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Mozambique: Vale-Mozambique Continues to Run At a Loss

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Maputo — The Mozambican subsidiary of the Brazilian mining giant Vale registered an operational loss of 145 million US dollars in the second quarter of 2019, a result which the company blames on falling coal prices.

Information presented at a Maputo press conference on Wednesday by the Vale-Mozambique financial director, Marcelo Tertuliano Godoy, showed that the company’s revenue fell by 15 million dollars between the first and second quarters – from 286 to 271 million dollars – even though the amount of coal sold, 2.2 million tonnes, was the same in both quarters..

Vale put the fall in coal prices at five per cent which it blamed on uncertainties arising from the current trade war waged by US President Donald Trump mainly against China. Furthermore, thermal coal is now facing strong competition from natural gas and from renewable sources of energy, as European economies in particular strive to reduce their carbon emissions.

Production at the Vale open cast coal mine in Moatize, in the western province of Tete, rose from 2.2 million tonnes in the first quarter of the year to 2.4 million in the second quarter. But this is well below the 3.5 million tonnes forecast.

Falling revenue also meant that Vale paid less money in royalties to the Mozambican state – 3.6 million dollars, compared with four million dollars paid in the first quarter.

The overall result was the operational loss of 145 million dollars, much higher than the 120 million dollar loss in the first quarter. The company’s debts increased from 8.2 billion dollars in 2018, to 8.9 billion in the first quarter of this year.

Vale-Mozambique says it needs to produce more than a million tonnes of coal a month. It believes that achieving this figure “will put the company on a sustainable and healthy path, from the economic and financial point of view”.

But currently Vale is nowhere near that level of production. Indeed the forecast production for 2019 has been cut from 14 to 10 million tonnes.

Mozambique

Mozambique: Ndambi Guebuza Tries To Have Kroll Audit Declared Inadmissible As Evidence

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Maputo — Ndambi Guebuza, oldest son of former Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, attempted to have the report from the audit of the fraudulent companies Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) ruled as inadmissible as evidence in the impending trial of himself and 19 others implicated in the illicit loans of over two billion dollars to those companies.

According to the dispatch from Maputo City judge Evandra Uamusse, ordering a trial in the case to go ahead, cited in Wednesday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique”, Ndambi Guebuza wanted to have the report from the audit company Kroll declared as “null” because the audit was “an interference and an affront to national sovereignty”.

Kroll is the world’s foremost forensic audit company, and it was hired by the Mozambican Attorney-General’s Office (PGR) to investigate the three companies. The report is damning, since it proved impossible to account for all the money. 500 million of the 850 million dollars lent to Ematum seemed to have gone missing without trace.

Furthermore the assets sold to the three companies by the sole contractor, the Abu Dhabi based group, Privinvest, were grossly overpriced. Kroll estimated the over-invoicing at around 700 million dollars.

The Kroll report is a key piece of evidence against all those who profited from the illicit loans, usually from money that was allegedly transferred from Privinvest (although Privinvest, of course, has denied all wrongdoing).

The Public Prosecutor’s Office rejected Guebuza Junior’s arguments, pointing out that the prosecution had asked the Ministry of Economy and Finance for financial experts who could audit the companies. Instead of individuals, it was decided to hire “an international independent company which could not only audit the three companies, but the entire process of contracting the debts – that is the financing contract and the supply of assets”.

Furthermore, the Public Prosecutor added, the audit resulted from an agreement between the Mozambican government and Kroll, and so could not be described as foreign interference.

Ndambi Guebuza also wanted the testimony given by President Filipe Nyusi ruled as inadmissible.

Prosecutor Alberto Paulo (recently promoted to Deputy Attorney-General) had interviewed Nyusi about his supposed involvement in the loans when he was Defence Minister under the Guebuza government. Nyusi had said he did not know how loans had been contracted from the bank Credit Suisse, and he was not aware of the details of the contracts signed by Ematum, Proindicus and MAM to acquire equipment from Privinvest. The prosecution found nothing substantial in this interview to incriminate Nyusi.

Guebuza Junior argued that Nyusi should not have given any interview without authorisation from the Council of State, a body that advises the President, an argument rejected by the prosecution.

Finally, Ndambi Guebuza asked for amnesty. Guebuza argued that the Amnesty Law of 2014, which was intended for people who committed crimes against state security during the conflict between the government and the rebel movement Renamo, should also apply to him because some of the reasoning behind setting up the three companies was to respond to Renamo attacks perpetrated as from 2013.

The Public Prosecutor retorted that this amnesty applies only to security crimes. But the crimes that Guebuza is alleged to have committed – blackmail, membership of a criminal association, falsification of documents, abuse of trust and money laundering – are not security offences and are not covered by the 2014 law.

