Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) had already been operating in Mozambique for two years when news of its 2011 natural gas discovery broke – setting it on a path of rapid development in which a robust, effective Parliament is critical.

As Mozambique’s future grows, so does the responsibility of its parliamentarians. Untapped reserves of gas, oil and other reserves are set to fuel its rise as one of the world’s fastest growing economies. That creates big opportunities for its political leaders – but real challenges, too. Citizens will demand more accountability from their leaders and better oversight of their money. A quarter-century after the constitution was amended to allow multi-party elections, WFD believes Mozambique needs a strong Parliament more than ever.

We are committed to contributing to this process of ongoing improvement, and will build on our ambitious 2009-2013 programme as we do so. Our work leading The Westminster Consortium improved parliamentary processes, access to freedom of information and links between civil society and MPs. It strengthened oversight of human rights issues and financial oversight, established a parliamentary training centre and technical cabinet, and led to three committees initiating legislation, too. Our programme was kindly described by parliamentary staff as the most successful partnership they had ever had.

Following strong support from the Mozambique Parliament for WFD to engage once again, we have now returned to revisit and reinforce our earlier work in Maputo. Our current programme will develop the capability of the National Parliament, Provinces and Municipalities to conduct oversight and pass legislation through collaborative and inclusive approaches. Improving the working relationship between provincial, municipal and national assemblies will help strengthen the links which bind the nation together, by ensuring Mozambique has the mechanisms to transparently scrutinise the spread of its fast-accelerating prosperity. We’ll encourage the South African practice of ‘taking parliament to the people’ by encouraging all stakeholders to listen to the concerns of citizens and CSOs, allowing them to act in concert to bring about change.

We will support reforms to the Parliamentary Study Centre, which we had set up in 2011, including by increasing the Parliament’s research capacity through training a new generation of parliamentary research staff. We will look to enhance the role of the media in the legislative process, building on our earlier launch of the Parliamentary Journalism Network and on improving consultation with citizens and civil society, especially at the provincial level. And we will look to support the Speaker’s initiative on cooperation between the parliamentary and provincial legislatures by strengthening the Speaker’s Conference as the primary body for coordination and capacity-building within the legislative sector.

Our interest in local government also heightens the importance of ensuring coordination among donors in Mozambique. WFD is looking to address the very specific needs of the Parliament, but do so in a way that links MPs’ work directly to more inclusive and effective governance. That opens up a range of possibilities. We’re looking to deepen its involvement in Mozambique and are open to further funding opportunities as they arise.

Featured image – flickr – luclanf