This blog got its hand on a working paper that is being widely circulated in UN circles in New York about the need for a repositioning of the organization in Mozambique after a loss of influence since the early 2000’s. It suggests that the new Mozambican socioeconomic reality opens for the UN an opportunity (not to mention a necessity) to take on a fresh normative leadership role. It is implicit here what we may call an inability of the UN to keep up with changes and evolve from a role of great importance and impact in Mozambique after the civil war to a relevant one in the current context of fast growth, new mineral wealth and great inequality, combined with rapidly changing patterns of foreign direct investment (FDI) and aid.
Not only does the paper offer a great discussion of the adequacy of the UN’s present impact in Mozambique, but it also has an extra advantage: it aggregates important data on all of the variables mentioned above, from historical charts on FDI to the percentage of investment that is tied to the booming extractive industries (an incredible 84%). I met the author, Alejandra Bujones, in Maputo, and I witnessed her efforts to obtain accurate information that was generally not readily available. For that alone her paper is extremely valuable for those interested in Mozambique.
The paper, which was commissioned by experts Bruce Jenks and Bruce Jones as part of their major study called “UN Development at a Crossroad”, hasn’t been published yet, so it cannot be made available at this point, but I can’t help presenting a tidbit of the information she gathered:
-“Prospects of foreign investment in Mozambique during the 10 years from 2010-2020 are valued at close to US$90bn (…), equivalent to seven times the country’s current total GDP of US$12.4bn.” 84% goes to extractive industries, 6% to manufacturing and only 4% to communications and transport (which, as I witnessed during my road trips there, are in great need of refurbishing).
-The top FDI investors in Mozambique in 2011 were: Brazil (US$ 908 million, nearly double the amount of the second largest investor), Mauritius, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland, Portugal, UAE, UK, USA, Vietnam. So where is China? Their investments actually come in the form of credit, and it doesn’t show in FDI data. Beijing lent in 2011 US$ 82.2 million, according to data obtained from Bank of Mozambique Balance of Payment 2011 report.
- Aid flows have been “decreasing continually from 56% of the country’s budget in 2008 to 44% in 2010 to 39.6% in 2012. The majority of ODA received by Mozambique is either delivered through project or direct budgetary support. (…) The UN’s share of total ODA makes up only a small fraction of this”.
- “NGOs receive only 4% of UN’s programmatic funds in Mozambique (the bulk goes to the government)”.
It is easy to see that results from aid in regards to growth and social indicators have been mixed, as the stagnate progress of human development shows. In what pertains to the UN, Bujones points out an important challenge to the ability of the organization to provide aid: in the past decade donors preferred to channel resources through direct government budget support instead of through the organization’s system. The UN had then fewer and fewer resources at its disposal and, to make matters worse, it tended to spread them around “a number of remotely connected initiatives.” Thus, it lost influence both with donors and with the Government of Mozambique, and the general perception was that the UN lacked a clear and coherent strategy for the country.
In a well-intentioned attempt to act in a united effort, the UN in Mozambique tested the “Delivering as One” initiative. It was, according to Bujones, an important first step with good impacts on efficiency and economic gains. However, it meant that the country offices had to focus on internal procedures for a while, leading stakeholders to believe: “that the UN has spent too much time focusing inwards, rather than looking outwards; that projects and programs are not sufficiently cross-linked to explicitly draw upon each other and add value; that programs continue to be too disparate, lacking strategic focus; that, with the exception of some UN agencies that have a clear and visible mandate, nobody really knows what the UN is doing where; and together these factors hamper the ability of the UN to provide leadership and substantive policy input in Mozambique.”
Another problem was that the UN in Mozambique was perceived as unable to mediate effectively between government, civil society and private sector. Even the national government, although it has been the greatest recipient of UN funds and efforts, “feels that “the UN’s project spread—especially its involvement in small-scale project implementation—is a distraction that takes it away from focusing on large-scale project management and strategic support at a higher policy and coordination level.”
To summarize it: no one is happy with the status quo.
Bujones lays out in the paper several suggestions for the UN to regain the important role it played in Mozambique in the aftermath of its 16 year civil war. First, she says the agencies have to move away from the inward approach. Second, they need to gravitate from “downstream direct service delivery programs” towards serving as “a catalyst to provide technical input and upstream advice to develop policy”. And, in general, the UN in Mozambique must “use its normative agenda to serve the whole of the Mozambican State (government, civil society, private sector, media) in areas where the interests of the State clash with the interests of the Government”, such as on how to best manage its new extractives revenues.
