Mozambique: First Frelimo Split in 40 Years as Samito Jumps Ship

Samora Machel Jr.

Samora Machel Junior ("Samito"), a member of the Frelimo Central Committee and the son of Mozambique’s first President, Samora Moises Machel, and Josina Machel, is standing for mayor of Maputo as head of a citizens list.

From the early 1970s, Frelimo has been obsessed with maintaining unity, and in more than 40 years no senior figure has publicly quit. When the Frelimo party refused to let presidents Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza stand for another presidential term, they both stayed within the party and remained influential. Samito's public departure is a first, and the main question will be if others follow him.

Machel is head of the list of candidates for the Municipal Assembly submitted by the citizens list Ajudem ("help" in Portuguese, the acronym for Associacao Juvenil para o Desenvolvimento de Mocambique, Youth for Mozambique Development). He has gained support from young people in Maputo, as well as the some of the older Samora generation alienated by the greed and patronage that developed in Frelimo in the Guebuza era.

But Samito is neither young nor an outsider. The 48-year-old Machel is part of an elite group of Frelimo leaders' children who have become wealthy. He is chair of Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), the joint venture between Gemfields and Mwiriti Limitada, which has been strongly criticised for human rights violations at its ruby mine in Montepuez. He is also a director and leading shareholder of Cartrack Mozambique, is vice-chair of MozaBanco, is in the Machel family business Whatana, and is in joint ventures including real estate with a Mauritian-Portuguese company Southwind,

He is married to Jovita Sumbana, daughter of businessman and former minister Fernando Sumbana, who is second on the Frelimo list and would become mayor for Frelimo if the first on the list, Eneas Comiche. becomes mayor and then resigns. Thus the election is also an intra-family dispute.

Samito campaigned hard to be head of the Frelimo list, and initially it was announced the choice would be between he and Comiche. But the party barons won out and Samito was not on the short list. So he created his own list.

The response of the party heavies was to put pressure on Ajudem candidates, often reminding them how dependent their family is on Frelimo patronage for jobs and contracts. Four agreed to leave the Ajudem list, putting the whole list into question. (More details below)

Interviews in O Pais (16 August) of Teodato Hunguana and Luisa Diogo suggest informal support for Samito. He has not formally left Frelimo and is standing on a citizen's list, not another party, and some Frelimo members supported Juntos Pela Cidade in Maputo in the early elections. Hunguana argues that the internal Frelimo party structure has become less democratic. Diogo hints that once Samito has made his point about the need for Frelimo party reform, he need not be seen as having left the party.

Comment: Benjamin Franklin, before he signed the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776, said, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." Frelimo may never have heard the quote, but it has been Frelimo's highest priority for more than 40 years. Unity has been maintained at all cost, including keeping thieves and murderers within the Frelimo elite rather than expose them and split the party. Will this change now?

Mozambique faces the same problem as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania of a liberation movement in power for decades which has become old, greedy and authoritarian. Progressive older militants link with marginalised younger members and try to challenge from inside using a figure like Samito who is part of the establishment, but might promote reform inside the party - which is resisted by key party figures in a heavy handed way.

Samito's "rebellion" has been carefully orchestrated to keep him in Frelimo and its central committee, and thus to be seen as an internal challenge to the party machine. Party barons appear to be trying to prevent this by pushing Samito and supporters out of the party and marginalise them. The test will be if he and Ajudem are allowed to stand and if they do well in the municipal elections. If so, might he be welcomed back into Frelimo, perhaps as a potential presidential candidate? Or will he be crushed? Shaking up Frelimo, splitting the party, or demonstrating the high cost of dissent? jh

Breaking news: CNE delays decision on Samito for 10 days.  During a meeting that lasted all weekend, the National Elections Commission decided that the four people who claimed to have been improperly included in Samito's Ajudem list must submit formal requests to withdraw from the list within the next 10 days. If more than one does so, then the list will be excluded for having too few candidates. Meanwhile, when the CNE suspended its meeting at 22.00 on Sunday, it still could not agree on whether Venancio Mondlane was eligible to stand as head of the Renamo list for Maputo assembly; the CNE session resumes at 17.30 today (Monday). Silverio Runguane, head of the Renamo list in Matola, who is in the same position of being apparently ineligible for having resigned from the assembly in 2015 when he took his seat in the national parliament, has been allowed to stand because no one protested. (More details on this in our election newsletter:

