Mozambique: Podemos Presidential Candidate Is Little-Known Musician

Maputo — The recently created Mozambican Political Party PODEMOS (Party of Optimists for the Development of Mozambique) on Monday announced that its candidate for the 15 October presidential election is the musician Helder Luis Paulo de Mendonca, better known by his stage name Dinho XS.

PODEMOS was formed by some of the same people involved in Ajudem (Youth Association for the Development of Mozambique) which last year attempted to run Samora Machel Junior ("Samito), son of the country's first President, Samora Machel, as its candidate for Mayor of Maputo, in the October 2018 municipal elections.

But the National Elections Commission (CNE) disqualified Ajudem, on the grounds that it did not have enough candidates to fill all the seats in the Maputo Municipal Assembly.

When PODEMOS announced its existence, it was widely expected that Machel would be its candidate. Instead, Machel announced that he had nothing to do with PODEMOS.

On 3 June, PODEMOS registered with the CNE, and its election agent, Ernesto Stefane, declared that its candidate "is a well known individual, who will open the doors of freedom in this country".

But Mendonca is not well-known, and has no political experience whatsoever. He does have a tenuous connection with the national liberation struggle, in that he is the nephew of one of the heroes of the war against Portuguese colonial rule, Francisco Manyanga, who died in 1973.

In addition to his musical talents, he is a businessman. He told the meeting at which he was introduced that "rulers are capable of changing societies when they pursue a cause they consider just".

The current government was failing, he said, particularly because it supposedly has no specific policies for agriculture, and there were "too many problems in education".

Mendonca promised to deliver his nomination papers to the Constitutional Council, the highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, "in the coming days".

But he is running out of time. The deadline for nominations is Sunday, 16 June. By then Mendonca must collect at least 10,000 supporting signatures from registered voters. Each of those signatures must be recognised by a notary, and the form (which can be downloaded from the Constitutional Council website) must include a photograph of the candidate. For a small party, this is a gargantuan task.

The same problem is faced by Alice Mabota, the former chairperson of the Human Rights League (LDH), who publicly announced on Monday that she intends to run for the Presidency. She is supported by the Democratic Alliance Coalition (CAD), a grouping of five minor parties.

The CAD claims to have been collecting signatures to support Mabota but, just as with PODEMOS, it must be doubted whether they can possibly gather 10,000 valid signatures before the Sunday deadline.

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