By: Estacio Valoi It is Monday morning, and the world still trembling because an expanding pandemic of unknown origin has cause a large number
By: Estacio Valoi
It is Monday morning, and the world still trembling because an expanding pandemic of unknown origin has cause a large number of deaths. Starting in China, it went viral, spreading through many other countries. So, there is an on-going military war here in Mozambique, in Syria and other place, another war is being fought in China, U.S., Europe and Africa – in fact all over the world – against COVID19. Scientists, politicians, environmentalists and other specialists find themselves against the wall, trying to fight an invisible enemy.
The Coronavirus has been and is still the breaking news in almost all worldwide media coverage, 24 hours a day. Everyone is focusing on and addressing it, ignoring other important issues happening in the world. While people are looking at the death toll and the number of affected by the virus and states of emergencies imposed or eased in the countries, people are forgetting to look at what is going on in their own backyards. Some, on the other hand, are even profiting from the pandemic by quickly producing materials rapidly for fast money, even if resulting in materials of poor quality.
Others have found new opportunities to fortify their looting, stealing, money laundering, corruption, big contracts on the business of the pandemic,extension of their drug market and distribution, and their extremist terrorist activities. The terrorism -war in Mozambique, military generals and other individuals are in the business of war with contract to protect the oil and gas companies, logistics in millions of dollars !
Sleeping under the shadow!
Covid-19 is also feeding corruption. The old/new illegal smuggling network found a way of making profits, ”good that COVID-19 is here so we can get more money”. Looks like it became a good business for the bad boys.
Indeed the new virus is a serious problem in a continent and the SADC region, which already faces many other problems. Looking only to Mozambique, for example, the World Health Organization estimated that only 36% of Mozambicans have access to a health facility within 30 minutes of their homes, and that there are only 24 ventilators in the whole country. According to the Mozambican government, it has already asked its partners for “US$700 million to fight Covid-19.” A rich/poor country living with open hands, begging for the monetary funds from western donors.
Meanwhile in the country, the Members of Parliament earn 42 to 77 times the minimum wage, troubling high salaries especially when considering the added extra payments, subsidies. This results in less agriculture or health budget, in a country in need of protective equipment, ventilators and other medical-surgical devices, consumable materials such as gloves.
“An ordinary member of parliament earns $33,357 per year plus $6,251 in constituency expenses; at the top the salary is $52,690 plus $9,313 in expenses. Is this a high salary? Senior people in local non-government organisations funded by donors earn much more than that. Minimum wages are set by sector, and an ordinary member of parliament earns 15 times the minimum wage of a bank worker and 42 times the minimum wage of a farm worker or civil servant (or 50 times if constituency expenses are included, which some will treat as part of income). For an AR vice president or party head it is 23 times the bank worker minimum, 67 times a farm worker, and 77 times a farm worker if expenses are included.”
Money laundry, tax evasion still, drug smuggling, etc. are still practiced. Wanted on suspicion of being a major drug trafficker, Gilberto Aparecido dos Santos known as Fuminho, “a known drug lord, indicted for several crimes and sought by the Brazilian authorities for about 21 years, is the subject of an international arrest warrant.” Who are the politicians, people who have been backing Fuminho in Mozambique, a ‘drug’ corridor to the world, while we are looking on COVID-19? Indeed ,Fuminho was living a luxury life in Mozambique and travelling to Cape Town in South Africa. Of course he was not going up and down the countries enjoying the breeze, taking son baths, swimming at the beautiful beaches of Ponta do Ouro or diving in the water in the cold waters of the Cape.
The Zambian economy is getting from worse to worst due to ‘kleptocratics’, bad management, and freedom press undermined like in many other countries, which avoid journalists reporting on bad boys and their illegal activities, all under the name of COVID-19.
Somehow, when we journalists turn our focus only on COVID-19, we end up formatted, locked on the aim of the current regimes. In Canada there are reports of 1 million masks that were acquired from China being unfit for coronavirus! How did that happen?
The plunder route to Panama – The Panama Papers project, last year revealed that there are quite a few African politicians, their relatives and friends among those who have stored hidden wealth in off-shore bank accounts.
“It was because of stories like the one about First Quantum, and because of the Panama Papers, that we decided to take a closer look at African political leaders.” In Togo, the president and his friends handle the Phosphates. In Mozambique, the mining licences are for the generals. In the DRC, the anti-corruption advisor doesn’t pay tax. In Rwanda, we can envisage all the ruling party’s skyscrapers. In Burundi, the militia gives out protection receipts. In South Africa, the zupta’s have empire banks in Dubai. In Botswana, the president owns the paradise.”
“African oligarchs do a lot more than accepting bribes. They stop the development of governance systems or break down existing ones to make way for plunder. Extracting wealth from their countries and storing it outside the continent, often going there for education, medical treatment, holidays and residence, they have become almost indistinguishable from former colonialists.”
It’s as if all of a sudden the world, journalists and investigative journalist and funders have somehow gone blind to these other concerns, the number of investigations seems to decrease and the watch dogs seem to be sleeping.. Funders, by releasing grants mainly focused on coronavirus and related activities, and journalists, by following suit by mainly reporting only stories that have to do with the pandemic virus .
And talking from our backyard as the Investigative Collective (AIPC) did show, African oligarchs keep plundering the wealth of nations, from natural and mineral resources; timber, fisheries, and poaching involving criminal gangs of nationals and Chinese citizens. Even stealing or filling up ballot boxes for votes, even dead men votes. Billions of dollars disappear every year, kept in offshore countries, an ongoing process. Bad boys don’t sleep and instead their businesses are booming, expanding, and their illicit activities legalized within governments .
