The Sound of One Hand Clapping: Holding Economics Actors to Account

In Mozambique and much of Africa, information on the extractive industry is a closely guarded secret. In 2012, Mozambique was admitted to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which believes transparency of revenues will help civil society hold both the industries and the government to account but is this information is enough?

It seems that, in Mozambique at least despite extensive efforts by organisations such as Centro de Integridade Pública de Moçambique (CIP), multi-stakeholder participation and information disclosure on the extractive industry has not led empowered citizens, civil society organisations and state institutions to demand improved accountability from government.

About the research project

This project aimed to understand why information disclosure (ID) has not been enough to trigger informed social and political action and what additional interventions would be needed from both endogenous and external actors to improve accountability in the country.

It examined how information interacts with other factors to encourage social and political action for accountability, and the study was particularly interested in understanding in fragile, conflict and violence-affected settings (FCVAS) what are the key determinants (blockages and enabling factors) of citizens’ actions based on information disclosure.

The study identified 17 interconnected variables that explain inaction by citizens and governments in response to ID on illegitimate extractive practices in Mozambique. These can be broadly organised under two factors:

  • Presence of a dominant political party with structures that permeate all aspects of state and non-state institutions and, related to this, an institutional culture of ‘submissiveness’ that has been created out of fear of the political regime, including media self-censorship; and
  • Citizens’ experience of high levels of economic vulnerability and illiteracy and weak civil society organisation capacity to mobilise citizens

For ID to work as an effective accountability mechanism, there needs to be a credible threat of citizens’ ability to vote out MPs. In addition to this, the study shows that without economic empowerment of citizens, ID does not trigger social and political action (SPA).

Key contacts

Image of John Gaventa

John Gaventa

Research Fellow and Director, Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme


Project details

start date
1 April 2017
end date
31 December 2018


In partnership with
PASGR Centro De Integridade Publica

About this project


Recent work

Working Paper

Sound of One Hand Clapping: Information Disclosure for Social and Political Action for Accountability in Extractive Governance in Mozambique

IDS Working Paper;523

Corruption through opaque public contracts costs Africa billions of dollars in revenue loss annually. Globally, initiatives to address this have centred on information disclosure (ID) but under what conditions does it work to promote accountability in the extractive sector that for a long time...

28 January 2019