On 24 April, 2020, the al-Naba newsletter reported a massacre by a local affiliate of the transnational jihadist IS killing 52 villagers in Cabo Delgado, a province in the northern part of Mozambique. António Guterres, the United Nation Secretary-General warned that extremist groups are taking advantage of Covid-19 lockdowns to spread hatred and intensify the recruitment of young people. Tibor Nagy, the Assistant Secretary for the US State's Bureau of African Affairs, compares the IS operations in Mozambique with the threat Boko Haram imposes to Nigeria.
Strong statements falling on deaf ears. This is what Estacio Valoi, a member of the African Investigative Publishing Collective (AIPC) observes in a blog post. Valoi is based in Cabo Delgado. He recalls how the 'evildoers' had an enthusiastic farewell in Mocímba da Praia, a harbour city taken by the extremists without noticeable resistance. 'Indeed, many people greeted the hooded bandits, many of whom were wearing the olive green of the Mozambican army. The bandits arrived on a high note and left without any confrontation with the defense forces', he writes.
While scientists, politicians, environmentalists and other specialists find themselves with their backs against the wall trying to fight an invisible enemy, sinister forces create death and despair that disappear under the radar of international media. Not only in the northern part of Mozambique but also in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere wars are being fought. But those 'backyards' of Covid-19 are being overlooked, like diminished agricultural production, climate change, floods, dilapidated educational structures and poor health systems. 'These are mainly a consequence of ongoing kleptocratic practices in African countries. Trillions and trillions of US dollars disappear into offshore accounts', Valoi bitterly concludes.
The pandemic also seems to create a business model for those who flourish in perfect storms, knowing how to never waste a good crisis. While authorities, if not involved in crime syndicates, focus on law and order in the sake of the fight against Covid-19, bad boys find ways 'to fortify their looting, stealing, money laundering and corruption. They extend their markets and distribution of drugs. (...) Others make huge profits with the rapid production of protection materials, some of very poor quality', says Valoi. And when the world comes to terms with one pandemic others like malaria, cholera, hunger and famine continue to damage societies.
The impact of Covid-19 is disastrous, in many ways. The virus not only threatens people's health and limits their freedom of movement. It also provides authoritarian regimes with additional tools of oppression, attempting to silence those who speak out against oppression and the abuse of power.
But Valoi won't keep quiet.