The continuing murder with impunity of public figures in Mozambique suggests that crime has subverted fundamental rights and freedoms, two analysts told Lusa on Monday.
“Academics, magistrates, politicians and journalists have been paying for freely expressing their thinking with their lives,” said Borges Nhamire, an activist with the Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Expression and Press in an interview with Lusa in Maputo.
Reacting to the March 4 murder of Mahamudo Amurante, president of Nampula municipality in northern Mozambique, Nhamire said the killing followed a pattern that was intended to silence the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms in the country.
The failure of the state to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice fosters a sense of impunity and insecurity in society, he continued.
The state was failing in its essential function of providing security to citizens and ensuring the criminal accountability of perpetrators, Nhamire said.
If the voice of good was not to become the accomplice of criminals, Nhamirre added, it was necessary for society to join in the denunciation and pressure to the authorities to put an end to this criminality.
Baltazar Faela, a lawyer and investigator at the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), told Lusa that the attack on the country’s fundamental freedoms was fuelled by a lack of accountability.
“The perpetrators of these crimes are encouraged to continue their programme, because nothing happens to them,” Faela said.
Impunity was spreading a climate of terror among Mozambican citizens because they knew that exercising freedom of expression put them in a vulnerable situation.
Mahamudo Amurane joins a list of public figures murdered in recent years in Mozambique in crimes suspected to have to do with their public positions.
In March 2015, the Franco-Mozambican constitutional lawyer Gilles Cistac was shot dead at a cafe in central Maputo after coming to the attention for defending lines of argument embarrassing for Frelimo, the ruling party, the last of which gave legal support to Renamo, the main opposition party, in its demands for the creation of autonomous provinces.
In October 2016, State Councillor Jeremias Pondeca was fatally shot while doing morning gymnastics on Maputo’s Marginal Avenue.
In January 2016, the general secretary of Renamo (Mozambican National Resistance), Manuel Bissopo, was shot and seriously wounded while travelling in his car in the city centre of Beira, Sofala province. His bodyguard died in the attack.
In April of that year, José Manuel, a member of the National Defence and Security Council representing Renamo and a member of the military wing of the main opposition party, was shot dead by persons unknown outside Beira international airport.
The deaths mentioned occurred when the Mozambican Defence and Security Forces and the armed wing of Renamo were confronting each other following the main opposition party’s refusal to recognise defeat in the general elections of 2014.
Also in April, Maputo City prosecutor Marcelino Vilankulos was shot and killed as he drove to his home on the outskirts of the capital. Vilankulos was prosecuting various cases associated with the wave of abductions at the time plaguing many Mozambican cities
In May 2016, political commentator and university professor Jaime Macuane was kidnapped in the centre of Maputo and taken to the outskirts of the city, where his attackers abandoned him having shot him numerous times in the legs.
At the time, Macuane was one of the commentators on the popular “Points of View” (Pontos de Vista) television opinion programme broadcast by the privately owned STV channel.
To these cases can be added other high profile assassinations that took the lives of journalist Carlos Cardoso in 2000, the economist Siba Siba Macuacua in 2001, and Judge Dinis Silica in 2014.
Carlos Cardoso was assassinated while investigating a huge fraud in the former Banco Austral, while Siba Siba Macuácuá was killed when trying to clean up the accounts of the bank.
Dinis Silica was in charge of court cases related to kidnappings.