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Mozambican worker migration to the former German democratic republic: serving socialism and struggling under democracy.


Mozambique's relations with the German Democratic Republic (GDR) go back to the former country's war of independence. Following independence, the GDR became an important partner for Mozambique in a wide range of areas, from the mining sector (Moatize) (2) to the textile industry (Mocuba), the Security Services (SNASP), teacher-training and external trade, among other interests. Mozambique enjoyed the status of a priority country (Schwerpunktland) among the cluster of "Third World" countries with which the GDR maintained relations. (3) However, Mozambique amassed an increasingly unsustainable external debt toward the GDR and many other industrialized countries, "socialist" or otherwise. Against this background, the governments of Mozambique and the GDR signed an agreement in 1979 to send Mozambican workers to East Germany for a limited period of time on a rotational basis, the intention being to reduce this debt through the retention of part of their remuneration. This scheme collapsed when the frontier dividing the two Germanies was opened on 9 November 1989, an event followed by the dismantlement of the Berlin Wall and the absorption of the East German Lander into the German Federal Republic on 3 October 1990. The economic restructuring linked to this political unification caused the majority of the firms employing Mozambican workers to undergo a crisis and/or go bankrupt. This led to a hasty repatriation of the vast majority of the Mozambican workers to their country of origin. To the present day, an open conflict persists between the returnees and the Mozambican Government about the wage portions and Social Security contributions "transferred" from the GDR to Mozambique, concerning which the workers feel to have legitimate grievances.

This article endeavors to shed light on some of the unresolved issues regarding the above-mentioned phenomenon of migration. On the one hand, it already belongs to history--in so far as both the GDR and the Popular Republic of Mozambique have ceased to exist--and, on the other hand, it continues to kindle strong feelings among thousands of Mozambicans who have set up associations through which to voice their protests and continue to fight for their claims. The approach will be essentially economic, although an attempt to contextualize the issue and consider its human significance will also be made.

Today, the study of this issue has been greatly facilitated by the opening up of the former GDR archives (4) and the considerable amount of relevant literature that has appeared in the unified Germany. In the 1990s, this material addressed the different aspects of the heritage left behind by the GDR, including the external financial assets and liabilities of the ex-GDR and the foreign communities that were living and working in the country. (5) In Mozambique, documental access to the subject is provided mainly by the relatively free press--despite considerable limitations, exemplified by the murder of the journalist Carlos Cardoso--together with some official information.

We shall approach the subject in four parts. The first will present the economic and financial panorama of Mozambican worker migration to the GDR. The second part addresses the evolution of the number of Mozambican migrants in the GDR, before and after 1989, as well as their role in the country's economy. The third part describes the repatriation and compensation patterns of these workers, as well as the fate of Mozambique's external debt towards the GDR when the latter collapsed. Finally, the last part will tackle the conflict that opposes the Mozambican returnees and their Government.

The Economic and Social Context

In the late-1970s, Mozambique's external debt towards the GDR had reached a substantial size. In 1978 and 1979 alone, Mozambique's accumulated trade deficit reached 200 million GDR Marks ("Valuta Mark") (6) which, according to the GDR's external accounting procedures, corresponded to the same amount in DM. In this context of a pronounced trade imbalance, both sides sought exportable Mozambican resources:
   It was there that respective interests lay. Mozambique was looking
   for an alternative to employment no longer available for temporary
   migrants (miners) in South Africa, was hoping for aid in the form
   of training, besides the strengthening or formation of the working
   class. The GDR set out to reduce the deficit of its internal labor
   balance and its external trade surplus, as well as setting up a
   pool of specialized workers destined for the major Mozambican
   companies of the future. (7)

It must be remembered that by this time, the GDR itself was regularly building up external deficits with its trading partners in the industrialized capitalist countries. As it had no convertible currency, the possibility of practicing barter trade with "friendly" countries of the "Third World" was at least a potential advantage. (8)

However, in its relations with Mozambique these economic advantages did not materialize. For various reasons, such as the flight of white settlers, civil war, joining the sanctions against Southern Rhodesia, and flaws in the economic and social model introduced, Mozambique's capacity to export commodities proved to be consistently insufficient. This accounts for the build-up of Mozambique's external debt to the GDR and other countries.

When the GDR's global financial position was assessed in 1990, at the time the country ceased to exist, and that position was taken over by the now enlarged Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Mozambique's accumulated debt toward the GDR was estimated at 450 million USS. This amounted to around 10 per cent of Mozambique's overall external debt that year. (9) Even after rescheduling the debt several times, in line with the Paris Club conditions, it still stood at 350 million US$ in 2002. That same year the FRG eventually waived the debt. (10)

Given this pattern of economic and financial relations between Mozambique and the GDR, it was decided in 1979 to dispatch Mozambican workers, on a temporary and rotational basis (4 years), to "socialist firms in the GDR" (based on the 1979 GDR/Mozambique Agreement, extended for five more years in 1985). The initiative resembled the immigration of Mozambican miners to South Africa. There are various reasons underlying this parallel.

The first reason is timing. The agreements between South Africa and colonial Mozambique, which regulated the deferred payments of Mozambican workers who migrated on a rotational basis, mainly to the Rand mines, expired in 1978 and were not renewed. (11) According to Doring, (12) the earnings related to this immigration fell from between 150 and 175 million US$, in 1975 to 15 million USS in 1978.

Secondly, there is a substantial similarity in the paternalistic institutional framework, which, in both cases, characterized the lab or-contracting process. Similar to the framework of miner migratory recruitment to South Africa in colonial Mozambique, a higher authority (the Ministry of Labor of independent Mozambique, which had replaced WINELA--Witwatersrand Native Labour Association) decided who went and the conditions under which they left. The conditions of individual recruitment, as an economic expression of citizenship, did not exist. Inevitably, this produced a social conflict after the return home of the Mozambican workers to a country which, in the 1990s, was successively introducing democratic structures and institutions. At least formally, such conditions enabled one to exercise his/her citizenship.

Thirdly, there are also similarities regarding the social and working conditions in both situations. In fact, those who emigrated to the GDR were essentially single men between 18 and 25. (13) Their length of stay was tied to a rotational basis, and normally lasted 4 years. (14) There was no intention of integrating them into the host country. The workers lived in the companies' collective homes for foreigners, where extremely restrictive disciplinary regulations prevailed. The occupants had to identify themselves on entering and return to their lodgings no later than 10 pm, visits by persons of the opposite sex were forbidden, and women who became pregnant were sent home. (15) Trips abroad were forbidden. (16). Moreover, at work, discipline was harsh. (17) The threat of being expelled hung constantly over the Mozambican workers. In fact, in 1986 alone, 120 workers were expelled. (18) It was common for Mozambicans to be placed in lower wage categories than their German colleagues, the argument being that their training period and vocational experience were shorter and of inferior quality. (19) They were also required to spend years on end performing the same repetitive, monotonous jobs on the assembly lines, despite their "burning ambition to learn how to weld, turn a lathe and become skilled workers." (20)

In their spare time, they were subjected to the racist behavior of a petty, repressed population, (21) particularly when they were going to buy and send home durable consumer goods, which were always scarce in the GDR markets. (22) Frequently, there were insults in the sports grounds and on public transport and brawling in the restaurants and discotheques. In September 1987, in Stassfurt near Magdeburg, an 18-year-old Mozambican was murdered by a young German with a prison record. Following a brawl among youths in a restaurant, the victim was thrown off a bridge. (23)

Fundamentally, Mozambican workers were subject to a "form of apartheid, peculiar to the GDR": (24)
   Rudimentary norms in terms of foreigners' rights, the secrecy
   surrounding inter-Govemmental agreements, segregation by way of
   halls of residence, the concealment of any information, besides the
   widely practiced principle of job rotation, led to the exclusion of
   contracted workers from the GDR's integrated social system. (25)

The non-integration was, in fact, intentional, notwithstanding the official discourse that pledged the contrary. This situation was bound to fuel xenophobic behavior:
   A political, social and cultural integration into the "integral
   system of the GDR" was not sought by the Governments in
   question---despite all the proclamations of "international
   solidarity, friendship among peoples and proletarian
   internationalism." As early as the late seventies, cases of
   xenophobic aggression became more frequent in the GDR, though,
   according to the official version, no xenophobia existed. (26)

Finally, the actual continuity between the colonial and post-colonial state of Mozambique, in terms of the practice of deferred payment of wage portions and the appropriation of benefits ensuing from this situation, is quite significant. Therein lay the root of what remains to this day an unresolved dispute between the returned workers and the Mozambican Government, following the implosion of the GDR in 1989-90.

