Pope Francis visit sparks spending debate in Mozambique

…preparations expected to cost US$325,000

Mozambique’s government expects to spend about $325,000 (£266,000) on preparations for Pope Francis’ visit next week, state radio reports, but not everybody is happy.

“There is a basic budget but it is being adjusted, considering that when things like this are being done, there are occasional situations which need to be dealt with,” Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco told Radio Mozambique, justifying the sum.

Some residents of the capital, Maputo, told the BBC that the money should be spent on improvements to the city regardless of whether somebody important is visiting.

“This is stupid! Why wait for the Pope’s visit to make our city beautiful? This is what Maputo should always look like,” resident Bernicia Cotela says.

“It’s like applying cosmetics to your body before bathing. Why paint a good picture of something which is not the reality?”

Others, like Afonso Silveira, think the price tag is justified because “ensuring the security of the Pope is something that requires a lot of investment… including the roads, the cathedral and the stadiums”.

“But I am also of the opinion that cleanliness, security and the renovation of the city should be a permanent task for all of us, including the government,” he adds.