Category Archives: Mozambique

Mozambique – President Nyusi elected leader of ruling party FRELIMO

Yesterday, on the final day of the FRELIMO party congress, former President Armando Guebuza stepped down as leader of ruling party FRELIMO. President Filipe Nyusi was elected as his successor. Guebuza’s resignation is in line with the Party’s practice that the same person should hold the post of president of the state and of the party. Yet, intra-party conflicts may have speeded up Guebuza’s early resignation.

Ever since the first democratic elections in 1994, the FRELIMO party has managed to secure a parliamentary majority and to elect a president.

Traditionally, the president of the state and the president of FRELIMO have always been the same person. The only time that both posts were not unified in the same person was after Guebuza won the 2004 presidential election and Joaquim Chissano was still president of FRELIMO. Few months later Chissano ended any possible intra-party conflict by resigning as leader of FRELIMO in March 2005. The FRELIMO Political Commission then elected Guebuza to lead the party, thus uniting once again the post of president of the state and of the party in the same person.

When Guebuza was re-elected party leader in 2012 there was speculation that this would lead to two centres of power in the ruling party. In theory, the term of office of the President of FRELIMO is from one Congress to the next (5-6 years). So after Nyusi was sworn in as the new President of Mozambique on 15 January 2015, the head of FRELIMO was no longer the head of state.

This situation, a form of intra-party cohabitation, generated intra-party conflict, in particular, regarding the President’s Nyusi’s stance on how to deal with threats coming from Mozambique’s main opposition party RENAMO.

‘Autonomy Bill’

RENAMO never accepted the 2014 general election results. In protest against what they considered fraudulent election results, RENAMO boycotted parliament and called for autonomy in six provinces[1] where it claims it won a majority of votes and where, perhaps not coincidentally, the majority of the nation’s mineral resources are located.

In an effort to ease inter-party tensions the newly-elected President Nyusi invited opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama to submit a bill on the creation of autonomous provinces to parliament, while making no commitment that such a bill would be approved by the FRELIMO majority in parliament. Yet, the Nyusi-Dhlakama agreement was not well-received by the President’s own party. According to members of FRELIMO’s ruling Political Commission, the proposal for regional autonomy would destroy national unity and is unacceptable. Mozambique’s newspaper Savana interpreted this as a split in FRELIMO, with Guebuza as head of the party trying to undermine President Nyusi’s negotiations with Dhlakama.

Guebuza’s resignation may thus end intra-party conflicts. In addition, his early resignation abolishes the 5-6 year term limits set for FRELIMO presidents since his mandate would only end in 2017.

Meanwhile, RENAMO has submitted the ‘Autonomy Bill’ which will be discussed in the forthcoming parliamentary sitting, due to begin on 31 March. The Bill will likely increase political tensions as RENAMO threatened to resort to violence in the case the Bill will not be passed by parliament.

[1] Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa.

Mozambique – Elections: FRELIMO triumphs, opposition party RENAMO gains ground

On the 15th of October, Mozambique held its fifth multiparty presidential, parliamentary and provincial assembly elections. Although the official election results have yet to be announced, projections show that longtime ruling party FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) is predicted to win both the presidency and parliamentary elections, but with a lower margin compared to the 75 per cent it gained in the last election in 2009.

The president of Mozambique is elected through a direct popular vote for a five-year term. The electoral system is based on the majoritarian two-round system. The last presidential election was held in 2009. President Armando Guebuza of FRELIMO, who is finishing his second term, is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.

The presidential election was fought between three candidates: former defence minister Filipe Nyusi (FRELIMO), Afonso Dhlakama (RENAMO – Resistência Nacional Moçambicana) and Daviz Simango, the leader of MDM (Movimento Democrático de Moçambique), who is also the mayor of Mozambique’s second largest city Beira.

Provisional results suggested Nyusi winning the presidency with 57 per cent of the votes, and Dhlakama following with 36 per cent, and Simango earning around 7 per cent. It is worth noting that Nuysi did worse than Guebuza who received 75 per cent of votes in the 2009 presidential election. By contrast, Dhlakama saw his share of the vote more than double, from 16.41 to 36 percent. Simango got 9 per cent in the 2009 presidential election and thus lost 2 per cent of the votes.

As for the parliamentary election, FRELIMO is expected to win an absolute majority. The former liberation party has controlled both the presidency and the legislature since the first general elections of 1994.