As mentioned earlier, the very dispatching of Mozambican workers to the GDR can only be understood from the perspective of Mozambican "debt-servicing." Thus, the 1979 Agreement between the two Governments, Article 6 (1), anticipates that workers "may 'fransfer' up to 25 per cent of their net monthly wage as of the fourth month of employment in the German Democratic Republic to the Popular Republic of Mozambique" (the author's translation of the German version; his italics and quotation marks). (27) From January 1986, this percentage was increased to 60 per cent, (28) but fell again to 40 per cent as of August 1989. (29) Besides this, the GDR also "transferred" 50 per cent of the workers' Social Security contributions (sickness, incapacity and retirement), to Mozambique, so that these workers would acquire entitlements from the Mozambican state. For example, in 1988-89 a Mozambican worker "transferred" a monthly average of 300 Marks of his wage, besides 75 Marks for Social Security. (30)

In the previous quotation from the Inter-Governmental Agreement of 1979, we emphasized the expression "may transfer"--in other words, the individual, voluntary nature of the "transfers." "Transfer" was also highlighted in quotation marks. These terms namely call for some explanation. In fact, the two qualifications can only be understood once the technical banking aspects of the "transfers" are set within the context of the economic and financial relations between Mozambique and the GDR.

In the Deutsche Ausserthandelsbank AG (German Bank of External Trade, IC) there were special accounts, which were closed annually. Here all the exports of goods and services, besides other similar GDR operations (within the framework of lines of credit) were included as credits, while imports from Mozambique were recorded as debits. The Bank of Mozambique, which was regularly informed, entered the movements in the respective accounts. In the absence of an internationally convertible currency, these German accounts valued the exchanges between the two countries in US Dollars (Clearing Dollars). The first step in the accounting procedure was to value the goods and services exported by the GDR at a rate of 1 GDR Mark (Valuta Mark) = 1 DM. This was obviously fictitious. The second step was to express this valuation in USS. (31) The goods and services imported from Mozambique were also recorded in USS. (32)

As was remarked above, the balances of these accounts tended structurally to favor the GDR, causing the debt to increase. This accounts for the need for the "transfers" of the Mozambican workers' wage portions to balance the account. Let us now return to the expression "transfer." In the scheme explained above, there was no transfer in USS to the Bank of Mozambique. As the GDR companies transferred the portions retained from the workers' wages to the above-mentioned Bank of External Trade in Marks, the latter debited them in the "Mozambique" account in USS and informed the Bank of Mozambique, which then equally credited them in USS. In principle, the Bank of Mozambique disbursed this amount to the workers in Meticais, on their return, (33) through a payment order (cash payment or by a cheque issued by the Ministry of Labor of Mozambique) drawn up according to nominal lists, which were regularly transmitted to the Standing Representative of the Ministry of Labor, resident in the GDR. (34) Thus, the Government of Mozambique paid in Meticais--in principle by transferring the amounts from the state budget to the Bank of Mozambique--a foreign debt created through imports from the GDR and labeled in dollars.

With regard to the voluntary nature of the "transferred" wage-earned savings, the problem is equally complex. The migrant worker--particularly the short-term worker--would naturally wish to transfer home as much as possible of his resources. However, establishing the most satisfactory means of transferring them was a more complex matter. Having weighed up the risks, including the above-mentioned exchange risks, and given the flourishing informal markets in Mozambique, (35) the Mozambican workers may have preferred to send lucratively negotiable goods (cloth, bicycles, motorcycles, household appliances, etc) rather than money. In fact, this possibility did exist, although it was highly restricted and controlled, as it contributed to a structural problem of the GDR "socialist" economy, namely the supply of its own population with consumer goods. Above all, to have left the choice between monetary "transfer" and the sending of tangible goods to the workers themselves would have ran counter to the very essence of the Inter-Governmental Agreement, which was to service Mozambique's foreign debt. Thus, the maximum limit of 25 per cent of the net wage fixed in 1979 rose to 60 per cent in 1986, then was reduced to 40 per cent in 1989 and the supposedly voluntary nature was, from a very early stage, regarded as compulsory:
   In the 1980s, companies began to withhold sums from the net wage up
   to the maximum transfer limit ... In this way, [the workers] were
   no longer able to personally determine the actual amount of the
   transfer, in other words, the personal use of their net incomes.

An official GDR document (drawn up for the Politbilro session which, in June 1988, determined the position of the GDR regarding the handling of Mozambique's foreign debt) (37) implicitly states that the introduction of the compulsory nature of wage transfers in order to reduce Mozambique's debt had been an initiative of the Mozambican Government. This position was reversed as an outcome of negotiations undertaken to reschedule the debt, which took place that year. At that time, the GDR, which was already on the brink of economic and financial collapse, not only insisted on the "transfers" but also drastically increased the number of Mozambican workers to be employed in its economy. The plan to bring in 4,500 new workers in 1988, which was already a high figure, was increased to 7,500, thus reaching a total figure of 18,000 resident workers. The aim was to reduce Mozambique's 367.2 million USS debt in 1987 to 66.4 millionUSS by 1995. (38) Now it was Mozambique's turn to oppose the wage "transfer" scheme to service the debt, for "financial and moral reasons." (39) Circumstances had substantially changed. Fully engaged in its "Programa de Reabilitacao Economica"--PRE (Mozambique's structural adjustment program), and now integrated into the West's system of foreign debt management, Mozambique had obtained a rescheduling of its debt from the Paris Club, with far more advantageous terms than those underpinning the traditional scheme of "workers for debt." Thus, Mozambique was no longer prepared to agree to the conditions of the scheme. This disagreement was still unresolved when the GDR ceased to exist.

Some Global Quantitative Aspects of the Mozambican Migration to the GDR

Between 1979 and 1989, 21, 600 Mozambican workers entered the GDR. (40) Grosso modo, this figure corresponds to the one put forward by Mozambique's Ministry of Labor for the years 1979 to 1990, which was 21, 877 workers. (41) Their contribution to the GDR's national income was considerable: to give one example, they were worth 18, 482 Marks per worker in 1986. (42) Given a total of between six and seven thousand active workers in the GDR in 1986 and the exchange rate applied to the GDR Mark (3 Marks = 1 US$), this share of national income amounted to between 37 and 43 million US$. In a document compiled for the Central Committee's Politbuw, dated May 1989, (43) it is stated that "there is no alternative" to the 16, 100 Mozambican workers engaged in 205 GDR companies:
   The GDR cannot dispense with this labor. As for its amount, besides
   its material and financial costs, there is no alternative, even if
   one considered employing workers from other countries. (44)

Between 1982 and 1990, approximately 18.6 million US$ was "transferred" to Mozambique as Social Security dues and 74.4 million US$ as wages. (45) According to official GDR statistics, Mozambican worker entries under the 1979 Agreement evolved as follows:
1979    1980    1981    1982    1983    1984

447     2,839   2,618   --      382     --

1979    1985    1986    1987    1988    1989

447     1,347   2,896   3,203   6,464   1,992

Sources: Sextro, G es tern gebraucht, 22;
Doring, Es geht um unsere Existenz, 237.