People are even forgetting to look into their own backyards, to things such as malaria, Ebola- And gain, this week “ Four people have died from Ebola in a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s health ministry confirmed on Monday Health Minister Eteni Longondo confirmed a new case of the deadly virus in the western province of Equateur, over 1,000km (620 miles) away from the ongoing outbreak in the country’s east.” , cholera, hunger, famine, which are constant and permanent pandemics.
They now ignore lack of agriculture investment, climate changes, floods, and poor health systems, which are mainly a consequence of the usual kleptocracy plundering in African countries by trillions and trillions of US Dollars that then disappear into offshore accounts. A State of emergency has been declared almost everywhere. In some places lockdowns are required even for those who have ten people living together in the same room, with no water or sanitary conditions, and no possible way of practicing social distancing, people that live day-by-day, depending on informal daily buying and selling of goods.
Societies have woken up and stumbled on pandemie . Governments are undermining freedom of the press and there has been violations of human rights. Everyone seems to be thinking, eating, sleeping and even dreaming of COVID-19.
That is the case in Mozambique, with a war where extremist groups are trying to or are making use of the current period of pandemic,. The African Union’s (AU’s) motto for this 2020: “Silencing the Guns”. South Africa’s goal, as Chair of the AU, was indeed to silence the guns, but it seems not to be achievable in a country and continent rallying with the Covid-19 pandemic. Above all, the ongoing war and AU’s must act against Mozambique’s very real IS threating not only this country but the region and the bandits from the Islamic State have been increasing attacks since the outbreak of Covid-19.
The Assistant Secretary Tibor Nagy from the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub, answering on a press conference month ago week, about the ongoing war in North of Mozambique, expressed his concern, “quite worrying” situation, “grown from a very small movement to a much larger movement.” As an example, he compared it with the risk Boko Haram imposes by in Nigeria. “Boko Haram was just a small movement, and because of the way the Nigerian Government initially responded to it, it grew into a very serious threat, not just to northeast Nigeria, but to surrounding countries.”
The number of people affected by the armed violence in Cabo Delgado has risen from 152,000 to 162,000, an official source said weeks ago . According to the Mozambican National Institute for Disaster Management’s (INGC’s) report on the humanitarian situation in the province, “most of those affected are located in the Districts of Macomia (29,000), Mocímboa da Praia (26,000), and Quissanga (15,000)”, with the rest distributed over 14 other districts. But with last attacks seems that the number increased to almost 200.000 thousands
The reports from the United Nations and WFP say that a hunger pandemic around the world is expected to originate as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, estimating that US$267 billion per year will be necessary to curb world hunger, where currently 821 million people go to bed hungry every night, 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period, and 135 million people on earth are marching towards the brink of starvation.
Due to the Coronavirus, an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020, 77 million people suffering acute food insecurity due to conflict in 2019, 34 million people suffering acute food insecurity due to climate change in 2019, 24 million people suffering acute food insecurity due to economic crises in 2019, “while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic.”
Despite the counter terrorism strategies and while, according to several media reports, the world is under imposed quarantine , ISIS keeps its operations. In Middle East emergency to tackle ISIS in 2014 with it was said “South Asia is home to more Islamist terrorist organizations than any other region of the world. Al-Qaeda was born there, in Afghanistan, and ISIS has roots in the region.” Even with the loss of its leader, it looks like the IS has maintained its command structure and operational capabilities, “remained cohesive, with an intact command and control structure, urban clandestine networks, and an insurgent presence in much of rural Syria,” since Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. raid in October 2019.
“Since the pandemic started, and weakened the capacity of law or security enforcement around the world, ISIS has persisted in operations across Afghanistan, West Africa, Central Africa, the Sahel, Egypt, and Yemen,” says Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online networks affiliated with jihadist and white supremacist organizations. ISIS has “specifically exploited the pandemic with attacks in Iraq, the Maldives, and the Philippines,” she added, and aggressively publicized calls for attacks on the West.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that extremist groups are taking advantage of COVID-19 lockdowns to spread hatred and intensify social media efforts to recruit young people spending more time online.
Around the world, in March 2019, American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the Syrian village of al-Baghouz where ISIS lost territory. But according to Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), there are still some 20,000 to 25,000 ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Alleged ‘Alshabab bandits’ from 2017 have been responsible for several attacks resulting in almost 1,000 deaths, and displacing more than 150 thousands.I.e. As for the war in Cabo Delgado, the ’evildoers‘ had an enthusiastic farewell in
Mocímboa da Praia and other districts of Cabo Delgado https://www.moz24h.co.mz/post/guerra-em-cabo-delgado-malfeitores-tiveram-despedida-apoteótica-em-mocimboa-da-praia
On April 24, Mozambican authorities acknowledged for the first time that terrorists ‘ISIS” was present in Mozambique, after police reported a “massacre” of 52 villagers in the oil-rich Cabo Delgado region in a massacre claimed by a local affiliate of the transnational jihadist group in printed al-Naba newsletter.
While recent articles in the ISIS’s weekly Arabic-language Al Naba magazine stress that Muslims can be afflicted by COVID-19, the magazine initially suggested the virus was divine punishment against communist China. When cases spiked in Iran, Al Naba declared it a warning to Shi’ite “polytheists.” In Europe, ISIS said COVID-19 constituted retribution for “crusader nations” and cautioned its members in the Levant against travel to affected countries while urging those already in Europe to carry out attacks.
COVID-19 is wiping out the world but let’s not forget to look inside our own yards.
Bad boys never sleep.