Mozambique: OMR - Peace Requires Elite Pacts Within Frelimo and in Military

Cabo Ligado (‘Connected Cape’), a conflict "observatory" run by ACLED, Zitamar News, and Mediafax to monitor political violence in Mozambique, publishes this map to keep track of where attacks occur in the Cabo Delgado insurgency.

Ending the Cabo Delgado war requires elite pacts between the oligarchs and big beasts in Cabo Delgado and a similar pact in the military. This implicitly recognises that that big men in Cabo Delgado must be allowed to profit from resources and big men in the military must continue to profit from commissions and contracts, but that enough money must be released to solve local grievances about jobs and to allow enough for soldiers to be fed and adequately equipped.

This is the effect of recommendations of OMR (Observatorio do Meio Rural, Rural Obsservatory) in the summary of their 1 June webinar  Military insecurity and the future of gas   (Portuguese and English). It is very brave putting into a publication what many people recognise - that in Mozambique today it should be accepted that the big beasts and lower level cabritos (goats) must eat, but internal agreements need to be negotiated so that profits are shared in a way that not everything is eaten.

The two final seminar recommendations are: " Realization of a regime pact that goes beyond the government and Frelimo, considering the issue of Cabo Delgado as a national imperative. Realization of a pact between military forces , listening to the different military sensitivities on issues that go beyond its sphere, openly discussing issues of income, benefits and war deals, aspects that have constituted a clear obstacle on the military front." The first is a call fro two internal negotiations, between the oligarchs and big beasts of Cabo Delgado to agree a sharing system, while also leaving something for local people and job creation. The second puts on the table "openly discussing issues of income, benefits and war deals" and thus demands an agreement between the big men in military and security of how to share commissions, while leaving enough to buy food and equipment for soldiers, and end the bigger fight between army and police. It is perhaps the first time a serious report has put on the table elite deals to regulate greed.

The seminar report also has a good short summary of global gas producers and market, Mozambique gas including Temane (Inhambane), income, and the security crisis.

Comment: a possible model   The United States has a long history of managing what some call corruption. A relevant model was Seattle on the US west coast. The city wanted an image of high morality but many of its citizens wanted entertainment, so it developed its "tolerance policy." For 50 years (1920s through 1960s) the Seattle Police Department vice squad and patrol officers collected bribes to allow activities considered "vices" to continue. Officers openly collected payments of cash from prostitues, gambling operators, bar operators who served after hours or who catered to gay and lesbian customers, etc. Money was passed up the chain of command. From the local police officer on up, each person gave half of the money they received to their superior, up to the highest level. Most important, there was an established tariff for each activity and a detailed accounting system so that no one was cheated. The bribes set were low enough to ensure that the illegal businesses remained profitable. And as it was organised by the police, it kept out mafia and other criminal protection rackets.

Because New Orleans police were low paid, they had an organised system of hiring out off-duty police for extra patrolling or as guards. In Boston planning applications had to be approved by the fire department and they were careful not to allow anything dangerous, but they would only read the application if there was a $5 note after each page.

Nor is it just the US. The UK has its "cronies list" - a list of friends of the Conservative party who have priority in winning government contracts. Many places - and aid agencies - have informal rules that 10% or 15% kickbacks on contracts are allowed.

The crisis in Cabo Delgado is caused by the free market. The big beasts and cabritos can charge anything they like and impose onerous conditions. Police and soldiers can demand money, mobile phones and sexual favours because there is no agreed tariff. And there are paralysing fights, notably between police and army, instead of cooperation.

Ending the war in Cabo Delgado means recognising and, by agreement, regulating the illegal free market. Some form of the Seattle model could be agreed. jh

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