Maputo — Although the Mozambican government on Tuesday sacked the mayor of the central city of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo, he has not left office and is continuing to work as mayor.
On Wednesday morning Araujo inaugurated the paving of a major road in Quelimane. He told the independent television station STV that he had every intention "of continuing my work until the end of the task that the municipal citizens gave me".
He said he had not yet been officially notified of the government decision to sack him, (although the announcement of his dismissal by government spokesperson Ana Comoana was broadcast on Mozambican radio and television stations on Tuesday).
"We don't work on the basis of what appears in the media because, under the rule of law, the parties should be notified, and should be given the right to defend themselves", said Araujo. He confirmed that he intends to appeal to the Administrative Tribunal.
Other members of the Quelimane City Council believe that Araujo should have stepped down immediately the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) announced it was removing him. The city councillor for culture, Jose Arijama, who is a member of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), the party which Araujo abandoned, accused him of disobedience.
Arijama and the deputy chairperson of the Municipal Assembly, Elistario Evaristo, said the Council of Minister is the topmost body of the government and under Mozambican law has the power to sack mayors.
The government moved against Araujo because he defected from the MDM to the largest opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, before completing his term of office as mayor. The 1997 law on the administrative supervision of municipalities states that "office holders in municipalities shall lose their office if, after the elections, they join a party or list different from the one for which they presented themselves to the electorate".
Araujo did not only join Renamo - he struck a deal with Renamo whereby be became the Renamo mayoral candidate for Quelimane in the municipal elections scheduled for 10 October.
But if the Administrative Tribunal upholds the government decision, then he will not be able to stand for any municipal office. For the same 1997 law says that any mayor who is sacked is not allowed to stand for office again in the next elections. It seems that Araujo did not read the municipal legislation carefully before announcing the switch in his allegiance from the MDM to Renamo.
The irony is that the MDM had no desire for a fight with Araujo. Indeed, the MDM membership in Quelimane voted in favour of running him for a further term of office in October. But he spurned this offer, embraced Renamo instead, and called the MDM, the organisation of which he has been a prominent member for almost a decade, "a party of bandits".
Speaking to the crowd at the Tuesday inauguration ceremony, Araujo continued to rage against the MDM. He alleged that he is the victim of a coalition between the MDM and the ruling Frelimo Party "set up in order to seize Quelimane and hand it over to Frelimo".