Mozambican immigration, security officials demanding bribes and harassing Malawian passengers

Ask bus passengers who travel or have travelled to South Africa and Zimbabwe what problems they face when they travel in Mozambique, they will tell you it is ‘hell’.Immigration officials, police officers and customs officials extort money from passengers either going or coming from South Africa and Zimbabwe at Zobwe, Dezda and Nyamapanda border posts.

Mozambique and Malawi border posts…

Mozambique and Malawi border posts…

When Malawian travellers are going to South Africa or Zimbabwe, Mozambican immigration and security officials check passports whether there is bank stamp showing purchase of foreign exchange. They demand to see the money or foreign exchange slip. Even when they are shown the bank slip or stamp they still demand money. Travellers pay anything between R50 and R100. And they do this for each bus: Inter Cape, Chipoozani, Business Times, Munorurama, Nyali etc. Sometimes travellers are manhandled.

But wait a minute, of what interest is it for Mozambican or Zimbabwean authorities to demand to see how much money Malawians are carrying in their passports as if they are going to Mozambique or Zimbabwe? They are in transit. If anything, it is the South African authorities who should check and demand to see the how much money Malawians are carrying because it is the final destination.

When Malawian passengers are coming from South Africa, Mozambican authoritiestarget Malawians who have overstayed in South Africa and their passport have a Section 50 (Prohibited Immigrant) stamp. Just like the Zimbabwean immigration officials, Mozambicans demand money before they can stamp the passport. Malawians pay anything between R50 and R200 at either border points, depending upon how much bargaining power travellers have. But one has to ask: why should Mozambican or Zimbabwean immigration officials demand money as if Malawians have overstayed in their countries?  Even in South Africa overstay is not a big issue. Those who overstay are required to pay a penalty fee of R3000 to re-enter.

For (private)transporters who ferry personal household goods from South Africa, officials look at the type of vehicle one is driving and the load one is carrying. Mozambicans candemand anything between R500 and R700 to open the gate for one to pass.

Malawian authorities at the borders are aware of the malpractices and harassment Malawians face, but they have failed to raise the issues with their Mozambican counterparts even if Malawian travellers have complained of ill-treatment.

In the past, Zambians used to face similar problems when travelling to South Africa. Zimbabwean Immigration officials at Chirundu border used to demand to see how much money Zambians were carrying in their passports and demanded bribes. Zambian travellers complained to their government about the ill-treatment. This prompted the Zambian government to initiate discussions with their Zimbabwean counterparts to solve the issue. Zimbabwean authorities stopped ill–Zambians. They also agreed that bothimmigration and customs officials from both countries to operate under one building on either side of the border. Today, Chirundu is one the best border posts to use: no corruption, no ill-treatment or harassment of travellers.But this was only possible because of intervention from authorities.

Malawians are losing a lot of money to these corrupt and callous Mozambican officials.  If truth be told, Mozambican officials at Dedza, Zobwe and Nyamapanda (Chuchamano) borders are the very callous, most brutal and worst corrupt people in the whole SADC region.

Incidentally, the harassment and stealing from Malawian passengers has been going on for many years and has now become worse. Yet many Mozambicans cross the border illegally to seek medical attention in Dedza, Ntheu, Mwanza, Nsanje and Mulanje. But they are not harassed by Malawians. The very brutal officers who extort money from Malawian travellers use the same money to buy groceries in Mwanza or Dedza.

Everyone knows thatit is not the policy of the Mozambican government for immigration and security officers to harass, intimidate, extort ordemand money from travellers at borders. This is the work of a few misguided and corrupt individuals who abuse their authority. This is why senior Malawi government officials should now step in. They should not pay a blind eye to the pain and suffering of Malawian passengers at the hands of a few greed Mozambican officials.

It is time high time the government did something about it. Minister of Foreign Affairs Francis Katsaila and Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Grace Chiumia should pluck some courage and hold talks with their Mozambican counterparts to end this institutionalised harassment and exploitation of innocent Malawians. They should demand commitment that the Mozambican immigration and security officials will stop harassing, extorting money and intimidating Malawians at the borders or when they pass through Mozambique.

The outrageous behaviour of these Mozambican officials is not only against the spirit of good neighbourliness and internationally accepted human rights standards, but pure barbarism. It has to be stopped once and for all. It is sickening!

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12 thoughts on “Mozambican immigration, security officials demanding bribes and harassing Malawian passengers”

  1. Thank you for bringing such a sensitive issue to attention.I am a Zimbabwean who traveled to Blantyre in March this year.Like everyone else I was not at all happy with the ill treatment I got at Zombwe..One guy who checks your passports on your way back into the bus is the father of all corruption..He demanded that I pay US $50 because I once passed through Kenya on my way from Dubai in 2011 hence I was supposed to have a yellow fever card…All he does is going through peoples passport checking for Zambian or Kenyan stamps even from 5 years ago.I ended up paying him $20 because I was going to be left behind by the bus…The following morning on my way back this time a young Malawian at Mwansa refused to stamp for me because my passport had some dirty patches…I had to pay him $10..Then he stamped for me but still at Zombwe that same Mozambican guy was there demanding a kickback again..This time I did not pay anything I had to beg him that I had paid him the previous day…The Mozambicans are the worst of all the parties involved and they dont speak english at all so you can’t reason with them….My apologies for the ill treatment of my Malawian brothers from the Zimbabwean side too..generally I was happy with Malawians as a people…You are a great well cultured nation..

