Mozambique Background Note

 Information last updated 9/11/2017

Key Statistics

Population: 27,128,500 (Mozambique National Institute of Statistics, 2017)

Capital: Maputo

Major Ethnic Groups: African 99% (includes Makhuwa, Tsonga, Lomwe, Sena, and others) Europeans 0.06%, Euro-Africans 0.2%, Indians 0.08%

Languages: Portugese (official), Emakhuwa, Xichangana, Cisena, Elomwe, Echuwabo, plus others. 

GDP per Capita: US$ 1,200 (World Bank, 2017)

Security Sector Stats

Army: 14,500 active military personnel

Military Expenditure: 2.18% of GDP (World Bank, 2017)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction and General Background

2. Political Context

    i.  Civil War

    ii. Post-Conflict Transition and Democratisation Challenges 

    iii. Resurgence of Conflict

3. SSR Overview

4. Sector-Specific Overview

    i. Security Sector Management and Oversight Bodies

    ii. Internal Security/Police

    iii. Defence Transformation

    iv. Justice and Prison Reform

    v. Donor Support and Coordination 

5.  Future Considerations


1. Introduction and General Background

The Republic of Mozambique is a country on the oriental coast of Africa. It borders six countries: Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Swaziland, and is separated from Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean. Mozambique has a tropical climate in most of its territories, and is divided between North and South by the Zambezi river. It is highly vulnerable to cyclones during the rainy season.

With a population of around 28 million [1] the country is sparsely populated, and around 54% of the total population lives in urban areas (World Bank, 2017). The capital, Maputo, lies in the extreme South of the country, and is home to 1.1 million inhabitants. The official language is Portuguese. A majority of the country is Christian, with a smaller but substantial proportion of both Muslims and non-believers (around 18% each).

The country is one of the world’s poorest, a legacy of both its independence and post-independence wars. Substantial economic growth (6-8%) in the past decade translated into a per capita GDP of $411.28  in 2016. However, more than half the population is below the poverty line, and the country ranks 181 out of 188 in the 2016 UNDP Human Development Index. The majority of the population is employed in subsistence agriculture, but commodities export (natural gas, coal, aluminium) forms an important part of Mozambique’s economy. The discovery of large reserves of gas off the coast in 2010—more than 100 trillion cubic feet—adds substantial economic potential to the rich natural resources enjoyed by Mozambique, and with it the challenges of resource management and corruption. 

Return to Top

2. Political Context

Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975, after more than four centuries of colonisation, and following the end of a 10 year-long independence war fought by the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO). The Lusaka Accord signed by Portugal and Frelimo in 1974 established a transitional government that ended in 1975, when Frelimo effectively assumed power and declared a one-party state.  Mozambique’s independence was supported internationally by the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as by the Socialist bloc, which provided counsellors, training and weapons to Frelimo. A Marxist-Leninist doctrine was adopted in 1977, tightening security relations with socialist countries until COMECON refused to award membership to Mozambique in 1980. Thereafter, Mozambique established open diplomacy towards Western countries, but by this time, had already become immersed into Cold War security dynamics.  

i.            Civil War

The neighbouring countries of Rhodesia and South Africa created and provided military support to an anti-Frelimo, anti-communist group, the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO), in order to weaken Mozambique’s support for anti-Apartheid efforts.  Frelimo and Renamo were locked in civil war from 1977 until 1992, and which directly killed 100,000 people, and contributed indirectly to nearly a million deaths. The tactics used by Renamo severely hampered the economy, the education and the health system. The insurgency was mainly located in rural areas, with the central government unable to prevent attacks on infrastructure and transport routes. Neither Frelimo nor Renamo achieved a military victory, and the end of the war came about as a result of funds drying up for both sides as a consequence of the fall of Apartheid and the end of the Cold War. With the economy in a state of complete dereliction and, after two years of negotiations, the Rome General Peace Accords were signed in 1992.

ii.            Post-conflict Transition and Democratisation Challenges

The Rome Accords began a post-conflict transition that has been deemed as largely successful. Under the terms of the agreement, Renamo demobilised and transformed into the main political opposition party. The country has held five parliamentary and presidential elections since 1994, at regular 5-year intervals, but without resulting in a change of power. All were won by Frelimo, with Renamo receiving varying shares of the results, from 47.7% in the 1999 presidential elections, to 16.4% in 2009, and 36.6% in 2014 (Adedokun, 2017). Despite the difficult post-war circumstances, Mozambique developed its democratic institutions and accountability mechanisms during President Joaquim Chissano’s tenure (1994-2004). Nonetheless, the fragilities of the new institutions were exposed by reports of electoral manipulation by Frelimo. Following a sharp loss for Renamo in the 2004 and 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections, and with a change of guard in the leadership of the Frelimo Party, political space for the opposition and for public contestation was reduced. Frelimo took this opportunity to centralise power.

