Mozambique Economy Set To Bounce Back In 2020 – IMF

 

Mozambique’s economy is on track for a “strong rebound” in 2020, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday, as it urged the government to ensure an expected gas boom benefits all citizens.

The southern African country has sought to become the world’s third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas since vast offshore reserves were found in 2010.

But low gas prices, combined with a government debt scandal in 2016, delayed exploitation and triggered a prolonged economic downturn.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to an average 3.7 percent between 2016 and 2018 — the lowest since 2000.

“The outlook for 2020 is for a strong rebound in economic activity and low inflation,” said IMF Mozambique mission chief Ricardo Velloso after a seven-day mission in the country.

Real GDP growth is projected to reach 5.5 percent next year, up from the 2.1 percent now expected for 2019.

The boost is mainly supported by “post-cyclones reconstruction efforts”, agricultural recovery and the easing of monetary conditions, added Velloso in a statement.

Two tropical cyclones smashed into northern Mozambique in March and April this year, killing more than 600 people and devastating the region.

The IMF provided financial assistance after the storms.

Velloso said “stronger institutions” would be needed to ensure gas revenues trickled down to “the lives of the Mozambican people, playing a significant role in sustainable development and poverty reduction”.

He added that investments in liquefied natural gas projects should boost “construction and other activities”.

Major revenues from gas exports are not expected before 2023.

The government’s inability to stem a wave of attacks by a shadowy jihadist organisation operating in the gas field region has also been a brake on development.

Donors — including the IMF and the World Bank — suspended aid to Mozambique in 2016 after the government admitted it had secretly borrowed $2.2 billion which was spent on civil and military ships.

The scandal plunged the aid-dependant country into the worst financial crisis in its history.

Debt soared to 112 percent of GDP in 2017, forcing Mozambique to suspend its repayments and arousing distrust among investors.

The IMF said the government’s ability to secure additional support from international private creditors remained “critical for public debt sustainability”.

Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 180 out of 189 in the United Nations’ latest human development index.

AFP

Terrorists Kill Four In Mozambique

 

Four people were killed in northern Mozambique, witnesses said Sunday, in an attack they attributed to Islamic extremists operating in the region for the last two years.

The attackers staged the ambush on a lorry near the village of Mumu, in the province of Cabo Delgado, on Saturday, killing the driver and three passengers, said several witnesses contacted by AFP.

Several other people were injured in the attack.

The authorities, who rarely make statements on the unrest in the north of the country, neither confirmed nor denied the attack.

Villagers say a separate attack in the same region Thursday killed 10 people.

Since 2017 Cabo Delgado has suffered a wave of deadly attacks that has killed at least 300 civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The violence has been blamed on a jihadist organisation apparently intent on imposing Islamic Sharia law. The group is usually referred to Al-Shabaab, despite having no known link to the Somali jihadist group of the same name.

The government has deployed significant reinforcements to the province to counter the attacks, which have delayed the development of vast gas reserves discovered in 2010.

Ten Killed In Mozambique Jihadist Attack – Witnesses

 

Ten people were killed in an ambush attributed to jihadists in Mozambique’s far north, witnesses said Friday, the latest attack in a region where suspected Islamist extremists have waged a campaign of terror for two years.

Gunmen ambushed a truck near the village of Mbau in the northernmost Cabo Delgado province on Thursday, a witness told AFP.

“The vehicle was bogged down in a sandy road and suddenly unidentified people started shooting at us,” said a young businessman on condition of anonymity.

He said that 10 people had been killed, a death toll confirmed by a villager.

“The situation is deteriorating. People are leaving their villages” for the port city of Mocimboa, the villager told AFP.

He said the attacks had increased since the West African country’s contentious general election on October 15.

After torching the truck, the attackers looted nearby homes and stole food, according to both sources.

Since 2017 Cabo Delgado has suffered a wave of deadly attacks that has killed 300 civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The violence has been blamed on a shadowy jihadist organisation apparently intent on imposing Islamic Sharia law.

Little is known about the attackers, who are usually referred to Al-Shabaab, despite having no known link to the Somali jihadist group of the same name.

