news analysis advocacy
tips on searching

Search AfricaFocus and 9 Partner Sites



Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Equatorial Guinea
São Tomé
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan
Western Sahara

Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!

Print this page

Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Mozambique: Journalist Assassinated

Mozambique: Journalist Assassinated
Date distributed (ymd): 001124
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
Summary Contents:
One of Mozambique's leading journalists was assassinated Wednesday, adding to the atmosphere of public concern in the country after the deaths of police and demonstrators earlier in November, Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano and others paid tribute to Cardoso at his funeral ceremony today. The following notices, from the Mozambique News Agency and other sources, come principally from email bulletins posted irregularly by Joseph Hanlon: News and Clips Circulated by Joseph Hanlon - (Hanlon will add anyone to the list if they ask; material only circulated irregularly).

Other on-line sources with regular updates include the following:
Daily Mozambique News Agency bulletins
Mozambique News Agency, biweekly summary
AllAfrica.Com Mozambique page
Mocambique on-line - in Portuguese, portal to many Mozambique sites
Site just established with news and tributes to Carlos Cardoso; images of the funeral; form allows entry of comments

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Carlos Cardoso: Obituary
by Paul Fauvet

Maputo, 23 Nov (AIM) - Carlos Alberto Cardoso, editor of the independent newsheet "Metical", who was murdered on Wednesday, was born of Portuguese parents in the central Mozambican city of Beira in 1952.

He studied in South Africa, where be became involved in radical, anti-apartheid student politics, which earned him expulsion from the country.

Back in Maputo, he identified with the revolution against Portuguese colonial rule, although he never became a member of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo).

The revolution split the Cardoso family: Carlos considered himself a Mozambican and stayed to help build the new, independent state, while his parents returned to Portugal.

His exceptional talents as a writer ensured a rapid rise in the world of journalism. He worked first on the weekly magazine "Tempo", then briefly on Radio Mozambique, before he was appointed chief news editor of the Mozambique News Agency (AIM) in 1980. At the time AIM did not, strictly speaking, have a director: Cardoso was usually treated as the director, though he did not formally acquire this title for several years.

Under Cardoso's leadership, AIM achieved fame, in the country and in the region, for its campaigning coverage of the apartheid regime's war of destabilisation against Mozambique.

So persistent was AIM's work in this field, that, according to Mozambican security sources, Cardoso's name was on a list of potential targets drawn up by South African Military Intelligence.

But there were often tensions between the open and outspoken brand of journalism practiced by Cardoso, and the altogether more cautious approach followed by the Frelimo leadership and by the Ministry of Information.

In 1982 this clash resulted in the sudden imprisonment of Cardoso, apparently because an opinion article he wrote in the daily paper "Noticias" violated an obscure government guideline on covering the war that neither he, nor most other journalists were aware of. Other journalists and intellectuals protested at the jailing, warning government members up to and including President Samora Machel, that Cardoso was no enemy of the country.

Six days after his arrest he was released. Though the government was not so gracious as to apologise for the arrest, he was fully reinstated at the head of AIM. Cardoso's outspoken approach led to a public clash with the then head of the Frelimo Ideology Department, Jorge Rebelo, at the second congress of the National Journalists' Organisation (ONJ) in 1986, when Cardoso dared to suggest that Frelimo could not rely on journalists' loyalty for ever.

Despite this, Cardoso was one of a select group of journalists invited for private briefings with Samora Machel in the last months of the president's life.

Cardoso was deeply affected by the death of Machel in a plane crash at Mbuzini, just inside South Africa, on 19 October 1986. He followed the story of the plane crash with tenacity, and the material he published then built up a picture of the likely causes of the crash - deliberate electronic interference by the Apartheid military to lure the plane away from its correct flight path.

In the late 1980s, Cardoso found himself in conflict with Information Minister Teodato Hunguana. He offered his resignation as AIM director, but initially Hunguana refused to accept it. When he tendered his resignation for the third time, arguing that he wanted to be relived of his functions as director, in order to concentrate full-time on journalistic work, Hunguana finally accepted.