Afonso Dlakhama has led Renamo since the last part of the civil war and in the post-conflict period to the present. The decline in Renamo’s share of the vote is explained by lack of internal party consolidation and leadership challenges, which ultimately led to breakaways and the creation of two new opposition parties: the Partido para a Paz Democracia e Desenvolvimento in 2000, and the Movimento Democrático de Moçambique (MDM) in 2008. The MDM gained parliamentary seats in the 2009 and 2014 elections, and in 2013 won the municipal administrations of three of Mozambique’s major cities: Beira, Quelimane and Nampula. Despite this success, the MDM has not been able to challenge Frelimo’s prominence at the national level, whilst Renamo increased its vote share in 2014. 

iii.            Resurgence of Conflict

Political tension between Frelimo and Renamo heightened in the early 2010s, with Renamo resorting to armed action in 2013. These tensions were compounded by growing partisanship in the civil service. Violence perpetrated by both sides has resulted in social polarisation, political targeting, and assasinations, as well as thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons, [2] negatively affecting the country’s attractiveness to international investors and its economic prospects. Negotiations between Renamo and Frelimo have been ongoing since 2014, and have faced several stalemates. Eventually, in December 2016, Renamo declared a unilateral ceasefire, which remains in place at the time of writing.

Return to Top

3. SSR Overview

Mozambique’s newly independent government of 1975 attempted to overhaul the dual colonial system of security and justice provision, which relied on the practice of serving urban areas with formal police and courts, while rural areas retained traditional-based security and justice mechanisms. The unitary socialist state model adopted aimed at a modern and equitable system for all citizens, but ultimately created different tiers of justice and security provision. This comprised the coexistence of formal policing and justice, with, for example, neighbourhood watch groups and community courts in communal areas. The intent to build a strong justice and security system was impaired by the emergence of the civil war. The end of the civil war and the adoption of a new Constitution in 1990 paved the way to peace and democratisation, with new principles laid out for the separation of powers, the reorganisation of the security sector, and the independence of the judiciary. At this stage the security sector was characterised by a partisan and paramilitary state police, depleted armed forces, and an inaccessible and corrupt judicial system. As a result of the civil war, these services and forces were also effectively absent from large parts of the territory (Lalá & Francisco, 2008, p165-6). 

The Rome Peace Accords signed in 1992 set out a roadmap for transforming the relationship between the Frelimo government and Renamo—from enmity to democratic opposition—and established provisions for re-structuring the security sector under the aegis of a UN peacekeeping mission (ONUMOZ). The post-independence armed forces were dismantled alongside the Renamo guerrilla through a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process that saw about 92,000 military personnel exit the system, in what was overall considered a successful enterprise (Vines, 1998). However, poor sequencing between disarmament and demobilisation, and reintegration and reconstruction hampered impact (Lalá, 2005). In addition, disarmament occurred within several limitations, resulting in proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Southern Africa following this process.

On a positive note, the new defence forces were formed from a mix of volunteers from both the government forces and Renamo guerrillas. The Rome Accords also prescribed the de-politicisation and restructuring of the police and of the intelligence services, however their immediate implementation faced greater challenges than the defence reforms (Lalá, 2006). 

Justice reforms and formal transitional justice processes were absent from the peace agreement, although the former proceeded, stemming from the application of the 1990 Constitution. The absence of a transitional justice process, combined with the amnesty law approved after the Rome Accords meant there would be no accountability for crimes committed during the armed conflict. At the societal level, reconciliation took place effectively, through the use of traditional healing methods that also assisted with the reintegration of soldiers in the communities.[3]  However, the limitations in terms of judicial accountability are pointed to as one of the causes for political and human rights tensions over the past two decades, contributing significantly to the resurgence of the armed violence between Renamo and Frelimo in 2013. 

Overall, the first decade of the post-civil war era was marked by a focus on economic growth and poverty reduction, with Mozambique’s governments responding to donor driven macroeconomic policies and conditionality, resulting in the neglect of defence and security and justice reforms (Lalá, 2007). 

