- French humanitarian expert Christophe Rufin, hired by the oil and gas multinational TotalEnergies to produce an independent assessment on the security and humanitarian situation in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, published his report on Tuesday.
- This raises hopes that the Total-led consortium will soon resume work on its liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the Cabo Delgado district of Palma.
- TotalEnergies called force majeur when violent insurgent attacks came close to their compound in Alfungi, Palma in April 2021. Read more
The report mentions improvements in both the security and humanitarian areas, but calls for a multi-dimensional plan of action which will ensure friendly relations between the local population and the LNG project.
Link to the full report: Mozambique_LNG_report
Under this proposal, the “Mozambique LNG” project, headed by Total, will set up a foundation dedicated to implementing a socio-economic development plan which will not be limited to Palma, but will cover all of Cabo Delgado.
This Foundation’s activities will be guided by a vision of “shared prosperity” in the province, without waiting for the expected revenue from LNG sales.
In order to sustain its activities, the Foundation should be endowed with a pluri-annual budget of 200 million US dollars. Rufin wants the foundation to be chaired by a well-known figure in the area of local economic development, and supervised by a Board of Directors, including representatives of Mozambique LNG, and of Mozambican civil society.
The suggested name for the Foundation is “Pamoja Tunaweza” – meaning “Together we can” in Swahili.
Far more controversial is the claim by Rufin that large areas of Cabo Delgado “are controlled for their own benefit by the regime’s officials”.
Rufin adds that ‘The lack of public services in Cabo Delgado is a historic reality. This disrepair has caused a lack of trust in the State and its representatives in these areas, and has been accompanied by a weakness in the rule of law. Many abuses committed by the armed forces and the police are regularly reported but rarely result in sanctions …The populations in these areas are accustomed to not only expecting nothing from the State but to fearing its intervention.’
These claims are in line with earlier findings about Cabo Delgado, but their credibility is damaged by several glaring inaccuracies in Rufin’s report. Perhaps the most remarkable is the claim that, since independence, the country’s leaders, including the current president, Filipe Nyusi, come from southern Mozambique. In fact, Nyusi was born in Mueda, in Cabo Delgado, and it is almost impossible to get any further north.
Rufin notes the connection of Mozambican islamists with jihadists in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and their affiliation with the self-styled “Islamic State”, also known as Daesh.
But Rufin believes that these international links “have not yet translated into significant foreign military support. The weaponry used in attacks remains limited to light arms, and “although it is known that some fighters were being paid, the financial resources available to the guerrillas still appear to be limited”.
Rufin’s report says that the conflict cannot be reduced to “foreign contamination”, and “the participation of local elements is undeniable; it is rooted in strong inequalities as well as in the underdevelopment of the area”.
Rufin’s report is positive about the various development projects financed by Mozambique LNG. These include refrigeration facilities for fishermen, the building and repair of boats, the replanting of mangroves, irrigation, and the restocking of the Cabo Delgado livestock herd.
But Rufin was worried that most of the projects “are more affected by security concerns than by a true development logic”.
The report calls for the creation of a single Cooperation and Development department within Mozambique-LNG run by “a senior person with solid development knowledge and experience of international institutions (United Nations agencies, international NGOs)”.
“The role of this single manager would be threefold: design, operator control and coordination with other stakeholders”, says the report. This would provide “a coherent operational context” for Pamoja Tunawesa.