Conservation and Society

: 2015  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 119--128

Conservation Philanthropy and the Shadow of State Power in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo 
 LAM-Sciences Po Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France

Correspondence Address:
Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo
LAM-Sciences Po Bordeaux, Bordeaux


Transnational networks of donors, NGOs, private foundations, and companies shape conservation policymaking in Mozambique. In a context of neoliberal conservation that frames a reduction of the role of the state, policymaking is not the sole purpose of state agencies and thus questions state sovereignty. This article addresses state agency in a conservation philanthropy project in central Mozambique. The Gorongosa Restoration Project (GRP) is a public-private partnership between the state and the Carr Foundation, an American philanthropic organisation, for the management of Gorongosa National Park. The Frelimo state-at the head of the country ever since independence in 1975-is still rather weak in Gorongosa region, an opposition stronghold. State sovereignty is reformulated, for GRP is greatly externally driven and performs state functions such as the running of a state-owned national park. But in spite of weak state capacities, state sovereignty remains at the forefront: central and local state are key for daily conservation management, and the philanthropic apparatus is an opportunity for the state to further its local presence and control in the hinterland.

How to cite this article:
Diallo RN. Conservation Philanthropy and the Shadow of State Power in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.Conservat Soc 2015;13:119-128

How to cite this URL:
Diallo RN. Conservation Philanthropy and the Shadow of State Power in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 May 27 ];13:119-128
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Theoretical overview within the Mozambican context of conservation

Mozambique is often presented as a donor darling. Since the end of the 1970s, and especially since the end of the civil war in 1992, international actors have shaped the policymaking process in many sectors, including the conservation field. As in many developing countries, transnational networks of donors, NGOs and private foundations, and companies take part in the elaboration of national regulations, and in the management of conservation areas. These actors infuse Mozambican policies with their financial support and their narratives-most of them linking conservation and sustainable development, with tourism being presented as a driver for sustainability (Brockington et al. 2008: 175). In that view, Mozambique illustrates the politics of global environmental governance: states are increasingly incorporated into transnational networks of actors and institutions (Clapham 1996; Duffield 2001). Mozambique can thus be defined as a "governance state" (Harrison 2004; Duffy 2006)-these transnational networks have become indivisible from the nation-state.

State agencies are not, in that perspective, the only actors in conservation policymaking, especially within the prevailing context of neoliberal conservation, which is two-fold. First, it entails a private regulation in the conservation field-the conservationist ideas of enclosure and preservation are married to neoliberal notions of market value and optimal resource allocation (Goldman 2001: 501). Second-and consequently-it frames a state rollback, that is to say a reduction of the role of the state 1 in policymaking. In such a context, the state is not an owner, but a partner (Duffy 2006) and a custodian (Harrison 2010). State sovereignty is reformulated-it is neither exclusively national, nor wholly global (Duffy 2006: 745). Harrison (2004) speaks of a "sovereign frontier" to define such a zone made of a bundle of actors and institutions that coproduce policymaking.

The aim of the article is to provide an illustration of how state policies are coproduced between state actors and donors-thanks to a contemporary conservation philanthropy project in Mozambique-in order to go beyond the idea of a mechanical dependency of the Mozambican state vis-à-vis its international partners. This is what Bayart (2000) calls the "strategy of extraversion", which considers the African state as creating and capturing the rent generated by dependency. In other words, financially dependent states practise a kind of alignment with powerful external forces for the purpose of assuring state stability and the reproduction of ruling elites (Harrison 2010: 58). In that view, external constraints-namely external agendas tied to international funding-can be an instrument in further expanding state power. I agree with Ferguson's (1990) seminal idea that considers that development projects can be a means for increased state control in rural areas-especially in areas where the state lacks political control. But following Schafer and Bell (2002), I will show that increased state control may not be a fortuitous coincidence. To the contrary, it can be enhanced by development projects, as the case study-a conservation philanthropy project in central Mozambique-illustrates it. In other words, the sovereign frontier entrenched in conservation and development projects may be the scene of a more complex phenomenon, namely a state that manages to be a sort of 'super custodian' of its territory.

History and setting of the Gorongosa Restoration Project

The contemporary move to neoliberalism implies that the logic of the market has been extended to the operations of state functions (Ferguson and Gupta 2002: 989). Conservation philanthropy illustrates this contemporary trend. It supports state rollback by providing alternative sources of money and expertise, and states often encourage philanthropists to take over state functions (Holmes 2012: 188), such as running state-owned national parks. And it also applies a business-oriented approach to nature management, which can be called "philantrocapitalism" (Bishop and Green 2008), that brings practices, strategies, and ideologies from business to conservation. The current expansion on the Mozambican scene of new tools for conservation such as public-private partnerships is a particularly interesting setting for analysing that kind of hybrid governance, in which non-state actors are directly involved in political steering and cogovernance along with state actors (Schäferhoff et al. 2009: 453), in the name of conservation philanthropy, as the case study located in Gorongosa National Park (GNP) shows.

