Maputo — Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, is planning to boycott the inauguration of the new municipal assemblies, resulting from the local elections held on 10 October, and is attempting to persuade the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), to join it.
Cited in Monday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", the MDM spokesperson, Sande Carmona, denounced Renamo's efforts to entice those MDM members elected to the assembles to boycott the ceremonies at which they will be sworn into office.
He said the MDM members have received phone calls from Renamo leaders, asking them to take part in the boycott in order to make it impossible to establish new municipal governments.
Carmona said this was happening in the municipalities of Marromeu, Alto Molocue and Moatize, all towns where, according to the official results, the ruling Frelimo Party won, but where there are indications of serious fraud.
It is hard to see why Renamo would contact the MDM in Moatize, since the MDM did not win a single seat on the new Moatize municipal assembly, and so the question of an MDM boycott does not arise.
But in Alto Molucue and Marromeu, the MDM could play a crucial, tie-breaking role. In the Alto Molocue assembly, there will 10 members from Frelimo, ten from Renamo and one from the MDM. In Marromeu, the figures are eight members from Frelimo, eight from Renamo and one from the MDM.
In both cases, the Frelimo and MDM members form a majority, and so a Renamo boycott would have no effect, unless the MDM joined it.
The mention of Moatize is probably a "Noticias" mistake. Carmona almost certainly mentioned not Moatize, but Monapo, which is in exactly the same situation as Alto Molocue and Marromeu, with the MDM holding the balance of power. The new Monapo Assembly will have 15 Frelimo members, 15 from Renamo and one from the MDM.
Carmona was angered that Renamo had gone behind the back of the MDM leadership, by contacting the elected MDM members of the Assemblies directly. "Questions should not be dealt with in this way", he said. "In the MDM there are rules, and its members are guided by discipline. Renamo's disorganisation should not be transferred to other parties".
"We are an open party", he added. "We are structured and we operate on the basis of our statutes. If Renamo wants to, they can contact our party bodies".
Carmona found the level of disorganisation within Renamo "impressive, and now they want to make us disorganised too".
Carmona pointed out that, under the new electoral law (passed in July), "we can replace anyone who is not aligned with our principles. They should not forget that they were elected as a list".
The MDM is clearly tired of Renamo poaching its members, as happened most spectacularly in the case of the Mayor of the central city of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo. He was elected mayor twice on the MDM ticket but, in July, he defected to Renamo. Renamo immediately made him head of its Quelimane list, so that he has now won a further term as mayor, but as a Renamo member.
Carmona said Renamo would be better advised to present the results sheets that would prove its claims of fraud in the country's second largest city, Matola, "instead of enticing our members".
But the MDM too has claimed fraud took place in Matola. To date, neither Renamo nor the MDM have published their copies of the results sheets from all 706 Matola polling stations which could show conclusively who won and who lost.