Maputo — Mozambique’s second opposition force, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), is hopeful that next year it will be able to increase the number of municipalities under its control.
On Friday, delegates to the MDM First Congress, in the central city of Beira spent much of their time discussing electoral strategy for both the 2013 municipal elections and the 2014 general elections. These discussions took place behind closed doors. Just as in some of the sessions the previous day, the press was barred from attending.
According to the Congress timetable, electoral strategy should have been discussed on Thursday, but debates on changes to the MDM statutes and programme, and on the policies it would follow if elected to government ran over time, and ended up occupying the entire day.
This also delayed the elections of the MDM’s leading bodies. The candidates for the party’s Presidency, Political Commission and National Council should have been announced on Thursday but at the time of writing are still unknown (although there is no serious doubt that the mayor of Beira, David Simango, will be re-elected MDM President).
The congress spokesperson, Sande Carmona, was optimistic that all points on the agenda will be discussed and that the party President and other bodies will be elected some time on Friday.
The Political Commission and National Council should hold their first meetings on Friday night, but the delays in holding the elections may call this into question.
Meanwhile, the two delegates from Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Juliana Mbiri and Thjokozani Bote, interviewed by the daily paper “Noticias”, praised the ruling Frelimo Party for accepting the MDM’s invitation to send a delegation to observe the Congress.
Such behaviour by the ruling party would be completely unthinkable in Zimbabwe, they said, and showed that democracy in Mozambique is consolidated.
“In Zimbabwe, it’s completely different, because there is no room for manoeuvre for the opposition parties”, they said. Even though MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is Prime Minister in a shaky coalition government, the space for the opposition “remains very meagre”.