Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Monday inaugurated the new Congress Hall, on the premises of the Central School of the ruling Frelimo Party in the southern city of Matola.
This is the building where the Frelimo 11th Congress will be held from Tuesday to Sunday. It is a brand new structure, built after the old hall was destroyed in stormy weather last year.
Speaking at the ceremony, Nyusi said the hall was erected in four months, and has the capacity to hold over 3,000 people.
The building cost Frelimo about 280 million meticais (4.6 million US dollars). More than 500 workers were involved in the construction.
"In October 2016, nature surprised us with a storm which shook and weakened the structure of the previous pavilion and in December another storm struck the area and destroyed the pavilion completely", said Nyusi.
This could have been a serious blow for Frelimo, since it was counting on these premises to hold its 11th Congress, already scheduled for September this year. It was imperative to rebuild the pavilion, Nyusi said, in time for it to accommodate the Congress. A solution had to be found to build a firm structure that would faithfully represent the Party.
A fundraising drive was successfully launched to raise money for reconstructing the pavilion from Frelimo members and supporters. In January the debris of the collapsed building was removed, and on 29 March the first stone was laid marking the start of building the new pavilion.
"This work symbolizes the cohesion and the will of the members and sympathisers of the Party to see things happen", declared Nyusi. "Our thanks go to all those who contributed to the building, and to the Party's Political Commission which led the process".
The President called for rational and appropriate use of the building to ensure a long life for the structure. He advised that an autonomous management for the building be set up, in order to guarantee its conservation.
Since the Congress is Frelimo's top decision making body, the debates over the next week could have an important impact on the future of the country.
Among those with high expectations from the Congress is Frelimo's main opponent, Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the rebel movement Renamo.
Speaking to reporters from the independent television station STV at the end of a meeting of the Renamo political commission at his bush headquarters in the central district of Gorongosa, Dhlakama said he hoped that Nyusi "manages to unite" what he called "the radicals of Frelimo", so that they will support him "in what he has been negotiating with me, because we leaders sometimes run into problems inside our parties".
Dhlakama was confident that there will soon be a formal agreement on the election of provincial governors. That will require that the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic passes a constitutional amendment since, as it stands, the Constitution envisages appointment of the governors by the President.
Much more delicate is Dhlakama's other sticking point - which is the incorporation of officers of Renamo's illegal militia into senior positions in the armed forces (FADM) and police. Dhlakama made it clear that this is a condition, not only for the disarming of the Renamo militia, but also for his departure from the Gorongosa bush.
Citing security fears, he said he would not move to Maputo or to any other city until what he called "Renamo commandos" are incorporated into the army.