Nature conservation started in Mozambique during the colonial period, mainly in the 1950s and the 1960s, when most of the protected areas in the country were established. Between 1960 and 1970, four national parks were created, as well as five national reserves, and 12 hunting reserves. At the time, the country was famous for its abundant wildlife (N. Diallo and Rodary Forthcoming). Since colonial time, GNP has frequently been called "the pearl of Mozambique". Located in the centre of the country 2 , it was a hunting reserve in 1920, and then became a national park in 1960. Like elsewhere in southern Africa (MacKenzie 1988: 22), inhabitants within the frontiers of the park were expelled (Schafer and Black 2003; French, 2009), in order to focus on fauna conservation, to the sole benefit of colonial elites and international tourists. The independence in 1975, and then the beginnings of the civil war at the end of the 1970s witnessed the slowing-down and the end of the safari activities. The conflict that opposed Frelimo to Renamo particularly affected the Gorongosa region. Frelimo had led the liberation struggle against the Portuguese rule, and was running the country since independence. Renamo, a rebellion movement supported by South Rhodesia and later by South Africa, challenged Frelimo's power. They fought quite regularly in Gorongosa region for the Serra da Gorongosa, a mountainous massif located next to the park, was one of the locations of the most important base of Renamo 3 .

After the Peace Agreements were signed in 1992, a few restoration projects began in several conservation areas in the country. GNP was one of them, supported by the European Union and the African Bank for Development. In 2006, the American philanthropic organisation Carr Foundation ('the Foundation' hereafter) began to support GNP, in a conservation and development project that would later be called the Gorongosa Restoration Project (GRP). The history of how the GRP came about is told in many magazine articles, in a rather romanticised way:

In New York city (in 2002) a friend introduced Carr to Mozambique's ambassador to the United Nations, a congenial diplomat who asked: 'Why don't you think about helping us out?' It was a question Carr had come to expect. What else would you ask a philanthropist sitting atop a stack of money? (…) Intrigued by the Mozambican ambassador's invitation, Carr began to research conservation projects in the country, visiting for the first time in 2002. Two years later, he climbed aboard a helicopter with government officials to tour six potential sites. The second was Gorongosa-the park in shambles, long forgotten as a destination, a lost cause. Nothing there [was] anymore worth bothering with, Carr heard often, a sentiment that collided with his intolerance for cynicism. But when he first set foot in the park, 'it was-boom-let's go!' Returning home to pace around the house and think about it would have been antithetical to his tally-ho style (Shacochis 2009: 104).

The first restoration project of the 1990s had consisted in reforming a team of park rangers, clarifying the park's boundaries and restoring some of the roads. The Carr Foundation, in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) financed a wildlife sanctuary within the park. In 2008, a comanagement agreement was signed between the Foundation and the Government of Mozambique. Two pillars were identified-biodiversity conservation and tourism development. The signing of this long-term agreement (LTA) marks the beginning of the GRP, a public-private partnership, supported by the funding of the Carr Foundation, as well as of the USAID, and the Instituto Português de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento (Portuguese Institute for Aid and Development; IPAD). A first experience of public-private partnership in Mozambique 4 in the conservation sector, the agreement stipulates a USD 20 million contribution from the Foundation over 20 years, and a state participation of USD 158,000 per year until 2014.

To address the issue of the sovereign frontier within GRP, I have conducted ethnographic research between 2009 and 2012 in Mozambique. I led semi-directive interviews with the main international and national actors, the GRP administration (heads of departments, president of the Carr Foundation, technicians), members of the Ministry of Tourism in Maputo, and representatives of the provincial directions of tourism, agriculture, and environmental coordination. Moreover, I was able to attend meetings of GRP staff and some meetings with the GRP's director of community relations in the buffer zone.

I will show that the GRP, a conservation and development project, is a point of entry for extending the reach of the Frelimo state in the Gorongosa region. At the head of the country ever since the independence, Frelimo has indeed become synonymous with the state. Nowadays, the Gorongosa region can still be considered as a region infused with tensions; part of the population still supports Renamo (Bornstein 2000; Forquilha 2010), which became a political party after the Peace Agreements. In that context, conservation philanthropy may depoliticise policymaking, presenting conservation and poverty reduction as technical problems addressed through a business approach led by a charismatic 'philanthrocapitalist' and a highly qualified transnational administrative team. But it ends up performing highly sensitive political operations, and it furthers state expansion in the hinterland.