Return to Top

4. Sector Specific Overview

i.            Security Sector Management and Oversight Bodies

Mozambique’s current architecture for justice and security sector management and oversight is founded in the 1990 Constitution, which determined the basic principle of respect for the constitution and the nation by the armed forces. The successor Constitution, adopted in 2004 and amended in 2007 further specifies the primacy of the rule of law and respect for the democratic principles of freedom, pluralism and human rights. It also recognises the plurality of dispute resolution systems in Mozambican society, accepting legal pluralism so long as it does not contradict Constitutional principles.

Responsibility for defence of public order lies with the Council of Ministers, which is led by the President. As commander-in-chief of the army and the security forces, the President has powers to declare war, state of emergency, sign treaties, declare mobilisation, and appoint the top hierarchy of the defence and security forces. Importantly, he also appoints the President and Vice President of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Council, the Administrative Court, as well as the Attorney General and its Deputy.

The National Defence and Security Council is—in essence—a consultative organ to the President, although with important additional responsibilities in the crafting of defence and security policy, advising on critical security situations, including on the state of war and participation in peace operations, and monitoring overall security and defence engagements. The ministries of foreign affairs, finance, transport and communications, and sea and fisheries also integrate this organ, besides those with direct security attributions.

The defence and security policy has to be approved by the National Assembly, which also has powers to sanction declarations of curfew and state of emergency, besides approving and overseeing implementation of the defence and security budget. Whilst the parliamentary committee for defence and public order is enabled by law to play an active role in overseeing the defence and security forces, in practice its performance has been hampered by its members’ limited specialist knowledge and practical experience on defence and security matters, as well as by partisan politics.

There is no direct Ombudsoffice for the Armed Forces. The 2004 Constitution instituted a Parliament-elected Justice Ombudsoffice, with the first elected only in 2012. Its main function is to defend the rights of citizens, and ensure that the public administration —including the defence and security forces— abide by the rule of law. However, the recommendations provided by the Ombudsoffice to the Parliament and the Attorney General are not mandatory, even if they relate to specific violations and/or irregularities.

The National Human Rights Commission, albeit a state institution, has administrative autonomy and a mandate to promote and protect human rights, conduct human rights awareness campaigns, and to receive and investigate individual complaints, as well as provide recommendations to official bodies. It is legally entitled to access official confidential documents, but this right can be limited if the “superior interest of the state on defence and security, as well as on international relations” are deemed to be at stake.[4]

Mozambique’s civil society is conservative in directly engaging on defence and security matters due to the historical legacy of difficult civil-security relations, of security being considered as a subject for closed circles, and the personal risk attached to being outspoken. Nonetheless, certain organisations have denounced human rights abuses, corruption, and lawlessness, such as Mozambique’s League of Human Rights and the Center for Public Integrity. Others are involved in the provision of legal aid and dispute resolution through both judicial and extra-judicial procedures, such as the Mozambican Association of Woman in Legal Career; the Bar Association; and Woman, Law and Development, an NGO that works onlocal norms and human rights principles at the community level.

Freedom of the press, the right to information and the independence of the media are constitutionally guaranteed (Nuvunga et. al, 2016). Overall, the country had been rated positively for press freedom, but the last few years have seen deterioration, with increased incidences of intimidation, threats, arrests and even a killing. This inhibits proactive reporting on security matters, but certain media still engage in denouncing malpractice and abuses.  

Return to Top

ii.            Internal Security/Police

Mozambique’s police (now Polícia da República de Moçambique - PRM) has undergone substantial change over time. This began with the creation of a new police force after independence, which went on to operate effectively as an arm of the military during the civil war. Restructuring occurred in the aftermath of the Rome Peace Accords, with the mandate being redirected to guarantee public order, safety and security, as well as observance of the rule of law. The police were also to become an apolitical body operating with full respect of the rights and fundamental liberties of citizens. One main feature retained throughout several iterations of institutional reorganisation is the paramilitary nature of the force, which has been perceived to be at the root of continued human rights abuses by the police. Until recently, the PRM was composed of four main branches: public security and order; criminal investigation; border; and coastal, lake and river police. This is complemented by special operations and reserve units, including a rapid reaction unit. The criminal investigation police gained autonomy in 2017 (see section below on Justice and Prison reform).