The government has deployed significant reinforcements to the province after the attacks delayed development of vast gas reserves discovered in 2010.

Mozambique’s Nyusi Re-Elected In Disputed Presidential Poll: Electoral Commission

 

Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi won a five-year term in Mozambique’s election this month, the electoral commission said on Sunday, despite claims of widespread cheating.

Nyusi of the ruling Frelimo party scored 73 per cent of the vote, ahead of Ossufo Momade of the rebel group turned opposition party Renamo with almost 22 per cent, election commission chairman Abdul Carimo said at a press briefing.

Mozambique Votes In Tense Election After Violent Campaign

People queue at Chota Primary School in Beira, Mozambique on October 15, 2019.
PHOTO: PATRICK MEINHARDT / AFP

 

Mozambique began voting in a general election on Tuesday that some fear could test the country’s fragile peace, after a heated campaign marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud.

The Frelimo party, which has ruled the southern African nation since independence from Portugal in 1975, is widely expected to again beat its arch-rival Renamo, a former rebel group turned main opposition party.

President Filipe Nyusi, who cast his ballot as polls opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT), called on voters to show “the world we stand for democracy and tolerance”.

“Mozambique has chosen to move forward peacefully,” he said, adding that more than 4,000 observers had been deployed in the most-watched election in the country’s history.

“Let’s continue this process in a serene way. Peace means that everything must be done according to the rules.”

Nyusi, 60, is forecast to win a second five-year term despite his popularity taking a hit from chronic unrest and a financial crisis linked to alleged state corruption.

While the election is expected to see regional wins for Renamo, few think Frelimo will be unseated from the government after 44 years at the helm.

“Frelimo is a machine,” said Castro Davis, a 42-year-old public servant in the capital Maputo, predicting a “straight-forward victory.”

Elena Jorge, 50, told AFP she wants Renamo to win “but people know that these elections will not be free, fair or transparent — but we have hope.”

Around 13 million of Mozambique’s 30 million citizens are registered to vote at more than 20,000 polling booths, which close at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT).

 ‘Test for democracy’

Renamo is predicted to take control of three to five of Mozambique’s 10 provinces for the first time following a change of law allowing voters to elect provincial governors.

“This election will be a test for democracy,” said Ericino de Salema of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.

“For the first time, the political geography of the country may change substantially, it may even lead to confrontation.”

Renamo’s candidate Ossufo Momade, 58, heads a party of former anti-communist rebels who fought a brutal civil war with Frelimo from 1975-1992, devastating the economy and leaving almost one million people dead.

Renamo picked up arms again in 2013 to 2016, but tension continued until Nyusi and Momade signed a peace deal in August.

But an armed breakaway faction of Renamo has rejected Momade’s candidacy and threatened to attack campaign events, raising fears the presidential, parliamentary and provincial polls could be marred by bloodshed.

The six-week campaign was one of the most violent in the country’s turbulent history, with candidates threatened, election material destroyed, and deadly clashes breaking out between supporters.

The opposition has already accused Frelimo of tampering with the vote.

Enrolment has more than doubled in the southeastern Gaza province, a Frelimo bastion, and civil society groups have expressed concern about the size of the increase.

They also estimate that there are around 300,000 “ghost voters” on electoral rolls — names on the electoral roll not aligned with real, potential voters.

“We definitely have some irregularities that put stains on the whole process,” said Hermenegildo Mulhovo of election monitoring group Sala da Paz.

The situation escalated last week when the head of a local election observation mission was shot dead by members of a special police unit in Gaza’s capital Xai-Xai.

Lutero Simango, an MP of the country’s third-biggest party MDM, accused Frelimo of “using all state means, including police and secret services, to intimidate people”.

Scandals and setbacks

Frelimo suffered its worst result at the ballot box — 51.8 percent — in local elections last year and has been severely weakened in recent years.

In 2016 it was revealed the government secretly borrowed $2 billion, sparking the worst financial crisis in the country’s history and uncovering a vast corruption network with links to the regime.