Despite the fact that FRELIMO is likely to win the presidency and an absolute majority in parliament, initial results show the party may end up with 50 seats fewer than it won in the 2009 parliamentary elections. Mozambique has a unicameral parliament with 250 seats. The composition of the new parliament is likely to be 142 seats for FRELIMO, 89 for RENAMO and 19 for the MDM. So FRELIMO probably loses its comfortable two-thirds majority – which means that should it wish to change the constitution, it can no longer do so on its own.

Meanwhile, RENAMO believes it is the legitimate winner. Dhlakama says he is willing to negotiate with FRELIMO and has suggested a government of national unity. Yet, it is highly probable that FRELIMO will form the next government. The preliminary results also reflect a growing dissatisfaction with politics. The voter turnout is expected to be similar or below to the 45 per cent in 2009 and 43 per cent in 2004.

The presidential and legislative election is being closely watched, especially by foreign investors, as Mozambique stands on the cusp of reaping vast wealth from its nascent gas industry.

Mozambique – Local elections

On 20 November 2013 local elections were held in Mozambique. These were the first local elections since 2008. They are the last electoral test of party support prior to the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for October 2014?

The local elections are important because they took place amidst an outbreak of conflict between the ruling FRELIMO party of President Guebuza and the main opposition party, RENAMO. RENAMO wants reform of the electoral law, saying it is biased in favor of FRELIMO. Yet the government refuses to give in to RENAMO’s demands, prompting the latter to boycott the local elections.

Provisional results show that FRELIMO is leading in 50 out of the 53 municipalities. Interestingly, the country’s third-largest party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), made substantial gains in urban centres. MDM, a RENAMO breakaway party, founded in 2009, has considerable support within the educated youth population. Unofficial sources report that in the capital, Maputo, and Matola the party gained 39.78 per cent and 43.33 per cent of the votes respectively with 72 percent of votes counted. MDM retained its mayorships in Beira and Quelimane, Mozambique’s second and fourth largest cities respectively. In other municipalities, such as Zambezia, Sofala and Manica MDM lost by small margins.

Some observers predict that MDM will replace RENAMO as Mozambique’s main opposition party. Others believe that MDM’s electoral success may partly be explained by RENAMO’s absence from the local elections.

Despite this, FRELIMO remains unbeatable. The party came to power through the national liberation struggle and has been victorious in all elections since the end of Mozambique’s civil war in 1992. Yet the poor performance of the party’s candidates in Maputo and Matola – cities were the elite of Mozambique lives – may further complicate the selection process of its presidential candidate. President Guebuza has indicated that he will step down in 2014 but so far the party has not yet announced who its next presidential candidate will be. Daviz Simango, the leader of MDM and mayor of Beira, has announced his intention to join the presidential race.

Mozambique – Rescheduling Presidential en Parliamentary Elections

In Mozambique, President Guebuza announced that presidential and parliamentary elections that were scheduled for October 2014 will now take place in 2015.

The previous presidential and parliamentary elections took place in October 2009 and the Constitution provides for elections every five years. President Guebuza’s statement that they will be delayed seems to confirm rumours circulating in the media that Guebuza has no intention of leaving office.

President Guebuza was elected in February 2005 and cannot be re-elected as the Constitution prevents him from having a third term as the head of state. So far, the President’s party, the ruling Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO), has not appointed a new candidate for the presidential elections. Moreover, FRELIMO, under the total command of Guebuza, and with majority power in the assembly, could change Constitution allowing the current President to remain in office for another term.

Mozambique also still has to contend with heightened security concerns in the country, which could rise in the lead up to earlier municipal elections set for 20 November this year. This comes amid the raised tensions and increased confrontations with FRELIMO’s long-running rival, the National Resistance Movement (RENAMO), which has threatened to boycott and disrupt the polls.

RENAMO demands amendments to the electoral law, among other grievances. RENAMO’s main objection concerns the composition of the National Elections Commission (CNE). Under the current law each party appoints at least one CNE member and the appointments should be in proportion to the number of seats held in parliament. Yet, RENAMO demands “parity”, by which it means that FRELIMO can appoint 50 per cent of the CNE, with the other 50 per cent shared between RENAMO, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) and civil society. RENAMO now refuses to appoint its members of the CNE.

After five months of talk, at meetings usually held once, and sometimes twice a week, negotiations between delegations of RENAMO and the Government have reached deadlock. A rapid resolution of the political impasse is urgently needed as local elections are scheduled for next month.