Human resource management has been at the core of Mozambique’s police reforms in the last two decades. Standards for joining the police force have been reviewed and incentives for older generations to retire or to improve their literacy and academic skills have been made. Conditions at the basic training centre of Matalane have been improved, and a police academy was established in 1999. Nonetheless, significant challenges remain with regards to education levels, staff selection, the impact of HIV/Aids amongst the force, and the transition between old and new generations of police officers. These are coupled with the fact that salaries remain low and that —as of 2016— the ratio of police officers to citizens remains one of the lowest in the world, with 1 police officer per 1200 citizens (Nuvunga et. al, 2016, p3). 

Internal disciplinary mechanisms, as well as actions to strengthen police integrity and accountability have been stepped-up by successive governments in recent years, including the introduction of a public complaints book in police stations. However, this has been insufficient to overturn the public image of a corrupt and abusive force, and the police suffers from severe legitimacy deficits, as demonstrated by episodic outbursts of popular anger against the police. Arbitrary judgements disregarding laws, excessive uses of force, torture, extrajudicial killings, and sexual violation accusations made against the rapid reaction unit in particular—and in the context of renewed armed clashes between Renamo and Frelimo—have been highly damaging.

Much remains to be achieved with regards to the efficiency of the PRM in tackling crime and ensuring the rule of law, as is demonstrated by the persistence of mob justice in Mozambique, especially (but not only) in areas where police presence is weak or entirely absent. Decentralisation has been part of the police reform agenda, with the PRM currently present at all territorial administrative levels, but revealingly insufficient. The provision of safety and security (or lack thereof) is therefore significantly complemented by the activity of private security companies, informal or semi-formal community policing arrangements, and even vigilantes. This has resulted in a plethora of negative unintended consequences from the view of human rights, corruption and efficiency. (Lalá, 2006; Kyed, 2014).   

Service delivery to communities remains poor, given a combination of faltering implementation of crime prevention strategies, the absence of proper intelligence gathering networks and of adequate means to combat to transnational crime, coupled with limited accountability as well as the alleged partisanship of the police (Hendricks & Musavengana, 2010). Crimes such as organ trafficking, kidnapping and extortion, large-scale wildlife poaching, and illegal logging have been on the surge. Currently, heavily armed crime undertaken by potentially radicalised local Islamists is also of concern, given the unprecedented nature of attacks carried out in districts near the border with Tanzania. [5] The terrain for mobilisation based on economic grievances is fertile, and the economic crisis appears to be leading to increased rates of crime as evidenced by statistics. [6] 

From 2003-2012 the Ministry of Interior and the PRM implemented a Strategic Plan; process from which three main lessons emerged. The first was that attention could not be devoted solely to training without addressing the management deficit. The second was the need for the involvement of the Ministry of Finance in the design of strategy and reform plans, so that implementation could be realistically forecasted. The third was the need to ensure dialogue and coordination with the justice sector in light of the reforms affecting the criminal justice system in particular (Lalá & Francisco, 2006). At the time of writing, a crucial deficit persists in the criminal justice system despite reform attempts, which have been hampered by several political and operational obstacles.

Gender-based violence received initial attention in the context of implementation of the Strategic Plan, leading to the creation of specialised units in police stations (262 in 2013). This work has continued, reinforced by the adoption of a new Penal Code in 2014, which criminalised different forms of gender-based violence. In addition to the former, child marriage has also been tackled in the framework of the National Action Plan for the Advance of Women, with support from the UN and other donors. Support for police reform was initially provided by Spain, Switzerland and Netherlands (mainly through UNDP), and later on by Portugal and the European Union.

Return to Top

iii.            Defence Transformation

Mozambique’s post-civil war defence reform process stemmed from the implementation of the Rome Peace Accords, and extended over a number of years. The immediate reforms comprised the creation of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as a civil administrative and management structure separate from the new armed forces, the Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique (FADM). Whilst it had been envisaged that the FADM would have a maximum of 30,000 military cadres, this was undermined by a lack of volunteers, resulting in about 11,500 enlisted (Young, 1996; Coelho & Macaringue, 2002). The force appears to have grown only marginally over the years, since only a small number of intakes are retained after completion of each military service cycle. The overall defence budget has been kept low since the 1990s, and remains so in comparison to neighbouring countries (Adedokun, 2017, p14). 

Alongside ONUMOZ, which led DDR and the creation of the new armed forces, the training of the FADM was supported Portugal, the UK and France. Over time, Portugal played a more instrumental role in the reform process, providing assistance in the production of new legislation, and the development of the organisational structures of the MoD and the FADM. Progress with the defence architecture coexisted with difficulties in transforming the institutional culture in the context of poorly skilled staff, low morale, and fractured esprit de corps . Measures such as the creation of a dual chain of command in order to accommodate both Renamo and Frelimo members proved insufficient over time, as the sector lacked vision, strategy, and resources.

