Mozambique: Conscription not popular among youth

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A study by the Mozambican youth organisation Parlamento Juvenil found that young people in the country see conscription as a waste of time. The study also recommended professionalising the country's military, and making military service voluntary.

According to the military service law, conscription in Mozambique is obligatory for men and women between 18 and 35 years, and military service lasts for two years.

All citizen from age 19 on need to have a military service card, which shows that a person complied with his or her military service obligations, and without this card it is not possible to obtain a driving licence or to gain access to higher education.

The study illustrated not only that youths were opposed to conscription but that they had no idea of the government's objective in continuing to pursue the policy. Nor did they have any idea about their rights after their conscription period ended due to poor management and communication from the different government departments involved.

Furthermore, the analysis uncovered the extent of the racial and economic discrimination permeating this process as only poor African youths are conscripted since they cannot buy their way out by bribing officials.

The study also pointed to the problem that there is no exemption from military service based on religious or other beliefs, or for cultural reasons.

Mozambique introduced conscription after independence in 1975. The present law on conscription was amended in 2009. Although in theory men and women are conscripted, in practice few women are conscription, and women only comprise 5% of the Armed Forces.

Sources: Lei nº 32/2009, de 25 de Novembro, aprova a Lei do Serviço Militar; allAfrica.com: Mozambique: Youths Oppose Conscription, 19 July 2012; Defensor: Gestores de pessoal militar reflectem sobre a participação da mulher nas Forças Armadas da SADC, No 25, May 2012

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