Mozambique: How Does a Mayor Govern With No Assembly Majority?

In 7 municipalities, no party has a majority in the municipal assembly. How does the mayor govern? Our investigation shows that decisions are being made locally, with the MDM supporting Frelimo in 4 municipalities and the MDM and Renamo collaborating in 3. (See table in attached pdf version of this bulletin.)

In three of these municipalities - Alto Molocue, Marromeu and Monapo - there is a particular tension because parallel counts showed that Renamo had won the election, but after election commission counts from which the opposition was excluded, the official results gave victory to Frelimo.

In Alto Molocue, MDM is supporting Renamo and there are serious problems. The only MDM member of the assembly was severely beaten and hospitalised, and Frelimo would not allow him to be replaced on the assembly, and approved the plan and budget is his absence. (See article below)

In the other two, Marromeu and Monapo, MDM voted in favour of the Frelimo candidate to be speaker of the municipal assembly and supported the Frelimo mayor's five year plan and budget. But the tensions were clear in Monapo, where the plan and budget were only approved last week, on 14 August.

In the agreement with Renamo and subsequent law changes, provincial governors and municipal mayors are elected by a head of list system. The top person on the party list that receives the most votes for assembly automatically becomes mayor or governor. But the largest party need not have a majority in the assembly, and this happened in 7 municipalities in the elections last year. This forces a negotiation between parties to try to build a majority. This is common in many countries but Mozambique has little experience of this, so this Bulletin carried out an investigation as to how the lack of majority was resolved in the 7 municipalities.

It is possible that two parties could work together to oppose the mayor, but, surprisingly, this has occurred in only 2 municipalities, and only partially.

In two municipalities the MDM, with only 1 or 2 seats, holds the deciding vote. In 4 of those the MDM supported the largest party, the party of the mayor. In Beira MDM is largest party (with 22 seats). Frelimo has 14 and Renamo has 12, which means they could cooperate of oppose MDM, but instead Renamo is backing the MDM.

Three assembly votes are particularly important. In the first session, the assembly elects its speaker by secret ballot. In all 7 municipalities, the speaker is of the same party as the mayor, although in some cases the voting seems strange. (see below)

The other two votes are to approve the plan and budget. If these are not approved, central government intervenes and there can be a new election. In 5 of the municipalities there was an informal accord which allowed the plan and budget to be approved.

Most agreements have been informal and confidential. But in Malema MDM gave support to the mayor in exchange for an MDM member being named assembly secretary and for MDM members being given jobs, particularly in cleaning.

In Ribaue the only MDM member, Joao Oscar Leite Sousa, says he is taking his decisions on an issue by issue basis. He supported the plan and budget, but voted again the first quarterly report of the new administration.

The attitude of Renamo members has been mixed. In Monapo, Marromeu and Matola Renamo abstained or voted against resolutions. In Alto Molocue, Renamo sometimes abstained and sometimes walked out.

And there has been pettiness. In Malema the Renamo mayor was not allowed to move into the municipal house of the previous Frelimo mayor.

Alto Molocue: Beaten after voting against plan and budget

In Alto Molocue, the MDM vice president of the Municipal Assembly (AM), Andre Manuel Txetema, was badly beaten on 5 July by three unidentified men. MDM member Gil da Cruz to him voting with Renamo to reject the plan and budget proposed by the Frelimo mayor.

Txetema was so seriously beaten that he was in the Nampula Central Hospital until 6 August, and has now been transferred to a local hospital. MDM asked to substitute Andre Txetema for 30 days. The response was that the AM needed a medical report, which was presented. But Frelimo refused to accept it, saying it was not trustworthy.

So at the 2 August AM meeting MDM was no able to be present and Renamo walked out in protest. Without the two opposition parties, Frelimo passed the plan and budget.

Speakers of Municipal Assemblies

The Provincial Assembly elects its president (speaker) by secret vote at its first session. This is the report of those votes:

Monapo, Frelimo and MDM voted for the Frelimo candidate and Renamo for its candidate.

Alto Molocue, Frelimo voted for its candidate, and so did 1 member of Renamo. Other Renamo and MDM voted for Renamo.

Marromeu and Ribaue, Frelimo voted for its candidate, and so did 1 member of Renamo. Other Renamo voted for Renamo. MDM abstained.

Malema, Renamo and MDM voted for Renamo and Frelimo voted for its candidate.

Matola, Frelimo and MDM voted for Frelimo and Renamo voted for its candidate.a, MDM and Renamo voted for the MDM candidate and Frelimo voted for its own party.

Revised party lists

Revised party lists were published on 20 August by the National Elections Commissions, after some lists were excluded. 9 parties are standing in all 11 provinces and 17 in only some provinces. One party is standing only in provincial elections. The full details are in the attached pdf.

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