Category Archives: Mozambique

Mozambique – Facing critical challenges: local elections, peace talks, and emerging security issues

After much speculation, Mozambique held local elections on October 10th, which were the fifth since 1994. These elections were important on several grounds. First, they took place under new legislation for electing local authorities. Second, it was the first time in 10 years that  Renamo was going to compete in local elections, after boycotting the 2013 polls. Third, these elections presented a critical test to the country’s prospects for democratization and peacebuilding. They took place about one month after the signature of a memorandum of understanding on military issues between the incumbent President Filipe Nyusi and the acting leader of Renamo, Ossufo Momade. Therefore, there was some level of uncertainty on whether the formal consensus would endure as the campaign unfolded and after the results were announced. Overall, looking at the political leadership during this period can foreshadow what is to come a year from now, when the general election is expected to take place.

The peace talks   

On August 6th, President Filipe Nyusi addressed the nation to announce that the Mozambican government and Renamo had signed a memorandum of understanding on military issues. The long awaited memorandum represents an important milestone after several months of negotiations and the initial uncertainty on whether the death of Renamo’s leader (Afonso Dhlakama) would compromise the peace negotiations and whether acting leader Ossufo Momade would fulfil the compromises reached hitherto. The memorandum establishes the process of “integrating the officers from Renamo in the FADM and in the Republic of Mozambique Police (PRM)” and “the Renamo armed elements’ DDR process”, as well as clear mechanisms that allow the process to be monitored. More specifically, it creates a Joint Technical Group on DDR (JTGDDR) to ensure that “DDR activities are performed in a timely, effective and efficient manner”.

The signing of the memorandum highlights the relevance of political leadership. President Filipe Nyusi’s willingness to concede on Renamo’s longtime demands, namely the decentralization package and the incorporation of the latter’s men into the country’s armed forces, was crucial for this outcome. Moreover, throughout the negotiation process, he presented himself as committed to attaining consensus and peace.  His words at the announcement of the signature of the memorandum are a clear illustration of this: “we did this by believing that, with patience, tolerance, understanding, a spirit of reconciliation, and a singular dedication to results, Mozambicans can construct peace”. Ossufo Momade, on the other hand, strived to gain legitimacy as a peace negotiator and Renamo’s new “strong man”. Following a decision made by Renamo’s National Political Committee, he went on living in the Gorongosa (as Afonso Dhlakama did in the past), and he was expected to continue the peace negotiations from there. Still, he also alluded to the “good will between the parties” and to Renamo’s commitment to the disarmament process.  However, the holding of local elections, which were the first ones in which Renamo participated in 10 years, relaunched new uncertainties on whether the party would still fulfil the memorandum.

Local Elections

After the approval of new electoral legislation on July 19th, the competing political forces had only a few months to set up their lists of candidates for the October 10th local elections. Parties’ nominations for the country’s 53 municipalities were not consensual across all units. This was the case in the capital, Maputo. Here, Frelimo faced an important setback when Samora Machel Júnior, son of the first Mozambican president, Samora Machel, defected the party to run as an independent mayoral candidate against the party’s endorsed candidate, Eneas Comiche. Renamo, on the other hand, saw its first choice, Venâncio Mondlane, excluded by the National Elections Commission (CNE) and had to replace him with Hermínio Morais. The electoral campaign period had a few episodes of clashes between the opposing parties, and Renamo’s supporters claimed they were victims of intimidation and assault. Voting day was generally calm, although there were some procedural incidents. Overall, the results brought no significant changes: Frelimo elected mayors (the head of the list of the party with the most votes) in 44 municipalities, while Renamo elected 8 and  MDM 1. The results were not accepted by Ossufo Momade, who promised to contest the results. Following a strategy that was often used by the former leader of Renamo Afonso Dhlakama, he stated “We do not want war but we also do not accept any attempt to change the popular will”; moreover he threatened to walk out of talks if the electoral bodies failed to recognize that the local elections had been fraudulent.  So far the appeals submitted by the Renamo (and the MDM) against the election results have been rejected by the courts.

