Moçambique on-line

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ISS Regional Seminar:
Organised crime, corruption and governance in the SADC Region
Pretoria, 18 and 19 April 2002

Mozambique: Threats posed by the penetration of criminal networks
Peter Gastrow and Marcelo Mosse
part 5

Concluding Comments

This paper has focused primarily on recording the information that emanated from the study on organised crime and related corruption in Mozambique. Much work remains to be done to analyse this information in order to assess its impact on governance in Mozambique. However, what the study clearly shows is that Mozambique is very close to becoming a criminalised state. Unless there are dramatic and far-reaching interventions by the Mozambique government, this slide will lead to criminal networks, involving also top political and government figures, becoming a routine part of governance in Mozambique, operating in the shadow of the formal state administration. Attorney-General Joaquim Madeira's report to the Mozambique parliament needs to be taken seriously.

Studies that have focused on the phenomenon of the criminalisation of the state accept that it is difficult to quantify the definition of criminalisation. In their book "The Criminalization of the State in Africa", Bayart, Ellis and Hibou avoid any attempt to arrive at a strict juridical definition of criminalisation and instead offer the following more general and generic definition of criminalisation:39

"The criminalisation of politics and of the state may be regarded as the routinization, at the very heart of political and governmental institutions and circuits, of practices whose criminal nature is patent, whether as defined by law of the country in question, or as defined by the norms of international law and international organizations or as so viewed by the international community, and most particularly that constituted by aid donors."

If Mozambique has not already reached that point, then it is certainly very close to it. The concept of the "captured state" has also been used to describe government structures that have become captives of uncontrolled corruption. It has generally been used to describe the conditions in countries with transitional economies where, as a result of grand corruption, so-called oligarchs have been able to manipulate policy formation and even shape the emerging rules of the game to their own advantage. State capture has been defined as "the efforts of firms to shape the laws, policies, and regulations of the state to their own advantage by providing illicit private gains to public officials".40

Unlike Russia and some of the former states of the Soviet Union, Mozambique did not enter its economic transition with powerful oligarchs in place who could manipulate the state to their own advantage. The Mozambican "oligarchs" appear to be the wealthy organised criminal networks that have secured political protection and that operate parallel to the state with relative impunity. This form of "double state authority" is potentially even more pernicious as it emasculates state authority and democratic governance in areas far beyond those that would be of interest to real oligarchs in countries such as Russia.

In addition to undermining the accountability and transparency of state structures, organised criminal networks in Mozambique have also successfully penetrated sectors of commerce and trade. Cynics might argue that, against the background of Mozambique's astounding economic growth during the past few years, the wide-scale smuggling of goods, such as the illegal importation of sugar, constitutes part of capitalism gone rampant. Small and medium-sized traders in Mozambique, who have benefited from years of trading in goods smuggled into the country without customs duty having been paid, might have benefited as a result of the involvement of organised crime in business.

However, for the fledgling sugar industry in Mozambique, the smuggling into the country of 70 000 tonnes of sugar per annum can only spell hardships. Such relatively large illegal imports will certainly undermine domestic production as they distort the price structure and make local production less competitive, resulting in an outflow of the capital to pay for the imported sugar. Consumers who are able to buy cheaper smuggled sugar may argue that they have benefited, but this would have been at the expense of domestic employment, state revenue collection, and longer-term self-sufficiency. Such activities lead to a skewed economy with serious consequences for longer-term investor confidence, fixed investment, and economic growth.

Mozambique should therefore recognise the red warning lights that are flashing and act decisively to restore accountable and transparent governance. There is a tendency by some developed countries to minimise the corrosive impact which organised criminal networks and corruption have on the Mozambican society, or to look the other way because of the significant democratisation steps and moves towards a market economy that Mozambique has undertaken. The serious situation on the ground certainly does not justify such complacency. SADC governments, some of whom face similar threats to governance in their own countries, should also demonstrate that they have the political will to combat organised crime and corruption more effectively. What happens in Mozambique will inevitably have repercussions for the entire SADC region as far economic stability, democratic governance, and the investment environment is concerned.