 The GRP: Conservation Philanthropy and Transnational Policymaking

Gorongosa region is not a neutral area where to settle a conservation and development project. There still exist strong memories of the past expulsions amongst local populations (about 5,000 of whom still live within the park's boundaries), and thus, a traditional reluctance towards conservation policies. Gorongosa indeed shares common trends with most of rural areas in Mozambique; it has been traditionally neglected by the central state-both during colonial time and after independence. The colonial state always favoured settler agriculture, while restricting peasant farming. The Frelimo state pursued policies inimical to the peasantry, promoting rural socialism, and then open markets and private farming in the 1990s (Bowen, 2000). These kinds of interventionist policies were quite unpopular with the peasantry, and were among the causes of rural alienation from Frelimo. This is precisely in the hinterland where, during the armed conflict, Renamo succeeded in establishing its major bases of operation (as in the Gorongosa Serra), that is, in the areas where the peasantry's offended sense of moral economy and opposition to the state probably ran deepest (Bowen 2000: 11-12). As a matter of fact, the area is still largely regarded as an opposition stronghold, and as a region still at war 5 -this is the perception shared by government officials and the administration team of the park, as I will show.

The civil conflict left an important legacy, with the region sympathetic to Renamo; especially at the end of the armed conflict, government administration was undermined by Renamo's territorial control (Alexander 1997: 11). According to Anstey (2001), both the colonial heritage and the conflict period have not provided Mozambique with a strong state or administration, notably at the local level. In that context, and similarly to Ferguson's work on Lesotho, a development project-in this case conservation philanthropy-can be considered as a means for the state to further its political presence and control in areas traditionally little controlled-by providing basic infrastructure, services (health, jobs) as well as a paramilitary presence (i.e. the game rangers).

The institutional setup

The GRP is a transnational apparatus that puts into question state sovereignty from its institutional setup. It associates in its funding structure several international aid agencies, namely the Carr Foundation (who is represented within the park administration team), the USAID and the IPAD. Contrary to the LTA's statements (LTA 2007), the Mozambican state does not contribute to the financing of the GRP; the donors support all the costs. As far as the daily management is concerned, four directors run the different departments; two of them are Mozambican. They are used to working with international organisations. Although they are supposed to represent the state, they are paid by the donors. The four directors are headed by an oversight committee, composed of the president of the Carr Foundation and of a representative of the state 6 .

As a national park, the Ministry of Tourism in Maputo, the capital city, manages the GRP. The Ministry also has officers in each province 7 . These devolved institutions do not have much power, but GRP nevertheless entertains some relations with the provincial direction in Beira 8 -as well as with the directions of agriculture, and of environmental coordination. The local state presence is also made of the administrations of the districts; GNP straddles four districts-Gorongosa, Nhamatanda, Muanza, and Cheringoma.

Development and conservation worldviews coupled with philanthropic and entrepreneurial narratives

The GRP presents a double objective; conserving biodiversity and contributing to local development. These objectives are seen as deeply linked, as the president of the Foundation explains:

We need to help these people let themselves out of poverty, because we care about them, and that's a reason enough. But the second reason is that poverty is a threat to the ecosystem, and when these people don't have enough to eat, of course they are going to come to the park, and hunt animals, who wouldn't? And so we need to help them with the agriculture, with their economic development (…). That's the dream we can achieve: full development and biodiversity protection at the same time (Byrne 2010).

The emphasis put on the necessary alliance between conservation and development is not an innovation per se. As Neumann puts it, since decolonisation, conservation advocates increasingly see that the future of biodiversity protection in Africa lies in some form of alliance and cooperation between parks and the nearby communities (Neumann 1997: 569). This is a part of the more recent debate about the social impacts of conservation, and more precisely about the relation between biodiversity conservation and human welfare (Adams and Hutton 2007). The idea is to take into consideration the communities living in the buffer zone (who represent more than 200,000 inhabitants), and to make their development a priority. The link made between conservation and social welfare appears, for instance, in the GRP 2009 Annual Report. "The health of Gorongosa National Park is dependent on protecting the animals and managing the ecosystem, as well as helping the buffer zone human population live sustainably alongside the Park." (Gregory C. Carr Foundation 2009: 4) GRP indeed built several schools in the buffer zone (notably in the villages Vinho, Mbulaua, and Canda), a health centre (in Vinho), and a factory for drying fruits (in Vila Gorongosa), where local producers can sell their harvests.

But what is interesting about GRP narratives is that they combine a fortress conservation worldview together with an emphasis on poverty alleviation 9 . The philanthropic ethos of the project bonds these two narratives together. When asked about his love for nature, the president of the Carr Foundation often cites Roderick Nash, the biologist E. O. Wilson, and makes reference to the Yellowstone, "The point of Yellowstone Park was to recover it, and a hundred years later it's back. I look at Gorongosa that way" (Shacochis 2009: 104) 10 . The 'back-to-the-barriers' approach, that emphasises the recovery of a pristine wilderness, is closely associated to the pragmatic dimension of GRP's social programmes. The idea is that the development of the local communities will incite them to remain in the buffer zone, without interfering with the conservation activities intra muros(=within the walls). This is also linked with the ultimate aim of people relocation from the park. The ambition is indeed to encourage the 5,000 people still living inside the park's boundaries to voluntarily resettle outside the park, as shown by this statement from the president of the Carr Foundation:

Some people think that conservation and human development are two different things. This is wrong. Our project intends to involve them and to make them complementary. (…) (Tourists) want to be struck with amazement in front of a wonderful place, but at the same time, we are creating many jobs. If you take a look at our projects, you will see that we do reforestation and that we help the 250,000 people who live in what is called the buffer zone. (…) A big tourism industry creates jobs and gets living standards better. (…) We think that if the standards of living around the park are improved thanks to schools, electricity, health centres, and if the agriculture techniques got better, then people will end up leaving the park (Anonymous 2010: 14) 11 .

