Mozambique News Agency

No.261, 18th September 2003


Summing-up in assassin escape case

The Mozambican public prosecutor's office on 12 September maintained the charges against all seven police officers accused of facilitating the September 2002 escape from the Maputo top security jail of Anibal dos Santos Junior "Anibalzinho", the man who led the death squad that assassinated investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso in November 2000.

In his summing up, Arone Nhaca, Maputo provincial chief prosecutor, made precious few changes from his original charge sheet, read out to the court a month ago. He did take the opportunity to correct a blunder - he had initially said that Anibalzinho disappeared from the prison on 31 August 2002, when the correct date was 1 September. One factor facilitating the illicit release of Anibalzinho was a power cut in the prison that night. Nhaca said it had been proven that the senior officer on duty, Joaquim Pequenino, did nothing to restore the power supply, and suggested that it was he who switched it off in the first place. Pequenino had a radio to communicate to his superiors any problems in restoring the power. But he took no such measures. Power returned on 2 September without any form of technical intervention.

Nhaca insisted that Anibalzinho left his cell through its door and not through the window, as the assassin had claimed. It was true that Anibalzinho had sawn through two bars: Nhaca regarded this as a trick to divert attention from the true route he had taken to leave the prison.

The prosecutor noted that when Anibalzinho testified, he had tried to exonerate the senior officers from any blame. He had said just two lower ranking guards, Manuel Macuacua and Jose Muariquiua had assisted him, "as if they were powerful enough to spring him from the jail".

Nhaca accused Bufalo Matos and Alberto Sitoe, the commanders of the platoons of the Presidential Guard and the Riot Police stationed at the prison, of pretending they did not have enough men. They used this pretence to allocate the same guards to several different positions within the prison, with the result that on several occasions Anibalzinho's cell was left unguarded.

In the prison, Nhaca pointed out, the regulations prohibited the platoon commanders from visiting Anibalzinho's cell on their own. Yet this was precisely what Matos had done on the day of the escape.

Nhaca gave it as his opinion that the escape was orchestrated in order to make it appear that there were "other people" involved in ordering Cardoso's murder - people other than the three men convicted in January of ordering the killing, namely former bank manager Vicente Ramaya, and the brothers Ayob and Momade Assife Abdul Satar "Nini".

Thus, on this at least, it seems that Nhaca agrees with Anibalzinho, who claimed that the escape was organised by Nini Satar. Anibalzinho insisted that Nyimpine Chissano, the businessman son of President Joaquim Chissano, had nothing to do with his escape - even though nobody asked him any questions about Nyimpine.

Defence lawyer Boavida Zandamela, representing all seven policemen, asked why no prison inspectors passed by Anibalzinho's cell during the five days he said it took him to saw through the two bars. But the same question could be asked of Zandamela's clients.

Presiding judge Carlos Caetano announced that the court will give its verdict on 29 September.

Parties deliver nomination papers

Only two political forces plan to stand candidates in all 33 municipalities in Mozambique's second local elections, scheduled for 19 November.

They are the ruling Frelimo Party, and the main opposition bloc, the Renamo-Electoral Union coalition. Both handed in the nomination papers for their candidates to the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the civil service, on 9 September, the last day for nominations to be delivered.

13 minor parties are standing in some of the municipalities. They include several veterans of the world of tiny political parties, namely: Mozambique National Union (UNAMO) Labour Party (PT) Social Liberal Party (SOL) Democratic Liberal Party of Mozambique (PADELIMO) Liberal and Democratic Party (PALMO) Independent Party of Mozambique (PIMO) Democratic Congress Party (PACODE) There are also two green parties, neither of which has any significant public presence, and which are called the Greens of Mozambique, and the Land Movement.

The other four parties are complete unknowns. They are: Union for Change Youth Movement for the Renewal of Democracy PAMOMO PARTONAMO.

Independent citizens' groups may also contest the municipal elections - but their nomination papers were delivered to the provincial STAE offices, rather than to the national headquarters, and no list is yet available.

STAE now has 60 days to check the nomination papers for any irregularities.

Supreme Court throws out BCM case appeal

The case of the huge 1996 fraud in which what was then Mozambique's largest bank, the BCM, was robbed of 144 billion meticais (about $14 million) is likely to come to trial in the near future, now that the defence lawyers have run out of delaying tactics.

According to a report in the Sunday paper "Domingo" on 14 September, the Supreme Court has thrown out an appeal by the defence against the Maputo City Court's decision that there was sufficient evidence to hold a trial.

The lower court's dispatch dates from last year, but lawyers for several of the accused immediately appealed. The wheels of Mozambican justice move rather slowly, but the Supreme Court has reiterated the earlier dispatch, albeit with some amendments.