These entries, which fluctuated widely over the period, either exceeded the numbers established in the annual inter-governmental protocols or failed to meet them. (46) In 1987, the target of 2,000 new entries was significantly exceeded, as was the case in 1989, when the target was set at 1,500. The extremely high limit for 1988, set at 8,000 (a figure higher than the already large number proposed to the Politburo in June 1987, see above), was not achieved, notwithstanding the exceptionally high number of Mozambican workers who effectively entered the GDR. The reason for this discrepancy is probably to be found in the evolution of the companies' absorption capacity. The number of 6,000 entries in 1990 could no longer be achieved as a result of the altered political situation. Nevertheless, the large number of entries in the second half of the 1980s (15,902 in all) is remarkable, in view of the Mozambican Government's growing "financial and moral reserves." The acute shortage of labor in the GDR and the country's need to recover its outstanding debt, as well as the lack of alternative employment in Mozambique, were too pressing.

The number of Mozambican workers present in the GDR peaked at 15,100 in 1989. (47) The official GDR document, quoted above and dated May 1989, actually mentions 16,000. The number fell dramatically to less than one thousand in eighteen months. 1990 alone saw the number of workers fall to 2,800. Between 12,000 and 13,000 workers left the GDR in 12 months. (48) According to Mozambique's Ministry of Labor, 15, 917 Mozambicans returned home that year (49) Thus, an exodus of Mozambican workers (not to mention other nationalities) clearly took place in the final months of the GDR, which ceased to exist as of 3 October of that year:
31 Dec. 1989   31 Dec. 1990   31 Mar. 1991   30 Jun. 1991

15,100            2,800          1,535           962

Sources: Marburger, Beitrag zur Volkswirtschaft,
32 and Sextro, Gestern gebraucht, 127.

Repatriation, Compensation and Reintegration Programs for Skilled Workers (Fachkrafteprogramme)

In May 1990, in the midst of the democratic changes and the ongoing economic disintegration (die Wende), the final GDR Government signed an accord with the Mozambican Government which suspended any new entries of workers in the framework of the 1979 Agreement. However, it confirmed that the workers already present in the GDR had the right to remain. Nevertheless, the amendments to the rights of foreign workers, which had been introduced that year, profoundly changed their working situation. Dismissals before completion of the labor contract were facilitated. In the event of dismissal, workers were entitled, for at least three months, to a payment of 70 per cent of the previously-earned average gross wage, to remain in the residence hall during this period, and to receive a ticket to their country of origin. Furthermore, workers dismissed and prepared to leave Germany immediately were entitled to a compensation of 3,000 DM (1, 863 USS at the exchange rate at the time).

Dismissed workers who had no wish to return home after their contracts were rescinded could remain in the GDR until the period of their initial contracts had expired, with entitlement to housing, authorization to work, unemployment benefits, vocational training, and assistance in finding a new post. In this event, they would have no entitlement to the 3 months' compensation, neither to the payment of 3,000 DM. In any case, they ran the risk, in practice, of failing to obtain the above benefits, due to tight deadlines and "bureaucratic obstructions." (50) Moreover, workers whose contracts ended on the initially agreed date were not entitled to the 3,000 DM compensation.

As a large number of the companies employing Mozambicans (and other foreign workers) were no longer in a position to honor the payments related to their workers' dismissal and repatriation, the Government of the FRG paid these expenses. Thus, between 1990 and 1992, 9,617 workers received 74.8 million DM (46.3 million USS at the exchange rate of the time), which corresponds to an average 4,768 USS per worker. (51)

It should be emphasized that the above figures concerning the total number of Mozambican returnees in 1990 are considerably higher than the 9,617 directly compensated by the German Federal Government. This implies that besides the returnees who received early repatriation compensation from the Government and the companies, and the workers returning at the end of their contracts, there might well have been others who returned home having received no compensation, either due to lack of information or of goodwill on the part of the companies and administrations concerned, or because they returned after having tried in vain to start a new working life in Germany. In fact, with regard to those eligible for compensation, "many of the people concerned--either through ignorance of their rights, or through assumed failure to respect the agreements by the companies involved--received neither payment of the compensation, that is, 70% of the last three months' average gross wage, nor the 3000 DM to which they were entitled." (52)

Even those who returned to Mozambique after having been duly compensated encountered difficulties in reintegrating, to such an extent that Ahrens and Muller (53) described the returnees' situation as "having no prospects" in the early years following return. The majority found neither formal work, nor housing. They were faced with the hostility of a population that regarded them as highly privileged, too keen to protest, and "inclined to criminality." (54) Besides decrying this hostility, in letters addressed to friends in Germany the returnees complained of the way in which they were left to their own fate (55) by the Mozambican state, of the violence inflicted upon them, and of the theft of belongings they had brought back from Germany. (56) The feeling of regret at having returned to Mozambique and the wish to emigrate once again is clear. In one of the letters, the situation of the former GDR workers is summarised poignantly: 20% of those who returned from Germany do business on the black market, 20% went to South Africa, 3% work in companies, 57% do nothing, they have no jobs ..." (57)

Confronted by this situation and under pressure from numerous German non-governmental organizations, the Parliament of the FRG decided in June 1991 to provide 13 million DM for a "Program for Skilled Workers (Fachkrafteprogramm (58)) from Vietnam and Mozambique." (59) Within this framework, vocational training and business-creation courses were held in Germany from the late summer of 1991 until the end of 1992, in order to help reintegrate these workers in their countries of origin. Besides being offered late, (60) the courses featured contents ill adapted to the economic and occupational realities of the workers' countries of origin, and the number of people involved was insignificant. In fact, only 142 of the 400 Mozambicans (and a number of Angolans) who had applied qualified for the training courses, owing to the selection criteria applied, i.e., "knowledge of German and mathematics and technical literacy, in addition to personal profile." (61) This outcome is not surprising. The declared aim of the program was the preparation of "skilled workers" (62) to reintegrate better on their return home, whereas--as we have seen above--a lack of opportunities for vocational training and thus acquisition of skills had been one of the intrinsic negative features of Mozambican workers' employment in GDR companies. In fact, "although by the beginning of the 1980s, thousands of Mozambican workers had received vocational training, after that time, their employment was based exclusively on the commercial interests of both countries." (63)

In its reply to the request for clarification addressed by the Petitions Commission of Mozambique's Parliament to the German Embassy in September 2002, the latter describes the contribution made by Germany to the social and economic reintegration of Mozambican workers after their return to Mozambique in the following manner:
   Among other, projects were launched to assist the returnee workers
   through credit and the provision of other services, to create small
   and medium-sized businesses and become economically
   self-sufficient. One such, the SOCREMO project (Credit Company of
   Mozambique), continues to exist, but for some time has been
   available to all Mozambicans, rather than restricted to the
   returnee workers. Furthermore, the returnee workers continue to
   receive reintegration support, by means of a program funded by the
   Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ). In
   the framework of this program, experts specialized in the fields of
   migration and development co-operation are entrusted with ... the
   promotion of specific job vacancies (i.e., "job procurement
   service"). (64)

This initiative seems to have reached a more substantial number of beneficiaries. Thus, SOCREMO, which began its activities in 1992 as an initiative of the Ministry of Labor's Bureau for the Promotion of Employment, supported by the German GTZ, granted credit between 1992 and March 1998 to 5, 818 individual applicants, for an average of 400 US$. At the start of 1998, the outstanding loan portfolio amounted to 246,000 US$. Since May 1998, SOCREMO has been registered as a non-bank financial institution. (65)

However, the returnees' organizations strongly contest that there were any loans from SOCREMO, apart from a few isolated cases. (66) An analysis of documents from the "Projecto de Criacao de Micro Empresas GPE/GTZ" (Micro-Business Creation Project GPE/GTZ) fails to corroborate the stance taken by the returnees. At least in the initial phase, up to 10 November 1992, 62 per cent of the 587 enrolled in the Project were returnees from the ex-GDR and 48 credit-groups (50 per cent of the total) consisted of returnees. (67) The critical stance taken by the above-mentioned workers' organizations might stem from the following facts:

* the limited amount of the loan granted, 135,000 US$ for group and individual loans up to August 1992; (68)

* the implementation of the Project exclusively in Maputo;

* the greater recruitment of the returnees through the Project by means of the former "nucleo dos regressados da RDA" (GDR Returnees' Group), today known as AMAL--Amigos da Alemanha (Friends of Germany).

