Mozambique: Alto Molocue Assembly Meeting Postponed

Maputo — The chairperson of the Alto Molocue municipal assembly, in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, Francisco Cinquenta, unilaterally postponed the meeting of the Assembly that was due to be held on Wednesday, according to a report in the Quelimane-based electronic paper "Txopela".

This meeting is crucial because it was scheduled to debate and vote on the plan of activities and budget for the Alto Molocue municipality in the coming year. The Assembly has already rejected the plan and budget once. Were the documents to be rejected a second time, that could lead to the dissolution of the Assembly and the holding of new municipal elections in the town.

The ruling Frelimo Party has 10 seats in the Assembly, and so has the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo. This puts considerable power into the hands of the sole member of the Assembly from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), Andre Txetxema. His vote breaks any tie between the Frelimo and Renamo groups.

At the last sitting of the assembly, Txetxema voted with the Renamo group against the plan and budget. A few days later, on 5 July, unidentified assailants broke into Txetxema's house, and beat him severely. His injuries were so serious that he could not be treated locally, but had to be evacuated to the Central Hospital in the neighbouring province of Nampula.

The attack on Txetxema does not necessarily mean that the plan and budget will now pass, because Txetxema's place in the Assembly will simply be filled by the next person on the list of MDM candidates.

Cinquenta avoided possible rejection of the plan and budget on Wednesday, by postponing the meeting to an as yet unknown future date. He sent mobile phone text messages to the heads of the Frelimo and Renamo groups in the Assembly, claiming that he had to undergo medical treatment for cardio-vascular problems and high blood pressure. He said he was postponing the meeting on medical advice.

Nonetheless, the Renamo members turned up at the Assembly building, only to find the doors locked. The Assembly secretary, Macario Paulino, told reporters that Cinquenta had no power to postpone the meeting, and he had clearly violated the standing orders of the Assembly.

Meanwhile, Txetxema, speaking from his Nampula hospital bed, claimed that Frelimo had attempted to bribe him to vote with them, rather than with Renamo, on the plan and budget. He was convinced that his refusal to accept the bribe led to the attack against him, which he regarded as attempted murder.

The mayor of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo, who is also the Renamo candidate for governor of Zambezia in the forthcoming provincial elections, visited Txetxema, and then issued a statement noting that "in our country, in pre-election periods, macabre acts, threats and extra-judicial executions have happened frequently".

He said that Renamo "strongly repudiates any and every type of pre-election violence. We demand a speedy investigation in order to ascertain the circumstances of this attempted murder, and that those responsible be brought to justice as quickly as possible".

The police have refused to make any statement on the matter to the media.

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