Mozambique | Freedom House

Freedom in the World



Freedom in the World 2014

2014 Scores


Partly Free

Freedom Rating
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Civil Liberties
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Political Rights
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


At the start of 2013, the opposition Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO)—a former rebel movement—was demanding stronger representation in the armed forces, revision of the electoral system, and a larger share of coal and natural gas income, after an ambush by the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) on its leader in October 2012 prompted a cessation of the 1992 peace agreement. Negotiations failed early in the year. This led RENAMO and FRELIMO to several violent exchanges, beginning in April, when 1 RENAMO supporter and 4 members of the FIR (Rapid Response Force) were killed in Sofala province as RENAMO forces tried to free fellow supporters that had been jailed when the police invaded RENAMO’s headquarters in Muxungue. Confrontations between the two sides continued in Sofala, resulting in dozens dead and many local people leaving the area. On October 21 the government took over RENAMO’s base in Satunjira, Gorongosa. The fighting spread to other regions of Mozambique, reaching Nampula and Rapale. The government took over RENAMO’s second base on October 28, and RENAMO conducted an increasing number of violent attacks in November and December against primarily military targets.

After 24 rounds of negotiations, no progress had been by the end of the year, as RENAMO demanded a revision of the 1992 Rome Peace Agreement that brought an end to the country’s 1977–92 civil war. Mozambicans faced a growing sense of lawlessness due to a significant spike in violent crimes—particularly kidnappings—in addition to the worsening political violence. Nevertheless, the heads of both FRELIMO and RENAMO declared that the country would return to peace in 2014.

November 2013 municipal elections were generally peaceful, and, although FRELIMO won the majority of municipalities, the opposition Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) made major strides.

Despite the country’s worst political and military crisis since 1992, Mozambique’s GDP grew 7 percent in 2013. Extractive industries, financial services, transport, and communications drove the economy. Inflation was between 5 and 6 percent, 2 percent higher than in 2012 but still lower than the ceiling set by the Central Bank.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 


Political Rights: 23 / 40 [Key]

A. Electoral Process: 6 / 12

The president, who appoints the prime minister, is elected by popular vote for up to two five-year terms. Members of the 250-seat, unicameral Assembly of the Republic are also elected for five-year terms. The national government appoints the governors of the 10 provinces and Maputo. Despite the introduction of elected provincial assemblies and municipal governments, power remains highly centralized, particularly in the hands of the president. While international observers have deemed that the overall outcomes of Mozambique’s national elections reflected the will of the people, general elections have repeatedly been riddled with problems.

Mozambique held presidential, legislative, and—for the first time—provincial elections in October 2009. Armando Guebuza was reelected with 75 percent of the vote. His opponents, Afonso Dhlakama of RENAMO and Daviz Simango of the newly formed MDM, received 16.4 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively. In the parliamentary contest, FRELIMO captured 191 of 250 seats, while RENAMO won 51, and the MDM took 8. FRELIMO also won absolute majorities in all 10 of the country’s provincial assemblies. RENAMO and the MDM both alleged fraud, and international observer groups were highly critical of many pre-election processes. Observers also documented irregularities, though they concluded that the distortions were not significant enough to have impacted the overall results of the elections.

On July 29, 2013, RENAMO’s leader announced that his party would not participate in the municipal elections set for November 20, and threatened to split the country into independent provinces because RENAMO was not adequately represented in the electoral bodies. Some analysts argued for postponing the elections in view of the growing military tension between RENAMO and FRELIMO, but a total of 18 parties ran. FRELIMO won the majority of the 53 municipalities in what were remarkably peaceful elections. MDM won several seats in a large number of municipal assemblies and control over three major cities: Beira (the second-largest city), Nampula (the third-largest city), and Quelimane.

National and provincial elections are set for October 15, 2014. RENAMO has declared that it will not participate if the electoral rules are not changed.


B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 10 / 16

Political parties are governed by a law that expressly prohibits them from identifying exclusively with any religious or ethnic group. FRELIMO, the political party that grew out of the former guerrilla group that had fought to win Mozambique’s independence, is the only party to have held power nationally. Its unbroken incumbency has allowed it to acquire significant control over state institutions. In the lead-up to the 2009 elections, the government was heavily criticized for the electoral commission’s disqualification of MDM candidates in 7 of the country’s 11 parliamentary constituencies. Elements within FRELIMO are also believed to have instigated several violent attacks against opposition candidates and their supporters during the campaign. Meanwhile, popular support for RENAMO—which fought FRELIMO in the 16-year civil war—and its leader, Afonso Dhlakama, has dropped in recent years. MDM, which formed when certain RENAMO politicians had a break with the party, has quickly established itself as a viable political force.