Linking conservation recovery and poverty alleviation is achieved through the publicised aim of economic benefits for local communities located in the buffer zone. Similarly to other projects of the kind, the aim is to convert a part of the community into wage labourers, that is to say into a 'modern' cash economy (Neumann 1997: 574). Jobs are therefore offered, for instance in the fruit factory already mentioned (which represents about 20 jobs), and especially as game rangers and tourism staff within Chitengo, the main tourist camp of the park 12 (representing about 500 jobs).

But the link between conservation and development is also achieved through economic efficiency. The GRP is indeed infusing a business-oriented approach to achieve its agenda. This echoes the growing synergy between conservation and sustainability on the one hand, and investment-driven economic growth on the other (Igoe and Brockington 2007: 438). This strategy is also directly tied to the 'philanthrocapitalist' philosophy of the project:

Today's new philanthropists are trying to apply the secrets behind that money-making success to their giving. (…) As the philanthrocapitalists see it, if they can use their donations to create a profitable solution to a social problem, it will attract far more capital, far faster, and thus, achieve a far bigger impact, far sooner, than would a solution based entirely on giving money away (Bishop and Green 2008: 3-7).

Philanthrocapitalism advocates a rationale of an increased role for capitalist actors, techniques and market forces in philanthropy (Holmes 2012). In that view, the GRP is a not-for-profit project, but it is intended to be driven on the long term by capitalist forces. The idea is thus to use in the conservation field the same techniques that have led to Greg Carr's economic success in the private sector. Greg Carr, the president of the Carr Foundation made his career in the voicemail sector, before changing directions in the 1990s to dedicate himself to his Foundation. For Greg Carr, as well as for the other donors of the project, emphasising economic efficiency is indeed the best strategy, for it has already worked out for his own economic achievement. Several trends significantly illustrate such an entrepreneurial vision. The new director of infrastructures and tourism, an American, comes from the business sector, and is dedicated to further develop the entrepreneurial ethos of GRP; the main camp Chitengo is managed since 2013 by a private tourist company; and the park is planned to be divided between several concessions that will be managed by several operators.

The philanthropic conservation project can make a fruitful use not only of the entrepreneurial experience of its leader, but also of his whole network-and networking experience. The Foundation thus uses Greg Carr's connections (in the American private, academic, and aid sectors), and plays on its brand image. Over the past few years, interviews with the charismatic president of the Foundation have multiplied, several documentaries have been released and some won international prises. Endangered biodiversity is repacked as images and symbols (Holmes 2012) to facilitate the diffusion and publicity around GRP, for it to gain an international positive image and eventually more tourists.

Concretely, what is at stake is to deliver at the end of the LTA a 'self-functioning' national park to the Mozambique state. The aim is that the GNP becomes self-financed, thanks to the multiplication of private concessions inside the park. Every private concession would partly employ workers coming from the buffer zone, and would pay taxes to the park administration, which would only focus on conservation activities. One private operator presently manages a concession 13 . A public tender was published in 2010 to attract new investors, and currently private concessions have been allocated; the private operators are working on planning and building their installations in the park 14 . This dynamic is not unique in Mozambique; the trend in Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is to make available state-controlled territories to investors through concessions (Büscher and Dressler 2007).

National-internationalised actors

'Hybrid actors' (Igoe and Brockington 2007) are essential for the fulfilment of the GRP agenda. Since Gorongosa is a state-owned national park, and it straddles four districts-headed by district administrators appointed by the central state-GRP needs to translate and to institutionalise its narratives into the state's worldviews. The presence of two Mozambican directors amongst the administrative team is, thus, a means of asserting some legitimacy to this externally driven conservation apparatus. They can be viewed as "transfer brokers" (Stone 2004; Lewis and Mosse 2006)-their role is to be 'in-between' actors, between the state and the donors.

