Communities threatened by the Mphanda Nkuwa dam project are accused of being”terrorist” for having traveled to a workshop in Maputo





Being labelled 'terrorists' is the latest strategy to intimidate, threaten, and arbitrarily detain people who hold anti-government positions. This is happening in various parts of the country, in Mozambique, and in particular in the district of Marara, Tete province, where the government intends to build the Mphanda Nkuwa hydroelectric dam, a highly controversial project that has never responded to the numerous environmental, social, economic and climate change questions that have been raised by civil society organizations and experts from Mozambique and other countries.

Recently, from the 22nd to the 25th of November, the Mozambican organization Justiça Ambiental (JA!) organized its 6th Maputo Workshop on Corporate Impunity and Human Rights, which brought together representatives of various civil society organizations, government representatives, academics, lawyers, activists and people affected by megaprojects from across the country. Several participants came from the district of Marara in Tete province, including the community leader from Chirodzi-Nsanangue, one of the communities at risk of being resettled if the proposed Mphanda Nkuwa dam is built.

While in Maputo, the leader received several calls from community members warning him that the local authorities were very unhappy with his trip to Maputo and were mobilizing the community to elect a new leader.

A few days after returning home, the leader received a notification to report to the District Command of Marara in order to be interrogated. Arriving at the Command, the leader was retained for 10 hours, he was denied the right to be accompanied by the lawyer who was accompanying him, he was accused of being a terrorist and was questioned about his trip to Maputo by the District Commander of Marara, an agent of the National Criminal Investigation Services (SERNIC) and a representative of the Ministry of Defense. Finally, he was asked to list the names of all the members of his community who had traveled to Maputo to participate in the Workshop. The leader was released around 6:30pm without any further clarification.

JA! members who were on the site following the events were also accused of terrorism, and informed that they should not be providing information to local communities regarding the impacts of dams, or problems caused by other megaprojects in the country. All of this seems to be a strategy to intimidate members of communities that will be affected by the Mphanda Nkuwa dam project and prevent them from defending their rights.
A few days later, all the 10 other people from Chirodzi and Chococoma who had participated in the Workshop were also notified to report to the District Command of Marara on the 8th, including JA!’s focal person in the community, in order to be interrogated too.
A big movement of solidarity with the community members being threatened emerged, from several parts of the country and even other countries. By the time the 10 community members arrived at the District Command on the 8th, the news about this were circulating widely on social media and radio stations. They were brought inside to be questionned about the Workshop, but at this point, no further threats were made apart from the intimidating presence of armed police officers. JA!’s focal point was interrogated separately, and then asked to leave the room, and the rest of our team was not allowed inside. They were all released a few hours later.
It should be noted that these situations are not isolated cases, and are part of a series of other threats and restrictions that have been made to members of JA team! working in the District of Marara. On several occasions, the District Commander of Marara and the Heads of the Administrative Post and Locality of Marara requested JA!’s credentials and authorization from the police to work on the area, something that is not required by law. In addition, several other members of the Chirodzi-Nsanangue community who have raised criticisms or questions about the dam have reported increasing intimidation and threats since August 2022, when the government, its partners and interested companies began to visit the area in this new stage of the Mphanda Nkuwa dam project.
We demand clarification from the different State actors involved in these intimidations, including the Mphanda Nkuwa Hydroelectric Project Implementation Office: is this is how the local people are forced to accept 'development' projects?

We demand a positioning from government advisors, financiers and potential investors of the Mphanda Nkuwa project, such as the African Development Bank (ADB), the International Hydroelectric Association (IHA), the Norwegian Development Agency (NORAD), the Kingdom of Norway, the Government of Switzerland, the European Union (EU): are you willing to have your name on a project that is already contributing to the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of local communities?


For more information, please contact: jamoz2010@gmail.com
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