A video of a Mozambican musician urging disgruntled soldiers to stage a coup over the late payment of their salaries led to his arrest this week. It also highlighted the difficulty the government of the emerging natural gas exporter faces in paying public workers on time.
(Bloomberg) — A video of a Mozambican musician urging disgruntled soldiers to stage a coup over the late payment of their salaries led to his arrest this week. It also highlighted the difficulty the government of the emerging natural gas exporter faces in paying public workers on time.
In footage distributed on social media, the singer Doppaz — whose real name is Amândio Munhequeia — said he received a message from a member of Mozambique’s military asking him to publicize their plight.
“You got guns, you got grenades,” he said. “There is such a thing as a coup d’état. And most coups are committed by the military.“
Public wages have become a heated topic in the southeast African nation since the state introduced pay reforms at the end of last year. The policies formed part of an economic program with the International Monetary Fund that came with about $456 million of funding over three years. The changes have caused delayed payments and discontent among government employees.
The tension comes as Mozambique ramps up natural gas exports that began in November from an offshore platform. While state revenue has started to flow, spending it is complicated by the delayed passage of legislation governing how much will be allocated to a planned sovereign wealth fund. Simultaneously, defense spending has grown as the nation fights an Islamic State-linked insurgency in the north that’s held up much bigger gas export projects onshore.
The IMF has criticized the size of the state’s wage bill for years. It expects the cost to drop to 14.6% of gross domestic product this year from 16.4% in 2022.
The authorities are preparing a plan to further reduce it to 10% by 2028, the IMF said in a report last month. That’s still way above the sub-Saharan African average of 7.2% of GDP, according to the fund.
In January, the government cut public sector salaries by 20% and canceled a usual 13th salary check for state workers. Lawmakers in May approved a reduction in their own pay.
The military and police have complained about weeks-long payment delays. Bernardino Rafael, the police chief, at the weekend suggested returning to the old payment system until problems are fixed.
Tension over the delayed payments has extended beyond the security forces. Doctors have been on a month-long strike over working conditions and remuneration.
The delays in payments are because of administrative inconsistencies in data from the police and armed forces, such as bank identification numbers that don’t match tax numbers for personnel, National Director of Public Accounts Manuel Matavele, told reporters Monday. About 95% of police and the army personnel have now been registered, he said.
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