Countries at the Crossroads 2007 - Mozambique

  • Author: Robert B. Lloyd
  • Document source:
  • Date:
    25 September 2007

(Scores are based on a scale of 0 to 7, with 0 representing weakest and 7 representing strongest performance.)


The December 2004 presidential and legislative elections marked a major transition in Mozambique's political evolution. After 18 years as the nation's president, Joaquim Chissano stepped down in February 2005. Under his leadership Mozambique ended a brutal 16-year civil war, abandoned its Marxist rhetoric and political system, introduced a democratic constitution, allowed competitive elections, and instituted economic reforms that resulted in a decade of impressive economic growth. Chissano left office, however, amid complaints of government corruption, a rising crime rate, and with Mozambique increasingly experiencing the devastating impacts of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

His successor, Armando Guebuza, is a wealthy businessman with a hardliner past. Trained as a guerilla fighter for Mozambique's independence from Portugal, Guebuza stirred controversy through his actions as a government leader after the country's independence in 1975. He became referred to as "20-24" in response to his ultimatum to Portuguese settlers to leave the country with 20 kilograms of baggage in 24 hours. In the 1980s, his "Operation Production" forcibly removed Mozambicans from cities into the countryside in a futile attempt to increase food production and reduce urban unemployment. Later, he led the government's negotiations with the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) rebels, which eventually resulted in the Peace Accord in 1992. As Mozambique made a transition in the 1990s from Marxism to capitalism, Guebuza developed financial interests in a wide variety of business concerns, earning him the nickname "Mr. Gue-Business."

Guebuza's election cemented the control of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (known by its Portuguese acronym as FRELIMO) over the country. The opposition RENAMO, which transformed itself from a rebel group to a political party following the end of the civil war, saw its political influence slump. RENAMO's share of representation in the 250-seat legislature (Assembly of the Republic) fell from 117 to 90. FRELIMO increased its share from 133 to 160, which is just below the two-thirds threshold required to change the constitution. The continued electoral losses of RENAMO suggest that Mozambique increasingly displays a "predominant party" system, with FRELIMO being seen at the "natural" party of government.

Mozambique is a country in transition. Its great achievement has been the political and economic liberalization of a nation whose foundation was marked by colonial subjugation, Marxist repression, and civil confrontation. For Mozambique's political and economic transformation to continue, it must be supported by a strengthening of the judiciary, the professionalizing of the police force, and a reduction in the opportunities for corruption. The president has asked for, and received, a mandate to address these particular issues. Early indications are that he is beginning to address these issues that have undermined the country's political and economic reforms.

Accountability and Public Voice – 4.27

Free and fair electoral laws and elections: 3.75
Effective and accountable government: 3.75
Civic engagement and civic monitoring: 5.33
Media independence and freedom of expression: 4.25

Mozambique has a democratic multiparty political system based on universal suffrage, an independent judiciary, and freedoms of assembly, religion, and speech.1 The 1990 constitution guided the historic 1994 national and provincial elections that marked the first multiparty democratic vote in Mozambique's history. The country has had two election cycles since then, most recently in 2004. FRELIMO has won every election, but the RENAMO opposition party has provided stiff electoral competition.

FRELIMO candidate Armando Guebuza, running on an anticorruption and anti-crime platform, emerged the victor in the December 2004 general elections, garnering 63.7 percent of the national vote, compared with 31.7 percent for RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama. Representing a range of political interests, 20 parties competed on a party-list, proportional electoral system. The elections were peaceful, but election observers noted serious electoral deficiencies, including ballot-box stuffing, the politicization of the National Election Commission (CNE), and a lack of transparency.2 Mozambique's Constitutional Council accepted the election results but was highly critical of the way in which the CNE conducted the contest.3

Despite equal campaigning opportunities and government campaign funding for all parties, FRELIMO nevertheless enjoys a decided electoral advantage as it has been in power for three decades, is better able to tap into state resources for political campaigning, and has built a national presence. Laws requiring political parties to publish the sources and uses of funds are not enforced, making it difficult to determine the influence of economically privileged interests on the political process. Tensions from the civil war still exist: the two main parties frequently accuse one other of physically harassing supporters in their respective political strongholds. The constitution requires that political parties be national in scope, uphold national interests, and not advocate violence.4 Political parties often reflect regional and ethnic interests: the main opposition base is located in the central part of the country, while FRELIMO's base is in the south and the north.

The constitution separates the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Revisions to the constitution in 2004 strengthened an already strong executive, permitting the Council of Ministers to introduce "decree laws" that automatically become law if parliament does not challenge them during the session following their publication.5 The executive branch also tends to dominate the judicial branch, in part due to its ability to select judges. Mozambique is a unitary state and the government is highly centralized, but a limited devolution of power is beginning to occur. The Mozambican national parliament in late 2006 approved a bill creating locally elected provincial assemblies, which are tasked to approval of the provincial government's budget and plan and verification of its fulfillment. Provincial assemblies cannot pass laws, but do have the ability to provide closer public scrutiny of local governments. In some provinces this could provoke conflict, with RENAMO-dominated provincial assemblies clashing with governors and district governments appointed by the central – and FRELIMO controlled – government.

