Mozambique: 910 Dead in Cabo Delgado Civil War

Mozambique showing Cabo Delgado province.

The death toll in the Cabo Delgado war has reached has reached 910, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). And the toll is rising. from 188 in 2018 to 583 in 2019 and 106 up to 5 March this year. ACLD keeps a very detailed data base. I have taken just the Cabo Delgado data, and posted it in an Excel spreadsheet.

Several other groups are reporting lower levels of fatalities, ranging from 300 to 700.

Comment: Can this be called a "war"? In the book Civil War, Civil Peace (Helen Yanacopulos and Joseph Hanlon, 2006) we defined "Civil war is collective killing for some collective purpose, mainly within one country, and where the fighting is primarily between people of that country." Some research groups add a body count, often 100 people per year or a total of 1000 dead. Deaths are likely to exceed 1000 in Cabo Delgado within a few months. Thus we feel confident in calling the fighting in Cabo Delgado a "civil war".

Information curbs

In an attempt to stop them passing information to the media and the public at large about what attacks are happening in Cabo Delgado, the military and police are carrying out raids on citizens, in particular NGO workers, In one case, last week, members of one NGO were stopped in their vehicle by members of the security forces and forced to hand over their mobile phones, and codes to unlock them. They were questioned for four hours, while their phones were checked to see what messages or videos they were sending on WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook, and to whom. Such investigations are also happening within the security forces, whose members are also suspected of being a source of leaks. A security force member told Carta de Mocambique (12 Mar) that the objective was to stop the press and public knowing what is happening in the war.

Other Cabo Delgado war news

Russian military aid: Another Russian Antonov plane landed in Nacala on 23 February, Africa Intelligence reports - bringing a cargo of military hardware probably including another military helicopter to join one that was flown in from Russia last September. The Antonov An-124 flew from Ulan-Ude's Baikal International Airport in Siberia, close to the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant that assembles Mi-17 helicopters. The flight was operated by Russian state military aircraft operator 224 Flight Unit, which also delivered an Mi-17 helicopter to be used for surveillance operations last September. (Africa Intelligence 9 Mar)

New agency: The government Thursday announced an economic development agency for the country’s three northern provinces, hoping it will combat the Cabo Delgado insurgency. The Northern Integrated Development Agency (Agencia de Desenvolvimento Integrado do Norte, ADIN) “will drive the integrated, balanced and harmonious development of the provinces of Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula,” government spokesman Filimao Suaze told the press following an extraordinary session of Council of Ministers on Thursday (12 Mar). The agency will provide employment opportunities for young people, who may otherwise be recruited by the insurgents, and inspire faith that their country has more to offer than the insurgency, Suaze said. But @Verdade (15 Mar) is not impressed, seeing as just another agency that will drain money into the pockets of Frelimo. It points to the Development Agency of the Zambeze Valley (Agencia de Desenvolvimento do Vale do Zambeze) which the Administrative Tribunal found that in 2017 spent $1.4 mn without appropriate paperwork and $350,000 on spending with no contracts at all.

War contracts: An alleged contract between the gas companies and the military has been published by Canal de Mocambique (11 Mar). The 28 February 2019 contract is between the gas companies Anadarko and ENI and the ministries of defence and interior, in which the gas companies pay for military and police protection. What is unusual is that the money goes not to the ministries, but to a special account with four signatories: then defence minister Atanasio Mtumuke, then vice minister Patricio Jose, permanent secretary Fernando Campire, and Casimiro Mueio. They are supposed to make the extra payments, which range from 315 Meticais ($5) per day for senior officers down to 150 Meticais ($2.50) for basic police guards. But Canal says that the soldiers and police are not receiving their money, and the people guarding the gas installations say the money has gone to the big men. Canal argues that the replacement of Mtumuke and former Interior Minister Basilio Monteiro was because the failure to pay the money to the people doing the guarding was causing discontent.

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