Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, speaking in his capacity as President of the ruling Frelimo Party, declared on Tuesday that the fight against corruption is the most vital and urgent challenge facing the country.
Addressing the opening session of the 11th Congress of Frelimo, in the southern city of Matola, Nyusi declared "under the rule of law, leaders must first serve the people and the country. If we were able to overcome colonial rule, we have to be able to win the battle against corruption. And if we were able to silence the guns (a reference to the 1992 peace agreement that ended the war of destabilization), we also have to be able to fight against organized crime, and to build a country made by and for all Mozambicans".
"Zero tolerance towards corruption must begin in our own ranks", he told the 2,249 Congress delegates present. "It should be the norm from the top to the grass roots. Nobody should abuse their position. This Congress should be proof that such abuses - bribery, extortion, and all other violations - must not go unpunished".
Nyusi also spoke up for social justice. "We don't want to be part of a society where the rich suffocate the poor", he said.
The wealth of the country's natural resources should unite all Mozambicans, he urged. The riches in the country's soil and sub-soil "should be a blessing, not a curse", he said, insisting that debates at the Congress should feed a long term vision about this matter.
Nyusi did not want the country to stagger from one ad-hoc solution to the next. "We do not intend to govern just through campaigns and projects", he said. "We need strategic solutions and a culture of looking ahead".
"Governance should not be limited to solving problems", he added. "Governance should mean that problems don't happen".
Nyusi warned against intolerance. "Diversity of opinion is not a sign of weakness, but of tolerance", he stressed. "The debate of ideas, however different they may be, must continue to be promoted, in the awareness that we are living in a more open society".
Living in a multi-party democracy means competing for power, he said, "and for this, we do not need to act against adversaries, but to build, with paths and solutions, a prosperous Mozambique, showing the people that we are the best solution to their longings".
The country is now on the path to economic independence, Nyusi argued. "We want to build a diverse and diversified economy to guarantee lasting wealth, and a more self-sufficient country".
"Let us work to attract investment, and to place agriculture to the forefront, and with public services that do not encourage exchanges of favours and games of influence", he declared. "We want access to energy and to technologies for citizens. We want circulation of goods and people, but above all, of ideas, giving young people the tools so that they can become the patriots and citizens of their time".
He expressed forthright support for decentralization, pointing out that Frelimo had once been a pioneer in decentralizing power.
The backdrop to this part of his speech, although not specifically mentioned by Nyusi, is the demand by Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Renamo rebels, for the direct election of provincial governors. This has been one of the themes of the negotiations over the phone between Nyusi and Dhlakama, and a working group between the government and Renamo is drawing up draft legislation and a constitutional amendment on the matter.
Nyusi said he wanted the experience of participatory management to be enriched, "without conflict between decentralization and the preservation of the greatest gain of Mozambicans, national unity.
"We should be prepared to make changes", he urged, "and continue to play a leading role n decentralizing the country".