Mozambique may be poised for elections, but democracy in the country is wasting away, says JoÃ£o Pereira, a political scientist at Maputo’s Eduardo Mondlane University.
The processes are in place for the election of October 28, and the Constitution is of a high standard, Pereira said. But in reality, Mozambique’s ruling party, Frelimo, controlled the courts, police and the rest of the state and was far better resourced than the opposition.
Pereira said Mozambique was a softer version of Zimbabwe. ”In a country with towering unemployment, a political career is a way to survive — So the elections are just a blueprint for how the elite in Frelimo and Renamo [the main opposition party] will share the cake.
”None of our politicians are truly interested in providing improved service to the people.”
As a result, many citizens of Mozambique — which numbers 172 of 182 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index — have turned their back on democracy, said LuÃs de Brito of Maputo’s Institute for Socioeconomic Studies.
”After voting three times since the first democratic elections in 1994 without experiencing progress, voter fatigue has spread,” said De Brito. ”Thirty-six percent voted in the 2004 elections, compared with 68% five years earlier.”
He added that Mozambique’s true electorate is the international donor community, which accounts for nearly 60% of the country’s budget.
”It should be the Mozambicans building our country,” he said. ”This could be facilitated by donors if they supported organisations that promote critical citizens who demand that politicians are their servants, not their rulers.” He sees his country’s newest political party, the Movement for a Democratic Mozambique (MDM), as a breath of fresh air.
Henrik Lomholt Rasmussen is information officer for the Danish Association for International Cooperation in Mozambique