Mozambican Jorge Rebelo denounces "bootlickers and sycophants"

Jorge Rebelo, Mozambique’s information minister immediately after the country’s independence in 1975, and once one of the most powerful men in the country, has attacked “bootlickers and sycophants” within the ruling Frelimo Party and the Mozambican state.

Interviewed in Friday’s issue of the independent weekly “Savana”, Rebelo declared “the country is, unfortunately, infested with this sort of person. The state apparatus is infested with them because people are chosen on the basis of their ability to lick the chief’s boots”.

“We’ve all witnessed this”, he said. “It’s enough to open some newspapers. But those who write receive instructions to defend some ideas and guidelines, and they agree to do so. But the sycophants are pushing the country to the abyss. So I urge these people to stop being sycophants and to be guided by their own thoughts”.

Sycophancy removes dignity from the sycophants, he said, and it also deprives leaders of knowing “what is good and what is bad, because the sycophants go on saying that everything is good so that they can keep their perks”.

But the chief himself was far from blameless, said Rebelo, “since it’s he who nourishes the sycophants. He chooses this kind of person for his advisors”.

“Normally, this kind of chief doesn’t like someone saying ‘Comrade President, we’re making mistakes’. The current leader does not accept criticism”, he added.

Rebelo was a close comrade of the country’s first President, Samora Machel, and throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, he was a member of the Frelimo Political Bureau. He was also head of the Frelimo Ideology Department.

He recalled that one of the virtues of Machel was that he accepted criticism. When a moment came when Machel began to take decisions on his own, Rebelo stood up in a meeting and warned him that he was becoming a dictator. Far from ordering Rebelo’s arrest, Machel “from then on called on me constantly so that we could talk. Instead of persecuting or marginalising me, Samora showed that he liked people who said things to his face. This is an indication of greatness in a leader”.

Speaking on the eve of the anniversary of Machel’s death on 19 October 1986, Rebelo said “if Samora were to return, he would not be content with the situation in our country. In our society, cases of corruption are on the increase. Corruption is taking over everything, and this must be reversed because it can lead us to the abyss”.

Machel himself had warned of this possibility. Rebelo recalled a conversation in which Machel said “that the comrades who were with us in the armed struggle are being caught by the virus of corruption, and we had to take measures to eliminate this virus”.

“And he said that today comrades are concerned about money, comfort and perks, which they never demanded during the liberation struggle”, he added. “Then we had no concern about getting rich. We were fighting for an ideal, which was the liberation of the people, and the improvement of the living conditions of all. Now the situation is different”.

Rebelo said that the current Frelimo leadership “seems not to be interested in Samora’s thought. It hides his thought. In its speeches it forgets that Samora was sensitive to corruption, to the sufferings of the people, to the expropriation of the people’s property to satisfy the appetites and greed of a small group of leaders”.

Frelimo had also abandoned its old methods of work. “You can forget about criticism and self-criticism. These are things of the past”, he told the reporters. “The Frelimo of today does not accept criticism, and much less does it make any self-criticism”.

Rebelo said that, although he is disappointed with the current Frelimo, he thought there was no alternative but to continue voting for Frelimo.

“To vote for the fall of Frelimo without this alternative means condemning the country to chaos”, he argued. “Despite all the defects of the current Frelimo, it is still the only party which can guarantee a minimum of stability and development, although this development is only benefitting a small layer”.

He was also concerned that Frelimo has not yet chosen its candidate for the 2014 presidential election, although the election is only a year away. The current president, Armando Guebuza, was chosen as candidate two years before the election, since he had to make himself known at the grass roots.

“A candidate can’t travel across the country is just three or six months saying ‘I’m the candidate, vote for me!’ This is a big country. That’s why I don’t understand this delay in indicating the successor to President Guebuza”, Rebelo said. “The delay does no favours to Frelimo”.

Post published in: Africa News

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