Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

 

No. 594, 1st September 2021

 


 

Contents

 


 

Hidden debts: trial enters second week

The trial in Maputo of 19 people accused of involvement in Mozambique’s largest-ever financial scandal enters its second week with testimony being heard from Ndambi Guebuza, the oldest son of former President Armando Guebuza.

The trial centres on the setting up of three security-linked companies, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus, and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) and how between 2013 and 2014 they borrowed over two billion US dollars of debt from Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia.

The three companies had no track record, and they were only lent the funds because government officials, notably former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, signed loan guarantees pledging that, if the companies did not repay, the Mozambican state would be liable. As none of the companies ever made any money, the debt quickly fell on the state.

Inter alia, the court will consider whether payments allegedly made to the accused by the sole contractor, Privinvest, were legitimate payments.

According to the prosecutors, Privinvest paid US$33 million to Ndambi Guebuza, with the funds partly transferred into an account he had opened in the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, in the United Arab Emirates, and partly via various South African companies. In addition, businessmen Teofilo Nhangumele and Bruno Langa each received US$8.5 million from Privinvest.

On 24 August, the court heard testimony from Cipriano Mutota, the former director of the Studies and Projects Office of the State Security and Intelligence Service (SISE). According to the prosecutors, he was the SISE officer who received the Privinvest proposal for the protection of Mozambique’s Exclusive Economic Zone via Nhangumele and he stands accused of receiving a bribe of US$980,000.

Mutota told the court how, at the request of SISE general director Gregorio Leao, he had drawn up a report in 2009 or 2010 on the main threats facing Mozambique – including terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, drug trafficking and illegal migration. A meeting was held at the Ministry of Science and Technology, where senior Privinvest official Jean Boustani put forward proposals for the protection of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. This was the start of what would eventually become Proindicus.

Mutota said that the first estimate of the cost of Proindicus was US$302 million, eventually rising to US$370 million. But on top of this was the fee that was to be paid to the fixers. Initially, said Mutota, this was to be US$50 million, divided among the Mozambicans involved. But the Proindicus project stalled, with no go-head from the government. So Nhangumele contacted his old friend, Bruno Langa, who was a business partner of Ndambi Guebuza, and Guebuza was persuaded to ask his father to give Proindicus the green light.

Both Nhangumele and Mutota face charges of corruption, abuse of trust, money laundering and membership of a criminal association.

Ndambi Guebuza denies involvement

Ndambi Guebuza told the court on 30 August that he had nothing to do with the project to protect Mozambique’s Exclusive Economic Zone (Proindicus) and denied receiving any money from Privinvest. His testimony clashed sharply with that given by Nhangumele and Mutota, both of whom said he had a prominent role in the early stages of the coastal protection project, for which Privinvest paid him US$33 million.

The prosecution has emails and bank correspondence gathered from Guebuza’s computer which was seized when his house was searched. Despite the trail of emails, Guebuza denied any involvement in the project and initially claimed that the first time he had met Nhangumele was when they were both in prison on remand. However, there is photographic evidence of Guebuza, Bruno Langa, and Nhangumele, all travelling in the same private plane on a trip to Abu Dhabi.

In his testimony, Nhangumele had said that he, Langa, Guebuza, and the SISE head of economic intelligence, Antonio do Rosario, had all visited Privinvest shipyards in Germany and Abu Dhabi. Guebuza admitted going to the German port of Kiel but said he was on other business that had nothing to do with Privinvest.

Guebuza admitted to making several trips to Abu Dhabi, which he believed were paid for by Privinvest. Although he has never lived in the United Arab Emirates and is not an employee of Privinvest, he obtained a resident’s visa on the grounds that he was one of Privinvest’s hydraulic mechanics. But Guebuza is not a mechanic, and when the judge, Efigenio Baptista, pointed out that he obtained the visa under false pretences, he insisted “it’s all perfectly legal”.

Guebuza used his resident’s visa to open a bank account in Abu Dhabi. According to the prosecution, Privinvest deposited millions of dollars into this account. But Guebuza denied ever receiving any money from Privinvest and stated that he had never done any work for Privinvest.

The prosecution claims that the first instalment was US$14 million which entered Guebuza’s Abu Dhabi account on 25 March 2013. He vehemently denied he received this sum and argued that any emails and other documents that say otherwise must be forgeries.

