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Three Cases that Show Social Networks Are Helping Hold Mozambique's Government Accountable

PicsArt_1415720335303Some renowned journalists in Mozambique have accounts on various social networks, but they do not believe in their potential to influence decision-making, government action or social participation among others. However, the government itself has recognised their utility by creating accounts on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. Here are three recent examples where social networks have knocked on the door of accountability and governance in Mozambique. 

1. In November 2013, a letter by Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco circulated on Facebook criticising the method of government used by Armando Emílio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique. As a result, the author of the letter was summoned to testify before the Attorney General on May 26, 2014.

2. When the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA) offered a Mercedes Benz S350 to the President of the Republic, José Jaime Macuane, a university lecturer at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, immediately wrote a post on Facebook explaining that the act violated the Public Probity Law. The issue made the headlines of various newspapers and was discussed all over the country for over a week, even once the Mercedes had been returned three days later.

3. To promote citizenship, transparency and active participation by citizens, Olho do Cidadão (Citizen's Eye), which is led by Fernanda Lobato and Tomás Queface, developed digital platform Txeka to allow citizens to participate directly in observing elections on October 15 via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and email. This culminated in the creation of a situation room, comprising various civil society institutions and academicians, as well as a partnership with STV – an independent television channel – which hosted the broadest real-time coverage of the event, using the information sent by citizens via the Txeka channels.

In spite of the fact that in Mozambique, just 4.3% of the population has access to the Internet, the citizen reporter's perspective is valid and useful. Debates on social networks can influence government actions to a certain extent.

The author of this post, Uric Raul Mandiquisse, is a volunteer for Txeka and Olho do Cidadão. 
 

Draft Penal Code in Violation of Women and Children's Rights

Convocatória para a marcha contra a Violação dos Direitos Humanos no Código Penal Moçambicano. Foto publicada pelo Fórum Mulher no Facebook

Advert for the March Against the Violation of Human Rights in the Mozambican Penal Code, March 20, 2014. Photo published by Fórum Mulher on Facebook

This week, the Mozambican NGO Fórum Mulher (Women's Forum) organized a march in protest of a change to the penal code that would threaten human rights.

A group of civil society organizations delivered a note on February 24, 2014 denouncing violations of the rights of women, children and sexual minorities and other gaps in the Draft Penal Code. [.pdf].

A post on the Facebook page of Lambda Mozi, an organization which defends the rights of sexual minorities, summarizes the problem

A revisão do Código Penal aprovada na generalidade em Dezembro último pelo Parlamento moçambicano manteve artigos que atentam contra os Direitos Humanos de todas(os) nós, por exemplo: 
- Promove a impunidade do violador sexual e força a vítima a casar-se com este, 
- Aplica medidas de segurança àqueles que se dedicam a prática de actos contra a natureza

The revision of the Penal Code approved in as a whole last December is that it maintained articles which are an attack on the Human Rights of us all, for example:
- It promotes impunity of a rapist and forces the victim to marry [the rapist]
- Applies punishments against those who practice acts against nature

Understanding Human Rights in Portuguese-Speaking Countries

[All links lead to Portuguese language pages, except where otherwise stated]

The Portuguese language version of the educational manual for human rights “Understanding Human Rights” is available online. The website provides the complete manual in pdf format or divided into chapters, as well as training material, bibliographical references and institutional information specifically aimed at countries with Portuguese as an official language. 

Originally [en] developed by the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Graz, Austria, the Portuguese language version was produced by the Institute of International Law and Cooperation with Lusophone Countries and Communities at the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra - “IUS Gentium Conimbrigae” (IGC), also known as Human Rights Centre (CDH): 

Com este projeto pretende o IGC/CDH contribuir para uma difusão de informação teórica, prática e de acesso fácil relativa aos direitos humanos, na senda do artº 1º, nº 1, da Declaração das Nações Unidas sobre Educação e Formação em Direitos Humanos, de 2011, segundo a qual “Todas as pessoas têm direito a saber, procurar e receber informações sobre todos os direitos humanos e liberdades fundamentais e devem ter acesso à educação e formação em matéria de direitos humanos”.

With this project, the IGC/CDH seeks to contribute to a dissemination of easily accessible theoretical and practical information relating to human rights, complying with Article 1, nº 1, of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training 2011, according to which “Everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms and should have access to human rights education and training”.

In addition to Portuguese, the manual has already been published in 15 other languages [en].

PHOTOS: Rally of Mozambique's Main Opposition Party Attacked by Riot Police

The arrival of two cars with officers from the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) interrupted the final rally of the campaign of opposition party MDM in Beira. Photo @Verdade newspaper (CC BY 2.0)

The arrival of two cars with officers from the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) interrupted the final rally of the campaign of opposition party MDM in Beira. Photo @Verdade newspaper (CC BY 2.0)

The final mayoral campaign rally of opposition party MDM in Beira ended with three people killed and several injured – the injured included the candidate's own son – following an attack by riot police who used tear gas grenades and shot bullets to the air.

When the tumult began, incumbent mayor Daviz Simango was preparing to take the stage and call on the crowd to vote once again for the main opposition party MDM (Mozambique Democratic Movement), in power in the second largest city of Mozambique, also the capital of the province of Sofala. 

Unrest in Beira set in on November 16, the second to last day of the electoral campaign for Mozambique's municipal elections. The vote will take place on November 20, 2013. @Verdade newspaper is gathering citizen reports in a special website for the elections.

