Maputo — The general secretary of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party, Roque Silva, on Monday declared that the municipal elections, scheduled for 10 October, show that peace in the country is irreversible.
Speaking at an election rally, in the densely populated suburb of Namutequeliua, in the northern city of Nampula, he declared "in these elections, we have the great opportunity to build and consolidate peace. These elections are taking place in a context in which there is no war, thanks to the efforts made by President Filipe Nyusi".
Silva warned against "pessimists" who might appear with intimidatory messages to frighten citizens into voting in a particular way, not out of their free will, but out of fear.
After the death in May of Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel movement Renamo, "some people thought the peace project was finished", he said, "but they forgot that the great mentor of this peace is the President who has shown his capacity and has continued to speak with the new leaders of Renamo".
For Silva, the moves to demilitarise Renamo are important to ensure that former members of the Renamo militia can be reintegrated into society. "We are sure that Renamo understands", he said, and so we are going into these elections aware that Renamo will know how to collaborate so that they are peaceful and so that Mozambicans may consolidate and develop our democracy in this environment. The votes of the citizens of Nampula can very well contribute to this peace".
Frelimo was fighting to win in Nampula, Silva added, because the city needed an alternative leadership that can rise to the challenge of its development. "Frelimo should win these elections because we believe it has the capacity, vision and responsibility to respond to the challenges of managing Nampula", he declared.
He praised the citizens of Nampula for the example they had set of a peaceful campaign, without any incidents of violence, "where each citizen has the opportunity to test what his party or organisation is able to offer".
Frelimo in Nampula faces an uphill struggle, for it was less than seven months ago that its candidate, Amisse Cololo, lost heavily to the current mayor, Paulo Vahanle of Renamo.
There has not been enough time for Vahanle's support of March to ebb away, and the mayor can always blame Nampula's problems on the previous administration, which was in the hands of the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
The MDM hopes to regain control of Nampula, and so is fielding one of its strongest candidates, Fernando Bismarque, who is currently spokesperson for the MDM parliamentary group.