Traditional leadership, the state and rural economic development in southern Mozambique : a case study of Mandlakaze District in the second half of the twentieth century
Chitaúte Cumbe, Mário Jose.
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In Mozambique, rural poverty is visible in the statistics and in real life. According to UNDP (2005), the index of Mozambique’s human development ranked 172 out of 177 countries and was far below the averages of the sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries, despite considerable improvement in the indicator over the previous five years. It had been determined that 54% of the population lived below the poverty level of $1/day surviving on as little as US$0.40 per day in 2003 (UNDP, 2005). The population distribution in Mozambique remained predominantly rural; with 64% of the 21.4 million people living in the countryside. The development prospects of rural areas remained a key concern (UNDP, 2005). Development was also a key problem for me. For this study it was decided to select a specific problem, the role of the traditional leaders in development, and a special case, a traditional chief - João Mapanguelana Mondlane, nominated in 1949. Between 1960 and 1974 Mapanguelana inaugurated a settlement scheme and a cooperative in the Aldeia das Laranjeiras north of Mandlakazi in Gaza province. I selected this case because several approaches assume that the nature of the relationship between key local development actors and communities has an impact on the development conditions observed at any point in time of the rural areas. From this case study, I can conclude that the involvement of the local leaders with legitimacy and credibility in the community and modern social and administrative networks was the key point that made it possible for the Aldeia das Laranjeiras to be different from her neighbouring villages. During the colonial period the government in Mozambique recognized the significance of traditional leadership as a way to reach the people and make their rule effective and legitimate, specifically in the rural areas. After independence, the new Frelimo government banned traditional leadership and accused it of having collaborated with colonialists and of practicing exploitative actions. In 2000, the Mozambican government reversed the earlier approach, particularly in line with policies that aim at carrying out developmental projects in the districts, and established legal procedures for the nomination of community representatives. The review of the literature and the findings suggest that Mozambique followed the new trends of incorporating the traditional leadership in the rural local governance as a way to reach rural economic development. The aim of this study is to assist policy makers in developing countries especially in Africa, and more specifically in Mozambique, in focusing on the problem of involving the local leaders in the struggle to reduce poverty in the rural areas where most of the population is located.