Accepted paper:

The 'bread riots' in Mozambique: the Frelimo government in the face of contestation


Teresa Almeida Cravo (University of Coimbra)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyses the so-called “bread riots” in Mozambique in September 2010 from a broader perspective of the politics of contestation and political change.

Paper long abstract:

In September 2010, Mozambique experienced violent riots over the dramatic rise in food prices, water and electricity, following Frelimo government's new policy of cutting vital subsidies intended to lower the general cost of basic necessities. Approximately 30% rise in bread prices in one of the world's poorest countries triggered severe unrest, with protesters, mobilised through text messages and emails, violently opposing their government's decision. The so-called "bread riots" were met by the ruling Frelimo with condemnation and a considerable degree of repression at first. However, fearing a deeper contestation to the party's and the president's rule, the government ended up making a full reversion of the announced measures and choosing to reinstate the subsidies. These concessions were sufficient to appease the revolt and satisfy the protesters. As a result, the country did not see a significant rise in political contestation during and immediately following the Arab Spring, unlike countries such as Angola or Senegal. These events in Mozambique will be analysed from a broader perspective of the politics of contestation and political change, focusing on the motivations of the uprising, the means of mobilisation and the state's reaction, while drawing a parallel with other contemporary popular revolts.

panel P092
Contestation and political change: exploring patterns across borders and regions