| Democratic Process
This section has been updated
by Mr Boubacar Issa Abdourhamane,
a doctorate student at the CEAN, IEP Montesquieu University of Bordeaux
Arriving in power in 1975
after the war of decolonisation against Portugal, the Mozambique Liberation Front
(FRELIMO) has known no respite from the civil war in which it was soon opposed to the
National Resistance of Mozambique (RENAMO). Due to the failure of the Incomati Accords
with South Africa (16 March 1984) that were supposed to allow for the inclusion of some
RENAMO leaders in the government, civil war spread considerably from 1986 onwards. It was
against this backdrop that President Machel died in an unexplained plane accident and
Joaquim Chissano was appointed President on 6 November 1986.
In May 1988, South Africa and Mozambique decided to revive their joint commission. In February 1989, Pretoria presented new peace proposals and the United States offered to act as go-between. FRELIMO accepted first the mediation of Kenya, then that of Zimbabwe. On 9 January 1990, during a meeting, President Chissano announced the abolition of the death penalty and a draft for the revision of the Constitution. In July 1990, negotiations began in Rome, under the aegis of the Order of Santo Egidio (unofficially representing the Vatican), between the FRELIMO government and RENAMO, in the presence of American and Italian representatives and, notably, the Catholic Archbishop of Beira. This was the start of a whole series of sessions (rondas), some of which were failures, and it was only on 18 October 1991 that a 1st protocol was signed.
During the whole time these negotiations were going on, the war was still being waged with RENAMO globally managing to hold on to the zones under its control, despite the appearance of messianic counter-guerilla phenomena (such as the Naparamas). The global peace agreement was finally achieved on 4 October 1992 and the last military incidents ceased a fortnight later. The country now entered a period of administrative duality (not recognised in the agreements), while the UNOMOZ (UN Operation in Mozambique) took position, under the leadership of Italian Aldo Ajello, the special envoy of Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The two sides continued to be extremely wary of each other, with the rebel chief Alfonso Dhlakama constantly postponing the date of his move to Maputo, while the small parties of the third force could not enter RENAMO zones (about 23% of the territory).
The incidents provoked by the soldiers of both camps became increasingly frequent, with the aim of ensuring that they received financial compensation for being demobilised. The demobilisation of child-soldiers was an even more delicate problem. The very large majority of soldiers did not wish to enter the unified army and preferred to return home. UNOMOZ, with its 8,000 personnel, however, managed to play a true role in the domestic politics of the country and to overcome most of the obstacles. The election campaign took place more or less normally, even though RENAMO threatened several times to withdraw if the UN money (Trust Fund) to transform it into a political party did not arrive in time, and even though FRELIMO was accused of making full use of State resources.
The small parties were extremely divided and were edged out in the confrontation between the two former armed movements. The elections confirmed the victory of FRELIMO, but with the worrying feature that its vote was very concentrated in the four provinces of the south and in the far north. Conversely, although RENAMO was defeated, it was able to prove its political legitimacy, winning the vote of over one-third of the population and an absolute majority in the provinces of the Centre and Centre-North. The new, multi-party Assembly held its first session on 8 December 1994 and President Chissano was invested on the 9, appointing Pascoal Mocumbi as Prime Minister.
FRELIMO absolutely refused any suggestion that there should be a government of national unity and kept an exclusive grip on power, thus ensuring that RENAMO was kept away from all the resources of the State. In Parliament, seven multi-party commissions nevertheless set to work, especially to prepare the reworking of the laws requested by RENAMO in July 1995 and becoming reality in 1996 and 1997.
Although the resumption of civil war seemed unlikely, the stability of the country was nonetheless brought into question by difficulties of de-mining, by increasing numbers of urban outlaws and brigands and by the appearance of a strange armed group, the chimwenje, which set up in the former bases of RENAMO, although it carried out its activities largely in Zimbabwe. Continued disastrous social conditions placed the government in a difficult position and this was aggravated by the programmes of the IMF.
On 28-29 October 1995, rumours of a coup détat prepared by ex-RENAMO generals now in the unified army were denied by the Chief of State himself, although there was a lightning visit to Maputo by the South African Vice President, Thabo Mbeki. More seriously, violent clashes between police and traditional chiefs (regulos) broke out in former RENAMO zones, notably in Dombe (Manica) in June 1995: their only experience of the State being one of repression, these regulos refused to allow the police force to be set up before any progress had been made in education or social matters.
