Living in this beautiful country, Mozambique, has it’s drawbacks too. These are usually in the form of someone demanding more money than they should or refusing to help unless they are paid. Then there are times when it seems someone just decides to change the rules entirely.

This is what happened recently when I went to Immigration to extend my visa for another month. It has always been allowed to renew a tourist visa from one month to two, and sometimes, with proof of tickets, business etc you could renew it for a third. Not this time though. Suddenly I am told, “no”, you can only stay one month, all visas are only for one month. When asking when this changed, it just changed. When asking why, it just has. But how can someone with say a work visa only stay one month? – slight hesitation, all visa options are for one month only. OK, so what is the solution? You will have to go back to SA and go to the Mozambican embassy and ask for a special visa which you pay for and this one can be renewed, only this one, the ones you get on entry are all only 1 month. I start to see where this is going and why. Not so long ago, Mozambique opened its borders to South Africans without the need for a visa, what this meant that you didn’t need to apply and pay for a visa beforehand, you just go to the border or fly in and get a free ‘visa’ sticker in your passport, no forms, no money etc. Just entry. Now they want me to go back to the old system where I have to pay. Ok, that is on the first level. The next level is that they know it is only a few days till my ‘visa’ runs out and I will have to leave the country so they have me where they want me, that is to pay them now. So, “ok, there must be something I can do now instead of leaving”… “ah, yes, well you will have to get a letter from the person you are visiting to say why you need to stay, official letter on letterhead, then we will see if we allow it”.  A couple of hours later letter in hand, will you accept this. “Um, aah, aw…” Ok, we’ll see what the director sees, come back this afternoon. Later that day, we go back, ok we will allow you to apply, but now you must pay 50Mtn for the form, fill it in, then pay 400Mtn for the application. Let me explain here, a few months ago, a simple renewal cost 80Mtn in total – see what has happened? It’s a simple way to get more money, make something up about the rules changing, there isn’t anything we can about it, nobody really knows any of the laws anyway, so we pay.. next time I am willing to bet there will be a different story.

But we have this everywhere, the traffic police in Nametil stopped us yet again the other day, they make a routine habit of this, not because they want to be our friends, rather they see money in our car. They try to fine us for not having 3 light settings, you know, the car has the brights and the dims, but they want 3 – we say the car was made this way, not our fault you have decided to make up another new rule, but they won’t let it go, now we have the fine which we will contest in Nampula, but all this hassle for something that doesn’t exist.

Most foreign people here agree that this degree of corruption and incompetence is what makes them want to leave, close their business, take their money and spend it somewhere else. Why does it have to be like this. This is wonderful country with so much hope and potential, why should a few people out to make an extra buck quickly ruin this? It’s one of my greatest frustrations with Africa, the shortsightedness of corruption and greed….. there could be so much more for everyone!