Mozambique: Education Ministry withdraws "unsuitable content" from text book - AIM report
Image: Voa Portugues
Cabo Delgado civil war
Thousands of refugees last week abandoned the camp in Nangua, Metuge (near Pemba), Cabo Delgado, fleeing cholera which had killed at least five people. They said they preferred to risk the war than die of cholera. A local leader named only as Amade was beaten to death, accused of bringing the cholera to the camp. (VoA, 26 Nov) There was rioting in the camp and the military intervened, but the residents apparently destroyed the camp. (Zitamar 27 Nov)
Cholera has become common along the coast since January, when the outbreak began among refugees on islands off the coast. Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario in September said 27 people have died, but there were press reports of 28 deaths in Macomia district in July alone. Little was done until a vaccination campaign began in September.
Comment on violence: The killing of Amade is another in a long string of killings of leaders and health workers accused of putting cholera in local water. This has occurred along the coast of Cabo Delgado and Nampula for more than two decades. The late Carlos Serra led important research into the phenomenon, and was shocked to discover that local people believed that elites did not simply want to exploit them, but wanted them dead. Such elites could not possibly do anything good for them – even health workers would not be putting chlorine in the water to prevent cholera for nothing, because they demanded money for all other treatments, so they must be putting the cholera in the water. Other myths are of vampires and magic lions who supposedly are the elites in disguise and kill people in Cabo Delgado. (For a more detailed history: http://bit.ly/CDelgadoOrigins and http://bit.ly/SerraCol)
In the crisis of cholera in the Nangua refugee camp, some people thought they had to kill Amade to save their own family’s lives. The war started in 2017 on just such a vendetta – villages were raided and the heads cut off of one or two better off people accused of helping to steal instead of sharing the wealth. Metaphorically, they were dramatically killing the people they saw as sucking their blood.
As the war escalated and gained initial support from Islamic State and freelance jihadists, some researchers pointed to the 2004 book The Management of Savagery showing how jihadists can take advantage of savagery to win popular support, or at least acquiescence. It led to the argument that the terrorism in Cabo Delgado was “Islamic” and allowed blame to be put on the current global enemy, IS.
There are two reasons this is not true. First, as already noted and shown by the lynching of Amade, this is unfortunately already a local response. Second, the 2004 book was merely adapting what were already common and often used guerrilla tactics. In 2006 I wrote my book “Civil War, Civil Peace” for an Open University MSc course on civil wars, and for that we looked closely at the 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone, in which “Maoist” rebels cut off hands. In the early 1990s the provisional IRA, supposedly “Catholic”, ran a major bombing campaign in the UK. In the 1980s Renamo rebels fighting for “democracy” burned people alive in buses. And it is being used today by drug lords in Mexico and by the Renamo Junta in Mozambique.
All are using terrorism to frighten the opposition and show their power and status. This is not specifically a Maoist, Catholic, democratic, narcotic or Islamic tactic. For a long time it has been a standard tactic by insurgents in small wars. To call it specifically Islamic terrorism is to ignore history – both the long history of guerrilla struggles across the world, and the more recent history of anti-cholera lynchings in Cabo Delgado.
The body count is this three year civil war is now 2,370, according to ACLED. It is a nasty and savage war. But Islamic State did not invent terrorism, and to claim they did is to shift the focus away the local origins both of the war and the tactics. And to support a Mozambican government which claims that someone else is responsible for the Cabo Delgado civil war. jh
Also: The documentary film “The Letter” is Kenya’s official submission to the Academy Awards (Oscars). It is an compelling film about one family caught up in Kenya’s epidemic of killing of “witches”. Christianity is used to claim that village elders are witches doing the work of Satan, as a way of killing them to steal their land. https://www.the-letter.org/ A year after the film was made, Kenya is in the middle of another wave of “witch” killings, some with videos posted on social media. (Sahara Reporters, 21 Nov, http://saharareporters.com/2020/11/21/kenyans-stop-burning-witches-witchcraft-superstition-leo-igwe)
Government will not send any humanitarian aid to people who remain in areas being regularly attacked by insurgents, Cabo Delgado provincial secretary of state Armindo Ngunga said today. Even though the government is aware that people are still living in those areas, it does not want insurgents to steal the aid, as had recently happened. According to Ngunga, the only way for the government and partners to send aid is to send it to where people have moved as refugees – effectively imposed a ban on humanitarian agencies going to insurgent-controlled zones. (Noticias, Zitamar 3 Dec)
The government will construct 100 new villages and relocate war displaced, rather than help them return to their old villages, the Cabo Delgado Secretary of State Armindo Ngunga said Monday. (Lusa, Radio Mocambique, 30 Nov) Displaced people are being encouraged to build new houses where they are, rather than return to their previous home. The 100 new villages would have houses, schools, health posts and basic services.