As well as all this, the election process hit some problems on the occasion of the first local elections in June 1998. Despite the revision of the Constitution that it had been granted, the adoption of the new law n° 2/97 on the municipalities and the setting up of the national electoral commission, RENAMO boycotted the election for lack of an agreement with the government on the institutional framework and the terms of decentralisation. The process of establishing peace and democracy has, however, made considerable progress since the signature of the peace agreements in October 1992. The last presidential and general elections date back to December 1999. The outgoing President, Joaquim Alberto Chissano, was re-elected for a term of office of 5 years by 52.2% of the voters, against 47.7% for his opponent Alfonso Dhlakama, the leader of RENAMO. In the general elections too, FRELIMO came first winning an absolute majority of 133 seats against 117 for RENAMO, out of a total of 250. The proclamation of the results triggered protests from supporters of the ex-rebels, who considered that there had been large-scale fraud organised by the party in power, but the international observers considered that the election had been fair. Yet this tension has not brought into question the process of national reconciliation and RENAMO, if we take a look at the scores it has achieved, has made a real success of its transformation from an armed movement into a democratic political party.
established itself as the single party in a Marxist-Leninist system at its 3rd Congress in
1977. This orientation was abandoned at the 5th Congress in July 1989. At the beginning of
1990, in the middle of the wave of urban strikes, the right to strike was recognised and
the road towards political freedom opened up. On 2 November 1990, the Peoples
Assembly elected under the single-party regime in December 1986 unanimously adopted the
new pluralist Constitution which came into force on 30 November. Any group with a certain
number of signatures from all the provinces and validated by the Supreme Tribunal was to
be recognised as a party. RENAMO refused to go through this procedure, estimating that the
Rome Agreements recognised it as a political party de jure. Mozambique became the
Republic of Mozambique and the Peoples Assembly the Assembly of
The system is semi-presidential, although imbalanced in favour of the executive. The President of the Republic is the Chief of State, head of the government and of the armed forces. He is elected for five years by direct universal suffrage, in a secret ballot on a first past the post system, and must be nominated by at least 10,000 electors, including at least 200 from each of the eleven provinces. A President may not have two successive terms of office, but may be re-elected after an interval of five years. The Prime Minister is responsible to the Assembly. The President may dissolve the Assembly, notably in case of conflict between the Assembly and the Prime Minister.
The Assembly is composed of 250 members elected by direct universal suffrage by proportional representation and by province, for a term of office of five years. It may overthrow the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister is not obliged to accept the vote and may be kept in office by the President. Moreover, the National Assembly may be dissolved by the President of the Republic.
The Constitutional Council is the competent body in matters relating to the constitutional validity of laws. It is also competent to supervise the electoral process as a whole, to take decisions in terms of electoral disputes and in questions of attribution of competence between the institutions of the State. Only the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Republic may refer a matter to the Constitutional Council and its decisions are not subject to appeal.
Under the single-party system, the locally-elected Peoples Tribunals were set up to compensate for the abolition of the traditional chieftaincies (26 June 1975) and the destruction of the intermediate legal administration with the departure of the Portuguese who managed it. Only the upper echelons remained professional. For this reason, the political independence of the legal system disappeared. The 1990 Constitution re-established this independence officially. The Supreme Tribunal oversees the lower courts all over the territory. There is also an Administrative Tribunal, military tribunals, tax tribunals, work tribunals and maritime tribunals. There is also a High Council of the Judiciary.
Decentralisation and Devolution
Under the single-party system
(1975-1990/91), the provinces had Provincial Assemblies that never succeeded in creating a
space of power alongside that of the Governor. There are a total of 11 provinces that are
themselves divided into 130 districts (of 1st, 2nd or 3rd class), themselves divided into
300 administrative posts (a sub-division that existed during the colonial period and was
re-established in 1986) and localities (corresponding, in principle, to the former
chieftaincies or regedorias, dissolved on 26 June 1975). Within the framework of
the decentralisation policy, a Project on Decentralisation and Democratisation (PDD) was
initiated under the supervision of the Minister for Territorial Administration.
Initially scheduled for 1996, the municipal elections (autárquicas) were the subject of intense debate. The initial law n° 3/94 voted by the FRELIMO in 1994 was replaced by law n° 2/97 on the municipalities. The elections finally took place in 33 localities on 30 June 1998, after being postponed three times. With the opposition, notably RENAMO, boycotting the election, the FRELIMO won all these constituencies. As the creation of the constituencies is being carried out gradually, other local elections are scheduled for later.