Despite these limitations, there has been a commitment to training new generations of military staff, as evidenced by the creation of a military academy in 2005, and of a higher institute of defence studies in 2011, in addition to the basic military instruction centres. The military academy has recruited women since its inception in 2005, but it was only in 2013 that gender was mainstreamed throughout the military recruitment process. In 2015 women made up approximately 8% of recruited individuals, and training on gender-based violence was being provided to military units (UN Country Team, 2015). There has been participation in regional peacekeeping exercises, and episodic participation in peace operations. The most important contribution by the FADM was a contingent of 280 troops to the African Union Mission to Burundi (AMIB) in 2003, which was enabled by financial support from the UK.

The policy development process that would shape the future direction of the sector started in 1997 with the Defence and Security Act, but proceeded slowly for more than a decade before a White Paper, a strategic defence concept, a strategic military concept, and a military force structure were all completed (Lalá, 2014). The military programming law, which defines priorities and the periodisation of the investments to be made in the FADM, has been even longer in the making, and was not accompanied by a concrete financial plan for re-equipment, including the purchase of armament. This has highlighted the deficiencies of the FADM in accomplishing its missions, including territorial defence with regards to maritime coastal protection in the face of illegal fisheries, armed robbery against vessels, and piracy along the Channel of Mozambique.

These vulnerabilities—and the dereliction of comprehensive reforms in the security sector, including the intelligence services and the presidential guard—have facilitated a lack of transparency within Mozambique’s Government, led by President Guebuza, in illegally contracting loans of around US$2 billion, allegedly to provide a comprehensive solution to Mozambique’s maritime vulnerability. The equipment and vessels purchased were inadequate and, having never been used for surveillance or patrolling activities, are now in a state of disrepair, whilst at the same time legitimate needs for coastal surveillance persist. Perversely, a considerable amount of loan funds remain unaccounted for, with purchases having been made through purposefully created companies by the intelligence services. The loans were obtained from Credit Suisse and VTB, who in turn faltered on due diligence, and received unusually high fees, demonstrating that accountability also needs to be factored in internationally (Financial Times, 2017).

Return to Top

iv.             Justice and Prison Reform

Mozambique’s justice sector, based on a unitary model of political/judicial power in the post-independence era, was completely overhauled after 1990. Dissociation from the Ministry of Justice took place, with the judiciary gaining independence, and the creation of the Supreme Court and of the Office of the Public Prosecutor (PGR). The Ministry of Justice retained control of notary and registry services, as well as of legal advisory and legislation drafting functions. The Institute of Sponsorship and Legal Aid (IPAJ) and the Centre for Legal and Judicial Training (CFJJ) were also created under these auspices.

The challenge for these institutions to provide representation throughout the territory was extensive, entailing the requirement to expand from central institutions to the provincial and district levels, as well as comprising the need to increase infrastructure, whilst simultaneously tackling the dearth of human and material resources. This was coupled with the need to equip citizens with knowledge about their rights and the modus operandi of these institutions. While justice reforms were not a priority of initial governments in the post-civil war period, the sector subsequently made significant headway in training and with the allocation of judges and prosecutors to the different districts, and more recently of public defenders, and legal aid assistants (Lalá, 2014). 

Progress notwithstanding, corruption and the infiltration of organised crime networks in the judicial apparatus have developed over time, and the system remains tainted by allegations of partisanship.  In addition, the unevenness in the timing and pace of reforms amongst the institutions of the criminal justice system has been problematic. The courts made progress at an effective pace whilst the PGR took longer to evolve. Efforts to overhaul the criminal investigation police met with strong resistance, and despite starting in the early 2000s remained severely constrained until the creation in 2017 of the National Service for Criminal Investigation (SERNIC), which finally removed criminal investigation competences from the PRM. Case management flow has been problematic, resulting as well in instances of prison overcrowding. It is also telling that in early 2000s the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior engaged in drawing up strategic plans without engaging in exchanges of information, consultation or sharing of experiences, even though both documents mention the existence of the other criminal justice institutions and acknowledge the need for improved coordination as key to effectiveness. The inadequate attention to the sequencing of criminal justice reform resulted in uneven levels of performance and effectiveness, deepening the pre-existing structural obstacles to citizens’ access to justice (Lalá, 2014). 

