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Key findings
  • A plurality (47%) of Mozambicans say their government has performed “fairly well” or “very well” in making sure that ordinary people benefit from exploitation of the country’s natural resources, though a substantial minority (37%) disagree.
  • Assessments of the government’s performance on this issue are least favourable among poor, uneducated, and older citizens, as well as among those who consider themselves worse off than other Mozambicans and those who perceive high levels of corruption in government.
  • Asked who benefits most from resource wealth, Mozambicans most frequently cite the ruling political party (37%) and the companies that exploit the resources (17%). About one in five say the greatest beneficiaries are “all Mozambicans in general” (14%) or the communities near natural-resources sites (6%).
  • A plurality (45%) of Mozambicans say that families should never be displaced to make way for the exploitation of natural resources, even if this would help the economy. Three in 10 (31%) would not oppose such displacement.

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Plagued by the dramatic implications of 15 years of civil war, widespread corruption, and natural disasters, Mozambique’s social and economic development has long lagged behind that of many neighbouring countries. Although the nation has achieved significant economic growth since the end of its civil war in 1992, infrastructure development remains low and poverty high – indicators that many analysts blame on weak government performance and corruption (Guardian, 2013; Harrison, 1999). After years of dependence on foreign aid, large-scale international investments in coal, “heavy sands” (ore deposits), and natural gas during the past decade raised high hopes for economic gains (Ross, 2014; Hanlon, 2010). Yet almost half the population – and in some provinces far more – still live in poverty, and economic inequality has actually increased (World Bank, 2016). For many, the influx of investment in the mining sector has not translated into better lives but into displacement of local communities (Mail & Guardian, 2014).

This dispatch uses Afrobarometer survey data to explore public perceptions and attitudes concerning the sharing of revenues derived from Mozambique’s natural resources. Not quite half of Mozambicans say the government is doing well in ensuring that ordinary citizens benefit from the exploitation of natural resources, although views differ significantly by province. Respondents who are poor, lack a formal education, or see themselves as worse off than other Mozambicans are least satisfied with the government’s performance in ensuring equitable sharing.

The ruling party and the mining companies are most frequently seen as the greatest beneficiaries of resource wealth, and a substantial proportion of Mozambicans voice opposition to the displacement of families to make way for natural-resource exploitation.

Andreas Kopf

Andreas Kopf is a recent PhD graduate of the School of Social Sciences, University of the South Pacific, Fiji.

Thomas Isbell

Post-doctoral research fellow and research assistant at Afrobarometer