För snart tio år sedan, den 22 november, 2000 mördades den mocambikiske journalisten Carlos Cardoso. Cardoso arbetade då med ett mycket uppmärksammat fall av korruption och storskaliga stölder inom det mocambikiska bankväsendet. Denna och nästa vecka ordnas ett antal diskussioner, filmvisningar och cerimonier till minne av Cardoso och hans livsgärning. Joe Hanlon skriver i sitt nyhetsbrev (daterat 17 november):
Events over the next week will mark the assassination of Carlos Cardoso a decade ago, on 22 November 2000. Mozambique’s best investigative journalist was gunned down on the street to stop him reporting on high level thefts which were to nearly destroy the Mozambican banking system. Less than a year later, on 11 August 2001, the Bank of Mozambique’s head of banking supervision, Antonio Siba-Siba Macuacua, was also assassinated.
The low level people who actually shot Carlos were jailed. But those who looted the banks and orchestrated the murders remain untouched. They are too important in the party, and know too much. At first, there was some pressure from the international community – but then similar greed nearly destroyed the global banking system, and a few hundred million dollars in Mozambique seemed less important.
And so, a decade on, where are we?
Mozambique’s media remains freer and more outspoken than in many countries of the region. Carlos’ friends, colleagues and successors continue to be the only check on a predominant party which faces no serious opposition.
But at the same time, greed and impunity have become entrenched. To be sure, the Mozambique elite learned one key lesson – you cannot steal so much that the entire house comes tumbling down around you. But a different sense of “ethics” has become normalised. After more than a decade, it seems normal that profits of the heroin trade are used to construct grand new buildings in the capital and probably fund the party. And the elite now assumes that it has a right to a personal share of any money – aid, investments, and profits – and that this money should be spent on grand houses and fleets of cars. And a patronage system grows, in which loyal followers at lower levels are ensured their share.
Not, perhaps, unusual in the rest of the world. But Cardoso and many Mozambicans remembered an era, in the late 1970s, when it was not normal in Mozambique. A time in which the leadership seemed genuinely committed to a broadly based development and ending poverty, rather than personal enrichment.
All of the recent data points to a widening gap between rich and poor in Mozambique, and a deepening of poverty. The demonstrations of early September are reminders that the Maputo poor see fancy cars and ostentatious houses as symbols of greed, not development.
In our globalised era, the role models for the Frelimo elite are the wealthy of Cape Town and Washington, and the highly paid donors and consultants who flood Maputo. But, as Frelimo once said, “the struggle continues”. Not everyone in Frelimo, nor in the media, accepts the present attitudes of the elite that the priority is that they should eat well. Some still want a less distorted development model that promotes economic growth and a fairer distribution of wealth.
This struggle is becoming much more intense. The next decade will see Mozambique become a major mineral-energy exporter, with very large revenues. How will that money be shared? Some in the elite see wealth of a scale that will make the looting of the banks that Carlos was investigating seem tiny. But others see resource that can fuel real economic growth and make Mozambique less dependent on donors.
In the next decade, Frelimo will remain the predominant party and will continue to protect its greediest leaders. Thus the media remains main check on how the new wealth is shared out. Carlos Cardoso established a tradition of investigative journalism that will be even more essential in the coming decade.
A luta continua