Table 4. Structural factors hindering longer term territorial development in Mozambique.

Structural factors Explanation of the structural factors hindering territorial development in Mozambique
(i) Lack of a long-term strategic vision According to the majority of the 30 interviewees, Mozambique public authorities embrace a “reactive” approach toward development in contrast to a “pro-active” one, the latter often entailing the definition of a long-term vision targeting territorial development over 20 to 50 years. This means that, overall, spatial planning and territorial development are primarily project-based, supported through short-term interventions. A strategic spatial planning approach is commonly associated with a focus on key strategic domains, i.e., domains in which the country could anchor its development approach (Albrechts et al. 2017, Hersperger et al. 2019). However, these key domains have not yet been identified in the country. Most of the interviewees suggest that the forthcoming National Territorial Development Plan (PNDT) identifies and describes key strategic domains; however, a minor number of the interviewees remain unconvinced about the efficacy of PNDT and of those domains in steering long-term territorial development. Specifically, one interviewee stated that “PNDT is done but nobody knows if government will implement its visions or not.”
(ii) Short-termism of political cycles The five-year political cycle hinders a more strategic-oriented, long-term definition of spatial planning and territorial development. The majority of the 30 interviewees highlight those public entities spend five years defining their strategies and short-term actions and at the end of the fifth year, new elections lead to a new government, which requires then a reframing of governance arrangements and approaches towards territorial development. The political cycles, and therefore the political systems, break with pathways of progress, according to most of the interviewees. They further clarify: ‘Mozambique was often in a positive development path but a new government, and therefore, new political visions arrive, impacting ongoing projects and ending programs.’ One interviewee stressed that there is within the public entities an ‘incapacity to secure a continuous development when examples are positive’, the interviewee gave the agro-ecological zoning plans of the early 1990s as examples of a positive intervention balancing the three pillars of sustainability that was discontinued.
(iii) Non-legal recognition of rural local communities Although Mozambique’s Land Law gives communities the right to control and participate in the development of their land and so communities can offer proof of land rights through oral testimony, eliminating the costly obstacles of surveying, registration, and titling, local-rural communities across the country are only a group of individuals, the majority of the 30 interviewees have stated. This means, that communities are not properly defined, and self-proclaimed community leaders or spokespersons may only represent certain interests within the community. For example, if a local or distal investor applies for land held under a community Right of Use and Benefit of Land (DUAT), the above-mentioned law requires the investor to consult with the community and secure their agreement to cede their rights to the investor. However, this often raises land-based conflicts because of the lack of a community land registration system that is up to date and accessible nationwide. Consequently, local rural communities have a weak sense of identity or belonging, which is associated with deep-rooted poverty, which hinders the definition of endogenous development paths that could support their economic and social sustainability.
(iv) Weak land rights registration and community land delimitation system Although the state ultimately owns all land, Mozambicans, women and men, have the right to use and benefit from the land. This right is known as a DUAT. The law defines three ways by which communities, individuals, and companies can obtain a DUAT under specific conditions stated in the law. However, Mozambicans encounter difficulties in requesting a DUAT. The process is expensive, requires several meetings at centralized locations such as the capital cities of each province, and only but a few Mozambicans can afford the process. To overcome this, the World Bank approved in December 2018 the MOZLAND project (Terra Segura) broadly intended to strengthen land tenure security and improve the efficiency and accessibility of land administration services. Critics of Terra Segura underline that the project does not account for social transformation within a family such as the death of the title holder and consequent transfer of DUAT. Furthermore, an integrated, nationwide digital land-registration system is not yet in place.
(v) Pronounced dependency of donors’ agendas, programs, and their funding schemes Aligned with the lack of territorial strategic thinking that is holistic at the spatial and sectorial levels, is the strong dependency on third-party agendas, mainly those from donors (World Bank, diplomatic representations). The majority of the 30 interviewees contend that this reliance is positive because it brings about some changes that otherwise would not be possible. Some argue that this relation will gain effectiveness if donors follow a nationally defined strategic agenda instead of the state following agendas defined by cooperation partners (or parceiros da cooperação).