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The Week in Mozambique, 1-7 December 202 ...

The Week in Mozambique, 1-7 December 2020

Dec 07, 2020

Welcome to another Week in Mozambique!

In this issue:

  • Controversy over Nyusi’s speech goes on…

  • ...and on…

  • ...and on a bit more

  • Ibraimo Mbaruco disappeared eight months ago

  • Listen to Plural Media’s podcasts

  • Canal de Moçambique back in its office

  • Carta de Moçambique goes for voluntary subscriptions

Another week has gone by — but Mozambican media and social media are still talking about Nyusi’s speech of 25 November. Savana’s front page article last week (27 Nov) did not go down well with Nyusi’s ‘praise singers’, who accused it of being unpatriotic, selling the country out to foreign interests, and even “pro-jihadist”

Egidio Vaz has been attacking Savana and Fernando Lima, the chairman of Mediacoop, which owns the paper, all week — most recently for Savana having run a piece on the race for seats on the National Electoral Council, without mentioning that Lima is a candidate. Fellow journalist Paul Fauvet of AIM had this to say:

But Vaz took a break on Wednesday to target South Africa’s ‘Daily Marverick (sic) which had published a piece questioning Mozambique’s attitude to the recent SADC Troika summit. Calling the piece “slanderous”, Vaz went on to make the startling claim that the journalist who wrote it, Peter Fabricius, has a business interest in the Cabo Delgado war. As for the ‘Marverick’, Vaz claimed it is “associated with the white industrial capital” — an apparent attempt to imitate the “white monopoly capital” slur used by disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger to taint the Daily Maverick and other South African media who exposed corrupt deals between President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta brothers.

This apparently slanderous critique of Fabricius’s piece got republished — both in Portuguese and in English — by Notícias de Defesa, the official-looking-but-not-official propaganda website that hosts news on security and defence in Mozambique. Vaz has repeatedly denied being involved in the website, despite pieces of evidence that suggest he is.

Either way, Notícias de Defesa made another interesting contribution to the press freedom debate this week — publishing quotes from interior minister Amade Miquidade encouraging the media to cover the Cabo Delgado conflict. It would’ve been a handy way of defusing Nyusi’s attack on the press — except that Miquidade’s speech was three months old.

Joining the chorus of condemnation of Nyusi’s words was the Mozambique chapter of press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) which feared that the President’s statements “may be interpreted as an order to harass all the mass media who offer other views of the facts occurring in Cabo Delgado, and which do not please the government or the defence forces” (thanks Joe Hanlon for the translation).

Nyusi got an encouraging slap on the back from the Frelimo Political Commission, which said it joined the President in his condemnation of ‘fake news’. A more surprising voice in support of Nyusi was Marcelo Mosse, the editor of Carta de Moçambique, who said the Mozambican media need to acknowledge that a lot of nonsense is spoken on social media, citing a ‘fake news’ report saying that the Ethiopian government had rejected Joaquim Chissano to mediate in the conflict in Tigray due to his being a ‘Lord of war’ in Mozambique. We found this one on Facebook, which Mosse is perhaps referring to.

Mosse also said, rather cryptically, that “newspapers and NGOs that use the tools of journalism have today become specialists in manipulation” — and said those of us in the media must be open to debate. Fair enough. What he didn’t address in his piece, though, was Nyusi’s call for the military not to allow their image to be damaged by the media and social media. That’s what has caused the complaints, and that’s what no one has so far succeeded, or even really tried, to defend.

Savana came out fighting again on Friday, going big on comments made by Portuguese foreign correspondent José Rodrigues dos Santos in a webinar organised by Misa on the freedom of the press in the context of war.

Dos Santos, who was born in Beira but whose family left Mozambique at independence (one can imagine how that is now going to be used against him by the social media warriors), has covered wars in Kosovo and Iraq for Portuguese television, and encouraged the Mozambican media to continue reporting the Cabo Delgado conflict objectively despite government pressure.

He insisted that it’s not unpatriotic to report on government defeats such as the loss of Mocímboa da Praia — pointing out that “not everything that suits the government is good for the country.” Those journalists who exposed the ‘hidden debts’, for instance, were not unpatriotic — it was the right thing to do for the country.

Dos Santos also called for the Mozambican military to embed journalists with them to cover the war — but acknowledged that this would depend on the professionalism of Mozambique’s armed forces and their ability to keep an embedded journalist safe. His intervention was also covered by Carta de Moçambique, here.

A grim anniversary today: Ibrahimo Mbaruco, the Palma community radio journalist, disappeared seven months ago today “surrounded by soldiers”, according to the last text message he sent — living (we hope) proof of the dangers posed to journalists by Mozambique’s defence and security forces.

Plural Media is bringing audio news and podcasts to the masses in Mozambique. Our core product is NoticiAudio, a weekly bulletin of the best independent news on Mozambique, produced in Portuguese, Emakwa, Changana, Chisena, and Kimwani. They’re distributed to community radios by Xipalapala, who also host them online here.

Your donations help us keep this going — and, the way things are going, may also help us expand soon. Thank you for all of your support! If you haven’t supported us yet, please consider doing so here.

We also run the ‘Mozcasts’ Telegram channel where we quickly upload interesting audio (like Nyusi’s now notorious speech), and highlight interesting podcasts. The latest item on there is Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário speaking with refugees from the Cabo Delgado war in Niassa. Check it out:

We have one more podcast so far in our stable: Savana FM’s Pontos de Fernando Lima. Check out the latest episode here on Google Podcasts, or click below for Spotify. We’re working on iTunes.

Good news: Canal de Moçambique is back in its office, after it was firebombed in August. An inauguration ceremony featured representation from the Swedish Embassy, which was one of the main donors who helped Canal put its office back together again. The firebombing remains unsolved.

Carta de Moçambique introduced subscriptions this week, though they are voluntary — the website and content remain free. All of Mozambique’s serious news outlets are now paid-for, as far as we can tell, since @Verdade also went behind a paywall a couple of months ago.

While you can choose whether or not you want to pay for Carta, the amount you pay is fixed — and, so as not to “reinvent the wheel”, as Mosse said, is based on Mediafax’s pricing — from $20 per month for individuals, $35 for institutions, $50 for embassies and foreign NGOs, and $100 for multinational companies. They don’t seem to have payment instructions on their website, but sent a pdf with the info through their various channels.

Carta has also dropped its copy-protection — something that has become widespread in Mozambique’s media in their slow switch to digital. Hopefully Carta’s experiment without it can work, without increasing the plagiarism of which the publication is already a regular victim.

You want more? Become a supporter! You want even more? Become a member!

Supporters and members get access to an English translation of the weekly NoticiAudio script, hot off the press on Friday afternoons. A quick and easy way of keeping up with the news!

Members also get our translation and decryption of ‘Diz-se… Diz-se’, the unmissable rumour column on the back page of Savana that keeps its readers ahead of the game in understanding Mozambican politics. Here's a snippet of the latest edition:

Click here for more: Savana's 'Diz-se... Diz-se', 4 December 2020

And thank you, as ever, for your support!

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