There is certainly great demand for the changes she proposes. As says Bujones in her final remarks: Both civil society and small private sector companies (…) are keen for the UN to intervene, either directly or by empowering Civil Society Organizations and Private Sector to participate in such discussions, in order to exert influence on the government and the multinationals to promote good governance, transparency and accountability.
I couldn’t have said it better.
American taxpayers, through no fault of their own, invested US$ 136 million in the Republican and the Democratic conventions this year: US$18 million for each “party” (in every meaning of the word) plus US$ 100 million allocated for security and police force during the events.
The sum has sparked a lot of questions, but it could be much more outrageous. Far from here, in Mozambique, which as we know occupies the 4th worse place at the UNDP Human Development Index, the party in power, Frelimo, is about to spend ridiculous US$ 8 million for their X Congress Convention, where it should be decided who will “run” for president next.
Frelimo’s Congress will take place on September 23-28 in Pemba (north), and 3000 party delegates and 2000 guests are expected to attend. In order to host all these people, part of the budget – around US$ 3 million, according to Frelimo’s secretary general, Filipe Paunde – is being used to build infrastructure.
At least it is not taxpayer money. Paunde said that the millions were given by members and supporters of Frelimo and that contributions have started a year ago. Still, the political implications are big. Around Maputo, rumors run rampant about who exactly is contributing: the most common stories involve big industries, organized crime, drug lords and rich immigrant communities such as the Indians. (I’m obviously mentioning this to give an idea of the general feeling of Mozambicans, and want to make clear that these are just rumors.)
Asked during an interview about spending that much money in a party congress during a crisis, the secretary general said: “We must understand what it is to govern. To govern is to make a plan and prioritize. The congress is the most important part of the party, the one which will make decisions about the next five years of Frelimo.”
Not using public money might be an advantage in terms of waste of resources, but the non specified donations sound very tricky. At least the Frelimo Congress has one big advantage over the US conventions when it comes to popular interest: There is actually a surprise element. It is not known yet who the party will choose to replace the current president, Armando Guebuza, and the internal fighting seems intense at the moment. It is important to note that in spite of the fact that Frelimo has officially been in power since independence (though during the civil war they didn’t have full control of the country all the time), the head of the party has indeed changed regularly, unlike other countries such as Angola.
However, this time the chosen name might not matter that much. Guebuza, elected in 2004 and reelected in 2009, has just been nominated as candidate for president of the party, a post he has occupied since 2005. Should someone else run for president, it will be a rare occasion when the head of the party and the president are two different people. Paunde argues that, should this be the case, there will be no fragility to the presidency. “The party orients the government. There is no conflict of powers. The president receives instructions from [Frelimo’s] Political Committee and implements them in the Presidency.”
…And here I was thinking that government and party should be separate institutions.
There is, of course, the fear that he will try to change de Constitution so as to run for a third term. Frelimo has denied that this could happen. But even if he doesn’t, if the Presidency is subordinated to the “politburo” of Frelimo, Guebuza will keep most of the power in his hands anyway.
Who wants to spell out implications for consolidation of democracy in Mozambique?
The news out of Mogadishu is that yesterday’s scheduled election, in which freshly appointed members of parliament were to select a new president, was postponed. MPs announced the delay in advance of their inaugural session, telling reporters that unspecified work must still be completed before parliament can proceed with the election for both president and speaker of the house.
The reason for the delay? While it’s easy to be cynical about Somalia’s transition — the latest in a series of failed attempts characterized by violent opportunism, shifting clan loyalties, and counterproductive foreign interventions — yesterday’s announcement likely derives as much from concerns over proper procedure as it does from outright political dysfunction.
