1. Muidumbe attacked on New Year’ Eve


Insurgents attacked at least three villages in Muidumbe district, north of Cabo Delgado, between 30 and 31 December. The incursions that continue to keep the population terrified and afraid to follow the timid return movement have resulted in at least two deaths by beheading, several homes burned and the production of various products, particularly food, disrupted. One of the dead was a member of the local militia. Nampanha, Namande and Namacule are the three villages attacked.

Locally, the report circulates that the local militia has acted promptly and prevented the attackers from causing more damage, both human and material. There is talk of intense fighting between the attackers and the so-called local militia, now acting on a fully legal basis, after the approval by the Assembly of the Republic of an addition to the law of the Armed Forces of Defense of Mozambique. Moreover, the reports also point to the contribution of the civilian population, who will have resorted to traditional means to prevent the villages from being occupied for longer.

The villages of Muidumbe, Nangade, Macomia and Mocímboa da Praia have continued in recent days to show a greater propensity for attacks by groups that have been working in Cabo Delgado for more than five years. Muidumbe: Two dead and property destroyed on the eve of the transition of the year – Voice of Cabo Delgado (avoz.org)



2. Mozambique government accused of protecting mining companies, oppressing workers


Five years after the outbreak of the conflict in Cabo Delgado, the Mozambican government remains consistent in the way it manages the different crises and conflicts in Cabo Delgado. These relate not only to the armed insurgency that has gripped the north of the country, but also issues related to labor conflicts and disputes over natural resources. This fundamentally authoritarian approach is based on limiting the fundamental freedoms of the working classes and citizens, and an obsession with a military solution that gives secondary importance to the integrity and protection of communities in Cabo Delgado. This problematic approach becomes increasingly evident in the south of Cabo Delgado.

The north and south of Cabo Delgado, from the beginning of the conflict until mid-2022, have been marked by great contrasts. The northern districts such as Nangade, Muidumbe, Palma, Mocímboa da Praia and Macomia and Meluco, in the center, were the most affected by armed violence, resulting in the population fleeing to the south of the province. This led to the concentration of a large number of troops from the Mozambique Defence and Security Forces (SDS) and international forces of SAMIM and Rwanda in those districts. The south of Cabo Delgado, like Nampula, provided refuge for thousands of internally displaced people who fled the conflict in the north. Moreover, in the south, access to displaced persons was relatively easy for humanitarian organisations. Another significant difference between north and south is the concentration of economic enterprises. Although Cabo Delgado is known for the LNG project in Palma, it is actually in the south that most extractive industry projects are concentrated. According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity (CIP), by February 2020 about 80% of mining concessions in the province of Cabo Delgado were located in the southern districts, with Montepuez and Ancuabe leading with 33% and 15% respectively. The northern districts of Palma, Muidumbe and Macomia had less than 3%.

The expansion of attacks in the south of the province in early June this year sounded the alarm for these economic enterprises.On June 8, the insurgents targeted the graphite mining mine, Grafex, allegedly killing three people. Several mining companies suspended their mining operations after this attack. In October, following more attacks, Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM) evacuated its personnel. In November, Syrah Resources Limited, which owns a graphite mine in Balama district, also evacuated its workforce when insurgents stormed villages on the border with the neighboring district of Namuno. The government responded to insurgents’ threats against economic projects by sending a military contingent to ensure the security of businesses, leaving the protection of towns and villages in the hands of local militias such as the Naparama militia in Namuno and Montepuez.

In Cabo Delgado, the government seeks at all costs to ensure the protection of mining companies from both the insurgent threat and the labor class. This was evident in recent protests by local workers at graphite mining company Syrah Resources in Balama district. On 7 September, local workers staged a protest against alleged wage injustices, nepotism and corruption. Several rounds of negotiations were held, however, without achieving tangible results.

According to local sources, government officials then decided to use the force, sending police and military contingents to resume operations at the mine. Some 14 striker leaders received expulsion notices and were being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Police for their participation in the strike. Some of those who participated in the demonstrations had their salaries cut. These events frustrated not only local workers, but also damaged the relationship between communities and the government. Locally, the strikers accused employers of colluding with government officials.

According to the CIP, several mining concessions in southern Cabo Delgado belong to or have as final beneficiaries individuals linked to the ruling party, or with positions of strong influence in the government. This is the case of General Raimundo Pachinuapa, who until September this year was a member of the Political Commission of Frelimo, the party’s highest decision-making body. Pachinuapa is also a shareholder of Mwiriti Mining, Limited, which owns 25% of MRM. MRM has invested heavily in its security device to prevent prospectors from invading areas under concession for rubies. Law enforcement authorities have imposed the use of force to prevent prospectors from operating in these areas. However, the Center for Democracy and Development called for open and honest dialogue between MRM, local authorities and communities surrounding the mining concession to end these disputes.

While local youth in Cabo Delgado are marginalized and excluded from job opportunities, access to land for artisanal mining or even agriculture, their precariousness in the workplace can leave them more vulnerable to radicalization. This authoritarianism of the State and its widespread lack of dialogue go against the principles of the Government Program for Resilience and Integrated Development of Northern Mozambique (PREDIN). PREDIN advocates the need to strengthen the capacity for dialogue between the State and citizens, as well as expand the space for peaceful expression, as alternative platforms for expressing complaints and opinions. These mechanisms are part of the strategy to prevent radicalization and extreme violence. But these platforms of expression of opinion are being increasingly repressed, which can undermine the social contract between the State and the communities that PREDIN seeks to promote. On the other hand, as long as companies do not fully fulfil their obligations and are tied to the interests of influential people in the government and the ruling party, the possibilities for dialogue and conflict resolution will be reduced. Labor and Natural Resources Conflicts in South Cabo Delgado – Voz de Cabo Delgado (avoz.org)

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