According to the LTA, half of the directors of GRP were to be appointed by the Mozambican state and the other half by the Foundation. In fact, the Foundation recruited and appointed all the directors, as the community relations director, a Mozambican, explains:

Here, there was the integration of Ministry of Tourism (MITUR) staff. It is the Foundation that assumes the whole responsibility of these workers. When we signed the agreement, we wanted some of the directors to be appointed by the tourism minister, the conservation and community relations directors, and the others by the Foundation, by Greg Carr. He proposed me, as well as the conservation director, who was the vet of the project. He found us, he took our CV, and the minister agreed. He said OK, they are Mozambican, I trust them. Because there is the sovereignty issue. Our boss is the Foundation. But there is also the government as our boss 'more'. Because it's a national park, so it is subordinated to the National Directorate for Conservation Areas (DNAC). So normally we are in contact with them. When they need us for a meeting, we go. On a daily basis, we act more independently with regard to the Ministry. But we have a Ministry representative in the oversight committee (…). We do not receive any money from the state: we are in a context in which the state has some financial problems 15 .

The two Mozambican directors of the project are supposed to be representatives of the state. They regularly present themselves as state servants, in front of the donors. One of the directors once said, "sovereignty is non-negotiable!" (pers. comm. July 30, 2010). However, they were chosen by the donors and paid by them. They are thus 'hybrid actors', often torn between the agendas of the transnational institutions and the interests of their constituents (Igoe and Brockington 2007: 440). They are indeed instrumental in preparing and implementing programmes on behalf of the recipient state itself (Whitfield and Fraser 2008), while being actually paid by the donors. This enables a more pervasive influence by donors, within a national park, that is, a symbol of state sovereignty.

Though the Mozambican directors are donors' employees, their intermediary position is essential, in that it is a direct link with the central state. Mediation can indeed be considered as a social process (Nay and Smith 2002: 16). These directors have frequent contacts with the Ministry of Tourism in Maputo, and more specifically with the head of the National Directorate for Conservation Areas (DNAC). They usually represent the GRP when meetings related to conservation issues are held there. I will show in the following section that the state-through the Mozambican directors within GRP, the Ministry of Tourism representative within the oversight committee, and the districts' administrators-is key in policymaking, although GRP's agenda appears at first glance to be highly externally driven.

 The 'Sovereign Frontier': Conservation in the Midst of Power Relations

A transnational philanthropic project within a national park, GRP calls into question the sovereignty issue. As the president of the Carr Foundation once put it during an informal interview, "We are a national park!" (Greg Carr pers. comm. July 25, 2010)-thus highlighting the confusion between state sovereignty and the transnational apparatus. Another intriguing example is the prison located in Chitengo. Most of the prisoners are poachers arrested by the park rangers within GNP boundaries. Some of them are transferred to the local jurisdictions in order to be judged, but it regularly happens that GRP staff pronounces its own 'judgement', and 'employs' them to work for the park for a while, for example, for the maintaining of the roads. By doing so, GRP, that is to say a transnational philanthropic apparatus, is actually endorsing a state function. To quote a member of the infrastructures department, "Today, the park works for the state, but before, the park was the state itself" 16 .

The boundary between the donors and the state-owned park is indeed often highly tenuous, so that it may appear unclear who ultimately governs the national park. The perceptions of the local populations are revealing in that regard. Similarly to what Hitchcock (1995) observed in Botswana and Zimbabwe in the late 1990s, part of the local communities felt that the state is being replaced by international institutions: "Some people believe that the park was sold to Americans, that it does not belong to the state any more. One considers the national park as a private entity 17".

Even if GNP is not totally state controlled in terms of formal institutional setup and local perceptions, I argue, that GRP is a form of nature governance where state sovereignty is at the forefront. The national park could not be managed without the Frelimo state, which utilises the recovering park to consolidate its local presence.

A relative empowerment of the GRP vis-à-vis the state apparatus

The links between GRP and the provincial level are not very intense. The provincial director for tourism complains not to receive many reports from the project, that would keep him informed of the running activities (interview of April 13, 2010). The relation between the park and the province does not appear to be very institutionalised, it varies according to the agenda of the project, and to the capacities of the provincial direction. For instance, in July 2010, a meeting was organised in Chitengo by the GRP management team. About thirty people were invited to discuss and give inputs to the management plan that would organise the future inclusion of the top of the Serra da Gorongosa(=Mount Gorongosa) within GNP. International consultants were there, as well as some representatives of the provincial directions of tourism and agriculture. Since they did not speak nor understand English, the speeches of the participants ended being translated to them. This shows a certain gap, a disconnect between the transnational philanthropic apparatus and the local state in the policymaking process. The gap here was above all linguistic, but it reflected the incapacity of state actors to actually take part in the process, though they were formally invited to do so.

The weak involvement of the provincial tourism direction is also linked to the central Ministry of Tourism, which does not delegate much of its power. But GRP administration is often perceived by DNAC staff not to communicate much and to act in a rather autonomous way. The head of the conservation areas department at the DNAC relates:

In Gorongosa National Park, the relations with the province are difficult I believe, because it is the same with us. They are quite independent (…). It's a problem when you have two bosses. When it is the case, you turn to the one who pays. And in that case it's the Foundation 18 .

