Maputo — The mayoral candidate for the northern city of Nampula of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party, Amisse Cololo, on Saturday asked for votes from the main religious communities of the city.
He held separate meetings with muslim and with Christian leaders, asking them to cast their votes for Frelimo in the municipal elections scheduled for next Wednesday. He urged them to use their influence among religious believers to persuade them to support Frelimo
At both meetings he promised that, in the event of a Frelimo victory, he would fight against corruption and would set up a specific department in the Municipal Council to deal with religious matters.
Cololo urged that "the mistakes of the past be forgotten" and that a new stage should open in relations between all citizens of Nampula.
"I ask you to give me more courage to go forward", he said. "With the strength of Allah I shall work so that together we may solve the problems that weaken our religious organisations and our city".
Cololo also promised both the Christians and the muslims that he wished to form "an inclusive, transparent government, free of corruption".
The Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) closed its campaign on Saturday with a well-attended march through central Nampula, culminating in a rally at the Waresta wholesale market, where its mayoral candidate, Fernando Bismarque, promised to modernise the city.
He promised that, if the MDM wins, the Municipal Council will build low cost houses for young people and for women. Bismarque said he already has partners for this project, but did not name them.
"We are here to take up our historic responsibility as children of this land", he declared. "Here we are announcing the end of despair and we are programming a new era".
Like Cololo, Bismarque promised to form an "inclusive and participatory" government.
He called on young people in particular to give the MDM their votes, stressing that he too is young. Bismarque pledged that he and his will serve the city and not expect the city to serve them.
At one point in the March, Bismarque told reporters that the current government of Nampula is "a fraud", citing in particular the mounds of rubbish in the streets. He thus forgot that, for most of the past five years, it is his party, the MDM, which has been in power in Nampula.
The current mayor, Paulo Vahanle, of the largest opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has only been in office since a by-election in March. In the previous municipal elections, in 2013. MDM candidate Mahamudo Amurane became mayor, and after his assassination on October 2017, both men appointed as interim mayors were MDM members. The MDM also enjoyed an absolute majority on the Nampula Municipal Assembly.
All of this makes it difficult for the MDM now to disclaim all responsibility for the state of Nampula.