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Mozambique: Peace Process Bulletin, 1
Mozambique: Peace Process Bulletin, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 971001
Document reposted by APIC
Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
This posting contains excerpts from the Mozambican Peace Process Bulletin,
concerning the postponement of local municipal elections until 1998. The
full text of this and previous issues of the Bulletin can be found on the
Web at http://www.geocities.com/Paris/1661/awepa_index.html
The same site contains full text and references to a variety of additional
sources in both Portuguese and English on current developments in Mozambique,
including Noticias de Mocambique (Notmoc) and Mozambique News Agency (AIM)
reports. These references can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/Paris/1661/ultimaho.html
MOZAMBIQUE PEACE PROCESS BULLETIN
Issue 19 -- September 1997 (Excerpts)
Published by AWEPA, the European Parliamentarians for Southern Africa,
Prins Hendrikkade 48, 1012 AC Amsterdam
Tel:+31 (20) 524 56 78 Fax: +31 (20) 622 01 30
Rua Licenciado Coutinho 77 (CP 2648) Maputo
Tel: +258 (1) 41 86 03, 41 86 08, 41 86 26 Fax: +258 (1) 41 86 04
Editor: Joseph Hanlon [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Material may be freely reprinted.
Contents of Issue 19:
Part 1: Local elections postponed; What role for traditional leaders? (excerpted
Part 2: New land law increases peasant rights (excerpted in next posting)
Part 3: Threats to Peace: South Africans evict Niassa peasants; Demobbed
soldiers; PM warns on inequality (not reposted)
Part 4: Documents and reviews (not reposted)
LOCAL ELECTIONS POSTPONED -- MAY IS MOST LIKELY NEW DATE
Electoral registration will take place in November and May 1998 is the
most probable date for local elections in 33 cities and towns. This follows
a confused period in which registration and election dates were announced
and then withdrawn.
It proved impossible to organise elections this year. Donor money was
not available in time, and the permanent election administration technical
secretariat (STAE - Secretariado Tecnico de Administracao Eleitoral) could
not organise and train registration and election staff in time.
Donors have come in for heavy criticism for only beginning their own
very slow processes to release money once the election laws had been approved
by President Joaquim Chissano. At a 5 September press conference, Prime
Minister Pascoal Mocumbi said "we counted on donor contributions announced
as 'pledges' but when we came to the moment of truth, donors said their
bureaucratic mechanisms were delaying the release of the money, and we
were obliged to alter the dates" of registration and election.
Dr Mocumbi explained that dates will only be announced when money is
confirmed as available.
Registration will take place throughout the country, not just in the
33 municipalities having elections. Registration for the 1994 national
election remains valid and forms the basis of the register. In November,
people who are not registered or do not have a card will be asked to register;
those who still have cards will be asked to confirm their registration,
but this is not required. Training of registration staff has already begun
and they should be in place around the country by 31 October.
Registration could start on 1 November and continue to 30 November,
but STAE would prefer 15 November to 15 December.
Civic education staff have already begun training and a registration
education campaign should start 13 October.
CHRONICLE OF THE DELAY
The election and local government laws were only passed by parliament
on 30 April and clean copies were only sent to President Chissano in late
May. He signed the laws on 31 May. The laws require the first local elections
to be held in 1997 and for the Council of Ministers to announce the date
at least 180 days in advance. This left a very small window, and on 10
June the date of 27 December was set for elections, with electoral registration
starting 18 August, just five days after the end of the national census,
and ending 5 September.
The Saturday after Christmas was a widely unpopular choice. And even
though it was the latest possible date, both donors and the election secretariat
STAE said it would be impossible to organise elections in time
But there was strong pressure for elections in 1997. On 6 June Renamo
issued a statement accusing Frelimo of having decided to delay elections
to give them more time "to clean up the poor image of the government".
In fact, top Frelimo officials were anxious to move ahead with elections
in 1997, and the Renamo statement made them even more reluctant to delay.
