My report is about the impact of alcohol smuggling from South Africa to Mozambique across the Resano Garcia border, which is the main Mozambican trade border. The report presents numerical data and evidence on the subject while attempting to illustrate the different paths used by smugglers to deceive the authorities. all stakeholders have been called upon to address the issue in a comprehensive manner and with unique and relevant data.
This report motivated more aggressive decisions by the national authorities which ended up undoing the structure of the main place for the sale of smuggled alcoholic drinks in Maputo which is the Estrela market which, for many years, everything that happens in the place was ignored by the authorities. There was also a greater tightening of the tax stamp on imported alcohol bottles, while the tax authorities saw some improvement in their conditions and means of combating smuggling, especially across the Ressano Garcia border.
Technically speaking I didn’t need much to do the report because I just had to use my tape recorder and have it constantly recording, and the fact that I was a journalist belonging to a public media to try to see if I could convince the different actors to talk. Of course, sympathy and insistence are indispensable factors to be able to get any information from state officials. Clearly, the other actors, especially the analysts who were called upon to give their opinion, were attracted to speak for the relevance of the issue to be addressed.
What was the hardest part of this project?
In Mozambique it is almost impossible to obtain testimonies from customs officials because any matter is delegated to the spokesperson of the entity to pronounce, although he is not the person on the ground who is directly involved with the problem. I had to travel a distance of more than a hundred kilometres from Maputo to the border area, where for two days I managed to convince the security force agents to talk about their daily lives in the fight against smuggling.
What can others learn from this project?
As a lesson to be learned from this report I can say that perseverance is very important in order to achieve plausible results. it is always important to look for relevant data and try to translate the numbers to ensure that people do not just listen to numbers but have a clear idea of the real impact of a certain loss on their life and on the real economy of the country. Numbers are important but their importance is only visible if they are humanised. I have also noticed that with this work I have been able to push for a visible change in some of the realities favourable to smuggling in Mozambique. Another important fact is that the greater the reach of your information channel, the greater the impact caused by the information conveyed by the same channel. I am happy to work for a media outlet that reaches every corner of the country.