| MOZAMBIQUE UNDER ATTACK |
1987. 24 mins. Third World Development Series. BBC / Open University.
Mozambique is reeling under destabilization from South Africa, civil war and a structural adjustment program imposed by the World Bank, whose plan ignored the war situation afflicting the country. The film covers the Zambezia province in the center of the country
The film starts out affirmatively, with children singing about Mozambique, about peace, about bandits and socialist economic struggle. A Catholic ordination ceremony in a most beautiful church, is attended by thousands. The new priest explains the problems facing the country and his responsibilities to his congregation during this time of war. Religious sects and congregations are a source of social solidarity.
Street children in Maputo, who came onto the streets in the mid-1980s, because of the war. One of them tells his story.
Previously state-supplied services now have to be paid for, like collecting water from a tap, though people have no money to pay. Mozambique's previous health care programs are in crisis resulting from privatization. NGOs are assisting, but are often conducted without reference to state plans or strategies. World Vision's feeding scheme and water supply program is a parallel structure to that of the state's. The video asks what links to the government these NGOs have. They offer better salaries, personnel and equipment.
Structural adjustment ruined the services offered prior to its inauguration, though the World Bank now accepts that compensations have to be made to the very poor.
Programs relating to traumatized children, displaced and orphaned by the war are shown.
CRITIQUE This is a balanced examination of the effects of war and structural adjustment programs on the lives of ordinary people, how they make out, and what they are doing to deal with their hardships. There is an implicit critique of the 130 or so NGOs which have set up shop, and which minister to the people, often without reference to government programs or policies. (Is this the new imperialism?). The video is also a criticism of structural adjustment programs imposed on societies where the prevailing conditions have no connection to the assumptions of the World Bank, like the fact that people who have no work must still pay for services. Finally, there are hints that under socialism basic services in health and education were successful, but have now been destroyed under the new capitalist impulses imposed by structural adjustment policies,
All in all, this is an affirmative film which examines solutions within conditions not of the making of the victims themselves. The problems are inadequately understood by NGOs and the World Bank which often impose inappropriate policies oblivious to ultra poverty.
(Reviewed by Keyan G Tomaselli, 1997)