Last Updated 5 October 2018

With a workforce approximately 80% involved in agriculture, and a predominantly Christian population with a sizable Muslim minority, about half of Mozambican people speak Portuguese, the country’s only official language. Mozambique has been negotiating the emergence of democracy following the protracted civil war (1977-1992).

Systemic Discrimination
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Free and Equal

Constitution and government

Constitutionally defined as a secular state, the constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of opinion and expression. The right to freedom of belief is generally respected in practice, but the right to freedom of expression, and especially freedom of the press, is less respected by the government.

Political parties are prohibited from identifying exclusively with any religious or ethnic group.

A 2011 concordat ratified in 2012 between the Government and the Holy See in effect privileges the Catholic Church as a legal entity. The Church is given the right to ‘regulate ecclesiastical life’, formally recognises and elevates various titles and procedures of the Church, and waives the need faced by other religious groups to register with the State, in effect giving the Church exemptions from meeting corresponding obligations.

A campaign by the Socialist government from 1979-1982 saw a systematic suppression of specifically religious freedom, including state control of religious institutions which continued even after the formal end of the campaign, and long-lasting legacy of resentment against this form of religious oppression. There are ongoing disputes about property which had been owned by various religious groups that was ceased by the State during this period.

Education and children’s rights

Religious organisations are permitted to own and operate educational institutions, but religious instruction is not allowed in public schools.

With the capacity and growing number of non-governmental (private) universities — which has seen an increase in higher education overall — there has been some criticism that many such institutions are motivated by financial or religious concerns, at the expense of purely academic motivations. There is also concern about creating a brain drain from the state sector.
<Higher Education in Mozambique. ISBN 0-85255-430-3. Mario, Mouzinho; Fry, Peter; Leve, Lisbeth (2003)>

Family, community and society

The 2007 census found that 56.1% identified as Christians (mostly Catholics), 17.9% as Muslims (the vast majority Sunni), 7.3% with other religious beliefs, mainly animism, and a significant 18.7% holding no religious beliefs.

In 2017, five bald men where killed due to a cultural belief that their heads contained gold. Police have blamed witchdoctors of orchestrating these killings in attempts to acquire human body parts for money making rituals.

Forced and child marriage remain a serious concern. Some pastors of some religious congregations encourage the use of virgin girls to settle the payment of debts incurred by their parents. One such congregation in Zambezia Province has closed.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

While press freedom is legally protected, journalists are sometimes harassed or threatened and often practice self-censorship.

Although the right to peaceful assembly is constitutionally protected, public demonstrations must obtain official approval.

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