Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 15 August, 2018.
- Today: Government announces new gasoline prices
- Petrol has gone up 4.4% from MZN 66.59 per litre to MZN 69.53/l. Diesel has gone up 2.8%, from MZN 62.92/l to MZN 64.66/l
- Tomorrow: First of two days of the annual SADC Lawyers Association conference in Maputo, organized in part by the Mozambican Bar Association
The latest from Zitamar News:
The chairman of the Mozambican company accused of appropriating mining licences in 2011 has called an EGM to discuss dismissing retired General Jacinto Veloso from the company’s board
Photo of the day:
A list of the 18 political parties registered for October’s municipal elections, at the headquarters of election authority CNE. Photo © A Verdade
The best of the rest:
- Renamo forced to give up on SISE posts
- Journalists seek constitutional ruling on media fees
- Tax authority will consider reducing VAT rate and exemptions
- 18 parties and coalitions to participate in October municipal elections
- Fire destroys large swath of forest in Maputo Special Reserve
Renamo forced to give up on SISE posts (Canal de Moçambique)
The agreement between the Mozambican government and Renamo on integrating fighters from the opposition party’s military wing into state security forces does not include any provision to incorporate Renamo into Mozambique’s State Security Force (SISE). The secretive SISE has long played a key role in the state’s war against Renamo, and Renamo had demanded its personnel join the force as part of any reintegration scheme. Two weeks ago, Renamo interim leader Ossufo Momade said that the party “insists we should be part of SISE”.
Losing access to SISE is a tough pill for Renamo to swallow, given the security service’s longtime role as a counter-Renamo force, but allowing Renamo access to SISE may have been a deal-breaker on the government’s side. SISE is both a crucial government tool for fighting Renamo’s military wing if violence returns and the repository for a great deal of Frelimo dirty laundry. The hidden debt companies were originally organized under SISE control, and Human Rights Watch has named SISE as a potential source of government intimidation of civil society groups. Renamo reportedly accepted losing out on SISE inclusion for now only after Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi personally asked Momade for the concession at their last meeting in Beira, saying he was facing internal pressure on the matter.
Journalists seek constitutional ruling on media fees (Canal de Moçambique)
A group of Mozambican journalists and civil society organizations submitted a petition on Tuesday to Mozambique’s Justice Ombudsman, Isaque Chande, to sponsor a case before the country’s Constitutional Council to determine if a planned move toward charging exorbitant media licensing fees violates constitutional protections for freedom of expression. The fees, which have drawn sharp criticism from both foreign and domestic journalists, were declared as law on 23 July without any public hearing or consultation with media. Chande did not immediately respond to the request, but promised a response soon.
Government spokesperson Ana Comoana told journalists after yesterday’s Council of Ministers meeting that government is ‘treating the issue sensitively’, and that she does not expect the charges will come in next week as originally planned. A meeting that Gabinfo called for 16 August (tomorrow) has now been postponed to next Tuesday, 21 August.
Tax authority will consider reducing VAT rate and exemptions (AIM)
Mozambique’s Tax Authority (AT) announced yesterday the creation of a team to study the possibility of reducing the country’s Value Added Tax (VAT), following a recommendation from the International Monetary Fund. The Fund, in its latest report on Mozambique, recommended that the VAT be reduced from 17% to 16% and that VAT exemptions be mostly eliminated in order to broaden the tax base.
Reducing VAT would likely mean a decrease in state revenues at a time when those revenues are badly needed – though if exemptions are also slashed, the overall take should increase considerably – and might even make the government able to pay the VAT refunds that it owes to the private sector. Here’s hoping.
18 parties and coalitions to participate in October municipal elections (O País, AIM)
Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE) announced yesterday that 18 groups will field candidates in municipal elections set for 10 October: 12 parties, three party coalitions, and three citizen groups. Only the country’s three largest parties, Frelimo, Renamo, and MDM, will run candidates in all 53 of Mozambique’s municipalities.
As Joseph Hanlon points out in his newsletter, of the 28 parties registered with CNE only 18 managed to put together lists to run in any municipality, reflecting the challenges parties faced in adapting to new rules governing municipal elections. Final candidate lists for all parties will be released by CNE by 22 August. From the list released it seems JPC (Juntos Pela Cidade) will be out of the race for mayor of Maputo.
Fire destroys large swath of forest in Maputo Special Reserve (Rádio Moçambique, Notícias)
A large fire that began Monday night burned a stretch of forest in the Maputo Special Reserve, but no animals seem to have been killed. The head of the reserve, Natércio Ngovene, pointed to poachers and the heat wave that affected Maputo province on Monday as the probable causes of the fire, which was extinguished on Tuesday morning.
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