COVID-19: Civil Society Demands that the State of Emergency upholds Social, Environmental, Economic and Gender Justice

Press release

Maputo – 10. April. 2020

Social movements, unions, social activists, academics, artists, and other Mozambican civil society groups and organizations publish today, April 10, a positioning and analysis document on the possible implications of the State of Emergency for Mozambican citizens. This document not only outlines a number of short and medium-long term demands and proposals for Government action but also presents a plan of action for civil society in the coming months.

The response articulated by this collective intends to further a vigilant, critical and constructive attitude regarding the different actions of the government and other socioeconomic agents. It also aims to, whilst offering to collaborate with the government in the dissemination of useful information about COVID-19, also promoting actions and initiatives of solidarity, empathy and citizenship actively. Furthermore it seeks to contemplate this pandemic and consequent crises as an opportunity to strengthening our social fabric in an inclusive and participatory way.

Nzira de Deus, from Forum Mulher (FM), warns about the need for reinforcing mechanisms for assistance, monitoring and prompt action by the competent entities, in situations of domestic violence and sexual abuse during the State of Emergency, since these incidents tend to increase as a result of exacerbating social tensions.

The document also advocates for the need to rethink, in this context, the role and functions of the State in the Mozambican economy and society. According to João Mosca, from the Observatório do Meio Rural (OMR), neoclassical theories that argue for reducing the role of the State in the economy and the market must be abandoned. For him, the current context requires the strengthening of governance structures and active citizenship practice, which restores confidence in State institutions, an essential requisite to reduce the severe impacts of pandemics and other crises.

According to Anabela Lemos, from Justiça Ambiental (JA!), this crisis highlights the connections and disconnections of a deeply unfair society, and, considering that certainly this crisis will not be the last, we should take this opportunity to look at the future of the country, taking into account certain aspects, like the increasingly exacerbated inequality in our country and in the world, resulting from a socio-economic system of development and accumulation of capital that depends on the exploitation of workers and nature. She argues that there is a need to rethink the power and benefits given to companies in our country, in particular transnational companies.

For Luís Muchanga, of the National Union of Peasants (UNAC), this crisis also offers the opportunity to work towards ensuring food sovereignty in Mozambique, which implies the provision of support to and empowerment of small farmers and peasants, so that their productivity is increased through methods and practices that do not threaten public health, the environment or biodiversity.

The civil society declaration was endorsed by several civil society organisations, it remains open for further endorsements (both by organizations and individuals), and its full version can be read at this address: https://aliancac19.wordpress.com/

For further information:

Anabela Lemos: anabela.ja.mz@gmail.com (Justiça Ambiental)

Boaventura Monjane: boa.monjane@gmail.com (Alternactiva)

João Mosca: joao.mosca1953@gmail.com (Observatório do Meio Rural)

Luís Muchanga: lmuchanga@gmail.com (União Nacional de Camponeses)

Nzira de Deus: nzira.deus@hotmail.com (Fórum Mulher)

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