Mozambique: Ending War Needs More Than Military Force, Say Catholic Bishops

Ending war needs more than military force; End normalised corruption and give youth hope of a better future, say Catholic bishops

With young people still joining the insurgents, “we must unite all our efforts to find ways of solving this disgrace, not depending solely on the use of military force,” says a pastoral letter published by the Catholic bishops Friday. (11 Nov) “Without the equitable and fair distribution of resources and opportunities, without real social inclusion, our peace and social cohesion will always be threatened. No peace survives exclusions and social injustices.”

“In our country, despite being a single family, social and economic inequalities are creating a deep rift,” say the Mozambican Catholic bishops. “On the one hand, an affluent minority that can afford all kinds of luxury and, on the other, an impoverished minority that does not even have the basics to survive.”

“Despite the proclamations to fight this social plague, a culture of corruption has been established in the country leading to the belief that this is normal, that this is the way things work, that it can only be this way. The private use of the country’s resources and public property, putting personal or group interests above the common good, is done shamelessly,” says the pastoral note.

“One of the main reasons why our young people allow themselves to be lured and join the various forms of deviance is the lack of hope for a better future, since for most of them there are no opportunities to build a dignified life. It is easy to entice people full of life and dreams, but without prospects. Without guaranteeing that young people can realise their dreams, the nation itself will see its dream of being the protagonist of its future compromised”. (Carta de Moçambique, MediaFax 14 Nov)

Cabo Delgado research – roots of the war

How the IMF & World bank caused a resource curse and civil war in Mozambique

At the end of the Cold War the west imposed economic “shock therapy” on the countries of the former Soviet Union to rapidly turn the communists into capitalists, creating oligarchs. One of the few Africa countries where shock therapy was imposed was Mozambique. Shock therapy was intended to push the communist elite who had power over land, resources and contracts to take control of those assets and then make deals with the west to exploit them. They became, in effect, rentier and comprador capitalists, a new study argues.

Mozambique was poor and only small oligarchs were created, but they made their links with western capital and donors. The outcome, the World Bank admits, is that Mozambique showed remarkable growth, which largely benefitted the oligarchs and foreign companies and agencies, while poverty and inequality grew to record levels.

The editor of this newsletter, Dr Joseph Hanlon, is a visiting senior fellow at London School of Economics, where two of his working papers were published on 9 November. WP 208 “World Bank questions its Mozambique ‘success’: ‘remarkable growth’ and oligarchs have brought high inequality, poverty and corruption” gives the background followed by WP 209 “How the IMF and World bank caused a resource curse and civil war in Mozambique.”  Both papers are on

The papers show the intense and brutal way the IMF and World Bank imposed shock therapy on Mozambique. This created the local oligarchs who control access to the mineral and gas resources of Cabo Delgado, and do not share the wealth. Local people in Cabo Delgado have now rebelled.

Cabo Delgado research – displaced people

Exploring the socio-economic conditions of internally displaced persons in northern Mozambique in 2021, by João Feijó, Jerry Maquenzi, Daniela Salite and Joshua Kirshner, Observatório do Meio Rural (OMR), Observador Rural 127, 1 August 2022

Excellent study looking at the conditions of war refugees. One interesting observation of many: “The displacement of populations reflected the existing social inequalities in the province. Families with greater social or financial capital (including small entrepreneurs, civil servants or pensioners) were able to sponsor the relocation of the extended family to southern areas, as well as access to agricultural land. The population with fewer resources concentrated in the most insecure areas or in temporary, highly densified centres, with greater difficulty of access to natural resources and more dependent on humanitarian aid. In the north of the province the populations remained restricted in their access to public services and humanitarian aid. “

“Limited in its assistance to the most insecure areas, humanitarian aid has reproduced existing social inequalities by providing access to goods and services for families with more resources. The installation of the entire humanitarian aid industry in the cities in the south of the province (in Pemba, as well as Montepuez) has revitalised economic sectors affected by the interruption of extractive projects, such as hotels and restaurants, rental of houses and warehouses, freight transport and rent-a-car, revitalising local content and employing hundreds of local young people.”

