Journalists who report on Mozambican military defeats at the hands of Cabo Delgado insurgents should be silenced by the military, police, and secret services, using “extrajudicial” methods if necessary, according to a leading social media mouthpiece of Filipe Nyusi’s regime.
The call by university professor Julião João Cumbane, made on Facebook on Tuesday, echoed criticism by President Nyusi at a rally in Pemba earlier in the day, of “compatriots who like it when Mozambicans suffer,” and who like to “dramatize or publicise the activity of murderers of Mozambicans.”
Egidio Vaz, a Nyusi adviser and arguably his most prominent promoter on social media, reposted Cumbane’s call for extra-judicial measures against those reporting on the Cabo Delgado conflict – and wrote his own post arguing that the attacks should not be “taken advantage of to sell newspapers,” describing those who report on the attacks as the insurgents’ news agencies.
Under the headline “Time’s up for playing games,” Cumbane wrote: “Once and for all, it is time and it is urgent that the armed forces, the Mozambican police force, and the secret services (SISE) coordinate intelligence and energetic acts – even extra-judicial – against the miserabilist ‘news’ that demoralises the Security and Defence Forces who are fighting against the attacks in the north of Mozambique.”
Mozambique’s defence forces have suffered a number of setbacks in recent weeks, with the insurgency appearing to make serious gains, particularly in Quissanga district.
Cumbane pointed in particular at Mozambican online news outlet Carta de Mocambique, which is known to use reports from Pemba-based journalist Amade Abubacar, who was arrested in January 2019 and held illegally in military and civilian jails for six months. Abubacar is still facing trial on charges of working against the interest of the Mozambican military – despite prosecutors’ failure to produce any evidence. Abubacar is also a correspondent for Zitamar News.
In an interview with Portuguese television in July last year, President Nyusi appeared to pre-judge Abubacar’s case, when challenged on the issue of press freedom. Abubacar, Nyusi claimed, was found to be in possession of a plan of the insurgents’ attacks; “it’s what soldiers have told me, justice will prove [it],” Nyusi said.
In May 2019, Vaz also pre-judged Abubacar’s case, posting on Facebook that he is a “traitor” who “under cover of being a journalist, did the work of the enemy” – calling for “justice to act against this kind of people”.
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