Despite his political differences with Cardoso, at the handover to the new director, Ricardo Malate, Hunguana publicly praised Cardoso's work at AIM, saying that it was thanks to Cardoso's leadership that the agency had won "prestige and credibility" in the outside world.

In 1990, Cardoso was among a core group of journalists campaigning for the inclusion of a specific commitment to press freedom in the new Mozambican constitution. This campaign, including a petition to President Joaquim Chissano, entitled "The right of the people to information", and signed by over 160 media professionals, was entirely successful. The clauses on the media in the 1990 constitution, and the follow-up press law of 1991, are among the most liberal in Africa.

In 1992, Cardoso and a dozen others founded a journalists' cooperative, Mediacoop. In May of that year, the cooperative launched a new independent daily paper, "Mediafax", the declared purpose of which was to produce investigative journalism, and indepth articles on issues not normally touched by the other media.

Edited by Cardoso, "Mediafax" reached its subscribers by fax, thus avoiding problems of distribution and paper supplies. In 1992 this was an entirely novel way of proceeding, though one soon imitated by other publications.

A dispute in Mediacoop in 1997 led to Cardoso leaving the cooperative. Taking most of the "Mediafax" staff with him, he set up his own paper "Metical", to continue his own brand of investigative journalism, particularly on economic matters.

Just as in the 1980s Cardoso had campaigned tirelessly against the South African destabilisation of Mozambique, so now he campaigned against what he regarded as the disastrous recipes for the Mozambican economy imposed by the World Bank and the IMF.

He championed the fight, first of the cashew processing industry and later of the sugar industry, against liberalisation measures that would shut down factories and cost thousands of jobs.

Cardoso took up the cause of environmentalists protesting at government plans to incinerate obsolete pesticides in the cement factory in the densely populated city of Matola. It was in no small measure due to Cardoso's work that this became a public issue, and the government eventually beat a retreat and decided to re-export the pesticides instead.

In 1998, angered by the Frelimo government's handling of the economy, and seeing no future in any of the existing right-wing opposition parties, Cardoso stood as an independent candidate for the Maputo municipal assembly.

The independent grouping, known as "Juntos pela Cidade" (Together for the City) won 26 per cent of the vote, and became the opposition in the city assembly. Cardoso then threw himself into municipal politics with the same enthusiasm and commitment he had shown in his journalism.

Among the scandals Cardoso had been investigating in the last months of his life, one stands out above all others. This was the largest banking fraud in the country's history.

In 1996, on the eve of the privatisation of the country's largest bank, the BCM, a well-organised criminal network siphoned the equivalent of 14 million dollars out of the bank. Although the names of the main suspects were known, and repeatedly published, there was no prosecution and no trial.

Persistently "Metical" has covered the BCM affair, calling for en end to the culture of impunity, and for the culprits to be brought to justice. That this was dangerous territory became clear in November 1999, when the BCM's lawyer, Albano Silva, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

One cannot help but wonder whether the attacks on Silva and Cardoso are linked - and that, having failed to silence their main judicial opponent, the criminal sector of the Mozambican economy has succeeded in eliminating its main enemy in the media.

Candles For Cardoso

Maputo, 24 Nov (AIM) - This avenue in the inner Maputo suburb of Polana has never seen anything like it before - at the spot on Avenida Martires de Machava where Carlos Cardoso, editor of the independent daily newsheet "Metical", was gunned down on Wednesday, flowers are heaped high, and messages of grief and indignation are taped to the nearby wall.

This impromptu homage to the murdered journalist began in a small way within hours of his assassination, and throughout Thursday the number of floral tributes grew. Messages adorn the wall, some prose, some poetry, some hand written, some printed.

As Thursday night deepened, dozens of candles were lit, some on the wall, some dotted around an old tree stump, now adorned with flowers.