Coping with the risks of conflict, climate and internal displacement in northern Mozambique by Caitlin Sturridge, João Feijó and Nelson Tivane, London: ODI, November 2022

This study looks at a history of displacement, citing one man who said “We didn’t leave because of the cyclone, because it didn’t kill us. The war made us abandon our homes because they cut people’s throats.” The study concludes “that many Mozambican internally displaced persons (IDPs) are … rebuilding and diversifying their livelihoods across farming, fishing, artisanal mining, charcoal production, trading, small business, odd jobs and humanitarian assistance. While IDPs can therefore be agents in shaping their lives in displacement, many of these strategies are nevertheless short term and risky, characterised by a lack of choice and alternatives and a sense of having to do anything to survive. Under these circumstances, IDPs in Cabo Delgado are generally getting by, rather than getting ahead.”

Other Cabo Delgado news

Pinnacle News editor held for week in Balama

Journalist Arlindo Chissale was detained and held incommunicado for a week in Balama, Cabo Delgado. He is the founder and editor of Pinnacle News, which has become an important social media news outlet for local news in the north, and has also become important for reporting the war.

The spokesperson of the Attorney General in Cabo Delgado, Gilroy Fazenda, said Chissale is being charged with claiming he was a journalist without proof and for collecting information on the security forces to give to terrorists. Chissale told DW (7 Nov) “I’ve always been a journalist, but in Balama, specifically, I didn’t come to do journalism. I came to do active politics.” It has only recently been announced that Balama will become a municipality which will have elections next year and he said he was there for Renamo.

The first gas from the ENI floating platform was shipped on Sunday (13 Nov).  BP has the contract to buy the gas and the shipment left in a British cargo ship for Europe, but its final destination is not stated. (BBC 13 Nov)

New cold war

Pawns in the new cold war?

“We refuse to be a pawn in a new cold war,” Joko Widodo, the president of Indonesia, told the Financial Times (FT, 7 Nov). Indonesia is hosting the G20 meeting in Bali Tuesday and Wednesday (15-16 Nov). This will be the first G20 summit since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the surge in US-China tensions.

The FT has become outspoken, saying the meeting “feels like the first global summit of a second cold war”. And on 19 October it said that “Joe Biden this month launched a full-blown economic war on China”, adding that “nobody noticed”.

As in the first Cold War, Africa is suddenly being courted by the US, China, Russia and a growing amorphous “non-aligned” or “emerging economies” block. South Africa is the only African member of the G20, but Macky Sall, the president of Senegal who holds the AU’s rotating chairmanship, will attend and expects the AU to be given G20 membership.

And as in the first Cold War, Mozambique and other African countries will also try to avoid becoming pawns in the war. China is important minerals investor in Mozambique and has built roads on long term loans, and Mozambique is not sympathetic to the US, but it will need to try hard not to offend either.

Could BRICS be an alternative?

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are challenging the US agenda, according to Newsweek (7 Nov), the important US web-based news magazine. It notes that 19 heads of government attended latest BRICS summit held in Beijing in June.

Naval exercises show the military side of this. The Indian Navy did its first trilateral maritime exercises with Mozambique and Tanzania on 27-29 October. South Africa’s navy recently completed exercises with Brazil, and in February 2023 will have a joint naval exercise with Russia and China.

G20 and BRICS+ members

The members of the G20 are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Spain is also invited as a permanent guest, thus it is really G21, to become G22 if the AU is accepted – but will probably still be called the G20.

In June in Beijing the five BRICS leaders were joined by leaders of Algeria, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Senegal, Thailand and Uzbekistan. Algeria, Argentina and Iran have applied to join, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are likely to.

Will the US tech war with China become a hot war?

The US stepped up its campaign to hamper China’s economy in October, introducing sweeping controls that block exports of some chip manufacturing equipment and restrict sales of certain semiconductors to the country (FT 7, 24, 30 Oct) and began moves to stop semiconductor imports from China.  This could be highly disruptive for the US, with Apple, Intel and car makers dependent on Chinese chips; the US only manufactures 12% of the world’s chips.

Taiwan is becoming key to this. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company
(TSMC) accounts for 92% of capacity for the most advanced chips. Until recently, US policy on Taiwan was deliberately ambiguous, with the US recognising the government of China but having separate links with Taiwan. The growing tension and the chip war centres on Taiwan. Will the US push to declare Taiwan independent to allow it to continue to trade with the US, or would China occupy Taiwan to gain control of its chip foundries?

The issue even stretches to Mozambique. In 2022 when the US began to push African countries not to use Chinese technology, the state-owned Tmcel mobile phone agreed to use Huawai technology to introduce 5G. Components from Huawei make up around 70% of 4G networks across the continent. Many areas are upgrading to 5G technology, with Huawei firmly ahead in supply. (DW 8 Feb) So Mozambique and other southern African countries are more the onlookers.


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