Judge Efigenio Baptista pointed out that the documents showing this payment were all on Guebuza’s computer, and so was the receipt he had signed confirming that the money had been deposited. However, Guebuza insisted these documents were all fake and that his signature had been forged. He insisted that the trial was part of a conspiracy against the Guebuza family. “You are liars”, he told the prosecuting attorney, Sheila Marrengula. The Attorney-General’s Office (PGR), he argued “is persecuting my family and the veterans of the independence war”.

Guebuza refused to answer many of the questions about his financial affairs raised by both Baptista and Marrengula. After his initial denial that he had ever received payments from Privinvest, he was at a loss to explain how Privinvest money was sent for his use to various South African companies through which he obtained houses and luxury cars.

He claimed these financial transfers arose from a partnership between himself and senior Privinvest official Jean Boustani. He would give no details of this partnership and refused to make any comments on the financial transactions with South African concerns which the judge listed in great detail. The cars which Guebuza obtained through this unexplained arrangement included Rolls Royces, Aston Martins, Ferraris, Maseratis, and Range Rovers. He also acquired real estate in Pretoria, and when Marrengula cited the address of one of these houses and asked whether he did indeed own it, Guebuza declared “You are using me to wage a political campaign”.

Other defendants include Gregorio Leao, the head of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE) under former president Armando Guebuza, Antonio do Rosario, the SISE officer who became chairperson of all three companies, Armando Guebuza’s political adviser, Renato Matusse, and his private secretary Ines Moiane.

In papers submitted by Privinvest in reply to Mozambique's separate legal action in the High Court in London (https://tinyurl.com/22ju3sek) the company states that “payments allegedly made by Privinvest to or for the benefit of various Mozambican Officials were not bribes” and that payments “were all lawful under Mozambican law”. It states that payments to Langa and Nhangumele “were legitimate payments pursuant to a written Consultancy Agreement” and payments to Ndambi Guebuza were business investments.

Extradition of Chang to Mozambique awaiting hearing

The Mozambican civil society coalition, the Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO), won a victory in the Johannesburg High Court on 27 August when the court intervened to prevent the extradition to Maputo of former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang.

Chang has been under South African police custody since 28 December 2018, when he was arrested at Johannesburg airport. An international warrant for his arrest had been issued at the request of United States prosecutors.

Both the US and Mozambique submitted applications for Chang’s extradition. Both wanted to put him on trial for crimes connected with the “hidden debts” scandal.

It was Chang who signed the loan guarantees which were crucial in persuading the European banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia, in 2013 and 2014, to lend over US$2.2 billion to Proindicus, Ematum, and MAM.

Without Chang’s signature on the guarantees, the loans could not have gone ahead. With his signature, however, the Mozambican state became committed to repaying the loans, if the companies defaulted – which they soon did.

At one point, in May 2019, the South African Justice Minister of the time, Michael Masutha, decided that Chang would be returned to Mozambique. But he was reaching the end of his term of office, and his successor, Roland Lamola, reversed his decision. The High Court, in October 2019, declared that Masutha’s decision was illegal, but did not order the alternative – extradition to the US. Instead, Lamola was told to reconsider the matter and choose whether to extradite Chang to Mozambique or the US.

Lamola decided, on 23 August, in favour of the Mozambican application. Chang was handed over to Interpol, and a plane was ready to carry him to Maputo. But the FMO submitted an urgent request that the High Court should review Lamola’s decision.

The FMO believes that Chang is more likely to face justice in a US court than in a Mozambican one, and it appears to be winning its case. On 25 August Lamola gave an undertaking not to extradite Chang before the High Court had ruled, and later that day the Johannesburg High Court made Lamola’s undertaking an order of the court.

It is expected that the High Court will conduct its full review on 17 September.

It could uphold Lamola’s decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique where he would eventually stand trial on charges including abuse of his office, violation of the budget laws, money laundering, and membership of a criminal association.

Or the court could decide instead to extradite him to the US. A third possibility is that the court could send the matter back to Lamola to reconsider his decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique. This will certainly delay Chang’s appearance as a witness in the current case before the Maputo High Court.