Delaying the elections to next year requires changes in two laws, and
there was some expectation that the special parliamentary session in July
would do so. But neither Renamo nor Frelimo was willing to take the first
move, and nothing was done. On 30 July, Frelimo secretary general Manuel
Tome said delay was "impossible".
But donor pressure was building and donors met with government ministers
and Renamo president Afonso Dhlakama. Donors felt there was not enough
time for civic education, for STAE to prepare, nor for small parties to
organise. Finally on 5 August leaders of the three parliamentary benches
agreed to a delay. New legislation will be submitted to the 28 October
- 12 December parliament session, allowing a date in the first half of
It is accepted that the election should not be held during the March-April
parliament session, which leaves February (preferred by Renamo) and May
(preferred by Frelimo). Donors and STAE prefer May because it allows more
preparation time, and because February is still in the rainy season. Thus
May seems the most likely choice, but no date will be announced until November.
Meanwhile, registration was being rushed because of the need to finish
some weeks before an election. By early August registration staff were
still not being trained, partly due to lack of money. But only on 13 August
-- five days before the registration was due to start -- did the Minister
of State Administration Alfredo Gamito announce a postponement. Registration
can be rescheduled without new legislation.
ELECTION COMMISSION STARTS
The 9-member National Election Commission (CNE--Comissao Nacional de
Eleicoes) was named in July and has begun work. The CNE will preside over
all elections for the next five years.
President Chissano named as president + Dr Leonardo Simbine. He is a
lawyer and secretary general of the Ministry of State Administration (MAE,
Ministerio da Administracao Estatal). He was the Frelimo-nominated vice
president of the 1994 CNE. The Council of Ministers nominates one member
who is expected to be a technical expert, and it named + Fernando Macamo,
deputy national director of local government in MAE.
Frelimo named four members: + Rufino Nombora, a lawyer, former state
secretary for justice, and member of the 1994 CNE; + Angelica Salomao,
a medical doctor, national director for health, and member of the 1994
CNE; + Alcinda Abreu, dismissed as social welfare minister earlier this
year; and + Carlos Manuel, a lawyer and MAE official.
Renamo named three members: + Francisco Xavier Marcelino, formerly Jose
de Castro, secretary general of Renamo, and the Renamo vice president of
the 1994 CNE; + Joao Francisco Almirane, who had been a member of the Renamo
delegation to the Rome peace talks in 1992; and + Juliano Victoria Picardo,
coordinator of the Renamo youth league. ...
UNDP, the European Union and the government have agreed a $19 million
budget for registration and elections. Of that, $11 mn will be paid by
the EU, $3 mn by the government, and $5 mn from a UNDP trust fund (Norway
$1.4 mn, Switzerland $1.2 mn, Sweden $800,000, Austria $700,000, Denmark
$550,000 and Canada $500,000).
There was no shortage of pledges; indeed, elections are popular and
there was competition by countries to give money, in part so that they
could maintain political leverage over the project. Through the Trust Fund
mechanism, the UNDP also maintains a hand on the purse strings and can
Trust Funds are notoriously slow to set up--the 1994 Mozambique election
trust fund took six months to organise and another three months to actually
begin spending money. This time UNDP moved at record speed, having the
trust fund agreement ready by 27 June and the first money in early July.
The EU agreement was signed on 15 July. But both were too late to allow
STAE to hire staff and buy equipment for an August registration campaign.
Of the major donors, only the United States is refusing to cooperate
with other donors. It is putting $1.3 mn through US non-government organisations.
Donors meet regularly in a Local Election Working Group chaired by Denmark;
it is part of the Development Partners (formerly Aid for Democracy) group.
So far, donors seem satisfied and have imposed no conditions on their money;
they have not used their leverage except to push for the delay.
Donors accept the Mozambican government view that there should not be
a major international observation process like that in the 1994 national
elections. But they do want some arrangement made to allow locally based
foreigners working for NGOs, embassies and projects to participate in a
lower key foreign observation of the local elections. CNE President Leonardo
Simbine confirmed that the CNE would put forward regulations for observation
by Mozambican organisations, and will discuss foreign observation.
