Tensions Rise Ahead of Mozambique Elections

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Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, speaking in his capacity as President of the ruling Frelimo Party, on Tuesday warned Frelimo supporters against a complacent approach to the 15 October general elections.

Addressing a campaign rally in Inharrime district, in the southern province of Inhambane, Guebuza said it was not enough to shout “victory!” in advance of the election, and nobody should imagine they did not need to go and vote because a victory for Frelimo and its presidential candidate, Filipe Nyusi was already guaranteed.

“Voting is like a game of football”, Guebuza said. “The winner is the well-trained team who, on the day of the match, really goes onto the pitch to score goals”.

When Mozambique’s national football team played, “We all want them to win”, he continued. “But for that to happen, they must train, they must go into the field and they must score”.

People who stayed at home don’t win, he warned.

Guebuza was reacting to the words of one Frelimo supporter at the rally, a “regulo” (traditional chief) named Eugenio Nhadombe, who declared “I don’t see any reason for Frelimo and Nyusi to worry because they’ve already won the elections”.

There were other triumphalist claims such as “we’re not here to win more supporters, but to confirm the victory of Frelimo and Filipe Nyusi”.

Guebuza, however, well aware of high abstention rates in some of the country’s previous elections, warned that what counts is not good will towards Frelimo, but the votes in the ballot boxes on 15 October.

He stressed that all Frelimo supporters must go to the polling stations, and must make sure that they were voting for the right candidate. For the benefit of illiterate supporters, he drew attention to the Frelimo symbol of a drum and an ear of maize – it was in the square adjoining that symbol that they should place their cross or thumbprint.

Speakers at the rally praised the government for the impact of its policies on Inhambane. Nhadombe added “We are asking you, Mr President to tell our future President, Filipe Nyusi, not to forget us”.

In particular, this regulo expressed satisfaction at the District Development Fund (FDD), still commonly known as “the seven million”, because it started life in 2006 as an allocation of seven million meticais (about 230,000 US dollars) to each of the 128 districts. The money was to be lent to people with viable projects that would create jobs and boost food production.

Nhadombe told Guebuza “with the seven million that you brought us we are developing many activities that would have been practically impossible to undertake without this fund”. He cited agro-processing, fisheries, and poultry farming as areas in Inharrime that had benefitted from the FDD.

Nyusi himself ended his tour of the western province of Tete on Tuesday, with campaign rallies in Chitima, capital of Cahora Bassa district, and in Tete city. He was joined by one of the founders of Frelimo, veteran nationalist and poet, Marcelino dos Santos, as well as by a second veteran of the national liberation struggle, Mariiano Matsinha, and the head of the Frelimo parliamentary group, Margarida Talapa.

Nyusi told the Tete crowd he wanted to invest in expansion of the electricity grid, and improve the quality of the electricity consumed.

He recognised that, although the country’s major source of electricity, the Cahora Bassa dam, is in Tete, the province suffers from power oscillations.

“We have to produce large amounts of electricity of good quality as an important factor for the unity of Mozambicans”, he said.

He pledged that, if elected, he would ensure that more dams are built on the Zambezi, notably at Mpanda Nkua, 60 kilometres downstream from Cahora Bassa, as well as a second power station at Cahora Bassa.

Nyusi stressed that he wanted to consolidate a united 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 declared.

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