Somali representatives and government officials have been operating on an accelerated timeline following the August 1 implementation of the new constitution. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG), an 8-year old, western-supported regime with only sporadic control of Mogadishu much less the surrounding regions in South/Central Somalia, lost its governing mandate on August 20 — yesterday. So by the time the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) finalized the new constitution, it had 19 days to complete a variety of tasks before the sun set on the old government. These included, among other things, publishing a public list of traditional leaders and empowering a technical selection committee to vet and appoint 275 new members of parliament. Although the technical committee’s job was made somewhat more simple by the institution of a 4.5 rule — assigning each of the four major Somali clans 61 seats, and a coalition of smaller clans a single allotment half that size — the selection criteria came under significant pressure as the committee was lobbied by not only domestic actors, but international ones as well, some of whom sent the committee intelligence information about potential selectees and their alleged roles in fomenting or organizing political violence in the past. Female representation emerged as a particularly contentious issue as well after the new constitution was passed without a 30 percent quota for parliament, which had been included in previous drafts. And clans of course engaged in fierce advocacy — and outright bribery, the UN claimed — to promote certain nominees and preempt disqualification of others.
These issues slowed the process to the point where as of yesterday morning, only 215 of 275 individuals had been appointed and sworn in as members of Somalia’s new parliament. Although the transitional procedures allow for an election with only a two-thirds quorum (184 MPs), the decision to delay may suggest that leading MPs recognize the distinction between formal procedure and legitimacy. The new constitution and corresponding 4.5 formula were built upon agreement from a fragile conglomeration of clans, traditional leaders, and members of the political and business elite — all of whom have been notorious in the past for fleeting allegiances and a remarkable capacity for disruptive behavior. Their full participation in the upcoming election may be necessary to ensure cross-cutting clan buy-in and avoid the emergence of powerful spoilers. Rather than risk disaffection by adhering to a strict timeline, the committee seems to have chosen a safer, and potentially more fruitful, path by swearing in all successfully vetted members and appointing the senior-most MP as temporary speaker to guide the representative body in its duties as the next steps are further prepared and negotiated. Early reports indicate that the decision to delay has the support of most key participants.
Still, that these calculated delays were even necessary speaks to a deeper level of political distress. The most recent draft constitution, on which the final version was based (with only minor changes), was generated on June 12. Even with a looming August 20 deadline for transition, the NCA could not move the draft into its final form for nearly two months, owing in part to fundamental disagreements over democratic principles and, as mentioned above, female participation in government. Ultimately the quota for female MPs was dropped as part of a “gentlemen’s agreement” among elders to appoint a similar percentage of female members without a permanent law mandating such representation. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if the issue didn’t emerge from a place of pretty severe skepticism over the role of women in public life. I recently spoke to a former Director General in a TFG ministry who expressed strong misgivings over current female parliamentarians, many of whom he accused of subverting traditional Somali values and engaging in dishonorable and despicable behavior that shouldn’t be repeated here. Though his opinion is not universally shared, Somalia’s largely traditional and Islamic society has lagged behind others in empowering women to take on significant public roles. And despite the “gentlemen’s agreement” that broke the stalemate a few weeks ago, the proportion of new female parliamentarians has thus far not approached 30 percent. Not even close.
Yet this issue, while important, is not the largest area of concern, nor source of potential future breakdown. That distinction, unsurprisingly, still rests with the clans and their often incompatible motivations for political engagement. While many observers are once again hailing this moment as a great achievement — the UN even released a rather optimistic joint statement with other actors that proclaimed an end to the transition — it’s important to remember that little has yet changed. Parliamentarians were selected, not elected. The 4.5 clan formula is still the basis for representation rather than districts based on population or geography. The leading candidate for president is thought by most to be the current president, a former member of a prominent Islamist Courts movement in 2006 and thought to lack political strength and a broad constituency. Somaliland’s status remains unresolved. Puntland’s transition may have difficulty moving forward without a more clearly defined political relationship between the federal regions (particularly regarding electoral systems and political parties). Public support for the whole enterprise is questionable since the TFG was never widely loved, seen primarily as a western creation that did little but prolong conflict. In a still insecure environment, communities will remain loyal to their clan which only further endows elders with political power and entrenches clan interests in the fabric of federal government politics.
If history is any guide, clans may be constructive participants only to the extent that they perceive a positive result for their communities. Political power being a finite resource, the presence of all major clan communities in Mogadishu may be the biggest, albeit counterintuitive, sign that the status quo remains. If real change was occurring, we would likely see at least a few prominent defections from those who lost out on the reapportioning of power. As it is, everyone seems to be taking a wait-and-see approach — and they’re even more inclined to do so since the AU’s intervention force, AMISOM, seems only weeks away from finally taking the last major al-Shabaab stronghold in Kismayo, south of Mogadishu. If that happens, and AMISOM further secures South/Central and the areas around Mogadishu, it will represent the largest area of influence for a non-Islamist Somali government in many, many years.