There is strong donor opposition to their funding of political parties
as happened in 1994, and general agreement that there will not be any trust
fund for political parties. Only the Netherlands seems to be considering
funds for parties, and only for 1999 national elections.
In 1994 party agents (delegados de lista) were paid by donors, and there
was much criticism that most were only there to earn the money. Some did
not even vote for the party they were supposed to represent. So far, there
has been no discussion of paying party agents in the registration or elections.
Three international non-government organisations are supporting civic
education for the local elections. The National Democratic Institute (NDI)
has a $750,000 USAID funded programme. It is supporting this month's STAE
civic education programme, including providing 4000 kits for civic educators.
It recently created a new Mozambican NGO, AMODE (Associacao Mocambicana
para Desenvolvimento da Democracia); the founder members are NDI's 10 provincial
coordinators, and NDI district staff are also members. NDI sees itself
shifting from direct civic education to providing technical support to
AMODE, according to Angela Abdula.
AWEPA is training civic education trainers and activists of Mozambican
NGOs at regional and provincial levels. It is also giving 10 provincial
seminars on the role of the new municipalities to party cadres and candidates.
AWEPA has produced civic education materials published jointly with STAE.
A detailed "Basic guide to local government" will also be published.
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung is producing civic education materials and
a political glossary translating 400 key terms into four local languages.
It has also started theatre and video projects in the four provinces in
which it works: Nampula, Sofala, Gaza and Maputo.
WHAT ROLE FOR 'TRADITIONAL' LEADERS?
Can unelected "traditional leaders" and discriminatory "customary
law" have any role in a modern democracy? This has been hotly debated
this year with respect to both the land and local government laws. The
new land law requires that the government (probably next year) bring in
a new law which will have to deal with "traditional authorities"
The very terms are debated, because "tradition" and "custom"
have changed radically in this century under the influence of both colonialism
and Frelimo. It is clear that in many rural parts of the country, communities
do have people they consider to be "traditional leaders" and
to whom they defer for certain kinds of advice and decisions. The titles
these leaders go by, and their precise status in society, varies very widely
across Mozambique. And it is equally clear that in cities, among young
people, and in some rural areas such leaders have no authority.
Similarly, so-called customary law, even if rapidly changing to reflect
modern society, is still accepted in many rural areas, and the decisions
of traditional leaders are important in settling local disputes. They play
a key role particularly with respect to inheritance and land allocation
in many rural areas.
The hotly debated question is how much formal recognition should be
given to "tradition" and "custom". This became an issue
in the 1980s. Frelimo had marginalised "traditional leaders"
as feudal. Renamo threw its weight behind the regulos who had been nominated
by the colonial state as local chiefs and as the lowest tier of the colonial
administration--they were sometimes hated but often had substantial local
prestige and respect.
In the late 1980s Frelimo recognised that its hard line had been unpopular,
and that it had to give some status to "traditional leaders".
The debate began, particularly in the Ministry of State Administration
(MAE). A series of studies coordinated for MAE from 1991 by anthropologist
Dr Irae Lundin and funded by the Ford Foundation and USAID argued for giving
official status to these leaders. The 1994 local government law had an
entire article on the involvement of traditional authorities, and draft
legislation formally recognising traditional authority was submitted to
the Council of Ministers in March 1996.
By then, the strong arguments of some Frelimo leaders against recognising
"traditional leaders" had regained their force. It was a colonial/feudal
system, it led to a colonial form of a separate "native" law,
"customary law" discriminates against women, and it is impossible
to create any structure which would be applicable throughout the country.
The Council of Ministers rejected the draft traditional authority bill.
In September 1996 the Council of Ministers withdrew references to "traditional
leaders" and "customary law" from the draft land law. The
1994 local government law had been considered unconstitutional, and in
late 1996 parliament passed a new local government law with only a weak
clause saying that local authorities "may listen to the opinions and
suggestions of traditional authorities, recognised by their communities
as such"--but they are not required to do so.
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa
Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational affiliate of the Washington
Office on Africa. APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate
in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa,
by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and
analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.