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Graft roots run deep

Publish date: 10 June 2019
Issue Number: 827
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Mozambique

In December 1974, Barry Wood made his first visit to Mozambique and was smitten by the relaxed Afro-Portuguese culture so different from SA. In Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) soft Latin-style Portuguese was gentle on the ear, a welcome change from the guttural Afrikaans to which he had become accustomed. In a Politicsweb analysis, Wood says contrasts to SA were everywhere. ‘Near the airport people in a vast shanty town lived so basically that the paved streets and sturdy brick dwellings of Soweto appeared luxurious by comparison. In the centre, a Mediterranean veneer overlaid the city – wide boulevards, mosaic tile sidewalks, green spaces, pleasant views of Delagoa Bay. Blacks were seated in the outdoor cafes that would have been whites-only in SA.’ He notes that the April 1974 coup in Lisbon overthrew a dictatorship that had been in power since 1932. ‘For a decade, tiny Portugal, the poorest land in western Europe, had been waging unwinnable guerilla wars in Guinea Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. To end the madness, junior officers seized power and the old order collapsed like a house of cards.’ Fast-forward to the late 1990s and Wood points out that Mozambique had evolved into an economic success story. ‘The biggest recipient of foreign assistance in Africa, Mozambique was a star student of market-based reforms championed by international lenders. The IMF was so pleased that it convened its 2014 Africa Rising conference in Maputo. But while its economy expanded, Mozambique became aid dependent and corruption exploded. Transparency International puts Mozambique near the bottom of its corruption perception index, ranking it 158 out of 180 countries surveyed. In Africa, only Somalia, Zimbabwe, Angola and seven smaller economies score lower.’

Full analysis on the Politicsweb site