Mozambique’s General Election: The contenders and the Issues

Mozambique general election

This October, the people of Mozambique will go to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections. Here is what you need to know about the parties and their leaders, and what the key issues are that could be pivotal in deciding this election.

The Contenders

Filipe Nyusi (FRELIMO): The current President is standing for a second and final term. He previously served as Defence Minister before winning the nomination for presidency and the subsequent election back in 2014. FRELIMO (a Portuguese acronym for Mozambique Liberation Front), was initially a nationalist movement which eventually steered the country towards independence from the Portuguese and has governed the country ever since. Having set themselves up as a one-party, Marxist-Leninist state post-independence, the fallout of civil war with the anti-communist RENAMO group led to the introduction of multi-party elections, the first of which was in 1994. Despite this concession, the democratic socialist FRELIMO have remained the dominant party and are widely expected to win again.

Ossufo Momade (RENAMO): As mentioned above, RENAMO  were once far more than an electoral opponent. Today though, both main parties have committed to disarmament and demobilisation after violence between the two had flared up again in 2013. For almost 40 years, RENAMO was led by Alfonso Dhlakama but his death in 2018 means that for the first time the right-wing party will contest an election with someone new at the forefront. That person is Ossufo Momade who – it is hoped – will bring unity in the party between its parliamentary and military wings.

Daviz Simango (MDM ): The Democratic Movement for Mozambique represent a centre-right option which was formed as a breakaway from the more radical RENAMO. Simango founded the party in 2009 but actually has ties with FRELIMO as his father was Uria Tometeo Simango, their first Vice President. Uria and his wife became dissidents however to inaugural President Samora Machel who had them both executed. Simango has been mayor of the city of Beira since 2003.

Potential issues

The economy: Mozambique’s economic growth has slowed down significantly to approximately half of what it was between 2004 and 2015. Its main drivers are agriculture and extractive industries. Agriculture hit a slump between 2015 and 2016 due to regional droughts but is expected to recover. As for extractive industries, the feeling is that the government has failed to maximise revenues from this and there is still a vulnerability to price fluctuations. Mozambique had a current account deficit of 23% in 2018 and has been dealing with inflation, which reached levels of 15% in 2017. Measures to bring this down have resulted in high interest rates.

Cabo Delgado Insurgency: For almost two years now, Mozambique has had to deal with Islamist militants attacking primarily civilians in the northern Cabo Delgado Province. They want to establish their own islamic state. There has also been alleged involvement from ISIS in the same region. This crisis has resulted in displacement, damage to livelihoods, and food insecurity. An estimated 2 million people are in some way exposed to the unrest in the region.

Recent Cyclones: This year Mozambique was hit first by Cyclone Idai in March and then Cyclone Kenneth in April. These crises have added to the displacement levels in the country as well as further undermining food security due to the loss of, and damage to, crops. Outbreaks of Cholera and a rise in cases of Malaria have also been reported in the affected regions. Responding to this is likely to take up a significant portion of the next government’s budget.


Featured image | FRELIMO campaign rally in Maputo, 2014 | wikimedia commons 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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