Background: Sustainable use of natural resources requires improved oversight by the parliament

Though Mozambique has seen economic growth in the past decade it still remains to be one of the poorest countries in the world. Newly found deposits of natural resources, mainly coal and natural gas, are predicted to give the country a substantial economic boost in the future in long-term.

Natural resources are globally one of the most common reasons for conflicts and like other developing, natural resource rich countries, Mozambique is in danger of the resource curse: without monitoring, regulations and transparency natural resources will not lead to equal economic growth or employment. Without oversight the extractive industry can create environmental problems, and in many places in Mozambique citizens have also been re-located by force to give way to mining.

It is important to put effort into democratic oversight of natural resources in Mozambique now, when many of the deposits are about to turn profitable. The role of the parliament, both at national as well as provincial levels, in democratic oversight is crucial.

Though Mozambique has held regular multiparty elections since 1994, throughout its independence one party, Frelimo, has been in power. There have been reoccurring tension and conflicts between the ruling party and the opposition. During 2018 steps have been taken in peaceful dialogue and for example the constitution has underwent changes regarding decentralization. The need for dialogue and trust building is still great, and the upcoming general election in the fall of 2019 will put Mozambican multiparty democracy to the test.

Our work in Mozambique:

With our partners Demo Instituto para Democracia Multipartidaria (IMD) and Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) Demo Finland set up a project in 2017 supporting the democratic governance of extractive industries and natural resources in Mozambique. The aim of the project is to have provided the National Assembly and six Provincial Assemblies with sufficient capacity to oversee the use of natural resources and pass laws that ensure fair distribution of wealth created by the extractive industries.

The project has built capacities especially of the Parliamentary Committees for Constitutional Issues, Human Rights and Legislation and for Agriculture, Economy and Environment on the social and economic effects of the natural resource sector as well as on human rights and environmental issues. Members of these Parliamentary Committees have also visited communities affected by extractive industry and interacted with citizens to evaluate effects of the extractive industries. In addition, Provincial Parliaments have been trained as well. The trainings are organized together with the training centre of the Mozambican Parliament and the Eduardo Mondlane University.

Another aim of the project is to advance dialogue between decision-makers at different levels as well as with the academia and civil society. A platform for open and constructive dialogue has been set where national level parliamentarians can share and interact with their provincial level colleagues.

Based on previous experience in Demo Finland programmes, peer-learning between Mozambican and Finnish decision-makers is an important element. Mozambican and Finnish MP’s have visited each other and mining sites in both countries to share good practices and experiences regarding extractives. The programme has also co-operated with other parliaments in Southern Africa.

Results of our work:

  • The project set up a dialogue platform for regional and national parliamentarians to facilitate co-operation in issues related to the extractive industry. The platform has allowed the regional parliamentarians to bring their hands-on knowledge from their regions into national level policy-making.
  • The training of the parliamentary Committees has raised awareness in the Parliament about the effects and dynamics of the Extractive Industry sector and its oversight role has improved. The project has introduced the rights-based approach for the Committees of the Parliament, and particularly the guidelines to monitor human rights in the extractive industry and in law-making.
  • The parliament, through its standing committees, is holding more hearings on extractive industry issues with the government, which are carried out with more technical knowledge than before.
  • Awareness about environmental rights has improved, as well as the Parliament’s intervention in this area. The work resulted in very concrete results, when MP’s received complaints from the local community about environmental problems in the mining sites. The Parliament´s intervention has resulted the government to take action in temporary closure of a coal mine in Tete and a heavy sand mine in Nampula.
  • On the regional level the parliaments are active in organizing hearings with relevant stakeholders, which has improved the capacity to monitor how laws are implemented.