Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Raid at Mundo's Last Night to Find Foreigners Who Are Illegally in Mozambique

I've heard this from a couple different sources, and it seems legitimate.

If you are a foreigner living in Mozambique, be sure to carry your *original* passport and visa/dire documents with you at all times. Technically a notarized copy is sufficient, but given what has been happening lately, I no longer believe this is sufficient.

Also, if you are in an irregular situation in Mozambique, beware that crackdowns are happening on all fronts it seems, from surprise workplace inspections to last night's restaurant raid. If you don't have your papers in order, it looks increasingly unlikely that you will be able to "dar um jeito" and get by...

Here is the report from Notícias, the original in Portuguese and a rough Google translation in English below:


Maputo, Quarta-Feira, 1 de Abril de 2009:: Notícias

Entretanto, uma rusga inesperada efectuada por funcionários da Direcção Nacional de Migração contra estrangeiros em situação ilegal no país, gerou um mal-estar no seio dos utentes do Restaurante Mundo´s, na cidade de Maputo, por volta das 20 horas de ontem.

Num caso que deixou perplexos tanto os proprietários e funcionários do restaurante, que não se recordam de nenhuma visita do género desde que foi criado o sítio, os agentes da Migração invadiram inesperadamente aquela casa de pasto e exigiram que os presentes – em plenas refeições – se colocassem em dois lados, as mulheres de um e os homens do outro e que cada um devia exibir os respectivos documentos de identidade.

Xavier Mulhovo, chefe da equipa da Migração, disse à nossa Reportagem que se “trata de uma rusga rotineira ao abrigo da Lei 5/93 que visa procurar estrangeiros em situação ilegal”. Acrescentou que é uma acção legislada, que, no entanto, não tem sido efectuada por falta de meios, desconhecendo daí a última vez em que foi efectuada.

Segundo a nossa fonte, a referida lei dá a acesso incondicional ao pessoal da Migração à qualquer espaço público a verificação dos documentos dos presentes, dispensando a apresentação de credenciais para o efeito.

Entretanto, a entrada repentina daquele pessoal, acompanhado de agentes da Polícia armados de metralhadoras AK47 deixou alguns utentes do espaço, principalmente nacionais, à beira de um ataque de nervos na medida que a saída ficou condiciona à apresentação de documentos.

Raid Creates Malaise

Maputo, Wednesday, April 1, 2009:: Noticias

However, an unexpected raid by officials of the National Directorate of Migration against illegal aliens in the country, generated a malaise among the users of the Mundo's Restaurant in the city of Maputo, around 20 hours yesterday.

In a case that has puzzled both the owners and employees of the restaurant, who cannnot recall of any kind of visit of this type since the site was created, the Migration agents unexpectedly invaded that house of grass and demanded that those present - in the middle of their meals - place themselves on two sides, women on one and men on the other, and that each should show their respective identity documents.

Xavier Mulhovo, the team leader of Migration, said in our Report that "this amounts to a routine raid under Law 5 / 93 which aims to look at illegal aliens." He added that it is a legislated action, however, that has not occurred for lack of means, not stating when the last time one was made. According to our source, the law gives unconditional access to the staff of Migration to any public area for the verification of these documents, with presentation of credentials for the purpose.

However, the sudden entry of these staff, accompanied by police officers armed with AK47 machine guns left some users of space, mainly nationals, on the verge of an attack of nerves as they exited the condition was the presentation of documents.

Update: I was just at the US embassy and they confirmed the raid last night did actually happen, and said this type of thing may become more commonplace. Also, they said the police detained several foreigners who were at Mundo's without proper id.


Anonymous said...

As a foreign resident with my legal status in order, I think this is totally ridiculous. Everyone that enters Mozambique (except for the few SADC countires) requires a VISA. A raid at a restaurant to check IDs proves nothing except that you have a visa(tourist/business/work permit). It will not crackdown on anyone misusing their visa status since at the time of the raid they were eating and drinking and NOT working!With the hefty fines one would have to pay for overstaying their visa I doubt that many foreigners find themselves in those conditions. It may be more appropriate to control these issues at the border posts where VISAs are issued!So...I wonder what the real motive of this hoopla was all about - hard to think that the crowd that goes to Mundos(family oriented)would be here illegally.If they were looking for someone in particular, some drug activity, or other illicit activities...I may understand.Either way, crackdown on corruption should be done within their public adminsitrative offices, not in bars and restaurants. But hey...I am a foreigner, what do I know?Probably not even entitled to have an opinion, let alone dare to be upset.
To me its all a conspiracy to take away the peoples' attention from what's really going on in this country.Does anyone even know how many foreigners there are in Mozambique? Does it even reach 100 thousand? why is it such a threat? the difference in salaries? have they seen what Mcel execs, bank execs make? those are local people. Do they pay their 20%+ taxes?yeah right.
Cheers! Sorry for the rant.

Ali la Loca said...