The main accused are former BCM branch manager Vicente Ramaya, and several members of the Abdul Satar crime family. The money flowed out of the bank via fraudulent accounts opened by the Abdul Satars at Ramaya's branch, and, according to the prosecution, with the latter's full knowledge and consent.

Ramaya, and the brothers Ayob Abdul Satar and Momade Assife Abdul Satar ("Nini"), are already serving long jail sentences after they were found guilty, in January, of ordering the murder of the country's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso.

Cardoso had tenaciously followed the BCM fraud, and, in the pages of his daily newsheet "Metical", had repeatedly demanded that the Satars and their accomplices be brought to trial. They avoided a trial for so long largely by buying off agents of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) and prosecuting attorneys. The key attorney investigating the case was Diamantino dos Santos, who stands accused of deliberately disorganising the case papers and of concealing evidence. A warrant was issued for his arrest in early 2001, but he fled the country, and is believed to be in hiding in South Africa.

Cardoso's campaigning journalism played a key role in exposing the collaboration of corrupt attorneys with organised crime, and was a factor in President Joaquim Chissano's decision to sack Attorney-General Antonio Namburete and all six deputy attorney-generals in July 2000. It appears that this disappearance of their shield of impunity may have precipitated the decision of the Satars and their associates that Carlos Cardoso was too dangerous to remain alive.

One key element in the Supreme Court decision is that Ayob Satar's name is among the accused. The lower court had removed his name from the list of defendants: the BCM lawyer, Albano Silva, appealed against this and has won.

Some of the 18 defendants will not be in court because they have fled to Dubai: they are a third Satar brother, Asslam, and the parents of the trio, Abdul Satar Abdul Karim, and Hawabay Abdul Latif.

Whatever happens in the BCM trial, there is another court case pending against Ramaya and the Satars. This is the attempted murder of Albano Silva in November 1999. Silva believes this was ordered by those who orchestrated the BCM fraud, and that the death squad used involves some of the same people who were later hired to assassinate Cardoso, notably Anibal dos Santos Junior ("Anibalzinho").

Christian Council to continue arms destruction

The Mozambican Christian Council (CCM) is finalising its national plan for collection and destruction of illicit weaponry that it has been carrying out through its "Arms into Hoes" (TAE) project, reports "Noticias" on 11 September.

With the new three year plan, expected to cost about $18 million, the CCM hopes to collect and destroy about 100,000 weapons across the country every year.

During the first year of its implementation, the plan will involve spending about $7 million in gathering the necessary human and material resources in all the country's provinces. About $5 million will be used the next year, and the remainder in the final year.

Speaking during a ceremony where some of the 540 weapons recently collected in the central province of Sofala were publicly destroyed, TAE national coordinator Albino Forquilha said that, in a bid to raise the necessary funds, CCM is preparing a donors' conference for early next year.

He said that it is a recommendation of the United Nations to all countries, particularly those that have been through armed conflicts, to establish national committees and a national plan of arms destruction. In Southern Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Namibia have already established their national committees. In this process, Mozambique counts on the support of South Africa and Britain.

Forquilha estimated that between 6 and 10 million weapons of various kinds were left unaccounted for at the end of the war of destabilisation, in October 1992.

He explained that the plan had been already drafted, but it became necessary to alter it in order to include other stakeholders, such as the Ministries of Finance, Defence, the Interior, Justice, and Education.

Forquilha said that some countries, namely Holland, Sweden, Japan, the United States and Britain, have expressed interest in funding the Mozambican plan, and others are expected to join during the conference.

Since 1995 TAE has collected and destroyed more than 400,000 weapons and military war devices, at a cost of about $2 million.

US donates $50 million

The Mozambican and United States governments signed ten agreements in Maputo on 11 September, under which the US is to grant Mozambique a total of $50.6 million. Of this sum, 14.8 million dollars are earmarked for the conclusion of activities that form part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) strategic plan in Mozambique for the 1999/2003 period, while the rest is for USAID's activities over the period 2004/2010.

With reference to the first case, the sum covers the areas dealing with increasing income in the rural areas, democratic initiatives, mother and child care, increased resources for the malaria control and HIV/AIDS programmes, technical assistance to the Mozambican government and the private sector in the areas of investment, trade, telecommunications, training, research and seminars.

As for the 2004/2010 strategic plan, the priority areas include also the programmes on rural incomes, trade, investment, health, AIDS and good governance.

Since 1984 the American government has allocated a total of about $1.6 billion to Mozambique.