The civil service is generally selected on the basis of open competition and merit.6 However, relatively low pay, inadequate resources, and a lack of trained personnel undermine its efficiency and professionalism.

The government of Mozambique is engaged in initiatives that reflect the interests of women and ethnic and religious groups. The constitution recognizes that men and women are "equal before the law in all spheres of political, economic, social, and cultural affairs." The government mandates that at least 30 percent of the National Assembly and cabinet must be women,7 and women hold key positions in the Guebuza government. While Portuguese is the official language, the use of local languages in education and as a means of communication is encouraged. The constitution establishes a secular state but "recognizes and values" religious groups. It also grants people with disabilities the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens, though poverty makes it less able to accommodate special needs.

Foreign NGOs, largely European and American, operate freely throughout the country and influence the political process through grants and technical assistance. The Program Aid Partnership, for example, is a group of donor countries that collectively provides a significant portion of the state budget and plays a notable role with government agencies. However, such groups are generally oriented toward technical issues and are reluctant to involve themselves in electoral issues. NGO consultation was formalized in January 2005, when a newly established Council of State included representatives of civil society to advise the president. Some NGOs have complained about registration delays, but there are no reports of registration denial or state pressure on their financial patrons.

The constitution guarantees "freedom of the press, and the independence of the media." There is no direct censorship of the media, and President Guebuza has publicly affirmed the government's commitment to media freedom.8 Journalists report a generally open environment for press freedom, except when reporting on corruption by government officials. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Mozambique 45th out of 168 countries in its 2006 press freedom index, up from 49th place in 2005 and 64th in 2004.

In general, the state protects individuals from imprisonment for the free expression of their views, although there are no shield laws to protect journalists. Nevertheless, reports occasionally surface of party and government officials threatening and detaining journalists, claiming libel.9 The constitution provides a fundamental right to defend one's honor, good name, and reputation. Conviction for libel can result in prison sentences, but courts have not applied these provisions in recent years. In February 2005, for example, the city council of the provincial capital of Pemba briefly threatened to sue the local weekly newspaper, Horizonte. The paper had printed a series of articles critical of the city and its garbage collection and made allegations of corruption against the mayor.10

Despite the general improvements there are still isolated incidents of harassment, unlawful detention, and violence against members of the press.11 In 2000, Carlos Cardoso, a Mozambican investigative journalist, was gunned down in public. At the time of his death he had been investigating allegations of bank fraud at the Commercial Bank of Mozambique. Despite many outstanding questions related to the murder, six individuals were eventually arrested, tried, convicted, and given lengthy prison sentences. RSF cited these heavy sentences as a major reason for the rankings jump between 2004 and 2005.The murder and trial received widespread and extensive media attention. During the trial three of the accused stated that the President's son, Nyimpine Chissano, had ordered the murder. This charge was strongly denied by Nyimpine Chissano. In May 2006, the government opened an investigation into the younger Chissano's alleged "moral authority" behind the murder of Cardoso.12

Additionally, police authorities in Maputo, the capital, acknowledged that local police manhandled and threatened with guns journalists covering the return to the country of Anibal dos Santos Junior, one of the men convicted of Cardoso's murder.13 In a separate incident, police in Maputo beat and detained two journalists with the Zambeze newspaper who had observed municipal police beating street vendors and seizing their products. The municipal police commander later apologized and stated the officers would be punished, although it is not known if this occurred.14

While the government owns and operates print, radio, and television media, there is no evidence of censorship. Most Mozambicans receive news from the state-owned Radio Mocambique, which has been commended by the Committee to Protect Journalists for its nonpartisan coverage.15 State-owned Televisao de Mocambique operates the only national network. Noticias, the major newspaper in the capital, is state-managed. Mozambique also has a number of privately owned newspapers and television and radio stations (including a religious one) that operate freely.16 The government does not restrict access to the internet,17 the number of internet service providers is growing, and the environment is competitive.18 Nonetheless, RENAMO argues that some media coverage is biased in favor of the ruling party, citing the government-funded Mozambique News Agency.19 The constitution guarantees free artistic expression and intellectual property rights. There have been no reports of government restriction on cultural expression, but pirating of internationally copyrighted software, music, and film is not uncommon.


  • The National Assembly should pass shield legislation to protect journalists from libel lawsuits arising from reporting on public officials.
  • The government should increase compensation for civil servants, including the police, to reduce the attraction of corruption.
  • The government should reform the National Elections Commission (CNE) to make it smaller in membership, nonpartisan and depoliticized, and more professional and transparent both in its internal operations and supervision of elections.
  • The state should ensure that international election observers have access to all aspects of elections, especially the tabulation process.