~Anonymous - You are 100% entitled to have an opinion, even if it is just on the blog of a fellow foreigner. :)

Good point about the raid at Mundo's not being able to detect misuse of visa type (i.e. someone with a tourist visa being employed without proper authorization). Although I do believe this raid is connected with recent tightening-up of the law with regard to employment of foreigners.

Regardless, restaurant raids are much more for "show" than for effectiveness, in my opinion.

From what I understand, the only people that had problems last night were those without proper id - that is, a passport (or other official id, like a Bilhete de Identidade) and proof of a valid visa.

You'd be surprised, however, how many people do end up overstaying their visa limits, despite the fines of 1,000mt (US$40) per day. Some types of visas can be misleading. For example, visas that are valid for 90 days actually require you to leave the country every 30 days and get a new entry stamp in the passport. The maximum "stay" for anyone on a tourist visa is 30 days, even though the validity of your visa may be longer.

Soooo...I have a feeling this whole thing is to make a point. Exactly which one, we can only speculate right now.

Anonymous said...

true, one can easily misundestand the multiple entry visa that is valid for 90 days but requires a trip around the border every 30 days, but because the law is so 'strict' here I am positive foreigners are always conscious that they have to keep their status legal, it's something we are always thinking of...annual renewals of DIRES, change job, get authorization and change status in DIRE...I dunno, I think many of us exchange tips and info in order to minimize overstaying VISAS.And if we happen to be under the tourist visa status and are working I do think we take good care to leave every 30 days as needed... Exactly not to draw attention to the technicality that our work permits have yet to be processed or will be unable to be processed due to the 10% quota! Anyway, I feel its just an added stress.This story is missing a lot of details, don't you think?What exactly were they expecting to find?Had I been there I would for sure have been dragged to a 'esquadra' - I don't carry my passport because I don't want to lose it.I do carry a local driving license though, and that should be enough(you need proof of residence to get that) but as we know cops can be unreasonable, and not ready to defy an AK-47 just yet hahaha
Let's hope this does not become the norm.I would hate to begin to feel uncomfortable here, I do enjoy living here and have plans for a long stay.

Ali la Loca said...

~Anonymous - I agree, a lot of details are missing from this story.

I usually carry notarized copies (my a MZ notary) of my passport and current visa. However, we've heard reports that some police are no longer accepting this as valid, so I've started carrying originals as much as I don't like it. Good thing, as we were stopped last night and the originals saved us a lot of hassle.

Let me know if you hear anything else on this story. My email is in the top corner of my blog homepage.


Kutta said...
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Kutta said...
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Mbini said...

(I just posted twice wrongly and deleted.)

This is just not good. SO I will have to be carrying my life in my bag.

PS. I visited Etsy. Lovely stuff. I love all kinds of jewellery. And you share a birthday with my siblings (my mom's last born twins).

Take care.

Anonymous said...

A reminder of the days when S. Machel's terror regime ruled Mozambique... An AK-47 did not mean respect for authority, but rather just fear and beware of what can happen to you... This is totally unacceptable and uncalled for. The timing is wrong, as we are facing elections soon. We can also see the other side of the coin, perhaps it is a blessing in disguise, we can make sure we will not vote for a party who oppresses us and deprives us of our basic human rights. I love my right to privacy and not to be interrupted while having diner with family members or friends. Why must I carry my ID or passport at all times or line up to show them? I am not living in a communist state and am not a puppet... So, is Mozambique truly democratic and independent? Some food for thought at these crucial times.

JOSÉ said...

What happened at "Mundo's" is pure abuse of power reminiscent of the old bad days of the communist dictatorship; it is unacceptable in a democratic society. Patrons were intimidated and humiliated, thus resulting in the image of the country being seriously dented. Commentators refer that this was a show of racism and xenophobia.
The law allows you to carry certified copies of your documents, but the Police frequently ignores the law, as they think that they are the law.
Beautiful country, wonderful people, but lousy government.

anon by regulation said...

What's next raids at the Clube Naval pool on Sunday, during dinner time at Costa do Sol, Zambis during weekend lunch? It's sad that a country as beautiful as the one we live and work in can be so bloody backwards and spiteful as evidenced by this "Banana Republic" style raid.
Considering Mundos attracts the expat crowd of potential investors, aid workers, and diplomats all looking for a comfortable taste of home, we must say good job Moz gov as you just gave outsiders a realistic look at just how power is abused and government really are dysfunctional in this country. Instead of using these officials at Mundos, maybe they would be better off chasing down officials selling Mozambican Passports....

Ali la Loca said...

~Mbini - Thankfully it doesn't have to be your life in a bag - just proper id. You will likely have a diplomatic card, so that takes care of much of the hassle immediately.

~Anonymous/Cristina - "Is Mozambique truly democratic and independent?" Wow. I think one could write 1,000 essays on that topic, from so many different perspectives. Without getting into it here, suffice to say it's sometimes hard to make the argument of an Independent Mozambique when you have the dependence on donor financing for the budget, dependence on mega-projects for good economic growth figures, on the Chinese for quick financing of infrastructure projects in return for primary resources, dependence on "patrão" for a handout, etc. Uff!

