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Mozambique security update

by Des Cason, noonsite.com 31 Jan 09:31 UTC

Cruisers planning to visit Mozambique and passage the Mozambique channel are being advised to be extremely cautious according to experienced South African cruiser Des Cason.

He told Noonsite that since the publication of his Madagascar and Mozambique channel cruising notes in 2014, he has seen an increase in a number of issues of concern to cruisers to the point where he advises that Mozambique should be treated as a "No-Go" zone.

While he did not personally experience these issues, Des was in close contact with the cruisers who went through the experiences which he has detailed in this report.

Terrorist activities increasing:

Since the discovery of what is purported to be the second largest natural gas field known (midway between Mozambique and Madagascar) the activities of Islamic jihadist groups in the northern regions of Mozambique have increased dramatically. They seem to be very active in the regions north of Nacala up to the Tanzanian border and reports indicate that their intention is inter alia to disrupt the construction of the infrastructure for the exploitation of this field. A number of deaths are attributed to their activities and a Russian defense contractor has withdrawn their military staff due to the risk.

A number of cruisers with humanitarian aims have gone ashore on this coast line and without exception have been subjected to hostile receptions and in two cases were held against their will by local tribal leaders who have come under the influence of these jihadis. It has to be realized that the days of engaging with the local tribes are over and would recommend that under no circumstances set foot on land north of Ilha Mozambique.

Bazaruto Archipelago:

The accepted stop over in the channel en route to South Africa is the Bazaruto Archipelago and over the past two years close to 200 yachts have utilized the shelter behind Bazaruto whilst waiting for a weather window down south. Up until 2017 no problems were experienced despite technically being within the territorial waters of Mozambique without having gone through the normal check in procedures.

All this changed in 2017 when a clever entrepreneur "Africa style" hit upon the idea to inform the authorities at the nearest entry port in Vilanculos so he could get a share of the spoils/bribes/fines etc.

As a consequence, six yachts were boarded and threatened by armed officials. This entailed confiscation of passports and threats of yachts being attacked. They reportedly settled on fines etc in excess of $200 per person.

The recommended anchorage is behind Bazaruto +- 13 down the west coast and apart from a small fishing village comprising a few huts on the beach you are out of sight of the lodges operating on the island and obviously also the officials in Vilanculos which is +-20nm SW of the anchorage on the mainland. It would be in cruisers' interest and also their fellow cruisers interest to resist the temptation to do the tourist thing and go "walk about" on Bazaruto. This is not a sight seeing stopover and your odds of being confronted by the authorities increase exponentially if you pitch up at the lodges as they consider cruisers to be a negative as we supposedly "lower the tone" whatever that means.

Inhambane/Ling Linga:

The next area of concern is Inhambane/Ling Linga which, due to its configuration, is seen by many cruisers as an attractive stop over. Once again the corruption of the local officials in cahoots with the lodge managements have been successful in extracting vast amounts of money from yachties who willfully ignored my warnings.

Due to the convoluted channel you need to navigate (a French yacht was lost on the sand bar in 2018 which is tidal), you are trapped and it is impossible to get out except on the right tide. Any attempt to duck the officials is stymied due to the channel and tides and it is an easy matter for the officials on a motorized launch to catch up with you whilst you are still in the channel. Obviously the lodge management is complicit in this scam regardless of whether you have checked in or not. They will always find some excuse to demand exorbitant amounts of cash.

Ilha Mozambique:

The only entry port which has had consistent good reports is Ilha Mozambique where the port captain has gone out of his way to assist yachties who have called there.

In a nutshell regardless of the general perception - Mozambique is a "no go" zone and you ignore this at your peril.

www.noonsite.com

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