Former Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina recently considered preposterous a question on whether he had any designs on the presidency.
“I’m here launching a book and you think that I’m repositioning myself because I was a pre-candidate (in Frelimo’s primary elections of 2014). Suppose I wanted to, what would stop me? Aren’t I a Mozambican,” he asked.
During Frelimo’s primary in 2014, Vaquina came a distant third behind the eventual winner, President Filipe Nyusi, who garnered 91 votes in the first round, and former prime minister Luísa Diogo, who came second with 48 votes.
Vaquina was launching the second edition of his literary work “As Lágrimas do Veterano – The Veteran Tears” in the capital Maputo.
These sudden and public acts hide the pretension of appearing and be part of the succession process. In this case, someone (for example, Margarida Talapa) could be readjusting the succession debate in face of a visible inaction from the central region. Apparently, a “gentlemen’s agreement” within Frelimo holds that the presidency should follow a two-term revolving door policy – thus, after two terms in the northern region, it should be the turn of the centre to hold the reins of power.
However, neither former minister of agriculture and of the interior, and losing candidate in the 2014 primary elections, José Pacheco, nor retired General Hama Thai seem to have uttered a word, perhaps leaving or not some room for former interior minister, Basílio Monteiro, who, behind the scenes and sometimes in semi-open spaces, has let it known that he desires to be president. As someone put it: “Basílio is the alternative to what does not exist”
Margarida Talapa, a former speaker of parliament and current labour minister, seems to have been playing a subtle game. Strong (?) in the tribal game, she introduced a pawn within Nyusi’s inner circle in Francisco Mucanheia, which allows him unfettered access to and management of difficult dossiers, and in some way influence the way Nyusi deals with the pressure he has been under.
Talapa has also managed to place her daughters in places where things happen. For example, within Agriculture minister and Frelimo campaign director, Celso Correia’s inner circle in Nampula province, and in the party’s Secretariat. Nothing seems to escape her.
Although identified with former President Armando Guebuza, Vaquina’s probable re-entry in the succession race does not necessarily mean some manipulation or repositioning by the former president, but the realisation of a consensus that the return of “Guebuzismo” is better than the continuity of Nyusi’s chaos – there is an agreement that Guebuza’s terms (2004-2015) in office were the epitome of social wellbeing in Mozambique.
Frelimo is once again gearing itself to play the succession game, while the current holders of power are dragging their feet to delay the race until March 2024, a kind of statutory milestone for the electoral season, regardless of whether detractors may hang themselves, but nothing will come of it. Especially because the verdict delivered by the Constitutional Council that Frelimo won in 92 percent of the municipalities seems to benefit Nyusi, and by extension Correia, who is also said to vie for the presidency.
Meanwhile, the security cluster might be concerned about what and how the opposition Renamo party, specifically its head of list in Maputo city, Venâncio Mondlane, will go on with its protests of the election results, which were rigged to hand Frelimo wins in municipalities parallel counting showed it had lost.
@2024, Mozambique Insights. All Rights Reserved