A letter has been circulating since Thursday, signed by Samora Machel Jr. (Samito), son of the late President Samora and Josina Machel, whose critical and highly powerful content comes in the wake of the blatant manipulation of the local elections on 11 October.
The ruling Frelimo party, the self-proclaimed winner, is the main party involved and there are suspicions of its involvement in the monumental fraud.
Samito says in the letter that he expresses “total disagreement and contempt for the unpatriotic and profoundly undemocratic acts which, although carried out in the supposed defence of Frelimo’s interests, discredit the Frelimo brand in the eyes of the people for whom we swore to fight, liberate and defend”.
Samito said he wrote the letter, which ran in newspapers and on social media, after four people were fatally shot by the police in the district of Chiúre, in the south of the northern Cabo Delgado province, and everywhere Mozambicans contesting the election results and electoral fraud.
He regretted that “personal and group interests have taken precedence over the collective goal, jeopardising the name of the Frelimo party and the nation we once dared to build”.
As such, “Frelimo must not tolerate individuals within its ranks who have perpetrated reprehensible acts because that is not what the party stands for,” he said.
In the wake of the electoral debacle, despite Frelimo claiming victory in 64 of the 65 municipalities, Samito is by no means the only one to publicly express his opinion. Last Thursday, as the first results came in, the son of Jorge Rebelo, the “Frelimo’s Ideologue” and a fierce critic of the “new Frelimo”, former Minister of Information and member of the executive political committee of the Mozambique Liberation Front, later the Political Bureau, Mulweli Rebelo wrote a letter criticising the party, arguing that “Frelimo has become an ignorant and arrogant party, and is involved in questionable activities”.
Although Samito bears a historic name and is the son of Frelimo icons and of the First Republic, he doesn’t have the political weight he would like. However, the letter can be read from the perspective of the silence of the good guys and as a generational affirmation. Nevertheless, the letter may have been a first salvo aimed at a specific target: President Filipe Nyusi and his coterie and fraud perpetrators.
Frelimo members told MozInsights that the results, which showed Frelimo winning in 64 of the 65 municipalities (in Beira the MDM won comfortably), were received with incredulity and shame. Not only because the parallel count indicated that Renamo, in opposition, won in Maputo, Matola, Quelimane, Nampula and Nacala, but also because of the visible weakness of the Frelimo candidates, the internal bickering and the excessive centralism of the process dominated by Nyusi and his inner circle.
However, the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE) intervened to award victories to Frelimo. In a much-publicised interview, Brazão Mazula, the first chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (CNE) said that what happened “can only have happened because someone higher up ordered it” and that it wasn’t normal for so many presidents not to agree to sign the minutes”.
In Mozambique, “superior orders” are synonymous with actions against the law, the rules and the constitution. They exist in the police, in companies and in the party and are used to manoeuvre institutions like STAE and CNE. This time such orders may have come from Nyusi’s inner circle for STAE to manipulate the elections in Frelimo’s favour, as alluded to in Thursday’s Letter from the Episcopal Council of the Catholic Church of Mozambique, which urges the “leadership of the party benefiting from this electoral crisis to call its members and sympathisers to reason so that they accept the contestation of the results as part of the democratic, multiparty and inclusive game, and place the political, social and economic viability of the country above the partisan interest of a questionable mere electoral victory.”
In the final analysis, Samora Machel Jr and Mweleli Rebelo’s letters are the tip of the iceberg of a deaf but noisy confrontation within Frelimo pitting those claiming to be the party’s moral reservoir against reprehensible individuals who will do anything to get their way. A crisis may once again be brewing within the Party of Comrades, given the timetable for the 2024 General Elections. At the moment, and considering the silence of those being targeted, no-one can predict the outcome of yet another battle in the long war for Frelimo’s soul.
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