The year 2017 will go down in the history of Mozambique as the one in which the first final investment decision was made in a natural gas megaproject with revenue forecasts in the millions, sums capable of ending poverty.
The decision by the consortium led by the oil company Eni, of which Portugal’s Galp is also a part, was taken in June and started a five-year countdown to gas exploitation in the Rovuma basin on the north of the country.
International banking has already secured funding and Eni expects the Coral project to provide revenues for the Mozambican state of US$16 billion (three times the state budget for 2018) over a period of 25 years.
This is just one of several projects in the industry that signal big business’s confidence in Mozambique as a place to earn revenue.
Frelimo, the ruling party since independence, met at its 11th congress in September and consolidated the leadership of President Filipe Nyusi.
Nyusi went to Afonso Dhlakama’s safe haven in the Gorongosa mountain and cemented the peace dialogue with a handshake whose photograph circled the world, adding strength to hopes that government and Renamo may be close to signing a new definitive peace agreement.
The armed wing of the main opposition party lay down its weapons at the end of 2016, with Dhlakama announcing an indefinite truce and welcoming the talks with “Brother Nyusi”.
According to Chapane Mutiua, a researcher at the Centre for African Studies at the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), writing in a statement to Lusa in November, this approach may not please those who live on the perpetuation of armed conflict in Mozambique.
Mutiua drew attention to the possibility that such interests were behind an unprecedented wave of riots that occurred in October in various parts of the country, with attacks on police and officers and residents killed.
The most egregious case was the attack by an armed group on police positions in Mocímboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado province, where the village was besieged for two days, setting off alarms bells about the influence of local Islamic extremists.
Historian Yussuf Adam goes further and states that there is “a social crisis situation” in Mozambique, in which “rural populations” in different areas “are responding, attacking a state that they think is not serving them”.
Those who care to walk the streets can hear the sullen complaints of a population that, despite signs of economic recovery, still suffers from the serious crisis in Mozambique.
A year-and-a-half after the disclosure of the ‘hidden debts’, justice has not yet apportioned accountability for the US$2 billion scandal that has left the country’s macroeconomics on its knees.
The year 2017 also featured an audit of the case that suggests criminal indictments involving several public figures, and requests from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for accountability.
In this dossier, at least, Mozambique ends 2017 as it began it: with no return of direct aid from donors to the State Budget in sight.
One of the blackest memories of the year will be the assassination of Mahamudo Amurane, the mayor of Nampula. Remembered inside the country and by partners as a promoter of the fight against corruption, he was shot dead at the door of his house on October 4, even as Peace Day was celebrated in Mozambique.
The crime will lead to early elections in Nampula, on January 24, 2018.
Personalities and entities interviewed by Lusa have appealed to the authorities to investigate the case and not allow this to become another unresolved murder of a public figure. Source: Lusa