Intelligent news from Mozambique

Zitamar Daily Briefing, 2 August 2018

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Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 2 August, 2018.

Agenda

  • Tomorrow: Final day of an IMF mission to Mozambique, headed by new chief of mission Ricardo Velloso

The latest from Zitamar News:

Zitamar’s newsdesk is on holiday this week
…but the Mozambique Daily Briefing continues as usual.

Today’s top headlines:

  • Renamo conditions demilitarization on signing an MoU
  • Public officials still without July salaries
  • Nini Satar arrives in Maputo, transported to prison
  • PGR orders closing of prison in Maputo police headquarters
  • New director has 18 months to restructure LAM
  • Fake news watch: foreign security contractors HAVE NOT been arrested in Nampula

Renamo conditions demilitarization on signing a memorandum of understanding (Canal de Moçambique)
Interim Renamo leader Ossufo Momade said in an interview with Canal de Moçambique that the party has not yet submitted the list of its members that it wishes to see integrated into Mozambique’s military and police force, because in his last meeting with Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi they agreed that the list should be preceded by signing a memorandum of understanding that is still being drafted. Momade did not clarify what the memorandum is about, but Renamo has demanded that party members who joined the military as part of the 1994 reintegration scheme and subsequently lost their positions be reinstated before a new round of reintegration can begin.
Momade may believe that the government agreed to sign an MoU before receiving the reintegration list, but that is clearly not the government’s position. The declaration the government made after the 11 July meeting between Momade and Nyusi makes no mention of an MoU, and Nyusi advisors have consistently said that it is on Renamo to take the next step in the peace process. In his interview, Momade did say that he believed reintegration could be completed by scheduled October municipal elections. The Brazilian embassy in Maputo also announced yesterday the country’s willingness to support the peace process if called upon. Renamo’s perceived delay in presenting the lists by July 21 caused concern among diplomatic missions involved in the peace process. In an unprecedented move OCS issued a statement putting pressure on Renamo to comply with the peace process calendar.

Civil servants yet to receive July salaries (@Verdade)
Salaries due to Mozambican state employees on 30 July had not been paid by 31 July, “hundreds of public servants” confirmed to @Verdade. State salaries are supposed to be paid sometime between the 15th and 30th of each month, and the July delay is a particular problem because June salaries were paid 15 June, leaving state employees at least 46 days without a paycheck.
@Verdade suggested that the delays were the result of Mozambique’s recent trouble selling treasury bonds, which the state uses to fund its operations. No matter the cause, the government can ill-afford to stop paying its employees just as elections approach. If the government is resorting to salary delays at this politically pivotal time, Mozambique’s economic situation may be dire indeed.

Nini Satar arrives in Maputo, transported to prison (MediaFax, VoA)
Nini Satar, the fugitive businessman who was arrested in Thailand last week, arrived in Maputo yesterday to continue serving the remaining 12 years of his 24-year prison sentence for his involvement in the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso in 2000. He will also face new kidnapping charges that could add to his sentence. Satar is believed to be at the Machava Maximum Security Penitentiary in Matola.
The South African press reports that Satar was involved in kidnappings in that country, and that South Africa may request his extradition, but Mozambican authorities have not confirmed that any request has been made.

PGR orders closing of prison in Maputo police headquarters (Notícias)
The prison cells at the Mozambican national police headquarters in Maputo, which hold prisoners convicted of violent crimes, will be closed in two weeks on the order of Mozambique’s prosecutor-general (PGR). The PGR ordered the closure after an investigation found that the prison did not comply with regulations and had weak security. Murders and kidnappings have been ordered from the prison, and some prisoners have escaped. Prisoners at the headquarters will be transferred to Machava Maximum Security Penitentiary(BO) in Machava.
The PGR made the same order in 2012, but it was never followed, despite being reinforced by a decision from Mozambique’s ombudsman. The PGR returned last year to determine the national police’s compliance with the 2012 decision and, finding it lacking, set the two-week deadline. Mozambique’s prisons are, in general, not fit for purpose, @Verdade reported this week – and are home to 28,000 prisoners, which is 350% of their capacity. 4,000 of those prisoners are under 18. On several occasions prisoners in the cells of police headquarters complained on the harsh conditions there since it is believed the situation is more “liberal” at BO where a lot of schemes are reported namely ring leaders to control criminal activities behind bars with the frequent use of cell phones. Mr. Anibal dos Santos the material murderer of journalist Carlos Cardoso is supposed to be in the cells of police headquarters.

New directorate has 18 months to restructure LAM (Correio da Manhã, Lusa)
Mozambican transport minister Carlos Mesquita said today in Maputo that the recently-appointed director general of national airline LAM has 18 months to restructure the company, which is in dire financial straits. Mesquita also said that last month’s appointment of a director general, assisted by area directors, constituted a return to the management model used by the company 20 years ago, in which shareholders play the role usually reserved for a board of directors.
It’s unclear what LAM’s leadership can do so differently from its predecessors – although stopping offering free flights and other perks to the political elite and state institutions might be one place to start. LAM’s problems are having a knock-on effect on other state owned companies including Aeroportos de Moçambique and Petromoc, both of which are owed money; but LAM is facing increasing competition on domestic routes, and so far has failed to attract a foreign partner to invest money and expertise.

Fake news watch: Foreign security contractors HAVE NOT been arrested in Nampula (e-Global)
A report yesterday by online news outlet e-Global alleged that five security contractors, one British and four American, had been arrested in Nampula for carrying an unauthorized firearm. The story is not true, and seems to be a bizarre reprint of a story from 2011 in which four security contractors were arrested for the same offence. Yesterday’s report includes many of the same details from the 2011 story, including the weapon confiscated, the identity of the contracting company (GreySide Group, which seems to no longer exist–its website redirects to its former CEO’s personal blog), the name of a US embassy spokesman who now works at the US embassy in El Salvador, and the contractors’ justification for being in Nampula: protecting a ship from Somali pirates, which has not been a major concern in years.

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