Gaza observer assassination ‘aimed at intimidating civil society’


The killing of Gaza election observation coordinator Anastacio Matavel yesterday is “a message of intimidation to civil society” from those “with an interest in there not being proper election observation in Gaza,” the murdered man’s colleagues said in Maputo yesterday.

Matavel was shot ten times by three assassins who then sped off and crashed into a wall while fleeing the scene, killing two of them and hospitalising the third.

Matavel was head of the Gaza-based civil society organisation FONGA, and the provincial focal point for the Sala da Paz, a consortium of civil society organisations observing the elections. He was killed after opening a training session for election monitors in the provincial capital of Xai-Xai.

Matavel was “focused on his battle,” according to Marcelo Mosse, editor of Carta de Moçambique, in an article on Tuesday. “His place was in civil society, from where he conducted a non-party ‘opposition’ to the government, with its centre in the capital of ‘Frelimistan’, Xai-Xai.”

Gaza is notorious for returning apparently fraudulent election results in favour of Frelimo, and this year registered an apparently impossible number of voters — more than 300,000 more than a recent census said live in the province — giving Gaza an extra nine seats in parliament. The election authorities refused to allow an outside audit of the registration.

“We know there’s an interest in there not being a proper observation process in Gaza,” Paula Monjane, executive director of civil society organisation CESC, told the Sala da Paz press conference in Maputo on Monday.

“It’s important that the case of Matavel be solved, but also important to understand that there’s a clear signal about the role that we have in observing [the elections]in the province. We’re convinced we’re going to do it more than ever,” she said.

The fact that one of the apparent assassins is now under arrest in hospital means the case should be able to be solved quickly, said Mario Luis Mussui, head of the Sala da Paz in Maputo City.

“With political will, it can be solved,” he said. “We want it to be solved very quickly, and not be one of those cases that ends with media reports, like so many other cases.”

Two sources told Zitamar that the assassins were members of the police rapid intervention unit’s Special Operations Group (GOE). Adriano Nuvunga, head of think tank CDD, posted on Twitter photos of the dead shooters after their car crash, naming one of them as GOE member Edson Silica. Investigative journalist Lazaro Mabunda wrote on Facebook that one of the dead assassins was the son of a police officer in Xai-Xai.

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