Groups of friends, colleagues, and ordinary citizens appalled by the murder gathered at the spot, talking quietly among themselves. Some broke down, and wept bitterly for the disappearance of one of the clearest voices of Mozambican civil society. The candlelight vigil at the murder site continued deep into the night. ...

Messages of condolence to his widow and two children, to his colleagues at "Metical", and to Mozambican journalists in general, have poured in from all over the world.

Friday's death notices section in the daily paper "Noticias" is twice its normal length, covering almost two full pages rather than one, and the vast majority of the notices were for Cardoso.

Among these tributes come messages, not only from fellow journalists, and from those whose causes he had championed, such as the General Union of Maputo Agricultural and Livestock Cooperatives, but also from people whom Cardoso had regularly criticised in the pages of "Metical" - such as the vice-chancellor of Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University, Brazao Mazula, and former Finance Minister (now Transport Minister, Tomaz Salomao).

"Carlos, even when the differences in our approaches or points of view were very deep, there always remained between us a mutual respect", wrote Salomao. "I will keep forever in my memory the long, warm and committed discussions we had". ...

Carlos Cardoso Lies in State in Maputo City Hall

Maputo, 24 Nov (AIM) - The body of murdered Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso, gunned down by unknown assailants on Wednesday night, was driven on Friday morning from the hospital morgue to lie in state in Maputo City Hall.

Six members of the Maputo municipal police carried the coffin out of the morgue into the hearse, followed by dozens of mourners, including not only fellow journalists and personal friends, but also some of the Frelimo politicians with whom Cardoso had clashed in the 1980s - such as the country's first information minister, Jorge Rebelo. The sense of shock and loss among the mourners was palpable, with scarcely a dry eye in the crowd.

At the City Hall, the crowd soon swelled to several hundred. Cardoso was a member of the Maputo municipal assembly, elected on the slate of the independent group "Juntos pela Cidade" (JPC - Together for the City), and leading municipal politicians were in the front ranks of the mourners, including Maputo mayor Artur Canana, and the head of JPC, Philippe Gagneaux.

A choir of women municipal workers sang for the fallen editor: some of the songs dated from the war against Portuguese colonial rule. This writer recalls that the last time he heard one of the most achingly beautiful of these melodies was during the funeral of President Samora Machel in 1986. ...

The composition of the crowd showed how well-known, liked and respected Cardoso was - journalists, musicians, academics, business people, NGO activists, members of the Supreme Court, foreign diplomats, all were present.

Members of Frelimo, the party Cardoso never quite joined (his application for membership in the 1980s was rejected), were present in strength, including secretary general Manuel Tome, and leading parliamentarians such as Sergio Vieira and Eneas Comiche. ...

Translated from Metical no. 859 of 15.11.2000

Editorial: The Usefulness of Dhlakama

The suspicion is obvious. The Renamo demonstrations create a political climate propitious to another major delay in the legal action on the BCM case [a major bank fraud alleged to involve Frelimo figures]. Once again, Dhlakama has proved to be very useful to the gangster faction of Frelimo.

Opinion of Carlos Cardoso:
The Two Halves of the Story

The pictures and reporting of the events in Montepuez presented Monday night by TVM [Mozambique TV] are hard to refute. And Renamo's primary responsibility for the tragedy in Montepuez is confirmed by independent sources.

But that seems just have the story. TVM has an obligation to investigate the other half: the alleged rapidity, in other places, with which the police resorted to repression of demonstrations which were, by all indications, peaceful.

An information outlet as powerful as TV has this obligation, not only for professional and ethical reasons, but also to avoid giving the bellicose faction of Renamo the pretext of total ostracism that it wants to restrict the factions that do not like what happened in Montepuez.

The rank and file and leaders of Renamo who have much to lose by destruction of the situation of peace of the last eight years do not want the craziness which the Dhlakama wing seems ready to set off, but the absolutely unnecessary police repression that took place in some locations makes them feel a duty to support Dhkakama. ...