Government has no money for such a project, so it must be hoping for donor grants or World Bank loans.
Comment: This is an usual war in which, at least near the coast, both government and insurgents appear to be wanting to clear the land, and push local people to leave and become displaced persons. For government it creates a free fire zone – and the displaced are cared for by UN agencies. For the insurgents, it may clear obstructions to illegal trade.
But the massive resettlement programme, accelerated by a ban on food and basic goods, sounds like the communal village programme of 45 years. It looks like an attempt to keep the land empty and not have people return. Are both sides looking to create empty land to attract foreign investors after the war? jh
“The standard of governance in Mozambique is low,” warned Tomas Tobe, chair of the European Parliament Development Committee, at a meeting this afternoon (3 Dec) of the European Parliament’s development and foreign affairs committees with the European External Action Service (EEAS, the foreign ministry) and the European Commission to discuss “the situation in Mozambique.” Tobe specifically cites the $2 bn secret debt scandal.
There was strong opposition to prioritising military and security issues. It is wrong to “privilege security”, the EEAS’s new managing director for Africa, Rita Laranjeira told the meeting. It is necessary to “confront the crisis and its root causes.” She stressed the need to create jobs. Tobe stresed “development and security are tightly linked together.”
The Commission’s acting director for International Cooperation and Development, Francesca Di Mauro, told the committees that there “cannot be just a security response.” There must be a promotion of human rights and “offering economic prospects to young people who now have no prospects and no jobs.” She stressed the need to involve youth in political life.
There was clear annoyance from officials that the Mozambican government was blocking access to Cabo Delgado. Humanitarian workers had been refused visas and only on Tuesday (1 Dec), under pressure from the EU and a day before the European Parliamentary committees meeting, Mozambique announced a special humanitarian visa. And it also appears that the government is not sympathetic to an EU fact-finding mission in Cabo Delgado. Di Mauro said “we must go to communities in Cabo Delgado and talk at grassroots level, and ask them how we should respond.”
All stressed what they called the “triple nexus”: humanitarian, development and security.
Meanwhile, Nathan Sales, coordinator for counter-terrorism at the United States’ Department of State, is visiting Maputo today. Michael Gahler of the European Parliament foreign affairs committee today warned that “the United States is trying to involve Mozambique in its anti-IS coalition.”
Some in Portugal want to prove a point by sending soldiers back its former colony. On 1 January 2021, Portugal will assume the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, and some in the military and government are increasingly using this to press for EU military involvement in Mozambique, with an important Portuguese involvement.
Last Wednesday, Defence Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho said that Portugal could send troops to help Mozambique fight terrorism. Former President Ramalho Eanes also said: “There was an easy response as long as there was strength and initiative and a mobilisation action by Europe and the United Nations, and it is very easy, with specialised forces and drones, to resolve the situation”.
Also last week, Antonio Costa telephoned the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, telling him that “Portugal is in solidarity and ready to support Mozambique’s efforts to fight terrorism in Cabo Delgado, bilaterally and within the EU framework”. (Publico – Lisbon – 1 Dec) The Portuguese ambassador in Maputo, Maria Amelia Paiva, said today that a Portuguese delegation will go to Mozambique next week specifically to discuss Cabo Delgado.