This is not to infer that relations between the central state and GRP do not exist. The role of the two Mozambican directors, as mentioned, is important in that view. Moreover, the LTA stipulates there will be no park warden-contrary to all other national parks in Mozambique-but an oversight committee, composed as already mentioned of the president of the Carr Foundation and a representative of the Ministry of Tourism, Bernardo Beca Jofrisse. He is a retired colonel and has known the President of the Republic, Armando Guebuza, for a long time. He took part in the liberation struggle against the Portuguese rule, on the side of Frelimo troops. Significantly, Beca Jofrisse is also paid by the Foundation, which is a noteworthy datum as far as the state financial commitment is concerned. One can also wonder about his room for manoeuvre, for he is supposed to represent the state. As a matter of fact, this representative does not appear as really involved in the daily management of GRP: "Beca Jofrisse takes part to our meetings, even if he does not participate on a daily basis. He and Greg discuss. Whether for good or bad, Beca Jofrisse stays apart and does not care much about the project. But he could 19".

However, his position can be seen as very political, a direct connection to the central power within the project. As the USAID officer and the head of the DNAC explain:

Beca Jofrisse is a very good choice. He knows that he doesn't know much about conservation. In the oversight committee, we do not need a specialist in conservation, but a specialist in Mozambican government. That is why his role is perfect; he gives the project an important political visibility, and some governmental credibility, when Greg is not here. He can keep the government informed. So that's a key role 20 .

I know that people say Beca Jofrisse doesn't do anything, I know that (laughter). But I repeat, what matters is not the person, it's the figure. In the oversight committee, it's a figure named by MITUR [Ministry of tourism], and who has a direct relation with the minister. This is what matters 21 .

Beca Jofrisse's frequent presence in GRP meetings enables the Frelimo state to have a direct eye on GRP's daily management, all the more so as he has a direct access to the top of the state. Though mostly at the periphery, the central state is therefore key in the policymaking process.

The omnipresence of the political and partisan context

Although the central government does not delegate much of its power, its local representatives are highly involved in local political life, assuring a presence and eventually a diffusion of Frelimo's apparatus and narratives. The presence of the central state through local representatives-in particular district administrators-is partly a matter of continuity in the state structure with the colonial time; the district administrators have a pivotal role in rural areas (Alexander 1997: 2). They are appointed by the President and the Ministry of State Administration: district administrators are thus direct representatives of the central government in rural areas (Bornstein 2000: 246). This presence of the Frelimo state in local politics, and notably in development planning, is also a matter of political pragmatism, notably in areas where it is relatively weak, as in Gorogonsa region. The aim is to be both visible and active in the local scene in order to gain support and control.

As mentioned, the populations in Gorongosa region are traditionally Renamo strongholds 22 . Some régulos, who are traditional leaders, are perceived by the park management but also by the local power as still supporting Renamo in the buffer zone, especially in the zones located in and around the Serra da Gorongosa, the mountainous massif where Renamo had headquarters during the civil conflict 23 . During an informal discussion with a representative from the provincial direction of tourism in July 2010, he related that between 2006 and 2009 a wide consultation process was organised by the tourism provincial direction, the districts around GNP and GRP administration. The aim was to inform and consult the communities of the buffer zone about two projects: the new mapping for the buffer zone and the inclusion of the top of the Serra da Gorongosa within the boundaries of the park 24 . The representative said:

The process took a long time. Two communities refused to sign the final document, including Canda community. During the meeting with Canda, which lasted several hours, the régulo "You want to sell our land!" But he is from Renamo (at this point, the representative apologised to have pronounced this name). So it also explains why he was against the project. When you have régulos who are pro Frelimo, it's easier to carry effectively the message to the populations. But here, it's more complicated.

In such a context of both local population's persisting reluctance towards Frelimo and Frelimo's persisting perception of Renamo's weight in the area, development policies can be a tool for furthering the party-state's presence:

In a context where the state is confused with the party in power, the arrival of state services at the local level such as schools, roads, (…) health centres (…) are seen as Frelimo's action, and thus contributes to its local implantation (Forquilha 2010: 60) 25 .

Attention to Gorongosa region did not begin with GRP though. National and international support began in the post-war period, especially in Gorongosa district-the biggest amongst the four that the park straddles, "access was secured, de-mining undertaken, and programmes to revitalise agriculture and provide social service put under way." (Bornstein 2000: 249). During my fieldwork, a brand new ATM was put in place in Vila Gorongosa (the administrative post)-the first ever installed in Vila Gorongosa. GRP is thus not a novelty as far as development and conservation are concerned. The originality of this specific apparatus is that it is a rather vague entity, not systematically perceived, at the local level, as associated to the state. As a member of the GRP team put it:

The attitudes that people have around the park are influenced by the fact that the park is funded by a dominant foreigner. There is the perception that the park has been rent, or sold. So the behaviour of people, including the district administrators, is to believe that it's a firm that is here, and that it has no authority upon them 26 .