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Guinea: RSF decries judicial harassment of Conakry radio station | Reporters without borders

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Boubacar Alghassimou Diallo, the host of the “Œil du lynx” phone-in programme on Conakry-based Lynx FM, was placed under judicial control on a charge of “complicity in the dissemination of data likely to disturb public security” when he appeared in court on August 21 in Conakry.

Explaining the judicial control measures, his lawyer, Salifou Béavogui, said: “Our client is banned from leaving the Conakry area without the judge’s permission. He must report to the court on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and he cannot present the programme until further notice.”

Souleymane Diallo, a former RSF correspondent who is CEO of the Lynx/Lance/Lynx FM media group, was placed under judicial control on 19 August. He is required to report to the court every Wednesday and Friday.

The two journalists are charged in connection with the “Œil du lynx” broadcast two weeks ago in which a listener accused a government official of misappropriating allowances that should have been paid to Guinean soldiers participating in an international military mission in northern Mali.

“We are deeply concerned about this new form of censorship, which is a blatant violation of the law in a country where press offences have been decriminalized since 2010,” said Assane Diagne, the head of RSF’s West Africa office. “Using the cyber-crime law to charge the journalists is just a subterfuge in order to be able to continue harassing independent media.”

The Guinean authorities often flout the decriminalization of press offences. The manager of the Conakry Live news website, Lansana Camara, spent a week in police custody in March because of an article about an alleged case of public funds being embezzled by the authorities.

Guinea is ranked 107th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

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Mozambique: Assembly Ratifies Constitutional Council Chair

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Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday ratified the appointment of Lucia Ribeiro, as the new chairperson of the Constitutional Council, the country’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law.

Ribeiro has been a member of the Council since 2003. President Filipe Nyusi appointed her its chairperson, after her predecessor, Hermenegildo Gamito, resigned, citing his advanced age (75 years) as his reason. She is the first woman to head the council.

In the secret ballot vote, 183 deputies voted in favour of ratification and 10 voted against. There were also five invalid votes. But since 202 deputies were supposedly in the chamber, another five must have failed to cast any vote at all.

A secret ballot is obligatory in the Assembly on any matter involving a named individual. It is thus impossible to be certain which deputies voted in which direction, although it is more than likely that all deputies of the ruling Frelimo Party voted in favour of ratification.

The Assembly elects five judges of the Constitutional Council, in proportion to the number of parliamentary seats each party holds. Thus Frelimo nominates three members to the Council, and the former rebel movement Renamo two. The third party in the Assembly, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), only has 17 deputies, which is not enough to nominate any member of the Council.

Nomination does not guarantee election. The deputies are not obliged to vote for a candidate just because he or she has the support of one of the parties.

This time, the Assembly’s Legal Affairs Commission is recommending that one of the Renamo nominees, Antonio Frangoulis, should not be elected. Frangoulis has not submitted the medical certificate of fitness for office obligatory for all candidates.

Furthermore, the Commission, without going into details, said that his “public posture” should rule him out for membership of the Council as “the guardian of the moral authority of the Constitution”.

The Commission’s document, cited by the electronic version of the independent daily “O Pais”, said this was the position of deputies from all three parliamentary groups.

Frangoulis was once the head of the Maputo Branch of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC). He won a seat in the Assembly on the Frelimo ticket in the general elections of 2004. Disillusioned with Frelimo, he joined the MDM in 2014, but left this party in 2018, and now appears to have switched his loyalties to Renamo.

There are no problems with the other four candidates – Albano Macie, Domingos Cintura and Mateus Saize, proposed by Frelimo, and Albino Nhacassa, proposed by Renamo.

Cintuar and Saize are already members of the Constitutional Council and are standing for a further term of office. Nhacassa is a member of the Higher Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Macie is the Deputy Minister of State Administration, and was Frelimo’s last minute replacement for its original choice, Filimao Suaze. Suaze is a member of the Higher Council of the Administrative Judicial Magistracy. But under the previous government, headed by President Armando Guebuza, he was considered a member of the “G40”, a list of names of people circulated to some of the media as potential writers of pro-Frelimo opinion pieces. This may have told against him, through Frelimo has given no reason for its change of mind.

The Assembly will elect its judges on Thursday.

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Mozambique

Mozambique: Judge Decides to Put All 20 ‘Hidden Debts’ Suspects On Trial

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Maputo — The Maputo City Court on Tuesday announced that it intends to bring to trial all 20 of the suspects charged in the case of Mozambique’s “hidden debts”.

The dispatch from the judge, Evandra Uamusse, cited by the independent television station STV, said that she found sufficient evidence in the charge sheet from the Public Prosecutor’s Office to put all 20 on trial. The accused can still ask the Higher Court of Appeal to overturn the judge’s decision.

The term “hidden debts” refers to the fraudulent scheme whereby three security-linked companies, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) were set up, which then borrowed over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia.

Loans on this scale to recently formed companies with no track record, and run by the Mozambican security and intelligence service (SISE), were only possible because government officials, notably Finance Minister Manuel Chang, signed loan guarantees – pledging that, if the companies did not repay, the Mozambican state would be liable.

