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Mozambique's Chartered Companies: The Rule of the Feeble

Leroy Vail
The Journal of African History
Vol. 17, No. 3 (1976), pp. 389-416
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/180701
Page Count: 28
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Mozambique's Chartered Companies: The Rule of the Feeble
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Abstract

Pressed by rival imperial powers and financially weak herself, Portugal initiated in the 1890s an experiment in governing large areas of Mozambique cheaply through the means of two chartered companies, the Companhia do Niassa and the Companhia de Moçambique. This experiment proved doubly unsuccessful. In the first place the two companies failed to provide the development capital for Mozambique ardently desired by Portugal's government. Instead, they devoted their energies to maximizing profits through the systematic exploitation of the African populace. Secondly, the fact that shares in these companies could be purchased by private persons led foreign governments, notably those of Britain and Germany, to use these companies as proxies to further their own imperial interests at Portugal's expense. Only with the coming to power of António Salazar in the late 1920s did the Portuguese government feel powerful enough to move against the anachronistic chartered companies and terminate the experiment.

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