Fifteen formations, including
2 coalitions, that is to say a total of seventeen parties, stood for the 1994 elections
and only three won seats in Parliament. Only one was refused accreditation by the Supreme
Tribunal, the controversial PPLFCRM (Partido do progresso liberal-federalista das
comunidades religiosas de Moçambique) of Neves Serrano who had been expelled from
the police. Representation in the National Assembly after the 1999 general elections was
FRELIMO Frente de libertação de Moçambique, 133 seats
RENAMO Resistência nacional de Moçambique, 117 seats.
UD - =União Democratica.
Only a few independents stood against FRELIMO in the last local elections, with the opposition parties boycotting the vote.
Mozambican trade unionism
remains marked by the Portuguese corporative tradition of national unions (SN, Sindicatos
nacionais): as early as 1976 and especially after the dissolution of the last
colonial SNs in 1979, FRELIMO created Production Councils (CP, conselhos de produção)
entrusted with the task of controlling the labour force and intervening in the framework
of the (powerless) general workers committees in firms. In 1983, these were all
grouped together into one central organisation, the Organisation of Workers of Mozambique
(OTM - Organização dos trabalhadores de Moçambique), an extension of the
The OTM rapidly fell into crisis with the creation of the multi-party system and played no role in the great wave of strikes in January-March 1990. It proclaimed its separation from the party at its second National Conference in November 1990 and renamed itself Central Sindical, to the discontent of FRELIMO.
It is only recently that peasant organisations (either co-operatives in green zones of towns of in rural areas) have been formed and they may yet evolve into a form of rural trade unionism.
The 17 unions grouped together in the Organização dos trabalhadores moçambicanos Central Sindical (OTM-CS) officially represent 300,000 workers whose membership dues are taken directly from their salaries. The list of these unions is as follows:
- Sindicato nacional dos empregados de comércio, seguros e serviçios (SINECOSSE)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores dos portos e caminhos de ferro (SINPOCAF)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da aviação civil, correios e comunicações (SINTAC)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da indústria agro-pecuária de florestas (SINTAF)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da indústria téxtil, vestuário, couro e calçado (SINTEVEC)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da indústria do açucar (SINTIA)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da indústria alimentar e de bebidas (SINTIAB)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da indústria do cajú (SINTIC)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da metalúrgica, metalomêcanica e energia (SINTIME)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da indústria quimica, borracha, papel e gráfica (SINTIQUIGRA)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da marinha mercante e pescas (SINTMAP)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores dos empregados bancários (SNEB)
There are also unions that are not affiliated, including:
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da indústria da construção civil, madeiras e minas (SINTICIM)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores dos transportes rodoviários e assistência técnica (SINTRAT, led by Tomas Mandlate)
- Sindicato nacional dos trabalhadores da indústria hoteleira, turismo e similares (SINTIHOTS)
- Organização nacional dos jornalistas (ONJ)
- Organização nacional dos progressores (ONP)
The 1990 Constitution
recognises the right to strike, political freedom and press freedom, as well as habeas
corpus. The death penalty was abolished in November 1990 and the government has been
receptive to certain recommendations by Amnesty International. In late 1995, the dispute
about the situation of prisoners did cause embarrassment for the government, however,
after declarations by Interior Minister Manuel Antonio justifying their deplorable
In this country in which civil war lasted for several years, the parties in the conflict have often carried out acts of violence against their adversaries as well as against populations suspected of having supported them. However, Amnesty International has recognised that the human rights situation has improved noticeably since 1995. It should also be noted that, unlike UNITA in Angola for example, RENAMO has succeeded in converting itself into a political party and the various parties involved seem to be determined to keep their differences on the political field.
The government controls two
daily papers, although these publications are in fact privately owned: Notcias
(C.P.327, Maputo) and the Diario de Moçambique (C.P. 81, Beira). As well as the Boletim
da República (C.P.275, Maputo), we should also mention the pro-government weekly
papers Tempo (C.P.2917, Maputo) and Domingos (C.P.327, Maputo) and the
independent weeklies such as Demos (Maputo) and Savana (C.P.73, Maputo). Savana
belongs to a cooperative, Media Co-op, which also publishes the newsletter MediaFax
several times a week and Mozambique Inview (in English) twice a month. Imparcial
is the twin of MediaFax, but close to RENAMO. In November 2000, the best-known
journalist in the country and the most famous for his independence, Carlos Cardosoa, was
assassinated in Maputo, thus showing just how fragile press freedom remains.
Several professional publications are published at differing intervals (Agricultura, Revista Médica, Portos e Caminhos de Ferro, Economia) and there are also university publications (Estudos Moçambicanos, Arquivo) that are worthy of mention. In English, the Mozambique Information Agency publishes the monthly Mozambique File. The press was under the control of FRELIMO before the peace agreements but now benefits from a lot of freedom.