Mozambique: Ambushes Hit Transport Operators

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(File photo).

Maputo — Attacks against vehicles in the central Mozambican provinces of Manica and Sofala are responsible for a decline in the business of passenger and freight transport companies, causing them serious losses, according to Agostinho Vuma, chairperson of the Confederation of Mozambican Business Associations (CTA).

Speaking in Maputo on Wednesday, Vuma said the reduced flow of trucks willing to risk the roads in the central provinces is also leading to shortages in markets that depend on goods coming from the south of the country.

Passengers are now reluctant to catch buses that go through Manica and Sofala, added Vuma, giving his end-of-year speech to the CTA.

He put the number of ambushes in central Mozambique so far this year at 15, all believed to be the work of the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta" - a dissident group which has broken away from the country's main opposition party Renamo, denouncing its leader, Ossufo Momade, as "a traitor".

Vuma also referred to the attacks by terrorist groups, apparently inspired by islamic fundamentalism, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, as "another threat, not only to the stability of the country, but also to the business environment".

Both the attacks in the central provinces, and the Cabo Delgado insurgency, Vuma said, "pose real risks for the prospects for 2020".

The business class, he added, is thus urging the government to use all means at its disposal to solve the foci of violence, which are so damaging to business.

He forecast that Mozambique's Gross Domestic Product will grow by 5.5 per cent in 2020 (compared with a projected 2.1 per cent for this year).

"The prospects for 2020 are for a strong recovery in economic activity and low inflation", he said. Recovery in the agricultural sector would stimulate the rest of the economy, he claimed.

Vuma said the government is gradually paying off its debts to domestic suppliers. The debts which have been validated by the Administrative Tribunal (TA) amount to 8.1 billion meticais (about 126 million US dollars), and nearly all of them have now been paid.

But this is less than half the total debt to suppliers, estimated at 19 billion meticais. One group, of about 3,000 small and medium companies, is owed 5.3 billion meticais - the government has validated these debts, but they have not yet received the stamp of approval from the TA. Nonetheless, Vuma said the government has begun to pay off this group.

More complicated are the debts which suppliers claim, but which the government has not validated. Among the reasons for this are that some companies have been unable to prove that the goods or services in question really were supplied to the state.

The debts claimed by this group amount to 5.7 billion meticais. Some of the debts date back to 2007.

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