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Leonardo Santos SIMAO: The Challenge of Enjoying the Right to Development in Africa


The Challenge of Enjoying the Right to Development in Africa
Leonardo Santos SIMAO

Leonardo Simão,Executive Director, Joaquim Chissano Foundation, Mozambique delivers a speech at the meeting.(Photo by Yin Chao)
The 2019 South-South Human Rights Forum, jointly hosted by the State Council Information Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, opened in Beijing from Dec.10 to 11,2019. Leonardo Simão,Executive Director, Joaquim Chissano Foundation, Mozambique delivered a speech at the meeting.

It is true that, in Africa in general, and my country, Mozambique, in particular, the national public institutions are developing, both in terms of capacity to discharge their respective mandates, but also in terms of the population and territorial coverage. In spite of this progress, in most of our countries a long way still needs to be covered to reach and maintain good levels of institutional quality performance, due to many challenges, some of which I will refer to here and now.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as sometimes the quality of professional training and education of these civil servants are not good enough, they may have low motivation due to low salaries and poor working and living conditions. Therefore, they are vulnerable to bribes and other forms of corruption, with impunity, as law enforcement institutions may also be weak, due to the same reasons. Professional unhappiness lead to high levels of attrition in the public sector of many of our countries. At central level, weak institutions may have very negative impact in the overall development of a country, through the adoption of inadequate development policies,high costs of doing business,which can discourage investments, particularly private investment, low tax collection, resulting in low national capacity to finance national development programs and projects. Lack of investment, particularly in agriculture and the manufacturing industry, may lead to the swelling of the informal sector, increased levels of poverty and criminality, especially among the youth. Another consequence of national weak institutions can be denied access to natural resources by the citizens, including land and water. Still due to weak institutions, citizens may see the enjoyment of their political and civil rights unjustly denied or limited, leading to their frustration and ultimately their revolt. 
I believe many of us here admire what China is being achieving for its people, especially from 1978, when the country adopted the 'Open Door policy'. When we look at the human development path travelled by China since then we realize that it has been steady, with the Chinese citizens enjoying increasing levels of happiness. 
It is true that China has had good leaders in different periods of its history, who led their country to adopt the more adequate policies for those periods, but they also discharged their mandates in an environment of ever developing institutions, with stability, from the central to the village or township level. Furthermore, these institutions brought more and more citizens to participate in the decision-making process in national affairs at all levels of governance, particularly in the local implementation of central,  regional and local programs. But the enjoyment of these political and civil rights goes along with access to better health care, education, nutrition, housing, transportation services, among others.
Thank you very much China for sharing with us your experience in promoting human rights enjoyment in a harmonious and holistic manner, where economic, political, social and cultural rights are guaranteed and progressively enjoyed by all citizens, within the framework of the overall development of the country. Your experience continues to inspire us in Africa and elsewhere.
(The author Leonardo Simão is Executive Director, Joaquim Chissano Foundation, Mozambique)