Mozambican troops prepare for Burundi

President Joaquim Chissano on 9 September bade farewell to the contingent of 228 troops of the Mozambican Defence Force (FADM) who are to participate in the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Burundi.

The troops will shortly join forces from South Africa and Ethiopia in monitoring the shaky Burundian ceasefire.

President Chissano made a vigorous appeal to the soldiers to represent Mozambique with dignity. They should behave with a rigid discipline, and responsibility, and carry out selflessly the duties of their new mission. "You are ambassadors and you bear with you the experience of tolerance and reconciliation from the pacification of our own country", said the President.

He told the troops they must also abide strictly by the basic United Nations principles that guide peace-keeping missions - neutrality, trust and impartiality. They must also show continual respect for the laws and customs of the host country.

President Chissano, who is the current chairperson of the African Union, said the Mozambican authorities are well aware "of the complexity of the situation in Burundi, where there is a climate of manifest politico-military instability, and sharp differences between the various parties involved". But there was also an imperative to abide by the peace accords for Burundi. "We are going to Burundi motivated by genuine interest in contributing to the re-establishment of peace in that country, which will have a significant impact on reducing the scale of politico-military instability in that part of Africa", said the President.

He added that Mozambique agreed to join the African force for Burundi, in the tradition of solidarity and commitment to the cause of peace that dated from Mozambique's own national liberation struggle. Despite the devastation caused by the war of destabilisation that ended in 1992, Mozambique "never abdicated from its duty to contribute towards peace and regional and international security", continued Chissano.

President Chissano admitted that Mozambican participation in the Burundi mission was also possible "because of the multifaceted support we have received from our cooperation partners, namely South Africa, Britain, the United States and France". The support which these countries had given to the FADM "is a valuable contribution towards enabling it to participate in operations in support of peace".

President Chissano also warned the soldiers to take precautions against AIDS. He told them they were going to an area with a high prevalence of the HIV virus, "which makes the risk of contamination in an unprotected relationship al the greater".

The participation of the FADM contingent will cost about $14 million over a year. Several of Mozambique's cooperation partners are helping finance the mission.

FADM soldiers will work at the assembly points set up to receive Burundian fighters. They will be involved in food aid and humanitarian operations here, but also in demobilising the fighters and collecting their weaponry.

The Mozambican troops will also participate in the efforts to select the Burundians who will join the new armed forces, and to assist those being demobilised. The Mozambican unit must guarantee the safe transport of food and other support from Bujumbura to the various assembly points.

Life in Maringue back to normal

Life in the small town of Maringue, in the central province of Sofala, has apparently returned to normal, after disturbances and tension in late August caused by armed "bodyguards" of the former rebel movement Renamo, reports "Diario de Mocambique" on 9 September.

There is now a strong police presence in Maringue, and the armed men have pulled back to an old Renamo base, some 20 kilometres outside the town. Residents who spoke to "Diario de Mocambique" said that, although the Renamo group did them no harm, they had felt frightened. "Although they didn't do anything bad to the local people, I must say I was afraid", said Jofriasse Araujo, "since it's not been normal for these men to come out, armed and uniformed, for three days".

He was also worried when the Renamo guards briefly laid siege to the local police command "because the police are the guarantee of our safety against thieves and other criminals".

A second resident, Farenca Andicene, said "the Renamo men didn't harm anybody, but we're afraid of their guns. There was agitation simply because these guards have guns and they're wandering through the town".

Some of the armed men told the paper they had come into Maringue fully armed on 25 August, in order to demand the whereabouts of one of their number, a man named Meque, who was supposedly in police detention.

"We noted the absence of our colleague, and we heard from other sources that he'd been arrested for selling firearms", said one Renamo source. "What surprises us is that we can't find him in the jails. We encircled the police command in a peaceful way. We wanted to know where our colleague was".

The police provincial director of order and public security, Leonardo Nhantumbo, denied that any harm had come to Meque. He was indeed under arrest, for the crime of selling guns, but he was no longer in Maringue but in Beira.

More animals transferred to Limpopo Park

The second phase of the transfer of animals from South Africa's Kruger Park to the Limpopo National Park (PNL) in Mozambique ended on 4 September with the arrival of a further seven elephants.

The restocking of the Limpopo Park, which covers much of Gaza province, is part of the work to establish a huge trans-frontier conservation area between Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park was set up officially on 9 December 2002.

So far, the PNL has received 2,200 animals of various species transferred from the Kruger Park. PNL administrator Gilberto Vicente told reporters that the final phase will take place next year, with the transfer of about 1,100 animals.

The ceremony was chaired by Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana, who praised the efforts undertaken by the three countries to preserve the natural resources of the region.

