Mozambique has made progress in tackling its northern insurgency, as a trial begins on the “hidden debts” scandal.
Rwandan forces, working with local troops, helped free the town of Mbau on August 20. They reclaimed Mocímboa da Praia earlier in August. Next, they aim to tackle insurgent bases known as Siri 1 and 2.
Rwanda’s The New Times reported that the joint force had fought insurgents outside Mbau and killed 11.
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) force is also in the country. However, Mozambique sources have reported the SADC mission is still in the early stages of establishing themselves in the country.
Cabo Ligado, which monitors fighting, has reported South African troops in Macomia town, apparently ready to push towards insurgent bases along the Messalo River. It also reported Tanzanian and Botswanan troops fighting alongside government troops in Nangade district.
The US named Bonomado Omar as one leader of the Cabo Delgado terrorist group on August 6. Omar, it said, had taken part in the attack on Palma in March and had led the attack on the Amarula Lodge.
The official is Mozambican and served in the country’s navy. There have been reports that he is in contact with foreign sources, who are present during major offensives.
Meanwhile, a trial begins today in Maputo on the $2 billon hidden debt scandal. This involved a deal with a ship builder, Privinvest, and financing.
A number of high-ranking officials from the Armando Guebuza presidency have been implicated in the scandal. The trial of 19 people includes the former president’s eldest son, the head of the Serviço de Informaçao e Segurança do Estado (SISE) intelligence agency, in addition to his private secretary.
The Daily Maverick reported on August 22 that South Africa would extradite former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang to Mozambique, rather than the US. South Africa arrested the official while he was transiting through Johannesburg at the end of 2018.
Chang will go to Mozambique and stand trial, the newspaper reported. It is not clear whether he will be added to the trial that has just begun.
The Daily Maverick raised the possibility that handing Chang back to Mozambique may be some sort of quid pro quo around allowing South African troops into Cabo Delgado.
The US put a Privinvest official, Jean Boustani, on trial in 2019. The jury cleared him of all three charges. One challenge in trying Boustani in the US was the potential impact – or not – on US investors.