As to the state, never has the long-time vision of a strategy of national unity that began so tentatively in the second half of the 1950s been so important. .. This means that it is the state's responsibility to make a great effort to correct the overreactions of the police ...

One more thing is important to say: If the government wants its version to have a legitimacy that today, by itself, it does not, it will have to take steps so that the next demonstrations, if they occur, are witnessed by independent groups.

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 23 November

Mozambique: At least 50 prisoners dead

At least 50 inmates died in a jail on Tuesday night in the northern town of Montepuez, one of the centres of recent anti-government rioting, agencies reported. Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi was quoted as saying in the capital Maputo that the deaths may have been caused by suffocation, due to prison overcrowding, food poisoning or lack of water. He said the government had sent a team of experts to the town, some 1,600 km north of the capital, to investigate.

Mocumbi called on foreign countries for help in determining what happened at the prison. Mozambique's TVM television station said a team of South African doctors had already arrived in Montepuez. The town's jail population had been swollen by detentions following protests earlier this month by supporters of the opposition RENAMO movement which was protesting at the outcome of last December's elections.

Forty-one people died and up to 200 people were arrested in the violence, which took place mainly in the north and centre of the country. RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama blamed President Joaquim Chissano's ruling FRELIMO party for the deaths of the inmates, most of whom he said were his supporters. FRELIMO Secretary General Manuel Tome dismissed the allegation, saying Dhlakama was prone to making such accusations to improve his image.

Mozambique: Shock over journalists' murder

JOHANNESBURG, 23 November (IRIN) - Mozambican journalists have reacted with shock to the killing of prominent colleague Carlos Cardoso by unknown gunmen on Wednesday, and said his assassination was a warning to them all.

Cardoso, editor of the independent daily newssheet 'Metical', was gunned down in an ambush on Wednesday afternoon near his office in the quiet Maputo embassy suburb of Polana. News reports said the killers blocked his car with two other vehicles and then fired more than 10 shots from an AK-47 assault rifle before escaping. Cardoso's driver was seriously wounded. In the first official reaction to the murder on Wednesday, Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi told Mozambican Television that he was "deeply shocked" and "profoundly affected" by Cardoso's death.

He praised Cardoso, a former director of the state-owned AIM (Mozambique News Agency) from 1980 to 1989, as "a journalist who has fought tirelessly for freedom of the press." A colleague of Cordoso told IRIN his death was a "very big blow for what he meant as a role model. The very best journalists passed through Cardoso's hands, and he was a role model in terms of investigative reporting".

In a separate attack late on Wednesday, a gang stopped Radio Mozambique journalist Custodio Rafael on his way home from work. AFP reported that the attackers told him, "You talk a lot," before beating him and cutting his tongue with a knife.

Cardoso's death prompted a rare show of unity in parliament on Thursday, when both ruling party and opposition deputies observed a minute's silence and demanded an investigation into his murder. The 117 opposition RENAMO-Electoral Union MPs then marched from parliament to the spot where Cardoso was slain.

A local journalist working for an international news organisation said of Cardoso's murder: "It's a threat to us, to the integrity of journalists. Whenever we write we will think twice, although we are determined to continue to report the truth." He told IRIN that Cardoso, a well-respected investigative journalist, had been receiving death threats for years. He had exposed cases involving drug trafficking, corruption, and the impact of structural adjustment. In an interview with IRIN on 13 November, Cardoso was sharply critical of hardline elements in both RENAMO and the ruling FRELIMO party in the wake of political clashes that left 41 people dead.

"It is very difficult at this stage to say what could have led to his tragic death. I talked to reporters at his paper and they said he wasn't working on anything special," a colleague said. He added that it was vital "for the sake of press freedom", and the government's credibility, for the killers to be found and brought to book. "But, judging by the police's past record, that is going to be very difficult."

IRIN-SA - Tel: +27-11 880 4633 Fax: +27-11 447 5472 Email:

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC provides accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

URL for this file: