Skirmishes mar Mozambique powerhouse prospects
by ARIMANDO DOMINGOS & SAVIOUS KWINIKA
MAPUTO , ( CAJ News)- THE renewed political problems posed by fighting between government forces and insurgents is scuttling Mozambique’s prospects of becoming an economic powerhouse.
Mozambique has been pinning those hopes on the discovery of vast natural gas and oil discoveries off the coast in recent years.
In some disturbances reminiscent of the civil war that claimed over 1 million lives between independence from Portugal in 1975 and 1992, fighting has resurfaced.
Already, thousands of refugees have fled skirmishes mainly in Nhamatanda in the province of Sofala as well as the outskirts of the country’s second-largest city of Beira.
Dozens of innocent civilians have been killed with thousands fleeing to Malawi, Tanzania while others are sneaking into Mpumalanga of South Africa.
The upheavals follow demands from the leader of the militant Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) leader, Afonso Dhlakama that the government of President Filipe Nyusi’s equitably share power, particularly in the provinces Renamo claims to have won polls with the overwhelming majority.
Nyusi’s administration has resisted the request while plans by Renamo to push the motion through Parliament have failed.
This week, rebels have been heightening tension at rural village for president Nyusi’s district of Mueda.
While this is threat to peace and stability, analysts fear this would eventually dampen the growth of the industry.
“My plea is for both the government and the Renamo rebels to quickly find a lasting solution. Otherwise the gains that have been made so far in discovering the country as emerging economic power house are doomed,” says an economist, Simao Chavango in Sofala.
Fellow commentator, Almiro Marcelino, from Beira, pointed out neighbouring countries, particularly South Africa, will also bear the brunt of the worsening crisis in Mozambique.
“While other SADC member countries such as Malawi, Zimbabwe and Tanzania will bear the brunt of Renamo hostility, it is South Africa likely to suffer the most,” said Chavango.
“South Africa has invested much in the areas of energy, mining, communications, retail, finance and banking than any other country in the world.”
South Africa boasts multi-billion companies such as Vodacom, First National Bank (FNB), oil giant, Sasol, Engen, Standard Bank, Shoprite and African Rainbow Minerals, who have heavily invested in Mozambique’s economy.
While the impact is likely to be felt in future, locals are already experiencing hardship.
“We are now scared of travelling by road from one city to the other as a result of these negative developments. The situation has not gone bad, but it is worsening each day as civilians are either killed, or maimed in the clashes,” said Eduardo Machisse from Nampula.
Recently a Filipino teacher was killed in an ambush on a passenger bus by Renamo while 13 dead bodies were discovered in the affected areas in Manica Province.
A further mass grave of 120 bodies was reported in the same province.
Just last Friday, some suspected Renamo fighters ambushed civilians on roads in Sofala where they injured three people.
This followed threats by Renamo head of mobilization in Sofala, Horacio Calavete, who argued the rebels would set up road blocks on the main roads through the province.
Government officials refused to comment on the current problems.
They expressed fear any public comment would inflame the situation.
“We don’t want to comment about this because such statements normally instill fear and discomfort among our people. The government is doing all it can to ensure peace and stability prevails in the country without any escalation of terrorism,” said an official from the Internal Ministry.
He claimed the media exaggerated the problems.
“Otherwise, both Renamo and government are working together to find lasting solution.”
The problems have coincided with the discovery of vast gas resources that were envisaged to see the country and the region fulfill its economic potential.
In 2010-2011, international companies discovered the recoverable reserves of natural gas in the Rovuma Basin, off the coast of the northern Cabo Delgado Province.
Once developed, it was envisaged this could make Mozambique one of the largest producers of liquefied natural gas in the world.
Plans are for production to start in 2018.
– CAJ News
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