Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party Secretary General, Roque Silva, has finally let it slip what many suspected was behind the submission in parliament of a draft bill that would restrict the work of civil society organisations.
Government said that the bill intended to curb money laundering and terrorism financing in northern Cabo Delgado province. Civil society organisations argued the bill would give government powers to interfere with the work of non-governmental organisations, include the power to shut them down.
However, speaking over the weekend in the Érati district, in the northern Nampula province, Silva said that some NGOs who operate in Mozambique have a destabilising effect, as they are focused on developing political activities.
“We don’t want the youth to be distracted by those who under the guise of civil society transform themselves into authentic political parties aimed at disrupting the development process,” said Silva, accusing some NGOs of being unpatriotic by organising frequent demonstrations.
Silva said that Mozambique would not develop in the short term with NGOs organising demonstrations which “instead of teaching the people love for the motherland, instead of teaching the people to work, teaches the people to rebel against its own motherland.”
For good measure, he said that “this is not patriotism, it’s not citizenry, that is not working for the growth of society […] We want what happens with many other civil society organisations which teach people how to be a valuable Mozambican citizen.”
Arguably the least sophisticated of all Frelimo’s previous secretary generals, Roque Silva is known to be his master’s voice, meaning that he echoes President Filipe Nyusi’s thoughts.
The trouble with all is this that Silva represents a group within Frelimo that is most undemocratic and would want every Mozambican to sing from the same hymn sheet. Any voice or manifestation that runs counter to the wishes of this group is branded as unpatriotic.
To wit, for this group, there are and there can never be any competing visions in Mozambique, as it believes that it alone has the solutions for the country’s development. Little wonder this group is hellbent on forcing major constitutional amendments in order to secure a third term for President Nyusi.
With a muzzled opposition, civil society organisations seem to be the only force contesting the behemoth that is Frelimo, and hence the drive to shrink the civic space.
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