The government is also battling to recover from two devastating cyclones in March which displaced nearly two million people.

And a shadowy jihadist insurgency that has killed hundreds in the far north has delayed development of one of the government’s biggest selling points — the discovery of vast gas reserves that is hoped to put billions in state coffers and lift millions out of poverty.

The instability has already forced the National Election Commission to close 10 polling booths.

Preliminary results are expected to be announced on Thursday.

AFP

Ten Dead At President Nyusi’s Rally Ahead Of Elections In Mozambique

 

At least ten people were killed in Mozambique during a stampede at a campaign rally of President Filipe Nyusi, the ruling party said, just over a month ahead of general elections.

The small stadium in the northern city of Nampula where the rally was being held on Wednesday was overcrowded and a crush occured as people rushed for the exits at the end, according to witnesses.

“Unfortunately 10 of our party’s militants died,” the ruling Frelimo party said in a statement, adding that 85 people were injured.

READ ALSO: 16 Killed In Mozambique Insurgency Attack

The scene was “total chaos”, rally attendee Benjamin Nhumaio told AFP.

“What happened is that the gates were closed and they were only opened after the departure of Frelimo candidate, President Nyusi,” said Nhumaio.

“Hence everyone inside the 25 de Junho Stadium wanted to leave at the same time and there were people who were pushed and they fell and were trampled,” he added.

The incident claimed the lives of at least 6 women and 4 men, according to the party.

Nyusi is hoping for a second term in office at general elections scheduled for October 15. His Frelimo party has dominated power for more than four decades and he is expected to win.

His government and ex-rebel group-turned opposition party Renamo completed a long-awaited peace pact last month, 27 years after the end of the first civil war.

But Renamo has said dozens of its members have come under attack just days after the signing of the historic deal, threatening the landmark agreement.

Pope Pleads With Madagascans To Protect Rainforest

Pope Francis greets crowd as he arrives at the St. Michel complex in Antananarivo in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on September 8, 2019. MARCO LONGARI / AFP

 

Pope Francis on Saturday made an impassioned plea to Madagascans to protect the Indian Ocean’s unique environment from “excessive deforestation”, on the second leg of his African tour.

Weeks after a spike of fires in the Amazon, the Argentine pontiff told his hosts they should “create jobs and money-making activities which respect the environment and help people escape poverty”.

Madagascar — famed for its immense diversity of flora and fauna — is home to 25 million people, the vast majority of whom live in poverty on an income of less than two dollars a day.

More than half of its young people are out of work, even if many boast good qualifications.

The pope said there “were many causes driving excessive deforestation which benefits just a few people… and compromises the future of the country.”

The authorities should also ensure social justice, he added.

‘Alarm raised’

Madagascar’s British ambassador Philip Boyle told AFP the country loses around 200,000 hectares of forest each year, adding that “most of the tropical rainforest could disappear by 2040”.

he country’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture, the export of vanilla and cocoa in particular.

“The alarm has been raised by the pope and we are ready to take on the challenge,” environment minister Alexandre Georget told AFP.

He said Madagascar would do more to prevent forest fires, and use tree-planting drones and aerial seed bombing techniques to restore its forests.

“In six months we reached an objective of planting 40,000 hectares of land (98,000 acres), but this is pointless when there are forest fires” said Georget, adding that laws would be enforced and farmers made more aware of the issue.

Liberal-leaning president Andry Rajoelina was elected to a second term last year mainly on promises of jobs and housing.

“Corruption and inequality outrage us,” said Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana, addressing the pope in his welcome speech.

Hope for the young

At Antananarivo’s Soamandrakizay stadium, thousands of young people – mainly scouts – gathered for a vigil. They waited for hours in the heat.

“I am here to ask for the pope’s blessing to face the harsh realities of life, insecurity, poverty and corruption,” said 17-year old student Njara Raherimana, who travelled hundreds of kilometres for the event.

“All this gives me hope for change in my country,” echoed fellow student, Antony Christian Tovonalintsoa, who lives in the outskirts of the capital.

During the vigil, Pope Francis lauded the “joy and enthusiasm” of the singing crowd.

