Maputo — Primary school teachers in Maputo on Wednesday asked Eneas Comiche, the mayoral candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party in the municipal elections scheduled for 10 October, for better school facilities to ensure greater comfort and safety for pupils and teachers alike.
Comiche was meeting with teachers to hear their concerns so that possible solutions can be included in the election manifesto that will guide his election campaign.
The teachers told him that it is much easier for pupils to learn if their school provides decent conditions. One teacher told Comiche "I would say my school is rotten, for when I teach classes I fear that the roof will collapse onto our heads".
His primary school was inaugurated in 1992, he said, and since then it has never been rehabilitated. "I ask you to pay attention to this point", he urged.
The teachers also called for wage rises and promotions along the teaching career, and for improvements in transport. They complained of the hours they spend commuting between home and their schools every day.
They also demanded better management of the schools so that basic questions, such as paying the electricity and water bills on time, are dealt with. "There are cases, as in my school, where the directors sometimes use their own money to pay for the school's electricity and water", said one.
But other participants were sceptical about Comiche because of his advanced age - he celebrated his 79the birthday in July, and so, if he wins the elections, he will be an octogenarian for most of his five year term of office.
Comiche had been mayor once before - from 2004 to 2009 - and was praised for his integrity and his fight against corruption. Apparently, these qualities were not universally appreciated, for when he wished to stand for a second term, in the 2008 municipal elections, he lost the inner-party election, and Frelimo chose the former Minister of Sport and Youth, David Simango, who has been mayor of the capital for the past decade.
One participant asked Comiche "what are you bringing us that is new, ten years after you were last mayor?"
The Maputo City Frelimo First Secretary, Francisco Mabjaia, intervened, declaring that Comiche received the call from his party, and as a Frelimo militant, he was complying with a task given to him by the party.
"We learn to do what the members ask of us", said Mabjaia, "and we even sacrifice ourselves". He revealed that Comiche had been reluctant, precisely because of his age, but eventually he accepted Frelimo's call.
Comiche himself said much the same. "I have received a task from my party, and, as a militant of the party, when I receive a task, it must be carried out. I am here as the Frelimo candidate, and I hope I will have your support and the support of other municipal citizens".
Comiche said he had noted all the teachers' concerns, and promised to include them in his manifesto. He said that, if he won the election, he would try to solve them.