Mozambique: Reconstruction Plan for Cabo Delgado Gives Control to Maputo and Creates Slush Fund

A scene in Cabo Delgado province (file photo).

The Reconstruction Plans For Cabo Delgado approved by the Council of Ministers on 21 September consolidate power in Maputo, leaving little say for people in Cabo Delgado, concludes an investigative article in the October issue of Cabo Ligado Monthly (17 Nov) http://bit.ly/Ligado-Oct21 (also in Portuguese). And the huge variation in budget cost estimates shows that a slush fund is being created.

The reconstruction plan "indicates Maputo’s other priority for Cabo Delgado: re-establishing political control over the province. Ever since the discovery of natural gas in Cabo Delgado, the Mozambican government has worked to consolidate political power over the province in Maputo, a process that only accelerated over the course of the conflict. The reconstruction plan pushes control further into the hands of Mozambique’s president. As the plan makes clear, the lead implementers of the plan at the national level are the Council of Ministers - the president’s cabinet, which serve at his pleasure. At the provincial level, implementation is led by the Provincial Secretary of State, with the Provincial Governor explicitly relegated to an “assistance” role. The distinction is important because, under Mozambique’s recent constitutional reforms, provincial governors are directly elected by citizens of each province, but provincial secretaries of state are appointed by the president. … centralization of implementation allows Frelimo to pursue political consolidation with international partners’ money," reports Cabo Ligado.

"There is plenty of evidence in the proposed budget for Mocimboa da Praia district that there is slack built into reconstruction expenditures that can be used to line the pockets of political allies." For example, the district government intends to spend $52 each on 150 photos of the president and national flags to display in and around rebuilt government buildings. Yet the district office of the National Institute of Social Action also sets aside money to buy photographs of the president for its new offices - $94 per photograph.

The budget reports wildly different cost estimates for core supplies that will be necessary to rebuild district governance. Four different district offices will buy tents as temporary housing for the officials. Cost estimates per tent range from $28 for the district central government to $156 for the public health service to $783 for the district office of economic activities. "These kinds of discrepancies do not represent large dollar amounts in the scheme of government corruption, but they are harbingers of the kind of creative budgeting that could fund what amounts to a direct patronage system from the presidency to Cabo Delgado communities. If implemented, such a system could leave Cabo Delgado citizens with even less local control over their political future than they had before the conflict."

This issue of Cabo Ligado also has good investigative articles on international training, cross border trade, and cashew trade are all subject of investigative articles:

The Dynamics Of Informal Cross-Border Trade Between Cabo Delgado and Mtwara is a detailed and fascinating report about the legal and informal trade across the Rovuma River which is central to the economy of the zone. Many informal crossings, the formal crossing at the Unity bridge, and coastal boat traffic combine with the war and changing regulations on both sides to create a complex and changing trade pattern. "Traders are adapting their strategies according to the dynamics imposed by the authorities in Mozambique and Tanzania, as well as by the ongoing conflict in the country itself. Informality is also seen as a strategy for obtaining livelihoods in a context where local youth are mostly excluded from the major economic driver in the province: large natural resource extraction projects. Some traders in Palma have reported to Cabo Ligado that due to lack of integration in the district’s natural gas projects, they have chosen to engage in small businesses such as informal sales, moto-taxis, and other less profitable activities."

The Cashew Trade: A Case Study: "As recently as 2019, up to half the cashew nut crop from Nangade district was smuggled to Tanzania. A state-managed marketing system in Tanzania provides a higher price for Cabo Delgado cashews than can be obtained in Mozambique, particularly for more isolated producers in the north."

International Training Programs is the most complete summary of all of the various military training programmes, and highlights the lack of coordination.

The October issue of Cabo Ligado Monthly is on http://bit.ly/Ligado-Oct21

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