Mozambique exhibiting at Zimbabwe's Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo
The Mozambican immigration service (SENAMI) stands accused of sabotaging the country’s tourism industry and the government policy on entry visas, according to a report carried on Tuesday by the Zitamar News Service.
In February the government issued regulations allowing foreign tourists to purchase entry visas at most of Mozambique’s borders, regardless of which countries they came from. This measure was taken explicitly to boost the number of tourists visiting Mozambique.
But SENAMI has refused to implement this measure, and last week it announced that it would no longer issue border visas to citizens of countries where there are Mozambican embassies or consulates. Thus SENAMI arrogated to itself the power to overrule a government regulation.
Interviwed by Zitamar News, SENAMI spokesperson Cira Fernandes cited the excuse of “national security”, but also claimed that SENAMI was defending the jobs of Mozambican diplomats in the embassies and consulates, many of whom had been left with nothing to do when the regulation on border visas took effect.
“We’re seeing unprecedented demand at the borders”, Fernandes told Zitamar, “but the embassies are seeing completely the opposite situation. This hinders colleagues who work in these embassies, because there’s no demand”.
Fernandes also claimed that changes in the law are not implemented automatically – and that SENAMI’s concerns position was motivated by concerns over “national security”.
“We are fulfilling our mission of controlling migration with a view to protecting the sovereignty of the state”, she claimed. “If we don’t fortify security we could be hosting terrorist networks in the country, and fail to combat them when it’s already too late”.
But immigration staff at embassies are no more likely to detect possible terrorists than staff at the airports or border crossings.
As for the laughable claim that visas provide work for staff at embassies, if this were true, then any government desperately short of money would jump at the opportunity to cut staff numbers and thus reduce the extremely high costs of running embassies across the globe.
Fernandes complained that people from countries as varied as Portugal, China and India “cross oceans, arrive here and ask for a visa. If you leave here and go to China or Thailand, you’re not going to get in without a visa. But they leave there and just ask for a visa on the border. They need to know that the border visa is not a substitute for the embassies”.
But in fact the government approved the border visa precisely to substitute for the embassies’ work on visas, and to make life easier for tourists.
Those involved in the tourism industry are furious that SESAMI has overruled the government. Joao das Neves, the head of tourism at the Confederation of Mozambican Business Associations (CTA) told Zitamar that SENAMI is doing precisely the opposite of what the government decided.
“This is sabotage”, he said. “The government approved the regulation and SENAMI is not fully implementing it, and is doing the opposite”.
Nuno Fortes, an official at the government’s own National Tourism Institute (INATUR) told Zitamar he could not understand what SENAMI was doing. “At the end of the day, what did we approve?”, he asked. “Wasn’t it precisely in order to end this discrimination between countries with and without Mozambican diplomatic representation?”
“We have even received complaints from tourists who make reservations in hotels, but who arrive at the border and aren’t allowed in”, said Fortes. “It worries us greatly when these situations come from precisely the people who are supposed to guarantee implementation of the regulation”.
“If SENAMI continues saying these things, it is going to negatively affect the attraction of tourists and potential investors”, he warned.
This is the second time this year that officials have used the excuse of “national security” to overrule government policy. The first was when agents of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE) deliberately withheld information from the auditors of the company Kroll Associates who were, at the request of the Mozambican Attorney-General’s Office (PGR), investigating the companies Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Comanmy), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).
The SISE officer who is the chairperson of all three companies, Antonio do Rosario, openly boasted that he had thrown the auditors out of his office, and defended his actions in the name of “national security”.
The result of obstructing the audit is likely to be a delay in re-establishing normal relations between Mozambique and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the country’s other western partners.Source: AIM