“It is undeniable that barbaric attacks have increased in recent weeks,” writes Michael Hagedorn in Publico (Lisbon). “However, the Mozambican government continues to refuse to tackle the multiple causes of this conflict, of which a considerable part is its own responsibility. It is thus preventing, in addition to a military offensive, other important measures from being taken to address the causes of the conflict, namely to give the local population prospects of a dignified life.”
He cites the local comment: “When they talk about the radical preacher who comes to radicalise young people, they forget that the Government has done about 80% of the work for the radical preacher. The preacher only comes to reap the fruits”.
Hagedorn concludes: “Portugal and the EU would do better to face the situation in all its complexity, rather than exclusively and unconditionally supporting the Frelimo government and its narrow military vision for the solution of the conflict in Cabo Delgado.”
The article in Portuguese in Publico (1 Dec) is on https://www.publico.pt/2020/12/01/opiniao/opiniao/45-anos-vai-haver-novo-tropas-portuguesas-cabo-delgado-1941260 and an English translation is on https://bit.ly/Moz-Hag
Meanwhile, speaking in Maputo, EU ambassador Antonio Sanchez-Benedito Gaspar said “Military support is not on the [EU] agenda. We are just going to strengthen Mozambique’s capacities, so that the country’s own security forces are able to end the insurgency.” The EU has promised €15 million to combat terrorism in Cabo Delgado. (O Pais 30 Nov)
President Filipe Nyusi said recently that “terrorism is not fought unilaterally” and that Mozambique “is open to any type of support that could be given in respect of terrorism.” (Lusa 18 Nov)
“Military aid must be provided through cooperation. Rather than taking its place, we should help the Mozambican army cope with its duties. I know this is frowned upon. Donors don’t want to get their hands dirty. But it is an illusion to want to develop the province of Cabo Delgado without first securing it,” according to Mirko Manzoni, a Swiss diplomat and personal envoy for Mozambique of the United Nations Secretary General who is close to President Filipe Nyusi.
“I am opposed to the use of mercenaries, but the reality on the ground should give pause for thought. When you call for help and no one moves a finger, this is what happens. Mozambique spends fortunes on mercenaries. First, it turned to the Russians from the Wagner group. They are gone and the Mozambican army is now backed by a South African company. Donors contribute to Mozambique’s [state] budget; it would be wiser if they directly aided the Mozambican army without hypocrisy.”
“The first attacks in 2017 were of low intensity, to test the response of the authorities. Most of the fighters were Mozambicans. They were driven to take up arms by neglect of the region, one of the poorest in the country. The proportion has now reversed, with the majority of jihadists coming from Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They now have very sophisticated weapons. This insurrection reminds me of the situation in Mali in 2012, before the jihadists marched on the capital Bamako, precipitating the intervention of France,” comments Manzoni. (Le Temps – Switzerland, trans Club of Mozambique 18 Nov)
Is Africa overtaking the Middle East as the new jihadist battleground? is the title of BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner’s report today (3 December) on five African countries, including Mozambique, with insurgencies involving Islamic State. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-55147863
SADC leaders were presented “with a ‘shopping list’ of military equipment which Mozambique wanted to fight the insurgency, rather than the coherent plan they were expecting,” at an extraordinary SADC summit on 27 November, according to Peter Fabricius in the Daily Maverick (30 Nov. https://tinyurl.com/y5d4val4) President Filipe Nyusi did not attend, but sent Defence Minister Jaime Neto and Interior Minister Amade Miquidade – whose soldiers and police are actually fighting the war. SADC only decided to meet again, still wanting to see Mozambique’s long-awaited detailed plan.
This “slanderous news” is from “The Daily Maverick, a group associated with white industrial capital, was very interested in this shopping list.” These are “people interested in this insurgency… because they want to profit from it. … Not having succeeded, it [Daily Maverick] was frustrated” writes Egidio Vaz on his website Noticias de Defesa (in English) https://defesamoz.info/contrainsurgencia/f/the-frustration-of-daily-marverick Vaz is widely seen as a praise singer for President Nyusi.