With regard to the "job procurement service" within ADECOMA, 300 jobs have been created to date, in addition to the training of 150 persons in "business, information technology, civil education, administration, HIV/AIDS prevention and NGO management." (69)

The Long Struggle of the Returnees

Since their return, the workers formerly employed in the GDR have repeatedly presented their claims to the Mozambican authorities, either individually or through their own associations (AMAL, (70) ADECOMA, MONARDA, the Forum dos Regressados) (71) and in various ways, including street demonstrations, in particular outside the Ministry of Labor and the Parliament. Essentially these claims concern:

* the exchange rates applied to the funds remitted home;

* medical assistance in Mozambique provided to those workers who were victims of work-place accidents in the former GDR;

* the payment of 70 per cent of the last three wages and of 3,000 DM to those workers dismissed before the expiry of their contract;

* the reimbursement of the "transferred" Social Security contributions. (72)

With respect to the exchange rates, the system of deferred salary payment was prejudicial to the returnees, since they received their remittances after returning home, at the historical exchange rate of USS/Mt, that is, effective at the time that the deposit was made. (73) Consequently, and given the galloping inflation in the country throughout the second half of the 1980s, the returnees suffered substantial real losses in terms of the purchasing power of their savings. For example, applying the retail price index for consumer goods (74) to wage savings made in 1986 and withdrawn in 1989, these were only worth a sixth of their initial value in real terms. (75) If, on the contrary, wage savings of 1986 had been paid to the returnees in 1989 at the official USS/Mt exchange rate of that year, workers would have received a real gain, since the exchange devaluation of the Metical was higher than internal inflation. That is, the price index suffered a six-fold rise, whereas the devaluation of the Metical amounted to a rise by a factor of 18.5. In this case, the workers would have seen the real value of their savings multiplied by 3, instead of seeing it divided by 6, which was what in fact occurred.

Once the savings in Meticais had been entered in the books at the value of the initial "transfers," their purchasing power could only have been maintained through the application by the Ministry of Labor of an interest rate at least equal to the internal inflation rate, between the date of the amount's "transfer" and its withdrawal. However, this did not occur for various reasons, which possibly have a fiscal explanation, such as budgetary restraints and the fear of fueling even greater inflation--especially given a background of war and the PRE in progress. (76)

Moreover, the wages of the migrants, already taxed at source in the GDR, were taxed again at 10 per cent at the time when the "transfers" were withdrawn. (77) Another of the returnees' complaints concerns the high amount of retentions made by the Mozambican Ministry of Labor to cover their temporary stay in the accommodation centers in Machava. Finally, they question the customs duties imposed for the importation of containers and the high charges for transporting freight from the customs warehouse to the provinces. (78) In fact, the entire process was so obscure, traumatizing and damaging for the returnees ("... often the money is not even enough for the flight back to their home province" (79)), that it provoked a sense of great injustice among them, opening the floodgates to all kinds of interpretations, claims and illusions. (80)

Regarding the other question of greatest concern for the returnees, the recovery of Social Security contributions, it must be taken into account that at the time the deductions were made, there was no such scheme of social protection in existence in Mozambique, (81) and when it was later introduced, it covered only the salary-earners in the formal economy. It is therefore not surprising that the returnees insist on recovering the amounts "transferred," given that in most cases the deductions from their GDR wages do not entitle them--contrary to what was initially envisaged--to present or future Social Security benefits in Mozambique.

The Government of Mozambique and to a certain extent, the German Government--which always asserted that it (the GDR and subsequently the FRG) had satisfied the returnees' rights in this respect (82)--responded to the claims with measures in support of socio-economic reintegration, through projects designed to create employment and income (micro-credit, training, etc). As late as November 2000, after months of negotiations, the Mozambican Government and the returnees seemed to have reached an agreement based on a commitment to reintegration on the part of the Government: "Thus monetary compensation to former emigrants is out of the question." (83) In late August 2001, following new negotiations with the returnees, the Government nevertheless agreed, for the first time, to seek solutions for those workers who had not received the 3,000 Marks' compensation and the 70 per cent of their last three months' wages to which they were entitled. (84) However, on 14 November 2001, during a session of the Mozambican Parliament in which the Government replied to questions from Members of Parliament, the Deputy Minister of Labor, Adelaide Amurane, insisted that the returnees were not entitled to any compensation whatsoever. (85)

Early in December 2001, members of the Rapid Intervention Police Force violently broke up a demonstration by returnees outside the Parliament, injuring some of them. (86) Immediately afterwards, on 6 December, in his address to Parliament on the State of the Nation, President Joaquim Chissano drew attention to the returnees' claims, and called for the issue to be handled with the "necessary calm" ... "in accordance with the law" ... in order to "achieve a fair outcome." (87) The President's call was not answered. At the celebrations of 1 May 2002 the returnees booed and jeered, calling him "thief, schemer, liar." He left without having read his official speech. (88)

This occurred despite the previous month's announcement that the Government was ready to offer 7.5 million US$ in Social Security repayments to the 11,253 registered returnees, in three instalments: 1.5 million USS in 2002, followed by 3 million USS in 2003 and 2004. (89) In fact, the first payments were made in August 2002, although the Forum of Returnees refused to accept these sums, which they considered insufficient. (90) Between 15 August and 31 December 2002, the Government delivered 7, 750 cheques out of a total of 8, 918 issued. 2, 334 cheques remained to be issued, owing to the fact that those concerned had not provided the data required to justify disbursement. (91)

In making these payments, the Government acted in advance of the findings of the Parliamentary enquiry arising from a petition addressed by the returnees to the respective Parliamentary Commission in December 2001. As a result of this petition, on 16 September 2002, the Petitions Commission sent to the German Embassy, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an exhaustive list of questions with a request for explanations. (92) The German Embassy delivered its responses to the questionnaire of the Petitions Commission of the Mozambican Parliament through diplomatic channels on 23 December 2002. Until this date, and for years, Germany had never shown interest in documenting for the returnees, or indeed appeared capable of elucidating, the exact amounts of the "transfers" made in the form of wage remittances and Social Security contributions. Germany had always referred the returnees' representative associations to the Mozambican authorities. (93) In August 2002, a reply to a request from a German NGO to the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs for clarification regarding the issue stated that "the Deutsche Aussenhandelsbank AG has ceased to exist, and it is therefore not possible to provide this data." (94)

Nonetheless, the relevant data for the years 1982 to 1990 did finally surface and were included in the aforementioned responses to the questionnaire of the Petitions Commission of the Mozambique Parliament in late 2002. Following the delivery of this information, the Commission passed a motion demanding that the Government adopt appropriate measures in order to satisfy some of the fundamental demands of the returnees. (95) On this occasion, the Mozambican Parliament explicitly recommended that the sum of 135, 780 US$ "deposited in the account of the Banco de Mocambique ... should also be paid to its rightful owners." (96) It should nevertheless be noted that the motion does not explicitly mention in its list of "measures and recommendations" the discrepancy between the 18.6 million USS "transferred" for Social Security purposes, according to the above-mentioned German source, to the Mozambican Government between 1982 and 1990 and the sum of 7.5 million US$ offered by the latter to the returnees in 2002. However, Parliament decided to send the information gathered by the Petitions Commission (97) to the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic with a view to "possible criminal proceedings." (98)


The story of the Mozambican workers' migration to the GDR and their return to Mozambique is not lacking in dramatic aspects. In fact, these workers were cruelly entangled in the wheels of history, namely by the demise of "real existing socialism" in Mozambique and Germany.

