Schemes and Doubts


As we can’t do a lot in terms of summer before middle January, we have been content with a swimming pool near the sea. For me it’s the water, the sun… For Paul, the restaurant…


The first day of sun, when I was wisely using my sunblock, Paul calls me with unusual urgency. The matter was urgent, indeed. The food was over the table and Paul likes food and company. In that order. I stop what I was doing. Sometimes, I’m just like him. When I see a serving plate full of juicy prawns. For instance. My place on the table is under the sun. I forget about the sun block and start my summer with some curious patterns on my skin. I should have known better!


We have been returning to the same club. Last week, on our way to the swimming pool, Paul remarked that he misses the old Seabell, the one that writes about the sea… I thought about it. I don’t miss writing because I never stop writing. But I was in a very good mood, so it crossed my mind: “Why not? It’s summer. Life is almost perfect… Why not, indeed?”


As usual, I book places near the pool while Paul picks a good table. Five minutes later it’s raining. I have to sit at the table with Paul.


“You know something? I forgot the reading and the phones!” he complains.


Without a good read and the news, Paul starts to tell about one of his actual favorite subjects. Laying down my very interesting book, I follow him instead of reading, taking pictures of passing by boats or imagining some sea related subject to write about.


As Paul described to me, ten years ago two individuals related with South African and Zimbabwean finances met in London. Following that meeting, they created a company called Central African Mining Exploration Company (CAMEC) with the goal of capitalizing on African riches, mainly platinum, cobalt and copper. CAMEC has several shareholders, including big financial names from Switzerland and the USA. The company is quoted on the London stock exchange.


As any company does, its main objective is realizing quick, large profits. To what extend they are decided to go to make their shareholders happy is our concern. Someone close to Mugabe is one of CAMEC shareholders. He reached that position through a business deal for cobalt and copper concession in the south Katanga (DRC). Meanwhile, the DRC government has suspended that mining licence due to suspicions of corruption involving the deal.


In business, one day you loose, one day you win. CAMEC, for instance, is winning big in Mozambique. Locally, they are involved in agriculture and mining research. CAMEC has established a local company called ProCana. ProCana has four shareholders, being CAMEC one of them, and a capital value of less than E1.000 (one thousand euros). A private local company has also a share valued in USD50 (fifty American dollars) and a third shareholder has an interest value of USD10. No, it’s not my mistake… Do read ten dollars!


Despite being a “ghost” company, ProCana has obtained from the Mozambican government a licence for the exploitation of 30km2 (30.000 hectares) of fertile land near the Massingir dam to produce ethanol.


Can you believe it? How could a company with a capital of less than E1.000 obtain such facilities? How serious is a government capable of such? I am not talking about some secret arrangement but an open deal, solemnly blessed by the highest Mozambican authorities.


No wonder some established South African companies worry about such scams. What kind of companies are these whose capital can’t guarantee its operation for more than two or three hours? What is behind all this?


As the above is not a joke but facts, this deal sounds more like some kind of magic box trick or, even better, a Christmas gift to some lucky London stock exchange shareholders.



Before the food I want to do something that I really enjoyed when I was a little one. Swimming while it’s raining! Inside the pool there are only three teens and a group of children. They seem to enjoy the rain the same way I used to enjoy it, and still do.


It was a perfect day. The only doubt disturbing me for a while was: “How can I feel motivated to write about the sea, if I came to the sea to hear Paul’s political insights?”