Mozambique: ‘Don’t Tell People Their Resettlement Rights’

13 MARCH 2023

By Joseph Hanlon

The planned Mphanda Nkuwa dam, just downstream from Cahora Bassa, will force 1400 families to move. Development projects take priority over lands rights, but people forced off their land must be properly resettled. This has not happened with coal mines in Tete, gas and rubies in Cabo Delgado, and other projects, causing conflicts and protests lasting decades.

After so may bad experiences, including displaced fishers and miners joining the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, one might have thought it useful to try to settle the issue in advance. But Frelimo disagrees.

Officially, there is free movement in Mozambique and NGOs do not need permission to go into villages. But the NGO Justiça Ambiental (JA!) says it has been barred, and that community leaders were told by the locality chief that they should not allow members of the community to meet with JA!. Subsequently, the Marara district administrator said in a meeting with JA! that environmental activists cannot go to the project region to talk about rights and laws, or mention the impacts of other megaprojects. ”The dam project should not be crucified for the sins of Jindal’s previous coal projects. We cannot be pessimistic and think that will happen here in Marara,” he added.

JA! has always opposed Mphanda Nkuwa.

Rio Tinto preparing to start the digging up of 80 km of beach from Inhambane south to Inharrime.

Mutamba Mineral Sands, owned by mining giant Rio Tinto, is planning to mine heavy sands in 25,000 ha it has a licence for in Jangamo, Inhambane. The first phase, of just 261 ha, will displace 54 houses, 17 commercial establishments, and 173 cultivated fields. (Zitamar 27 Feb) The people want equivalent farmland nearby, but this will be hard to provide because mining companies have concessions or applications to dig up the entire beach from Inhambane town 80 km south to Inharrime, and going from the sea 10 km inland to and including the N1 main road.

Mutamba sands has the concession for a 30 km long strip in the middle of the zone. A company called +258 Limitada has applied for a mining concession for 21,000 ha north of the Mutamba concession to within 5km of Tofo beach. +258 Limitada involves all of the Frelimo elite, including families of former presidents Samora Machel, Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza, as well as Frelimo Political Commission member General Alberto Chipande. (@Verdade 18 Oct 2016)

Heavy sands are historic sand dunes which a dug up by huge dredges and then sieved for titanium (for white paint and dye), rutile and zircon (both used in the foundry and ceramics industries).

Will government release incriminating documents or accept losing key hidden debts case?

Mozambique’s government is suing Credit Suisse and Privinvest in London for bribing public officials to enter into the $2bn secret debt. The case is now in pre-trial hearings and Judge Robin Knowles has ordered the government to provide documents from the State Information and Security Service (SISE) and the Office of the President. These are relevant because senior SISE officials have been convicted of taking bribes and because President Nyusi was defence minister at the time. Knowles has threatened to not allow the case to go ahead (“strike out” in legal jargon) if the documents are not provided.

The just completed secrets debt case in Maputo jailed allies and family of former President Armando Guebuza – who were manifestly guilty. But it would be highly surprising if allies of the current president, and even senior people in Frelimo, were not also involved. Former Finance Minister Manuel Change has been kept in a South African prison for four years while the Mozambican government tries to stop him being extradited to the United States, where he would surely spill the beans. Is Frelimo so anxious to protect some key people that it will give up on the London case it seems likely to win?


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