The Catholic Church works extensively throughout Africa to improve the lives of the communities that they serve. One Mozambican think tank goes further. Centro para Democracia e Desenvolvimento is a powerful civil society voice that brings to light the many challenges of a nation that still suffers from poor leadership and armed violence.
Centro para Democracia e Desenvolvimento [Centre for Democracy and Development], known as the CDD, is a Mozambican NGO founded in 2018 that provides “critical reflection on the challenges to democracy and socio-economic development” in the country and describes itself as a “guardian of human rights,” according to its website. It also runs programmes that focus on the “transformational power of youth.”
CDD falls under the auspices of the Mozambican Catholic Bishops Justice and Peace Commission and is funded by the Swedish, Norwegian and Swiss embassies, the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.
Its director, Adriano Nuvunga is a respected national commentator on Mozambique’s political and social affairs. It employs two other political and economic experts who regularly comment on the country’s current affairs.
The work of the CDD is comparable to similar initiatives in South Africa, such as the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office and the Justice and Peace Commission under the Southern African Bishops’ Conference. These institutions promote Catholic social teaching and apply it to the real world challenges of the societies in which they exist.
“Guardian of human rights”
The CDD puts out regular reports that focus on a range of issues that affect Mozambique, one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in Africa. It comments on government statements and policy, governance failures, challenges faced by Mozambique’s development programmes and economic situation, human rights violations, attacks on the media and corruption, particularly a $2 billion loan that the state took out in 2016 and has since been declared unconstitutional because it was not approved by parliament.
Its website currently hosts a #StopCovid19 page which contains short videos in various Mozambican languages, explaining what COVID-19 is and prevention measures to reduce one’s chances of contracting it.
The CDD’s work is regularly cited by the Mozambican media and Portugal’s press agency Lusa which reports extensively on Africa’s Portuguese-speaking countries.
The CDD and the Mozambican Justice and Peace Commission are a successful example of church and civil society collaboration that has a real impact in bringing to light the barriers to social justice in Mozambique and hopefully driving conversations for a more equitable society in a country that is plagued by poverty, armed conflict, terrorism, and cyclical natural disasters.