Political Analysis of Mozambique


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Political Analysis



Final Report


Salomão Moyana


5 October 2005

This report was commissioned by of the Embassy of Ireland.

The views and opinions expressed in the report do not necessarily reflect those of the Embassy.

Not for wider circulation.


Executive Summary


1. Introduction


2. The twists and turns of a peaceful transition


3. Space, role, capacity and will of the political parties


3.1. Reforming the current democratic model


3.2. Changing practice, and not the laws


3.3. Beira municipality: the difficult political co-habitation


4. Where is civil society ?


5. The media and the struggle for transparency


6. The role of Parliament


7. What reforms for the judiciary


8. Governance and the fight against corruption


9.HIV/AIDS: a serious threat to the country’s future

10. Mozambique as a donor success story


11. Conclusions


12. Reasons for optimism or pessimism?


13. Bibliographical References


Executive Summary

The report Political Analysis of Mozambique discusses, in a brief and succinct way, the main factors influencing, negatively or positively, the current general political situation in Mozambique.

In order to write the report, a wide-ranging bibliography on the current political, economic and social affairs of the country was consulted, and interviews were held with various political, academic, and civil society actors, plus some representatives of the international community, who influence the Mozambican decision-making process.

The main objectives of the analysis were:

  • Provide background on the current and past political situation in Mozambique;
  • Identify the relationships, and analyse the role and impact between the powers of the State (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) and how they are interlinked;

  • Identify how the Government of Mozambique approaches questions of governance (corruption, human rights, decentralisation, access to Information, among others) in terms of policies, institutions and development programmes, and analyse their impact in particular on public sector and judicial reforms;

  • Identify how non-state actors (civil society, political parties, traditional leaders and the private sector) participate in and influence the political environment;

  • Identify the level and extent of donor involvement (role and influence) in Mozambique;

  • Analyse and assess how the political agenda and governance questions impact upon economic development and poverty relief efforts in Mozambique.

Fundamental questions analysed: Political environment

  • Readings of the political transition from Chissano to Guebuza;

  • Size of the political space for the political parties and how they influence the decision making process in general;

  • Real capacity of the political parties to make use of the existing space;

  • Discussion on the most appropriate democratic model for the country (trend towards generalised criticism of the party list model, and inclination towards a uninominal system);

  • Discussion on the lack of enthusiasm for the proposed electoral reforms while the current scenario of impunity for those who break the laws prevails.

Fundamental questions analysed: Civil Society

  • Space where a vibrant civil society can operate;

  • Existence of grass roots organizational limitations (donor-driven NGOs);
  • Strong links between certain NGO leaderships and the government and ruling party (which greatly limits their independent role);

  • Lack of internal democracy in most NGOs;

  • Trend to recover an increasingly active role in electoral questions, the preservation of peace and economic transparency.

Fundamental questions analysed: Media

  • Growing space for freedom of the press and media influence;

  • Most powerful media still controlled by the State;

  • Independent press scarcely circulates outside of Maputo;

  • Mozambican legislation allows private radio and television stations;

  • The Press Law imposes limitations on foreign capital involvement in the development of the media.

Fundamental questions analysed: Parliament

  • Important role of Parliament (as a forum of national reconciliation and of legal and political literacy);

  • Parliament as an institution that controls the transparency and accountability of the Executive and other public institutions;

  • Some stakeholders dissatisfied with the apparently feeble influence of Parliament on society;

  • Parliament without a technical corps of advisors.

Fundamental questions analysed: Judiciary

  • Several new laws will be approved before the end of the year (Commercial Code, Criminal and Civil Procedural Codes, Law on Public Procurement, among others);

  • Shortage of staff and infrastructures will continue for a long time;

  • Judiciary largely lacking in independence from the executive.

Fundamental questions analysed: Governance and corruption

  • Short history of the problem;

  • Corruption is very serious in the Government;

  • The police is perceived as the most corrupt institution;

  • The bodies responsible for fighting corruption are seen as the least credible;

  • The rules on conflicts of interest are precarious.

