Mozambique’s political background
Mozambique became independent from Portugal in 1975. After a long and bloody civil war between rebel movement Renamo and the Frelimo government, a Peace Agreement was signed in 1992. With the Peace Agreement, Mozambique adopted the system of multiparty democracy. For a long time, Frelimo and Renamo dominated the political arena in Mozambique, with Frelimo increasingly becoming overwhelmingly dominant and holding an absolute majority in parliament. In 2009, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) broke off from Renamo and presented itself as a new political force. However, it has failed to unseat Renamo and Frelimo as the dominant forces in politics.
Despite more than 20 years of peace and relative stability since the 1992 Peace Agreement, the civil war between Renamo and Frelimo still shapes the political reality of today. Since 2012, the political tensions between ruling party Frelimo and former rebel movement Renamo have gone through several flashpoints, resulting in armed confrontations between the government and the opposition. However, a dialogue process led to a fresh accord being struck between Frelimo and Renamo in August 2019, raising optimism for lasting peace between the sides.
Mozambique is also gripped by corruption and economic woes. Overconfidence about returns from extractive industries in 2012 began undermining a previous trend of stable economic growth, and endemic corruption poses a serious problem. On top of this the government secretly borrowed two billion dollars in 2012. However the public discovery of the loans in 2016 led to a near-total withdrawal of foreign aid and an inevitable government default, while almost a quarter of the two billion remains unaccounted for. The effects of this secret loan hit the economy hard as Mozambique remains heavily reliant on foreign aid, a problem compounded by its exposure to extreme weather patterns such as droughts and cyclones.
Taken together, Mozambique’s ability to fulfil its political and economic potential is undermined by weak democratic institutions and endemic corruption. However the 2019 accord may signify a new trend for the future.
NIMD’s approach in Mozambique
NIMD’s work in Mozambique started in 2000. The programme activities mainly focus on trying to reduce the tensions between the parliamentary parties and creating space for dialogue and constructive collaboration. The programme facilitates training on dialogue skills for party members and stimulates the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders (civil society organizations, religious leaders and the international community).
NIMD’s work in Mozambique is carried out in partnership with Instituto para Democracia Multipartidária (IMD). IMD was founded as a country office of NIMD in 2001, but in 2016 became a fully independent organization with its own partnerships and programmes in addition to its work with NIMD.
NIMD’s programme in Mozambique aims to contribute to a safe environment for elections by facilitating dialogue sessions between the political parties, the electoral management body (CNE), and other political and civic actors. As well as supporting the parliamentary political parties to strengthen their organizational and programmatic capacities through training and exchange trips, IMD achieves this objective through the Peace Room project.
Began in 2018, the Peace Room sees IMD host 25 participants, including representatives from Mozambique’s key institutions, civil society organizations, and religious organizations. The participants meet throughout electoral cycle, including the campaign period, the day of the vote, and the announcement of the final result. The Peace Room meets throughout the electoral period and on polling day itself so as to ensure actors can transparently, and collectively, solve any disputes as they happen. After a successful programme for the 2018 elections, the Peace Room will convene again for general elections in late 2019, and is to be used as a model for supporting elections in other national contexts.
This programme is part of the ‘Lobby and Advocacy’ programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More on the Strategic Partnership with the Ministry here.
In partnership with DEMO Finland and IMD, NIMD is also working with provincial assemblies to implement effective oversight of Mozambique’s extractive industries. NIMD is supporting the relatively new provincial parliaments to organize oversight visits to extractive industries sites. NIMD also organizes opportunities for parliamentarians at provincial and at national level to engage with citizens, civil society, the private sector, academics, and each other, to ensure that policy on extractive industries is inclusive of local needs.
NIMD will simultaneously provide training in areas such as the role of parliaments in managing extractive industries, to strengthen the legal framework on oversight and enhance cohesion between the institutions involved. By concentrating not only on legislation drafting, but also its implementation and longer term oversight, NIMD hopes that the benefits of lucrative extractive industries can benefit wider Mozambican society for the long term.
This programme is a joint programme of IMD, NIMD, and DEMO Finland, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.