It is very difficult to predict the Maputo municipal elections, with 12 lists competing, three with popular figures standing for mayor. Frelimo has Comiche who is highly respected for the integrity and action of his earlier 2004-9 term as mayor, Renamo has Venancio Mondlane who won 40% of the vote as MDM candidate for mayor in 2013, and Samito heads his Ajudem. A weakened MDM has drawn the youth vote in recent elections, and the traditional Maputo citizen list Juntos Pela Cidade retains residual support. Will 11 groups split the opposition vote and leave Frelimo with the largest vote, or by providing non-Renamo options draw votes away from Frelimo? Probably no party will gain a majority in the assembly which would force a coalition - already a novelty - and it is hard to predict which group will get most votes. jh

World Bank admits its strategy has failed; new report calls for government to invest in farming

"The existing growth strategy is limited in its capacity to support continued poverty reduction", argues a new World Bank report "Jobs Diagnostic Mozambique", issued 16 August. "The non-inclusive nature of Mozambique's economic growth is related, in part, to the country's reliance on 'megaprojects' … which have generated few jobs directly or indirectly." Inequality is increasing, and "the bottom 40% of income earners has been left behind".

Without explicitly saying so, the World Bank report argues the strategies promoted by the World Bank for more than two decades - neoliberalism, no role for government in the economy, leaving poverty reduction to the private sector, and encouraging foreign investment - have not worked. Indeed, the World Bank's own report advises Mozambique to follow the lead of three countries that have rejected World Bank policies: Bangladesh, Rwanda and Uganda.

"Uganda, Rwanda and Bangladesh are examples of countries that have emerged from the ashes of conflict to deliver strong and relatively inclusive growth. This growth was achieved by investments in the sectors where poor households earn their living, especially in agriculture", the report says.

"Most Mozambicans will work in the household farms and non-farm self employment for the foreseeable future", the report stresses, noting that "the working age population is growing rapidly" and education is improving. There is some move of these people from rural to urban areas, but to take on low productivity informal sector service jobs - trading "rural poverty for urban poverty".

"Lack of market access" is the key reason why farmers do not use modern inputs and raise productivity, and the report points to the success of contract farming and other systems which guarantee markets in Mozambique: cotton, tobacco, sugar, soy, horticulture, cashew and chicken.

"There is a strong case for public support to transition smallholders into productive activities … where productivity and earnings will be much higher," the report advises. And it stresses that private investment needs "public support".

"Additionally, it is important to revive the country's moribund manufacturing sector, which was once important but has collapsed over the last two decades," particularly in labour intensive sectors, the report says. This is a particularly pointed criticism of the World Bank, which started the decline in manufacturing in 1995 by forcing the closure of the cashew process industry, destroying 10,000 jobs in the most labour intensive sector.

Further reading: Similar points were made in our 2014 book "Chickens and beer:  A recipe for agricultural growth in Mozambique", available for free download on And we have a chapter on how Bangladesh's government transformed rice farming, making the country a rice exporter and raising peasant incomes, in "Bangladesh confronts climate change" (2016), also now available free on then click Open Access.

Frelimo worries about creating jobs & building SMEs without state support

With just two months before local elections, President Filipe Nyusi and Frelimo have woken up to challenges being posed by disgruntled voters on jobs, agricultural markets, and corruption. "Remember that we are less than a year and a half from the end of our mandate, so we must accelerate the pace of fulfilling the promises we have made to our people,” he told provincial governors in a statement Thursday 9 August. And he admitted that peasants are producing more crops but cannot sell them, so he told the new deputy minister of Industry and Commerce Julio Pio to sort out the marketing problem. (O Pais 10 Aug)

But Frelimo is caught in a trap. For 25 years, Frelimo has followed a policy that the private sector, acting on its own, will end poverty. Across the world, from the United States to Europe to successful Africa countries, there is huge training and financial support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and credit and guaranteed markets for farmers - it is government that builds capitalism and the private sector. But not in Mozambique, where there is only a mishmash of donor projects, and urging by President Filipe Nyusi that peasants and local business people must work harder.

The issue came to a head last week at a conference in Pemba, chaired by President Filipe Nyusi, at which Anadarko presented the potential for local jobs and contracts. Nyusi challenged SMEs to be more competitive to seize gas opportunities, saying the government will not adopt protectionist policies. SMEs should focus on strengthening their technical and professional qualifications, guaranteeing international standards in their activities. (Lusa 10 Aug) Mineral and Energy Minister Max Tonela stressed that Mozambican entrepreneurs must demonstrate certified capacity, continuity in the provision of his goods or services, and scale of supply.

