Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday relieved six members of the central government of their duties, thus clearing the way for them to take up their seats in the newly elected parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Monday.
The six who are leaving the government are: Prime Minister - Carlos Agostinho do Rosario Interior Minister - Jaime Basilio Monterio Minister of Youth and Sport - Nyeleti Mondlane Minister of State Administration and the Public Service - Carmelita Namashalua Minister of Education - Conceita Sortane Minister of Labour - Vitoria Diogo.
Also relived of their duties, and for the same reasons, were the governors of Maputo and Niassa provinces, Raimundo Diomba and Francisca Tomas, and an adviser to the President, Caterina Dimande.
Under Mozambican legislation, nobody can be a member of both the government and of the Assembly at the same time. But, after he has been sworn into office for his second term, next Wednesday, there is nothing to stop Nyusi reappointing to the government those people now relieved of their duties. In that case, they would have to resign their parliamentary seats, which would be occupied by the next names on the list of candidates of the ruling Frelimo Party.
Nyusi is expected to relieve the other members of the government of their duties within the next week, and to announce his new government within days of his investiture ceremony.
The parliamentary deputies elected on 15 October should take up their seats on Monday, at a sitting of the Assembly chaired by Nyusi.
The Assembly's general secretary, Armando Correia, told reporters on Thursday that all the logistical conditions are now in place for the Monday ceremony. He expected all the elected deputies to arrive in Maputo by Friday.
Asked if all the political parties will attend the ceremony, Correia said it was not up to the Assembly's administrative machine, its secretariat, to declare which deputies would be attending and which would not.
Both opposition parties, Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), have denounced the election results as fraudulent. Nonetheless the MDM has made clear that it will take up its parliamentary seats.
Renamo's position is not entirely clear. The party's leader, Ossufo Momade, has promised that Renamo will hold demonstrations throughout the country in protest against the election results, but has not yet announced whether Renamo will boycott the new Assembly.
Then main results of such a boycott would be that Renamo would cease to receive its monthly subsidy from the state budget, and that Renamo deputies would not be able to draw their parliamentary wages.
Frelimo has an overwhelming majority in the new parliament, holding 184 of the 250 seats. Renamo has been reduced to 60 seats, while the MDM holds just six.
An additional headache for Frelimo is that one of its deputies elected from the southern province of Gaza, Alberto Niquice, is facing charges of raping a 13 year old girl last year. The case file against him, dated 23 July 2019, is currently in the first police precinct in the provincial capital, Xai-Xai, reports Friday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique".
A coalition of 30 civil society organisations, known as "Civil Society in Defence of the Human Rights of Women", has called on the Assembly not to allow Niquice to take up his seat, while he is facing such a serious accusation.
The civil society coalition sent copies of this request to the Attorney-General's Office and to the Constitutional Council, the country's highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law. The civil society bodies argued that it would be "a political and ethical aberration", if Niquice were to take his seat while this case is still hanging over him.
Niquice is a prominent figure in Gaza. He is the owner of "Kaunda Eventos", a company which has frequently organized government events in the province.
"Carta de Mocambique" telephoned Niquice who confirmed that there is an accusation against him, but refused to give any further details.