Anyhow, thanks so much for sharing your perspective here. I'm assuming from your comment you are Mozambican - it's nice to get comments on this issue from both foreign residents and citizens.

I think the point that Mozambicans do have a choice - and a voice - in how the country is run is very important. It is one of the things I appreciate the most about the US is the belief that citizens have the power to change the country, especially apparent now with the election of Obama.

~José - "Beautiful country, beautiful people, lousy government." Isn't that true, unfortunately, about so many places?

I can't even imagine living under the circumstances you describe - as well as Cristina above - of the old days in Mozambique...I am very lucky to have grown up in the circumstances I did, with peace and stability.

I agree that it's best to carry original documents, as notarized copies open the door for being hassled unnecessarily.

~Anonymous by regulation - We've certainly been mentally prepared for additional raids, no matter how unpleasant that possibility may be. Like commenters above said, it is not only affecting the foreigners here in Moz, it has a clear impact on Moçambicanos who are also enjoying a meal out.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed thoughts on all the comparisons with Samora Machel, and the Communists.I lived here during the 80s, and true we had to carry documents, had to respect curfews, had a police state in many ways, but there was a war going on! There were bombings in Matola and Catembe overnight, we were living among dissidents belonging to RENAMO and so I think it was easier to conform to those laws. In addition there was something we all had, foreigners and locals alike, SOLIDARITY, IDEALISM, HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. do you see that now?
I, like many others, believed in the system under Samora, there was a unity about all of us, we had objectives. What are the objectives now? are we united? will this make any difference at the polls? who votes? the comfortable middle class votes - people in the bairros suburbanos could care less,their lives do not change at all.

Ali la Loca said...

~Anonymous - Thank you for your comment. Obviously as a foreigner who did not live in Mozambique during the war, I have no idea how it was in that time. For that very reason, I find it interesting to hear the various perspectives from people who *were* on the ground, each experiencing that period in their own way.

I think the point you make about there being very few changes for the people in the bairros is spot on - however, unfortunately, it's not unique to Moz that the poorest people see the least benefits. It's just especially ironic here, with all the projects and money to supposedly benefit the poor, that still so few changes are felt.

Anonymous said...

I do respect anybody's opinion, but I see a different picture from what 'anonymous' mentioned in the days S. Machel ruled the country. I was a student at the time and had many friends. As teenagers, we used to discuss all kinds of different topics. Most of my friends did not have much hope for the future and saw no light at the end of the tunnel. We felt very oppressed, in the sense that we could not even choose what field or career we wanted to pursue. Most of them had to go into teaching, but they all wanted to study something else. There was a shortage of teachers and the government's policy was to fight illiteracy. We, as teenagers, felt lost and had a sense of not belonging anywhere. We did not even have the freedom to hold prayer meetings at each other's places, there was no religious freedom. We were forced to attend political meetings and study Marxism's teachings, attend OMM's meetings, cultivate the fields over week-ends, clean the school, its grounds and toilets (there were cleaners paid to do this job, but did little or nothing). S. Machel ruled with an iron fist. We lived in permanent fear, some people just disappeared because they did not agree with the politics of the regime and somebody 'tipped' an informer, never to be found again, others went to jail because they did not have their documents on them and a 'bribe' to pay for their freedom, some of them were beaten, there were public executions by 'firing squad', some people were forced to watch this, you just do as you are told, as a police officer carrying an AK-47 knows what is best for you. I don't even want to speak about the shortage of basic things, like bread and there were no medicines or proper medical care, you would go through procedures like a D&C (when you have a miscarriage) or have a tooth pulled out without any kind of anaesthetic. The education and health system just collapsed. We were even woken up on Sunday mornings by the "Chefe de Quarteirao" to go and clean our bairros. Where were the people from the Municipality who were remunerated to do this job? I was born in Mozambique and the majority of the people I dealt with, including my family members, felt that Mozambique was doomed under the regime of one of the biggest oppressors and tyrants that has ruled in Africa. We only had one objective: to fight oppression and free the country. We were not allowed to vote, as we were living in a communist state. The only people that I saw were happy during this time, were the ones who were reaping the benefits, who were members of the party, thus entitling them to 'special cards' which gave them access to their own shops where most products were available, their children could go abroad for medical treatment or to pursue their studies, they lived in good houses, provided for by the government, they drove good cars, etc, in short: they were the Frelimo elite. The majority of my family left the country and some of them won't even come back for a holiday due to the bad memories, but some of my black friends who left feel exactly the same way.

Ali la Loca said...

~Anonymous/Cristina - Thank you for your comment, and for the respect that you show for fellow commentors with very different views from your own (and vice-versa). One of the things I appreciate so much about blogging is that it can be a forum for people to freely share their thoughts on any subject, even controversial ones.

Again, it is interesting for me to hear all these viewpoints. I'm not necessarily interested in forming an opinion of my own as to how it was or wasn't back in the day (it's hard enough to judge your own history, much less the history of others!), but I am always keen on hearing people's perspectives on the subject, be they critical or positive.