President Nyusi warns against corruption

President Filipe Nyusi on 25 August urged senior managers in the public administration to take no part in acts of corruption. Speaking in Maputo at a meeting of the National Council of Coordination between Decentralised Provincial Bodies and Central State Organs, he said corruption was evil with negative impacts both inside and outside the country.

He said that in 2020 there had been a sharp rise in the number of cases of corruption leading to disciplinary action. In that year 1,290 cases against allegedly corrupt public employees were initiated, against 911 in 2019. “This indicator is far too high”, said the President.

He cited the latest survey by the international NGO Transparency International (TI) on the perceptions of corruption in 180 countries. The TI statistics put Mozambique on the list of highly corrupt countries, alongside places like Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar.

Speaking to an audience that included provincial governors, provincial secretaries of state and mayors of municipalities, President Nyusi encouraged them to deepen the knowledge of the legislation that governs the decentralised bodies and to develop the actions that define good practices of governance.

“We cannot watch passively when our province or our country is listed as a land of corruption where everybody is corrupt”, he declared. “Let us have the courage to confront corruption, even with the intimidation we might suffer. We have no alternative but to fight corruption vigorously in all sectors”.

“Good governance does not do deals with corruption”, stressed the President. “My soldiers against corruption are you. If each of you does a little, then we can turn this around”. He said he was angered whenever he heard that mayors, directors, or other public figures are involved in corruption. “We cannot carry on watching this situation passively”, he declared.

Public managers, President Nyusi added, should avoid any lack of supervision or inspection of their subordinates, and suggested that they spend “an hour or 15 minutes a day learning about the situation in your institutions, in order to fight against corruption. You should be guided for greater rigour and legality in these matters, encouraging the relevant bodies to initiate disciplinary proceedings, and comply with the legal deadlines”.

“Those who have nothing to hide should not be afraid of audits”, the President added.

Embraer corruption case delayed

The Maputo City Court on 26 August postponed delivering its verdict on the “Embraer bribe” case to September 13, following technical constraints which hampered the printout of the court judgment.

The presiding judge, Fernando Macamo, called into his office a group of three journalists from print, radio, and television media, to inform them of the technical problems faced by the court. He assured them that the new adjournment, after a similar move on 22 July, had been agreed with the lawyers of the accused.

“I would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused by a technical problem faced by the printing capacity that hampered the printout of the court ruling, which should have been delivered today”, said Macamo. He added that the earlier postponement was due to his own health problems, but he has now fully recovered.

The case concerns a bribe of US$800,000 paid by the Brazilian aircraft manufacturing company to ensure that Mozambique Airlines (LAM) would buy two Embraer aircraft. Those accused of taking bribes are former transport minister Paulo Zucula, the former chairperson of LAM, Jose Viegas, and the former Mozambican manager of the South African petrochemical company Sasol, Mateus Zimba.

The prosecution said the accused had used the LAM purchase of Embraer aircraft to enrich themselves, with Zimba, who had no prior connection with LAM or with civil aviation, operating as a middleman, setting up a shell company “Xihivele” registered in Sao Tome and Principe, through which the bribe was channelled.

Embraer has already admitted to paying bribes in several countries, including Mozambique. The bribes came to light thanks to investigations by Brazilian and United States prosecutors into Embraer’s business practices. Embraer confessed to paying bribes and reached a settlement with the US and Brazilian authorities involved paying total fines of around US$225 million and giving full details of the bribes.

From the documents of the Brazilian Federal Prosecutor’s Office, we know that it was Viegas who negotiated the size of the Mozambican bribe. He insisted that the deal would not go ahead without a bribe.

Embraer was at first reluctant to “offer” more than US$80,000. But Viegas allegedly said he had received reactions from unnamed other people who regarded the Embraer offer “as an insult and to some extent it would have been less offensive to offer nothing at all”. He thought a million dollars would be acceptable but eventually settled on US$800,000.

When Viegas was told that Embraer did not have that sort of money to pay for what would be passed off as “consultancy services”, he suggested simply increasing the price of the aircraft. Instead of the original price of US$32 million, each aircraft would now cost US$32.69 million. This was the price in the sales agreement between Embraer and LAM signed on 13 September 2008. Viegas was thus accused of betraying his trust as LAM chairperson by artificially inflating the price of aircraft purchased by the company.