Civil Liberties – 4.39

Protection from state terror, unjustified imprisonment, and torture: 2.86
Gender equity: 3.75
Rights of ethnic, religious, and other distinct groups: 4.00
Freedom of conscience and belief: 6.33
Freedom of association and assembly: 5.00

Mozambique is slowly moving in a direction of greater protection for civil rights and liberties, but this progress is hindered by police misconduct, judicial understaffing, improper pretrial detention, and poor prison conditions.

The constitution prohibits torture and cruel or inhumane treatment, and the death penalty is illegal. In 2005 Amnesty International (AI) found fewer reports of police torture of detainees than in previous years. In Manica province the government charged 14 police officers with a number of offenses, including assault, extrajudicial execution of suspects, extortion, and theft. These officers have not yet gone to trial.20 AI also reported several instances of attacks against peaceful activists in 2005. In one incident, police beat and then opened fire on vendors at the Limpopo market in the city of Xai-Xai who were peacefully marching to the municipal offices to air their grievances about market conditions. In another, striking students at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo were beaten by police. No investigations were conducted into whether force was used legally.21 There are no effective protections against arbitrary arrest, particularly in the more rural areas.

Multiple reports continue to highlight inhumane conditions in prisons. In 2006 the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa released an extensive report that included a review of prison conditions in Mozambique. The organization noted understaffing, procedural delays in bringing criminal cases to trial, severe overcrowding, poor physical infrastructure, and a lack of sanitary conditions and access to basic healthcare. In addition, youthful offenders are not well separated from older and more hardened criminals.22 For example, in early 2005 the Noticias newspaper reported that the main prison in the central Mozambican city of Beira contained 630 prisoners, although it is designed to hold just 150, and that most of the inmates were ill. Only 97 of the prisoners had been tried and convicted.23 Also early in 2005, prisoners injured in a fight at a high security Maputo prison were left without medical care for some time, and one of the prisoners later died. In response, the attorney general stated that prisoners had a right to medical care.24 In 2005, the justice minister cited three prisons where ongoing facility refurbishment is designed to separate hardened criminals from youth.25

Part of the problem is the slow pace of justice. The constitution limits pretrial detention and provides prisoners the right to judicial review of their detention, but understaffing and a lack of the funds necessary to post bond has led to many accused people being held in prison. Furthermore, there are allegations of detainees being held past their prison term. The constitution does permit citizens to seek redress for damage caused by illegal state acts and recourse for any act that violates constitutional guarantees.

Since the beginning of multiparty democracy in 1994, there has been no systematic and widespread abuse of citizens by non-state actors. Periodically, the leader of the RENAMO opposition has threatened to form another army, and this "Presidential Guard" could pose a threat to citizens if RENAMO chose not to participate in the government.26 Crime is a serious problem, and combating it is a difficult issue confronting the government. In some cases, criminals have been released from detention back into the community, which has led to public lynchings. Between August and November 2006, for example, more than 20 alleged criminals were beaten or burned to death in the capital.27 This widespread vigilantism is due in part to a lack of access to the formal judicial system and a relatively low level of incarceration compared to other African countries. These developments underscore the state's lack of legal and judicial capacity. The police are widely seen by Mozambicans as corrupt. Training is inadequate, and deaths due to HIV/AIDS both deprive the government of trained police forces and necessitate the training of additional police officers each year.

The constitution guarantees equal civil and political rights for men and women: "Men and women shall be equal before the law in all spheres of political, economic, social, and cultural affairs." These provisions are not always upheld, although government officials publicly stress their importance.28 In recent years the government has undertaken major revisions of legislation that discriminated against women. In December 2005, the parliament voted unanimously to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the Rights of Women in Africa. Justice Minister Esperanca Machavela publicly stated that civil servants should adopt a culture of human rights, and supported the creation of a National Humans Rights Commission to help protect civil rights.29

The question of abortion remains in dispute. Mozambique criminalizes abortion, but the Protocol permits it in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the well-being of the mother. The government is also working on legislation to criminalize domestic violence against women.30 Traditional African customs, however, do not always conform to the view of the roles of men and women expressed in state law or international norms. Thus, it is not clear, particularly in the rural areas, how much of an impact government laws will have on such traditional practices as the husband's family not permitting property inheritance by a widow, polygamy, and sexual inheritance of the wife by her late husband's brother.31

Mozambique is also a signatory to the International Labor Organization Convention on the Abolition of Forced Labor and the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This convention provides a definition of human trafficking and criminalizes this activity. Despite these legal safeguards, Mozambique is considered a source country for human trafficking, both internally and internationally. In 2006 police in the northern province of Nampula arrested a Bangladeshi citizen who admitted to trafficking 66 Bangladeshis previously detained in the port city of Nacala.32 There are also allegations of organ trafficking, most notably in a Human Rights League report released in October 2006. However, the government had earlier investigated these claims and found no evidence to support them.33 HIV/AIDS is a growing problem – with the government estimating 15.6% of the population between 15-49 infected – which leaves orphaned children at particular risk of neglect, abandonment, and even exploitation. In March 2007 the government introduced legislation that makes the trafficking of children a criminal offense.34