C. Functioning of Government: 7 / 12

Corruption in government and business remains pervasive despite the passing of a new anticorruption law and the delegation of new powers to the Central Office for Combating Corruption in 2012. Observers note that anticorruption measures are not followed through, and those in charge of enforcing them—police and judicial bodies—are also often corrupt. Mozambique was ranked 119 out of 177 countries and territories surveyed in Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index. In the 2013 Revenue Watch Institute Natural Resources Management Index, Mozambique ranked 46 out of 58 countries. The country’s poor performance was largely due to the government’s failure to provide information on extractives, the confidential nature of contracts, and a lack of public oversight of the licensing process.


Civil Liberties: 35 / 60 (-1)

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 12 / 16

Press freedom is legally protected and there are independent media outlets, but reporters are often pressured, threatened, and censored, in addition to practicing self-censorship. Mozambique has a government-run daily, Noticias, and the privately owned Diario de Moçambique. There is also a state news agency and a state radio and television broadcaster. Independent media include several weeklies and the daily O País, a number of radio stations, and news websites. However, the government persistently controls the media, both directly and through advertising and access to information. While there are no official government restrictions on internet use, opposition leaders have claimed that government intelligence services monitor online exchanges.

Religious freedom is well respected, and academic freedom is generally upheld. In August 2012 the government revised its 2011 ban on wearing a veil to school, allowing Muslim girls to do so during Ramadan. This change in policy followed intense pressure from throughout the Muslim community, which among other things threatened to vote against FRELIMO in the municipal and general elections.


E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 7 / 12

Associational and organizational rights are broadly guaranteed, but with substantial regulations. By law, the right to assemble is subject to notification and timing restrictions, and in practice it is also subject to governmental discretion. In March, Eduardo Mondlane University punished medical students who participated in a doctors’ strike by forcing them to restart their residency.

While most campaign rallies in the lead-up to the 2013 municipal elections proceeded peacefully, a few were violently disrupted by rival party activists. On October 31, thousands in Maputo and other major Mozambican cities peacefully demonstrated against the threat of war, the increase in violent crime (for example the G-20 crime spree in Maputo), and the rapid rise in the number and violence of kidnappings. It was the largest-ever demonstration under FRELIMO rule.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operate openly but face bureaucratic hurdles in registering with the government, as required by law. Workers have the right to form and join unions and to strike.


F. Rule of Law: 7 / 16 (-1)

Following the establishment of the Superior Appeals Courts in late 2012, the National Assembly passed a new Penal Code in December 2013, the first new code in 120 years. Irrespective of these modernization efforts, judicial independence remains limited due to scarce resources, poor training, a backlog of cases, and corruption. In 2013, an external audit uncovered the misplacement of approximately $6 million from Mozambique’s Administrative Court alone.

As of late 2013, only 25 percent of the estimated 15,000 prisoners in Mozambique had access to legal help, according to Samo Gonçalves, Mozambique’s national director of prisons. As many as one-third of prisoners are in preventive detention, and the terms of around 25 percent of these have already expired. As a result, Mozambique’s prisons are severely overcrowded. While the government is trying to address this issue, progress is sluggish. According to Amnesty International, in 2013 prisoners still had to take shifts sleeping and endure very poor sanitary conditions in several Mozambican prisons. Amnesty International has also reported numerous cases of arbitrary detention, expired prison terms, sexual abuse, beatings, and torture of prisoners. Several police precincts in Maputo, Moamba, and Nampula were repeatedly denounced for their ill treatment of detainees.

Amnesty International also condemned the use of excessive force by the police against the population. On March 19, Alfredo Tivane, a bus driver, was reportedly shot and killed by the police in Maputo after refusing to stop when asked.

Violence between FRELIMO and RENAMO and a rise in kidnappings have affected civilians. A RENAMO attack on a main road in April killed three people.

The law does not explicitly ban same-sex sexual activity, and in 2011 the minister of justice announced that it is not an offense in Mozambique. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals face discrimination, and the government does not recognize LAMBDA, the one NGO devoted to the rights of the LGBT community.


G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 9 / 16

Women comprise some 39 percent of the parliament. Mozambique has laws and national plans of action to reduce gender-based discrimination and violence against women, but the pace of change is slow. Children are particularly vulnerable due to a fragile national child protection system and persistent impunity. More than one in every two girls is married by the age of 18, and many are confronted with schoolteachers that offer passing grades in exchange for sexual favors.

Human trafficking has been on the rise, with Mozambicans and Asian immigrants taken to South Africa and sexually exploited. In November 2013, hours after an NGO organized a demonstration against human trafficking in a Mozambican border town, the police were alerted to a group of 22 children led by two men trying to cross illegally into South Africa.

Witch hunts continue to be a major problem in Mozambique, particularly in the south, where the elderly are murdered in high numbers after being accused of witchcraft.



Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)

X = Score Received

Y = Best Possible Score

Z = Change from Previous Year

Full Methodology