Embraer paid the bribe, disguised as “sales commissions”, in two instalments of US$400,000 each to a Xihevele account in Portugal. On 22 April 2009, Embraer signed a “commercial representation agreement” with Xihevele. The stated purpose of this company was to promote the sale of aircraft to LAM, even though LAM had already signed the purchase agreement. Xihevele had not existed during the negotiations between LAM and Embraer.

New Covid-19 cases fall by almost half

Mozambican health authorities on 30 August revealed that the number of new Covid-19 cases has almost halved in comparison with July. Speaking at a Maputo press conference, the Deputy National Director of Public Health, Benigna Matsinhe, said that in July there had been 45,624 new cases diagnosed. However, in the first 30 days of August, the number of new cases fell to 24,025, a decline of 47.3 per cent.

The number of Covid-19 patients needing hospitalisation fell from 1,953 in July to 974 in August, a fall of 50.1 per cent. Covid-19 mortality declined by 26.4 per cent, from 556 deaths in July to 409 in August.

Although these figures showed the disease was on a downwards trend, Matsinhe warned that triumphalism must be avoided, “since it might lead us to abandon the general measures of preventing and fighting against the disease”. Far from relaxing the preventive measures, they must be stepped up, she said, and all those who had received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine should get the second dose. Matsinhe announced that, in the previous 24 hours, 27,802 people had received the second dose. The number of people completely vaccinated has now reached 910,308. Since the start of the pandemic, Matsinhe said, the total number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 was 146,053.

Recent figures show that the epicentre of the epidemic has shifted to the north. 53.2 per cent of the new cases were from the four provinces north of the Zambezi – Niassa, Zambezia, Cabo Delgado, and Nampula.

Matsinhe also reported a further two deaths from Covid-19: a 76-year-old Mozambican woman and a 62-year-old Mozambican man, both of whom died in Maputo city. The total Covid-19 death toll in Mozambique now stands at 1,853.

Joint forces seize terrorist base

Joint Mozambican and Rwandan forces on 27 August retook Base N’tchinga, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, from the hands of the ISIS terrorists who had occupied it. Base N’tchinga is of symbolic value since it was one of the main bases of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) during the war for independence from Portuguese colonial rule.

“Our forces have attacked and occupied Base N’tchinga”, announced the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Mozambican armed forces (FADM), Bertolino Capitine. FADM has been fighting with military support from Rwanda, and member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) against terrorists who have been destabilising Cabo Delgado since October 2017.

“The armed attacks carried out by terrorist groups are, without doubt, the major challenge facing our institution”, said Capitine, at the end of a training course for platoon commanders, held in the city of Nampula.

Base N’tchinga is six kilometres from Namacunde, the capital of Muidumbe district, one of the parts of Cabo Delgado most affected by terrorist raids.

Mozambican forces seize suspect boat off Cabo Delgado

The Mozambican armed forces (FADM) on 26 August intercepted a sailboat laden with seven tonnes of assorted foodstuffs and hygiene products off the coast of Mocimboa da Praia district, in Cabo Delgado province.

The boat was heading for the village of Macanja, in Palma district. But this stretch of the Cabo Delgado coast, from Ibo island to Palma, is banned to all shipping, in a move by FADM to cut off supplies to the terrorist groups operating in the province.

The local FADM commander, Colonel Arone Nema, said suspicions were deepened because the crew of the vessel was carrying a document stating that it had set out from the provincial capital Pemba, and its final destination was Matemo island, in Ibo district. But it had sailed past Matemo and continued towards Palma. This led Nema to suspect that the rice, maize flour, sugar, and other goods on the boats were intended for the terrorists.

Cited by the television station, STV, Nema said the six-member crew are now under investigation to ascertain the true destination of their cargo. One of the crew members admitted that they had lied about their destination and had violated the ban on sailing up the Palma coast. “We intended to reach Macanja and leave the food for the people living there”, he said.

Meanwhile, fishermen in Macomia district have reported terrorist attacks on 24 August in which several of their colleagues were captured and beheaded. The terrorists appeared to be fleeing from the joint Mozambican/Rwandan forces in the Mbau administrative post in Mocimboa da Praia and had crossed into Macomia.

EDM working to restore power in Cabo Delgado

The publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, has pledged to restore power to all districts in the northern province of Cabo Delgado within 45 days.

Speaking on 19 August, at the end of a working visit to the central province of Manica, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Max Tonela, said that EDM has surveyed the transmission lines that were destroyed by the ISIS terrorists.

The jihadists wrecked the sub-station at Awasse, in Mocimboa da Praia district, which provided power to the entire north of Cabo Delgado. The key transmission lines that must be repaired are from Awasse to Macomia, Mueda, and Mocimboa da Praia town.

Tonela explained that “the terrorists destroyed many infrastructures, notably schools, hospitals, courtrooms, electricity transmission lines, and water supply units. We are developing a plan to restore normality”.

Preliminary data indicate that ISIS destroyed about 313 kilometres of medium and low voltage power lines, causing enormous losses to EDM. Nonetheless, electrification is continuing in Cabo Delgado, with 3,852 new connections made between January and the first week of April (out of a target of 11,500 connections planned for the first six months of the year.

IOM calls for reconstruction funds

The director-general of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Antonio Vitorino, has urged the international community to mobilise funding for the reconstruction of infrastructure wrecked by islamist terrorists in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

Addressing a press conference on 18 August in Maputo, following a visit he paid to Cabo Delgado, Vitorino highlighted the importance of infrastructure for communities to live in safety with the prospect of economic development. “Economic activities, as well as houses, must be rebuilt. Many houses have been destroyed by the terrorists and the people will need support to rebuild them. Hence, the international community has to mobilise to answer these needs, supporting the efforts made by the Mozambican government,” he said.

He pointed out that the joint force of Mozambican and Rwandan troops recently regained control of the strategic port town of Mocimboa da Praia that had been seized by the terrorists. It was important to ensure that the basic infrastructure in Mocimboa da Praia, which was largely destroyed by the terrorists, is rebuilt to serve the population as displaced people return to their homes.

Vitorino also reaffirmed that IOM needs to continue its humanitarian assistance programmes to about 800,000 internally displaced people (IDP) with food provisions and hygiene supplies. He said that the organisation, which set up a base in Cabo Delgado following the deadly tropical cyclone Kenneth in 2019, is in charge of 59 IDP camps in Cabo Delgado, where the staff has been giving psycho-social support to people traumatised by the terror attacks as well as preparing them to return to their places of origin.

Questioned about the assistance to displaced people who attempt to cross the border into Tanzania, he declined to elaborate, stating only that “they may not have been able to enter the neighbouring country, but I am quite confident that as soon as security conditions have been re-established IOM will launch a screening drive followed by support”.

“We do not have an accurate number (of people on the Tanzanian border) but only estimates, which I will not give you. Those people are neither in the camps nor living with host families in Pemba (the Cabo Delgado capital). But we expect that as security is restored these people will be identified and given support just like the others,” he added.

Malaria combination treatment could cut illness by 70 per cent

A three-year trial giving the RTS,S malaria vaccine in combination with anti-malarial drugs to young children has been found to reduce illness and death by seventy per cent compared with using either treatment alone.

The trial involved enrolling 6,000 children aged under seventeen months in a double-blind, randomised, controlled trial in Burkina Faso and Mali and was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). It gave three doses of the RTS,S vaccine and anti-malarial drugs timed to take effect before the beginning of the malarial season. A booster jab was given before the following rainy seasons.

Other trials in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have shown that the vaccine is effective but that its protection wanes within months. The authors of the current study, therefore, suggest that RTS,S could be used as a seasonal vaccine. According to Professor Daniel Chandramohan from LSHTM, “the results of the trial were much more successful than we had anticipated. Our work has shown a combination approach using a malaria vaccine seasonally – similar to how countries use influenza vaccine – has the potential to save millions of young lives in the African Sahel”.

Professor Alassane Dicko from the Malaria Research & Training Centre in Mali, who was a member of the research team, explained that “this new malaria tackling tool could mean the disease is no longer the primary cause of death or hospital admissions in our settings for the very first time. This is wonderful news for malaria control”.

RTS,S was created by GlaxoSmithKline over twenty years ago and early trials were undertaken at the Manhica Health Research Centre in southern Mozambique.

Recorded deaths from malaria are on the decline in Mozambique. Last year the Health Ministry recorded 563 deaths, a 23 per cent reduction on the previous year. This was due to the increased coverage of the health service and campaigns to protect the public from mosquitoes through spraying homes and distributing insecticide-treated bed nets. However, malaria remains a major public health problem - according to government statistics, between January and August 2020 there were 8.36 million cases.

