecution of clergy in Mozambique for their position in defense of the most vulnerable and that he probably will not be the last. “The Episcopal Conference of Mozambique has always had a very clear position in the defense of the population and human dignity and many bishops throughout the history of the Church of Mozambique have been accused of this or that, some have been persecuted, some have even been expelled. But the Church continues. One bishop comes out, another comes, that’s normal. ”

Dom Luiz will be succeeded by the auxiliary bishop of Maputo, Dom António Juliasse Sandramo. The choice leaves him satisfied and he describes Dom António as “fearless”. “He’s a very prepared person and I think he can match his height. He knows more about reality and history than I do. And he is fearless. I don’t think he will have any problems. I think he will do a good job until the bishop who stays there is appointed, which always takes a few months, we hope it doesn’t take that long. But I think that he can continue the work and continue to give the assistance that the Church has given to the displaced ”, concludes D. Luiz Fernando Lisboa.

 

  1. Displaced in Namula Face cholera Outbreak

A serious problem that is emerging in Nampula, particularly among the war displaced people in Namialo (86 km from the city of Nampula) is the cholera outbreak that has broken out these days. Archbishop Inacio Saure of Nampula described the situation as “ a very serious health challenge.”

 

  1. South African Foreign Minister On Support For Mozambique

South Africa is already helping Mozambique to fight a deadly Islamic State-linked insurgency in its northernmost province, Cabo Delgado, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has disclosed. And it has been talking to Portugal – which already has boots on the ground – about the Southern African Development Community (SADC) collaborating with it in Mozambique.

“We are assisting. But I can’t say much,” Pandor told Daily Maverick in an interview. Pandor said Pretoria had been engaging with Portugal, the former colonial power in Mozambique, which was “very active” in Mozambique and already had “soldiers, feet on the ground. They want us to collaborate… they would like SADC to play a key role.

“And we said, we are ready to, but we must know, a key role in what?” she said, repeating an earlier complaint that the Mozambican government had not yet indicated concretely what it needed. “What do they need? You know, do they need helicopters? Do they need, you know, vessels on the sea? Do they need training? It’s a puzzle for us. Why they don’t actually tell us what it is they need.”

But if SADC was asked to intervene, would it have the capacity to do so? Pandor was asked.  “We’ve got the capacity, South Africa has,” she replied, adding that other SADC countries also had the capacity, citing the fact that Tanzania and Malawi were supplying troops alongside South Africa in the UN Force Intervention Brigade in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. “So we have the capability.”

 

  1. Officials Profiteer from Cabo Delgado Crisis

The PRM General Command and the General Staff of the FADM paid 600 million meticais to a small commercial establishment called “Armazéns Anita” in Maputo supposedly to feed the police and military who are part of the “Joint Task Force” in Cabo Delgado. The money from that warehouse account is subsequently sent to private accounts. And because it was not possible to prove what was actually being paid, two commercial banks  classified such transactions as “suspected corruption and money laundering”, having reported the facts to the regulator.

According to the new weekly «Evidencias», which revealed these facts this week in its very first edition, despite the fact that the city of Pemba, in Cabo Delgado, has dozens of supermarkets capable of supplying a military base, the PRM General Command and the General Staff of the FADM signed a contract with a small commercial establishment in  Maputo, called «Armazéns Anita».

The contract had in view to supply the military base of the «Joint Task Force» that is in the front line of the fight against the insurgency in Cabo Delgado. “However, in such a short time, without clarity of the products purchased, the money deposited in the accounts of that commercial establishment was drained into other accounts and / or withdrawn in checks”, reports the weekly.

This situation, according to the same source, led two commercial banks, namely Banco Comercial e de Investimentos (BCI) and Banco Internacional de Moçambique (Millennium BIM) to alert Banco de Moçambique, as regulator of commercial banking, having classified such payments as “suspected corruption and money laundering transactions”.

“The fact that the tracking of financial transactions carried out did not lead to the declared purchases was weighed down by suspicion, on the contrary, it indicated cash withdrawals and transfers of the accounts of the couple of owners José Pinhal and Calssum Amad”, the newspaper revealed.

