Congratulations! You’ve secured a contract in Mozambique. Even if you’ve visited before as a tourist or holiday-maker, here are some things you should know about life in Mozambique.
Weather or not
Whether you’re used to Cape Town’s rain or Joburg’s cold in winter, you should find Mozambique’s weather pleasant all year round. Its position on the tropic of Capricorn gives it a tropical climate with plenty of sunshine and it rarely gets cold. The average temperature is around 28°C, with warm and sunny weather along the coast even in winter. Expect a rainy season from November to April when temperatures can get hot and humid, particularly between December and February. Most rain falls between January and March, and you may find washed-out roads and occasional flooding in the south and centre. May to November brings cooler, dry weather. A few spells of rain occur during the months of April and May but is very unusual between June and November.
There is some variation in climate across different regions and terrains within the country. Inland is cooler than the coast and rainfall is greater on higher ground. The northeastern coast is the hottest and most humid region, while the provinces of Nampula and Niassa, which are at higher altitude, are the coolest. There is an average of eight to nine hours of sunshine daily throughout the year.
Hot and humid conditions do mean mosquitoes and a risk of malaria. See [hyperlink to health article] for more information on health risks in Mozambique.
Put a plug in it
Electricity is 220v, 50hz, and the plugs are broadly the same as we use in South Africa, so you shouldn’t need any special adaptors beyond the ones you normally use:
It’s a crime not to use common sense
Mozambique enjoys a lower crime rate than South Africa and for the most part, living there is pretty safe. However, there are always risks, and as you would expect, petty theft and robbery are the main ones. If you exercise common sense and take the same basic precautions you would at home you should stay safe:
- Keep a close eye on your pockets or bag in markets.
- Don’t leave personal belongings unguarded on the beach or elsewhere and avoid wearing showy jewellery, watches, headsets, etc. Be mindful when walking down the street and don’t talk or send messages on your cell phone when on foot.
- Don’t leave items on the seat of a parked car. Put everything in the boot. Be careful where you park; it’s not unusual for windscreen wipers and other external accessories to be swiped while you are away. Try to park in secure car parks whenever possible.
- Be alert in traffic and when stopped at robots. Keep windows up and doors locked and don’t leave anything on the seat next to you, inviting a smash and grab.
- Car-jackings do happen, more commonly in Maputo and southern Mozambique (due to the proximity to South Africa). In addition to the above pointers, be especially careful when driving at night and keep all windows up and the doors locked, including when in a taxi. If you are the victim of an attempted hijack, hand over the keys immediately. Better to lose your car than your life.It seems our neighbours to the northeast suffer from the same petty corruption that we do. You are more likely to encounter an official looking for a bribe than you are to be the victim of serious crime. The regular (i.e. non-traffic) police tend to be the worst offenders. They are dressed in grey uniforms. Carry a certified copy of your relevant documents (work permit, etc.) with you so that you can always show that your papers are in order. Tempting though it is, don’t lose your cool. Stay calm, be respectful and act like you know what you’re doing and are a seasoned resident of the country. This will generally disarm the greedy official.If you are asked to pay a multa (fine) for a trumped-up charge, ask to speak to the supervisor or “chefe”, and request a receipt. You should also insist on going to the nearest esquadrão (police station). These are all sensible actions regardless of the charge; but if it is purely an attempt to secure a bribe they will almost certainly signal to the officer that it is not worth his while. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyhow: Don’t have any involvement in recreational drug use. It is illegal, and the penalties are stiff. You also risk losing your work permit and therefore forfeiting your contract. It is common for foreigners to be offered marijuana or other substances for sale as part of a set-up, usually involving the police. In this situation you can expect to pay a large bribe to avoid arrest or imprisonment (which is a very real risk). Don’t risk it. Stay legal and stay safe.
- If something else happens which leads to your arrest, you have the right to talk with someone from the South African embassy, as well as a lawyer, though you won’t automatically be let off the hook just because you are a foreigner with your embassy helping you. Below are some of the things that might get you in trouble with the police, and at the very least incur a demand for a bribe. Just because we can get away with these offences in South Africa doesn’t mean you will enjoy impunity from the law in Mozambique:
Avoid a brush with the law
- Remember too that only traffic police are authorised to stop you for traffic violations. If you are stopped by a regular police officer, you can insist on waiting until the traffic police arrive. Usually this will defuse the situation.
Don’t hassle me…
- Driving on the beach
- Driving without a seatbelt (for everyone in the vehicle)
- Using a cell phone while driving
- Not indicating when turning
- Failing to carry two red hazard triangles and a reflective vest in the boot
Mozambique’s beaches are famous. It is a beautiful country with warm and friendly people and great food. There is plenty to do when your working week finishes – we’ll explore that in another post. As long as you are practical and exercise common sense your time in Mozambique should be enjoyable as well as profitable for you.