EDM connects Panjane and Messano to national grid

Mozambique’s publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, on 13 August connected to the national grid the administrative posts of Panjane and Messano in the southern provinces of Maputo and Gaza.

The electrification of the two posts is part of the government’s “Energy for All” programme which plans to bring electricity to all homes in the country by 2030. Currently, EDM is focussing on connecting administrative posts, following the successful conclusion in 2018 of the plans for the electrification of all the district capitals.

According to a press release from EDM, the electrification of Messano increases to 11 the number of administrative posts connected to the national grid in Gaza.

Kenmare has resources to last a century

The titanium minerals mine at Moma, in the northern province of Nampula, operated by the Irish company Kenmare Resources, has enough resources to operate for over a hundred years at the current rate of production, according to managing director Michael Carvill.

The mine produces ilmenite (titanium iron oxide), rutile (titanium dioxide) and zircon (zirconium silicate). Ilmenite and rutile are used to make white pigments for paints, paper, and plastic. Titanium can be extracted from these ores and used to manufacture metallic parts where lightweight and high strength are needed. Zircon is used for abrasive and insulating purposes.

Carvill was speaking as Kenmare reported record half-year profits of US$48 million, an increase of 278 per cent on 2020. Kenmare reported a 51 per cent increase in revenue for the six months of the year to US$178.2 million, as sales volumes rose by 44 per cent and sales prices increased by five per cent.

Carvill said Kenmare’s results were driven by a pick-up in global economic activity and a shortage of titanium supplies. He linked the shortage of supply to a sustained period of low prices for titanium pigment and feedstocks, which triggered lower levels of investment.

Ilmenite production at the Kenmare mine was up 52 per cent at 559,000 tonnes. Despite ilmenite recoveries being slightly lower than expected, production set a new quarterly record in the second quarter and recoveries have now returned to expected levels.

President Nyusi inaugurates new factory

President Filipe Nyusi on 13 August inaugurated the “Beleza Moçambique” factory in the Beluluane Industrial Park on the outskirts of Maputo.

Beleza Moçambique is a subsidiary of the Indian Godrej Group and the factory will produce four million units of various synthetic hair products per day. The company has invested US$20 million in the new facilities which now covers 22,000 square metres and employs nearly 3,000 workers. As production increases, the workforce will rise to 5,000.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, President Nyusi outlined challenges that the management needs to address, including the need to sustain competitiveness, grow consumer trust, and follow fashion trends.

President Nyusi also challenged Beleza to extend their wide range of products to include cosmetic skincare creams for men and women, which the country is currently importing.

The President noted that the opening of the factory will benefit Mozambique and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the medium and long term, as the country will no longer have to import basic fashion products. He added that the investment strengthens cooperation ties between Mozambique and India and urged other Indian companies to follow suit as the country offers the right conditions for attracting foreign investment.

Foot and mouth control measures extended

The Mozambican Veterinary Authority has reviewed the wide range of measures put in place to control and halt the spread of foot-and-mouth disease across the country.

So far, the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has been confirmed in Magude district in Maputo province, and Angonia in the central province of Tete. In Tete, the National Directorate for Livestock Development (DNDP) has imposed a strict ban on the movement of cattle, goats, and pigs in the districts of Doa, Moatize, Maravia, Chifunde, Macanga, Zumbo, and Tete city.

The authorities have banned the killing of animals in slaughterhouses lacking conditions for hanging meat for 24 hours and have prohibited the gathering of animals without permission. This only covers provinces where the outbreak has been confirmed.

The authorities, in partnership with the Mozambican Police and the Natural Resources Protection Unit, have stepped up the inspection of animals in transit. They have also launched a vaccination drive for livestock in areas within 30 kilometres of the hotspots and are insisting that vehicles used to transport animals must be cleaned and disinfected.

Foot-and-mouth is a highly transmissible disease affecting hoofed animals. It can have a catastrophic impact on livestock farmers who immediately lose their markets and are forced to slaughter their animals.

Renamo Chief of Staff demobilised

Nine high ranking officers from the militia of Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, including the Chief of Staff, Timoteo Maquinze, laid down their weapons and were demobilised in the central city of Beira on 17 August.

