Maputo, November 2014
The collapse of the Party-State regime in the late 1980s and the establishment of a multi-party Constitution in 1990 stands out as the main landmark and legal reference point for the emergence of a vibrant civil society in Mozambique.
However, the pace of legal and political reforms that will enable full and effective engagement both for civil society in governance has been markedly slow. CSOs are constrained by a legal and regulatory environment in Mozambique characterized by hesitant legislation on one hand and political institutions that operate in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the days of the Party-State.
The sluggish pace in reforms of the legal and regulatory system in the country appears to be the best that a conservative political establishment can do as it stands between its “comfort zone” and the pressures of an increasingly “noisy” civil society.
Policy debates are still predominantly a winner- take all game between the two major Political Parties in Parliament with little space for other development actors to effectively engage. Yet a few legislative victories and lessons learned have granted CSOs some room for tactical maneuvers in the increasingly complex and polarized political arena.
The influence that CSOs have in Mozambique also reflects the still slow development of a critical and active citizenry – in the context of a largely traditional society based on rigid hierarchical structures, where open criticism of public authorities is actively discouraged. Notwithstanding the apparent waning of the Budget Support Partnership, Development Cooperation flows to Mozambique are still on the rise, and sources of financing are diversifying, reflecting broader, global changes in the aid landscape.
Nevertheless aid flows as a proportion of the national budget have declined, lowering the country’s dependence on external financing, with important implications for broader ownership over development policy. Still, the partnership instrument between the Government of Mozambique and the group of 19 donors providing the modality on budget support (G-19/PAPs) is still far from responsive to the development effectiveness agenda.
Meanwhile, implementation of the Busan-adopted principle of Inclusive development partnerships has proved challenging in the face of apparent indifference among a number of development actors (G- 19donors, the non-traditional donors, Private Sector, Civil Society and Parliament). Opportunity for these actors who have initiatives for broad policy debates are still fragmented. There are hardly any regular mechanisms for multi-stakeholder dialogue established.
The Development Observatory (DO), a Government-CSO dialogue forum attended by G-19 donors as observers, seems to be the furthest Mozambique has been able to go in terms of inclusiveness of its development partnerships. Initiatives by CSOs to use the DO as a space for evidence-based discussions of selected government sectoral policies (introduced in 2013),certainly represents a huge qualitative leap in terms of the engagement of Civil Society in Development Effectiveness efforts. However what remains unclear is the extent to which the Government of Mozambique actually takes the contributions of CSOs on board. Mozambican CSOs tend to treat foreign donors and the private sector as circumstantial allies, while relations between CSOs and domestic political actors (Parliament, Government and Political Parties) take are described by Francisco et al (2008) as “convenient tutelage.”
Committed to the principles of Development Effectiveness, CSOs in Mozambique have refocused their attention on the need to address growing social inequalities and the contradiction between the country’s rising economic growth rates and macroeconomic performance amid disappointing performance on human development indicators.
In addition, the risk of Mozambican Public Debt rising to unsustainable levels has caused some CSOs to raise the alarm, given the potential implications of a debt crisis for the social stability of the country.
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