Big donors cave in

In order to spend $2.5 bn, donors

accept government line of no

grievance behind Cabo Delgado war



After eight months of confrontation, the big donors collapsed and stopped trying to push the government to accept that local grievances play a big role in the Cabo Delgado civil war. In October last year the World Bank, EU, ADB and UNDP tabled a proposed Strategy for Resilience and Development in the North (ERDIN) with promises of $2.5 bn attached. The proposal put substantial emphasis on local grievances - poverty, inequality, marginalisation, and no gains from local resources - as one of the major roots of the current civil war. President Filipe Nyusi has always rejected this, and government refused to even submit the ERDIN to the Council of Ministers, leading to a stand-off.


On 17 May the EU ambassador to Mozambique, António Gaspar, signalled that donors had backed down. He announced €65 mn for development in the north "for this year alone" and it was not conditional on the government agreeing to ERDIN. (Lusa 17 May) On 21 June, the Council of Ministers approved a new version of the document which dropped almost all references to poverty, inequality, and grievances. It is now called PREDIN (Programme for Resilience and Integrated Development in the North) and it has not yet been formally released, but copies are in circulation.


Two factors are behind the surrender. First the big donors and lenders such as the World Bank and European Union in Washington and Brussels approve outline budgets a year or more advance, and the pressure is on Maputo offices to disperse it. In the end, pushing money out the door is the priority. It is a total reversal of a decade ago when donors could withhold money to pressure government for policy changes; now government has the whip hand.


The other linked factor is that gas and minerals and the potential for huge contracts led the international community to throw their full backing behind Frelimo as people they could deal with. This had been stressed by the EU two months earlier when the EU 2019 election observation mission returned for a follow up. The 2019 report was damning: the elections commission did not follow the law, the voters register was inflated, "an unlevel playing field was evident throughout the campaign" with violence and illegal limitations on the opposition, and a wide range of irregularities.



The head of the 2019 EU Electoral Mission, Nacho Sanchez Amor, led the follow up mission in March in Maputo. His report showed that none of the 20 recommendations had been acted on. “To guarantee the fundamental political freedoms of citizens,” Sanchez told the press on 22 March, some changes were "absolutely imperative”, adding “if there is the political will, it can be done”.


But the message to Frelimo was very different. On 21 March he met with Foreign Minister Verónica Macamo, said he told her "if would be nice" if some of the reforms suggested might be implemented. (AIM 21,22,23 March)


That message was loud and clear: the EU will allow Frelimo to steal the next elections.


Links:

PREDIN (Programa de Resiliencia e Desenvolvimento Integrado do Norte de Moçambique) as approved by the Council of Ministers 21 June but apparently not yet published, an unofficial copy in circulation is on https://bit.ly/Moz-PREDIN.

(The value of PREDIN is $2 bn in one place in the report and $2.5 bn in another; ERDIN was for $2.5 bn.)

ERDIN (Estrategia de Resiliencia e Desenvolvimento para o Norte) as proposed by donors in October 2021 is on https://bit.ly/Moz-ERDIN

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