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Mozambique Mayhem: Tuna, Terror & Trials


Mozambique, already one of the world's poorest countries, has hit barrier after barrier this year in terms of economic recovery. The economy was battered by Cyclone Idai in March of 2019, has been experiencing terror attacks by the Sons of Mocimboa and most recently has been involved in the biggest corruption trial in the country's history.


The first blow to the Mozambique economy came pre-covid in early 2019 with the arrival of Cyclone Idai. Mozambique is no stranger to natural disasters however Cyclone Idai, which mostly impacted Northern Mozambique, was dubbed “one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere "by the UN- killing 1000 people and causing $773 million in damages to buildings and infrastructure. GDP per capita in Mozambique currently sits at around $448 per individual- to compare with the UK’s $40 000, this cyclone left the economy in tatters as the government desperately tried to rebuild and recover however, these efforts seem to have been to no avail as the numbers of those still in resettlement sites stood at 100 000 close to a year later.


To add insult to injury and to further diminish the credibility of the Mozambican government- the country's biggest corruption trial has just begun and regards the supposed embezzlement of $2.7bn. The investment was intended to be used to set up an ultra-efficient tuna industry (new trawlers, patrolling boats etc.) Manuel Chang, former finance minister, and others are on trial, with the charges held against them being bribery, embezzlement and money laundering. This trial has also led to questions about the credibility of the entire Mozambican judicial system which is now on trial in South Africa. These cases could not come at a more inopportune moment for the country- as the rest of the world emerges from the lockdowns and looks to invest – they most certainly won't be very encouraged to inject cash into Mozambique. The country desperately needs new infrastructure to replace what was lost during Cyclone Idai but indeed to modernise and to get their labour force into work once more.


A threat that has been plaguing Mozambique recently (besides Covid-19) are the terrorist group Sons of Mocimboa. Not much is known about the group and their motives however, they have been active since 2017 and have carried out beheadings, raids, abductions and burning of businesses. The group have caused 700 000 people to flee Mozambique and the UK has been warned not to travel to the country due to the threat. The economy relies heavily on tourism to boost smaller villages along the coast and this ‘warning’ will stop the tourism industry from recovering especially after the pandemic which was wreaked havoc within most country’s tourism sectors.


Mozambique can only hope to recover to pre-2019 levels and clamp down on the insurgents which dominate most of the North. If strong change is not made soon, the economy may be at risk of defaulting on debts and need recovery.


 

Written by Kaitlyn Damant


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