Maputo — Two prominent members of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, have defected from the former rebel movement Renamo to the smaller opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
They are the former Renamo Sofala provincial delegate, Albano Balaunde, and the party's former Beira delegate, Sandura Ambrosio.
At a rally in Beira on Sunday, the MDM leader and mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, announced that Balaunde will be the MDM candidate for governor of Sofala in the provincial elections scheduled for 15 October.
This is a major catch for the MDM. Balaunde joined Renamo in 1980, during the war of destabilisation, and rose to the rank of brigadier in the Renamo army. He was a member of the Renamo National Council, and was its Sofala delegate from 2012 to 2018.
He is said to have been one of the strategists advising the late Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who died in May 2018. In the January 2019 election to choose Dhlakama's successor, he backed the loser, Dhlakama's younger brother, Elias.
The new Renamo leader, Ossufo Momade, sacked both Balaunde and Ambrosio. The supporters of both men claimed that Momade's action was contrary to the Renamo statutes, and that the provincial and city delegates should be elected rather than appointed.
There was a struggle for control of the Renamo Beira office. Ambrosio said he had the support of Renamo members in the city, but he was eventually pushed out and replaced by Momade's appointee.
Ambrosio told reporters that he will be a member of the MDM list of parliamentary candidates. Cited on the website of the "Salad da Paz", a coalition of election observer bodies, he said "we are many Renamo cadres, in the province, the districts, the administrative posts, and even the city neighbourhoods who support Albano Balaunde".
Simango also announced that Luis Boavida will run as MDM candidate for governor of Zambezia province. Boavida was an outspoken Renamo member of parliament from 1995, until he switched to the MDM, shortly after Simango founded the party in 2009. For several years, he was the MDM general secretary, and he is a member of the party's national political committee.
Boavida will compete against the mayor of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo, who defected in the other direction, from the MDM to Renamo last year.
Simango presented two lesser known figures, Augusto Pelembe and Jose Avelino, as the MDM candidates for governor of Maputo and Cabo Delgado provinces respectively. Pelembe is currently a member of the Matola municipal assembly.
Simango said the MDM will shortly present its other candidates for governor - but their names are already known. Only one of them is a woman, Carla Mucavele, who will run for governor of the southern province of Gaza.
The candidates for Nampula, Niassa, Tete, Manica and Inhambane are respectively Mussa Amade Abudo, Damiao Simone, Carlos Chataica, Arone Mussualho (MDM candidate for mayor of the town of Gondola in 2013, and a member of the MDM National Council) and Artur Faduco.