Leadership in times of uncertainty

President Filipe Nyusi has been facing critical tests since he was elected to office in 2014; however, the unfolding of the peace talks with Renamo and his party’s win in the local elections, reinforce his legitimacy and strength as leader. On Renamo’s side, the new leadership has a chance to refashion and strengthen the party if it is to continue to improve electorally. However, there are important challenges ahead. The implementation of the DDR process as delineated in the memorandum remains haunted by uncertainty, and Renamo’s leadership has already threatened to abandon the negotiations, as the party considers the recent local elections illegitimate. Furthermore, the economy is still volatile, and there are new emerging security threats in the country’s northern provinces that have been linked to Islamic terrorismillegal mining activity, and social inequality, which need to be addressed by the presidency. How both parties’ leaderships deal with the challenges they face and keep the peace process on track will be the keys to their success in the upcoming 2019 election.

Edalina Rodrigues Sanches and José Jaime Macuane – The End of an Era? The Death of Afonso Dhlakama and the Reconfiguration of Power in Mozambique

This is a guest post by Edalina Rodrigues Sanches and José Jaime Macuane

After 20 years of peace and progress towards democratization, armed violence between the Frelimo government and Renamo resumed in 2013. Like on previous occasions, the long-time leader of Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, asked for greater decentralization of power, the integration of its fighters into the police, and access to the spoils of the country’s economic growth and natural resources.

A peace deal led to general elections in October 2014, which were won by Frelimo and its presidential candidate Filipe Nyusi. However, armed conflict flared up again as Dhlakama refused to accept the results and threatened to use force to take the provinces, where he allegedly won a majority of the votes. Eventually, peace negotiations resumed, this time conducted directly by Nyusi and Dhlakama. The agreement reached in February 2018 included new measures for greater political decentralization and established a new system for the election of mayors and provincial governors. So now the person heading the wining list1 in the municipal and provincial elections is elected mayor and provincial governor, respectively. This means that voters lose the right to directly elect mayors, a rule in place since the creation of municipalities in 1997. Still, the election of governors is something new and a democratic advancement. These changes will come into force following the unanimous approval of the constitutional amendments by all the three legislative benches of the Mozambican Parliament on May 23.

The agreement says a lot about the influence of presidential powers and political leadership during the tensions between Renamo and the the governing Frelimo party, and between Dhlakama and the President. Nevertheless, the unexpected death of Dhlakama on May 3 may be a game changer in the negotiation process and shift the balance of power.

Of Presidents, strong men and the reconfiguration of power in Mozambique

Shortly after being inaugurated the President of Mozambique in 2015, Nyusi faced important challenges with the resumption of the armed conflict. It was amid some internal pressure that Nyusi used his presidential powers to reach out to Renamo for further dialogue.2 In highly publicized moves, Nyusi kept the negotiations going with direct telephone contacts and eventually by travelling to the Renamo leader’s headquarters in Gorongosa in an attempt to thrash out some difficult issues in the negotiations. Dhlakama, the historically uncontested leader of his party since it was a guerrilla movement in the late 1970s, also claimed he could keep the party’s radicals in check. In his view, this control over the party had also made it easier to move towards peace, stability and the most recent agreement with Nyusi.

The agreement announced in February 2018, as well as the decentralization package and the proposed constitutional revision, was presented as a result of a broad consensus and as a step towards power sharing. But, in fact, it had the footprint of the power configuration favored by the two leaders, and represented an identifiable solution to the challenges they faced in controlling their political coalitions/organizations. The agreement strived to appease Renamo with the concession on the elections of provincial governors; this would give the party and its leader greater influence in Renamo’s provincial strongholds, a long-coveted goal. However, as the agreement maintained most of the considerable powers of the Mozambican presidency, the introduction of the power-sharing mechanism did not change the unitary nature of the state with the president at its center. There is an explanation for this agreement between the two leaders. Dhlakama had initially supported a constitutional reform to reduce the powers of the presidency in the first multiparty legislature of 1994-1999. But when the party realized there was a real possibility of victory in the 1999 elections, it blocked the proposal and a strong president was kept in place.3 At the same time, the election of the mayors through the list system introduced in the agreement meant there would be tighter control of local party politics; neither Renamo nor the Frelimo leadership had been able to tame internal dissent in this arena or the push for more autonomy from central leadership by local forces.

