27 August 2020

  1. Press Freedom under Attack

Following attacks on the Church last week, the independent media in Mozambique has also come under attack, posing a serious threat to press freedom and freedom of expression. At 20h00 on the evening of Sunday 23 August, the Maputo offices of Canalmoz/Canal de Moçambique were attacked by unknown assailants, and firebombed. Destruction was total – all files, computers, printers and other equipment were destroyed. See photographs below:

Shortly after the attack, independent journalist Armando Nenane was arrested in the Xipamanine district of Maputo by Police, and taken to the Ninth Squadron Police Station. No reasons were given for his detention.

  1. Increasing Corruption

On Monday 24 August, Carta de Mocambique reported that former President Armando Guebuza has been charged in the High Court in London (UK) for the so called “hidden debt” of US$2, 2 billion, that was incurred during his term as President – https://cartamz.com/index.php/politica/item/5922-dividas-ocultas-armando-guebuza-arrolado-pelo-tribunal-de-londres

His co-accused include Manuel Chang (then Minister of Finances, and currently in a South African prison awaiting extradition), Antonio do Rosario (then an official of SISE – the Service for Information and State Security) and Isaltina Lucas (the former Director of the National Treasury). The list of accused is headed by Iskandar Safa – a French-Lebanese businessman and proprietor of Privinvest Holdings. Other defendants include Credit Suisse International.

The case was brought before the British Court by the National Prosecutor of the Republic. During Guebuza’s term as President, he authorized the creation of three entities, EMATUM (the Mozambique Tuna Company), ProIndicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) through which the funds were channelled. The National Prosecutor is seeking a declaration stating that the Government of Mozambique cannot be held liable for guarantees given on its behalf by Manuel Chang, and to indemnify it from damages.

The notorious $2,2 billion (about R35 billion) secret debt was a way in which elite bank accounts received hundreds of millions of dollars five years ago – and they spent some on property in South Africa. Sons of then president Armando Guebuza have been charged and arrested, but it is not clear if the case will ever go to trial.

On https://allafrica.com/stories/202008241010.html , veteran journalist Joseph Hanlon gives the following analysis:” There is growing pressure in South Africa for military intervention in the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique. But the government needs to be aware that it would be choosing sides in an extremely complicated civil war. The elite from the ruling party, Frelimo, its international backers and the proponents of military support say the war is part of a global campaign by the Islamic State (Isis) militant group that might spread to South Africa. In fact, this is a civil war in Cabo Delgado driven by growing poverty and inequality. And it is pleased to see the global panic, which builds its brand.

Members of the Frelimo elite have been siphoning off increasing amounts of money for two decades. There has been little economic development in years. All the statistics show growing poverty, inequality and child malnutrition. Cabo Delgado has become a flashpoint, with thousands of families stripped of their livelihoods after being displaced by ruby and graphite mines and the gas project. Young people see a few gaining from the mineral wealth and well-paid outsiders coming in to work on the gas, and most local people not benefitting.

Islamic militants are attracting willing recruits in exactly the same way Frelimo attracted its recruits when it started in the same places 50 years ago, with both promising a fairer sharing of the wealth of the province. Too many young people now view Frelimo in the same way that their grandparents saw the colonial administration, and the new civil war is the result.”

  1. Pope Francis Prays for Cabo Delgado

Vatican News reported the following on 25 August 2020:

After the Sunday Angelus Prayer, in St Peter’ Square, Pope Francis referred to the suffering in Cabo Delgado. The Pope briefly recalled his visit to Mozambique a year ago. He then said many people in Cabo Delgado were suffering “due to international terrorism.”

  1. Mozambique Bishops Issue Pastoral letter

The Bishops of Mozambique, over the weekend, issued a Pastoral Letter addressed to all the faithful and people of goodwill. The Pastoral Letter coincides with the one-year milestone of Pope Francis’ visit to Mozambique which took place from 4 to 6 September 2019. The theme of that visit was “Hope, Peace, and Reconciliation.”

Many of the themes that underpinned Pope Francis’ visit, to Mozambique, a year ago, find an echo in the new Pastoral Letter signed by the Archbishop of Nampula and Vice President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique, Archbishop Inácio Saúre, I.M.C.

The Mozambican Bishops’ Pastoral Letter said the country is grateful for the closeness and solidarity of Pope Francis towards all Mozambicans, especially those who are traumatised and affected by the insecurity in the north and central regions of the country.

Entitled “Hope, Peace and Reconciliation,” the Pastoral Letter thanks Pope Francis for his concern regarding the current situation in Cabo Delgado Province. They acknowledge the Holy Father’s 12 April Easter Sunday message during the Urbi et Orbi blessing, when he prayed for Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado. Similarly, they commend the Pope for last week’s telephone call to the Bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa.

The Mozambican Bishops urge their compatriots to take to heart Pope Francis’ message calling for peace and reconciliation in the country.

“Hope, Peace and Reconciliation was the motto of the Apostolic Visit. More than ever before, these words must serve as a true programme of action, leading us to accept challenges and applying the words to the current context. Pope Francis left us with stimulating words of encouragement, and guidance for the prevailing national situation which is marked above all by the absence of an effective peace,” reads the Letter in part.

The Bishops further invite political actors to embrace collaboration. “It is necessary to end the violence and, with transparency, to carry out the process of Demobilisation, Disarmament and the Reintegration of the (military) men of Renamo.” The Bishops continue to say that Mozambique needs genuine Decentralisation of power, sincere dialogue and the participation of all political and civil actors. “

As a Church, the Bishops promise to spare no effort in encouraging and supporting these processes of promoting a culture of peace. The peace process as Pope Francis reminded Mozambicans, demands continued and renewed commitment to its realisation, say the Bishops. No one can rest until Mozambique has achieved authentic and effective peace, the prelates emphasise

  1. Memorandum of Understanding between Mozambique Government and Total Raises Concerns

It was announced on 24 August that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) had been signed between the Mozambique government and the French petroleum company Total regarding security of the Total gas project on the Afungi Peninsula at Palma, north of Mocimboa da Praia, in Cabo Delgado Province. In terms of the MOU, the Government guarantees security of the gas project and constructions on the Afungi Peninsula through the establishment of a Joint Task Force, which includes the military. In return, Total will provide logistical support to the Joint Task Force. In the statement, Total does not specify the type of logistical support, but it is known that it should include equipment and money to be used by the Government to pay salaries to military personnel to protect oil operations in Afungi.

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) describes the MOU as “problematic” (https://cddmoz.org ) – the MOU was not endorsed by the Administrative Court; the money paid by the oil companies was not to enter the Treasury, as it was channeled to an account opened for that purpose by the Ministry of National Defense; and the staff of the Defense and Security Forces (SDS) were not receiving the promised additional remuneration. The Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) believes that it basically means the privatization of the sovereignty of Mozambique.  By allowing the deployment of SDS staff for the protection of private interests in exchange for monetary payments, the Government is privatizing the services of SDS and violating Defense and Security Act 17/97 of 1 October.

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