Around 69 people who drank poison-contaminated beer in a funeral in Mozambique’s Tete province on Saturday had quickly died, according to health authorities.
According to District Health Official Alex Albertini, poison from a crocodile’s bile was the probable contaminant in the drinks.
According to Health, Women and Social Welfare Director Paula Bernardo, around 196 people were admitted to a hospital in the Chitima district. She said: “People flocked to the hospital, suffering from diarrhea and muscle pain,” Bernardo told Radio Mozambique. “Then bodies from various neighborhoods were brought to the hospital, and this alerted us.”
The traditional beer Pombe, is made from millet or corn flour and made for two days. Pombe is often sold during ceremonies in rural areas of Mozambique. The funeral of a child that claimed 69 lives had served Pombe to attendees, including the child’s mother.
Funeral goers who arrived in the morning did not report any illness, but those who drank in the afternoon fell ill. Authorities speculate that the contaminant was administered while funeral goers were at the cemetery.
According to Provincial Health Director Carle Mosse, beer and blood samples had been sent to Mozambique’s capital Maputo to be tested.
“We are waiting for the results of the tests of the samples being done at Maputo Central Hospital so that we can identify the type of the product put into the drink,” said Mosse.
According to economic development analysts, Mozambique’s growing economy is offset by its challenges to urbanise the capital of Maputo. According to them, half of households only live on less than $125 monthly.
The capital has a population of 2.5 million, which would grow to four million by 2025. With no clear urban planning growth in the 1980s, thousands of plots of land were redistributed for citizen housing. Because of this unregulated urban growth, it has overstretched the city’s health, education and transport systems.
This had led to the poor quality of living in the area. Residents are living in inadequate housing in low areas prone to flash floods, virtually no access to water and sewage systems, and waterborne disease outbreaks.
About three quarters of residents live in informal settlements. Most of these are built with poor material. According to SciDev.net’s research, most apartments in Maputo, despite their comely appearance, are prone to power shortages.
Road development is also an issue in Maputo. The roads have been loosely developed with poor materials. Because of the poor construction, some sewage systems have been exposed, allowing patches of farmland in the urban area to use it for crop irrigation.
A day-long fight between two African political party supporters erupted on Monday. The supporters of both the Frelimo and Renamo had brought back memories of the 16 year long civil war from 1992. According to political analysts, the fighting between the two parties reflect the unstable relationship of the two ever since.
The two parties clashed in the northern city of Nampula, injuring 23 people. Authorities arrested 13 people.
They had used tear gas to disperse the Renamo supporters who caused the fighting in Nampula as Frelimo supporters did not retaliate against their all-day skirmishes.
However, Renamo Candidate Afonso Dhlakama blamed the Frelimo for instigating the violence and accused authorities for firing live ammunition to their supporters and choosing sides in the election.
According to Renamo MP Ivone Soares, Frelimo members had called the Renamo supporters as “bandito”, a name attributed to the Renamo by the Frelimo in the past.
Meanwhile, foreign investors are watching the political tides in Mozambique. Many are planning to do business to cultivate the country’s vast gas industry.
Mozambican Rebel Leader Afonso Dhlakama had sealed his peace deal with the Maputo Government to finally end the two-year conflict between the government and rebels, which had caused great economic uncertainty in the area of Africa.
In Maputo Airport, Dhlakama addressed the people cheering and wanting to see him, he said “I want to thank you all for coming here. On October 15, I want this same crowd. I want you all to vote Afonso Dhlakama, Number One, and Renamo, Number 2.” He said this in reference to the Presidential and Parliamentary Voting in Maputo.
He took a “victory lap” along with his supporters around the airport until he was escorted by guards to the Renamo Headquarters.
Dhlakama, a former rebel leader, went into hiding since October 2012. His group had begun a rebellion after he said the Maputo government did not keep its end to a peace deal in 1992. Renamo fighters had hidden in the Gorgosaurus mountains after the conflict went into a full-scale conflict.
Frelimo, a rival rebel group, said that it is certain to defeat Renamo during the voting on October 15.
Many international diplomats said investor confidence will finally increase for Maputo as the announcement of a peace deal will ensure investment security and to finally pave the way of growth for the country.
After two years of low-level insurgencies, the Mozambican government and Renamo had agreed to a “cessation of clashes” after reaching a peace deal Monday. According to an opposition lawmaker, the Mozambican government is ready to grant amnesty to all rebels involved in the two years’ worth of violence between government and rebel forces.
According to the Renamo delegation head Saimone Macuiana, this is not the end of the work the Renamo has built, but a start to the achievement of peace, stability and the well-being of the people of Mozambique and the rename.
The Mozambican government is set to create the new laws that would ratify the peace and amnesty deal between the parties. MP Ivone Soares said that the process will be handled quickly as there is a consensus between the two parties to escalate the agreement as soon as possible.
Renamo forces have been fighting against the Mozambican forces for sixteen years. Its latest activities in the last two years were low-level insurgencies. Members were believed to be attacking public vehicles on the north-south highway of Mozambique since April of 2013. A few months later, a military offensive had captured a Renamo base camp in Gornogosa.
The peace deal includes integrating the rebel forces into the armed forces of Mozambique and local police forces.
