Mozambique: Mass media

Extracted from: Zefanias Matsimbe 2009 "Chapter 9: Mozambique" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 319-321.

The constitution of Mozambique generally assures the right to freedom of expression and to freedom of the press, as well as the right to information.

The media in Mozambique is regulated by the Supreme Mass Media Council (Conselho Superior da Comunicação Social), an independent body. This regulatory body is entrusted with guaranteeing press freedom and the public's right to information. The media is governed by specific law. However, for electoral purposes electoral legislation establishes some provisions to guide the functioning of public media in order to achieve balanced and impartial election coverage of the contestants.

Section 29 of the electoral law (7/2007) specifies that candidates to the presidency of the Republic, political parties and party alliances running for the elections have the right to utilise the public broadcasting service and television during the electoral campaign to convey their message to voters. The CNE is vested with the authority to publish instructions to regulate free airtime allocation on public radio and television broadcasters for presidential candidates and for parties and alliances running in parliamentary elections. In general, it should be noted that the legal framework for the media fails to regulate the political communication of the public media in the periods outside the electoral campaign.

The CNE draws lots to determine the sequence of the candidates' airtime at least five days before the start of the campaign. Programmes must be pre-recorded and submitted to broadcasters at least four hours before transmission time. Candidates are accountable for the content of their advertisements. Political parties and groups of parties that field candidates to presidential and parliamentary elections are entitled to 15 minutes per week on Mozambican Television (TVM), five minutes per day on Rádio Moçambique, the national radio station, and five minutes per day on Rádio Moçambique's provincial stations. Political parties or candidates misusing the time allocated are subject to sanctions. Sanctions range from interruption of the airtime allocated to court cases.

By law (Section 29 of the Law 7/2007 of 26 February (Electoral Law)), free media access is limited to the public television and radio stations. Although the law allows for additional advertisements on private stations, parties typically do not buy extra time since electronic and print media do not have far-reaching coverage outside the main cities. Despite the low level of penetration, the mass media remains an important communication tool in the election processes in Mozambique. The public print media is compelled by law to include material related to electoral activities in all publications during the electoral campaign period (Section 32.3, Law 7/2007).

The public media has been accused of unfair and differentiated treatment of candidates by opposition political parties in favour of the ruling party and its presidential candidate. However, an improvement in this situation has been visible from one election to the next.

The private media has been growing considerably in the last years. This has been seen as a forum for providing voters with more balanced information and one that is more critical of government while giving voice to the opposition. While the media sector is undergoing considerable expansion, most of the media houses are still based in Maputo. Mozambique has two state-controlled daily newspapers, namely Noticias, published in Maputo, and Diário de Moçambique, published in Beira and Maputo simultaneously, and one state-controlled weekly paper, Domingo. The Boletim da República is the official government gazette. There is also a government-controlled news agency, AIM. The private media print has been growing fast. It now includes four important weekly papers, namely Savana, O País, Zambeze and Magazine Independente, all published in Maputo. The number of private electronic newspapers, distributed by email or fax, has also increased considerably. Again, most of them are published in Maputo, with only a few published in other urban areas.

Mozambique has one state-controlled television station, the Televisão de Moçambique (TVM), broadcasting from Maputo and covering mostly urban areas in the country in Portuguese, but with some airtime allocated to local languages in Beira and Nampula. About five private television stations are based in Maputo and broadcast throughout the country. Rádio Moçambique (RM) is the state-owned radio station which covers most of the country, including rural areas. RM uses Portuguese and local languages in their local branches. It is the most important means of communication during election time. The number of private radio stations has been increasing considerably.

News websites

Agência de Informação de Moçambique [www] [Portuguese; opens new window] (accessed 30 Mar 2010).

Mozambique News Agency [www] [English; opens new window] (accessed 30 Mar 2010).