Geoffrey Wood and Richard Haines, "Tentative Steps
towards Multi-Partyism in Mozambique," Party
Politics, 4 (January 1998), 107-118.
Following more than a decade of civil war, protracted
negotiations between the main warring parties led to a peace
settlement, and Mozambique's first ever democratic
elections, held in November 1994. However, despite the
formal adoption of a multi-party system, Mozambique has yet
to achieve the status of a fully functional democracy. This
article explores the changing roles and orientations of the
various political actors, following the introduction of a
multi-party system. Particular attention is focused on the
growing lack of coherent policies by the major parties, and
their partial degeneration into little more than vehicles
for accessing state resources. In this sense, it can be
argued that whilst the trappings of a multi-party system
have become successfully institutionalized, the substance of
such a system remains elusive.
Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Assembly of the Republic: 1994 election results
There seems little to distinguish the two main political
parties in Mozambique other than in terms of different
regional constituencies. Both, for example, seem to have
equally incoherent attitudes to privatization, reflecting
internal divisions. Neither party appears capable of
imposing discipline on its parliamentary delegates, and
neither seems averse to sweeping policy shifts when
expedient. On the one hand, policy flexibility by different
political actors could reflect political maturity,
signifying a shift away from politics as a 'zero sum game'.
On the other hand, the erratic issue-orientated policy
shifts associated with Mozambican political parties appear
to be largely prompted by concerns of patronage and/or
immediate access to wealth by specific interest groupings.
It seems that neither party can rely on a disciplined
parliamentary caucus (Mozambique file, December 1995).
Indeed, it can be argued that Mozambique has progressed from
a one, to a multi- to what can be termed a 'no-party
system'. Whilst the different political actors remain, their
policy foundations have long since vanished. Although
retaining regional and ethnic constituencies, their major
focus has become that of competing for material resources,
resources that remain concentrated in the capital. Given the
extremely weak nature of the Mozambican state, it is thus to
be expected that there is little to distinguish the main
political parties in terms of formal policy. Indeed, they
have degenerated into little more than vehicles for
accessing rapidly diminishing state resources.