Zitamar Daily Briefing, 30 July


Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 30 July, 2021

Jul 30 Comment Share


  • Today: Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) and the Center for African Studies at Leiden University webinar: “The Role of Extractive Industry in Economic Growth and Structural Economic Transformation”. Zoom here, ID: 842 8866 0167
  • 3-4 August: IESE annual conference on “Extractive Industry in Mozambique: Challenges, Successes and Perspectives”, broadcast on IESE’s Facebook page and on Zoom here

The latest from Zitamar News:

Trucker transactions see DP World strengthen grip on Mozambique hinterland logistics

Dubai-based giant in line to be the new ultimate owner of trucking group J&J, the latest in a series of investments in logistics linking Mozambique’s ports to hinterland countries

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

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Mozambique records 21 covid-19 deaths on Thursday
There were also 1,74 new cases reported, and 833 recoveries

The best of the rest:

  • Rwanda claims 14 insurgents killed in Cabo Delgado (Reuters, Mediafax)
  • Armed group robs BCI bank headquarters in Quelimane (O País)
  • Zimbabwe to send over 300 military trainers to Cabo Delgado (Eyewitness News)
  • Human rights group calls for code of conduct for foreign troops (Lusa)
  • Sailing boss attacks Mozambique’s Olympic committee after being excluded from Olympics (Canal de Moçambique)
  • Unpaid electricity bills reach $25m (Lusa)
  • Cement maker denies price-dumping claims (Mediafax)

Rwanda claims 14 insurgents killed in Cabo Delgado (Reuters, Mediafax)
Rwandan troops killed 14 insurgents in combat this week in Cabo Delgado, a Rwandan army spokesman said yesterday. He added that a Rwandan soldier had sustained a minor injury. The fighting took place between 24 and 28 July in the regions of Mbau and Awasse. “We mounted an ambush between Mbau and Awasse where we killed two insurgents. And the rest of the fighting took place in Awasse. We killed 14 insurgents in total so far,” the spokesman said. Weapons and a laptop computer with documents written in Swahili were also recovered, he added. Rwanda has sent a 1,000-strong force to help it combat an escalating Islamic State-linked insurgency in Cabo Delgado.
Reports on the ground suggest the insurgents have suffered much heavier casualties. It’s not clear if the Rwandan troops are now progressing towards Mocimboa da Praia or if they first need to regroup since they apparently need to perform two distinct tasks; hold positions in recently retaken territory, and play an offensive role capturing territory still in insurgent hands. The Mozambican forces have struggled to maintain control of positions in the past, because of severe problems with supply lines and logistical support.

Armed group robs BCI bank headquarters in Quelimane (O País)
A group of people have robbed the headquarters of the bank BCI in the city of Quelimane, capital of Zambezia province. According to a police spokesman, the group entered the bank with the help of an employee who told the security guards that a team was arriving to deliver some equipment. After getting through multiple security doors, the group threatened the bank staff with guns, locked them inside a room and then, having gained access to the strong room, left with wads of cash in bags, the spokesman added. Although the bank building is fitted with alarms, these did not go off. Witnesses say that they were not initially aware it was a robbery and that the robbers left behaving as though they were customers. The criminal investigation service, Sernic, has started an investigation and is interviewing all the bank’s staff.

Zimbabwe to send over 300 military trainers to Cabo Delgado (Eyewitness News)
Zimbabwe will send 303 military instructors to Cabo Delgado province to help fight the insurgency in the north of the country. The instructors will train members of the Mozambican defence forces in fighting terrorism, Zimbabwe’s defence minister, Oppah Muchinguri, said yesterday. This will be Zimbabwe’s first major deployment of troops in the region since 1998, when it sent soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo in support of the late Laurent Kabila. The announcement comes after South African president Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed on Wednesday that more than 1,400 South African troops were being sent to help fight the insurgency.
It is not clear yet who will finance this deployment. Mozambique has privately expressed support for the Zimbabwean presence in Cabo Delgado and some sources in Mueda have suggested a small contingent of special forces have been helping Mozambique’s defence and security forces (FDS) in a major offensive prior to the formal arrival of RDF. Zimbabwean media have reported that France has offered to pay for the Zimbabwean and Rwandan deployments, a suggestion repeated by Portuguese Newspaper Publico yesterday. But a well-placed source told Zitamar that this is not the case.

