Residents in the province of Zambézia are refusing to leave the area where they live to make way for mineral resource prospecting. Academics warn that if the provincial government does not take action, the protests may end in violence.
A battle seems to be in prospect in the Maquival region of Mozambique’s Zambézia province, in the centre of the country, where hundreds of people say they would rather die than leave their land to make way for heavy sands prospecting.
Alberto Tomé Jafar is the community governor of Magologodho locality and says that “the population is really rejecting moving out”. “I went to meet the residents of Marrabo and they said that the government would have to kill them to implement its project, and they would not leave for another area because of the fields and coconut trees that they had planted for their children and grandchildren,” Jafar reports.
“We need to talk development”
One of the problems is that, so far, the population has not seen any benefits, Bonde Paulo, the president of a study centre in Quelimane which assesses the impact of mineral resource surveys says.
“When we make a comparison with the development of other provinces in the country, we have so many resources, we have so much human capital, we have a high level of population, we are the second most populous province, but our development in several areas falls short of others’,” Paulo notes, highlighting the need to “gather entrepreneurs, magistrates and academics to discuss the development of our province”.
Residents of the Maquival region are not the only ones to protest. Other communities in the province have also spoken out against natural resource extraction projects.
Referring to the Macuse port and railway project, Quelimane administrator Carlos Carneiro admitted that resistance was so great that the local authorities gave in and halted activities. The administrator said that there was no resumption in sight for its resumption, and that “the rejection by the population was such that we stopped all public consultations, because they were having no effect”.
But according to university professor Cassimo Jamal, more needs to be done. He fears that if the government does not take action and come to an agreement with the population, protests could escalate into violence.
“Wherever we register natural or mineral resources, we also automatically have conflicts. If you check the map of Africa, wherever there are mineral resources. Source: Deutsche Welle