Renamo Spokesman Detained by Mozambique AuthoritiesAuthorities have captured The Office of the President of Renamo Spokesman Antonio Muchunga after he left the peace talks between the Mozambican government and the opposition. Muchunga is accused of inciting violence against the government using his capacity as the spokesman of Party Leader Afonso Dhlakama, who is still in hiding. He is the second Renamo spokesman arrested in the previous year.
Dhlakama threatens to divide the country once again unless the Mozambican government agrees to his demands, which involve the representation of Renamo in the armed forces and police. Dhlakama is a former leader of a rebel group that attacked the Frelimo government in 2013 and is still continuing.
Spokesman Muchunga had repeatedly accused the Mozambican government for inciting violence and suppressing the freedom of expression of the Mozambican press.
However, all speculation by the opposition party is lost as they do not understand the motive the Mozambican government has for arresting the spokesman.
Police surrounded the vehicle and took away Muchunga, accompanied by Renamo State Council member Manuel Lole. Lole had not been captured, but described that Muchunga was “smuggled away.”
The Mozambican government has granted concession to China’s Kingho Mozambique, a mining company. The agreement, spanning 25-years, will allow Kingho Mozambique to mine in the Moatize district of Mozambique’s Tete province.
Esperanca Bias, the Mozambican Natural Resources Minister, said the government provided the grant due to the capacity the company found during their prospection and survey of the area as part of the company’s project.
Around 80% of shareholders of Kingho Mozambique are from China’s Kingho Investment Corporation. The remaining shares belong to the Empresa Mocambicana de Exploracao Mineira (EMEM) and Monte Binga.
Kingho Mozambique has been in operation for nearly four years. It began prospecting coal in Mozambique. Its company stakeholder, Kingho Investment Corporation, had called upon mining companies overseas to prospect in Mozambique’s potential mining sites as well.
The company will soon design and finance the installation of processing equipment in Moatize in the province of Tete by the following year.
Esperanca Bias said that the government was happy with the concession, and these may be the first of several areas that may be granted to the Chinese mining company.
Head Judge Dinis Silica’s Car had been riddled when the traffic light hit red in a district in Maputo. Silica was investigating a number of kidnappings in Mozambique and police have considered the possibility that the judge’s investigations linked to the attack. However, they also consider that the £70,000 cash in his vehicle attracted the perpetrators
According to Maputo Police Spokesperson Arnaldo Chefu, the attackers fired against Silica’s car with AK-47s. These high-powered weapons may explain that the kidnappers, or collaborators, are involved in the killing of Judge Silica. He said that the police is now dealing with organised crime and most of the kidnappers are truly violent.
Dinis Silica had been investigating several kidnappings in Mozambique in recent years. Kidnappers of the children, men and women asked for ransom of hundreds of thousands of dollars and have yet to be resolved. The police strongly believe he was getting close to a lead until the attackers caught him off guard in Maputo.
This fact is supported by the idea that the briefcase of £70,000 cash was untouched after the attack. However, the police said they will not rule out the angle that it was a botched robbery as well.
Mozambique kidnappers often target high-class businessmen and middle-class people for ransom. Kidnappers had killed a child last year, which caused outrage in east Africa.
Mozambique is considering to publish a new law that will allow authorities to reduce, or altogether ban poaching and poachers. The new law proposal came after authorities found 277 Rhinos killed for poaching. The Conservation Areas Law will allow authorities to imprison those caught poaching for up to 12 years and have them fined £75,000 for poaching endangered species in Africa.
Aside from rhinos, elephants are also hunted for their rare tusks in South Africa.
Mozambique had been criticized by many animal rights organizations for not outlawing wildlife poaching in Mozambique. Buyers of smuggled horns from rhinos and elephants get away with purchases with small fines.
Illegal hunters had virtually decimated Mozambique’s rhino and elephant population as ivory poaching increased in the past. Today, the practice still continues and the northern part of the country is still hunting endangered species for ivory.
According to South Africa’s Environmental Affairs they recognize the need for stricter wildlife management and protection. However, despite their efforts to patrol the air and the land, poaching still continues in large quantities.
In the year 2013, 1000 rhinoceros were poached in South Africa due to its high demand in Asian countries. They are reportedly used for making medicine in many Asian countries.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze, the Demining Programme that began 20 years ago in Maputo Province, has successfully declared that almost every landmine in Maputo has been removed. However, the Ottawa Convention had expected the demining efforts to have been done by 2009, but Mozambique was granted an extension of five years.
Maputo province, including Gaza, Zambezia, Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa, are six of the provinces in Mozambique to be declared free from landmines. Sofala, Manica, Tete and Inhambane are the only provinces left with 4.2 million SQ.M. of land still having landmines.
UN’s Development Programme Representative Jennifer Topping said that “the mission is not yet finished” and more can still be done for Mozambique. Foreign Minister Banze said that he is appealing to the commitment of the country’s partners to finally clear the last of the mines until the end of 2014.
Demining teams have destroyed 5,492 anti-personnel mines, 9,000 anti-tank mines and 4,000 unexploded munitions. They have also removed mines from electricity pylons.
The Mozambican Armed Forces have handled the task in its entirety and in two decades, 14 land mine accidents in different provinces have happened.
Banze said Maputo’s freedom from mines will help it become fertile for investment and development.