Human rights group calls for code of conduct for foreign troops (Lusa)
The National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) has advocated for the creation of a code of conduct for foreign troops arriving in the country to help fight terrorism in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. The code of conduct should protect human rights, in particular of the women and children in the communities where the troops would be deployed, Luís Bitone, the head of the CNDH, said. According to Bitone, the forces comprise mostly men, who if not supervised, could take part in rape and sexual harassment. There should be severe punishment for the foreign troops who get involved in “inappropriate relationships” with the local population, he added. Bitone also said that foreign troops should always be accompanied by Mozambican troops who knew the terrain well, so that they did not confuse the enemy’s military bases with population centres.
It is good that CNDH is taking an interest in potential human rights abuses, but the focus on foreign forces in particular is curious. The state-appointed body has not taken such a strong stance on accusations of abuses by Mozambican security forces, including by Amnesty International.

Sailing boss attacks Mozambique’s Olympic committee after being excluded from Olympics (Canal de Moçambique)
The head of Mozambique’s sailing and canoeing federation, Hélio da Rosa, has denied that he was excluded from the Mozambican Olympic Committee’s delegation at the Tokyo Olympics due to a positive covid-19 test. Da Rosa said he had tested negative for covid-19, and that the committee had excluded him maliciously. Many people in the delegation were there as tourists at the expense of their sporting federations, he added. Mozambique has sent 13 heads of sports federations and bodies to the Olympics, and only 10 athletes and six coaches. A source at the Mozambican Olympic Committee said that da Rosa had tested positive for covid-19 close to his departure date, and later did another negative test. According to regulations, people travelling into Japan need two negative covid-19 test results in the last 96 hours, the source said. The committee had been unable to re-book da Rosa’s flight due to a lack of seats, and had not been able to book a new flight either, the source added.

Unpaid electricity bills reach $25m (Lusa)
State-owned electric utility EDM is owed a total of $25m in unpaid bills by public and private sector companies, the company’s president Marcelino Gido said yesterday. Gido said that most of the debtors were state-owned businesses, adding that EDM had made debt repayment agreements with some of its debtors and they were being complied with. He argued that non-payment of bills deprived EDM of resources to invest and carry out electrification projects. The company aims to electrify the whole country by 2030. Currently 40% of Mozambicans have access to electricity, 36% from the electrical grid.

Cement maker denies price-dumping claims (Mediafax)
The chairman of a new cement plant in Mozambique has rejected accusations that the company is selling cement at artificially low prices to kill off the competition. Victor Luís Timóteo, the chairman of Dugongo Cimentos, told a briefing held by the Mozambican business association, CTA, that the company priced its cement based on a formula that took into account production costs and average prices in the region, where it also wants to do business. The fall of the dollar from around MZN75 to MZN55 when Dugongo cement hit the market also influenced prices, Timóteo said, adding that the company’s intention was not to destabilise the cement market in Mozambique. Dugongo, he insisted, wanted to ensure the continuation of other cement companies in Mozambique because it also produced clinker – a raw material used in the production of cement – and would not want to put these potential customers out of business. Timóteo’s comments were made in response to a group of cement manufacturers who had urged the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to force Dugongo to stop selling cement at such low prices, as it was putting the industry at risk. CTA’s president, Agostinho Vuma, said at the briefing that other businesses should replicate Dugongo’s model in order to ensure their competitiveness.
A tonne of cement is being sold to an average of $90, but a former top manager in the cement industry told Mediafax the production costs are around $40 a tonne, so Dugongo is still making a good profit per cement package. But what has so far gone unmentioned is Dugongo Cimentos’ abuse of its workforce, who have been kept on site without seeing their families since early 2020, and its failure to comply with environmental legislation or to resettle the community displaced by the project. Aside from abusing human rights, these de facto exemptions from Mozambican law — which likely stem from the project being part-owned by Frelimo holding company SPI — are allowing Dugongo to undercut its competition. Victor Timóteo has refused to speak to Zitamar about the project, claiming that he, as a representative of SPI, cannot represent the company in public — a rule which clearly did not apply when he addressed the CTA briefing yesterday.
Timóteo is also chairman of mobile phone company Movitel, as SPI is also a major shareholder there. Movitel has come under fire from the telecoms regulator for offering uncompetitive bonuses to its clients.

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