That’s a prize worth sticking around for, and the new government (if and when a president is elected and appoints a cabinet) will face much steeper internal challenges if al-Shabaab is further marginalized in both geography and operating capacity. Stability and security are two of the most important needs for Somalia, so this result would certainly be welcome in that respect. But the worry is that such stability would be illusory and fleeting if the government succumbs to the inevitable pressure that would emerge from clans and elite actors competing over access to the first meaningful state institutions in a generation. Provided access by the new constitution, all major groups are now positioned in Mogadishu to do just that. The following weeks and months will be the true test for the durability of this new transitional government.
Big news out of Garowe this week. On Tuesday, Puntland’s parliament finally passed the electoral laws that will govern Puntland’s first popular election in decades. Tentatively set for mid-2013, the poll will elect representatives to serve in district councils within each of Puntland’s administrative districts. An additional law will be passed at a later date to address electoral procedures for parliament. But this first step enables political associations to begin registering with the Transitional Electoral Commission for a place on the 2013 ballot.
Although a full English translation is not yet available, I had a chance to meet with the Electoral Commission a few weeks ago to learn about what at that point was the prospective electoral law. Assuming the law’s substance wasn’t dramatically altered by members of parliament, its provisions are quite interesting in how they seek to reconcile a number of powerful, and sometimes contradictory, concerns.
But first things first. Puntland’s district councils will be elected under a system of closed-list, proportional representation. All political associations that meet the Commission’s prescribed conditions will be allowed to contest the initial poll. These conditions include the following:
– A $15,000 registration fee, paid to the Commission
– Recruitment of 500 members from each of Puntland’s eight regions
– The appointment of a single representative to liase with the Commission leading up to the election
Once registered, these associations will develop internal processes to select their list of candidates to present to the public. All lists must include as many individuals as there are seats within a respective district council. For example, if Garowe’s council has 27 members — as it likely will — then all associations contesting seats in Garowe must list 27 names on election day. However, the first five names on all lists must also include at least one of each gender. There is no requirement for ordered placement, but this condition ensures that at least one woman will always be among an association’s first five candidates.
You may have noticed that I keep referring to “political associations” rather than “parties.” This is an intentional distinction created by the Commission. Puntland’s constitution and political party law, while instituting electoral democracy with universal suffrage, limit formal participation in representative bodies to three political parties, all of which must be registered with the government. How will these parties be selected? Through the results of the first district council elections, which will be open to all political associations that meet the aforementioned conditions. If, for instance, twelve associations register and compete, all that receive enough votes to claim at least one seat may join that particular district council, but the top three vote-winning associations for all of the councils will be singled out and formally registered by the government as political parties. No other formal associations will be allowed to contest elections for a period of ten years, after which the Commission will open the system once again for fresh competition to select the next set of three official parties.
With no census to set geographic distribution of representation from various districts and regions, the size of the councils will be determined by the electoral law. Yet this presents a somewhat bigger problem for the new parliament. Although the law governing that election is still forthcoming, the Commission thinks that one possible solution might be using voter turnout rates. In other words, a particular area’s turnout in district council elections will determine its allotment of seats in parliament as well.
This hasn’t been finalized, of course, but the ingenuity of such a plan could be matched by some pretty striking consequences as well. First, let’s take a step back and consider the law as a whole. The Commission had three primary concerns in designing a system: simplicity, legitimacy, and clan influence.
The first, simplicity, was addressed through proportional representation and the mechanism of translating votes into seats. The final law will spell this out in more detail, but my understanding is that the most likely option is assigning each seat a vote value based upon the total number of votes cast. According to one of the technical advisers to the Commission, this may be one of the easier options to understand, particularly for a population with little or no memory of elections. It means that 27,000 votes cast in a district with 27 seats would give each seat a value of 1,000 votes. The second concern, legitimacy, can be seen in the level of participation. Allowing an unlimited number of registered associations to contest the initial poll should in theory leave the population with the impression that the playing field was level, and that everyone had the ability to express their political preferences. Universal suffrage, of course, furthers this aim as well. Finally, clan influence was addressed in perhaps the most explicit manner — requiring all associations to collect 500 members from each region. Because clans are often located in particular geographic areas, this is a clear attempt to prevent the organization of parties around individual clan lines. Longer term, the hope is that requiring parties to recruit and maintain members from every region will help develop a culture where parties speak to cross-cutting issues rather than clan concerns.
