Zimbabwe considers Mozambique, Beira as an opening to the Indian ocean. The country could lose a lot if the instability continues beyond the Eastern Highlands.
Major interests that can be disrupted include telecommunications, fuel and even the transportation of goods by sea. This article details Zimbabwean interests that are like to be affected by instability in Mozambique.
Instability in Mozambique can disrupt Zimbabwe’s telecommunications investments into the undersea fibre-optics investment project. Ten years into the 21 century, former Minister of ICT Nelson Chamisa took Zimbabwe on a project to use undersea fibre optics cables from SeaComm and EASSy which enabled faster internet compared to the satellite-based systems. Government-owned, Telone invested over US$7 million into the 2011 project that links the fibre optic cables from Harare to Mozambique, Beira (EASSY) through Mutare. Of course, Zimbabwe fibre optics cables link to the sea through two countries, but the EASSY link which has been deployed to Harare and possibly all the way to Plumtree may cause uneasiness.
Fuel Importation to Zimbabwe
One of Zimbabwe’s biggest investment in Mozambique lies in the importation of fuel into the country. The 504 km Feruka pipeline linking Beira and Harare has a capacity of over 130 million of fuel per month. Zimbabwe is already working on a plan to upgrade the pipeline that was constructed in 1964. Instability in Mozambique is likely to affect the Feruka pipeline that transports 90% of the fuel consumed in Zimbabwe. Fuels powers the nation and no country is ready to go into a nightmare of having fuel shortages.
Another connection to the sea that may be disrupted by instability in Mozambique is the railway network. Railway network is very important in transporting heavy goods to and from the sea. Bulky goods such as chrome, grain, wheat and fertiliser are transported this way. The transport network is very important to the extent that in 2018 a Chinese delegation to Zimbabwe proposed the construction of a $2.5bn rail link between the neighbouring states of Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has a railway network that links Mutare and Beira. In the 1990s, 40% of tobacco from Zimbabwe reached the Beira port for overseas markets by train. Any disturbance in the rail transport may delay the movement of goods.
Everything network system that has been discussed in this article has been linking Zimbabwe to the Beira port. Port Beira does not only serve Zimbabwe and Mozambique but also even Zambia. One lesson that Zimbabwe has learnt is the importance of such a port when a tropical cyclone last year hit the port that is 248 km from Mutare. Importation of wheat into Zimbabwe was disrupted when the cyclone damaged the Moscan port and this had the potential to cause dire consequences in the supply of bread.
Developments in Mozambique
SADC leaders of states, last week met in Mozambique a country that is reeling from a terrorist group that has even managed to put a whole town, Palma under siege. The Troika Summit directed an immediate technical deployment to the country that opens doors to the Indian ocean. One of the reasons why SADC countries have to be concerned with the developments in Mozambique is that the country may serve as a frontal for terror groups in the whole Southern African region. The other reason is trade. There are many countries that use Mozambique to access the Western side of the Indian ocean for trade.