Maputo — The rift between Mahamudo Amurane, mayor of the northern city of Nampula, and the party on whose ticket he was elected in 2013, the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) is continuing to widen, with Amurane now demanding a formal apology from MDM leader Daviz Simango.
Interviewed by the independent daily “O Pais”, Amurane said that Simango must take the blame for the split. It is not entirely clear what Amurane wants Simango to apologise for - but the mayor was angered when some people claiming to be MDM members in Nampula accused him of corruption earlier this year, an accusation that Amurane vehemently denies.
Amurane said he has been disappointed by the management of the MDM and particularly by Simango. He said the MDM has abandoned the political project which inspired him to join the party and run as its Nampula candidate in 2013.
The mayor said he could no longer recommend either the MDM or its leader as political alternatives for Mozambique. He claimed that it was thanks to his work that the MDM had been successful in Nampula. “With my work, people saw that the MDM was a party they could count on”, he declared, implying that it was the MDM who depended on him, and not the other way round.
“I am sure that, once my term of office is over (in 2018) I shall continue to serve my society, regardless of whether I am in the MDM”, said Amurane, in a strong hint that he intends to stand for a second term, perhaps as an independent.
Amurane's relationship with his party became critical in February, when 11 staff of Nampula Municipal Council, including the Councillor for Finance, were accused of corruption. Seven of them were detained, and the whereabouts of the other four were unknown. Mahumane played a leading role in uncovering this municipal corruption and cooperating with the prosecutors.
Several of the detained staff were said to be MDM members. Their relatives demanded their release, and accused Amurane of using municipal funds to buy a house in Portugal for his children (who are studying there).
Amurane said he could prove he paid for the house out of his own pocket, and claimed that MDM members in Nampula were slandering him precisely because he would not tolerate acts of corruption.
In his interview with “O Pais” he said the MDM wanted to silence him, and accused Simango himself of leading the campaign against him. He said Simango is not a person open to dialogue, and does not practice what he preaches.
“He says the others (that is, the ruling Frelimo Party) have been in power for 40 years. But how long has he been in power (as Mayor of Beira)?”, asked Amurane. “It's coming up for 15 years, and I don't think that's a short time. He should have set an example by only serving two terms of office”.
He asked what political alternative to Frelimo Simango was presenting. “Have you journalists heard what he wants to do in education? What he's going to do in agriculture? How he's going to solve the problem of transport? The city of Beira, which he heads, is in a sorry state. You have to set an example!”
He said he had been horrified at a meeting addressed by Simango in Nampula, when the MDM leader had said that the party's members should fight fire with fire, responding to the violence shown by members of Frelimo with violence of their own. “So that means that, when others are violent, you too should be violent”, Amurane continued. “If someone aspiring to power behaves like this, imagine what he'll be like if he gets into power”.
“These are things we shouldn't accept”, he said, “because we have already suffered a lot, and now we want to end this”.
Amurane also criticized the way the MDM chooses parliamentary candidates. They are selected by the leadership, and the grass roots have no say in the matter. “That's what happened in 2014, and it will happen in 2019”, he accused. “A parliamentary deputy chosen by the President of the party (Simango) will be virtually a parrot. He doesn't have the legitimacy or the freedom to transmit whatever the project of the community is. The deputy will transmit the ideas of one man, the man who put him on the party's lists”.