Zitamar Daily Briefing, 9 January

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Welcome to Zitamar’s daily Mozambique briefing for 9 January, 2020

Zitamar Daily Briefing Jan 9

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Agenda:

  • 13 January: President Filipe Nyusi swears in the new Assembly of the Republic (parliament), which will then elect a new speaker
  • 15 January: Nyusi is sworn in for his second term as president

Today’s headlines:

  • Attacks in central Mozambique: six detained while Renamo figures testify (MediaFax)
  • Inhambane locals protest Sasol’s oil and gas drilling plans (Carta de Moçambique)
  • Tax collection falls in Cabo Delgado (Radio Moçambique)
  • Port of Nacala’s cargo handling rises (AIM)

Attacks in central Mozambique: six detained while Renamo figures testify (MediaFax)
The police yesterday presented a group of six people arrested in Sofala province for supposedly being members of the dissident Renamo Military Junta. Among those arrested is António Bawaze, former president of Renamo’s youth league in Marromeu district, who said he had been ordered by Nhongo to recruit more young people and take them to the interior of Nhamatanda, an area where many attacks had occurred. Another suspect claimed to have been part of the group in the past and to have taken part in an attack on an ambulance in the Gorongosa area late last year. Yet another was shot while trying to escape and is in hospital in Beira. Meanwhile, three of the four senior Renamo figures summoned to testify about the attacks in central Mozambique took part in hearings at the attorney-general’s office yesterday. One of them, MP António Muchanga, spoke after the hearing to deny involvement and criticised the way he had been summoned.
Despite this show of action, a number of contradictions could eventually embarrass those behind it. Bawaze is not a member of Renamo any more and the summoning of Renamo MPs to the attorney-general’s office in Maputo has not followed legal procedures.

Inhambane locals protest Sasol’s oil and gas drilling plans (Carta de Moçambique)
Locals in the southern province of Inhambane have expressed opposition to plans by South African oil and gas company Sasol and state-owned oil and gas company ENH to explore for oil and gas off the province’s coast. At a meeting held in Inhambane city, they showed concern about the effect of seismic activity on fishing and tourism, which provides most of their earnings. Drilling will take place near Bazaruto island, which is in a national park. A report on the public consultations already held was due to be submitted by Golden Associados Moçambique on behalf of Sasol to government last year. Jacinto Alfredo, president of the association of civil society organisations in Inhassoro, said: “Why does the government have to evaluate and decide on the consultation report, if the communities are not in favour?” Ailton Rego, Sasol’s environmental manager, acknowledged concerns about impact on the national park, but said that prospecting would not take place in it.
This is an old issue and it will continue until government has a clear policy on whether the environment and tourism resources should be sacrificed for the sake of the oil and gas industry.

Tax collection falls in Cabo Delgado (Radio Moçambique)
Natural disasters and the ongoing insurgency caused the Tax Authority to raise about $56.5m in the northern province of Cabo Delgado in 2019, compared to expected revenues of $80m,  a shortfall of 27%, Júlio Mazembe, a provincial officer, said. Mazembe added that another factor that dictated the low revenue was that the normal tax regime had changed for some taxpayers.

Port of Nacala’s cargo handling rises (AIM)
The volume of cargo handled at the port of Nacala in the northern province of Nampula reached 2.2 million tonnes in 2019, a rise of 16% on the previous year, according to a press release from CDN, the port’s operator. Welington Soares, chief executive of the Nacala logistics corridor concessionnaires including CDN, said that the rise was due to investments in equipment and people, as well as the “exertion and dedication” of employees, and happened despite part of the port area being unavailable due to rehabilitation work.
As previously reported, Vale and Mitsui are due to hand back the port concession tomorrow (Friday) to state-owned port and rail company CFM, when the concession expires, after failing to convince the government to extend their concession. If CFM does not improve on its record of inefficiency and find a partner with enough capital to invest in the port, the viability of the whole corridor could be threatened and cargo handling could start to decline.

© 2020, Alexandre Nhampossa. All rights reserved.

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