There may be changes afoot in Mozambique, if the government gets its way. Recently, the Mozambican parliament approved a resolution pushed through by the majority Frelimo Party to set up an Ad-Hoc Commission to draft constitutional amendments.
The vote was not unanimous. Opposition parties, Renamo and the Movement for Democratic Change-MDM, both voted against the proposal on the grounds that Frelimo has failed to explain what aspects of the Constitution it wants to change.
The current constitution was approved in 2004, after multi-party democracy was introduced following 16 years of a civil war between the socialist government of Frelimo and the then-apartheid-backed Renamo rebels. While some believe the changes will include an amendment to allow the current president, Armando Emílio Guebuza, who has been president since 2005, to stand for a third term. The Frelimo party and the president deny this to be the case, according to reports.
According to African studies expert Charlotte Walker, postdoctoral researcher and lecturer of the human rights program at the University of Chicago, the changes may be much broader than just term-extensions. “The Frelimo party most likely wants to make the kind of constitutional changes that will allow for broader powers of the executive branch and the central government to decide on issues of economic development in Mozambique,” she explains. “The Constitution of 1975 put Mozambique on a revolutionary socialist path for the first decade after independence. This was revised in the Constitution of 1990, which embraced capitalist development and encouraged private foreign investment.”
Critics are worried constitutional changes will alter the country´s political scope. But says Walker, “This new constitutional revision most likely will impact Mozambique’s economic future, in terms of capital investment, and most importantly, land use. Foreign investment in land management, agriculture, and biofuel production in Mozambique has deeply affected politics in the recent decade, and the revision of the Constitution “to be brought into line with domestic and international dynamics” as Cidalia Chauque, a representative of Frelimo has been quoted as saying, most likely implies the new globalization of Mozambique’s agricultural economy.”