Maputo — The 11th Congress of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party early on Monday morning passed a resolution, unanimously and by acclamation, indicating that the Party's candidate for the 2019 presidential election will be the incumbent, Filipe Nyusi.
Early in the Congress there had been repeated calls that Nyusi should stand for a second term. Former President Joaquim Chissano even declared that Nyusi is young enough to hold office for three five year terms (although he admitted that the Mozambican Constitution only allows two consecutive terms).
Frelimo has never before chosen its candidate more than two years before a general election is held. Indeed, the Party's statutes indicated that the decision is taken, not by the Congress, but by the Central Committee.
Nysui was chosen as the candidate for the 2014 election by a Central Committee meeting held in February and March of that year, just eight months before the election.
At his closing speech, as the Congress drew to a close after 03.00 on Monday morning, Nyusi returned to the theme of the fight against corruption. He called for transparency at all levels, so as to make Frelimo an example of probity.
"As from today, we must clearly accept that it is our task to purge what can stain us as a party, otherwise we run the risk of becoming accomplices in what can damage us", he declared.
Nyusi recalled that the Congress was held under the motto "Unity, peace and development", and stressed "we and only we are the solution for our development". But he was sure that, with the policies approved by the Congress, including the Party's new programme, "Frelimo will create the necessary bases for speedy development".
The Congress also passed unanimously and by acclamation a resolution appointing Nyusi's predecessor, Armando Guebuza, an Honorary President of Frelimo. He will be the second Honorary President. The title was first bestowed on Joaquim Chissano, who was President of the Republic from 1986 to 2005.
The Congress delegates gave Guebuza this honour despite the fact that the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts" occurred in 2013 and 2014, while Guebuza was at the helm. The Guebuza government issued illicit guarantees for two billion dollars worth of loans contracted with European banks (Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia) by three security-related companies - Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).
Because the Proindicus and MAM loans were kept secret, and only became public knowledge in April 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) accused the Mozambican government of concealing the true scale of its foreign debt, and suspended its programme with the country. Other donors and funding agencies followed suit. In particular, all 14 donors who used to provide direct support to the Mozambican state budget suspended all further disbursements and have not yet resumed them.
Despite the damage done to the Mozambican economy, this scandal scarcely merited a mention during the Congress.
Editors' note: AllAfrica has been asked to add the following statement issued by the press office for VTB, a Russian banking group named in this article:
"VTB conducted its transactions with the Mozambican state-owned companies and government in accordance with all applicable laws and approvals, including from the Mozambican Central Bank. This was confirmed by our international and Mozambican legal counsel. Moreover, the government of Mozambique confirmed to us that they were following the necessary internal and external legislation and that comprehensive information on the transactions was disclosed to creditors and investors. As we have previously said, the total public debt number disclosed in the prospectus of the issued sovereign Eurobond was inclusive of all outstanding direct and publicly guaranteed government debt. Furthermore, in the transaction documentation the government undertook to include the guarantees in the budget."