Another fact mentioned in the same matter is that the volume of transactions differs from the warehouse’s capacity and there is no clear evidence that there has been supply of what was declared.

It should be noted that journalists Fernando Veloso and Matias Guente, Director and Executive Editor of the weekly «Canal de Moçambique», respectively, were accused of the crime of «violation of State secrecy» due to having published a supposedly confidential contract between the Minister of National Defense, Atanásio Salvador Mtumuke, and the Minister of the Interior, Basílio Monteiro, and the multinationals Mozambique Rovuma Venture and TOTAL with a view to paying compensation to the police and military members of the Joint Force in Cabo Delgado for the provision of security services those multinationals, but according to «Canal de Moçambique» such monies were eaten by the bosses.

“Evidencias” journalist Armando Nenane made a deposit of 50 meticais in a BCI account supposedly belonging to the national directorate of logistics and finance of the Ministry of Defense made public by «Canal de Moçambique» as the one where the money was deposited arising from the famous confidential contract, having confirmed through the deposit slip that said account is associated with former national defence minister Atanásio Salvador M´tumuke.

  1. Situation Update

The Mozambican government continued its offensives last week, extending helicopter strikes to a wider swath of the area around the Messalo River. There is no indication yet, however, of whether the growing pace of strikes is shifting territorial control on the ground.

 

Helicopters supporting government forces struck insurgent positions near the Messalo river from at least 8 February through 11 February. The Messalo forms the southern border of Mocimboa da Praia district, and the area around it has been used by the insurgency as a base area dating back to 2018.  Reports differ as to whether the helicopter missions were run by Dyck Advisory Group, the Mozambican military, or the two working in concert, although Russian-made helicopters have been seen in Pemba, being flown by Mozambican pilots. The new helicopters and pilots are likely the result of the Mozambican military’s contract with South African arms dealer Paramount, which reportedly included both helicopters and pilot training, but it is not clear if they are yet involved in operations or are still in training.

 

Information about the details of the strikes is in short supply. However, multiple sources confirm that helicopters supporting government forces attacked the area around Mbau, in southern Mocimboa da Praia district, on 10 February. A single, well-placed source reported a series of helicopter strikes in the area where Mocimboa da Praia, Muidumbe, and Macomia districts meet.

First, the source reported that government helicopters hit Xitaxi, a village in eastern Muidumbe district about 20 kilometers south of the Mocimboa da Praia border, on 8 February.  The next day, according to the source, there was an initial government attack on Mbau and neighboring Chinda, along with a strike on Miangalewa just to the south in Muidumbe district. Finally, the source reported that on 11 February there were helicopter strikes along the Mocimboa da Praia-Muidumbe border between Mbau and Chitunda. No casualty estimates are available for any of these attacks.

 

No hard evidence of casualties from the recent government airstrikes in Cabo Delgado has been presented, but the pro-government website Noticias de Defesa claimed that the helicopter operations killed six insurgent leaders, including a Tanzanian and two “Arabs.” Photos linked in the post purporting to be of the dead insurgent leaders are actually operations photos from last December.

 

However well the government’s efforts are proceeding from the air, they are undoubtedly moving slower on the ground. In addition to the rainy season that has made many roads difficult to travel, the government is now having trouble conscripting people with local knowledge for the military. State newspaper Notícias reported last week that only 6,294 young people from Cabo Delgado have been conscripted into the military in the current conscription period, which runs from the beginning of January to the end of February. The military’s target was to sign up 14,952 new soldiers from the province. The official in charge of the conscription drive blamed displacement and lax registration of displaced young people for the government’s inability to meet its goals.

 

The Joint Task Force that provides security for Total’s LNG projects must now secure a 25 kilometer radius around Total’s construction site, per the terms of the latest security agreement between the French energy major and the Mozambican government. The agreement was concluded in late January, but Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne revealed the security cordon requirement last week. Pouyanne also said that there are currently about 1,000 workers at the site, but that there should be ten times as many in order for work on the project to be completed on time.

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