Fundamental questions analysed: Relations with donors

  • Mozambique as a donor success story;

  • Government implements the recommended management recipes:

  • Government implements basic principles of political and economic governance.


  • Despite everything, democratic construction is still the path to be followed;

  • Apparent general enthusiasm about the new government (particularly in its first days), but, on the other hand, the feeling prevails that the country is going back to one-party working methods;

  • Political space is legally guaranteed, but not well exploited, because of poverty and lack of political culture;

  • Despite problems related to questions of internal governance, civil society is making itself felt, and undertaking visible work among the communities;

  • Political will is required for changes in the fight against corruption. The laws that already exist should be applied in order to show greater government commitment about this matter.

Reasons for optimism or pessimism?

In this section a brief SWOT analysis is made in order to show the essential things that Mozambique needs to do to be a viable country, and what it needs to stop doing for the same purpose.
The general conclusion is that if it does what it has to do, then it will be a country of great optimism for all.

1. Introduction
Mozambique is today regarded as an African country with a relatively stable democracy, where democratization, begun with the first multi-party election in 1994, followed the short period of pacification which started with the signing of the General Peace Agreement in 1992, putting an end to 16 years of civil war between the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) and the Government of Mozambique, led by Frelimo since national independence in 1975.

The fact that the General Peace Agreement was implemented without any deaths1 resulting from possible misunderstanding between the signatories won Mozambique enormous international prestige, which was consolidated with the holding of the first, second and third multiparty general elections, in a regular and democratic fashion, without resorting to guns to solve the disputes that arose from them.

The institutionalisation of the Assembly of the Republic, as the main legislative body, and a body of national reconciliation, the existence of an increasingly wide opening for the exercise of the freedom of expression and of the press, religious freedom, the freedom of association, and the free movement of people and goods, as well as the relatively good economic performance of the Executive have enhanced, over the last ten years, the good reputation of Mozambique as one of the few cases of success to be emulated in Africa.

However, while in general the Mozambican process seems to contain all the democratic ingredients for all citizens to feel pleased with it, a deeper analysis of the same system shows the existence of many inequities, defects and trends to worsen the negative side, which ought to be tackled so that, in the foreseeable future, there can be a more participatory democratic system, inclusive of all the political, economic and socio-cultural sensitivities of the vast mosaic that is the Mozambican people.

A more critical look at these inequities, defects and negative trends of the system and possible ways of correcting them is the main point of convergence of this political analysis which has prioritised readings and interviews on the political, economic and social factors that exert a positive or negative influence on the process in Mozambique.

Thus the methodology for this analysis includes a review of the bibliography, mainly the reading of official documents on PARPA, the Government’s Five Year Plan, the Inauguration Speech of the President of the Republic, the Law on the Fight against Corruption, the National Survey on Governance and Corruption, as well as various papers written by Mozambican and foreign analysts on questions of governance and corruption.

The methodology also included several interviews in Maputo and Beira with officials in government bodies, municipal leaders, leaders of political parties (with and without seats in parliament), leaders of civil society organisations, religious leaders, media leaders, and some representative of donor countries.
2. The twists and turns of a peaceful transition
Mozambique is currently being ruled by Armando Emílio Guebuza, who won the presidential election of December 2004. He is the third President of the Republic in thirty years of national independence. This followed the death in a plane crash in October 1986 of President Samora Machel, and later the apparent decision taken by President Joaquim Chissano not to stand for a third term of office (under the 1990 Constitution, which has now been amended).

This is the first time that a Mozambican President has taken office while his predecessor is still alive. The tragic death of Samora Machel did not allow Mozambicans to witness cohabitation in the same territorial and political space of a President holding office and an outgoing President.

Also within the ruling party, Frelimo, it is the first time that the party leader, Armando Guebuza, takes over from a former leader who is still alive – since Samora Machel came to the leadership of Frelimo due to the tragic death of Eduardo Mondlane, killed when a letter-bomb exploded in his office in Dar-Es-Salaam, on 3 February 1969, and Joaquim Chissano came to the Frelimo leadership because of the death of Samora Machel in a plane accident.

