Tolerance is “the endorphin of the democratic body politc”. It is the soil within which a democratic culture takes root and, as such, can be seen as a measure of a country’s capacity to sustain its commitment to democratic norms, also under intense political competition.

In round 6, the Afrobarometer included questions about tolerance. Respondents were asked whether they would like, dislike, or be indifferent to having people of different religion and ethnicity, immigrants and foreign workers, people with HIV/AIDS, and homosexuals as their neighbours. 2400 people (age 18 or older) were asked in Mozambique. The sample was nationally representative, which means we can infer to the population with a margin of error of +/- 2% and a 95% confidence level.

The figure summarises the responses. The darker the shade of grey, the stronger people’s views. Light grey indicates indifference; i.e. people who said they “would not care”.

The figure reveals that most Mozambicans are fairly tolerant towards other population groups. 20-40% said they would somewhat or strongly like having people of different religion and ethnicity, immigrants and foreign workers, people with HIV/AIDS, and homosexuals as their neighbours; another 40-50% said they “would not care”.

20-40% said they would somewhat or strongly dislike having people from other population groups as their neighbours. The rates are smaller for people of different religion and ethnicity and larger for people with HIV/AIDS and homosexuals.

We analysed the responses further, using multivariate regression analysis. The models included standard socio-economic variables: sex, age, location (urban), education, employment, and religion (Muslim). In addition, we added dummy variables for each of the 11 provinces, using Maputo City as the reference category.

Two findings can be extracted from the results. The first is that socio-economic factors do not have a strong effect on tolerance. Older people are more tolerant of immigrants, while people in urban areas are more tolerant of people of different ethnicity and religion. Finally, unemployed people are more tolerant of people of different ethnicity and religion and people with HIV/AIDS. The coefficients are statistically significant but substantively weak.

The second finding is that geographical factors have a much stronger effect. People in the central and northern provinces are generally more tolerant than people in the southern provinces. Maputo Province is the least tolerant, followed by Maputo City and Gaza.

There are some notable exceptions to this pattern. People in Niassa are generally less tolerant than people in the other northern provinces. Also, people in the southern provinces are more tolerant of people with HIV/AIDS.

The results are broadly consistent with those seen in other countries: proximity and frequent contact nurtures tolerance. This could explain why people in the central and northern provinces are more tolerant (higher ethnic and religious fractionalisation rates), and why people in the southern provinces are more tolerant of people with HIV/AIDS (higher HIV/AIDS infection rates).

Maputo City is a paradox. In other countries, people in urban areas are more tolerant. As we have seen, this is only partially true in Mozambique. One explanation could be that the main difference between Mozambique and other countries is that people in the rural areas are also tolerant; i.e. that all Mozambicans are fairly tolerant. This would eliminate the difference and could explain why the location (urban) variable is weak and rarely statistically significant.

The difference between the northern, central, and southern provinces is also puzzling. In other blog entries, we have shown that public opinion varies a lot across Mozambique; for example, of the most important problems facing the country that the government should address. We attributed this to the different socio-economic realities. The finding in this blog entry suggest that cultural factors also matter.

For further information, please contact Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira at hlm@sauti.net.