"Unrest set in and citizens tried to flee in disarray while FIR agents kept shooting. "

“Unrest set in and citizens tried to flee in disarray while FIR agents kept shooting. ” Photo shared by @Verdade newspaper on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

After the attack of the riot police, the crowd started to burn tires in the roads that lead to Beira´s neighborhood of Munhava.

After the attack of the riot police, the crowd started to burn tires in the roads that lead to Beira´s neighborhood of Munhava (16/11/2013). Photo by Miguel Mangueze for @Verdade newspaper (CC BY 2.0)

Online Campaign for Peace in Mozambique

The blog Mozmaniacos [pt] has launched an online campaign for peace in Mozambique, after recent threats to over 20 years of peace. With the hashtag #MozQuerPaz (#MozWantsPeace), Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram users are starting to contribute their photos and personalized messages to the effort.

The Africanized Experience of Lisbon

The media and racial stereotypes [pt], through the perspective and experience of two specialists in the area of the study of race, both Afroportuguese, born in Lisbon, Portugal. is the topic of a new podcast. An interview with Grada Kilomba, academic of Santomean origin at the Humboldt University Berlin, translated into Portuguese in the first program of Radio AfroLis, touches on the nature of racism in Europe.

The role of the media, of black and white in the struggle against racism is also analyzed in this program by the researcher in the area of religious studies and white studies, Elisabete Cátia Suzana, University of Uppsala (Sweden).

Radio Afrolis presents itself as an “africanized experience of Lisbon” that intends to “reveal facets of an emerging black consciousness in Portugal”

Para alguns afrodescendentes a cidade de Lisboa é claramente a sua cidade. Para outros Lisboa é uma cidade como outra qualquer, apesar de terem nascido ou de sempre terem vivido nela. Outros há que rejeitam Lisboa porque sentem que não é o seu lugar.

No caso dos afrodescendentes negros, a questão da pertença relaciona-se com a sua fraca representação nos media, assim como em espaços sociais diversificados, mas principalmente, com o racismo. E surge a questão: Eu como negro ou negra, africano, africana devo/ posso/quero assumir-me como lisboeta? E serão precisamente as inúmeras combinações de respostas que vamos apresentar nos episódios do nossos podcast.

Acompanhem-nos por serem afrodescententes, por interesse na temática, pela vontade de conhecer outras vivências de Lisboa, ou até mesmo por quererem acrescentar algo à discussão!

For some of African descent the city of Lisbon is clearly their city. For others Lisbon is a city like any other, in spite of being born there or having always lived there. Others reject Lisbon because they feel it is not their place.

In the case of African-descended black people, the question of belonging relates to their poor representation in the media, as well as in other kinds of social spaces, but principally, it relates to racism. The question arises: as a black person, African, should I/can I/do I want to assert by identity as a Lisbonite? It will be precisely the numerous combinations of responses that we will present in the episodes of our podcast.

Follow along as African-descended Portuguese, or because you are interested in the topic, wanting to get to know other experiences of Lisbon, or even because you'd like to add something to the discussion!

Follow on FacebookSoundcloud and the blog radioafrolis.com.

Mozambique's LGBT Community: Tell Your Story

Lambda, the Mozambican Association for the Defense of Sexual Minorities, invites [pt] adult members of the LGBT community to participate in a short documentary. ”Your story in the first person” is the title of this film project which aims at “documenting our trajectories of self-acceptance, our battles and conquests as LGBT people in Mozambique.” More information on how to take part is available in the LambdaMozi Facebook page. The deadline is February 21, 2014.

“Underground” Newspaper Launched in Mozambique

A new “underground” newspaper called “Vigilant Citizen”, launched in Mozambique on the eve of elections, is being shared in .PDF by the blog Moçambique para Todos [pt]. Its cover carries the iconic image of protesters with the poster “Who keeps voting for these guys?”

"Vigilant Citizen" cover.

“Vigilant Citizen” cover.

Researcher to Mozambique's President: “You Are Out of Control”

An open letter [pt] by Mozambican well-known economist and researcher Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco begins “Mr. President, you are out of control.” The letter frontally questions the credibility of President Guebuza in the current context of political and military tension in the country, followed by a strange rash of kidnapping. The researcher describes the latest events as “runarounds”:

Para suspender a constituição e aniquilar todas as formas de oposição, atirando depois as culpas para os raptores e outros criminosos e terroristas, ou para aniquilá-los em nome da luta pela estabilidade.

In order to suspend the constitution and to annihilate all forms of opposition, then blaming the kidnappers and other criminals and terrorists, or annihilating them in the name of the struggle for stability.

Castel-Branco even suggests that President Guebuza wants to “turn the country fascist”. The polemic text is being shared and commented on social media.

Re-Imagining Lusophony and Decolonizing the Mind

The Fourth International Congress in Cultural Studies – Colonialisms, Post-colonialisms and Lusophonies has a call for paper submissions open until October 15, 2013 November 15, 2013 [deadline has been extended]:

To demystify, to dehierarchize, to establish a policy of difference, to allow a multiplicity of voices, to constitute so many projects of possible modernities/rationalities within post-modernity, to mobilize, to re-politicize, to imagine other political, social and economical models, this is the task (utopian, of course) that is, for us, essential in the re-imagining of Lusophony.

(…)

A postcolonial reflection in a Lusophone context cannot avoid the exercise of criticism to the old dichotomies of periphery/center, cosmopolitanism/rurality, civilized/savage, black/white, north/south, in a context of cultural globalization, transformed by new and revolutionary communication phenomena, which have also globalized marginality.

The congress will take place from April 28 to 30, 2014, in the city of Aveiro, Portugal.

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