The low level of general education and legal awareness, linguistic barriers, long distances to access these services, and expensive lawyer and judicial costs, have been compounded by shortcomings in formal judicial processes regarding significant backlogs of pending court cases, and the shortage of state-sponsored legal representation. Disregard for the law, displayed mainly by security but also by justice personnel, has been widespread. Rights violations linked to arbitrary detention and arrest, denial of the principle of presumption of innocence, non-observance of the right to a lawyer, prolonged pre-trial detention, extended imprisonment after serving sentences, and physical and psychological ill-treatment by the police and prison guards, amongst others. 

Good practice should, however, be noted, and the work of the “Legality Commissions”—where they operate effectively and regularly— is a case in point. These are coordination mechanisms working at the provincial and district levels, including the representation of the public prosecutor, the criminal investigation police, the judges and prison services. This mechanism reviews cases and aims to ensure due process with regard to detentions, arrests and improved investigation and instruction of judicial processes.

Further to the above—and with donor support—“houses of justice”, in which all criminal justice institutions are housed in the same building, have been built in pilot districts as one-stop shops for the citizen, denoting good practice in aiming to improve justice service delivery, even if effectiveness remains to be evaluated. 

Currently, the penitentiary service (SERNAP) falls under the Ministry of Justice and provides general oversight of the prison system, being responsible for sentenced prisoners. A long path of reform has been travelled since the early 2000s to arrive at this stage, with the initial phases seeing the extinction of prisons that existed under the aegis of the intelligence services, and subsequently the emergence of a partitioned system where prisoners awaiting trial fell under the responsibility of the criminal investigation police at the Ministry of Interior, while those sentenced fell under the Ministry of Justice. Investment has been made to improve legal frameworks and institutional development, including the professionalisation of prison’s staff. Yet, in 2017, Mozambique’s prisons remain overcrowded, housing more than double their capacity—over 18,000 inmates for a capacity of 8,188 prisoners— and in general display poor sanitary and health conditions. The new Penal Code, which entered into force in 2015, introduced alternative measures to imprisonment for the first time, but its implementation has been slow. Allegedly this is due to the new Criminal Procedure Code, and an Alternative Sentence Execution Code with its associated regulations still being under development in 2017. Occasionally, presidential pardons have been conceded to alleviate the situation.

With regards to the improvement of human rights, a positive sign worth following is Mozambique’s Government immediate adoption of 158 recommendations as a result of a human rights review carried out in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council in 2016.  [7]  

Support to legal reform, institutional development, and improvement of access to justice and service delivery has been awarded by several international partners, with prominence for Denmark, UNDP and the EU in terms of volume of assistance, but also medium to longer term continued engagement. However, one important dimension of access to justice which continuously displays deficits is that of the articulation between the formal and informal justice systems, to which most people resort.

Legal pluralism is recognised in Mozambique’s Constitution, and legal provisions exist instituting the community courts, which often act as the entry-level of the justice system, even if they belong to the informal justice sphere.  There has been a longstanding lack of subsidiary regulations, contributing to unevenness in the existence and functioning of community courts throughout the territory, alongside various other extra-judicial conflict resolution mechanisms.  This has resulted in uneven dispensation of justice throughout the country, including human rights abuses, discrimination of women and youth, as well as nuances of politicisation of justice delivery, linked to past legacies from the single-party governing system (Lalá, 2014). To mitigate these outcomes, in 2011 the Ministry of Justice, acting in concert with district administrations and judicial authorities, engaged in a process to orientate the creation and functioning of community courts. Yet the argument remains unresolved as to whether these courts should be institutionalised, or rather should be left to operate loosely as, belonging to the customary justice sphere, they are legally barred from dealing with criminal matters.  

Also in 2011, a package of legislation on anti-corruption has been introduced, paving the way for investigation and prosecution of various cases, both at the medium and high-level of the state administration apparatus. The trend has been that high profile white-collar cases have broadly remained unresolved, but in 2017 the Central Office for the Fight Against Corruption has reinforced its activity, investigating cases involving civil servants ranging from members of the government, diplomats, mayors, district administrators, and directors of public companies, amongst others. The Office of Public Prosecution (PGR) has released, in June 2017, the executive summary of an audit carried out by the private consultancy Kroll on the illegally contracted loans to Credit Suisse and VTB of about US$2 billion, following pressure from donors and civil society. Whilst the PGR states that the audit was carried out under its leadership, access to information proved problematic for Kroll, and the audit reports have not yet led to criminal prosecution on this high profile case.   