In the 1980s, the "socialist" Government of Mozambique used young Mozambican workers as a means of servicing the heavy external debt incurred with the GDR. For its part, the GDR needed this labor force to serve in its production process. Its expansion operated on an extensive rather than an intensive basis, in other words, less through an increase in the productivity of production factors than through an expansion of production factors in force. On the other hand, the payment scheme applied to the Mozambican workers was part of the barter trade system which the GDR had practiced with other countries of the Eastern Bloc, as well as with some "Third World" countries, among them the Popular Republic of Mozambique. In many respects, the implementation of this migration was similar to the employment of Mozambican miners in the South African mines during the colonial period: a paternalistic legal and institutional framework, employment of single youths on a rotational basis, deferred payment, housing and social segregation in the host country.

The implosion of the GDR in 1989-90 led to a sudden repatriation of thousands of workers to a country still at war and in the midst of a traumatic political and economic transition. The Popular Republic of Mozambique, which had "dispatched" the workers to the GDR, no longer existed when they returned in 1990 and the Second Republic treated them with indifference. The GDR also ceased to exist and its successor to all intents and purposes, the FRG, considered that Germany (both the GDR and the FRG) had essentially satisfied the rights of the former Mozambican workers in the GDR. The Government of Mozambique was regarded as the legitimate recipient of any claims still possibly outstanding among the returnees. (99)

For its part, the Government of Mozambique has evaded the returnees' demands for compensation for over ten years, particularly those concerning Social Security contributions. However, the returnees have never given up. Grouped together in associations, they have tenaciously used every opportunity that the new democratic order has offered them to voice their claims. Yet it was only in late 2002 that a breakthrough in the conflict opposing the returnees and the Mozambican Government was achieved. This came about as a consequence of the delivery of a detailed, quantified report by the German Government, which was prompted by a request for information from the Mozambican Parliament. This request had been, in its turn, motivated by a petition submitted by the returnees one year earlier.

In fact, the Mozambican Government had already made an anticipatory move in April 2002, by making a gesture with regard to the issue of repayment of Social Security contributions. However, the information that is now coming to light may lead to reconsiderations of the amounts due to the workers and enquiries as to the whereabouts of the funds in question. (100) The decision to submit the information gathered by the Parliamentary Petitions Commission to the Attorney General points in this direction. As of January 2004, the struggle of the returnees is not yet over.

Appendix I

Listing of Complementary Sources

Unpublished documents

"Respostas ao questionario da Comissao de Peticoes do Parlamento Mocambicano" (Responses to the questionnaire of the Petitions Commission of the Mozambican Parliament), with the purpose of clarifying the claims of the former Mozambican workers in the GDR, delivered by the German Embassy on 23 December 2002

"Posicionamento do Govemo Federal quanto a questoes relacionadas com os antigos trabalhadores mocambicanos contrados na RDA" (The Federal Government's Stance Regarding the Issues Concerning the Former Mozambican Workers Contracted in the GDR), submitted by the German Embassy on 17 September 2002

Letter from the Koordinatiomh-eis Mosambik to the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs, dated 25 June 2002

Letter from the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Koordinatiomkreis Mosambik, dated 26 August 2002


Agreements between the GDR and Mozambique (available in German and Portuguese; the following are the texts in German):

Abkommen zwischen der Regierung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Regierung der Volksrepublik Mocambique uber die zeitweilige Beschaftigung mocambiquanischer Werktatiger in sozialistischen Betrieben der DDR. (Maputo, 24 Februar 1979)

Vereinbarung zur Durchfuhrung des Abkommens vom 24. Februar zwischen der Regierung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Regierung der Volksrepublik Mocambique uber die zeitweilige Beschaftigung mocambiquanischer Werktatiger in sozialistischen Betrieben der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. (Berlin, 13 April 1979)

Protokoll uber die Anderung und Erganzung des Abkommens zwischen der Regierung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Regiemng der Volksrepublik Mocambique uber die zeitweilige Beschaftigung mocambiquanischer Werktatiger in sozialistischen Betriebender Deutschen Demokratischen Republik vom 24. Februar 1979. (Berlin, 18 Oktober 1985)

Vereinbarung uber die Arbeit des Beauftragten des Ministeriums fur Arbeit der Volksrepublik Mocamique in der DDR. (Maputo 30. 09. 1988)

Protokoll uber die Anderung des Abkommens des zwischen der Regierung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Regierung der Volksrepublik Mocambique uber die zeitweilige Beschaftigung mocambiquanischer Werktatiger in sozialistischen Betrieben der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik vom 24 Februar 1979. (Maputo, 19 Mai 1989)

Protokoll zur Anderung und Erganzung des Abkommens zwischen der Regierung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Regierung der Volksrepublik Mocambique uber die zeitweilige Beschaftigung mocambiquanischer Werktatiger in sozialistischen Betrieben der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik vom 24 Februar 1979. (Maputo, 28. Mai 1990)

Vereinbarung zwischen der Regierung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Volksrepublik Mocambique zum Protokoll vom 28.5.1990 zur Anderung und Erganzung des Abkommens vom 24. Februar 1979 zwischen der Regierung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Regierung Volksrepublik Mocambique uber die zeitweilige Beschaftigung mocambiquanischer Werktatiger in sozialistischen Betrieben der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. (Maputo, 28 Mai 1990)

Gemeinsame Niederschrift uber die Verhandlungen zwischen den Delegationen der Regierung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik und der Regierung der Volksrepublik Mocambique zu Fragen der zeitweiligen Beschaftigung mocambikanischer Werktatiger in Betrieben der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. (Maputo, 28 Mai 1990)

Decrees published in the GDR

Verordnung uber finanzielle Leistungen bei vorzeitger Beendigung der Beschaftigung auslandischer Burger in Untemehmen der DDR. Gesetzblatt Teil I Nr. 46--Ausgabetag: 3 August 1990, p. 813

Durchfuhrungsbestimmung zur Verordnung uber die Veranderung von Arbeitsverhaitnissen auslandischer Burger, die auf der Grundlage von Regierungsabkommen in der DDR beschaftigt und qualifiziert werden, vom 13. Juni 1990. Gesetzblatt Teil I Nr. 42--Ausgabetag: 20 Juli 1990, p. 666

Verordnung uber die Veranderung von Arbeitsverhaltnissen auslandischer Burger, die auf der Grundlage von Regierungsabkommen in der DDR beschanigt und qualifiziert werden, vom 13 Juni 1990. Gesetzblatt Teil I Nr. 35--Ausgabetag: 27. Juli 1990, p. 666

Decrees published in the FRG

Bundesgesetzblatt, Jahrgang 1990, Teil II, p. 1210

Motion of the Mozambican Parliament

Resolucao no 11/2003 de 8 de Maio, Boletim da Republica, I Serie, Numero 23, 4 de Junho de 2003, pp. 221-222


Antonio Souto, GAJPI, Maputo

Christoph Rauh, German Embassy, Maputo

Domingos Pereira, MONARDA, Berlin

Elke Koitum, Ministry of Finance, Berlin

Falk Beyer, Maputo

Feliciano Jose Borralha de Mira, Lisbon

Gerhard Seibert, Lisbon

Hans Saar, Maputo

Isaias Vasco Muthevie, ADECOMA, Maputo

K. Schadler, BStU, Berlin

Klaus Tanzberger, BMZ, Berlin

Martin Spahr, SOCREMO, Maputo

Paulo Cachevera, MONARDA, Beira

Petra Aschoff, KKM, Bielefeld

Petra Hippmann, BMZ, Berlin

Rainer Muller, German Embassy, Maputo

Yussuf Adam, UEM, Maputo

Newspapers and Websites

Diario de Mocambique


Expresso Internacional

Noticias (Maputo)





Adeus RDA. Um film de Licinio Azevedo. Ebano multimedia para o Channel 4 (GB), Maputo, 1992.