However, even if GRP is regularly perceived as a vague and/or private entity, it can be seen as playing Frelimo's game. Indeed, it is not just about providing parts of the region with health and education facilities, nor is it just about including the top of a mountainous massif within a national park for ecological matters-as mentioned above, the inclusion of the top of the Serra da Gorongosa within the boundaries of the park was discussed and eventually approved by the Council of Ministers in 2011. It is also about dealing with local communities who are not necessarily willing to adhere to conservation worldviews, notably for land tenure worries but also because of a persistent reluctance to adhere to Frelimo.

GRP thus cannot escape the partisan dimension of the region. Its policies are necessarily politicised, all the more so as the administration team tries to be closely associated to the local state in its daily activities. The commodity of sovereignty is indeed essential to the legitimacy of externally-driven interventions, especially when they revolve around land and natural resources issues (Igoe and Brockington 2007: 440). Even if the district administrators, as Frelimo representatives, are not particularly praised, they are nevertheless well-identified and concrete symbols of a familiar authority 27 . Their association with GRP's development activities-which is only symbolic, for the districts have no financial capacities to support such programmes-is in that sense a win-win politics. GRP takes the chance to be publicised, and to become a more rooted entity in the local scene. The local state gets some benefits too, being associated to the giving of some welfare.

A particular case illustrates well this nature governance process. According to the Forests and Wildlife Law (1999), every conservation area has to give 20% of its revenues to the buffer zone communities. The latter are supposed to implement small projects that do not contradict biodiversity conservation, while contributing to the communities' development. The observation of one of the so called '20% ceremony' in Gorongosa district-when some communities in the buffer zone are given 20% of the park's revenues-shows that the district administrator was not really aware of the procedure, but was ready to present himself and the state party as closely associated to the national park in the responsibility of the 20% and used the conservation vocabulary with ease:

We come to bring special news. So we call the members of the management committee, and our traditional leaders, to come by. As you know here in Cavalo we are next to Gorongosa National Park: you know that, right? YES! Here in Gorongosa National Park, there are many beautiful things, that don't exist in other countries: lions, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, impalas… they foster excitement, right? YES! (laughter) There are many things over there. But there also is a very nice forest. There is the Serra da Gorongosa, very nice too. So people who don't have these things at home come to Chitengo to see all of this. And when they come to visit us, they pay money. These are the receipts of the park, that also go to the state. The law stipulates that 20% (he turns back to Mateus Mutemba, the community relations director: "it is correct, right?") have to return to the community, because it's the community who is the keeper of the forest. So we come to give you this money. It can be a lot, it can be a little. If we take care of the park, there will be a lot of money. If we treat the park badly, there will be nothing 28 .

The conservation notions may remain empty-that is to say only formal-but they become part of the nature and development governance of the area, cochaired by a transnational philanthropic apparatus and the Frelimo state.


A conservation philanthropy project, GRP questions state sovereignty. Its business-oriented approach to conservation shape a private regulation of Gorongosa National Park, led by a highly qualified transnational team paid by donors. Market value and optimal resource allocation frame the running of the national park, which is intended to be self-functioning at the end of the public-private partnership. Conservation policymaking in Gorongosa thus seems to be mostly about state rollback, all the more so as central and local state do not participate to financial steering, and the national park is locally perceived as a private-American-entity. State agency, in such a context, appears as particularly weak. To the contrary, I argue that it is quite remarkable that the central and the local state are key in nature governance, and state sovereignty is even enhanced by the philanthropic apparatus.

In that perspective, state sovereignty and donors' demands can coexist (Whitfield and Fraser 2009: 11; Harrison 2010: 58), but they can also give birth to a sovereign frontier where state functions and transnational apparatuses do mix sometimes unexpectedly, as the prison example in Chitengo has shown. In a context of weak state capacities, the state delegates some missions to GRP, a transnational philanthropic apparatus, which thus endorses state functions. But at the very same time, the central (namely the Council of Ministers) and local (especially the district administrators) state are not only unavoidable figures for a smooth daily conservation management, but also for key management decisions to be taken (e.g., the inclusion of the top of the Serra da Gorongosa within the park's perimeter). In other words, donors and state apparatus cannot do without each other.

GRP is, therefore, an in-between entity, half a philanthropic conservation/development apparatus, and half a tool serving the Frelimo state. Nature governance can be seen as a kind of compromise between the state (both central and local) and the donors. Conservation may not be a priority for the Mozambican state, which anyway cannot afford it. It can thus delegate this mission to international actors, but be very present when conservation/development activities are tied to population and territory control, especially when it can be a means to gain more presence in the hinterland and in a region where its influence is still rather weak and that is still considered by Frelimo's elites as a location of war against Renamo.