Ethnolinguistic diversity has been one source of tension in a country of 19 million people and 39 spoken languages. Addressing this issue, the constitution guarantees freedom of association and equal rights before the law, regardless of ethnic origin or religion, and outlaws discrimination based on these criteria. While Portuguese is the official language, the government actively promotes the development of Mozambique's languages.35 In some cases legislation has favored citizens' constitutionally-based civil rights over traditional ethnic or religious practices. Finally, the constitution guarantees the right to assistance in the case of disability, but the number of people with disabilities – many as a result of the civil war – combined with the poverty in the country has made it difficult for the government to address this issue.

The religious landscape in Mozambique is complex. The majority of the population adheres to some form of Christian belief. Muslims comprise nearly 20 percent of the population and are concentrated in the north, largely along the coast. However, many Mozambicans, including those who also call themselves Muslims and Christians, follow traditional African religious beliefs and practices to varying degrees.36 The constitution guarantees freedom of religion and does not place restrictions on religious observance and education. These rights are respected by the government, which permits Christian and Muslim schools, has sought good relations with religious groups, and regularly grants foreign missionaries residence visas. The government refrains from interference in the appointment of leaders of religious organizations and does not sponsor religious groups. However, some limited restrictions on religious expression do exist. For example, religious groups are required to register with the government and may not organize as political parties.

The constitution reflects the government's pro-labor heritage in guaranteeing work, just payment, safe working conditions, and the rights to form unions, strike, and take paid holidays. Citizens are not compelled by the state to belong to any association, either directly or indirectly. Civic, business, and political groups are permitted to organize, mobilize, advocate, and publicly demonstrate for peaceful purposes. However, police do occasionally disrupt public demonstrations. For instance, in 2005 in the city of Nampula, police violently broke up a demonstration by high school students. They used batons to disperse the students, who were banging tin cans, and took a number of the students to local jails. The students claim to have informed the education authorities of their intention to demonstrate, and local education authorities condemned the attack.37


  • The prison system should be reformed, including mandatory posting of laws governing detention and prison conditions, construction of additional prisons to alleviate overcrowding, and separation of violent from nonviolent offenders and juveniles from adults.
  • The state should ratify and begin active implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its related protocols. These include the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. Specific implementation measures for Mozambique include applying security and border controls to detect and prevent trafficking and securing technical assistance programs for law enforcement and judicial training.
  • The government should develop a comprehensive public/private orphanage system to respond to the projected increase in the number of AIDS orphans. This will also help protect children from sexual exploitation and trafficking.
  • The requirement that citizens and foreigners be required to carry identification papers when in public should be abolished.
  • The government should move forward with the establishment of the proposed National Human Rights Commission.

Rule of Law – 3.92

Independent judiciary: 3.60
Primacy of rule of law in civil and criminal matters: 3.50
Accountability of security forces and military to civilian authorities: 4.50
Protection of property rights: 3.33
Equal treatment under the law: 4.67

The constitution states that the judiciary is charged with guaranteeing and strengthening the rule of law and promoting the rights and freedoms of citizens. Additionally, the judiciary is designed to be independent of any religious bodies, and judges are to be obedient to the constitution and the law, impartial, and disinterested.

The selection of judges, however, does in fact reflect political considerations. If one party controls both the assembly and the presidency, that party can exercise substantial political influence over the Supreme Court, the highest judicial body. Currently, the president, who is FRELIMO, selects trained, professional judges to the court through a judicial advisory body. These nominees must be ratified by the assembly. The Supreme Court president and vice-president have five-year, renewable terms. The assembly also votes in elective, lay judges – drawn from civil society organizations – to the court. As FRELIMO has a majority of the votes in the parliament, judges may be more sympathetic to FRELIMO policies – a point the RENAMO opposition has made from time to time. A 2006 report on judicial independence by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa found that decades of FRELIMO rule had entrenched a culture of political influence in the lower tiers of the judiciary. The justice minister, however, has denied these allegations.38

Mozambique's Constitutional Council, which became fully operational only in 2003, assesses whether legislation is consistent with the constitution, resolves conflicts between branches of government, and oversees elections. This body is chosen by the president and assembly. As yet, courts have not ruled against the executive on any major legislative or executive decision. The Constitutional Court did issue a withering report on the conduct of the 2004 elections but did not annul the overall outcome of the presidential and legislative elections. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeals for criminal and civil cases. The 2004 constitutional amendments established a new layer of appeals courts between the provincial and Supreme Court in order to reduce the number of cases heard by the Supreme Court, but these new courts have not been implemented.