Jochen Oppenheimer

JSEG/Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa

(1) This research was funded by the research grant SFRH/BSAB/273/2002 of the Fundacao para Ciencia e a Tecnologia (FCT). A Portuguese version of this article will be published in Lusotopie (Bordeaux) under the title "Magermanes. Os trabalhadores mocambicanos na antiga Republica Democratica Alema."

(2) See H. Kunanz, "Hindemisse ftir die Partnerschaft," Mosambik-Rundbrief M (1994): 20-22.

(3) For a fine presentation of the GDR's relations with Mozambique, amongst those that East Germany shared with the "Third World," see H.-J. Doring, Es geht um unsere Exislenz. Die Politik der DDR gegeniiber der Dritten Well am Beispiel von Mosambik undAlhiopien (Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag, 1999). J. Howell presents an account of GDR development aid to Mozambique (J. Howell, "The End of an Era: the Rise and Fall of GD.R. Aid," The Journal of Modern African Studies 23 [2] [1994]: 305-328).

(4) The archives of the State Security Services (Stasi) of the former GDR were made accessible and now belong to a body called "Der/die Bundcsbeauftragte furdic Unterlagcn des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik." The documents that come from this archive are identified by the letters BStU, followed by the source according to the organization chart of the former GDR. For instance, the reference BStU MfS HA II means that the document concerned comes from the Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit (MfS), the Ministry of State Security, and the Hauptabteilung II (HA), Central Department II. The archive provides a list of the MfS abbreviations.

(5) Within the framework of inter-governmental agreements, such as that between the GDR and Mozambique, in September 1987, besides the 7, 800 Mozambicans, there were 18, 600 Vietnamese, 13, 000 Cubans, 7, 400 Poles, 540 Chinese and 440 Angolans (Jahreseimchatzi/ngzurpolitisch-operativen Lage unter den auslandischen Werktaligen in der DDR, BstU MfS HA II Nr. 23574). Another source, referring to December 1989 quotes the following data: Vietnamese--59,000, Mozambicans--15, 100, Cubans--8, 300, Angolans--1, 300, Poles--6,000, Chinese--900 (U. Sextro, Gesterngebraucht, hei/te abgeschoben (Dresden: SachsischeLandesezcntrale furPolitische Bildung), 58, based on sources taken from Bundelministerium fur Arbeit und Sozialordnung, Aussenstelle Berlin). Although the data is of disparate origins (from both the GDR's Ministry of Security and the Federal Ministry for Labor and Social Issues), it points to a marked increase in the employment of foreign labor in the final years of the GDR.

(6) Doring, Es geht um unsere Existenz, 233.

(7) Doring, Es geht inn unsere Existenz, 233-4.

(8) P. Stier, P. Wahl, G Wellmcr, Auswege aus der Schuldenkrise. Entschuldung und NichlKommerzielle Umwelt- und Entwicklungsfonds am Beispiel Mosambik (Berlin: Studie im Auftrag der StiftungNord-Siid Briicken, 1996), 36; B.-E. Siebs, Die DDR und die Dritte Welt, Entwieklungspolitik in den achtziger Jahren, Magisterarbeit, Munich, Ludwig-Maximilian-Universitat, GeschwisterScholl-Institut, 1993.

(9) This occurred after agreement by the GDR to three reschedulings, in 1983, 1985 and 1989 (Ministerium fur Aussenwirtschaft 1990, quoted in Stier, Auswege aus der Schuldenkrise, 41). According to information given by a senior executive of the FRG's Ministry of Finance, provided in January 2003, Mozambique's outstanding debt to the GDR totaled 380 million in 1990; Stierge, Ausrwege aus der Schuldenkrise, 31 and 40.

(10) "Posicionamento do Govemo Federal quanto a questoes relacionadas com os antigos trabalhadores mocambicanos contratados na RDA" (The Federal Government's Stance Regarding the Issues Concerning the Former Mozambican Workers Contracted in the GDR), submitted by the German Embassy on 17 September 2002.

(11) Regarding the migration of Mozambican workers to South Africa and the system of "deferred payment" during the colonial period, half the wage was paid to migrants in South Africa in Rands, the other half in Mozambique, in Escudos, see J. Pereira Leite, "La formation de Feconomie coloniale au Mozambique," Doctoral Thesis, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris (1989), 65-71 and 699-716. According to the latter author, independent Mozambique continued to acquire gold by means of this system. As a result, between independence and 1977, its net foreign reserves with foreign countries reached 4, 500 million Escudos, over 22 tons of gold (Pereira Leite, "La formation," 66-67).

(12) Doring, Es geht um unsere Existenz, 231.

(13) Single women represented only a small minority.

(14) The 1979 Agreement made provisions for up to 20 per cent of the most skilled workers to extend their stay for one year. However, a protocol dated 1988 stipulated that a maximum period of 10 years could not be prolonged. Even this limitation was not unsurmountable, should the person concerned return to Mozambique and then manage to go back again to the GDR (H. W. Schonmeier, ed., Priifung der Moglichkeiten eines Fachkrfateprogramms Mosambik [Saarbrucken and Fort Lauderdale: Brcitenbach Publishers, 1991], 53-54). "According to the Minister (of Labor) 75% of the 11, 253 "magermanes" registered (in the Ministry) worked in the former GDR between 1 and 5 years, whereas 10% stayed there for 10 years or more" (RM and TVM, Noticias [10 Apr. 2002] at

(15) In the annual protocol of 1981 it was stipulated that pregnant women were obliged to return immediately to Mozambique (Schonmeier, Priifung der Moglichkeiten, 35). "They're not here to flirt, they're here to work and not to get pregnant"--the words of a Mozambican embassy official quoted in a former female worker's report (L. Scherzer, Die Fremden [Berlin: Aufbauverlag, 2002], 126). "At the beginning of 1989, the GDR Government unilaterally stipulated that those women who expressed their refusal to interrupt their pregnancies would cease to be sent back against their will to their country of origin" (Sextro, Gestern gebraucht, 37).

(16) Article 15 (1) of the 1979 Agreement.

(17) "Payment of the subsidy for separation [of workers in relation to their families] of 4 Marks per day had more to do with good conduct in terms of discipline at work, in the case of foreign workers, than in that of Germans. The subsidy could be reduced by 50 per cent in the event of a single day's unwarranted absence and could be totally withdrawn for two" (H. Marburger et al., Und wir haben unseren Beitrag zur Volkswinschaft geleistet, Werkstatt-Berichte [Berlin: Interkulturelle Forschungs -und Arbeitsstelle, Technische Universtdt Berlin, Verlag fur Interkulturelle Kommunikation, 1993], 4, 21.

(18) BStU MfS HA IT Hr. 23574: 7.

(19) Schonmeier, Priifung der Mbglichkeiten, 11 and Marburger, Beitrag zur Volkswirtschaft, 19.

(20) The testimony of a person in charge of a collective home for Mozambican workers, quoted in Scherzer, Die Fremden, 129.

(21) "Until the demise of the GDR rumor had it, for example, that the workers hired abroad were paid in foreign currency. In a situation in which such currency was in short supply, it is not surprising that this rumor would hardly be a contribution to the popularity of these workers among the indigenous population" (A. Heyde, Gastarbeiter in Deutschland, Seminararbeit an der Fachhochschule der Sachsischen Verwaltung [Meissen: Fachbereich Allgemeine Vcrwaltug 2001], 5).

