Zitamar Daily Briefing, 8 September

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Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 8 September, 2021

Sep 8 Comment Share

Agenda:

  • Today: Hearings continue in the ‘hidden debts’ corruption trial of former presidential aide Inês Moiane

The latest from Zitamar News:

Cabo Ligado Weekly: 30 August-5 September
A government offensive appears to have pushed insurgents further south into Macomia and potentially Quissanga districts, but reports also indicate continued insurgent resistance in southern Mocimboa da Praia district.
World Food Programme (WFP) food distribution has been rationed in recent months due to lack of funding — something that increases the vulnerability of displaced women in particular.
Report also available in Portuguese here

Defendant accused of money laundering admits receiving money from Privinvest
Sergio Namburete confirmed he kept €127,500 of a total €877,500 sent by Privinvest to Inês Moiane, personal secretary of Mozambique’s then-president Armando Guebuza


From the Zitamar Live Blog:

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Statement from Privinvest’s Jean Boustani
The Privinvest salesman who arranged payments to Mozambicans involved in the notorious ‘hidden debts’ deals says he is ready to testify in Mozambique’s corruption trial (see item below)


The best of the rest:

  • Mozambican and Rwandan armies retake all towns and villages occupied by terrorists (Domingo, Mediafax)
  • Banking services return to Cabo Delgado town (Mediafax)
  • Locals urged to stay away from Miteda as hunt for insurgents continues (Mediafax)
  • Military cooperation is working in fight against terrorism, says foreign minister (Notícias, Rádio Moçambique)
  • State should regulate private healthcare prices, says NGO (Centre for Public Integrity)

Mozambican and Rwandan armies retake all towns and villages occupied by terrorists (Domingo, Mediafax)
The joint force of Mozambican and Rwandan troops fighting terrorists in Cabo Delgado province has retaken all the towns and villages which had been in terrorist hands, President Filipe Nyusi announced yesterday on the occasion of Mozambique’s Victory Day public holiday. He made it clear that there would be no negotiation with the terrorists, an idea that has been suggested by former president Joaquim Chissano. Nyusi urged the local population to be cautious when returning to their home settlements and to follow the guidance of the local authorities, to ensure their safety. According to Nyusi, the identity of the heads of the terrorist group is still unknown. However, he said that there were nationals of Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Burundi, Uganda and Mozambique among the leadership. However, Mediafax points out that the US Department of State recently named the Mozambican citizen Bonomade Omar as a key leader of the terrorists, whose name was already known locally.

Privinvest’s Boustani says he’s ready to testify in Mozambique (Canal de Moçambique)
Jean Boustani, the Privinvest salesman who arranged payments to Mozambicans involved in the offshore security project financed by the so-called “hidden debts”, and who was acquitted in New York of financial crimes in the US related to the deals, has said he is ready to testify in Mozambique’s corruption trial, after the Mozambican judge said he would call him. Boustani is also facing charges from Mozambique’s public prosecutor, though he says he has never been told what those charges actually are. In a statement sent initially to Canal de Moçambique, and since circulated to the media more widely, Boustani said he is “willing and ready to appear in front of Honorable Judge Efigénio José Baptista as soon as possible via videoconferencing …  and I believe that my testimony (and that of His Excellency President Filipe Nyusi) is crucial for the sake of the truth and open & fair justice.” (See the Live Blog for the full statement.)
Boustani’s testimony is doubtless relevant in the trial which is focused on whether payments from Privinvest, arranged by him, were illegal. It is notable that Boustani emphasises that Nyusi must also testify; dragging the sitting president into the case has long been part of Privinvest’s apparent strategy to try and dissuade Mozambique from pursuing legal action over the deals.

Banking services return to Cabo Delgado town (Mediafax)
Banking services have resumed in the town of Mueda, in the north of Cabo Delgado province, after a long shutdown because of the insecurity in the province and a lack of electricity supply from the grid. This is a big relief to the population of the town, Mediafax reports, particularly civil servants, who had to travel 218km to the town of Montepuez to withdraw their wages. A local source told Mediafax that the branches of Banco Comercial e de Investimentos and Millennium Bim were in operation, but Absa Bank, which also has a branch in the town, has yet to reopen.

Locals urged to stay away from Miteda as hunt for insurgents continues (Mediafax)
Residents of the area around the administrative post of Miteda in Cabo Delgado province have been told to stay away from the area by the various military forces fighting the terrorist insurgency in the province, as they suspect there may still be terrorist hideouts in the area. The joint Mozambican and Rwandan force recently recovered the terrorist base of N’tchinga, located around 6km from the district headquarters of Namacande district, which was also occupied several times by insurgents, but other bases could be nearby.

Military cooperation is working in fight against terrorism, says foreign minister (Notícias, Rádio Moçambique)
The military cooperation between Mozambique, Rwanda, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is having a positive impact in the fight against terrorism in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique’s foreign minister, Verónica Macamo has said. According to Macamo, the joint efforts have led to a reduction in insurgent attacks, allowing refugees to return to their places of origin. She argued that terrorism, given its complexity, must be fought through a joint effort by countries in the region. Macamo promised that the government was committed to promoting security and prosperity, despite the multiple challenges Mozambique was facing, namely the threat of terrorism, the covid-19 pandemic, the demobilisation of former Renamo guerrillas and post-cyclone reconstruction.
It seems the Frelimo political elite is showing a growing positive sentiment on the benefits of international military presence in Mozambique when, only a few months ago, they left  President Nyusi struggling in isolation for this option.

State should regulate private healthcare prices, says NGO (Centre for Public Integrity)
The state should regulate the prices charged by private healthcare companies, the transparency pressure group the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) argues in a new report. CIP argues that the lack of price regulation, discriminatory pricing and the requirement for patients to pay deposits for hospital and other treatment constitute “an attack on the health and life of users”. The report argues that the private healthcare market needs regulating, because of the lack of information customers have about how prices are set; the fact that demand for healthcare does not rise or fall with pricing; and the high barriers for new companies to enter the sector. CIP recommends that an independent body be set up to regulate healthcare providers and prices, and that the state control more tightly how much public money is spent on private healthcare for its employees.
The debate on prices charged by private clinics came at a critical stage during the covid-19 pandemic, when the Mozambican elite was forced to use those clinics because they didn’t have access to alternative treatments abroad, namely in India, Portugal and South Africa.


Announcements

  • Sasol said that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the state-owned Central Energy Fund to develop the natural gas market in South Africa. Key areas for the collaboration will be future gas supply options and the infrastructure needed to sustain and grow the market. Priscillah Mabelane of Sasol said in a statement that South Africa’s current gas supply, which comes from the Panda-Temane gas fields in Mozambique, would need to be supplemented, as the fields became exhausted (see here)
  • Battery Minerals published half-yearly accounts for the six months to 30 June, reporting a net loss of A$624,384 ($459,894) for its operations in Mozambique. The company has already agreed to sell its development-stage graphite projects in the country

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