NGOs in Mozambique

Por: Pedro Ferreira - January 24, 2022

NGOs in Mozambique

NGOs in Mozambique (Non-Governmental Organizations) also known as CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) are non-profit entities that carry out different types of solidarity actions for specific audiences.

Non-Governmental Organizations act in distinct and legally specified areas, from the areas of health, education, social assistance, economy, environment, defense of minorities, religion, among others, at a local, provincial, national and even international level.

Civil society usually refers to the forms of organization of citizens that are neither part of the public nor the private sector, acting, in general, in the associative environment. However, in Mozambique, as elsewhere, the private sector contributes considerably to raising awareness of numerous development issues. At the same time, NGOs, companies and, above all, economic associations, play an important role vis-à-vis the State or in partnership with it, especially in the areas of legislation, infrastructure development or poverty reduction policies.

Importance of Non-Governmental Organizations

Non-Governmental Organizations, despite not belonging to the State, act in the public sphere through the provision of social services, usually of an assistance nature, which serve a larger group of society than just the founders and/or administrators of the organization, promoting social actions that have a public purpose. These days, such NGO projects are increasingly important and essential. This is because, as a result of the current economic and social crises , the number of people in a situation of social vulnerability has increased.

A Non-Governmental Organization can bring benefits such as social equality, better quality of life, innovative social projects and new opportunities for people in situations of vulnerability and for the society in general.

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NGOs in  Mozambique

In Mozambique, Non-Governmental Organizations are relatively recent. Until the early 1990s, the historical context of Mozambique did not favor the emergence of a culture of expression of non-state actors. However, even with difficulties, religious organizations, for example, prevailed over time and, at the same time, organizations such as the Mozambican women (OMM) , the Mozambican youth (OJM) , the Mozambican workers (OTM), among others that were somehow linked to the state were created.

During the 16-year civil war, international NGOs , such as the Red Cross, Save The Children, etc. , began to operate for the relief of those affected and displaced by the war . But their activities were authorized on a precarious basis, with no comprehensive, case-by-case legislation for specific projects . However, the most important milestone in the emergence of NGOs was the 1990 Constitution and subsequent law nº 8/91 , two legal instruments that allowed, for the first time in the history of Mozambique, to citizens willing to organize themselves into associations pursuing specific objectives.

In recent years, the government has opened up institutional spaces for citizens to participate in the process of formulating and implementing public policies, through mechanisms such as institutions for Community Participation and Consultation and Development Observatories, the latter defined as “Government instruments and of the other intervening partners in the fight against poverty for the follow-up and supervision of the monitoring, evaluation and consultation processes in the scope of actions for the reduction of poverty”.

In response to these openings, it is possible to observe the emergence, in Mozambican society, of various forums, at the national, district and municipal levels, promoting the participation of citizens in the processes of formulating social policies in the different areas: health, education, environment environment, and others.

How do NGOs fit in legally?

Currently, Mozambican legislation is open and citizens can, if they wish, join to form a civil society organization, provided that the objectives they set are lawful and possible. Law No. 8/91 on freedom of association continues to be the only legal basis that allows the formalization of all forms of non-governmental organization, with the exception of Foundations. This uniform text does not distinguish between NGOs, grassroots community organisations, trade unions, religious congregations or associations that develop projects of an economic nature. In terms of types, we predominantly find the following: Of cultural, religious and regional character ; Socio-recreational; Private interest organizations , Education and service provision and Advocacy and social movements.

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How to open NGOs in Mozambique?

National Non-Governmental Organizations

For the opening and formalization of a national organization, the process is relatively simple, with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs being the entity in charge of authorizing the associations. In terms of requirements, a minimum of 10 founding members is required; a copy of your identity documents and criminal record; a copy of the statutes; authentication of said documents and recognition of signatures by a notary; request for issuance of a negative certificate by the Ministry of Justice indicating that the name chosen for the association is not yet used; presentation of documents and negative certificate for authorization by the Minister.

The delivery of the application file for authorization to form an association is accompanied by a sum of money. Publishing the statutes is the most costly step. These must be delivered to the National Press for certification and payment of the respective fees.

Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations

Decree 55/98, of 13 October, of the Council of Ministers, creates the legal framework that defines the criteria for authorizing the activities of foreign Non-Governmental Organizations in Mozambique. The entity responsible for authorizing the start of NGO activities in Mozambique is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

NGOs are responsible for submitting annual reports on their activities to this body, during the exercise of their activities.

Authorization for the start of NGO activities is requested, by means of a request containing the name of the NGO, headquarters or domicile, accompanied by the following documents: Certified copy of statutes that prove its legal existence in the country; Proposal of the general program of activities to be carried out in Mozambique; Description of the organization's history and work experience; Staff list that it proposes to use; Document proving the capacity and availability of financial resources necessary to carry out activities in Mozambique.

Tax obligations

For these purposes, NGOs must register with the Tax Department of the respective tax area, after authorization for the start of activity and before the start of their activity, and are subject to inspection or tax audit.

Challenges of NGOs in Mozambique

Non-Governmental Organizations are civil society entities that, in origin, are private initiatives, but with public and non-profit purposes, characterized by an emphasis on voluntary participation and social activism. One of the great challenges of these entities is to offer, in the country, an alternative space for participative, dialogic management and for the development of citizenship. But for that, NGOs have to guarantee robust financial sustainability and, at the same time, technological means and know-how, such as, for example, knowing who to dialogue with, and at what levels, so that their action has the expected result.

This involves, on the one hand, understanding the space where they operate and adapting to the changes that occur in the world, allowing flexibility and organizational agility in the design of business models and performance, the incorporation of solutions based on information technologies and new services and products for development in a rapidly changing world. It is equally important for NGOs to see themselves as entrepreneurial institutions geared towards social development, subject to competition and public scrutiny.

Although the NGO movement in Mozambique is relatively new, it has already taken great strides and mobilized a group of citizens committed to the cause of development; at the same time, it has contributed greatly to the provision of basic services in water, health, education, food production, fighting diseases, access to justice, respect for human rights and greater inclusion of women and other groups in situations of vulnerability.

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