Ten of the accused have been in preventive detention since February, while one was granted bail. The other nine were allowed to remain at liberty – until Friday, when Uamusse ordered that they too should be brought into detention.

Her main argument was that the suspects presented a flight risk. “New circumstances” had arisen, she wrote, and there were “new revelations”, some weighing in favour and some against the suspects. They might design “other strategies” – and she feared these might include absconding.

She may have acted too late. For when the police went to collect the nine suspects and bring them into custody, two could not be found. They are lawyer Mbanda Henning and business person Zulficar Ahmad.

The crimes which some or all of the 20 accused are facing are corruption, blackmail, embezzlement, abuse of office, violation of management rules, money laundering, falsification of documents, use of false documents, and membership of a criminal association.

The most prominent of the suspects are the former head of SISE, Gregorio Leao, and his wife Angela Leao; the former head of economic intelligence at SISE, Antonio do Rosario, who became chairperson of all three fraudulent companies, the oldest son of former President Armando Guebuza, Ndambi Guebuza, Guebuza’s former personal secetary, Ines Moiane, and one of his former advisers, Renato Matusse.

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Mozambique: Assembly Passes Peace Accord Into Law, Mdm Abstains

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Maputo — An extraordinary sitting of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday passed into law the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in Maputo on 6 August by President Filipe Nyusi and the leader of the former rebel movement Renamo, Ossufo Momade.

But the call by parliamentary chairperson Veronica Macamo for a vote “by consensus and acclamation”, the smallest parliamentary group, that of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), refused to go along with what it regarded as forced unanimity, and abstained.

The Accord was thus passed with 193 deputies from the ruling Frelimo Party and from Renamo voting in favour while 14 MDM deputies abstained.

MDM spokesperson Jose Manuel de Sousa argued that “definitive peace will only be a reality when agreements cease to be a monopoly of two parties (Frelimo and Renamo)”. He believed that a “true dialogue will involve all forces in society, and not only political ones, sitting at the same table”.

Agreements that were not broad based, would always exclude somebody, he claimed, and thus contained the seeds of future conflict. In this case, Renamo dissidents, who call themselves the “Renamo Military Junta”, have rebelled against Momade, labelling him “a traitor”, and saying they are not bound by the Peace Accord. The Junta, Sousa insisted, “cannot be ignored”.

He regarded the Peace Accord as “rotten”, and if any deputies wanted proof of this “they should look to my right”, he said. To the right of the rostrum from which Sousa was speaking are the Renamo benches, half of which were empty – no explanation was forthcoming as to why only 52 of the 89 Renamo deputies bothered to attend a session ratifying an agreement their leader had signed.

Frelimo too was concerned at the upheavals inside Renamo. The leader of the Frelimo parliamentary group, Margarida Talapa, said the declarations by the Junta were sowing fear that “the long-awaited peace is under threat”.

She urged the Renamo leadership “to do all that is within your power to overcome, on the basis of dialogue, any differences within your ranks”.

Mozambicans, she added, “do not want the peace, reconciliation, union and cohesion, which have been so hard won, to be called into question again. We believe that good sense and the capacity to overcome your own differences can and should prevail”.

Frelimo, Talapa continued, wanted to see all of Renamo’s armed forces demobilised, disarmed and reintegrated into Mozambican society “so that they may use their capacity to work to participate in the creation of wealth for all of our people, as truly free men and women”.

But the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, brushed aside the emergence of the Junta as a family quarrel. The Junta are “our brothers who want a reintegration that dignifies them”, she claimed

The dispute was “within the family, and Renamo will know how to solve problems inside our own house”, she insisted.

The leader of the Junta, Mariano Nhongo, who has declared himself President of Renamo, said on Monday he was instructing Soares to oppose parliamentary ratification of the peace agreement. But if she received such instructions, she simply ignored them.

She also stressed repeatedly that Ossufo Momade is the legitimate leader of Renamo, duly elected at a Renamo Congress in January.

Ominously Soares suggested that, if Renamo does not like the results of the 15 October general elections, then it will disregard the peace agreement. “The success of the agreement does not depend solely on Renamo”, she said. “It depends above all on how the government behaves. The success of the agreement will depend on the integrity and transparency of the October elections”.

Renamo has claimed that all previous Mozambican elections were fraudulent, despite the reports from local and foreign observer groups giving most of them a fairly clean bill of health.

Wednesday should have been a key date in implementing the peace agreement, since it is the date by which all of Renamo’s military bases should have been dismantled. But so far there have been no reports of any bases being shut down, and Soares did not so much as mention the matter. It is likely that some of the bases are in the hands of the Junta.

The demobilisation and disarming of Renamo forces began on 29 January, when just 50 fighters were demobilised in the central district of Gorongosa. There have been no reports of any further demobilisation since then.

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