By Joseph Hanlon
The presidency of Armando Guebuza has left a host of problems in government and the civil service. The $2 bn secret debt is tip of an iceberg of corruption and sense of entitlement at all levels. US legal actions revealed bribes paid to senior people in LAM and the airports authority. Demands for money by the traffic police, at airports, and for services have become endemic. There is a long list of dubious government contracts issued outside the normal public tender system, which often mean poorer services for ordinary Mozambicans.
One of the problems has been the entrenchment of patronage. Jobs are dependent on Frelimo party member and/or family or social links. There is a sense of entitlement - to perks, extra money, a car, etc. Priority becomes serving the patron - doing party work rather than doing a good job. At the same time there are no rewards for taking risks or doing the job well; indeed the good and honest people are often marginalised because they show up the others. Taken together it has led to a sharp deterioration in state services. LAM has four of seven airplanes grounded, a result partly of difficulty maintaining a fleet of too many kinds of aircraft, resulting from bribes, and flights are cancelled arbitrarily and no revised schedule is announced. Maputo has water shortages now because no one was brave enough to announce water rationing a year ago or push for new wells and pipelines two years ago. There are electricity cuts because EDM does not maintain or replace its aging equipment or keep enough spares. MCel crumbles because there is no pressure to keep up with the competition and changing technology. The IMF and donors are now demanding privatization of the remaining state companies, which would surely be supported by the disgruntled customers.
Reversing a decade and more of patronage, entitlement and corruption is not easy. Too many people benefit from the present system. And any change in leadership is met by a new set of family and cronies who demand similar jobs and privileges. Recent moves by President Filipe Nyusi and his government suggest that they feel that the power of former president Guebuza has weakened enough that some people have lost protection. The attack on the corrupt timber trade (see newsletter 366) and the visits by Nyusi to state enterprises similar to those of Samora Machel 40 years ago suggest an attempt to clean up after Guebuza.
But is a culture change possible? No senior figures have been prosecuted for corruption, which remains a very low risk crime. So far, it is only the "small fish" who are targeted. Many people are still protected by Frelimo, Nyusi is still building his power base and his new allies want their rewards, and any peace deal with Afonso Dhlakama will include privileged positions for Renamo people. But a few steps are being taken and some stories are noted below. Jh
Source: MOZAMBIQUE 369 News reports & clippings 24 April 2017