Return to Top

v.            Donor Support and Coordination

Donor coordination on support to the justice and security sector in Mozambique has not been unproblematic, but appears to have improved over the years, with certain caveats. The available information relates mostly to assistance provided by Western partners (with deficits), when the country also receives support from elsewhere. Support to the defence sector has been mainly provided through bilateral cooperation. Support to the Police and the Interior Ministry has been channelled by a mixture of multilaterals and bilaterals, and has been more aligned, not least because of the role initially played by UNDP in 1997 as the managing partner through which several bilaterals channelled their support (Lalá, 2006). The EU also supported this area from 2010-2015, with implementation carried-out by one of its member states, namely Portugal. With regards to justice, although not all support was channelled and implemented through UNDP, a considerable number of partners appear to have joined efforts in an initial phase from 1999 onwards. UNDP, UNICEF, Norway, Finland and Portugal contributed financially with Ireland, Spain and Switzerland providing topical financial or technical assistance. Subsequently, in 2004 the EU funded a project implemented by UNDP, and in 2012 the partnership appears to have been renewed, although the project information shows that it has closed in 2017 without disbursement of funds. The design of the last project referred to complementary efforts to those being carried out by Denmark and the US.

In the last decade Mozambique has been hailed as a successful case in the attempts to implement aid assistance following the Paris Declaration principles, including those of coordination of international cooperation and mutual donor-national partner accountability (OECD, 2012). Against the long record of voluminous and non-aligned aid assistance, as well as its omission from the national budget, 19 international partners (with three others as observers) came together to support the government’s request for direct budget support. Complementing this initiative an external assistance database (ODAMOZ) was initially developed by the EU, including information from all EU members as well as USAID, Japan and the UN agencies. In 2006 management of the database was handed over to the Ministry of Planning and Development, with the formation of a supporting management committee by the government and international partners. The limitations were that the submission of data by donors was voluntary, and therefore sometimes lacking in timeliness and quality. However, this allowed Mozambique’s government to provide more comprehensive budget reports to the parliament and citizens.  Regular government and donor dialogue took place at a global and sectoral level, and complemented the technical-level efforts mentioned above. The dialogue produced positive results in terms of donor/government alignment of positions on more consensual social and economic agendas, but these benefits did not extend to areas such as justice, revealing the persistence of mistrust. Also, the information on the ODAMOZ was very poor in terms of data concerning justice and security sector support.

The revelation of hidden government debt, which was exposed in 2015-2016, has hampered donor/government coordination efforts which used to be progressive, and threatens future aid coordination.  Direct budget support seems unlikely to return, and aid coordination on other matters may also have lost momentum. The donors have been united around pressure on the government over transparency and accountability, but fractures exist among them concerning whether the debt should be repaid or repudiated.  

Return to Top

5. Future Considerations

The armed violence between Mozambique’s government and Renamo appears to be moving towards a peaceful resolution, with the December 2016 truce holding at the time of writing. The Government seems to be moving towards accommodating some of Renamo’s demands, namely with regards to decentralisation and election of provincial governors. Progress on agreement for DDR has been slow, especially regarding Renamo demands for integration also within police ranks. This development will likely affect the functioning of the defence and security sector going forward, and deserves monitoring in terms of ensuing reforms. In addition, as highlighted over the years, governance and accountability of the defence and security sector has remained hollow, particularly regarding transparency and accountability of security sector spending, and the activity of associated enterprises (Lalá, 2014; Omitoogun & Hutchful, 2006).   At the same time, Mozambique’s capacity to tackle modern security vulnerabilities and threats requires attention, within a need for adequate national democratic and governance frameworks, as well as economic development perspectives.

Challenges to justice sector development centre around capacity to ensure accountability, and end impunity. Additional risks exist regarding Mozambique’s rapid economic growth, which has been largely associated with capital-intensive investments in the extractive industry and infrastructure development. This growth strategy risks compounding co-existing poverty and political and economic grievances, if the government fails to adopt concrete policy measures for diversification of the economy, and redistribution of benefits to the majority of the population.      

Return to Top

Key References

Adedokun, Ayokunu. Emerging challenges to long-term peace and security in Mozambique. UNU-MERIT: Working Paper Series, no.15 (2017).

De Bortoli, Bianca. Transitional Justice Mechanisms: A Case Study of Sierra Leone and Mozambique. Small Wars Journal, (2014). 

Handley, G. Mutual Accountability at the Country Level: Mozambique country case study - Draft. London: ODI (2008).