Can these provisions serve their intended purpose? Time will tell, but the toughest of the three concerns, not surprisingly, will likely be clan and traditional sources of influence. Despite 500-member rule, two other provisions may have the unintended effect of boosting the role of clans. The first is the $15,000 requirement for association registration. This is a steep sum in a country where well over 50 percent of the population is nomadic and per capita GDP remains one of the lowest in the world. But even this only spells part of the story. According to an adviser to the Commission, conducting a full campaign for the first election could cost an additional $200,000. Aside from wealthy Somali businessmen and ex-pats living in the West, clans seem the most obvious place to secure that type of funding. And there are no campaign finance laws to regulate contributions.
The second problematic provision hasn’t yet been established, but deals with the census issue. If the Commission decides to base geographic representation on voter turnout, as mentioned above, this naturally provides a large incentive to get out the vote. As we see in the US and elsewhere, this requires organization, money, and intimate knowledge of communities — all of which clans possess in spades. It would not be a surprise at all to see traditional leaders mobilize their communities to vote early and often (quite literally, since there are no ID or registration cards).
Considered on the whole, this law seems to create an initial system that is comprehensible and transparent. It sets clear rules for participation, utilizes proportional representation to respect plural politics, and grants communities a local elected body to serve their interests. We may have to wait for the parliamentary electoral law to make broader judgments about the entire system and its corresponding incentives, opportunities, and constraints. And one much larger question concerns the overall compatibility of this system with the new Somalia constitution that I wrote about earlier this week. For now, it will be interesting to watch as new associations register, and to observe how all participating groups choose to distinguish themselves during the campaign season. Their composition, platforms, and ultimate voter-base may speak to the success of the Commission in addressing their biggest concerns.
In what many hope will be a milestone moment in Somalia’s political recovery, the 825-member National Constituent Assembly (NCA) in Mogadishu approved a provisional constitution one week ago designed to replace the Transitional Federal Charter of 2004. You can read about the contents here.
The new constitution was endorsed by a remarkable 96 percent of the 645 representatives that were present at the time of voting, and the NCA — whose membership includes an assortment of politicians and traditional leaders from around the country — will now move to select 275 Somalis to serve in a session of parliament that will elect a new president on August 20, the date when the 2004 Charter expires. At least three prominent government officials have already announced their intentions to run for executive office. Many others are expected to contest the election as well.
While a number of domestic politicians and international actors, including the UN Secretary General, are hailing this moment as a tremendous achievement, it should be noted that this new constitution is hardly the final word on Somalia’s impossibly protracted transition. Since the civil war of the late 1980s bled into the overthrow of President Siad Barre and the total collapse of the Somali state, there have been well over a dozen attempts to reconcile the disparate actors and interests, both formal and informal, with all achieving either partial or total failure. Largely characterized by intense competition over clan representation for even the initial stages of negotiation, these efforts became less about holistic political solutions to unify Somalia and more about securing an arrangement of power to benefit one’s particular group or clan community.
A preliminary reading of the new transitional process reveals that despite a democratic and highly ambitious constitution, little has changed in these fundamental political behaviors. Of the remaining NCA responsibilities, two of the most consequential include publishing a public list of traditional elders and, of course, selecting the membership for the new parliament — which may in turn draw heavily from the traditional leader list. These actions not only recognize the importance of clan politics, they institutionalize clan influence during a formative (and some would say determinative) period where the choices about representation, electoral systems, and participation all leave legacies that may predict, in part, the future character of the state.
But much of this was entirely foreseeable. And in the end, conceding the reality of clan influence rather than cutting against the grain to engineer alternative political identities may be the only way to generate enough political agreement to unify the country under one constitution and a single, if decentralized, political system. If unity is in fact the goal — one which most international actors seem to desire — then the expedient use of traditional institutions could yield short-term gains. Traditional leaders carry with them large constituencies that are often inclined to support agreements made by elders on behalf of the community. Yet questions remain about the long-term viability of a democracy whose institutions and offices are seen as a reward for parochial interests, rather than an opportunity to promote national growth and development.
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