“It was good that Mozambique did not present a concrete strategy to the [meeting]. First, because this strategy would then fall into the hands of enemies like Daily Marverick. It was proved that that meeting was porous, full of people who keep no secrets. Imagine if Mozambique had delivered such a strategy, it would be in the newspapers the next day, accessible even to terrorists. Second, because that was not what SADC asked for. SADC asked for exactly what the Mozambican delegation delivered. Call it a shopping list or not,” writes Vaz.
Vaz notes that initially “the Mozambican state did not even present a shopping list. To the displeasure of the SADC technicians, it presented general needs, so that in SECRET and bilaterally Mozambique and its sister countries could go into details, far from prying eyes.”
Mozambican media (un-named) are spreading disinformation about the terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, President Filipe Nyusi told the opening session of a meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Ministry of Defence 25 November.
Journalists and media have reacted angrily. The Mozambique chapter of press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) feared that the President’s statements “may be interpreted as an order to harass all the mass media who offer other views of the facts occurring in Cabo Delgado, and which do not please the government or the defence forces”.
Nyusi told the military coordinating council: “We lament the growing trend towards disinformation and the attempts to manipulate public opinion by inventing facts, which are then publicised by using the platforms provided by social media”. He was concerned that “in this saga of distorting reality and of publicising things which are not real, some of the mass media are being used, and, instead of being guided by professionalism, they end up, deliberately or innocently, acting to the advantage of the enemy”.
Nyusi urged the defence and security forces “to ascertain the veracity of the facts” and to watch all attempts to spread news and images. “The first vigilance comes from you. … You must not be deliberately denigrated while you watch passively and hold nobody responsible for these acts”.
This looks very much like giving the military censorship power in Cabo Delgado. And saying that some journalists are acting to the advantage of the enemy and that the military should hold people responsible is seen as in invitation to attack journalists, especially at local level, who are accurately reporting the war.
And it is clearly a reversal of a statement by Nyusi in August at the launch of the Northern Integrated Development Agency (AIDN), when he stressed “Cabo Delgado is not closed to journalists.” But Zitamar (26 Nov) notes that applications from foreign journalists to visit Cabo Delgado have continued to be refused.
Fighting continues in Muidumbe district, with some towns changing hands several times, notably Namacande, the district capital of Muidumbe. But the on-going fighting has stopped the insurgent push toward Mueda. Over 45,000 people fled Muidumbe district in the past month, the International Organization for Migration said on 27 November.
There has also been some fighting along the coast and on the islands. Palma police banned sea travel to and from Pemba.
Plural Media has launched a newsletter in English, The Week in Mozambique, with a particular focus on media freedom. The first issues are on https://www.buymeacoffee.com/pluralmedia/posts – click Follow to subscribe, free.
Plural Media is Alexandre Nhampossa and Tom Bowker (of Zitamar) and Tavares Cebola. They also do a weekly news podcast in Portuguese and five local languages. Zitamar is subscription only.
Zitamar is part of the team that contributes to the excellent English weekly report on the Cabo Delgado civil war, Cabo Ligado: http://bit.ly/CaboLigado
The only good free English daily news reports are provided by Club of Mozambique: https://clubofmozambique.com/ To subscribe: http://clubofmozambique.us9.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=6b106b76597725328448194ea&id=d3b369a42d
Meanwhile, PR person and consultant Egidio Vaz (https://egidiovaz.com/) (@egidiovaz) has set up two websites to promote the military (Noticias de Defesa: https://defesamoz.info/) and Frelimo (Frelimo 1962: https://frelimo1962.info/).
Egidio Vaz was a vocal proponent of former President Armando Guebuza and has become one of the praise singers of current President Filipe Nyusi. Amnesty International in its August report particularly noted Vaz’s role in “the campaign to undermine and delegitimise the work of Bishop Lisboa,” the Catholic Bishop of Pemba who has been outspoken on the war in Cabo Delgado.