  2. concerned citizen says:

    They used to charge ten Rand for each passport to be stamped and were saying this was meant for repairs of the road we travel on. They collected the money for many years but the road remained very bad until this issue was reported to SADEC thats when the collection of ten Rand for every passport stopped. Now it has escalated to Rand 50.00 or more. For private travelers carrying personal house hold goods, they demand payments for the goods carried in U.S.A .Dollars though you are in transit. Many commentators on this subject have proposed very fine ways of how this issue can be addressed. The Government of Malawi needs to take heed of this issue and tackle it as a matter of urgency. Malawians have suffered for many years at the hands of the Mozambican immigration , customs and Police officers.

  3. Sabio says:

    Just a waste of time contacting the Mozambican Government. Corruption in Mozambique starts from the top. Go and ask Guebuza and Nyusi

  4. Melisa says:

    If the government does not do something, we will march to the Mozambican embassy and Ministry of Home Affairs to deliver a petition.

  5. Bandawe says:

    Malawians if we seat phwiii we LL die because this harassment and grabbing of Lake Malawi by TZ can’t be separated what TZ has done is declaration of war and what Mozambique is doing killing and beating our people is declaration of war. Malawi has never fought for freedom . This is high time for Malawi to fight for what is ours The whole of Tete is chewabelt which is part of Malawi let join hands to take what belongs to us. When we finish with that lets take mbeya. If we lose we lose if we win is a plus and we LL be free and respected coz this bullying can’t go for ever.

  6. GN Phiri says:

    I believe the best immediate option is to take the matter to the door steps of the Mozambican embassy by organizing a sit in protest until this issue is dealt with! write placards beside delivering a petition.

  7. Chambe says:

    Would rather go back to using the long Mchinji- Zambia-Botswana route than the brutal Mozambique- Zim one.
    These countries that attained freedom through war only know about torture, rape, arson,theft etc. That’s why there is no stability in these countries.
    This issue has been there for sometime from 1993 when Mozambican authorities even used to seize our passports until we had to pay forced road fines.This was raised later at SADC meetings when under UDF government, we saw some good improvement. I think there was good relations with Muluzi and Chisano. Things are not good with Nyusi and Mutharika hence all these hostilities that are are receive no solution.

  8. Antonio says:

    Just like others before you, thanks for bring this issue out… The unfair treatment that Malawians and other nationals are accorded in Mozambique is well documented in the corridors of SADC and AU. However, relating the issue of Chirundu Border post as a government intervention on this issue is baseless and misguided. I am a trade expert and participated in the baseline studies for the Chirundu border. That initiative was done to improve trade and logistics under COMESA regional integration. The project was funded by Worldbank and other donors

  9. Oswiri says:

    This has been happening for ages. Glad you have finally raised the issue. Koma anyani athu a m’boma’wa sachitapo kanthu. Iwo bola katangale. And what is that nonsense “no-man’s land” between Mwanza and Zobwe? Kungoputapo crime za ziiiii.

  10. Bobby John says:

    I think it is high time the Government of Malawi through its leadership should look into the welfare of its citizens travelling through Mocambique, the torture is so unbearable. I think the problem is as a country we have invested so much into routes via Mocambique that we fail to voice out concerns for fear of being locked out. It is high time we should start exploring other viable routes ie via Zambia or investing into air travel. No matter how much we will be tortured I doubt if Malawi as a nation will ever react, It is clear Mocambicans don’t need us, why are we entertaining them in our countries? they are busy enjoying free public services almost across all Malawian bordering towns yet we pay dearly sometimes with our lives just to transit? As a eace loving nation and Malawian I say enough is enough something is got to be done. Let the Mocambicans leave/we will force them to, I would rather die fighting for my country as a hero than die in Mocambique as a lost chicken.

  11. Malaika says:

    zoonadi, I was wondering kuti kodi palibe akuona izi? akulu akulu a dziko panganipo kanthu. anthu a ku Zambia even the buses zimene ama user they are treated with diginity ife Amalawi ndiye timanyozeka all the way.
    Last time when I travelled wina wake anamenyedwa kumumangilila because he refused to pay R50.00 and unfortunately Intercape bus left him behind, he later found us pa border ya Mwanza ali ndi magazi okha okha atamulanda ndalama zonse. Please those in authority take the article very serious.

    great article .

    1. Peace maker says:

      This is very true……Mosambicans are very selfish people, we are hosting a lot of them, even in our towns, but they keep on harassing us, they are a lot of other things that their govt always keep a blind eye and claim it’s not happening, officially let’s engage with them in serious discussions.

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