I wish to thank Morgane Bordeaux and Alessandro Jedlowski for their translating assistance. I also thank Christy Schuetze, Michael Madison Walker, and Todd French for their enlightening comments. Many thanks to the anonymous reviewers of this paper, whose comments helped me a lot.


This is what Castree calls "deregulation": the 'rollback' of state interference in numerous areas so that state regulation is 'light touch' and more and more actors become self-governing within centrally prescribed frameworks and rules (Castree 2008: 142).GNP is about 4,000 sq. km. It is located at the southern end of the Great East African Rift Valley. It includes the valley floor and parts of surrounding plateaus, and has a variety of distinct ecosystems (grasslands, savanna woodlands, dry forest, mountain forest and rainforest). See broadly, Renamo has used protected areas as bases. This is, for instance, the case of Moribane Forest Reserve in Chimanimani Mountains in central Mozambique (Schafer and Bell 2002) and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe in the 1980s (Duffy 1997). Kruger Park in South Africa was also used as a place from which to launch attacks (Ellis 1992). The use of protected areas was due to Frelimo's weak control of the hinterland, but also to the use that both Renamo and Frelimo made of natural resources during the armed conflict-wildlife trophies to finance their war operations and hunting for meat (Hatton et al. 2001).Except Niassa National Reserve, which is managed since the 1980s by a joint venture between the state and private partners. Public private-partnerships are therefore not that common in the conservation sector, but they do develop in many economic areas: privatisation is indeed a contemporary trend (Pitcher 2003).Armed confrontations between Frelimo and Renamo took place in Gorongosa region between 2013 and 2014, on the eve of the 2015 General elections.As indicated in the introduction, this analysis addresses GRP policymaking until 2012. The institutional set-up of the park was then modified: a park warden was appointed (namely the past director for community relations) and the management team was deeply renewed. The new director for scientific services is a Belgian, the new director for operations is a Scot specialised in accounting and the communication department is led by a Portuguese. The oversight committee remains the same.Mozambique has 11 provinces and 128 districts.Capital city of Sofala, the province where GNP is located.The kind of conservation that is being promoted is comparable to what Fraser (2009) calls "rewilding the world". This trend insists on the reintroduction of wildlife in connected protected areas, which integrate the human and fauna dimensions. Donors like USAID support that kind of vision. The position of the USAID officer who is responsible for matters relating to GRP is called 'biodiversity and tourism officer'. The World Bank, which intervenes in several projects throughout the country, also supports the triptych conservation, tourism and development/poverty reduction.With his support of GNP, the president of the Carr Foundation is in line with an American 'tradition' of private support of parks, which has a long history in the US. (Fortwangler, 2007).My translation from Portuguese to English.However, the employment policy of the project faces some limits during summer 2010, about 60 employees are dismissed.One Africa, a South African/Zimbabwean investor. The safari camp won two awards in at the "Safari Awards 2011" held in Durban, South Africa: "Best New Safari Camp in Africa" and "Best Ecological Property in Africa". See:ção-adequada-para-acolher-os-representantes-da-indústria-de-sa.htmlFor greater information on that topic, see GNP's website : http://www.gorongosa.orgInterview with Mateus Mutemba, Director of Community Relations of GRP, March 24, 2010. All interviews were conducted in Portuguese and translated in English.Interview of March 24, 2010.Interview with a member of the GRP leading team, March 24, 2010.Interview with F., head of the conservation areas department at the DNAC, Maputo, March 10, 2010.Interview with a member of the GRP team, March 23, 2010.Interview with R., USAID biodiversity and tourism officer, April 21, 2010.Interview with P., head of the National Directorate for Conservation Areas, Maputo, August 25, 2010.Even if Renamo's poll results have been decreasing over the past decade, what really matters here is the perception of Renamo's importance by the central and local state, as I will show.The relevance of Gorongosa region for the central state is another historical continuity. To quote a 1985 extract of the Mozambican journal Tempo: "The Portuguese military used to say that whoever dominated the Serra da Gorongosa dominated Mozambique". In echo, the representative of tourism Ministry in GRP's oversight committee said during an informal interview in July 2010: "the mountain is a strategic issue, a strategic place in Mozambique. You get the mountain, you get the country" (Magaia 1985: 8).This zone (above 700 meters) is indeed considered as ecologically threatened and as crucial for the park hydrological equilibrium. Its addition to the park's boundaries was approved by the Council of ministers at the beginning of 2011.More broadly, the realisation of infrastructures is key to the party-state, for it is a means to physically manifest the government in the hinterland. As Alexander puts it, citing one of her interviewee in 1994, an assistant administrator: "Where there are no roads, there is no government presence" (Alexander 1997: 12).Interview with a member of the GRP team, March 26, 2010.This is notably due to the squared territory (districts, administrative posts…). Many Frelimo flags are put along the roads and in the fields.Extracts from O.'s, administrator of Gorongosa district, during the ceremony of the 20% to the Vunduzi community, March 25, 2010.[44]


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