Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 30 August, 2018.
- Today: The Bank of Mozambique’s monetary policy committee (CPMO) meets to update its monetary policy
The latest from Zitamar News:
The train hit a motorcycle at a level crossing, killing both motorcyclists
The best of the rest:
- Canal de Moçambique editor acquitted in cartoon defamation case (O País)
- Hong Kong financial company buys 48% of Banco Mais (CLBrief)
- Maputo-Katembe tolls ‘will be accessible’ (Mediafax, Correio da Manha)
- Mozambique wants to wipe out contraband of precious stones (RFI)
- MIREME secures $200m for centre-north transmission line (AIM, Notícias)
- Market fire destroys 350 stalls in Inhambane (Lusa)
The editor of Canal de Moçambique was acquitted yesterday of defaming a former central bank director, Joana Matsombe, in a cartoon which depicted her in a swimsuit next toa pool with the then-governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Ernesto Gove. Matsombe claimed that the caricature had libelled and dishonoured her, and shaken her marriage (to the prominent tourism businessman Quessanias Matsombe). She demanded that Guente be sent to prison for a year, and pay her compensation of MZN 2 million. She persisted with the case even after it was dropped by the public prosecutor. It was eventually thrown out on the technicality that Canal editor Matias Guente was neither the author of the cartoon nor the director of the newspaper.
Matsombe has dishonoured herself with this frivolous case demanding punitive sanctions on one of Mozambique’s foremost independent media. Her fate – including that the cartoon has now reached a far greater audience than it originally did – might help discourage others from suing the press when their nose is put out of joint.
One killed in gunfight between insurgents and soldiers in Palma district (Pinnacle News)
A group of four insurgents attacked the village of Lidupi, in the Pundanhar locality in Palma district on Wednesday morning – and were rebuffed by soldiers in a gunfight which resulted in the killing of at least one civilian with a stray bullet, according to Pinnacle News, citing a military source.
The battle for the control of Pundanhar continues; the area was the scene of two major attacks by Mozambican state forces on the insurgents in recent weeks, and at least one other attack by the insurgents.
Hong Kong financial company buys 48% of Banco Mais (CLBrief)
Hong Kong-based Bison Capital Financial Holdings has taken a 48% stake in the small Mozambican bank Banco Mais, by injecting $10.3m. The largest existing shareholder, Geocapital, has reduced its stake from 48% to 25%, but has an option to buy the stake held by Africinves, which would bring almost level with Bison. Smaller shareholders include Gildo dos Santos Lucas and Graca Machel’s Fundação para o Desenvolvimento da Comunidade.
Banco Mais’ capitalisation is now $21m, giving it a 30% capital adequacy ratio, well above the 8% minimum set by the central bank. Last July, its liquidity ratio was at 58%.
The bank will remain led by Luis Almeida, CLBrief reports, who add that it has made a loss for the last two years. However, Zitamar understands that it is expected to get back into the black this financial year.
Maputo-Katembe tolls ‘will be accessible’ (Mediafax, Correio da Manha)
The head of Maputo Sul, the government agency charged with the thankless task of trying to make the Maputo-Katembe bridge financially sustainable, called a press conference yesterday to tell journalists that he couldn’t tell them how much tolls would be. The decision, Silva Magaia said, is in the hands of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport. The tolls will, however, be “accessible”, he said – and a long way below the MZN 250-1000 that vehicles pay to cross to Katembe on the decrepit government-run ferries. Maputo Sul is also planning to toll the road from Katembe to the South African border at Kozi Bay, and the Maputo ring road.
Ever since Armando Guebuza and Maputo mayor Daviz Simango decided on these vanity projects, it’s been Maputo Sul’s responsibility to make them work. The roads and the bridge have been built – and time will tell what the quality is like – but the challenge now will be how to pay for it. Maputo Sul’s immediate challenge is to raise the money to be able to install toll booths, something it has so far failed to do on the ring road.
Mozambique wants to wipe out contraband of precious stones (RFI)
Minister of mineral resources and energy Max Tonela said that the government is designing an action plan to wipe out the contraband of precious stones, at his ministry’s annual Coordinating Council yesterday. The plan, he said, includes getting the Kimberley Process Management Unit (Unidade de Gestão do Processo Kimberley, or UGPK) up and running – something which has been delaying the start of (formal) diamond mining in the country.
Precious stones are another export opportunity for Mozambique, and – unlike the gas industry – has the potential to employ large numbers of low-skilled locals, if properly managed. But as we noted earlier this week, the government’s hard line on informal mining, known in Portuguese as garimpo, could lead to unrest in communities which depend on it.
MIREME secures $200m for centre-north transmission line (AIM, Notícias)
Tonela – whose arguably excessively large brief stretches from precious stones to electricity via coal mining and oil and gas extraction – also announced that Mozambique has secured $200m of the $600m it needs to set up the electricity transmission line from Caia (the town in central Mozambique at the border of Sofala, Tete, and Zambezia provinces) to Nacala. The money will pay for the first section, from Caia to Alto Molocue, which should be up and running by 2022, he said.
Nacala, home to the floating Karpowership power plant, a proposed new solar power plant and a 250 MW gas-fired power plant – is becoming a power generation hub for the northern region, so it makes sense that it should be connected to the central grid too. The reinforcement of the national grid should also help avoid the situation that occurred in 2015, when a major flood on the Licungo River at Mocuba took out 10 energy pylons and left the three northern provinces without power for three months.
Market fire destroys 350 stalls in Inhambane (Lusa)
A fire destroyed around 350 stalls in the Guiua market in Jangamo, Inhambane, yesterday – apparently having been started by someone cooking food at the market. The emergency services were called but they struggled to get inside the market to control the fire.
© 2018, Alexandre Nhampossa. All rights reserved.