Centro de Pesquisas sobre Governação e Desenvolvimento | Centre for Research on Governance and Development

Mozambique Legislative Development

Although holding “free and fair” elections is a necessary condition for democracy and democratization, elections alone do not make a polity to be classified as democracy. Democratization is a process of establishing mechanisms for holding rulers accountable to the ruled. Besides elections, this requires the establishment of strong institutions of countervailing power that limit executive authority between elections and ensure that such authority is exercised in a transparent and accountable manner.

The legislature is one such institution of countervailing power. Legislatures are necessary condiction for representative democracy.

In Mozambique, there is no single research project that focuses on legislatures that produces scientifically reliable data. We employ the African Legislatures Project analytical framework to learn how Mozambican legislature function through what we call the Mozambican Legislature Development Project (MLP).

The MLP is an exercise that straddles the realms of academic research and practice – in this case, research into the operations of the legislatures and what its findings suggest for Mozambican parliament, organisations working for legislative and democratic reform and supportive donor agencies.

The project tries to answer three main questions:

  • How and why do Mozambican legislature function as they do? Why are some Mozambican legislatures developing into significant institutions that play a measurable role in democratic governance while others are not?
  • What conditions and changes are required to develop and transform the Mozambican legislature into institutions that will sustain Mozambican’s fragile democracy?
  • What constitutes “best practice” for the purpose of strengthening Mozambican institutions which are an essential component of democratisation?To answer these questions, MLP has developed a range of quantitative and qualitative measures of legislative performance so that scholars and practitioners have a method for assessing and comparing the development of individual legislatures over time.

To achieve its purpose, we have identified more than 400 items (variables) that might explain the development and performance of legislatures, and in turn, their contribution to the broader processes of democratization and poverty reduction. The variables about which we seek information can be grouped into six broad clusters.

  • Formal Rules and Organisational Structure of Legislatures: the internal structure and procedures of the legislature that govern the selection of presiding officers, the structure of the committee system, control over internal finances, and the complement of staff.
  • Financial Resources: MP salaries, size and expertise of legislative staff and physical infrastructure like office space, committee rooms and computers.
  • Political Dynamics: competitiveness of elections, party systems, party discipline, balance of power between ruling and opposition parties, and leadership style.
  • Legislative performance: in law-making, oversight and representation.
  • Individual Attributes of MPs: the norms, skills and preferences that individual legislators bring to their jobs including educational, professional and experiential background.
  • Public Opinion: the values, expectations, preferences and evaluations of the electorate that may shape the behaviour of legislators.

MLP is relevant to the Mozambican parliament, organisations implementing legislative and democratic reform projects, and supportive donor agencies for three reasons.First, the development of the legislature into a viable institution that performs the three basic functions associated with legislatures worldwide is essential to the development and consolidation of democracy. No viable legislature, no consolidated democracy.

Second, we will fill a void by providing useful measures of the overall performance of individual legislatures. Comparison of these indicators over legislatures will contribute to a broad-based understanding of the factors that drive the development of legislatures over time.

Third, this information is vital to enable donors and implementers to raise the quality and impact of their legislative strengthening programmes in Mozambique’s emerging democracy. The lessons drawn from these data will provide a deeper understanding of why some legislatures develop and others do not and a complete “toolkit” that can be used to inform the design programmes in other countries. The Project will also help improve and systematize monitoring and evaluation components of parliamentary reform projects to understand better which interventions work and are most cost effective and which are not.