MOZAMBIQUE 389: News reports & clippings
23 October 2017

Claims of a blood sucking
elite cause riots in Zambezia

Rioters in Gile, Zambezia, on Thursday (19 Oct) attacked government offices, the police, and the houses of administration officials and community leaders, forcing them to flee. They broke into the district prison and released the 76 people. The rioters were protesting against "chupa sangue" or blood sucking. The police opened fire on the mob, killing two children playing nearby.

Early Saturday morning (21 Oct) in Morrua, Mulevala district, Zambezia, local people attacked the police post and the houses of a community leader and the local health worker. They were responding to the presence of an anti-malaria team. Reports are unclear if the team was accused of spreading malaria or of collecting blood. (Radio Mocambique 22 Oct) In Memba, Nampula, there was a similar incident against a cholera team. (O Pais 20 Oct)

This follows an attack the previous week in Muiane, Gile, in which the house of the administrator, the house of the Frelimo secretary, and the police post were attacked over their links to alleged vampires. There were five arrests in Muiane. In September, police arrested 16 people in Madal, Zambezia, for attacking a police post and the house of a community leader, saying they were linked to chupa sangue. (Txopla 16 Oct, Radio Mocambique 22 Oct, Lusa 18 SepO Pais 13 Sep)

There have been other attacks on the police this month. On 1 October an angry crowd burnt down the home of the police commander in Mandimba, Niassa, and on 5 October Islamist extremists attacked the police and other government facilities in Mocimboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado, where police arrested 52 people; 11 more were arrested in Palma. Police spokesperson Inacio Dina said the police had lost patience and will use “violence against violence”. He said the security service SISE had been sent to Gile to prevent further attempts to stir up social instability. 

In neighbouring Malawi, over the past month eightpeople have been killed after being accused of being vampires and police have arrested 140 people for being part of vampire hunting mobs.

  Poor believe elite
 wants their blood

The myth of vampires has a long history in Zambezia and

Immeubles, Nampula

Immeubles, Nampula

Image by Julien

. Partly it is metaphorical, but it is also explicitly linked to the belief that the better off literally suck out the blood of poor people. Prof Carlos Serra has written extensively about this and to the linked belief that the rich are putting cholera in the water of the poor. His research has shown that poor Mozambicans believe that the elite - administrators, police, aid workers, health workers, and their own local leaders - want them dead, literally want to suck the life out of poor people in order to increase their own wealth, and will never act in the interests of the poor. (In Portuguese:; my writing in English: and

This is seen, in part, through the growing local corruption, with the police as the public face of using corruption to extract resources from the poor. The 2014/15 4th family expenditure survey showed more people below the poverty line than at the time of the 1st survey in 1996/97. The three northern provinces of Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa had more than 55% of the population below the poverty line. ( The economic crisis and inflation since the last survey has surely increased poverty - which is worst in rural areas.

The riots of 2008 and 2010 were triggered by rising prices and were in urban areas. The World Bank has been worried that the squeeze will trigger new urban riots and has been looking for ways to use public works to give temporary jobs and money to young people who would tempted to riot. But the first riots seem to be occurring in rural towns. Mocimboa da Praia is a centre for gas exploration and production with the presence of many better off outsiders, yet the local people feel they gain nothing. In elections the town of Mocimboa da Praia has always seen the vote closely divided between Frelimo and Renamo. Muiane is the site of a major tantalite mine which has seen three years of conflict between the mining company and local people. Gile and Mandimba districts voted predominantly for Renamo in 2014. In these places, poor people see the Frelimo and state elite as being linked to the blood suckers.

Frelimo faces local elections in October next year and national elections in October 2019. The current campaign against corruption suggests that President Filipe Nyusi and some in Frelimo realise they have a problem. But the inability to challenge part of the old guard over the $2 bn secret debt means no IMF programme which means no donor support for the government, which in turn means no pay rises for teachers and other civil servants who are already complaining about delayed payments - and so will be reluctant to stop asking ordinary citizens for bribes to top up their wages. And there will be little let up in the worsening rural poverty. In Britain, the US, and elsewhere, there have been voter backlashes against the establishment. In many parts of the world, local elections are used to make a statement against the governing party; in 2013, despite a Renamo boycott, the opposition won 42% of the vote in Maputo. Could the growing northern rural discontent point to difficulties for Frelimo in local elections less than a year from now? jh

Editor: Joseph Hanlon (
To subscribe:
Previous newsletters and other Mozambique material are posted on


blog comments powered by Disqus