He encouraged the youth not to fall into “bitterness” or to lose hope, even when they lacked the “necessary minimum” to get by and when “educational opportunities were insufficient”

800,000 faithful expected

Sunday will mark the high point of Francis’ visit with a huge mass in the capital expected to be attended by some 800,000 faithful.

Many had already started setting up tents on the outskirts of the city on Friday, armed with posters of the Argentine pontiff.

Prospere Ralitason, a 70-year-old farm worker, arrived with some 5,000 fellow pilgrims from the central eastern town of Ambatondrazaka, 200 kilometres (125 miles) away.

“We are tired, but it’s worth making all these sacrifices to see the pope with our own eyes and receive his blessing,” he told AFP,

John Paul II

The last pope to visit was John Paul II 30 years ago.

“I was a lieutenant when I helped with the security of John Paul II in 1989. Today I am a divisional general and overseeing security for Francis’ visit to Madagascar,” said Samuel Rakotomalala.

Some 700 police officers will be deployed at the site, which is also equipped with 200 surveillance cameras and the 12,000 young scouts will also help out.

In June, 16 people were killed and dozens hurt in a stampede outside a sports stadium in the capital during a free concert.

Francis visited Mozambique earlier in the week. He is also due to travel to the island of Mauritius, which like Madagascar is situated off the eastern coast of Africa.

Pope Francis In Mozambique Seeks To Strengthen Peace Accord

A girl celebrates after Pope Francis blessed her rosary during the Interreligious meeting with the Youth at the Maxaquene Pavillion in Maputo, on September 5, 2019. TIZIANA FABI / AFP

 

After a jubilant arrival in Mozambique at the start a three-nation African tour, Pope Francis on Thursday will meet with political and civil leaders to encourage them to consolidate a fragile peace accord.

The pope’s three-day visit to Mozambique comes a month after the government signed a historic peace treaty with the former rebel group Renamo, which is now the main opposition party.

Mozambique’s 16-year civil war devastated the former Portuguese colony, killing around one million people, and Renamo had never completely disarmed.

Francis, the first pope to visit Mozambique since John Paul II in 1988, was whisked away in his popemobile after arriving on Wednesday as crowds waved and danced in welcome.

He starts Thursday with a private meeting with President Filipe Nyusi, who wants to run for a second term in an election scheduled for October 15. The two men had already met one year ago at the Vatican.

As well as discussing the peace agreement, Francis is expected to address the devastation caused by two back-to-back cyclones earlier this year in the poor southeast African country.

He will not travel to Beira, the second city of the country swept away in March by Cyclone Idai, which left 600 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

Even six months on, many people are without shelter and food.

“Even if I can not go beyond the capital, my heart is with you and embraces you all, with a special place for those who live in difficulty,” he said to the victims of the cyclone, before his trip.

‘Pope of the Poor’

On Friday, the pope will address a mass at the giant Zimpeto stadium in the seaside capital Maputo.

The pope may also address the issue of extremism in northern Mozambique where jihadist attacks have claimed more than 300 lives over two years.

Francis could also speak about climate change, a key topic for the pontiff who has organised in a global meeting of bishops in Rome dedicated to the Amazon, which has been hit by devastating fires.

According to the World Bank, Mozambique, with its more than 2,000 km of coastline along the Indian Ocean, is among the ten most threatened countries in the world due to the consequences of climate change.

The pope will later visit the large Indian Ocean island of Madagascar and its much smaller neighbour Mauritius — both situated off the eastern coast of Africa.

Mozambique and Madagascar are among the world’s poorest countries and Francis’ choice to visit has been seen as act of solidarity from a cleric who was often in shantytowns of Argentina and is now called the “pope of the poor”.

Pope Francis Begins Africa Tour, Visits Violence-Hit Mozambique

Pope Francis boards a plane for a trip to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, at Rome’s Fiumicino airport on September 4, 2019.  ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Pope Francis arrives in Mozambique on Wednesday at the start of a three-nation tour of Indian Ocean African countries hard hit by poverty, conflict and natural disaster.