Judges and court personnel do not always have adequate training. The president of the Supreme Court noted in 2005 that the country had 184 judges, but of those only 91 had a university degree. While court clerks should have a bachelor's degree, only 3 percent possessed such a degree and just over half did not have a high school diploma. Up to 2004, an average of five Mozambicans with law degrees chose to become judges each year, but a recent major salary boost increased significantly the number choosing a career as a judge. Nevertheless, the President of the Supreme Court stated in March 2005 that the judicial system needed at least an additional 500 judges to meet the demands placed on it. This shortage of trained personnel was cited as one reason for the severe backlog (over 100,000) of pending cases.39 In addition, necessary reference materials such as legal documentation are lacking at many offices. The 2004 Constitution recognized community courts, and in many areas these courts are the only mechanism for adjudicating disputes. Nevertheless, technical, administrative, and financial impediments to implementation of these constitutional provisions mean many of these local courts are essentially autonomous.40

Everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and each defendant, including those who lack financial resources, has a right to independent counsel. However, while suspects may be held up to six months without being formally charged, the backlog of cases in the judicial courts means that a case may then not be heard for several years. In 2006, four pre-trial detainees died in a mudslide while working at a goldmine in Manica province. The government opened an inquiry into why detainees were used as prison labor when such a practice is usually reserved for convicted prisoners.41 Police have also released those accused of crimes before trial, sometimes due to overcrowding in the jails and in some cases due to alleged cooperation with the criminals. The public believes this catch and release policy helps fuel crime and is another factor in the rise in public lynching (see Civil Liberties).42

There are allegations, but no clear and systematic evidence, of prosecutors being influenced by political officials. Important public officials have not been prosecuted for abuse of power or other wrongdoing. In May 2006, however, the government opened an inquiry into the involvement of the former president's son in the death of a prominent journalist (see Accountability and Public Voice).

The military, internal security forces, and the police fall under the jurisdiction of the president. While these groups refrain from involvement in the political process, the government's control over the police is less certain. The government admits that organized crime rings have infiltrated the police.43 At times they have been held accountable for corruption and human rights abuses. In October 2005, for example, a court sentenced eight policemen to 3- to 10-year prison terms for the murder of eight prisoners between 2001 and 2005 in the provincial capital of Chimoio. The prisoners were shot execution style outside the city. The court believed the prisoners were murdered to cover up information regarding corruption among the police.44 In 2004 Amnesty International reported that a police officer convicted of beating a 60-year-old woman and her daughter received a three-month sentence of imprisonment in Xai-Xai. In another case, a police officer in Beira received a seven-year sentence and a fine for shooting dead an 18-year-old man.45

The constitution guarantees equality before courts and tribunals. Discrimination on grounds of gender, ethnic origin, and nationality are prohibited, and reported instances of such discrimination are lacking. The government has been cautious on the question of sexual orientation, neither supporting the legalization of homosexuality nor actively discriminating against homosexuals.46 There is no evidence of widespread bias against ethnic, religious, or gender groups seeking equal treatment from the court. Nevertheless, a 2005 government-sponsored survey of public perceptions of government corruption indicated that a strong majority of respondents believed that "only the poor and weak are unable to evade the laws." The survey also indicated public ambivalence about the honesty and independence of the courts.47

Property title is historically a hot-button issue due to the country's colonial and Marxist legacies. Article 86 of the constitution guarantees the right to ownership of property, and the state may expropriate property only in accordance with the law, for the public interest, and with just compensation. Individual property rights over land, however, are severely restricted. Traditional law views the land as communal and allocated by the chief. Reflecting its Marxist heritage, Articles 46-48 of the 1990 Constitution enshrine state ownership of land and its use. Mozambique employs a system of land tenure/usage rights in lieu of actual ownership. In urban areas, increasing population pressures have led to illegal land sales by individuals who were allotted land but never built on the parcel. Local governments have not always enforced the law, which states that a building must be constructed on a parcel within six months of its allocation.48 In late 2006 the government introduced urban land-use reform regulations intended to reduce property transaction costs and time.49 In rural areas land cannot be used as collateral for loans, which hinders development of the agricultural sector.

The state promotes the private sector, encourages foreign investment, and guarantees the right of inheritance. In the past few years, foreign investment has increased substantially, indicating a generally favorable business climate. However, the lack of judicial capacity is one issue that the government has acknowledged as a constraint.


  • The government should implement provisions of the 2004 constitution that created new regional appeals courts between the supreme and provincial courts in order to improve citizen access.
  • The state should clarify, strengthen, and fund the community courts and train community court judges as one way to address the lack of access to the judicial system which is helping to fuel growing vigilantism.
  • The government should increase salaries and judicial-training programs to meet the pressing need for qualified judges.
  • The availability of legislation, jurisprudence, and other necessary reference materials, particularly at the district level should be augmented.
  • The state should examine procedures for the possible future privatization of land title, long-term leases of land, and stronger property rights for urban areas.

