Mozambique: New Political Party Intends to Appeal to Youth

Maputo — The former chairperson of Mozambique's Youth Parliament, Salomao Muchanga, has announced the creation of a new party "Nova Democracia" ("New Democracy") which plans to contest this year's parliamentary and provincial elections.

Interviewed in Friday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", Muchanga said the new party intends "to galvanize the living forces of society to establish a new political paradigm".

He claimed that Nova Democracia has been formed by "citizens from the most diverse sectors of society" who had decided "to raise their voices to interrupt the long political and economic truce in the country".

The new party would give primacy to questions of concern to women and young people. It would also focus on questions of human rights "which are a mirage in Mozambique".

Nova Democracia's commitment to youth would be shown in the composition of its lists of candidates for parliament and for the provincial assemblies. Muchanga said 80 per cent of the candidates will be between 21 and 35 years old. Currently only 12 per cent of Mozambican parliamentarians are under 35: young people, said Muchanga, are a majority in the country "but a minority in the decision making bodies".

"Putting power into the hands of young people will create objective conditions for a country of inclusion, which offers opportunities", he claimed. "Young people have primary responsibility for the development of the country".

He claimed that the creation of Nova Democracia was "the first political act of youth since independence".

The new party will stand parliamentary candidates in all 11 provincial constituencies, but will not contest the presidential election. "We are establishing a movement with a national agenda for the medium term", Muchanga said. A Congress of Nova Democracia, in late June or early July, will decide which (if any) presidential candidate the new party will support.

Asked who else is already a member of Nova Democracia, Muchanga refused to give any names, saying that society would "soon" know who the other founders of the party are.

As for policies, Muchanga said Nova Democracia will campaign in particular on the issue of youth employment.

Under Muchanga's leadership, the Youth Parliament was a dynamic component of many civil society initiatives in the recent past. But that will hardly be enough to win a national election which is less than five months away.

Mozambican politics remains polarised between the ruling Frelimo Party and the former rebel movement Renamo. Since the introduction of a multi-party system with the constitution of 1990, the only successful new party has been a breakaway from Renamo, the Mozambique Democratic Movement.

Literally dozens of other parties have formed, but none have made any breakthroughs. Those that stand in elections usually score less than one per cent of the vote. On the basis of Muchanga's interview, it is hard to Nova Democracia doing any better.

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