Earlier in the day, Sumbana attended the closing session of a two month training course for forestry and wild life wardens. He urged the newly trained wardens to establish relations of trust with the local communities. "We must understand the communities, and work with them", he recommended. He hoped that the new staff would both increase the inspection capacity of the PNL authorities, and reduce any points of tension between the park and the peasant communities living within its boundaries.

Post Office unable to pay debts

The Mozambican post office cannot pay its debts, and wants the government to take care of them. According to the new chairman of the post office board, Benjamim Pequenino, the debt stands at around nine billion meticais (about $378,000).

Pequenino told reporters that his top priority is to pay off wage arrears, which amount to over 900 million meticais. Thus postal workers in Gaza, Inhambane and Cabo Delgado provinces have not received their wages for the past four months, and those in Zambezia for two months. This situation has been blamed on mismanagement by the previous board.

Pequenino warned that "the debt of nine billion is unpayable, the company can't support it. But I am most concerned with our colleagues in the provinces who have gone for months without wages".

Pequenino was speaking in Maputo on 3 September at the launch of a new postal service, "Correio Azul" (Blue Post), which is a priority service, with a speed of delivery somewhere in between normal mail and express mail. It is clearly based on a service in Portugal which has exactly the same name. Initially this service will only be available inside Mozambique, and for letters or parcels weighing up to two kilos.

Pequenino claimed that "Correio Azul" is part of the solution to the postal service's problems. He hoped it would bring in enough money to cover domestic expenses, while the board awaits the conclusions of a "Study on the Postal Sector" recently ordered by the government.

Pequenino added that with the development of new information technologies, the post office needs to be more aggressive, ensure that mail reaches its destination rapidly, and in particular guarantee security in its parcels service.

Football championship runs out of money

The National Football Championship will grind to a halt because the Mozambican Football League has run out of money to cover the travel expenses, food and accommodation for the teams involved in the competition.

The chairman of the League, Miguel Matabele, cited in the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique" on 16 September, said "right now the championship is paralysed. Even the games scheduled for tomorrow won't be held. It makes no sense to schedule matches when we know there is no money to cover the costs they involve".

Matabele said what the League really wants is a deal with LAM, to cut the costs of air tickets on domestic routes for the football teams. To conclude the championship, Matabele said the league needs at least $130,000. He said the financial crisis had been brewing for a long time: The League was already $200,000 in debt at the end of the last championship.

The situation deteriorated when to public companies that have traditionally supported football - the electricity company, EDM, and the railway company, CFM - cut back their contributions, as did the government's sporting promotion fund (from $120,000 to $100,000).

Gas and oil prospection in Sofala

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Castigo Langa, has said that about $20 million are available for prospecting for natural gas in the central province of Sofala.

Speaking in Beira, Langa said this prospection would be undertaken in the district of Inhaminga, where there are good prospects of finding gas. "We also have the case of the Zambezi delta", he added, "where what we are looking for is essentially oil. Specialists believe that area has an enormous potential for oil".

Langa said that about $5 million will be invested in oil prospection in Sofala and the neighbouring province of Zambezia. American and Norwegian companies "are already on the ground to carry out the work in the Inhaminga bloc and the Zambezi delta", he added.

"I am certain that next year drilling will happen", he said. "Right now, the main objective is to find gas, but it may be that during the prospection, other products are found".

The Mozambican authorities remain optimistic that oil or gas discoveries in Sofala will make possible the construction of a petrochemical complex in Beira. This project has remained stubbornly on the drawing board, since no oil or gas has been found.

But Langa's ministry is thinking in the long term. According to the National Director of Coal and Hydrocarbons, Arsenio Mabote, prospection in Inhaminga could be carried out over seven years.

Langa insists that the planned petrochemical complex could be fundamental for the development of central Mozambique. He pledged that the government will continue to mobilise investment for the central provinces, particularly for hydrocarbon prospection.

Petronas to invest $60 million

The Malaysian state oil company Petronas has been searching for oil in an offshore bloc near the Zambezi delta since last year, and is prepared to spend $60 million on prospection, including drilling wells at great depths.

The chairman of the board of directors of Mozambique's National Hydrocarbons company (ENH), Issufo Abdula, told AIM that the money would be spent over a period of eight years. Petronas planned to spend $30 million on geological studies, $15 million on drilling, and $15 million on laboratory analysis of whatever was extracted from the bloc.

The bloc covers 29,000 square kilometres, and Petronas hopes to drill its first deep water well there next year.

Even if the Petronas drilling did not discover any oil, Abdula believed that existing data from the area showed there must at least be natural gas there, which could be used for domestic consumption or exported.

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