Within the context of the WKOP project which looks at different experiences of peace-building bringing together the initiatives and efforts of international agents and factors plus local and national actors, this research approached the chances and challenges for a sustainable peace-building from the ongoing process aimed at entrenching decentralisation in the country. This process is being led by both a sizeable number of donor agents and government departments as well as local communities.
The point of departure of our approach is that sustainable peace-building however defined can only be effectively accomplished given certain dynamics within the political and economic domains. For, in essence, because social and political exclusion, extreme poverty allied with perceptions of unacceptable inequalities always aggravate the instances of conflicts it is plain that this state of affairs is in directed contradiction with the logic of sustainable peace-building.
Therefore, those measures designed to foster social and political inclusion as well as the reduction of poverty appear to this research as the ones more conducive to boost a sustainable peace-building process. It is from these premises that this research establishes that in the existing conditions in Mozambique a sound and vigorous process of political and administrative decentralisation plus a coherent and well thought out and balanced policy of fiscal decentralisation are the main routes towards sustainable peace-building in the country.
It was in this context that we designed a number of critical questions posed to key players in this domain in the country. In regard to decentralisation and its relation to peace-building we asked two critical questions. On the one hand, we were first concerned with the chances of making sure that de-centralisation will encompass political inclusion and an end to the virtual marginalisation of Mozambicans, particularly those living in the rural areas, and thus constituting a sound basis for peace-building. And, on the other, we were interested in questioning how we can use the opportunity presented by the de-centralisation process to address the challenge of poverty reduction in the country as well as that of reducing inequalities and regional imbalances. Our second line of inquiry related to the issues of fiscal autonomy and the capacity (or lack of) of municipal, district and provincial authorities to deliver the required services to their communities.
The research was able to detect certain optimism as to the clear viability of a sustainable peace-building process in the country. The point of departure for this perception comes first from the array of institutional reforms that took place in the country following the 1992 Rome Peace Accord, the 1994 first multiparty general elections and the 1998 first local government elections.
Secondly, there is a clear reading that the decentralisation process – in its political, administrative and fiscal dimensions - is crucial both for the diffusion of power and for ensuring citizen’s participation and social cohesion. These aspects are considered as sound bases for peace-building in the country. Indeed, most Mozambicans are eager for more developments and are thus unhappy with the perceived deficiencies and slowness that characterise this process at the present moment.
Dr. Eduardo Sitoe, Lead Researcher Ms. Carolina Hunguana, Assistant Researcher