Joaquim Chissano secured his place in history by solving the problem of the war through dialogue, with the signing of the General Peace Agreement, and because he headed the political and economic reforms that led to the multi-party system and the market economy.

But Chissano’s long period in power (18 years) created a certain political and social immobility in institutions. This is recognised by Frelimo itself, which decided to define and announce, during the last elections campaign, the “spirit of apathy and drift”, corruption, poverty, and red tape as the main targets to be eliminated during the first term of office of Armando Guebuza.

According to various political analyses, there were two main reasons for Frelimo to put pressure, albeit discreetly, on Chissano to relinquish power, namely the fact that he had been on the brink of losing the 1999 presidential elections to the Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakama, and the fact that the name of his oldest son, Nyimpine Chissano, had been linked to those who ordered the murder of the Mozambican investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, in November 2000.

If we look at the 1999 election results, we see that Chissano won 2.3 million votes (52%) against 2.1 million votes (48%) for Afonso Dhlakama, that is, Chissano had about 200,000 votes more than Afonso Dhlakama.

But the National Elections Commission (CNE) did not count about 450,000 votes, because those polling station result sheets allegedly displayed “irregularities that could not be corrected”. This led Renamo to appeal against the presidential results to the Supreme Court, asking for the votes to be recounted, with the fundamental arguments that most of the 450,000 votes not counted by the CNE came from the interior of zones under its influence, namely Zambézia, Nampula, Sofala, Manica and Tete.

The Supreme Court’s decision to refuse the recount requested by Renamo was seen by the public as a partial political arrangement to favour the Frelimo Party and its candidate, Joaquim Chissano.

Thus public opinion never knew whether Joaquim Chissano had really won the 1999 presidential elections or whether Afonso Dhlakama had won them.

This doubt was decisive for the rise within Frelimo of pressures so that Chissano announced, a year later, that he would not stand again in the 2004 elections, because the ruling party was not prepared to risk losing to the opposition.

Furthermore, during the trial of those accused of the murder of Carlos Cardoso, three of them declared, during live broadcasts on Mozambican Radio and Television, that the main person behind the crime was Nyimpine Chissano. This created a tense political climate in the country, and within Frelimo in particular. It also damaged Joaquim Chissano’s public image, and gave greater strength to that wing of Frelimo that wanted to see an end to Chissano’s rule, to ensure an eventual political recovery of the party.

Thus when Guebuza took power, it was with the agenda of recovering the political credibility that Frelimo, under the command of Joaquim Chissano, was losing among the public, and to ensure speedy and radical changes in the way the state provides services to citizens, fighting corruption and all the other ills that hinder timely state action for the public.

Since the transfer of power between two living leaders is new, the readings of the possible difficulties in political cohabitation between the two leaders, both influential members of the Frelimo Party, are also new and curious.

While in public a praiseworthy effort is made to project an image of a peaceful transition and a harmonious understanding between the former President of the Republic, and the current President, within the party, and even the government, a process, not always without controversy, is under way to consolidate the leadership of the nation’s new helmsman, and gradually remove the influence of the country’s former leadership.

At government level, this is taking shape through the various audits that the new executive has ordered into the accounts of those who previously ran the ministries2, as well as the replacement, sometimes compulsory, of former national directors and district administrators associated with diversion of funds and bad public conduct.

Some of the most blatant cases of the diversion of public funds, such as that of the scholarships in the Ministry of Education and of the police wage fund in the Ministry of the Interior have led to criminal charges of corruption that await judgment in the Supreme Court3.

However, six months later, several analysts are forecasting that the pace of changes imposed by the Guebuza government will be slower than initially envisaged, particularly because of the new international conjuncture, characterised by instability in oil prices, with strongly negative implications for the cost of living in Mozambique, where passengers using collective public and private transport staged several disturbances in June and July protesting against the rise in fares.

