Debate on Legislative Rules for Normative Acts in Mozambique
A reflective meeting about a prospective law that would detail the legislative drafting rules for Normative Acts in Mozambique took place in the morning of October 17 in Maputo, bringing together experts on the subject, along with representatives of the public and private sectors and civil society.
How could the law bring about an increase in legal trust in the country? Is there popular interest in creating such a law? Should legislators seek to limit the over-production of laws in the country? What are the procedures for drafting this type of law? These and other issues prompted the debate, which was promoted by the Confederation of Economic Associations of Mozambique (CTA), in partnership with USAID’s SPEED+ project.
The moderator of the event, Abdul Carimo Issá, raised the fact that countries in which there are no rules concerning legislative drafting face more problems with interpretation and legal insecurity.
This discussion was begun at least four years ago, as attested by the CTA, which, together with civil society organizations, developed a proposal for a Law on Public Participation in the Legislative Process. It was presented in August 2017 to the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs, for submission and approval by the Government.
The proposal was motivated by the current lack of criteria, as well as short deadlines, for the issuing of opinions on draft legislation by the Government’s social and economic partners. The lack of consideration of these comments in the published version is also a concern, CTA President Agostinho Vuma stressed in his opening speech. Vuma also pointed out that the opportunity to build a consensus is lost, if no analysis is conducted of the impact of normative acts, while it also reduces the possibility of a sense of belonging in the country, which contributes to the application of the law, in turn affecting the business environment.
A legal reform specialist who had been invited by the SPEED+ project to clarify questions and challenges with the issue, Franck Boulin, explained that making legislation more participatory is a prerequisite for the high quality of such legislation because governments can benefit from private sector knowledge, and thereby issue a more effective law with universal benefits. He also touched on the importance of developing policies before formulating legislative texts. A policy should clearly define the nature of the problem, the objectives behind its resolution, how the desired policy will achieve its desired effect, those responsible for putting the legislation in place, and the legal and administrative mechanisms that enable its implementation.
During the debate, the head barrister of the Mozambican Bar Association, Flávio Menete, stated that the law should not be completed too hastily. It is first necessary to define what is wanted, while all legislation must be written after the policy is completed, according to Menete, because the absence of a policy and the simple reproduction of laws in place in other countries would worsen the business environment in Mozambique, instead of improving it. He also discussed the close connections between the legal and the business environments.
Kekobad Patel, who leads the CTA’s working group on customs, tax, and international trade policy, called for the application of an agreement between the public and private sectors that allow for a minimum period of 30 days in which opinions on bills can be put forward. Patel claimed that that deadline has not been respected in the present situation, and also remarked that for the private sector, the law must provide stability during its period of validity; currently, the business sector is often disrupted by untimely legal changes, according to Patel, who concluded that the law should be interpreted uniformly and objectively throughout the territory of Mozambique.
In his closing remarks as the moderator of the event, Issá – who for several years chaired the Technical Unit for Legal Reform – noted that public consultations on laws should be institutionalized, and not based on subjective considerations.
The event as a whole can be best summed up by Franck Boulin, who stated: “The best laws are those that are accepted by the people. Building trust and dialogue will benefit both the public and private sectors [in Mozambique].”