Maputo — The National Council of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) is meeting in the central city of Chimoio this weekend to discuss strategy ahead of the general elections scheduled for 15 October, including the choice of the party's presidential candidate.
Speaking at the opening session on Saturday, the party's leader and the Mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, described the meeting as “an unequalled opportunity to refine our party machinery and to take pertinent decisions to prepare adequately for the coming political battles”.
Cited on the MDM Facebook page, he added “we must continue to be the force that encourages active and widened participation”.
By Saturday night, according to a report on the independent television station STV, the only name proposed for the party's presidential candidate was that of Simango himself. He was nominated by the Maputo city and Inhambane delegations.
Last week, a man named Paulino Candrinho put forward his own name at a meeting of around 500 MDM members in Quelimane, capital of Zambezia province. But on a show of hands, only a minority at the meeting supported him. Whether his name will still go forward to the Sunday vote at the National Council is not clear.
The more cynical among local analysts claimed that the MDM had staged the Quelimane meeting to give the choice of presidential candidate a democratic veneer.
Nonetheless, Simango is certainly the obvious choice for candidate. It was he who founded the MDM in 2009, a few months after his expulsion from the hitherto largest opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo.
Simango is Mozambique's most successful opposition politician, now in his third term of office as mayor of Beira. He first won in 2003, on the Renamo ticket, but when Renamo refused to stand him for a second term, he ran as an independent, easily defeating the candidates of both Renamo and of the ruling Frelimo Party.
Last November, he won his third term, this time for the MDM, and with a crushing majority. Unlike his previous term, he now has the backing of a substantial majority in the Beira Municipal assembly, which should make it easier for him to carry out the programme he put to the electorate.