Political leaders campaign in by-elections

Political heavyweights from both the ruling Frelimo Party and from the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) have thrown themselves into the by-election battles in the three municipalities of Quelimane, Pemba and Cuamba.

The political contest seems at its most intense in Quelimane, the fifth largest city in the country, and capital of the central province of Zambezia. Over the weekend, the Frelimo candidate, Lourenco Aboobakar, enjoyed the support of no less than three members of the Frelimo Political Commission – the party’s General Secretary, Filipe Paunde, Veronica Macamo (who is also chairperson of the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic), and Manuel Tome (deputy head of the Frelimo parliamentary group).

MDM leader and mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, travelled to Quelimane to assist the party’s candidate, Manuel de Araujo, as did the national head of mobilization, Geraldo de Carvalho, and MDM parliamentary deputy Agostinho Ussore.

The Frelimo rallies at the weekend called for continuity in the work begun by the previous Frelimo mayor of the city, Pio Matos. Manuel Tome declared that Aboobacar represents “maturity, experience and stability”, and even stressed that Aboobakar has “a stable family”.

The Frelimo campaign challenged Araujo to publicly show his family – although there is nothing in Mozambican law that obliges election candidates to be married.

Araujo presents himself as “the candidate of change and of the transformation of Quelimane”. He promises to “rescue the dignity of Quelimane”, and accuses Frelimo of 35 years of mismanagement of the city.

In Cuamba, the MDM candidate Maria Moreno has repeatedly accused Frelimo of preparing electoral fraud – but the only evidence for this was the MDM’s arrest of a young Frelimo militant, 22 year old Suzete Ernesto. She, and three others, were found writing down names, addresses and voter card numbers in the Cuamba neighbourhood of Adine 3.

There was nothing remotely illegal about this – but the MDM took Ernesto captive in their Cuamba office, and then handed her over to the police. Angry relatives of Ernesto stormed into the police station, and eventually the police released her.

The head of the Frelimo brigade in Adine 3, Jeremias Matula, said the data Ernesto collected were simply the Frelimo daily record of which voters had been contacted in door-to-door canvassing.

Daviz Simango arrived in Cuamba from Quelimane on Sunday, and urged the electorate to vote for Moreno “because she will guarantee change in the destiny of this city”.

According to a report in Monday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, among the promises Moreno has made is that, if elected mayor, she will reduce the municipal taxes charged on charcoal sellers and on bicycles. These taxes make a substantial contribution to the municipal coffers – but Moreno says she intends to lessen the tax burden on municipal citizens.

Frelimo and MDM campaigning over the weekend in Pemba, a city were Frelimo won over 80 per cent of the votes in the last municipal election, was calm. Observers noted that the Frelimo canvassing teams were joined by the man whose resignation sparked off the by-election, former mayor Sadique Yacub.

Although Yacub had invoked health motives for his resignation, he was perfectly active and lively during the weekend’s campaigning activity.

In Pemba there is a third party in the race, the newly formed Humanist Party of Mozambique (PAHUMO). Its candidate, Emiliano Mocambique, boasts that there is “no doubt” that he will win.

Post published in: Africa News

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