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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Mozambique: Peace Process Bulletin, 1

Mozambique: Peace Process Bulletin, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 971001
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
Summary Contents:
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

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:

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


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 [].

Material may be freely reprinted.

Contents of Issue 19:
Part 1: Local elections postponed; What role for traditional leaders? (excerpted below)
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)


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 This follows a confused period in which registration and election dates were announced and then withdrawn.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.


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 1998.

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.


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 exert pressure.

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.


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" and land.

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.

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