Anticorruption and Transparency – 3.23

Environment to protect against corruption: 2.80
Laws and ethical standards between private and public sectors: 3.00
Enforcement of anticorruption laws: 3.25
Governmental transparency: 3.86

The issues of corruption and transparency take a prominent place in Mozambique's political landscape. Indeed, President Guebuza has publicly stated that the administration faces serious problems in this regard.50 Transparency International's 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranked Mozambique 99th out of 163 countries surveyed. The CPI score (10 being the least corrupt) was 2.8, the same as for the previous two years.51

In order to combat the problem, the government has upgraded its Anticorruption Unit to a Central Office for Combating Corruption, infusing the unit with staffing and financial resources. Amnesty International noted that the unit had been effective in investigating and prosecuting several high-profile cases.52

However, effective legislative and administrative safeguards to prevent, detect, and punish corruption of public officials remain weak. High ranking state officials must submit yearly asset declarations, but these are archived in the offices of the Constitutional Council and are not publicly released.53 Mozambican law requires political parties to disclose their accounts regularly, but none has ever done so. This has given rise to charges that funds include illicit sources of income, though there is no evidence to support these charges. In April 2006 the parliament ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which explicitly bans the use of such illicit funds for political parties.54 This convention also includes provisions to protect whistleblowers, though it is unclear how this legislation may affect the behavior of individuals who draw attention to actual cases of corruption.55

The investment climate is generally favorable, but corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency remain key impediments to foreign investment. Still, foreign direct investment has increased substantially, especially for so-called mega-projects such as the Mozal aluminum smelter near Maputo. The government has been seeking to reform its bureaucracy to reduce the time and simplify the paperwork associated with the business registration process. It has also been pursuing a policy of privatization for several years. Nonetheless, Mozambique still has a number of state-owned firms. In 2006 the state gained 85 percent ownership of the massive Cahora Bassa dam, which the government purchased from Portugal. This private-public affinity increases the opportunities for – and accusations of – rent-seeking behavior by officials.56

The government conducts internal audits of state administrative units but lacks the capacity to conduct them effectively. Another challenge is the proper auditing of the new provincial legislatures. One area where the government has continued to make reforms that increase transparency is in the administration of customs.57 Mozambique has an Administrative Tribunal, an independent auditing body administratively and financially independent from the executive. This body examines and certifies the government budget and its management, and departments must respond to questions posed by the tribunal. However, the long-term effectiveness of this auditing body is still to be determined.

In 2006 the government introduced revenue administration reforms to ensure greater accountability of tax collection. The reforms included the introduction of a new general tax law, the creation of the Central Revenue Authority to improve the efficiency of tax administration, establishment of new tax tribunals staffed with professional judges, and an increase in tax audits.58 Furthermore, the government has already begun to implement a software accounting system (e-SISTAFE) to better track funds.

The 2004 constitutional revisions also allowed for the creation of an ombudsman. Currently, the attorney general is tasked with investigating allegations of wrongdoing. Accusations of corruption are investigated, but it is not clear how free this process is from political influence. There is also intrusive legislative oversight of corruption investigations, with parliamentarians inquiring as to the status of investigations.

The state provides mechanisms by which victims of corruption may pursue their rights. However, in the case of police corruption, proving a case may be difficult. Moreover, lack of capacity in the judiciary may make it difficult to pursue a claim in a timely and effectual manner.

In 2006, 18 key foreign aid donors, collectively called Program Aid Partners, who provide financial support for the government budget, stated that the government had made "no progress in implementation" of the anticorruption initiative. Some key international donors believe that one reason the government has not always ensured the judiciary's complete independence is to avoid close scrutiny of government corruption. This view is based on perceived delays in the pace of justice reform, notably regarding the 1997 plundering of the newly privatized Banco Austral. The newly appointed director of the bank, Antonio Siba-Siba Macuacua, was murdered in 2001, soon after he began investigating the bank's finances. No investigation was subsequently made of either the bank fraud or Siba-Siba's murder. Donor pressure for an audit eventually led to confirmation of misconduct by senior FRELIMO individuals, but as yet none has been prosecuted.59 A second serious allegation is that profits from the country's reported status as a heroin transit point may indirectly fund FRELIMO.60 To combat such activity, the parliament is considering adopting in 2007 a new anti-money laundering law, which would enable the creation of a new financial investigation unit.

The existence or pervasiveness of corruption in the primary, secondary, and tertiary educational sectors is unclear. Given the relatively low level of salaries paid to teachers and the overcrowding of classrooms, it would be surprising not to discover the types of corrupt practices reported in some other African countries.

