The investigation represents an important opportunity to deepen the debate on the controversial program and allow public reflection on the models of developments that have been imposed in Mozambique.
An independent committee of examiners, based in Tokyo, Japan, has recently accepted to investigate the conduct of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) over the controversial major agricultural project in Mozambique, ProSavana. Considering that the way in which JICA and the Mozambican government have conducted the whole Prosavana process has caused physical and emotional damages to people, a group of peasants opened an objection case agaisnt JICA and submmitted a complaint to an independent committee of examiners. This committee is a “watchdog” independent body within JICA.
The complaints include persecution, intimidation, blackmail and threats, as well as promoting divisions among civil society groups that oppose ProSavana.
In a letter responding to the representatives of the complainants, the examiners confirmed that “for the next two months (…) we will investigate the details of JICA´s compliance or non-compliance with the Guidelines and encourage dialogues between the parties pursuant to the Objection Procedures based on the Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations”.
The Guidelines are a set of procedures and rules to be followed throughout the implementation of projects for which JICA provides assistance anywhere in the world. According to the Guidelines, whenever JICA fails to fulfill its environmental and/or social responsibilities, the offended parties (entities or individuals) may submit an objection to the independent examiners.
According to a “No to ProSavana” Campaign´s press release, this investigation represents an important opportunity to deepen the debate on this controversial program and allow public reflection on the models of developments that have been imposed in Mozambique.
The acceptance by the JICA independent committee of examiners to do this investigation represents an acknowledgment that the allegations made by the affected people regarding JICA´s conduct in relation to ProSavana are well grounded and worthy of verification.
Contrary to what some opinion makers would believe, resistance to ProSavana has never weakened, despite the intent of the proponents of the program to fragment the resisting movement.
* BOAVENTURA MONJANE is a Mozambican activist and journalist. He is a PhD student at the Centre for Social Studies/Faculty of Economics at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and researcher at the Centre for Civil Society, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.
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