Mozambique: Displacement influx in Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces - Situation Report No. 1
FILE - Dom Luíz Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. [File photo: Voa Portugues]
Bishop Dom Luiz Fernando Lisboa “is tranquil”, despite the accusation of being a supporter of the insurgents who have terrorised the population of Cabo Delgado since 2017, missionary Latifo Fonseca, from the Pemba diocese, has told VOA,
“In the face of any slander, he may suffer as a human, but for the mission he is tranquil. He knows that, by wanting to defend the little ones, he can be hit by this,” Fonseca said.
Fonseca stresses that the bishop has “a clear, tranquil conscience, suffering only because our situation (in Cabo Delgado) is not good, because of the war, Covid-19 and the displaced people”.
In an article published on his Facebook page, Gustavo Mavie, former director of the Mozambican Information Agency, said that “one of the foreigners who have been at the forefront of those who unfairly criticise the Nyusi Government and the Defence and Security Forces that risk their lives day and night to fight terrorists in Cabo Delgado is undoubtedly the current Bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa.”
The article by Mavie, currently a member of the Central Public Ethics Commission, was supported by Egídio Vaz, a commentator who is seen as a supporter of Nyusi.
“I have just read Gustavo Mavie’s long text about the Catholic bishop of Pemba. I conclude that he is, in fact, one of the terrorists’ logistics. It is him who gives food to the insurgents,” Vaz wrote, also on his Facebook page.
Vaz also wrote that “he (the bishop) is a criminal”, adding he does not know why the “Mozambican state still maintains [the bishop’s] DIRE”. (The DIRE is the identification document for foreigners residing in Mozambique. The Pemba bishop is Brazilian.).
These texts were published after President Nyusi said in Cabo Delgado last week that “we are sorry for those well-protected Mozambicans, who take so lightly the suffering of those who protect them, including some foreigners who freely choose to live in Mozambique, but who, in the name of human rights, do not respect the sacrifice of those who maintain this young homeland, and guarantee their stay in Cabo Delgado and in Mozambique in general”.
‘Don’t shoot the messenger’
Father Fonseca told VOA that Bishop Lisboa maintains good relations with the authorities in Pemba. As for the accusation, Fonseca said that “we have not yet had an official position from the State”.
For Renamo politician Manuel de Araújo, the accusation is worrying, since it is against a cleric who was one of the first to denounce the suffering of thousands of Mozambicans, victims of the insurgency in Cabo Delgado.
“A similar situation happened with Professor Gilles Cistac. Members of the ‘G40’ (supporters of the ruling Frelimo party) began by assassinating his character, and then his murder took place. Now it is happening with the Bishop of Pemba. I hope they will not take the next step,” Manuel de Araújo said.
“It is not the messenger’s fault,” Araújo said, adding that the authorities must address the real causes of the insurgency.