(“Media freedom in ashes: Repression of freedom of expression in Mozambique” https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/AFR4129472020ENGLISH.pdf)
Hotter and drier so far this year; 2019 cyclones stronger due to climate crisis
Mozambique temperatures for January-October 2020 were 1 degree above the 1981-2010 long term average, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Provisional Report on the State of the Global Climate 2020, published 2 December. Globally, 2020 will be the third hottest year in history, after 2016 and 2019. In January to September 2020 Mozambique had below average rainfall, except in Niassa and western Nampula. https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=10444
The Mozambique Channel had what WMO describes as a moderate to strong Marine Heatwave in 2020. Heating in the Channel is what made the 2019 cyclones more serious than usual, because cyclones build up their energy by taking heat from seawater.
A paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows that Cyclone Kenneth, “the strongest cyclone ever to make landfall in Mozambique, [which] did so unusually late in the season,” hitting Cabo Delgado in April 2019, was such an intense storm because of high ocean temperatures in the northern Mozambique Channel. “During summer 2018/2019, Mozambique was devastated by Idai and Kenneth, the first time two Intense Status tropical cyclones have ever made landfall here. The season broke numerous records for the Southwest Indian Ocean (the greatest deaths, the largest damage, and numbers of Intense Status cyclones and tropical storms)”. The paper “Exceptional Tropical Cyclone Kenneth …” by a Cape Town University team was published 29 July 2020 and is available free on https://doi-org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/10.1029/2020GL088715
Global heating is raising sea level temperatures, particularly in the Mozambique Channel, and as cyclones move across the Indian Ocean, they take energy from warm water. Hotter sea water means more energy is drawn up, which means more intense cyclones.
As UK follows Mozambique example
Subsidies and guaranteed markets have always been opposed for Mozambican farmers by donors and the IMF and World Bank. Apparently it has to do with the “level playing field”. Mozambican farmers are so much better than northern farmers that Europe and the US must give them huge subsidies to compete with superior African farmers.
Current UK farm subsidies are $3.1 bn per year. Of that $2.1 bn is explicitly to oligarchs – it is based on land holdings, not farming, and goes to the Duke of Westminster, the Queen and others of the very wealthy. The other $1 bn does go to farmers. As the UK leaves the EU, these subsidies will be phased out.
But to reach the subsidy-free status of Mozambican farmers, British farmers will receive huge subsidies over the next seven years to improve productivity, including new machinery. (Guardian 30 Nov) It is interesting that the British government sees the need for huge subsidies to pull local farmers up to a level where they can be subsidy free, but thinks Mozambican farmers are so much better that they can be subsidy free now.
Criticism of the UK’s ‘crony list’ for contracts was dismissed as ‘trivia’ by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, thus confirming that he has adopted the Mozambican system of giving friends of officials, members of parliament, and others with links to the ruling party priority in obtaining government contracts. (Guardian 26 Nov) This goes along with abandonment of linking “governance” and aid. At least Britain won’t complain about how Frelimo issues contracts.
Having adopted the Mozambique crony list system for contracts, it is now following Mozambican practice on asset declaration. Mozambique requires ministers and senior officials to provide accept declarations for themselves and their family, including in laws – but these are kept secret, and are often not submitted. The UK has in the past, required these to be public. But Akshata Murty, the wife of Finance Minister (Chancellor) Rishi Sunak, in one of the wealthiest women in Britain, richer than the Queen. Normally her holdings would be public, and include $2 bn in Infosys, which has major contracts with the government, plus many other businesses. But she and Sunak have been allowed to keep her assets secret. (Guardian 28 Nov)
As Mozambican aid to Britain, is there an advisor in the Mozambique High Commission in London showing the UK how to help cronies?
British soldiers are currently in Malawi, assigned to counter-poaching missions in Liwonde National Park and the Nkhotakota and Majete Wildlife Reserves. (Daily Maverick, 24 Nov) This is what Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) was doing in Mozambique before they became involved providing air support in the Cabo Delgado civil war. This suggests if the UK wanted to provide some discreet military support, it could come over the border from Malawi.
By Joseph Hanlon