COUNTRY UPDATE: 8 September 2023
By Johan Viljoen, Reabetswe Tloubatla


Lupilichi Gold: the new attraction for illegal foreigners in Niassa province

Located in the district of Lago, in the province of Niassa, the town of Lupilichi is becoming an increasingly popular place for foreign citizens. Most of these are Tanzanians and Malawians who ′′invade′′ the area due to the abundance of gold, which contributes to the emergence of other businesses. Despite the presence of the State, there are more and more illegal foreign citizens, who explore gold without a license, without benefiting the local community. The presence of foreigners in Lupilichi has been contributing to the unregulated circulation of large sums of money, especially the Tanzanian Metical and Shilling, and to an increase in police corruption and prostitution. The cost of living is another reality in Lupilichi, especially in places where gold is explored. “The drink that in other places costs 50 meticais, in Lupilichi it costs 120 meticais. It’s not for those who want it, it’s for those who can”, described another source residing in the Lago district. Recently, the secretary of the Kimberly Process Management Unit at the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, Castro Elias, pointed out that weak control on the border with Tanzania contributes to the loss of a lot of gold in the province of Niassa. Castro Elias was speaking at a seminar in the city of Lichinga, on national assessment of the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing, having pointed out that the loss can reach thirty to forty kilograms of gold per month.



Joint forces and Naparamas rescued more than 35 women and children in the forests of Cabo Delgado


A thorough search, carried out by elements of the Joint Forces and the Naparamas in the forests of Cabo Delgado, rescued more than 35 women and children. According to local sources, the group of women and children were presented yesterday in the village of Carugo, in the administrative post of Mbau, in the Locality of Marere, in the district of Mocímboa da Praia. . The women and children were handed over to the Rwandan Forces in Mocímboada Praia, who subsequently took care of them and transported them to Mueda.



Speculation about insurgency leadership succession after reported death of Bonomade Machude Omar


The death of Bonomade Machude Omar leaves the insurgency at an inflexion point. The most able military leader of the insurgency, his death comes in the wake of the death or killing of a number of his colleagues in recent months. This presents some challenges. Firstly, such a capable military leader will need to be replaced, either internally, or potentially through IS-affiliated networks. Secondly, the group is likely to be faced with intensified operations by FADM and SAMIM troops. While FADM’s capability is limited, intensified SAMIM operations are expected in Macomia in preparation for their scheduled withdrawal in July 2024, particularly during the current “pacification” phase, set to run until October 2023. In these circumstances, the group will need to move beyond Macomia if it is to have a future. According to the United States Department of State, which designated him a terrorist in August 2021, he was the group’s overall military leader, and led one group attacking Palma in March 2021. Another group in that attack was led by the late Abu Yassir Hassan, similarly designated by the US in March 2021. Omar was involved in operations across Cabo Delgado, according to the Department of State, as well as in Mtwara region in Tanzania. Omar is not the only leader that the group has lost. Abu Yassir Hassan passed away this year, not in combat, sources say. Thought to be Tanzanian, and at times dubbed a religious leader, he too had a significant military role to play, as evidenced by the US claim for his involvement in the Palma attack. Mozambican authorities have not been shy in claiming other fatalities. Bernardino Rafael, Commander General of the police, claims that up to 30 “leaders” have been killed. He did not name any particular figures, or indicate the period to which he was referring. On 23 August, the defense ministry claimed that Abu Kital and Ali Mahando had been killed, claiming that Kital had been an assistant to Omar. No information was given on Mahando, though according to a local source Ali Mahando, known as Sheikh Ali, was a significant figure, with roles as a madrasa teacher and fighter. Issa Wachio, another militant figure regarded as significant by intervention forces, was killed in an FADM ambush in Nangade district in May this year. With both Hassan and Omar gone, as well as others, succession becomes an issue. While Omar has maintained his status as a military leader, Farido Selemane Arune has been regarded as at least of equal standing since last year. Whether he can claim legitimacy in the absence of those two figures is not clear. Below figures such as Farido and Omar, the insurgents have developed a cadre of commanders, such as Muamudo Saha and Daniel Mussa from Macomia. The group’s relatively flat structure over the years, with commanders based in different parts of the province, will have allowed some capacity to develop. Whether Farido, or anyone else, has the military capability, strategic vision, and legitimacy with the group to take the reins is not known. It is unlikely that IS will impose an external figure, but it may lead to intensified technical support from outside, whether from IS Central Africa Province, or from further afield. Though the insurgents have been successfully holding off FADM and SAMIM operations in Macomia district, the challenge before them is real. Their ability to continue to do so will depend on their ability to maintain and supply bases in the area, and the capability of their remaining fighting force.




EUTM likely to extend mission in Mozambique, could deploy Cape Verdian soldiers


The European Union Training Mission in Mozambique (EUTM-Mozambique) is likely to extend its mandate. EUTM-Mozambique has so far been largely unable to evaluate the readiness of their trainees in combat. An intermediate report recommends extending their mandate beyond 2024, with the possibility of including Cape Verdean troops to enhance military cooperation.



More than 800,000 still displaced despite civilian returns

Just over 819,000 people remain displaced as a result of armed conflict in northern Mozambique, according to figures from Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management (INGD). The agency claims that about 409,000 have now returned home since the start of the conflict in October 2017. The International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix estimated in March that there were just over 834,000 people still displaced and that around 420,000 had returned home.



IS fighters contracting AIDS in Mozambique

An anti-IS al-Qaeda chat server has leaked an internal circular, purportedly from IS, saying that fighters in Mozambique are contracting HIV from their wives and slaves. IS leadership advises conducting medical tests on non-virgin enslaved women before distributing them among fighters and killing those who refuse to convert to Islam, according to the document. Captured women with AIDS who do convert can be released for a ransom, the document says.




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