The Secretary of State for Sofala province, Stella Pinto Zeca, chaired the ceremony, which was attended by Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, and by Mirko Manzoni (who is the personal envoy to Mozambique of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres).

Maquinze, who is recovering from a stroke, reiterated his desire to see DDR reach a successful conclusion. He urged members of the self-styled “Renamo Military Junta” to put down their guns and join the DDR. “Today, nothing justifies guerrillas remaining in the bush”, he said. “The time has come for each of us to contribute to the growth of our families and the development of the country. I call on our brothers who are still in the bush, with guns in their hands, to join this process”.

Momade stated that Maquinze was one of the architects of Renamo, who had always been at the side of its late leader, Afonso Dhlakama. “He never abandoned the cause we fought for”, he declared.

The demobilisation of Maquinze was one of the “most historic” stages in the DDR, and it meant that Renamo “is reaffirming the commitment to respect, in the letter, the spirit, and the understandings we reached at the negotiating table”, stressed Momade.

Health Minister calls for improved response to HIV/AIDS

Minister of Health Armindo Tiago on 11 August called on stakeholders in the health sector to strengthen services related to HIV/AIDS to improve progress towards universal access to prevention, care, and treatment. Addressing the opening session of the eighth National Meeting for the Control of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), Tiago said that to achieve the desired success, more people living with HIV must know their status.

The latest estimates are that in 2020 there were 98,000 new HIV infections. There were 38,000 HIV-related deaths, and 94,000 pregnant women tested positive for HIV. The rate of vertical transmission of the virus from mother to child was 13 per cent. The same estimates indicate that about 2.1 million people across the country are living with the virus.

Currently, only 74 per cent of the people living with HIV across the country are benefiting from free anti-retroviral treatment (ARVT) although 94 per cent of the public health care network offers anti-retroviral services. This means that about half a million HIV-positive Mozambicans are not receiving life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs.

“In recent years, we have noted a trend towards a reduction in new infections and in HIV mortality, which encourages us”, said Tiago. “We know that this is not happening by accident, but is the result of hard work, which must be consolidated in the coming period”.

He stressed that the priorities must remain prevention, counselling. and testing, putting those eligible into contact with the ARVT services and ensuring that they keep taking the treatment.

He pointed out the importance of interventions intended to identify people at high risk of contracting HIV as well as the offer of pre-exposure prophylaxis and the free distribution of condoms.

Among the constraints his Ministry faces in the fight against STIs, Tiago said, are terrorism in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, the armed violence of the self-styled “Renamo Military Junta” in parts of the central provinces of Manica and Sofala, natural disasters, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lack of coordination hinders reconstruction

Mozambique’s Post-Cyclone Reconstruction Office (GRECOP) has pointed to constraints such as lack of coordination, the need to integrate project resilience, and the diversity of procedures demanded by cooperation partners as bottlenecks hindering reconstruction after tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth hit central and northern Mozambique in 2019.

Addressing reporters on 11 August in the central city of Beira, GRECOP executive director, Luis Mandlate, said that 77 per cent of the US$1.2 million promised by the cooperation partners is being used by the various agencies and that only 23 per cent of the amount is under the direct management of his office.

In certain cases, Mandlate pointed out, some NGOs begin building houses in the communities, but the architectural plans do not consider the issue of resilience, thus undermining the future of the houses as well as the lives of the occupants.

He added that there were external constraints to delivering much-needed assistance. “The strict procedure to access the funds pledged by the cooperation partners compromises the effective progress of the reconstruction of the infrastructures, causing anxiety among the affected,” he said.

In total, 190,000 houses are to be rebuilt out of the 290,000 damaged by the cyclones in Sofala, Manica, Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces. Of this total, the World Bank is providing funds to rebuild 15,000 of them. GRECOP had to resort to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), the National Directorate of Water Resources and many other bodies to ensure appropriate screening of the 15,000 households, taking into account such criteria as their degree of vulnerability and the safety of the area where they live.

The 15,000 households are mainly from Beira, and the Sofala districts of Buzi, Dondo and Nhamatanda in the central province of Sofala. Mandlate is confident that the reconstruction of the houses will be concluded by mid-2024.


 

 

email: Mozambique News Agency