Theses defended

The Role of Participatory Budgeting in Promoting Urban Development in Mozambique

Saide Jamal

Public Defence date
July 11, 2018
Doctoral Programme
Human Rights in Contemporary Societies
Maria Paula Meneses e Giovanni Allegretti
The current democratisation of Mozambique has to be described and analysed in relation to a vast array of existing mechanisms of citizen consultation and participation at the local level. This has entailed electoral citizen-centric processes, negotiations and discourses on development plans, concomitant with budget allocations devised to ensure consensual decision-making. There is strong evidence in the literature to show that participatory governance mechanisms directly contribute to deepening local democracy in cities and municipalities that have adopted it around the world. Consequently, its adoption and implementation became increasingly in many countries and is being taken to sustain administrative and political reforms throughout developing countries. However, whereas there is extensive literature on the topic of local democracy, participatory budgeting concerning the rights to municipal and urban development remains one of the most under-explored aspects of democratic decentralisation (Cabannes & Delgado 2015; Chigbu et al. 2017). It is crucial that if we are to understand how decentralisation contributes to the promotion of urban development, two aspects of human rights pertinent to urban development are essential, they are the right to the city and inclusionary rights to urban planning.

The main purpose of this doctoral thesis is to examine the socioeconomic and political role played by citizens and a set of local actors (civil society organisations; local consultative councils; public participation professionals; NGOs; local government; and private sector) through participatory processes that promote urban development and social well-being in Mozambique. It demonstrates how the mechanism of decentralisation has contributed to enhancing the protection of the right to the city and the promotion of local democracy. The thesis questions a variety of concepts and methods, from the social and economic perspective to the political relationships among the actors involved. Furthermore, it presents how the citizens' rights to participate in public affairs is granted and promoted through bottom-up democratic innovations, and its interactions with the top-down mechanisms. Its methodological approach is based on transnational models of citizen participation in urban affairs proposed by Sintomer et al., (2012; 2013) and Arnstein (1969)' ladder of citizen participation, to study the degrees of citizen involvement in municipal planning and participatory budgeting.

The thesis explored two case studies: the urban planning in Maxixe in the south and, the Quelimane participatory budgeting in central Mozambique. Due to the aims of this thesis and its adopted methodology, the practical research is based on data collected from secondary sources; and participatory action research that explored the role played by all stakeholders who operate significant social changes in both Maxixe and Quelimane. The researcher spent eight months observing local dynamics, attending public consultation meetings and addressing questions and issues relevant to the study. To analyse the complex framework of this study, the researcher applied grounded theory and document analysis because it allows departure from the case study to the conception of theory during data analysis.

Based on the analyses made, this thesis argues that, despite the great emancipator capacity tied to participatory budgeting process in Mozambique and the actions taken to promote citizens' engagement in urban development, the rights to participate in the conception, management and enjoyment of the city is stratified upon territorial asymmetry and thus is not equally granted to all Mozambican citizens. Consequently, there are social resentment and a potential conflict of interests which may turn into a total distrust of the democratic institutions and its incumbents resulting from the degree of non-participation. Even though the idea of participatory budgeting in Mozambique is usually associated with a mechanism of social and economic development, in practice, the local participatory budgeting process is not necessarily linked to the promotion of urban development or the citizens' rights to the city. It is oriented to operate inter-institutional innovations and modernisation of the public administration procedures in line with the process of decentralisation, deconcentration and local power-sharing. Therefore, the citizens' involvement in the urban affairs is restricted to a symbolic act of consultation (direct or by representation) to legitimating the urban planning and activities. Given this situation, citizens are powerless to influence and change the decisions already taken. In fact, Mozambique is yet to promote and secure full citizenship rights in the city and urban development.

Keywords: Right to the city; decentralisation; participatory budgeting; urban development, Mozambique