Moza candidates vie for voter support

 

Less than a month before Mozambique’s general elections in mid-October, candidates vying for the presidency are competing for the support of nearly 7 million voters in campaigns branding their respective policies.

The two main presidential candidates are Filipe Nyussi from the ruling Frelimo Party and Afonso Dhlakama from the opposition Renamo party. The elections are slated for 15 October.

The Frelimo candidate is stressing the continuity of the work underway, promising to expand the health, education, roads and other socioeconomic infrastructure, including mechanizing agriculture.

At a recent rally, Nyussi underlined that he wants to consolidate unity in Mozambique, without ethnic divisions, or divisions between the south, the centre and the north.

“We are all Mozambicans and we must work together for the rapid growth of our country,” he said.

Nyussi, pledged on September 20, that if elected, he will use natural resources to catalyse development and rescue Mozambicans from their current poverty.

Addressing a rally in a sports stadium in the Zambezia provincial capital, Quelimane, Nyussi warned his audience not to be deceived by those who claim that, in the almost 40 years of Mozambican independence, the governments formed by Frelimo “have done nothing”.

The Zambezia province is rich in natural resources.

“Those who tell you this want to distract you, so that you do not assess the facts correctly”, he said. “As you know, at the time of independence, there weren’t even any secondary schools here in Quelimane. I remember that to continue my secondary education, I had to go to Beira where there was a single secondary school for the entire central region of the country”.

“But today we have secondary schools in all the provinces, and in the districts, and we have universities too, whereas at the time of independence there was just one, in Maputo,”Nyussi said. “At that time we only had hospitals in the provincial capitals, but now we have them in the districts, just as we have expanded the electricity grid to almost all the districts in our country”. 

This, Nyussi explained, includes the industrial free zone which will be set up in the second largest town in the province, Mocuba. It was in Mocuba that the government attempted, in the 1980s, with aid from the then German Democratic Republic, to build what would have been the largest textile factory in southern Africa.

But sabotage of the road and railway from the port of Quelimane to Mocuba, by the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels, made it impossible to take the equipment to the factory site, and it lay rusting on the quayside. Renamo’s war of destabilisation also devastated the mining, sugar and tea industries in Zambezia.

At his own rallies, Dhlakama is urging voters to “vote for me for a real change,” promising that if he wins, he would rule the country “democratically, with justice and transparency.”

Renamo claims in its campaign that it will guarantee sufficient medicines in health units, equality in access to education, and also a solution to the shortage of housing for young people, and for improving the country’s road network.

In general, the campaign has been calm. However, violence is now on the increase as the polling day nears. 

On 18 September, the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), Abdul Carimo, urged all political parties and voters to halt the violent incidents that have characterized the election campaign in recent days.

Carimo reminded the parties that “by law it is forbidden to wage an election campaign by using force and incitement to violence.” 

Daviz Simango, the leader and presidential candidate of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), has warned that violence and intimidation in the current election campaign “can affect the future of our country”.

Interviewed by AIM in Maputo, Simango said that the campaign had begun very well, but he was now seriously concerned at the levels of violence and intolerance demonstrated by supporters of the ruling Frelimo Party.

The violence was no longer restricted to attacks on MDM offices, “but includes burning down the houses of our delegates, sometimes with people inside them”.

One such attack reported last week was against the home of the MDM delegate in Mukumbura, in Tete province, on the border with Zimbabwe. Speaking to the independent television station, STV, in the ruins of his house, the delegate said he had been sleeping with his family at the time of the attack, but he had managed to take them to safety.

Besides the violence allegations the opposition is having problems of its own.

The MDM leader admitted the party had run into problems coming up with lists of candidates for parliament and the provincial assemblies. “There are people who join the party and want positions immediately, even though they are clearly unsuitable”, he said.

Simango said his party “made sure to put people from the districts on the lists, and not just people from the provincial capitals”. 

As for the claims last week by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama that the MDM is “a pirate party” and Simango himself “a parrot who goes round deceiving the people”, Simango said “I think the Renamo leader is feeling rather hurt because the MDM is advancing its position in society”.

Dhlakama, he added, “is free to think whatever he likes, but it may be doubted whether a party that is running municipalities and  has a parliamentary group can be described as pirates”. – Nampa/Xinhua/AIM

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