 1. Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile Mozambique, Report 1, June 2001, (26 October 2001).

 2. Ibid.

 3. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2001.

 4. Samora Machel, A Luta Contra O Subdesenvolvimento, 1983, quoted by Luis António Mondlane in 'The Growth, Extent and Causes of Crime: Mozambique', Crime and Policing in Transitional Societies, seminar report, 2001, No. 8, p. 94, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Johannesburg.

 5. Interview by Peter Gastrow, Maputo, 16 November 1999.

 6. Pan African News Agency (PANA), 4 April 2001, reported in the Reuters Business Briefing on 5 April 2001.

 7. See also Drugs now biggest business by Joseph Hanlon, Metical, 28 June 2001.

 8. According to the report, authorities seized 3 tonnes of Cannabis sativa, 13 000 tablets, 660 kilograms of mandrax and 15 542.00 kilograms of hashish during the year 2000.

 9. Marcelo Mosse, interview with sources in Maputo, July 2001.

10. Joseph Hanlon, op. cit.

11. Peter Gastrow, interview with source in Maputo, November 1999.

12. Peter Gastrow, interview with source in Maputo, November 1999.

13. Luis António Mondlane, op. cit.

14. This information derives from an investigation into the case during 1995 by Marcelo Mosse, published in the newspaper Savana, Maputo, 6 October 1995.

15. Marcelo Mosse, research paper.

16. Marcelo Mosse, interview with sources, July 2001.

17. Article by Joseph Hanlon, op. cit.

18. A study by economist Carlos Nuno Castel Branco, referred to in Joseph Hanlon op. cit.

19. Marcelo Mosse, sources from within the Secret Police (SISE).

20. Various articles in Metical, Maputo.

21. Article by Joseph Hanlon, op. cit.

22. Information collected from prisoners in Machava Central Jail, Maputo. One of the sources was involved in the transportation of the 40 tonnes of hashish in 1995.

23. Report by Mozambique News Agency, Maputo, 7 March, 2002: Attorney-General paints sombre picture of justice system. Maputo, 6 Mar (AIM).

24. The Attorney General responsible, Mr Muthisse, was subsequently dismissed from his position.

25 During 1999 and 2000, Carlos Cardoso wrote several articles in Metical about the involvement of the Satar brothers in the BCM case.

26 'Mozambique's downward spiral', Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg, 23 March 2001.

27. Marcelo Mosse, information obtained from reliable sources.

28. Marcelo Mosse, information obtained from reliable sources.

29. 'Mozambican Top Police Officers sacked', Xinhua News Agency, 19 December 2001, Document ID: 20011219340000165.

30. Marcelo Mosse, information obtained from reliable sources.

31. 'Smuggled sugar threatens local industry', Xinhua News Agency, 9 June 2001, Document ID: 20010906990000101.

32. Ibid.

33. Metical, Maputo, September 2001.

34. Interview by Marcelo Mosse, published in Demos, Maputo, February 2001.

35. António Souto, Metical, Maputo, 2 January 2001.

36. Marcelo Mosse, information obtained from the office of the Attorney General.

37. Marcelo Mosse, sources from within the Polícia de Investigação Criminal.

38. Marcelo Mosse, sources from within the Polícia de Investigação Criminal.

39. Jean-Francois Bayart, Stephen Ellis & Beatrice Hibou: 'The Criminalization of the State in Africa', The International African Institute in association with James Currey, Oxford and Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 1999

40. Joel Hellman and Daniel Kaufmann, "Confronting the Challenge of State Capture in Transition Economies", Finance & Development, September 2001. See also Joel Hellman, Geraint Jones, and Daniel Kaufmann, 2000, "Seize the State, Seize the Day: State Capture, Corruption, and Influence in Transition Economies" World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2444 (Washington).

Peter Gastrow
Institute for Security Studies
Cape Town, South Africa

Marcelo Mosse

19 April 2002

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