On December 13th, in Maputo, the Mozambican government and the companies Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM), Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), Électricité de France, TotalEnergies and Sumitomo, signed the partnership contract for the construction of the Mphanda Nkuwa hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi River.

A partnership contract that is signed before a single community consultation meeting with the people who live in the region has been carried out, only makes it even more clear that the project is not, and never has been, for the benefit of the local population. Our Constitution and Land Law guarantee customary land rights, and local communities should have their rights to public participation and fair and prior compensation respected. To add insult to injury, this unlawful contract was signed with all the pomp and circumstance, in the presence of the President of the Republic, the Ambassadors of France and Japan, among other personalities. It’s a blatant lack of respect for the People, celebrated in a luxury hotel in Maputo, and commemorated by the political elites and big international capital, who see Mphanda Nkuwa as an opportunity to play “energy transition” and trade carbon credits. But the power dynamic between those promoting the project and those who will be affected by it only underlines its neo-colonial nature: force them out of their land, because there are valuable resources to exploit – and export!

And as if this shocking obstruction of public participation was not enough, the interests behind the Mphanda Nkuwa project are also fuelling the repression of local communities. To counteract the misinformation created by the project’s promoters, Justiça Ambiental launching a video on the same day this shameful contract was being signed with first-hand accounts of what has been happening in the communities of Marara, Chiúta and Cahora Bassa to those who question the project or claim their rights.

This repression has taken place in various forms, it has been perpetrated by the local government and the Police of the Republic of Mozambique, and it includes:

– The intimidation and threats to community members who criticise the project;

– the violation of freedom of movement and community member being required ‘authorisation’ from the local government to travel;

– the violation of freedom of association and actions to prevent communities from meeting with civil society organisations such as JA!;

– the violation of freedom of expression and banning songs about the communities’ feelings about the project;

– the expulsion of community members from meetings related to the project;

– the arbitrary arrests of community members who travelled to Maputo to take part in legal trainings.

Once again, in the face of all these breaches of the law, we wonder where are the institutions that should be looking after the legality and rights of all Mozambicans. We need to think seriously about how megaprojects are being implemented in our country, about the social conflicts they are fuelling and about the impacts they are subjecting us to. How long are we to believe in this development paradigm?

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/ADgtXkMsGG4

Nothing on our land without our free, prior and informed consent.

NO to Mphanda Nkuwa!