In a statement this afternoon, President Filipe Nyusi announced a decentralization deal with Renamo president Afonso Dhlakama that increases the power of both presidents and their parties. No announcement was made on military issues, but Nyusi promised a further statement on this "shortly".
The key point of the deal is increased power for provincial and municipal assemblies, but no elected governors and an end to elected mayors starting this year, so there will be no mayoral elections in October.
There will need to be an immediate constitutional amendment, which will make the structures of province, district and municipality the same. There will be an elected assembly as there is now for province and municipality and will be for districts from 2024. The assembly will then name a person to be nominated by central government as provincial governor, district administrator, or mayor. In all cases the nomination must be made by a group with a majority in the assembly - a single party or a coalition. The governor, administrator, and mayor will be accountable to their respective assembly, and Nyusi said that district and provincial assemblies will be able to dismiss their governor and administrator. He did not mention the municipal assembly having this power.
At province level there will be a secretary of state nominated by the President to carry out functions which are not decentralised. It is not stated, but it is assumed that similar figures will be appointed by central government at district and municipal level.
No details were given of powers to be decentralized - only those which cannot be decentralized. Nyusi's statement stresses that Mozambique remains a "unitary state" and that the sovereignty of the state is not subject to decentralization. Thus governors, administrators and mayors are named by central government, even if they are nominated locally. In particular, Nyusi said that minerals, energy, land, natural resources, water and taxes remain national issues which will not be decentralized.
Avoiding the Daviz problem
Neither leader wants to reduce control over the party, and especially they do not want elected officials with an independence power base. Both want to avoid the example of Daviz Simango, who became too popular and effective as mayor of Beira. He was dropped by Dhlakama at the last minute in 2008, but he still succeeded in standing as an independent and winning, and set up his own party, the MDM. The agreement will prevent that from happening again, because national parties control the party lists of candidates for assemblies, and will be involved in selecting party loyalists for mayor, administrator and governor. On balance, a loss for democracy. jh
If applied now
If the rule were applied now, there would be 6 Frelimo governors, 3 Renamo governors, and 1 province, Manica, where two parties would be forced into a coalition.
Frelimo assembly majorities: Maputo province, Gaza, Inhambane, Nampula, Cabo Delgado, Niassa
Renamo assembly majorities: Sofala, Tete, Zambézia