Dr. Joseph Hanlon has done extensive research on development and its impact in Mozambique. He is the author of numerous books on southern Africa. The views expressed are the author's and not necessarily those of La'o Hamutuk
What happened in Mozambique
Mozambique also experienced a UN and aid invasion, between the peace accord of 1992 and the elections of 1994. An arrogant UN administration took over an entire 10-story hotel in central Maputo, bypassing the government and even local UN staff.
Some of the stories were petty and sick. De-mining was delayed for over a year by a bitter, four-way battle between UN agencies. Demobilisation was delayed when the United States forced the UN operation in Mozambique to stop using one helicopter firm and hire a different one—one which was linked to the CIA. Italian "peacekeepers" caused a scandal by encouraging child prostitution, while prostitution returned to the streets of Maputo to service the influx of people "helping" Mozambique.
But in the end it was the economic impact that was dramatic. The thousands of UN and aid industry staff effectively dollarised the economy of downtown Maputo and supported a host of new expensive restaurants. Members of the elite were able to rent out their houses for so much money that they could live abroad. (A number of Mozambicans who earned PhDs in the United States were able to fund their education through income gained from renting out their homes in Maputo. This may have been the most useful contribution of the aid invasion.) The IMF had moved in and imposed structural adjustment in 1991 and the economy went into rapid decline. GDP actually fell after the end of the war, when everyone expected it to rise. The IMF even restricted the amount of aid that could be spent, on the grounds that too much reconstruction-related spending would cause inflation.
The IMF also imposed savage cuts in government spending, including a requirement that basic wages of nurses and teachers be below the poverty line. Everyone had to have a second income, which encouraged petty corruption. Corruption was also encouraged by aid agencies anxious to get quick results and willing to pay to bypass Mozambican rules and "bureaucracy." High aid agency wages and starvation wages in the civil service caused a rapid shift of key staff. One of the most senior officials in the port of Maputo became a UN logistics officer; senior officials in several government ministries became secretaries in the UN or INGOs. Of course, as government became decapacitated and impoverished, the aid industry complained bitterly about government incompetence and corruption.
The aid industry began to realise that these policies were counterproductive to its own interests. The World Bank, for example, could not disperse its loans because most of its counterparts in government were being hired away by the aid industry. The next step was for the World Bank to pay government staff to stay in post - they were told to stay and do the same job (for salaries up to 50 times higher than people at neighbouring desks) and reminded they now worked for the Bank and not the government.
Even this proved inefficient, and in 1995 the aid industry finally forced the IMF to back off. More aid could be spent on reconstruction, and civil service salaries were allowed to rise (so long as rises were greater for the higher paid and smaller for the lower paid). This did stimulate the economy, and from 1996 there has been rapid growth.
But recent data published in the UNDP's Mozambique Human Development Report 1999 shows what everyone has seen on the ground - the growth is entirely in Maputo. The gap between rich and poor is growing very rapidly, both within Maputo and between Maputo and the rest of the country. The global North-South divide and phenomenon of "North in the South" and "South in the North" is being reproduced inside Mozambique.
Eight years after the end of the war, deep poverty remains in much of the country; the only post-war economic boom was brought by good weather and an end to the fighting. Thousands of rural shops remain closed, factories which reopened after the war are closing again. But in Maputo, there is a boom. Hundreds of huge houses are under construction; major new office and hotel blocks are being built. Maputo now has cable television, even though people in remote rural areas still cannot afford radio batteries.
This, in turn, has created an environment in which the elites have virtually lost touch with the rest of the country. The university now largely sees itself as a place of privilege in which individuals with foreign Ph.D.s often expect to be rewarded with cars and consultancies. People are paid $100 or $200 a day just to attend aid-industry sponsored seminars. There is little time left to work with community groups or do the research that might question economic policy. The trade unions cannot find any help from trained economists, because they are now so accustomed to earning $400 a day or more as consultants that they will not work for the tiny amount that trade unions can pay.
There are a handful of people, mostly old lefties who still believe the development rhetoric of the 1970s, who are trying to find another way. But they were given a harsh warning on 22 November 2000 when Carlos Cardoso, the crusading editor of the business daily Metical, was very publicly assassinated on a Maputo street. It is no longer safe to challenge the increasing web of corruption and privilege.
But for the IMF, the World Bank, the interlocking global elite of Maputo, and the aid industry, Mozambique is the success story of Africa.
Volume 2, Nos. 3
The International Monetary Fund in East Timor
Dr. Joseph Hanlon
Apenas o extracto referente a Moçambique