|The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001. Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date. This site is not updated so external links may no longer function. Contact us with any questions about finding information. |
NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.
TITLE: MOZAMBIQUE HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DATE: FEBRUARY 1995 MOZAMBIQUE Following decades of war, Mozambique enjoyed in 1994 its second year of peace and a significantly improved human rights situation. In the country's first multiparty elections October 27-29, President Joaquim Chissano and the National Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO, which has ruled Mozambique since independence in 1975) won 53.3 percent of the presidential vote and 44 percent of the parliamentary vote (129 of 250 legislative seats). Afonso Dhlakama, the leader of the former insurgent movement, the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), received 33.7 percent of the presidential vote and--with a popular majority in half the provinces--38 percent of the parliamentary vote (112 seats). Although Dhlakama threatened to pull out of the elections at the last minute and later charged that there were serious irregularities in the voting process, he said RENAMO would abide by the results. The U.N. Special Representative and other international observers declared the elections generally free and fair. On December 8-9, Chissano and the Parliament-elect were sworn in. At year's end, political tensions resurfaced after Chissano declined to appoint any RENAMO members to the Cabinet and resisted RENAMO's demands that they be consulted in the naming of governors for the provinces in which RENAMO won a majority of the vote. RENAMO walked out of the opening parliamentary session, protesting that FRELIMO was attempting to continue one-party government as usual. It remains to be seen whether the new multiparty legislature will have any more resources, authority, or independence than its predecessors. Despite occasional lapses by both FRELIMO and RENAMO in adhering to the General Peace Accord of October 1992 which ended the civil war, the U.N. peacekeeping force (ONUMOZ) successfully oversaw the cease-fire and the 2-year transition to multiparty elections. ONUMOZ's mandate ended December 9 with the swearing in of President Chissano; its withdrawal from Mozambique is scheduled to be completed by January 31, 1995. The status of the military and security apparatus remained in flux for most of the year. The Peace Accord specified that FRELIMO and RENAMO would each transfer 15,000 soldiers to a new, unified army. However, in an attempt to keep a military option open, both the Government and RENAMO made efforts to slow the planned demobilization of their 75,000 (total) troops and the establishment of the new Mozambique armed defense force (FADM). However, the pace of demobilization was forced when thousands of disaffected soldiers, having waited months in assembly areas, mutinied or simply deserted. At year's end, the FADM was comprised of only about 11,500 soldiers according to the Government. Given this downsized military establishment and the absence of any threat from its neighbors, all of whom are ruled by democratically elected governments, Mozambique should find it possible to drastically reduce military expenditures. FRELIMO internal security forces included the controversial intelligence arm, the State Information and Security Service (SISE), the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC), the Mozambique National Police (PRM), and the Rapid Reaction Police (PIR). The Peace Accord placed SISE under the supervision of a 21-member monitoring committee (COMINFO) of government and RENAMO representatives and independent citizens, and a 1993 Chissano-Dhlakama agreement gave ONUMOZ responsibility for overseeing the Mozambican police force. As part of this agreement, almost 1,000 international civilian police (CIVPOL) monitors arrived to monitor police activities. Despite the presence of the latter, police forces committed a number of human rights abuses, and prior to the elections the Government violated the Peace Accord by transferring a significant quantity of arms and men to the police, including to the presidential security force. The economy is largely agricultural, with approximately 80 percent of the population involved in small scale, subsistence farming. Major exports are shrimp, sugar, cotton, and cashew nuts. While near normal rains and continuing peace permitted many Mozambicans, including returning refugees and the internally displaced, to farm their lands again, the economy remained heavily dependent on foreign aid. Mozambique, continuing the transition from a centrally planned economy to a market-based system, is privatizing many government-owned companies and attempting to attract foreign investment. Nevertheless, Mozambique, remains one of the world's poorest countries, with a per capita income of only $80 annually. Although the overall human rights situation in Mozambique continued to improve in 1994, the Government, and to a lesser extent RENAMO, continued to commit serious human rights abuses. Despite the presence of international police trainers, police continued to commit abuses, including instances of extrajudicial killings and excessive use of force, and routinely beat and otherwise abused detainees. The Government rarely investigated such abuses or punished those responsible. Citizens sometimes turned to mob justice as a way to counter the ineffective and corrupt police force. The weak judiciary continued to be unable to implement constitutional guarantees of individual human rights or provide an effective check on the power of the executive branch. Early in the year RENAMO and FRELIMO traded accusations that they could not operate in areas under each other's control. Throughout the year, freedom of movement was severely hampered at times by armed bandits and FAM and RENAMO soldiers awaiting demobilization, who contributed to criminal activity by blocking roads, detaining civilians, and extorting money and food. Other human rights problems included harsh prison conditions, press restrictions, and violence against women. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing There were no known reports of political killings by the Government or RENAMO. However, the Mozambique National Police committed a number of extrajudicial killings. For example, in January in Nampula province, an off-duty police officer arrested and subsequently beat to death a pharmacy owner. Also, in July, in Quelimane in Zambezia province, police beat to death a RENAMO guard, Andre Filipe, while he was in custody. As far as known, the Government took no action against the officers involved in this incident. The rise of criminal activity, combined with police corruption and a weak judicial system (see Section l.e.) led to an increase in mob-vigilante killings, often involving necklacing, a method of killing and torture in which gasoline-filled tires are placed around a victim's neck and set alight. A medical journal reported that doctors had treated 18 young men in Maputo's central hospital over a 12-month period for severe burns caused by necklacing. Most of the 18 did not survive. The local press frequently reported instances of angry mobs beating or even lynching suspected thieves. b. Disappearance There was one report of an alleged government-perpetrated disappearance. In a complaint filed with the Cease-Fire Commission (CCF), one of the commissions established to oversee implementation of the Peace Accord, RENAMO accused the Government of responsibility for the disappearance in May of Renuge Paconote, a former government soldier, who claimed to have evidence that the Government was training troops in Tanzania in violation of the cease-fire. The Government denied the allegation and requested that the CCF suspend the investigation. The investigation proceeded but failed to reach any conclusions about Paconote's whereabouts. A number of members of the Presidential Guard, including Alberto Gomes, remained missing in 1994, following government suppression of a 1993 mutiny in the Guard. The Government reportedly refused to respond to a request by former soldiers that it establish a commission of inquiry. To date, there has been no news of Gomes' whereabouts or any indication that there will be an investigation into the matter. In another case, a government soldier held by RENAMO at a base in Zambezia in 1993 remained missing in 1994. RENAMO claims the soldier fled before he could be transferred to government custody in October 1993. The fate of thousands of Mozambicans who disappeared during the civil war remain unresolved. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Although the Constitution expressly prohibits torture, there were credible reports that the Mozambique Police Forces routinely beat and whipped detainees, which sometimes resulted in death (see Section 1.a.). Police routinely assaulted those suspected of even minor crimes. In Montepuez, Cabo Delgado province, three RENAMO members were detained by police in September for 3 days and severely beaten before being released without charges. In December RENAMO leaders also maintained that their supporters were being detained, harassed, and beaten by police in a number of provinces, but these charges could not be confirmed. Corruption in the police forces extended throughout the ranks; the PRM also used threats of violence and detention to intimidate people from reporting abuses, as in the case of Rosario Sweleke, a Radio Mozambique journalist who reported on alleged police criminal activity (see Section 2.a.). On occasion, the Government has taken action to counter police abuses. For example, in January the Interior Minister announced that 100 police had been expelled because of corruption and abuse of authority. In December the Police Commander of Maputo announced that 50 policemen were being prosecuted for "irregularities" committed during the election period. Harsh prison conditions continued to deteriorate during the year. Medical and food supplies were often insufficient, and overcrowding remained a serious problem. In some provincial prisons, men and women do not have separate facilities, and violence against women, particularly rape by guards and other prisoners, was a serious problem. At year's end, Machava prison, the largest in Mozambique, located on the outskirts of Maputo, held over twice the number of inmates for which it was built, and others held up to four times their intended capacity. The Government permitted international human rights groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to prisons. During 1994 RENAMO began to allow nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) much greater access to children in their custody, some of whom had been forced to become soldiers (see Section 5). d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile The law requires that most detainees be charged or released within 30 days. However, persons accused of the most serious crimes, i.e. security offenses or those requiring a sentence of more than 8 years, may be detained for up to 84 days without being formally charged. With court approval, such detainees may be held for two additional periods of 84 days while the police complete their investigation. In practice, however, these rules are often ignored. The detainee's constitutional rights to counsel and to contact relatives or friends are also frequently not respected. The Government has broad latitude for determining what constitutes a security offense. Citizens are also often unaware of their rights, particularly those granted under the 1990 Constitution, and detainees may spend many months, even years, in pretrial status. In some cases, detainees may be released from prison while the investigation proceeds, but the bail system remains poorly defined, and the police often take bribes to effect the release of those who can afford to pay. The law provides that if the prescribed period for investigation has been completed and no charges have been brought, the detainee must be released. In practice, however, this law is often ignored, in both