Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza declared in Brussels on Tuesday that inclusive development has been a cornerstone in Mozambique, at the epicentre of which is the fight against poverty in all its manifestations.
Speaking at the opening session of the Seventh European Development Days (EDD), a two day event organised by the European Union, Guebuza said that inclusive development should be sustainable, endogenous and led by Mozambicans.
Among the components that make such development viable, he argued, are the consolidation of national unity, self esteem and the culture of peace; democratic institutions and practices; sound macro-economic management, good governance and the transparent management of natural resources; and the protection of the environment and of biodiversity.
As an example of inclusive growth, Guebuza cited the expansion of the social services, which has led to reduced illiteracy, and reduced maternal and infant morality rate.
"For example, neonatal mortality per 1,000 births has fallen from 48 in 2003 to 30 in 2011", he said. "Infant mortality per 1,000 births fell from 124 in 2003 to 64 in 2011".
Decentralising decision making power to local governments was another factor driving inclusive development, he said, This included decentralizing financial resources to rural districts.
Guebuza stressed the infrastructure fund for districts, and the District Development Fund (FDD), still commonly referred to as "the seven million" because it started in 2006 as an allocation of seven million meticais (about 243,000 US dollars, at current exchange rates) from the state budget to each of the 128 districts. The FDD money was to be lent to citizens with viable projects for boosting food production, generating income and creating jobs.
Guebuza said that, thanks to the FDD, in 2011 alone over 7,000 projects created about 20,000 jobs. "These are very positive results, although we recognise the challenges in managing these resources to ensure full repayment", he added.
Guebuza stressed that his annual tours around the country, known as "open and inclusive presidencies", have promoted the use of freedom of expression among citizens. At his public rallies, he explained, citizens speak freely about the problems they face, denouncing mismanagement, red tape and bad governance, with no fear of reprisals.
Turning to the concept of "redistribution of wealth" as applied in Mozambique, Guebuza said that, at first sight, it may suggest passive citizens, their hands outstretched, waiting for charity from others to produce the wealth which would then be distributed.
But that was not at all what Mozambicans meant, he stressed. In Mozambique "this concept is expressed in the empowerment of citizens to play their part in the fight against poverty, because wealth is produced through work, and you only distribute what you have".