(22) A. Muggenburg, Die auslandischen Arbeitnehmer in der ehemaligen DDR. Darslellung und Dokumentation (Berlin: Mitteilungen der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung fur die Belange der Auslander, 1996), 27.

(23) However, violent racism did not die out along with the GDR. On 11 June 2000, a Mozambican, Alberto Adriano, was murdered in Dessau in the former GDR (Noticias [20 and 22 July 2000]).

(24) Sextro quotes the Social-Democrat politician of East German origin, Wolfgang Thierse, who is currently the President of the FRG's Federal Parliament [Bundestag) (Sextro, Gestem gebraitcht, 219).

(25) Sextro, Gestem gebraucht, 219.

(26) Muggenburg, Die auslandischen Arbeitnehmer, 28.

(27) This percentage applies to the part of the wage that exceeds 350 Marks.

(28) Article 3 of the Deed of Alteration to the 1979 Agreement, signed on the 18 October 1985, effective from 1 January 1986. See "Protokoll uber die Anderung und Erganzung des Abkommens zwischen derRegierungder Deutschen Dernokratischen Republikund der Regierungder Volksrepublik Mocambique uber die zeitweilige Beschaftigung mocambiquanischer Werktatiger in sozialistischen Betrieben der Deutschen Dernokratischen Republik vom 24. Februar 1979" (Berlin, 18 Oct. 1985).

(29) Article 1 of the Deed of Alteration of the 1979 Agreement, signed on 19 May 1989, effective from 1 August 1989. See "Protokoll uber die Anderung des Abkommens des zwischen der Regierung der Deutschen Dernokratischen Republik und der Regierung der Volksrepublik Mocambique uber die zeitweilige Beschaftigung mocambiquanischer Werktatiger in sozialistischen Betrieben der Deutschen Dernokratischen Republik vom 24 Februar 1979" (Maputo, 19 May 1989). According to Heyde, the percentage applied to the withholding of salary depended on the length of time spent in the GDR and was between 25 and 60 per cent. See Hayde, Gastarbeiter in Deutschland, 2.

(30) SED-Politburo-Vorlage (4 May 1989), published in Muggenberg, Die auslandischen Arbeitnehmer, 79, Document 4. Note that other authors (for instance Stier, Auswege aus der Schuldenkrise, 42 and R, Brand, "Konflikt zwischen Regierung und 'Madjermanes,'" Mosambik-Rundbrief 60 [2003]: 4) and persons interviewed (Domingos Pereira, MONARDA delegate in Berlin) only admit to monthly deductions of up to 60 Marks (10 per cent of the maximum net income for this purpose).

(31) The DM/USS exchange rate, annually determined by the GDR authorities, closely followed the market rate (according to the exchange rate table applied at the time, which we were able to consult at the Ministry of Finance of the FRG). However, in the second half of the 1980s, particularly between 1985 and 1988, there was a slight tendency for the Mark to be undervalued, compared to market rates.

(32) Also see, on this subject, the responses to the questionnaire of the Petitions' Commission of the Mozambican Parliament, furnished by the German Embassy in December 2002 ("Respostas ao questionario da Comissao de Peticoes do Parlamento Mocambicano "[Responses to the questionnaire of the Petitions Commission of the Mozambican Parliament], with the purpose of clarifying the claims of the former Mozambican workers in the GDR, delivered by the German Embassy on 23 December 2002).

(33) Savana (19 November 2000): 14.

(34) The expenses involved in this representative's stay and the running of his offices in the GDR were incurred by this country.

(35) Carlos M. Lopes, "O sector informal em Maputo," Cademos de Economia 60 (Jul./Sep.. 2002): 46-9.

(36) Marburger, Beitrag zur Volkswirtschaft, 21, also see Heyde, Gastarbeiter in Deutschland, 2.

(37) "SED-Politburo-Vorlage (28. Juni 1988)," in A. Muggenburg, Die auslandischen Arbeitnehmer in der ehemaligen DDR, Darlellung und Dokumentation. Mitteihmgen der Beaifiragten der Bundesregiemngjiir die Belange der Auslander (Berlin, 1996), Appendix 3.

(38) "SED-Polituro-Vorlage," 67.

(39) Report on the negotiations with the Minister of Finance of the Popular Republic of Mozambique, Comrade Abdul Magib Osman, to reduce the GDR's debt, BStU MfS AJM 7735/91, t. 6, p.16-18; also published as an appendix in Doring, Em geht um unsere Existenz. Die Politik der DDR gegeniiber der Dritten Welt am Beispiel von Mozombik undAlhiopien (Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag, 1999), 328-329.

(40) U. van der Heyden, H.-G. Schleicher, and I. Schleicher, cds., Engagiert fur Afrika--die DDR und Afrika 11 (Hamburg: Munster, 1994), 188, quoted by H.-J. Doring, Es geht um unsere Existenz, 230.

(41) RM 24, PANA 25 Aug. 2001, in online.

(42) BAZ DL 3 Ko Ko, quoted by Doring, Es geht um unsere Exist enz, 235.

(43) Published as an appendix in Muggenburg, Die auslandischen Arbeitnehmer, 75-79.

(44) Muggenburg, Die ausldndischen Arbeitnehmer, 78.

(45) "Respostas ao questionario da Comissao dc Peticoes."

(46) The planned number of entries from 1987 to 1990 is reported in H. W. Schonmeier, ed. Prufung der Moglichkeiten eines Fachkrfateprogramms Mosambik (Saarbrucken and Fort Lauderdale: Breitenbach Publishers, 1991), 51.

(47) Marburger, Beitrag zur Volkswirtschaft, 32, Sextro, Gestern gebraucht.

(48) According to the studies in Schonmeier, Prvfung der Moglichkeiten, 50 and 51, in March 1990 there were still 15, 426 Mozambican workers in the GDR, a figure which had decreased to 4, 100 by the end of the year. However, the authors also estimate (on p. 283) that only 2, 700 Mozambicans were still in the country at the end of 1990. We endorse their statement that at that time, "there remain[ed] some doubt regarding the number of Mozambicans." More recent data from the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs reveals that in June 1994, there were still 2, 018 Mozambican workers present who had been initially contracted under the 1979 Agreement (Sextro, Gestern gebraucht, 216).

(49) RM 24, PANA 25 Aug. 2001, online at

(50) Muggenburg, Die auslandischen Arbeitnehmer.

(51) "Respostas ao questionario da Comissao de Peticoes," 3.

(52) E. Ahrens and S. Muller, "OhnePerspektive, "in IZA, KKM, tdh, BAOBAB, eds., Schwarz-Weisse Zeiten, Auslanderlnnen in Ostdeutschland voy und nach dor Wen do (Bremen, 1993), 129 [the editors' names are listed as pseudonyms/initials only]. See also Marburger, Beitrag zur Volkswirtschaft, 35 and Muggenburg, Die auslandischen Arbeitnehmer, 12.

(53) Ahrens and Muller, "Ohne Perspective."

(54) In one reader's letter to Tempo Magazine, the returnees from the former GDR are called the "tumor" of Mozambican society (reproduced in Mozambik Rundbrief 29 (June 1991), 18).

(55) "Diehabenuns vergessen" (They have forgotten us), title of an interview with a group of returnees (Mosambik-Rundbrief 25 [November 1991]: 23).

(56) Letters published in IZA el al., Schwaiz-Weisse Zeilen, 13) and Marburger, Beitrag zur Volkswirtschaft, 123-125.

(57) Marburger, Beitrag zur Volkswirtschaft, 124.

(58) On the Fachkrdfteprogramm as an instrument of technical cooperation, applied by the FRG for skilled workers, see Schonmeier, Priifoing der Moglichkeiten, 5-10.

(59) A. Noack, "Aus nach gut einem Jar," in IZA et al., Schwarz-Weisse Zeiten, 87.

(60) As we have seen above, most Mozambican workers had already abandoned Germany by this time.