regular and security cases, in part because of the severe lack of administrative personnel, trained judges, and sufficient lawyers to monitor the judicial system (see Section 1.e.). Throughout 1994 the serious backlog of pretrial detainees continued, and the Government made little effort to address this problem. A Mozambican human rights organization, the League of Human Rights (LDH), found that Machava prison alone had over 500 prisoners awaiting trail beyond the constitutionally mandated legal detention period. In one case, an attorney reported that a client had been held for 15 months without trial only to be found not guilty when he was finally able to stand trial. In another case, the LDH reported that a 52-year-old woman, accused of her husband's murder, was still awaiting trial after 3 years of detention. In May the Nampula police detained Rosario Sweleke, a Radio Mozambique journalist, on charges of defaming the local police for reporting on alleged criminal police activity. He was held for several hours. The 1990 Constitution expressly prohibits exile, and the Government does not use exile as a means of political control. e. Denial of Fair Public Trail The 1990 Constitution formally established an independent judiciary and specifically states that the decisions of the courts take precedence over all other authorities and individuals and must be obeyed. Nevertheless, the executive, and by extension the FRELIMO party, dominates the judiciary. In general, judges are beholden for their positions to the ruling FRELIMO party, which exercises significant influence on all aspects of public life through the executive and through party organs. Moreover, the President appoints the members of the most important tribunal, the Supreme Court, and prior to the October elections, these were automatically ratified by the FRELIMO-appointed National Assembly. At year's end, it was unclear whether the newly elected National Assembly would assert it prerogatives and strengthen the independence of the judiciary. The Government has also ignored court decisions. For example, in August the Defense Ministry refused to obey a court order that it compensate a goods vehicle driver for the loss of his truck when an army driver ran into him in 1986. There are two complementary formal justice systems--the civil/criminal, which includes customary courts and the military justice system. At the apex of both systems is the Supreme Court. A 1991 law empowered the Supreme Court to administer the civil/criminal system; it also hears appeals, including military cases, although the Ministry of Defense administers the military system. In addition, local customary courts handle matters such as estate and divorce cases. In the regular courts, all accused persons are in theory presumed innocent and have the right to legal counsel and appeal, but the authorities do not always respect these rights. Since the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1988 and the abolition of the Revolutionary Military Tribunal, persons accused of crimes against the State are tried in common civilian courts under standard criminal judicial procedures. A judge may order a trial closed because of national security interests or to protect the privacy of the plaintiff in rape cases. RENAMO continued during the year to administer the areas under its control through a rudimentary form of civil administration and traditional courts, often using RENAMO commanders as judges. The issue of political prisoners remained controversial. In 1992 the Government held an estimated 400 to 550 national security prisoners, most of whom were accused of sympathizing with, or committing crimes on behalf of, RENAMO. The October 1992 Rome Accords provided for the release of such prisoners, and the National Assembly passed an amnesty law in 1992 allowing over 300 prisoners to be released. In 1994, as in 1993, the Government claimed that there were no national security prisoners. However, in August the National Information Commission (COMINFO), established under the Peace Accord to monitor the activities of SISE, accused the Government of continuing to hold political prisoners. COMINFO's RENAMO-appointed chairman alleged that a RENAMO prisoner, Alexandre Niquisse, had been released from prison only in August. The COMINFO chairman accused SISE of "hiding" approximately 60 political prisoners, including Niquisse, in Inhambane province by reclassifying them as criminals. The chairman further speculated that more political prisoners continued to be held in detention throughout the country. When interviewed by the press about the allegations, the Minister of Justice downplayed the seriousness of the charge, but he admitted that bureaucratic mistakes could have occurred. The Government's handling of the Niquisse case lends credence to the COMINFO findings. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The 1990 Constitution provides for the right to privacy and expressly prohibits the use of surveillance techniques. By law, police need a warrant to enter homes and businesses, but in practice most policemen routinely operate without them. During the war, police and security forces entered homes at will, used a variety of surveillance techniques, and often forced civilians to move into government-protected villages. However, since the signing of the Rome Accords, the number of reported incidents of intrusive government actions declined markedly. Although there are fewer reports of such activity, incidents of illegal telephone wiretapping by Government intelligence agencies allegedly still occur. In November the independent weekly Savana reported what it considered convincing evidence that a telephone conversation between two of its journalists was tapped. The SISE denied the charge. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Constitution, the 1991 Press Law, and the 1992 Rome Peace Accords provide for freedom of expression and the press, except in cases involving national defense considerations. In practice, however, the Government restricts these freedoms. Although criticism of the President is not legally prohibited, the 1991 Press Law holds that, in cases of defamation against the President, truth is not a sufficient defense against libel. Although this law had not been tested in court, it resulted in considerable media self-censorship and almost no direct criticism of the President. The Government dominates the media through direct control of the most important means of reaching the public, radio and television. The Government owns Radio Mozambique and Television Mozambique, TVM, and also controls, either directly or indirectly, the most important newspapers such as Domingo and Noticias. Radio Mozambique reaches the largest number of Mozambicans. The official media do not criticize government officials or policies, even though corruption at the ministerial level is common knowledge. The only independent television station began its second year of broadcasts in 1994. While independent administratively and financially from the Government, the station is owned by a FRELIMO Central Committee member, and programming has not taken an independent political line. The government-controlled media frequently ignored or distorted Rome Accord issues and regularly criticized RENAMO military and political leaders for alleged violations of the Accord. The government media also targeted the U.N. Special Representative and various members of the diplomatic community, particularly as the October elections approached. They were subjected to an orchestrated campaign which impugned their motives and falsely alleged various conspiracies against the peace process. There were several incidents in which security officials harassed the press. For example, in May the Nampula Chief of Police castigated the media for criticizing the police, and the police arbitrarily detained Radio Mozambique announcer Rosario Swelke for several hours (see Section 1.c.). The Governor intervened to release Swelke, and the Higher Council of Social Communications (CSCS), an oversight organ mandated by the Press Law, and the Independent National Organization of Journalists investigated the incident. Notwithstanding the dominance of the official media, there is a small, but growing independent press that includes several daily facsimile (FAX) newsletters which carry opposition viewpoints. However, the influence of this independent press and, for that matter, of the official press as well, is limited largely to Maputo and the provincial capitals. During the official 33-day election campaign, all parties, including RENAMO and other opposition parties, had an opportunity to present their views on Radio Mozambique and television at no cost, in accordance with the Electoral Law, and the guidelines established by the nonpartisan National Elections Commission. The media also featured nonpartisan voter education programs. RENAMO published a magazine, Novos Tempos, and its radio station, Voz de Renamo, began nationwide shortwave and Maputo-only FM broadcasts in 1994. RENAMO continually criticized the Government, often without any factual basis. There are no formal restrictions on academic freedom, but, in practice, teachers routinely adhere to self-censorship since their employment depends on the State. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly, and there were no known incidents of the authorities denying permission for groups to hold public marches or demonstrations. However, security forces used excessive force on several occasions in controlling unauthorized demonstrations, killing and wounding several persons. In July in Xai-Xai, Gaza province, rapid intervention forces fired on crowds demanding the return of possessions from PRM members they suspected of theft, injuring several demonstrators. During 1994, 18 registered political parties, including the two largest, FRELIMO and RENAMO, held congresses and press conferences and traveled in areas under government control. Although the electoral campaign was generally peaceful, there emerged a pattern of FRELIMO harassment of opposition parties throughout the country. This often involved heckling and stoning opposition candidates and systematic defacing of opposition campaign material. FRELIMO also made extensive use of state resources in its campaign and used governmental powers to coerce campaign contributions from local businessmen. FRELIMO accused RENAMO of preventing government campaigners from going into RENAMO areas, but there was little independent evidence to support these allegations. RENAMO accepted the electoral outcome, although it claimed that many irregularities had prevented the process from being "fair." c. Freedom of Religion The Constitution mandates strict separation of church and state. It provides for the freedom to "practice or not practice a religion" and also gives religious institutions the right to own property and operate schools. The Government respects these rights in practice. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation The Constitution provides for freedom of travel within the country and abroad. The Government no longer requires citizens to obtain permits from local authorities in order to travel within the country. The Government began to enforce a law requiring disproportionately heavy fines for foreigners who overstayed their visas. The unstable security situation in the country remained the greatest threat to freedom of movement. In mid-1994, government and RENAMO soldiers demanding immediate demobilization frequently detained and robbed travelers along major highways. Using trumped-up charges, police also frequently stopped truck drivers and foreign visitors and demanded bribes from them. During the year, RENAMO permitted increased travel to its controlled areas, although it insisted that in order to ensure safety, relief workers and others had to carry RENAMO passes. During the initial phases of the voter registration campaign, electoral workers hesitated to enter RENAMO zones unless security guards were escorting them, but later they entered all RENAMO zones freely. With the end of the civil war and the return of the rains after the worst drought on record in 1992, citizens who had been internally displaced or had sought refuge in neighboring countries, began to return in large numbers. Under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with the assistance of the International Organization of Migration, over 1.5 million refugees and most of the 3.6 million displaced persons had returned to their homes by year's end. At the end of 1994, there were few refugees from other countries, although 343 asylum seekers were awaiting determination of their status. There were no reported cases in which refugees were forced to return to countries where they might have a well-founded fear of persecution. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government During 1994 the President, the FRELIMO leadership, and the Council of Ministers continued to control policymaking and to influence implementation of the Rome Peace Accords. The 1992 Accords established a timetable for elections and an independent monitoring system to ensure their fairness. On October 27-29, Mozambicans freely exercised for the first time their right to vote in multiparty elections. President Chissano and FRELIMO won the presidential and legislative elections, gaining 53 percent of the presidential vote and 129 seats in the 250-seat National Assembly. RENAMO defeated FRELIMO in 5 of the country's 10 provinces, including in the 2 most populous provinces, Zambezia and Nampula. Dhlakama took 33.7 percent of the vote, and RENAMO won 112 legislative seats. A third party coalition, the Democratic Union, won the remaining 9 seats. While RENAMO charged that the Government had engaged in ballot-rigging, Dhlakama accepted the outcome, and the U.N. and other observers declared the election results free and fair. While there are no legal restrictions hindering women's involvement in the political process, cultural factors have inhibited women's participation and advancement. At year's end, there was one female minister (for Coordination and Social Action) and four female vice ministers in the Government. The 21-member National Elections Commission included 2 women to oversee the elections. Of the 250 newly elected National Assembly deputies, 62 are women (48 of 129 for FRELIMO, 13 of 112 for RENAMO, and 1 of 9 for the Democratic Union. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights There are no legal obstacles to the formation of local human rights groups, and two groups formed in 1993 continued to operate throughout the year. The Mozambican League for Human Rights focuses particularly on the rights of prisoners. On at least one occasion in 1994 it openly criticized the Government in the press for judicial delays affecting prisoners' rights. The Government was receptive to visits by international human rights monitoring groups, including the ICRC and Amnesty International. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or disability, but the Government does not ensure in practice that citizens may exercise all these rights. Women Despite constitutional prohibition of discrimination based on sex, women suffer both legal and societal discrimination. Mozambique has civil and commercial legal codes which predate independence and frequently contradict each other and the Constitution. Among these laws are discriminatory measures based on traditional African practices which limit widow's inheritance rights, with estates reverting to the deceased husband's relatives. Women continue to be underrepresented in the professions and have less access than males to educational institutions at all levels. Discrimination against women is most apparent in rural areas where over 80 percent of the population live, and where women are engaged mainly in subsistence farming and child-rearing, with little opportunity for schooling or access to health care. According to medical and other sources, violence against women, especially wife beating and rape, is fairly widespread in Mozambique, especially in rural areas. The police do not normally intervene in domestic disputes, and cases are rarely brought before the courts. The Government has not specifically addressed the issue of violence against women. While rape can theoretically be prosecuted in the courts, cultural pressures would make it difficult for most women to do so. The Justice Ministry and an NGO organization, the Association of Women, Law, and Development (MULEIDE), which aims to promote and defend the legal rights of women, are collaborating to identify those outdated laws that conflict with rights granted women by the 1990 Constitution. However, at year's end MULEIDE had not taken concrete action on the problems with the legal code. In addition to MULEIDE, a Zimbabwe-based group, Women in Law and Development in Africa, opened a Mozambique chapter in 1994 to focus on women's legal rights. Children The Government has not made children's rights and welfare a priority. It has made little attempt to reintegrate into society the large numbers of child soldiers that served in the military and RENAMO forces or alleviate the plight of the increasing numbers of urban street children, many of whom were orphaned by the war. During the year, RENAMO began allowing the ICRC and other NGO's greater access to children in its custody, some of whom had been forced to be soldiers. Of the 3,500 children who had been in RENAMO custody, approximately 500 had served as soldiers. At year's end, all but a minority of problem cases (where parents were no longer alive or could not take their children back) had been resolved, and the ICRC announced plans to close its operation. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities There is no systematic persecution or discrimination on the basis of race, but the FRELIMO Government included at all levels a disproportionate number of southerners, mostly from the Shangaan ethnic group. RENAMO leadership is predominantly Shona-ethnic. There is no indication that the conflict between the FRELIMO Government and RENAMO was primarily motivated by ethnicity, although ethnic and regional factors played some role and explain some of the civil war violence. People with Disabilities Although the Constitution expressly states that "disabled citizens shall enjoy fully the rights enshrined in the Constitution," the Government has made few resources available to assist the disabled and has not passed legislation mandating accessibility to public buildings or transportation. In 1991 the Association of Mozambican Disabled (ADEMO) was created to address the social and economic needs of the disabled. Although poorly funded, ADEMO provides training, raises public awareness of the need to integrate disabled persons into society, and lobbies the Ministry of Labor to initiate legislation to support the working rights of disabled persons. The Electoral Law governing the first multiparty elections specifically addressed the needs of disabled voters in the polling booths by stipulating that sick or disabled persons could go to the front of the line and be assisted by another voter to vote if necessary. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The Constitution specifies that all workers are free to join a trade union. A labor law passed in December 1991 further protects workers' rights to organize and to engage in union activity at their place of employment. The legislation gave existing unions the right to register independently from the then FRELIMO-dominated Organization of Mozambican Workers (OTM). Three unions broke away from the OTM in 1992 and formed the Organization of Free and Independent Unions in 1994. While still considered to be under strong government influence, at its third National Congress in May the OTM membership for the first time elected its President and Secretary General; previously both were government appointees. New OTM statutes call for independence from all influence by companies, governments, political parties, and religious groups. The Constitution explicitly provides workers with the right to strike, with the exception of government employees, police, military personnel, and employees of other essential services (which include sanitation, firefighting, air traffic control, health care, water, electricity, fuel, post office, and telecommunications). While no general strikes occurred in 1994, there were numerous wildcat strikes, with workers protesting low or long overdue salaries. A downturn in Mozambique's industrial sector resulted in many factory closures and employers unable to meet payrolls. Clashes between protesting workers and police sometimes turned violent, as in May in Nampula at the Modemo Wood Company, when police wounded several workers demanding their unpaid wages. The 1991 Labor Law forbids retribution against strikers, the hiring of substitute workers, or lockouts by employers. There were no known instances during 1994 of employer retribution against striking workers. Specific labor disputes are generally arbitrated through ad hoc workers' committees, formally recognized by the Government. The Constitution and labor legislation provide unions with the right to join and participate in international bodies. The OTM is a member of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity and the Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council. In 1994 Parliament ratified four International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, including those on collective bargaining and protection of trade union rights. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The Labor Law protects workers' rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining. In practice, the Government dominates the industrial sector through state-owned enterprises and is deeply involved in the bargaining process, even though in late 1991, the Government decreed that it would no longer set all salary levels. During the year the OTM, the three independent unions, and business organizations met with the Government to negotiate a "social pact," which resulted in an increased minimum wage and the setting of voluntary price ceilings on certain food staples. The more activist independent unions and, to a lesser extent the OTM, utilized the threat of a general strike to compel the Government and business organizations to establish a formal tripartite "social pact" committee to negotiate labor issues. The Labor Law expressly prohibits discrimination against organized labor, although antiunion discrimination has not been an issue since, until recently, unions were government-controlled organizations. While Mozambique has enacted legislation for the establishment of export processing zones, no zones have been created. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and there have been no reports of such labor practices. d. Minimum Age For Employment of Children Child labor is regulated by the Ministry of Labor. In the wage economy, the minimum working age is 16. Because of high adult unemployment, few children are employed in regular wage positions. However, children commonly work on family farms or in the urban informal sector, where they perform such tasks as guarding cars, collecting scrap metal, or selling trinkets and food in the streets. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work The Government sets minimum wage rates administratively. The minimum wage at year's end was less than $20 (117,500 meticais) per month. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing the minimum rates in the private sector and the Ministry of Finance in the public sector. Violations of minimum wage rates are usually investigated only after workers register a complaint. It is customary for workers to receive fringe benefits such as transportation and food. The minimum wage is not considered sufficient to sustain an average urban worker's family. Many workers must turn to a second job, if available, as well as work garden plots to survive. The standard legal workweek is 44 hours, with a 24-hour rest period stipulated. In the small industrial sector, the Government has enacted health and environmental laws to protect workers. On occasion, the Government has closed firms for noncompliance with these laws, but the Ministry of Labor enforces the laws ineffectively.(###)
[end of document]
to 1994 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.