Furthermore, the populist nature of many of the actions taken by the new executive in its first 100 days in office is proving ineffective and already “there are criticisms that in attempting to show they are in charge, some ministers and especially governors have been making poor and unconsidered on-the-spot decisions. Without realising it, they

are alienating, marginalising and even dismissing some of their natural supporters.” (Hanlon, 2005).

Hanlon also argues that the Guebuza government is a government of transition in which most of the ministers and governors do not have experience for such a high level and, inevitably, some are going to fail. Apart from thus, not all the ministers were chosen by Guebuza. Some were appointed by senior figures in the Frelimo Party, some for personal reasons, and the government still contains ministers loyal to the Chissano wing of the Party. There has been a sharp internal struggle within the government, and Guebuza, is, according to Hanlon, still trying to win the loyalty of his own government. It seems likely that the government will be reshuffled next year.

The stress of Guebuza’s government strategy, in contrast to Chissano’s way of governing, lies in recovering the old Frelimo slogan, according to which “politics must be in the post of command”. Thus, according to government analysts, with Armando Guebuza politics is in command in three ways:

  • This is not a government of experts and technicians, but a government of political managers which in many ways follows the model of the “Harvard Business School”4, which says that a good manager can manage anything, without being an expert in the matter, as long as he is good at solving problems and taking decisions. This government was chosen for its political qualifications and because of its members’ strong links with the provinces. It is thus expected that it will be aimed towards development of the countryside, where about 70 per cent of the government’s voters live.

  • Guebuza is putting much greater stress on the Frelimo Party as a channel of information, influence, support and mobilization. There seems to be a strong trend of returning to the style of work of the one party state, where the party played a stronger role and, in what was regarded as its best aspect, kept the government leadership in permanent contact with the grass roots.

  • Guebuza is described as a strong nationalist, and many of his supporters criticized, during his election within the party, what was viewed as the Chissano Administration’s subservience to donors and foreign investors. The donors are already thinking that their meetings with the new government are at a lower level than in the past, It is expected that the national interest will be placed higher up the government agenda, and that offers of aid and investment will be scrutinized more closely. In her first meeting with ambassadors and other foreign representatives, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Alcinda Abreu, said that the priorities of her Ministry were defined thus: Southern Africa, Africa, Europe, North America, Asia and the rest of the world.

The diplomatic posture of Guebuza has already had its first diplomatic incident, when, last July, Guebuza was not willing to receive in Maputo the former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton, who was bringing a cheque from his Foundation for 83 million dollars to support programmes against HIV/AIDS in Mozambique. Clinton had meetings with Prime Minister Luísa Diogo and with former President, Joaquim Chissano. This was frowned upon within the government, and particularly within Frelimo, and it was argued that Guebuza was ill advised in scheduling an absence from Maputo on the day when Clinton would be in Mozambique.

But several public signs show that the President himself is not yet satisfied with the way things in the country are going, particularly with the growing public feeling that, since he came to power, living conditions have been in decline, and its government team, aside from a populist discourse, has not yet presented any realistic perspective that some solutions will be found in the short or medium terms.

From 8 – 10 July, Guebuza put about 200 people in the same room, including ministers, deputy ministers, permanent secretaries, provincial governors, senior Frelimo Party cadres, including former President Joaquim Chissano, to announce his displeasure at the slow and uncoordinated way in which the new leaders are working. He made harsh criticisms of his own government team. He noted that many of the new leaders were wasting a lot of time competing with each other, and comparing themselves with their predecessors, instead of cooperating and working more as a team. Guebuza stressed that “successful changes do not break with the past”, but instead build on the experience and values of the past.

The President said that in his visits to the provinces he had heard many “pre-fabricated justifications that didn’t even convince those who were making them” about failures to comply with the government plans at various levels. Instead of excuses, said the President, real causes must be identified, so that it would be possible to find real replies and make changes within the institutions.

The President’s public criticisms of his government team aroused, among certain sectors of local public opinion, comments according to which Guebuza is not in fact the true captain of the team on the field, but the manager of a heterogeneous transitional team, chosen by several of his colleagues on the Frelimo Political Commission.

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