But Sergio Cunha of the Portuguese paint company Tintas CIN, which has been producing paint in Mozambique since before independence, complained he had recently lost a contract (to provide paint for the Afugi resettlement) which was won by a South Arica company, because there is no local preference. Nyusi called Cunha's intervention "indecent". (Marcelo Mosse, 10, 11 Aug,
Anadarko Vice President Steve Wilson told the meeting that they treated companies as local if they were Mozambican owned or registered. And Nyusi suggested that in order to seize gas opportunities, local companies should seek foreign partners and ensure their competence. This sounds very much like the encouragement of cabrito capitalism, where the Frelimo elite uses land titles, mining licenses, or contacts to make a deal where they trade their local contribution for 20% of a joint venture and the foreign partner does the work - as is happening in the mining sector. jhj

Anadarko promises jobs & contract, but how many will be local?

On the resettlement at Afungi, Cabo Delgado, where a community is being moved to create a huge industrial area, 75% of the workers and 80% of the supply contracts are to be Mozambican, Anadarko vice president Steve Wilson told Anadarko's meeting in Pemba on 10 August. He says 3,000 Mozambicans have already been trained and $850 mn already spent with Mozambican companies. He said that 5000 jobs would be created in the construction phase, with a peak of 3500 Mozambicans in year 3. There will be 1500 jobs for the 30 year production period.

Many of the jobs will be cooks and guards, but many are skilled heavy machinery drivers, plumbers, tubing workers etc. How many Mozambicans have those skills, or can be trained?

Anadarko noted that for the next five years, it will have to provide 5000 to 30,000 meals per day, and invited proposals from local companies. The project also has huge other supply demands, from construction materials to boots to electronics - but how much can be supplied by Mozambican companies?

Anadarko did accept that problem that Mozambican companies do not have international certificates and cannot prove they are qualified. So it promised to provide training funds and support and help with certification.

There was a sharp fall in SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) supplying goods and services to the giant mining, hydrocarbon and metallurgical firms, according to the General State Account (CGE) of 2017. In 2016 there were 395 firms with $376 mn in contracts, but in 2017 this fell to 217 SMEs with $105 mn in contracts. (O Pais 26 July)

Flagship agriculture projects a waste of money, says top rural research group

Fragmented donor flagship agriculture projects have been such a failure that it might be preferable to stop wasting cooperation money and stop increasing the Mozambican debt, concluded the Rural Observatory (Observatorio do Meio Rural) after an agribusiness conference 19 July. It is an extremely harsh assessment from the best informed rural researchers.

Projects are dispersed, disconnected and fail to reach more than a few of their targets. The wrong equipment is provided, and servicing is not available; there is no credit; there is no training in management and maintenance of infrastructure such as irrigation; and there is no training in business skills. Each project has a different management system and investments are financed by lenders and donors which creates a clientelist system, and tends to benefit elites and those close to political power.

Priority should go to guaranteed markets with price incentives, at least for a few crops, as happens with sugar and cashew now. Next would come rural roads, training, agricultural services, and storage.

Comment: It is a damning report which explains why two decades of agricultural aid and loan projects have not reduced rural poverty. But it is unlikely to be read by Mozambican politicians or by lenders and donors.  jh

Market problems. Mozambique Leaf Tobacco normally buys all the tobacco offered to it, but this year it is not, and for the first time some farmers cannot sell their tobacco. (AIM Pt 12 July)

A fascinating web/video account of the people of Napai II, Mecuburi, Nampula demanding their land back from the forestry company Lurio Green Resources. With video of a public meeting, it shows how the consultation over the land was interpreted totally differently by the two sides, and how attempts by local officials and community leaders to promote what they see as "development" has worked against local people. Anyone who wants to see the complex dynamics over land use actually taking place should watch this. jh

Is government reconsidering exorbitant media fees?

The Council of Ministers on 14 August delayed the introduction of media fees described as the highest in the world, which should have come into force on 23 August. The follows a national and international outcry about the charges, which were introduced without discussion.

The Mozambican chapter of the regional press body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) described the new fees as “a vile attempt to restrict freedom of expression and of the press”. Naldo Chivite of the National Forum of Community Radios (Forcom), which run on a shoestring and volunteers, said the $850 fee was an attempt by the government to kill off the community radios.(AIM En 15, 16 Aug) Human Rights Watch on 17 August said "the new fees are a huge setback for press freedom and access to information in Mozambique. … These outrageous fees will make it nearly impossible for many journalists to do their job." Mozambique’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said the high fees "are not in line with the guidelines [that promote] the greatest divulging of information and free access to information."

Savana (10 Aug) accused Emilia Moiane, a Frelimo Central Committee member and head of the government's Information Office (Gabinfo) which will collect the fees, of being "the ideologue behind clumsy attempts to silence the private press because of its critical approach to day-to-day governance". And in an interview with Savana she took a hard line. Media must be "regulated", she said; in Mozambique "anyone can open a newspaper, but it is not like that in any part of the world."

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