The Nyusi-Dhlakama agreement is an example of the importance of both presidential powers and political leadership for political conflict and stability in Mozambique’s post-independence history. Dhlakama’s leadership spanned four presidencies. In the late 1970s and early 1980s under the strong presidency and party leadership of Samora Machel (1975-1986), moderate voices in the party were for a long time ignored and Machel’s ideas on the need to fight and eliminate Renamo shaped the escalation of the conflict. The General Peace Agreement was signed under the presidency of Joaquim Chissano (1986-2005), a diplomat and more moderate president who favored negotiations with Renamo. After losing the 1999 elections by a margin of just 4.5%, Dhlakama claimed the election was rigged and threatened war. Chissano chose the path of negotiations despite resistance from the more radical factions of Frelimo. Dhlakama’s main demand was for Renamo to appoint provincial governors in the provinces where the party had won a majority of votes, but the two parties were unable to reach an agreement. The political situation stabilized eventually but, in the following elections, Renamo’s and Dhlakama’s electoral support waned. The conflict started up again in the second-term of Armando Guebuza’s presidency (2005-2015). Although he was a strong party leader and president, he was less inclined to any dialogue with Renamo and this helped trigger the renewal of armed conflict. For his part, Dhlakama proved he could steer Renamo and himself through every presidential strategy and respond accordingly with either compromise or conflict. This was not only important to his party but also to his leadership’s continued relevance in the Mozambican political setting.

The key lesson that can be drawn from these events is that presidential powers and leadership styles mattered in the relations with Renamo and were an important driving force of conflict or compromise.

Will the Nyusi-Dhlakama agreement hold?

The sudden death of Dhlakama raised some doubts about the future of the agreement. However, recent developments suggest that the agreement will be endorsed by the parties involved. The National Assembly’s unanimous approval of the constitutional amendment, which will make the Nyusi-Dhlakama agreement of power sharing possible, is a landmark achievement and raises hopes of a positive outcome. But there are some challenges ahead. On Frelimo’s side, the question is if the prospects of a weaker Renamo without Dhlakama motivates radicals to renege or even challenge their leader’s deal. Renamo has recently appointed an interim leader, Ossufo Momade, a former secretary-general of this party (between 2007 and 2013), member of parliament since 1999, and a general in Renamo’s army. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to bring the party together and ensure that it is a strong interlocutor able to enforce the deals made with the Government, while remaining a relevant political and electoral force in the country. A congress is also planned to elect Renamo’s new leadership, probably before the 2019 elections.

If the Nyusi-Dhlakama agreement prevails, there will be a different configuration of power in Mozambique with both a strong presidency and a rebel and sometimes disruptive opposition party that can now control executive power at the local level. How this will play out in terms of stability will also depend on whether the presidency and political leadership in the two main political parties in Mozambique are able to “meet half-way” and commit to at least minimal goals. Presidential power has played an important role here as it determines the choice between solutions geared towards conflict or compromise; peace and stability or war.

Whatever the scenario, it seems likely that the next elections without Dhlakama will see a different power configuration. Whether it is one that is conducive to peace or stability depends on the agency and personal traits of the “strong men” on both sides. This will tilt the balance towards conflict or peace.

Notes

1 Lists can be proposed by political parties, coalitions and groups of citizens. See the report of the Parliamentary Committee for Constitutional Affairs, Humans Rights and Legal Issues, articles 270-M 275, 306. http://www.frelimo.org.mz/frelimo/index.php/actualidade/publicacoes/item/1727-parecer-atinente-a-proposta-de-lei-de-revisao-pontual-da-constituicao-da-republica-de-mocaImbique

2 It was argued that he was making concessions to Renamo and Dhlakama.

3 See https://www.open.ac.uk/technology/mozambique/sites/www.open.ac.uk.technology.mozambique/files/pics/d75966.pdf, page 10.

Edalina Rodrigues Sanches -: Postdoctoral Researcher at Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa & Instituto Português de Relações Internacionais da Universidade de Lisboa.

José Jaime Macuane – Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University Eduardo Mondlane (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.