MAPUTO, April 30 – The Mozambican government is boycotting South Africa’s major tourism fair, Indaba 2015, in protest against the wave of attacks against foreigners resident in South Africa.
Indaba 2015 is due to be held from May 9 to 11 in the port city of Durban, which was the scene of most of the xenophobic attacks of the past few weeks.
Mozambique’s Tourism Ministry and other Mozambican operators have habitually participated in previous editions of this fair, with exhibitions showcasing Mozambique’s own tourist potential, but not this year.
A report in Wednesday’s issue of the independent news sheet, Mediafax, quoted Rafael Nambale, head of the information and promotion department in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as saying that “the decision has already been taken that the country will not take part in Indaba 2015”.
“After what has happened and what is still happening, the conditions do not exist for Mozambique to participate,” he added.
Given this decision, he said Mozambique would also not be present at the ministerial meeting preparing for the event. That meeting of African tourism ministers is scheduled for May 8.
Asked about what the country would lose if it failed to promote its image at Indaba 2015, Nambale replied that the safety of Mozambican citizens was more important. Mozambique would only participate in such events if there were effective security conditions, which was not currently the case.
“For Mozambique, Indaba is one of the most important international fairs, and there can be no doubt about that. But what is at stake is not whether the event is important or not. What is at stake is the security situation in South Africa. Regardless of the results in terms of tourism promotion, right now we think there are no conditions for us to participate,” he said.
Nambale made it clear that for the government the key issue is the protection of Mozambican citizens. Despite the recent promises given by the South African authorities, nothing yet guarantees that the harassment and attacks against foreigners have definitively ceased.
Nambale said Mozambique might reconsider its boycott if the security conditions for foreign residents in South Africa were normalized. But the possibility of Mozambique attending Indaba 2015 seems remote, given that the fair is taking place in less than a fortnight’s time.