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Mozambique: Journalist Assassinated
Mozambique: Journalist Assassinated
Date distributed (ymd): 001124
Document reposted by APIC
Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
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 - email@example.com (Hanlon will add
anyone to the list if they ask; material only circulated
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
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