1. Insurgents threaten attacks in Maputo

Police in Maputo are on high alert following a report in “Publico” newspaper on 7 June 2021, claiming that insurgents have given diplomatic and consular staff 30 days to leave the city, after which they would start blowing up offices and residences of diplomatic and consular personnel, turning Maputo into a “Damascus, Mogadishu, Tripoli or Kabul” in memory of martyrs killed around the world. The threat appeared on social media (mainly WhatsApp) and claims to have been issued by insurgent leader Abu Yasir Hassan. In response, the police have deployed “shock troops” in areas considered to be likely targets, including markets and main thoroughfares.

2. Rwanda: Future Role

On 2 June we reported on the proposed collaboration between France, SA, Mozambique and Rwanda, in terms of which a joint SA/Mozambique command would head the operation, and soldiers would be provided by Rwanda. Although Minister Naledi Pandor has been at pains to emphasise that any SA intervention would be within the context of SADC, she nevertheless met with Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta in Pretoria on Friday 4 June 2021, in a meeting that involved intelligence heads and the high commissioners from both sides, Biruta told Pandor: “We have many challenges across the continent and I believe that South Africa and Rwanda can work together to resolve them.”. The meeting specifically identified Mozambique and Central African Republic as afreas of collaboration.

International media are also beginning to follow and report on increasing (if behind the scenes) Rwandan involvement. On 9 June 2021 Deutsche Welle reported:

When it is more than known to the whole world that Maputo has stamped the “no” to a foreign military intervention in Cabo Delgado, the President of Mozambique elected Kigali to ask for help. Filipe Nyusi defers to his traditional African neighbors and partners to seek help further afield. Researcher Joseph Hanlon states that “at the moment, there is no relationship, but we know that Nyusi was recently in Kigali. And ten days later, a Rwandan military reconnaissance mission was in Pemba [in the first half of May]. is clearly looking for military forces.”

An unconventional ‘exchange of favours’ may be taking place, according to a reading by Hanlon who underlines: ‘The only thing we know is that [President Paul] Kagame is allowed to kill his dissidents in Mozambique. A Rwandan journalist refugee in Mozambique was kidnapped. This looks like a deal because historically Rwanda has never had any interest in Mozambique.”

About two weeks ago, Ntamuhanga Cassien was taken by around 8 strangers and to this day his whereabouts are still unknown. In recent years, dissident Rwandans residing in Mozambique have been liquidated without a trace. The accusing finger is turned towards Paul Kagame, but Maputo seems to prefer looking in another direction: Rwanda’s military potential.

André Thomashausen, a German specialist in international law, recalls that “Rwanda is known as a country that has the best military and security devices in Africa, well equipped and very disciplined”. And so he suspects that Kagame will help Nyusi: “It is natural that Mozambique has gone after Rwanda to see if they can lend a contingent of men, who can, under Mozambican command, of course, support the effort to maintain security. It looks like it’s going to happen.”

3. Caritas Nampula Provides Humanitarian Relief

Except for building houses, Caritas Nampula is now providing regular monthly emergency food supplies to 786 families in the Corrane reception centre. See photographs below:

4. Situation Update

On 1 June, civilians in the coastal town of Quiterajo reported an intense exchange pf fire between government forces and insurgents. There was no immediate tally of casualties from this offensive, but by 4 June, reports suggested that government forces had killed multiple insurgents near Pangane, near Quiterajo. Along with these reports, there have been some reports of individual violence. One such report, recently confirmed, is of a displaced woman whose body was found after being raped and murdered. Many such cases are rumoured, with some attributing the violence in part to security forces who are overzealous and use their position of authority to force women into untenable situations.

New reports put the total confirmed casualties at 2800, with roughly half being civilians. Emilio Mashant, the programme manager at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Cabo Delgado, is concerned about the overwhelming influx of new patients “this (managing Covid-19 and the influx of displaced people to Cabo Delgado at the same time) is really a nightmare, and to be honest, it’s very complicated to resolve these problems because these people are living in very poor conditions. More than 700 000 people have fled their homes due to the violence in the last three years, with a staggering 64 000 of them doing so in just the last two months.

Around 25 May, according to a Carta de Mocambique report, security force members looted the Standard Bank and BCI branches in Palma, making off with roughly $1 million from the vaults. The heist, which Carta presents as the culmination of a 10-day looting binge by government forces, came off with the help of military explosives used to blow holes in the bank vaults. Following the heist, the perpetrators attempted to escape by posing as displaced civilians fleeing to Pemba, but they were arrested and much of the money was seized. The money is currently in military custody and it is unclear if it will be returned to the banks.

These episodes underline the fear expressed by displaced civilians in Ancuabe district, who said that they are subject to frequent harassment from security forces. Government troops “don’t respect anyone, including people’s wives” one man told reporters. Instead, as multiple sources have alleged, troops use accusations that displaced civilians are actually working with the insurgency to extort money and goods.

5. Conflicts Over Land

Conflict over land between displaced and local residents of communities they have been resettled in continues. As we reported last week, the government has said that all land belongs to the State, and that the State can reallocate land at will. This adds to the suspicion amongst displaced that the real reason for the war is to clear them off the land, so that the State can grant access to prospectors and multinationals.

Cabo Ligado reports:

One explanation for the disconnect is the perception among displaced people that their displacement is the point of the conflict. In an interview last week, researcher Yussuf Adam, who has worked extensively in Cabo Delgado, outlined a belief that he says is widespread among displaced people in the province. “This war,” displaced people told him, is “serving to exile them from their lands without paying them compensation.” While there is no evidence to suggest that the conflict is a private or state land grab, the government’s mishandling of the displacement crisis has fueled belief in the theory. For example, displaced people have asked government officials for documentation certifying the village that they come from and the property they hold there in hopes of recovering that property after the conflict. The government has refused to issue any such documentation. Indeed, the government itself — in the person of then-Cabo Delgado provincial secretary and now head of the Northern Integrated Development Agency Armindo Ngunga — said that it expects most displaced people will never return home. So long as there is no plan to assist them in doing so, land competition on the outskirts of the conflict zone will continue to be a problem and distrust of the government’s motives will only increase among displaced populations.

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