In July 2006 Mozambique began the consultative process that forms part of the African Union's African Peer Review Mechanism. This self-evaluation process on good governance specifically includes public consultation.61 Public sector information is published regularly, while the annual Government General Accounts Report is published after its approval by the assembly. The government has advanced toward ensuring greater transparency in the budget-making process. The annual budget must be approved by the legislature, and the budget and related budgetary legislation are available on the internet. The Ministry of Planning and Finance makes available additional reports that relate to budgetary matters. Finally, the Bulletin of the Republic also publishes government information.

Citizens have a legal right to government information. In practice, however, this right has been undermined by a lack of bureaucratic capacity, the cost of disseminating information to the broader public, and, according to media accusations, government stonewalling.62 The media proposed in 2005 a draft freedom of information bill that fosters greater transparency and tackles corruption through publication of government documents.63 By the end of 2006 the proposal had not yet gained a sufficient number of deputy sponsors to introduce the legislation into parliament's agenda.64 The degree to which information about government services and decisions is made available to persons with disabilities is unclear. Government efforts are directed largely toward the broad dissemination of information via print, radio, and television.

In recent years most of the influx of foreign direct investment has been in extractive industries mega-projects. Given the importance of this sector to the country – and the great potential for corruption – the government committed itself in 2006 to following the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a move strongly endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, this commitment has not yet been formalized in any specific legislation.65 Since 2006 the government has been in the process of implementing a new software auditing system for more transparent and effective budget execution for the procurement of goods and services. Off-budget expenditures are now being included in an overall budget accounting system, which should provide a more detailed and accurate picture of all development projects.

The state attempts to ensure transparency, open bidding, and effective competition in the awarding of contracts. Procurement and bidding rules exist for the purchases of goods and services, with purchases above a certain threshold requiring bids. Some businesses have stated that these rules are not always observed. The IMF has urged procurement reform as a method to improve governance.

Mozambique is a low income country that is heavily dependent on foreign assistance. This has allowed foreign donor agencies to exert considerable influence on government administration and distribution of foreign assistance; there were no reports of large-scale foreign aid fraud in recent years.


  • The state needs to provide more effective oversight of the procurement process.
  • The government needs to adhere fully to the IMF EITI principles.
  • All public officials and political parties should be required to disclose publicly their assets and sources of funds.
  • The parliament should debate and pass the media-proposed freedom of information law.


Robert B. Lloyd is an Associate Professor of International Relations and Chair of the International Studies and Languages Division at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Dr. Lloyd received his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He worked in Mozambique in the 1990s with SIL, a nongovernmental educational organization, and has since maintained close ties with the country. He has published numerous articles on conflict resolution and democratization in Southern Africa.


1 1990 Constitution of Mozambique.

2 "Carter Center and Electoral Observatory Cite Irregularities" (Amsterdam: Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa [AWEPA], 21 December 2004); "Harsh Criticism from EU, Which Also Says Irregularities Could Reduce RENAMO Parliamentary Seats" (AWEPA, 20 December 2004), http:/

3 "Results analysis confirms fraud and misconduct in 2004 presidential election," AWEPA, Mozambique Political Process Bulletin 33 (1 November 2006).

4 1990 Constitution of Mozambique, Articles 31-43.

5 "Judiciary Not Always Independent, Report," UN Integrated Information Networks, 5 October 2006,

6 "RENAMO Claims Political 'Exclusion,' FRELIMO Denies," Mozambique News Agency, 30 November 2006,; "Government Denies Practicing 'Social Exclusion'," Mozambique News Agency, 2 November 2005,

7 Conceição Osório, Subvertendo o poder político? Análise de género das eleições legislativas em Moçambique, 2004, (Maputo: Women and Law in Southern Africa [WLSA] Moçambique, 2005); review in AWEPA, Mozambique Political Process Bulletin 33 (1 November 2006):16.

8 "Guebueza Reaffirms Press Freedom," Mozambique News Agency, 16 July 2006,

9 Ibid.

10 "City Council Threatens to Sue Independent Weekly," Mozambique News Agency, 18 February 2005,

11 "Africa 2006" (New York: Committee to Protect Journalists, 20 January-8 December 2006),

12 "Son of Former Head of State Charged in Cardoso Murder Case," allAfrica,com, Reporters Without Borders, 12 May 2006,

13 "Half-Hearted Police Apology to Journalists," Mozambique News Agency, 31 January 2005,

14 "Journalists Assaulted, Equipment Confiscated," Mozambique News Agency, 29 June 2005,

15 "Mozambique," Afrobarometer, May 2006,

16 "Country profile: Mozambique," BBC News, 17 January 2007,

17 "Internet Filtering Map" (Toronto: OpenNet Initiative, 2006),

18 "Internet Access on the Increase," Mozambique News Agency, 20 October 2006,

19 "Abolish AIM!, Shrieks RENAMO Deputy," Mozambique News Agency, 9 November 2005,

20 Ibid.

21 Mozambique, Covering January-December 2005 (London: Amnesty International [AI], 23 May 2006),

22 Mozambique: Justice Sector and the Rule of Law, 2006 (Johannesburg: Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, 2006),….

