Mozambique: Government

Principal Government Officials

Chief of State: President Armando Guebuza
Head of Government: Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina

Mozambique is a constitutional democracy with an estimated population of 23 million. The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) has been the ruling political party since independence in 1975, heavily influencing both policymaking and implementation. While civilian authorities generally maintain effective control of the security forces, there have been some instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently.

In 1994 the country held its first democratic elections. Joaquim Chissano was elected President with 53% of the vote, and a 250-member National Assembly was voted in with 129 Frelimo deputies, 112 Renamo deputies, and 9 representatives of three smaller parties that formed the Democratic Union (UD). By 1999, more than one-half (53%) of the legislation passed originated in the Assembly.

The second general elections were held in December 1999, with high voter turnout. International and domestic observers agreed that the voting process was well organized and went smoothly. Both the opposition and observers subsequently cited flaws in the tabulation process that, had they not occurred, might have changed the outcome. In the end, however, international and domestic observers concluded that the close result of the vote reflected the will of the people.

The third general elections occurred in December 2004. Frelimo candidate Armando Guebuza won with 64% of the popular vote. His opponent, Afonso Dhlakama of Renamo, received 32% of the popular vote. The estimated 44% turnout was well below the almost 70% turnout in the 1999 general elections. Frelimo won 160 seats in parliament. A coalition of Renamo and several small parties won the 90 remaining seats. Armando Guebuza was inaugurated as the President of Mozambique on February 2, 2005. Elections in Mozambique’s 43 municipalities took place on November 19, 2008. Frelimo mayoral candidates won in 42 of the 43 contests.

In October 2009, Mozambique held simultaneous presidential, legislative, and provincial assembly elections. The results were much the same as 2004 with Frelimo candidate Armando Guebuza winning 75% of the presidential vote and Afonso Dhlakama of Renamo coming in second with nearly 14%; Daviz Simango of the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) had 9.28% of the votes. Following parliamentary elections, Frelimo held 192 seats, Renamo 50, and MDM 8.

Formed in early 2009 by incumbent Mayor of Beira and former Renamo rising star Daviz Simango, MDM represented the largest new face in the 2009 elections. Almost 2 months prior to election day, the National Elections Commission (CNE) released the list of eligible parties for the three races. Alleging missing registration documentation, CNE excluded multiple opposition parties, most notably MDM, from running in the National Assembly and provincial assembly electoral process. MDM, now excluded from 7 of 11 provinces due to CNE’s decision, appealed to the Mozambican Constitutional Council, which in turn upheld CNE’s ruling. Amidst rumors of Frelimo ties to both the Constitutional Council and CNE, the donor community voiced unified concern regarding the transparency of Mozambique’s multi-party elections and continues to work with the Government of Mozambique to further electoral reform. Election day itself was considered well-run, peaceful, and generally well-organized, and most scrutiny was directed toward the pre-election decisions by the CNE and Constitutional Council. As a result of the irregularities in the election process, Freedom House removed Mozambique from its list of electoral democracies.

Despite the government's strong anticorruption rhetoric, corruption in the executive and legislative branches was widely perceived to be endemic in 2009. The World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a serious problem. Petty corruption by low-level government officials to supplement low incomes, and high-level corruption by a small group of politically and economically connected elites continued to be the norm. Corruption largely resulted from a lack of checks and balances, minimal accountability, and a culture of impunity. Local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the Center for Public Integrity, and media groups continued to be the main civic forces fighting corruption, reporting and investigating numerous corruption cases. Mozambique ranked 116 out of 178 countries in Transparency International's 2010 Corruption Perception Index, up from a 2009 ranking of 130 out of 180 countries. The law requires that all members of the government declare and deposit their assets with the Constitutional Council, but does not require that such information be made available to the general public. Comprehensive anti-corruption legislation is currently pending parliamentary approval.

While allegiances dating back to the liberation struggle remain relevant, Mozambique's foreign policy has become increasingly pragmatic. The twin pillars of Mozambique's foreign policy are maintenance of good relations with its neighbors and maintenance and expansion of ties to development partners.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Mozambique's foreign policy was inextricably linked to the struggles for majority rule in Rhodesia and South Africa, as well as superpower competition and the Cold War. Mozambique's decision to enforce UN sanctions against Rhodesia and deny that country access to the sea led Ian Smith's regime to undertake overt and covert actions to destabilize the country, including sponsoring the rebel group Renamo. After the change of government in Zimbabwe in 1980, the apartheid regime in South Africa continued to finance the destabilization of Mozambique.

The 1984 Nkomati Accord, while failing in its goal of ending South African support to Renamo, opened initial diplomatic contacts between the Mozambican and South African Governments. This process gained momentum with South Africa's elimination of apartheid, which culminated in the establishment of full diplomatic relations in October 1993. While relations with neighboring Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania show occasional strains, Mozambique's ties to these countries remain strong.

In the years immediately following its independence, Mozambique benefited from considerable assistance from some western countries, notably the Scandinavians. Moscow and its allies, however, became Mozambique's primary economic, military, and political supporters and its foreign policy reflected this linkage. This began to change in 1983; in 1984, Mozambique joined the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Western aid quickly replaced Soviet support, with the Scandinavians, the United States, the Netherlands, and the European Union becoming increasingly important sources of development assistance. Italy also maintains a profile in Mozambique as a result of its key role during the peace process. Relations with Portugal, the former colonial power, are complex and of some importance as Portuguese investors play a visible role in Mozambique's economy.

Mozambique is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and ranks among the moderate members of the African Bloc in the United Nations and other international organizations. Mozambique also belongs to the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In 1994, the government became a full member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), in part to broaden its base of international support but also to please the country's sizeable Muslim population. Similarly, in early 1996, Mozambique joined its Anglophone neighbors in the Commonwealth. In the same year, Mozambique became a founding member and the first President of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), and maintains close ties with other Lusophone states.


CIA World Factbook (November 2011)
U.S. Dept. of State Country Background Notes ( November 2011)