(61) Noack, "Aus nach gut einem Jahr," 88.

(62) Schonmeier, Priifung der Moglichkeiten, 3.

(63) Girrbach confirms that the GDR only promoted vocational training for the workers until 1984, but he estimates the average of returnees with professional training at about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the total; see B. Girrbach, "Die Ninjas von Mosambik," Mosambik-Rundbrief 26 (February 1993), 13; Van der Heyden, Schleicher, and Schleicher, Engagiert fur Afrika, 18, also see Howell, "The End," 317.

(64) "Respostas ao questionario da Comissao de Peticoes," 5-6.

(65) For a critical view on the micro-credit policy in Mozambique, see F. de Vletter, "A grana e de borla, e os kits nao se pagam: um exame critico da evolucao da politica de credito e o papel do sector informal," in D. Sogge, cd., Mocambique, perspectivas sobre a ajuda ao sector civil (Amsterdam: Gemeenschappelijk Overleg Medefinanciering, 1997); A.-M. Chidzero, et al., Mozambique. Micro Finance Study (Maputo: Commissioned by INDER, Bank of Mozambique, Ministry of Plan and Finance, 1978.

(66) Statements by ADECOMA: Associacao de Cooperacao Mocambique Alemanha (Association for Cooperation between Mozambique and Germany); MONARDA: Associacao Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Ex-RDA (National Association of Workers in the former GDR).

(67) Projecto de Criacao de Micro Empresas 1992, Maputo, GPE/GTZ.

(68) Projecto de Criacao de Micro Empresas 1992, Maputo, GPE/GTZ.

(69) Statement by ADECOMA, see also

(70) AMAL: Amigos da Alemanha (Friends of Germany).

(71) On some of the less transparent relationships among associations, as well as between them and the Government, see Savana (19 Nov. 1999): 17; and Savana (9 Mar. 2001): 12.

(72) Brand, "Konflikt," 5.

(73) Riickert and Tump, "Ghetto oder Lager," Informationsdienst siidliches Afrika 1 (1991): 33; A. Mulder, "Was wollt ihr noch hier? Warum geht ihr nicht nach Afrika zuriick?" Querbrief 4 (1991): 7.

(74) "Consumer Price Deflator," World Bank, Mozambique. Restoring Rural Production and Trade, 1, Main Report (Washington DC: World Bank, 1990).

(75) If we apply the weighted retail price index of the seven most important foodstuffs in the subsidized supply system (NSA), which was successively dismantled under the PRE, this factor rises to almost 17. The factor increases to 24 in relation to rice, since its subsidies were almost completely removed. See World Bank, Mozambique, 23 and 31.

(76) On budgetary restraints in the context of war and structural adjustment, see J. Oppenheimcr, "Cooperacao para o desenvolvimento no contexto do ajustamento estrutural e da guerra: o caso de Mocambique," Revista Internacional de Estudos Africanos 16-17 (1992-1994): 171-208.

(77) Mulder, "Was wollt ihr noch hier?" 7; Marburger, Beilragzur Volkswirtschaft, 21.

(78) Statement from ADECOMA, Tempo (14 October 1991): 25-26; Ruckertand Tump, "Ghetto oder Lager," 33. Another source states that in view of the great wave of returnees in 1990, there would have been a "withdrawal" of 35 per cent for "administrative expenses," in addition to delays of months in making payments (Ahrens and Muller, "Ohne Perspektive," 129, also see Mosambik-Rundbrief 23 [1991], 6). It is important to note that under Article 4 of the 1979 Agreement, the Mozambican Government would have paid/was under the obligation to pay for the workers' outward joumies to the GDR, the return journey being at the GDR's expense (or of the FRG after the demise of the GDR). Rocha reports a little-known incident of one group of returnees' odyssey: "... the companies bought them charter-flight tickets to South Africa instead of a direct flight to Mozambique. This might not seem, at first sight, to have serious consequences, but it actually caused great difficulties for them in returning to their homeland. A dramatic situation ensued during the flight when it emerged that the Mozambicans had neither entry visas nor rights of free movement in South Africa, so that they were unable to remain at the airport in Johannesburg. They were thus sent to Kenya and from there to London, from where they flew directly to Maputo." (M. O. de Oliveira Nascimento Rocha, "Magermane," Trabalho realizado para a disciplina de Desenvolvimento Economico da Africa no Mestrado em Espaco Lusofono: Cultura, Economia e Politica, Universidade Lusofona [Lisbon, 2001-2002], 19). Also see Tempo, 14 October 1990: 25; Howell, "The End," 322.

(79) Rucker and Tump, "Ghetto oder Lager," 33.

(80) For years, a rumor persisted that "the Government of the FRG would make available 300 million US$, or more (sic!), with each returnee receiving 20 thousand dollars ..." Tempo (25 Nov. 1990): 15.

(81) Demos (9 May 2001): 7; Noticias (17 Jul. 2001): 7.

(82) More recently in "Respostas ao questionario da Comissao de Peticoes."

(83) Noticias (7 Nov. 2000), online at

(84) RM 24, PANA, 25 Aug. 2001, online at

(85) Arnaldo Abilio, Publico, 17 Dec. 2001.

(86) More recently, on 5 September 2003, during a demonstration in Praca da Liberdade in Maputo, an ex-worker in the GDR was fatally wounded by a police bullet (Diario de Mocambique [14 Nov. 2003]); Noticias (5 Dec. 2001) and Arnaldo Abilio, Publico, 17 Dec. 2001.

(87) Online at

(88) Expresso Internacional, 1540 (4 May 2002).

(89) RM and TVM, Noticias (10 Apr. 2002), online at

(90) Noticias (16 Aug. 2002).

(91) Noticias (21 Feb. 2003), online at

(92) Mozambican Government letter nr. 2576/P18/39.11/2002.

(93) The document entitled: "Posicionamento do Govemo Federal quanto a questoes relacionadas com os antigos trabalhadores mocambicanos contratados na RDA" ("The Federal Government's Stance Regarding Issues Concerning the Former Mozambican Workers Contracted in the GDR"), delivered by Germany to Mozambique on 17 September 2002, still did not contain the information requested by the returnees.

(94) Letter from the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Koordinaliomkreis Mosambik, 26 August 2002.

(95) Mozambican Parliament, Article 2 of the "Resolucao no. 11/2003 de 8 de Maio," Boletim da Republica, I Serie, No 23 (4 Jun. 2003), 221-222.

(96) Mozambican Parliament, Article 2, section (f), of the "Resolucao no 11/2003 de 8 de Maio," Boletim da Republica, I Serie, No 23 (4 Jun. 2003). This allows us to suppose that the question of the last payment, amounting to approximately 1.5 million US$, transferred by Germany in 1990 in respect of Social Security, to the bank account of the Permanent Representative of the Mozambican Ministry of Labor in Germany (Responses to the Questionnaire, 2002), has been fully or largely resolved. It is important to note that this was truly a monetary transfer and furthermore, in an internationally convertible currency (DM).

(97) Mozambican Parliament, Article 3 of the "Resolucao no 11/2003 de 8 de Maio," Boletim da Republica, I Serie, No 23 (4 Jun. 2003).

(98) Noticias (7 May 2003).

(99) Also see Savana (19 Nov. 1999): 17.

(100) On 24 October 2003, Savana published an article under the title, "Ex-ministro do Trabalho usou dinheiro dos magermanes para beneficio pessoal" ("Ex-Minister of Labour Used Migrants' Transferred Payments for Personal Benefit"), based on information from a "reliable source" inside the offices of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR). The article reported that: "... the said minister used about 300,000 dollars of the magermanes' transfers for his personal investments and for improvement work to his house." The same source added: "We are working on this case and people should not think that the PGR is inactive in this matter."
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Author:Oppenheimer, Jochen
Publication:Portuguese Studies Review
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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