The paper analyses the changing configuration of the political system since the Rome Peace Agreement of 1992. It discusses how the “political settlement” underlying the Peace Agreement and the outcomes of multiparty elections thereafter have shaped governance, including policy-making concerning the agriculture sector and the rural economy.
The paper argues that private interests and electoral objectives have been important drivers of policy decisions taken by the governing elites concerning the agriculture sector and local governance, with precedence over donor influence. By contrasting the political choices and governance approaches adopted by the two different presidential administrations in office since the first multiparty elections were held in 1994, it is argued that one (led by Joaquim Chissano) is marked by features of “neopatrimonialism”, whereas the other (led by Armando Guebuza) is showing signs of electoral “populism”. The former is characterised by significant rent distribution by the governing elite to a narrow “selectorate”. The latter is manifested by a paternalistic and politically mobilising discourse emanating directly from the President and appealing to the broader electorate, particularly the rural population of the central and Northern region of the country, who has been traditionally opposed to the ruling party