The succession within the ruling Frelimo party is still an unknown. President Filipe Nyusi and Frelimo’s Secretary-General, Roque Silva, seem to have cemented their hold and power over the party. They manage it according to their interests while preparing for their political future.
Meanwhile, various actors have been taking steps to shore up their power in order to position themselves in the succession battle.
This is Mozambique Insights’ second instalment of possible and potential successors to Nyusi, whose constitutional second term is rapidly coming to and end. Once again, the list is in alphabetical order.
Amélia Taime Muendane
Amélia Muendane’s political credentials are not matched by her political ambition and vanity. It is her sheer ambition that seem to again and again to throw her name to the hat of the possible successors.
The country’s Number One Tax Collector is a specialist in making enemies within the party, executive and workplace, she is seen as one of the jokers in the deck of cards because her trajectory does not stand up to scrutiny in any of Frelimo’s governance model.
That she’s mentioned at all, it has more to do with Nyusi’s future survival interests than anything that she has done politically.
The current Police Commissioner, Bernardino Rafael was chosen by the Makonde conclave as the “hero of Cabo Delgado” for the leading role he has played in the war against the insurgency in the northern Cabo Delgado province.
Rafael is the most visible praetorian face of the conclave. As the police commissioner, he can and uses his influence within the police to act in such a way as to benefit the group’s interests.
He has shown that he is not shy to use force on civilians whenever he foolishly feels that Nyusi’s power is under threat, like when he ordered the police to brutally crackdown on youths who were marching to honour the late rapper Azagaia, in what observers described as an attempt to send a strong message to civil society that Nyusi shall brook no dissent.
Rafael has shown no hesitancy in clashing with protesters, regardless of whether they are peaceful or not, showing that he has an utter disregard for human rights. He justifies his reaction to protests as crackdown on “alleged ongoing manoeuvres” to overthrow Nyusi.
Inside the police, Rafael has censored police officers from taking to social media to discuss “professional matters.” This is because it is on social media that internal infighting, rivalry and communications, among others, are exposed.
Of course, Rafael is not speaking in a vacuum: he takes a leaf out of Frelimo’s own playbook. In trying to deflect criticism, Former President Armando Guebuza once said that “Facebook is factory of unachievable dreams,” meaning that the regime is somewhat fearful of the social power that can be unleashed by social media.
Hélder Muteia is a former agricultural minister and United Nations technocrat. He did briefly toy around with the idea of succeeding former President Joaquim Chissano. However, the thought was quickly nipped in the bud, and he was quickly shipped to the United Nations.
Also a writer and poet, Muteia has over the past few years been writing about politics, arguing that Mozambique has made strides towards becoming a real Nation-State. This foray into political writing has certainly raised a few eyebrows, considering that Muteia is from the central province of Zambézia, which would stand to benefit should presidential power move from northern to central Mozambique.
Having been a minister during Chissano’s tenure, Muteia might be hoping for the former president’s backing in the succession battle. However, he has lived abroad far too long for him to build a strong support base within the party, which has not stopped him from eyeing any possible alliances.
Perhaps long-distance runner is a best descriptor of her, Luísa Diogo now has the last chance to present herself as a political alternative.
The former finance and then prime minister has a mixed record in government. A former Bretton Woods technocrat, Diogo lacks the nationalist capital or the forthrightness to stand up to the donors and steer the country towards something of more sovereignty to Mozambique.
The Defence and Security Forces (FDS) blame her for depriving them of resources by cutting the defence budget without consulting the military top brass, and bragging about it in interviews as if that was a patriotic act.
Diogo has also an albatross in her husband, prominent lawyer Albano Silva, whose Portuguese origins are likely to become a liability to Diogo.
However, her technocrat CV could stand her in good stead where she to run to the position of Frelimo’s Secretary-General, as the party clearly will need an able SG who would reorganise a weakened party after the mess created by Nyusi and Silva.
But perhaps a risk represented by her election would be the possibility of new trials in tents transformed into courts, which would not be to the liking of many a comrade in the party.
Twist in the tail
Lui même… Filipe Nyusi is the most interest person in his succession for obvious reasons: the ‘war’ he has been waging against former President Armando Guebuza; the hidden debts scandals and the role of the enigmatic “New Man”; and, above all, to maintain the hegemony of the conclave over the destinies of the country (the conclave’s patriarch thinks that ten years at the helm of the presidency are not enough compared to the years the South had someone in power).
There are likely to be other reasons but those above seem to be the most important for Nyusi to attempt to throw his hat in the succession battle via constitutional amendments in case the “dauphin” route is blocked.
The “Commission of Reflection on the Decentralised Governance Model – CREMOD“ is still an open door for the law to be retailed according to the interests of the group that dominates politics.
Should both routes, namely via the constitutional amendment or the “dauphin” route, be blocked Nyusi might activate other pathways, namely a Jair Bolsonaro-like exit to the United Arab Emirates with part of the funds he has been hoarding up, leaving the country with yet another hidden debt and enjoy life in the company of his children; or attempt to have the northern Cabo Delgado province secede from the rest of the country. Maybe that is when the face of the “faceless insurgents groups“ is likely to be known.
It is part of Frelimo’s DNA
Meanwhile, Mozambicans can only watch as the various actors fight it out either in private or in public and remember that Frelimo’s succession history has been paved by bitterness, infighting, among others, starting with the outmanoeuvring of Urias Simango, following the assassination of Eduardo Mondlane in 1969.
Simango was Mondlane’s deputy and stood to become Frelimo’s president but was outmanoeuvred and subsequently ousted from the party for his views, which saw the imposition of a Leftist ideology and values.
The exception was Chissano’s ascension to the presidency following the tragic death in a plane crash of the late President Samora Machel. Machel’s succession was swift and without any visible controversy owing to the circumstances of his death, amidst the possibility of an invasion from then Apartheid-South Africa, and fears of a stronger action from then rebel movement Renamo against a major city in Mozambique.
Machel succession was quick and calm due to the circumstances of his death amidst a possibility of South African invading Mozambique or a a daring and stronger action of Renamo against a major town anywhere in the country.
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