15 May 2019

Mozambique: Machel Junior Refusing to Join New Party

Maputo — One of the founders of Mozambique's newest political party, Podemos (Party of Optimists for the Development of Mozambique) hopes that Samora Machel Junior ("Samito"), son of the country's first President, Samora Machel, will join the organisation - but so far Machel has refused to have anything to do with Podemos.

Podemos founder Albino Forquilha, who was a strong supporter of Machel's bid to become Mayor of Maputo last year, when asked by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) if Machel could be a possible presidential candidate for Podemos in the October general elections, said "yes, that's right", without any hesitation.

But when DW approached Machel himself, he made it clear that he is still a member of the ruling Frelimo Party, despite the disciplinary action being proposed against him because of his attempt to stand against Frelimo in last year's municipal elections.

"How am I going to do something like this?", Machel replied, when DW asked if he would accept an invitation from Podemos to be its presidential candidate. "I am in Frelimo".

Asked if, despite his well-know disagreements with the Frelimo leadership, the conditions still existed for him to remain in Frelimo, Machel retorted "If there weren't, I would have left already".

Machel had hoped to become Frelimo candidate for mayor of Maputo in the municipal elections held last year, and claimed he had massive support from the Maputo Frelimo membership. Nonetheless, Frelimo chose former finance minister Eneas Comiche as its candidate.

This rebuff led Machel to try standing as an independent. He accepted an invitation from a civil society group, AJUDEM (Youth Association for the Development of Mozambique), to become its mayoral candidate. However, the National Elections Commission (CNE) disqualified AJUDEM on the grounds that its list did not have enough candidates to fill all the seats on the Maputo Municipal Council.

Machel was accused of violating the Frelimo statutes by attending in an election against the Frelimo candidate. The matter was expected to be discussed at a meeting of the Frelimo Central Committee, of which Machel is a member, earlier this month. Instead a decision has been postponed until the next meeting which will not take place until after the general election.

Forquilha was prominent in AJUDEM, as were other founder members of Podemos. They also claim that they were once active in Frelimo. Forquilha told the independent newssheet "Mediafax" it was discontent within Frelimo that had led to the foundation of Podemos.

Although the elections are now just five months away, Podemos says it fully intends to stand candidates.

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