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CASP 2024: Entrepreneurs Call for Tough Action to Stop Kidnappings

CASP 2024: Entrepreneurs Call for Tough Action to Stop Kidnappings

Mozambican businesspeople have called on the government to take severe measures to curb the wave of kidnappings that is scaring the class away, warning that the phenomenon discredits the country as the right place to invest.

‘Let’s eliminate this inconvenience that is affecting our country’s credibility, scaring away capital not only from foreigners, but also from Mozambicans who, for security reasons, move to other countries,’ said Salimo Abdula, chairman of the board of directors of the Intelec Holdings Group and of Vodacom Mozambique’s M-Pesa mobile portfolio, during the 19th Annual Private Sector Conference (CASP), which ran until yesterday 17, in Maputo.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi admitted that combating the kidnappings that plague the country, particularly in Maputo and especially businesspeople, requires more ‘proactivity’, especially in collaboration with the private sector and other countries.

‘We’re working with countries that have a lot of experience in this regard,’ assured Nyusi in his speech at the XIX CASP.

In this context, Abdula said that urgent and severe measures are needed against kidnappings, ‘to nip the evil in the bud’. The businessman argued that if the state doesn’t step up security, there is a risk of this type of crime becoming more widespread.

‘We’re already starting to feel this impact, people in the neighbourhoods are suffering, the criminal mind is developing and crimes of a less preparatory nature are starting to happen,’ he warned.

The most recent kidnapping case in Maputo took place last Saturday (11), involving a 29-year-old man who was taken by eight armed men who fired shots into the street, a source from the National Criminal Investigation Service told Lusa at the time.

According to the news agency, the kidnapping took place on Avenida Joaquim Chissano, next to one of the victim’s businesses, and four of the kidnappers had AK-47 machine guns which they used to fire. This was the second kidnapping of businessmen in the last fortnight in Maputo, and at least the fourth publicly known since the beginning of the year.

Salimo Abdula also pointed out that neighbouring countries like South Africa record an average of 4,000 kidnappings every quarter.

‘If we don’t take precautions in Mozambique, what will happen is that we will reach this level. Unfortunately, this is the reality, there have been less good days and we need severe measures,’ he added.

As well as scaring off investors, kidnappings have affected Mozambican tourism, creating fear in those who want to visit the country, as the president of Cotur, Noor Momade, one of the country’s largest travel agencies, admitted to Lusa. ‘Any tourist, when they go to a country, usually takes their family and one of the most important things is their safety. And they’ll flee as long as they don’t feel there’s a healthy environment in which to visit the country.’

This position is corroborated by the executive director of United Bank for Africa, Pedro Maranguele, who points to the consequences on credit lines because of insecurity. ‘Kidnappings reduce the attractiveness of investment. We feel the negative impact, so we hope that the authorities can work to bring a climate of security. We know that investors only put money where there will be a return,’ he said.

The problem of kidnappings also bothers businesspeople outside Maputo, who are asking the government for quick solutions. ‘The country is going through a difficult time, first the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, then the kidnappings. The lack of security has a negative impact on investment,’ said the manager of the INCALA plastics and footwear industry, and also president of the Zambezia Business Association, Inusso Ismael.

The businessman argued that there has to be ‘will on the part of those involved in security’ to put an end to the problem. ‘Our police need to be organised and ruthless. And perhaps ask for help from countries with experience in fighting this crime,’ argued Inusso Ismael, also recognising that there are businesspeople who are leaving the country to invest in places that provide security for the business class.

‘That’s why we need to find ways to put an end to this evil that only harms our economy,’ he said.

The Republic of Mozambique Police (PRM) has recorded a total of 185 cases of kidnapping and at least 288 people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in this type of crime since 2011, the interior minister announced in March.

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‘The city of Maputo shows the highest trend and incidence of criminal cases of kidnapping, followed by Maputo province and, finally, Sofala, with 103, 41 and 18 cases recorded, respectively,’ said Pascoal Ronda on 19 March.

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