Hendricks, Cheryl, and Takawira Musavengana. The security sector in Southern Africa. Institute for Security Studies Monographs (2010).

Igreja, Victor, Béatrice Dias‐Lambranca, and Annemiek Richters. Gamba Spirirts, Gender Relations and Healing in Post Civil War Mozambique. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 14.2 (2008).

Igreja, Victor. Amnesty law, political struggles for legitimacy and violence in Mozambique. International Journal of Transitional Justice 9.2 (2015).

J.P.B., Coelho and Paulino Macaringue. Da Paz Negativa à Paz Positiva: Uma  Perspectiva Histórica sobre o Papel das Forças Armadas Moçambicanas num Contexto de Segurança em Transformação. Estudos Moçambicanos 20 (2002).

Kyed, Helene Maria. Justice and Security Provision in Post-War Mozambique–A Politically Contested Field. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law 6:1 (2014).

Lalá, Anicia, and Laudemiro Francisco. The difficulties of donor coordination: Police and judicial reform in Mozambique. In G. Peake, E. Scheye & A. Hills (eds) Managing Insecurity: Field Experiences of Security Sector Reform Routledge: Milton Park and New York, pp.77-94, (2008)

Lalá, Anícia. Security Sector Reform in Post-conflict environments: An analysis of Coherence and Sequencing in Mozambique. PhD thesis. University of Bradford, (2014)

Lalá, Anícia. Defence Reform Challenges and Democratisation in post-conflict Mozambique. (2009).

Lalá, Anicia. “DDR in Mozambique: the Borderlines of the Success Story”. In A. Fitz-Gerald and H. Mason (eds) From conflict to community: a combatant's return to citizenship. GFN-SSR, Shrivenham, 155-185, (2005).

Mobekk, Eirin. “Transitional justice in post-conflict societies - approaches to reconciliation”. Chap. 9 in A. Ebnother, P. Fluri (Eds.). After intervention: Public security management in post-conflict societies - from intervention to sustainable local ownership. Geneva: Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, DCAF (2005).

Nuvunga, Adriano et al. Militarização da Formação Policial É Preocupante – Afecta o exercício de cidadania. CIP: a Transparência Newsletter, n°10. (2016).

Omitoogun, Wuyi and Hutchful, Eboe (eds). Budgeting for the Military Sector in Africa: The Process and Mechanisms of Control Oxford University Press: Oxford (2006).

Rebelo Da Silva, Natalie. “The Criminal Justice Reform – Audit of the Mozambique Prisoner Population”. Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (2011).

Regalia, Stephanie. The Resurgence of Conflict in Mozambique: Ghosts from the Past and Brakes to Peaceful Democracy. IFRI: Notes de l’Ifri (2017).

Vines, Alex. "Disarmament in Mozambique." Journal of Southern African Studies 24:1 (1998).

Vines, Alex. "Renamo's Rise and Decline: The politics of reintegration in Mozambique." International Peacekeeping 20.3 (2013).

Young, Oran. “The Development of the FADM in Mozambique: Internal and External Dynamics” African Security Review 5:1, (1996).



[1] Mozambique National Institute of Statistics, 2017. (exact figure: 27,12850)

[2] UNHCR, Growing Number of Mozambicans flee to Malawi, 2016; Freedom House, Violence, Refugees and the Luwani Camp, 2016.

[3] Eirin Mobbek, Transitional Justice in post-conflict societies – approaches to reconciliation, 2005, 285-286; Bianca De Bortoli, Transitional Justice Mechanisms: A Case Study of Sierra Leone and Mozambique, 2014; Victor Igreja, Béatrice Dias‐Lambranca, and Annemiek Richters, Gamba spirits, gender relations, and healing in post‐civil war Gorongosa, Mozambique, 2008; Victor Igreja, Amnesty law, political struggles for legitimacy and violence in Mozambique, 2015.

[4] Committee to Protect Journalists, 2017; Media Institute of Southern Africa, 2017.

[5] Police stations were raided and armed confrontations between the criminals and the police went on for two days. The authorities have not confirmed that the criminals are linked to Islamic extremists, but national media interviews with communities point to the group wanting to implement Sharia law, and helped to locate a training camp.

[6]In 2015 the police registered 46,6 crimes per 100,000 habitants, against 70 crimes in 2016.  Instituto Nacional de Estatística de Moçambique, Estatísticas de Crime e Justiça, 2016.

[7] 158 recommendations adopted from a total of 210 made, including 38 postponed and 14 rejected.

Return to Top