23 "Hundreds of Prisoners Await Trial for Over Two Years," Mozambique News Agency, 1 February 2005,

24 "Prisoners Have Right to Medical Care – Madeira," Mozambique News Agency, 13 January 2005,

25 "Law Faculties Must Strengthen Legality – Minister," Mozambique News Agency, 8 November 2005,

26 "No Intention of Reintroducing One-Party State – FRELIMO," Mozambique News Agency, 29 June 2005,

27 Bayano Valy, "Citizens Become Judge, Jury, and Executioner," Mozambique News Agency, 7 November 2006,

28 "Gender Equality Is Human Rights Issue – Garrido," Mozambique News Agency, 11 November 2005,

29 "Human Rights League Launches Report," Mozambique News Agency, 5 May 2005,

30 "Female Genital Mutilation in North," Mozambique News Agency, 8 December 2006,

31 "Assembly Ratifies Protocol on Rights of African Women," Mozambique News Agency, 8 December 2005,

32 "Leader of People Trafficking Racket Arrested," Mozambique News Agency, 12 April 2006,

33 "Human Rights League Violates Rights," Mozambique News Agency, 26 October 2006,

34 "Mozambique: New Legislation on Children," Mozambique News Agency, 29 March 2007,

35 "Languages of Mozambique," in Raymond G. Gordon, Jr., Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th ed. (Dallas, TX: SIL, Inc., 2005), (accessed February 2007).

36 "The World Factbook, 2007" (Springfield, VA: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 2007),

37 "Police Attack Nampula Students," Mozambique News Agency, 11 February 2005,

38 "Judiciary Is Losing its Fear, Claims Minister," Mozambique News Agency, 5 January 2006,

39 "Huge Backlog of Cases in Mozambican Courts," Mozambique News Agency, 1 March 2005,

40 "Interview with a community court judge, Nampula province," 11 August 2005, p. 128, Mozambique: Justice Sector and the Rule of Law, 2006 (Johannesburg: Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, 2006),….

41 "Prisoners Die in Mozambique Mine," BBC News, 30 October 2006,

42 "Public Image 'Very Poor' – Deputy Minister," Mozambique News Agency, 15 March 2006,

43 "FRELIMO Members Criticize State of Justice System," Mozambique News Agency, 11 December 2006,

44 "Policemen Jailed for Executing Prisoners," Mozambique News Agency, 5 October 2006,

45 Mozambique, Covering January-December 2004 (AI, 25 May 2005),

46 Salane Muchanga, "Mozambique Discovers its Gay Minority," Afrol News/Savana, 2 February 2007,

47 "Survey Finds Police the Most Dishonest Institution," Mozambique News Agency, 9 June 2005,

48 "Matola Officials Sacked for Illegal Land Sales," Mozambique News Agency, 13 February 2006,

49 "Republic of Mozambique: Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, and Technical Memorandum of Understanding" (Maputo: Government of Mozambique, 24 October 2006),

50 "Guebuza Denounces Corrupt Civil Servants," Mozambique News Agency, 26 April 2005,

51 "Corruption Perceptions Index" (Berlin: Transparency International, 2004, 2005, 2006),

52 Mozambique, Covering January-December 2005 (London: Amnesty International [AI], 23 May 2006),

53 "Call for Alliance Against Corruption," Mozambique Information Agency, 8 December 2005,

54 "Assembly Ratified Anti-Corruption Conventions," Mozambique News Agency, 26 April 2006,

55 "No Progress in Anti-Corruption Campaign," Mozambique News Agency, 14 September 2006,

56 "New Hydro Plant for Mozambique," Energy in Africa, 13 December 2006,

57 Evan Davies, "Mozambique Learns to Build from Within," BBC News, 7 May 2005,

58 "Republic of Mozambique: Letter of Intent ..." (Government of Mozambique),

59 "Donors and government at loggerheads over governance, corruption," AWEPA, Mozambique Political Process Bulletin 33 (1 November 2006): 11-13.

60 "Q&A: Mozambique Votes," BBC News, 29 November 2004,…; "Corruption, Law, and Justice," (AWEPA, 17 February 2005),

61 "Mozambique Sets Up Peer Review Forum,", Mozambique Information Agency, 13 July 2006,

62 "Journalists Welcome Access to Information Bill,", International Freedom of Expression Clearing House, 11 August 2005,

63 "Note on the Draft Law of Mozambique on Access to Official Sources of Information" (London: Article 19 – Global Campaign for Free Expression, June 2005),

64 "Mozambique: Journalists Welcome Draft Information Bill,", UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 2 August 2005,

65 "Republic of Mozambique: Letter of Intent ..." (Government of Mozambique),

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