Maputo — The Maputo City Committee of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party has sacked the entire city secretariat of the party, headed by Francisco Mabjaia as First Secretary.
According to a report in Thursday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax", the meeting of the City Committee lasted from 15.00 on Tuesday until 02.00 on Wednesday morning, culminating in an overwhelming vote to sack Mabjaia and his colleagues on the secretariat.
There were 88 voting members of the Committee and 87 of them voted to sack the secretariat. Mabjaia and the rest of the secretariat enjoyed the confidence of just one member of the Committee (presumably Mabjaia himself).
Although the meeting was behind closed doors, there can be little doubt that the main reason for Mabjaia's fall was the way he had handled the selection of the Frelimo candidate for mayor of Maputo in the 10 October municipal elections.
He had played a key role in excluding two candidates who were strongly favoured by younger members of Frelimo in the city - Samora Machel Junior ("Samito"), the son of the first President of Mozambique, Samora Machel, and the actor and theatre director, Gilberto Mendes.
Instead, Frelimo Political Commission member, Eneas Comiche, who is a former mayor of the city, was chosen as the candidate. Although there is no doubt about Comiche's competence and integrity, he is 79 years old, and the decision to run him came as a surprise to many young people inside and outside Frelimo.
The decision precipitated a rift in the party, when Machel announced that he would run as an independent. He became the mayoral candidate of the Youth Association for the Development of Mozambique (AJUDEM), but AJUDEM's name was kept off the ballot paper because it did not have enough candidates to fill all the seats available on the Maputo Municipal Assembly. AJUDEM says this was because pressure was put on several of its members to take their names off the list of candidates.
Mabjaia has now paid the price for this dispute and Frelimo in Maputo is looking for a new leadership. In the meantime the Frelimo organisation in the city will be run directly by the Political Commission.
The Frelimo spokesperson and Central Committee Secretary for Mobilisation and Propaganda, Caifardine Manasse, downplayed the drama of sacking an entire secretariat. He told "Mediafax" that Frelimo remains cohesive, and the removal of the city secretariat should be interpreted as a result of the internal democracy the party has always cultivated since its foundation.