He is expected to be welcomed by tens of thousands during his visit, which will culminate with a mass on Friday at the giant Zimpeto stadium in the seaside capital Maputo.

The pontiff flew out of Rome  Wednesday morning, and was expected in Maputo around 6:30 pm (1630 GMT) where he is to be received by President Filipe Nyusi.

Pope John Paul II was the last pontiff to visit Mozambique in 1988.

In a video message recorded ahead of the trip, Pope Francis stressed the need for “fraternal reconciliation in Mozambique and throughout Africa, which is the only hope for a solid and lasting peace”.

The pope is expected to address the country’s fragile peace process, the devastation caused by two back-to-back cyclones early this year, and the upcoming general election.

The three-day visit to Mozambique comes a month after the government signed a historic peace treaty with the former rebel group Renamo, which is now the main opposition party.

The 16-year civil war devastated the former Portuguese colony and Renamo has never completely disarmed.

The pope may also address the issue of extremism in northern Mozambique where jihadist attacks have claimed more than 300 lives over two years.

 ‘A good omen’ 

The visit will be a good omen for a country in “crisis,” said Jaime Taimo, a 21-year-old student.

“With his arrival I see things are going to change… in the sense that we could live peacefully again since we’ve been living in constant conflict,” he said.

“His arrival can bring good things.”

The pope will also visit the large Indian Ocean island of Madagascar and its much smaller neighbour Mauritius — both situated off the eastern coast of Africa.

His choice of some of the world’s poorest nations is seen by commentators as an act of solidarity from a cleric who was a frequent presence in the shantytowns of Argentina.

Known as the “pope of the poor” the pontiff will only have time to visit Maputo while in Mozambique, much to the disappointment of those in the central city of Beira where Cyclone Idai killed at least 600 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless in March.

 ‘Our greatest saviour’ 

The pope, in his video message, anticipated the disappointment.

“Although I am unable to go beyond the capital, my heart reaches out to all of you, with a special place for those of you who live in difficult situations,” he said, adding: “You are all in my prayers.”

The capital has been spruced up for the visit, with the government spending 300,000 euros ($330,000) for the trip, according to Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco, including repairs to Maputo’s cathedral and city roads.

Many locals appear happy to splurge on pope-branded regalia.

Thirty-nine-year-old housekeeper Fatima dos Santos, made a 1,600-kilometre (1,000-mile) trip from the central city of Quelimane for the historic opportunity to see the pontiff.

She showed off a cloth known as a capulana, which she will sport at the Friday mass.

“I am going to Zimpeto to meet Pope Francis who is our greatest saviour,” dos Santos told AFP tying the cloth around her waist.

“This is the second time that I welcome a pope to Mozambique,” said Dos Santos who was a child when the last pope visited.

AFP

NAF Airlifts Relief Materials To Mozambique, Zimbabwe Flood Victims

 

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has completed the airlifting of relief materials to Mozambique and Zimbabwe to further assist victims of the massive flooding that affected some communities in the countries in April.

NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.

He explained that the airlift missions were conducted for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

READ ALSO: Leah Sharibu Is Alive – Presidency

According to Daramola, relief materials conveyed include drugs, medical supplies and treated mosquito nets donated by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to alleviate the sufferings of the flood victims.

“The airlift missions were executed by NAF C-130 Hercules aircraft, in furtherance of the NAF’s constitutional roles of projecting airpower beyond the shores of the country, as well as providing Military Aid to Civil Authority.

“The C-130H airlifted 12,000 Kg (12 tonnes) of relief materials from Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja to the Maputo International Airport, Maputo Mozambique on 26 August 2019, while 8,100 Kg (8 tonnes) of materials were delivered at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport Harare, Zimbabwe today, 31 August 2019,” the statement said.

The NAF spokesman said the aircrew and NEMA officials handed over the items to officials from the Nigeria High Commission in the two countries for onward delivery to their host governments.

Prior to this, he noted that NAF conducted the first batch of the airlift missions for NEMA using an ATR-42 aircraft in three sorties to airlift a total of 15,000 Kg (15 tonnes) of relief materials to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi in May.

