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Mozambique - Government

Mozambique is a constitutional democracy with an estimated population of 23 million. The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) has been the ruling political party since independence in 1975, heavily influencing both policymaking and implementation. While civilian authorities generally maintain effective control of the security forces, there have been some instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently. The country is a republic grounded in the 1994 constitution, which provides for a multiparty political system, a market economy, and free elections. The democratically elected government is composed of legislative, judicial, and executive branches.

The president has a five-year term of office with a constitutional right to be reelected twice. He appoints a prime minister and ministerial cabinet that the National Assembly approves. Mozambique's first constitution, which lasted from 1975 to 1990, stated specifically that the President of FRELIMO was the head of state. Election of the head of state by universal suffrage was introduced in the 1990 constitution, which stated that the President of the Republic might be re-elected twice. The Constitution states that the President is the Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence and Security Forces. The President embodies national unity, guarantees the Constitution, oversees the correct functioning of State bodies and represents the country domestically and internationally. The President is elected by universal ballot for a five-year term and may be eligible for a second consecutive term or even further terms as long as discontinuous (articles 147 and 148 of the Constitution).

The Constitution gives the President vast powers (article 159 to 163 of the Constitution), including the power to promulgate laws, sign decree-laws and order their publication in the Official Gazette. Furthermore the President can refer bills to the Constitutional Council for control of constitutionality. If a bill is declared unconstitutional the President must veto and send it back to the Parliament. The President has a consultative body called Conselho de Estado (Council of State) to which he presides. This body advises the President in very specific situations such as the dissolution of the Parliament, discharging the Government, declaration of war etc. (Title VI, Chapter III, articles 164 to 167 of the Constitution).

The Government’s structure, composition and activities result from articles 200 to 211 of the Constitution. The Government is composed by the Prime-Minister and the Ministers. The cabinet or collegial body (President, Prime-Minister, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Secretaries of State) is also called Conselho de Ministros (Council of Ministers). The Prime Minister convenes and presides to the Council of Ministers by delegation of the President. Besides having executive powers the Government has legislative powers as stated directly in articles 179, no. 3, 180, 181 and 204 no 1.d of the Constitution, through delegation of the Parliament.

The members of the National Assembly are nominated by political parties and elected for five-year terms. The Assembleia da República is a unicameral Assembly with 250 seats. Members are elected by proportional vote to serve five-year terms. The Parliament is Mozambique’s legislative body, having the power to approve laws on all matters by simple majority (except if otherwise provided in the Constitution). Most legislation is proposed by the Executive although legislative initiative may also be taken by Individual Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Groups, Parliament Committees, the President and Government Members. The Constitution determines the areas in which only the Parliament can pass legislation (article 179 no. 2 of the Constitution) and all other areas in which the Parliament can delegate its legislative powers to the Government (articles 179, no. 3, 180, 181 and 204 no. 1 d) of the Constitution).

The constitution of Mozambique devotes an entire section to the court structure (Title IX, article 212 to article 233). In Mozambique the courts are independent sovereign bodies that administer justice on behalf of the people. They guarantee and ensure compliance with the Constitution, laws and other legal provisions in force and safeguard the rights and legitimate interest of citizens and institutions (article 212 no. 1 of the Constitution). Furthermore article 213 of the 2004 Constitution explicitly says that the courts have an educational function: “The courts shall educate citizens and the public administration in the voluntary and conscientious observance of laws, thereby establishing a just and harmonious social community”.

In 2001 the President of Mozambique's Supreme Court reiterated calls for a deep overhaul of the country's judicial system so that it will be seen to serve all strata of society. The country's judicial system is complex beyond the grasp of most of the population, and with a drastic increase in crime and corruption, there is an urgent need to implement deep reforms, which take into account other concepts in the area of law and justice. Corruption could be fought with a well-organized Attorney General's Office. Active and impartial judges play a vital role in controlling the legality of the acts of other institutions, which intervene in the judicial process.

The president appoints provincial governors without legislative approval. Thirty-three municipal councils are elected as blocks of councilors affiliated with one of the two major parties. The second round of municipal elections increased that number to 43 municipalities in 2008. Mozambique has 11 administrative provinces, one of which consists of the capital city Maputo. The provinces are further divided into 158 districts, 413 administrative posts, localities and aggregated villages (povoacoes). The Minister of State Administration is responsible for the administration of the laws overseeing local government. Municipal budgets must be prepared and managed within the framework of the central government budget and municipalities are also responsible for collecting taxes and user fees. One of the main sources of central–local government transfers is the Municipal Compensation Fund, which represents 2% of fiscal tax revenue raised at national level according to the law. Local government has a number of statutory functions including the execution of economic, cultural and social programs.





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