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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09MAPUTO1144 2009-10-21 15:51:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Maputo
Cable title:  

CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS PESSIMISTIC ABOUT

Tags:   PREL PGOV KDEM MZ 
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RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #1144/01 2941551
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 211551Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0862
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0533
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 001144 

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM MZ
SUBJECT: CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS PESSIMISTIC ABOUT
MOZAMBIQUE'S FUTURE

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Todd C.Chapman, Reasons 1.4(b+d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: On October 15 key members of Mozambican
civil society joined visiting AF/S Deputy Director Susie
Pratt for a dinner hosted by the Charge to discuss the
country's elections and shrinking political
space. While acknowledging that much has been accomplished
since the 1994 presidential elections following the civil
war, the civic leaders expressed marked pessimism as to
Mozambique's future. The current ruling party, FRELIMO, has
consolidated its authority over all branches of the
government and much of the private sector, and is anticipated
to triumph easily in the presidential, parliamentary and
provincial elections set for October 28. The results of the
elections are expected to provoke resignation, not outrage or
significant violence, among the populace. Several of the
participants urged the USG not to issue sharply critical
statements unless they were backed up by action, such as a
reduction in aid; rather, they suggested that the USG
consider complimenting the public for voting, finding ways to
shore up an increasingly enfeebled and impotent civil
society, and carefully documenting the flaws in the electoral
process. END SUMMARY.



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A LONG, BAD WAVE COMING


--------------------------





2. (C/NF) Joining Pratt, the Charge, the A/DCM, Poloff and
USAID Democracy team leader were: Miguel de Brito, Institute
of Social and Economic Studies (IESE); Sheik Abdul Carimo
Sau, Islamic Council of Mozambique and the Electoral
Observatory (OE); the Reverend Dinis Matsolo, Executive
Director of the Council of Christian Churches and also with
the OE; and Manuel de Araujo, a former RENAMO MP and founder
of the Center for Mozambican and International Studies
(CEMO). In response to Pratt's question about the current
Mozambican political scene, de Brito characterized progress
since the original 1994 elections but compared the current
environment to a "bad wave," and speculated that matters
would likely continue to deteriorate for at least another
five years. De Brito observed that former president and Mo
Ibrahim prize winner Joaquim Chissano had permitted a
then-nascent civil society to gain a toe-hold, however
modest, which Frelimo hardliners believe contributed to his
near-loss in the 1999 presidential election. Current
President Armando Guebuza has made all efforts necessary to
ensure the same would not happen to him.



--------------------------


A BRIEF WINDOW FOR INTERNATIONAL ACTION


--------------------------





3. (C) De Araujo joined Sheik Carimo in suggesting that
FRELIMO control was more extensive than generally
recognized and that the "bad wave" would last longer than
five years. "Things will get worse. We are only seeing the
beginning," de Araujo said. Sheik Carimo, who travels
extensively and often in Mozambique, related several
anecdotes detailing illegal FRELIMO tactics to discourage
opposition voters or destroy competing parties' campaign
materials. De Araujo noted that much of the international
community's influence derives from its donor contributions,
in excess of 50% of Mozambique's budget. He stated that,
assuming current estimates of greatly increased natural
resource revenues -- primarily from coal, natural gas and
hydroelectric power -- are correct, such leverage will wane.
The years preceding the 2014 elections may be the
international community's last opportunity to effect change,
encourage transparency and stimulate democratic governance.



--------------------------


FRELIMO TOWERS OVER A FEARFUL CIVIL SOCIETY


--------------------------






4. (C) De Brito and de Araujo described FRELIMO's
dominance of the political and economic space as the result
of careful, long-term planning: FRELIMO is always two steps
ahead of the opposition, electoral observers, and even the
donor community. Sheik Carimo added that, despite RENAMO's
former strength in rural regions, FRELIMO had made
significant in-roads. Over the past five years, it has put
into effect a strategy of re-launching itself as an even
stronger party, one less vulnerable to outside influence,
whether from opposition parties or donor nations.


MAPUTO 00001144 002 OF 002




5. (C) The Charge recalled one student's reaction to a
speech he had given on cooperation, transparency, and the
problem of corruption in the central province of Manica: "It
is easy for you, with your diplomatic immunity, to urge us to
speak out. But we are afraid. If I were to denounce
corruption or challenge authority, my father would lose his
government job and my sister and I our places at the
university." The audience had cheered and clapped in
response. The dinner guests acknowledged that fear was a
constant for civil society, with different groups
demonstrating different levels of tolerance for
officially-inspired pressure on their organizations.



--------------------------


WHAT SHOULD THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY DO?


--------------------------





6. (C) The Charge asked for the group's suggestions as to
what the diplomatic community should do during the
coming weeks. Their responses varied. Reverend Matsolo
accepted an overwhelming FRELIMO mandate as a fait accompli
and cautioned against comments which might needlessly provoke
public acts of violence. Acknowledging FRELIMO's deft
manipulation of the elections he said: "The soil has been
prepared." De Brito concurred: "First, do no harm. The
people need a period of calm to reflect on next steps." De
Brito also expressed concern that hasty foreign criticism
might play into FRELIMO's hands, allowing it to arouse
nationalist passions by "playing the xenophobia card."
Araujo, however, urged international missions to take action,
pointing out the importance of seeing a passing observer
vehicle and reminding the group of international observers'
positive contribution to calm in this past year's municipal
elections. He also urged greater support for the press and
other sectors of civil society.



7. (C) De Brito recognized the difficulty inherent in
securing consensus among the several observer groups --
EU, AU, UNDP, SADC, etc. -- but counseled that the more
consistency in reporting, the better. While the Mozambican
people might be more receptive to an AU or SADC opinion,
FRELIMO was likely to take note of all reporting and
commentary, he said. De Brito suggested a middle ground
between Araujo's call to action and Reverend Matsolo's more
cautious approach: "Western commentators should laud the
Mozambican people for casting their votes, but detail as
completely as possible the flaws throughout the electoral
process, not just focusing on election day. FRELIMO has
planned well: installing pliant members at the National
Election Council (CNE), suppressing the nomination of
independent judges to the Constitutional Council,
manipulating voter registration rolls, disqualifying selected
parties from legislative elections, and excluding most
candidates from the presidential elections."



--------------------------



--------------------------


COMMENT: DISCOURAGED, BUT RESIGNED TO THE LONG HAUL


--------------------------



--------------------------





8. (C) The Mozambican experts gathered at the Charge's
residence have decades of political experience. They
were unanimous in their pessimistic assessment of the
country's political future. Nonetheless, they remained
resolute. While recognizing FRELIMO's stranglehold on an
ever-weakening civil society, they were looking ahead to the
2014 elections, and considering how best to wrest back
control of their country at the polls. Their unanimous
opinion was that the international community needed to begin
immediately fortifying civil society and the electoral
institutions to prepare for an improved election in 2014.
More than one expressed regret at the decline in civil
society support from the USG and other donors in recent
years. Most discouraging perhaps was the sense of
inevitability that FRELIMO would continue to control all
instruments of power in Mozambique for the foreseeable future
and that the opportunities for genuine democratic change in
Mozambique still remained a long way off.

CHAPMAN
CHAPMAN