Daramola added that in August 2017, the NAF airlifted 38,000 Kg of relief materials to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in the aftermath of the devastating mudslides and floods that ravaged the country.

See more photos below:

 

16 Killed In Mozambique Insurgency Attack

 

 

Suspected Islamists in northern Mozambique killed 16 people on Tuesday in their deadliest attack since launching an insurgency in the remote region in 2017, local sources told AFP on Friday.

Islamist fighters have targeted remote communities in the gas-rich, Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region since October 2017, killing more than 200 people and forcing thousands from their homes.

A Mitsubishi truck was ambushed as it was carrying passengers and goods on a dirt road in the coastal district of Macomia, sources said.

Confirmation of the fatalities only emerged on Friday.

Attackers threw home-made explosives into the truck and then opened fire.

READ ALSO: Eight Gambian Soldiers Jailed Over Coup Plot

“Eight people were killed in the vehicle and another seven people were found dead at the scene, a sign that they tried to flee,” a local teacher, whose colleague was killed, said.

Another victim died a day after the attack, which was the first case of the insurgents using home-made explosives.

Among the dead were three soldiers deployed on the truck to protect it from attack, a community leader told AFP.

“They used homemade bombs. They did not give the military time to react. The group of attackers was at least seven men according to a survivor,” he said.

About 10 injured people were taken to hospital in Pemba by helicopter.

A month of bloodshed

The government and military do not comment on insurgency attacks.

An AFP record registered a total of 14 attacks in May, causing more than 40 deaths.

The insurgents regularly attack villages, kill local people and burn down houses despite a growing police and military presence in the area.

But the group’s identity and motives remain unclear.

“The country is falling victim and we all need to understand the real reasons,” President Filipe Nyusi said last week in a rare interview with the privately-owned Canal de Mocambique newspaper.

“The defence and security forces are putting their whole resources into this, so we can learn (the insurgents’) motivation and who these people are.”

Attacks have often forced the temporary closure of voting registration stations ahead of October elections, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a Maputo-based civil action group.

Lucrative gas fields off Cabo Delgado add an extra dimension to the insurgency as international exploration companies have been caught up in the violence.

The province was badly hit late last month by Cyclone Kenneth that left 45 dead and 250,000 people affected.

AFP

Muslims Struggle To Observe Ramadan In Cyclone-Hit Mozambique Island

Rain, which is believed to be the beginning of Tropical cyclone Idai coming from central Mozambique, falls in the flooded districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje in southern Malawi, on March 15, 2019.
AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP

 

Muslims in the cyclone-ravaged Mozambican island of Ibo are struggling to observe the holy month of Ramadan as most mosques were destroyed and food is in short supply.

The island on the Quirimbas archipelago off Mozambique’s northeastern coast was one of the regions worst hit when Cyclone Kenneth struck last month packing winds of over 200 kilometres (125 miles) per hour.

Residents of the island, where the majority of the population is Muslim, were left without shelter and with few places to worship with estimates that 90 percent of buildings were damaged.

At one of the few mosques still standing, half of the roof was blown away by wind and prayer rugs were damaged by flooding.

Worshippers gather in one surviving section to say prayers. Female worshippers endure the harsh sun praying outdoors.

“Very few people are attending prayers because mosques were destroyed,” said Muzasufar Abakari, head of the village of Guludo.

Residents search for food to break the fast and survive mainly on high-energy biscuits handed out by aid agencies.

“As Muslims we observe Ramadan but there is no food to eat. On Friday (holy day) there was no-one because there is no wall at the mosque,” said Abakari.

The cyclone killed at least 41 people across northern Mozambique and displaced thousand.

Some people on Ibo have been sleeping in damaged mosques.

“People have been sleeping here because their houses were destroyed. With nothing – from clothes to food – God willing our prayers are answered and we will receive help,” said imam Saidi Cassabo, from Kumwamba village.

Before the storm, Ibo island, a popular tourist destination, was a haven of golden beaches, unspoiled coral reefs and lush greenery.