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Mozambique: Aid spat

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Mozambique, Citizen Media, Development, Governance, International Relations, Politics

Mozambique relies on money from other governments that give aid directly to its State Budget, making possible essential services like health and education.

The relationship between the “donor” countries, and the Mozambican government, which has remained in the hands of the strong ruling party, has had its ups and downs over the years. And the donor countries are diverse, from Europe, North America and Asia, and they have rarely acted with a unified voice.

Since the late 1990s, most donor countries have repeatedly demanded proof of improvement in “governance” – in what relates to corruption, improvements in accountability and the rule of law. These demands were made concrete in written agreements between donor countries and Mozambique.

The murders of two high profile figures investigating corruption in 2000 [1] and 2001 [2] continue unresolved in the eyes of donor countries. The recent trial of managers of Mozambican Airports, a state enterprise, for embezzlement of millions of dollars of state monies reminded that corruption continues to occur at a high level.

[3]

Photo from Flickr user Sida – Swedish International Development Cooperation

 

Yet, it is safe to say that, until Sweden decided that it would reduce its support to the Mozambican budget last year, most of the tension between donor countries and the receiving government remained behind closed doors. Additionally, last year's presidential election also elevated public tensions, as donors challenged the administration of elections.

Joseph Hanlon, long-time Mozambique analyst, journalist and Professor at Open University, offers up a full section on his website documenting the “donor strike” of 2010. He summarizes [4]

Budget support donors (G19) sent two letters to government in December 2009, demanding rapid moves on electoral law reforms, corruption, conflict of interest, and the overlap between the Frelimo party and the state. Budget support was suspended. On 5 February 2010 Aiuba Cuereneia, Minister for Planning and Development and the main government negotiator with the donors, sent a reply [letter] to the G19, setting out the government position and making few concessions. […] Negotiations in early March led to an agreement announced 24 March and a resumption of the flow of money.

Edígio Vaz kicked off a debate in the Mozambican blogosphere in March [5] [pt] on the recent breakdown of communication between donor nations and his government

O maior problema do Governo, segundo os doadores, foi sempre o de ter aceitado as metas, indicadores de desempenho e objectivos negociados com os doadores no âmbito do PAP sem que contra eles apresentasse qualquer resultado tangível ou relatório de progresso circunstanciado, como acordado.

A demora, as manobras dilatórias, as desculpas, os relatórios generalistas e muitas vezes prolixos, contrastam com o avantajado estado quase capturado em que o Estado se encontra, pela gang cleprocrata incrustada aos vários níveis da gestão da coisa pública.

The biggest problem of the Government, according to the donors, was always to have accepted the goals, indicators of success and the objectives, negotiated with donors in the PAP [Program Aid Partnership], without showing a tangible results or circumstantial report against them, as agreed.

Delays, foot-dragging, excuses, very general and wordy reports, are in contrast with the advanced capture of the State by a cleptocrat gang established at various levels of the management of public goods.

Vaz describes the government's 18-page letter to the donors, as “an irreparable shot in the air”. But he also blames the donor countries [Pt] [5]

… A megalomania do grupo dos PAP foi manifesta, ao ponto de lhes ter entorpecido a inteligência, necessária para o discernimento entre factos, necessários para servir de base para a tomada de decisão

… The meglomania of the group of PAP [Program Aid Partnerships] was manifest, to the point of having dulled their intelligence, needed to discern the facts necessary to make decisions

In his view, the donor countries punished the “new” Frelimo government entering after the October election, including a new Prime Minister, preventing it from beginning anew with new social programs.

But readers responded to Vaz, reminding that many donor countries are suffering severe economic crisis. Zenaida Machado writes [Pt] [6]

Em alguns países europeus há e haverá cortes drásticos de orçamento 2010/11 e que de certeza, irão afectar o OGE/2011 de Moçambique.

Mesmo assim, acho que esta ‘crise’ europeia veio mesmo a calhar e serve de castigo/lição para as nossas ‘instituições’ politicas e governamentais

In some European countries there are and there will be drastic budget cuts in 2010/11 and certainly, this will affect the Mozambique State Budget in 2011.

Even so, I think that the timing of this “crisis” serves as a punishment/lesson for our governmental and political institutions.

Some took a more comical take on things, like an amateur cartoonist featured by Carlos Serra, who drew the Mozambican government having a shock at the “donor cash machine” [pt] [7].

The delay caused by the negotiations over aid this year did not, according to the Mozambican government, affect service delivery as the 2010 budget was still being finalized during the “donor strike”. But Vaz concludes that [pt] [5]

De uma ou de outra forma, fica claro que as duas partes precisam de aprimorar os mecanismos de comunicação, diálogo político e acima de tudo, serem realistas nas decisões e compromissos que acordarem.

In some way or another, it is clear that both parties must sharpen their mechanisms of communication, political dialogue, and above all, be realistic in their decisions and the commitments they make.