Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced his new government on Friday evening, and reappointed Carlos Agostinho do Rosario as Prime Minister.
Under the Mozambican system, the Prime Minister is not the head of the government, a position occupied by the President. He coordinates the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), and represents the government in its dealings with the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. Over the past five years, Rosario has been a steady hand on the tiller of government, and often stands in for Nyusi in the latter's absences.
Also reappointed is Adriano Maleiane, as Minister of Economy and Finance, even though, at the age of 70, he was the oldest member of the outgoing government. Maleiane has been handling the fallout from the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts" - the over two billion dollars in loans obtained by three fraudulent security-related companies from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia. Maleiane's team has been negotiating with the creditors, and no doubt Nyusi wanted to ensure continuity.
Nyusi reappointed Max Tonela as Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. An economist by profession, Tonela is now a key figure in the development of Mozambique's massive reserves of natural gas. During the life span of the new government, the first project producing and exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) will come on stream. This is the floating LNG unit, currently under construction in a South Korean shipyard.
At the same time, a least two onshore LNG plants are expected to be built on the Afungi Peninsula, in Palma district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Joao Machatine stays on as Minister of Public Works. Trained as a civil engineer, Machatine has a reputation for dynamism, and has been criss-crossing the country, dealing with crises such as the collapse of a bridge over the Montepuez river, which cut off the northern districts of Cabo Delgado from the rest of the country.
Nyusi has split the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development (MITADER) in two. The Rural Development component now goes into the Agriculture Ministry, headed by former MITADER minister, Celso Correia. A key figure in Correia's team at MITADER, the former National Director of the Environment, Ivete Mabasso, becomes the Minister of Land and Environment.
Replacing Jose Pacheco at the Foreign Ministry is Veronica Macamo who for the past ten years has been chairperson (speaker) of the Assembly of the Republic.
Margarida Talapa, formerly head of the parliamentary group of the ruling Frelimo Party, takes over from Vitoria Diogo as Minister of Labour.
Carmelita Namashalua leaves the Ministry of State Administration, and takes over from Conceita Sortane as Minister of Education.
Carlos Mesquita is moved from Transport and Communication to Industry and Trade, where he replaces Ragendra de Sousa. The new Minister of Transport and Communications is Janfar Abdulai.
Nyusi has appointed an entirely new team to run defence and security. He has replaced a general, Atanasio M'tumuke, with a civilian, Jaime Bessa Neto, to run the Defence Ministry. Neto was a prominent Frelimo parliamentarian, and formerly the Party's First Secretary in the central province of Sofala.
Amade Miquidade, formerly the general secretary of the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS), an advisory body to the President, becomes the new Interior Minister, replacing Basilio Monteiro.
Neto and Miquidade are faced with two foci of armed violence. One is a hangover from the war of destabilisation waged by what is now the main opposition party, Renamo. A dissident group, calling itself the "Renamo Military Junta", has rejected the peace agreement signed last August between Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, and has staged a series of deadly ambushes against vehicles on the main roads of Manica and Sofala provinces.
The second insurgency is in parts of Cabo Delgado, waged by terrorist groups that take inspiration from Islamic fundamentalism.
The former Deputy Minister of the Interior, Helena Kida, becomes the new Justice Minister, replacing Joaquim Verissimo.
One of the government's rising stars, Augusta Maita, takes over from Agostinho Mondlane as Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries. Maita came to prominence in 2018 when she was Frelimo candidate for mayor of Beira in the local elections of that year. She did not win, but she improved the Frelimo vote in what has traditionally been an opposition stronghold.
Since October 2018, she has been general director of the country's relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC).
The new Minister of Health, taking over from Nazira Abdula, is the endocrinologist Armindo Tiago, whose last position was Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration and Resources of Maputo's Eduardo Mondlane University.
Gabriel Salimo, a university mathematics lecturer, replaces Jorge Nhambiu as Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education.
One completely unexpected appointment is that of the musician Edelvina Materula as Minister of Culture and Tourism, replacing the plastic artist Silva Dunduru. Known as "Kika", Materula is an accomplished oboist, who has performed in several European orchestras. She is the driving spirit behind the widely praised Xiquitsi youth orchestra, which is shaping up as the first classical music ensemble in Mozambique.
Several ministerial posts remain unfilled - notably the Minister of State Administration, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, the Minister of Veterans' Affairs, and the Minister of Youth and Sport. Since none of these ministries have been abolished, it is safe to assume that Nyusi intends to announce more new ministers in the near future.
The composition of the government, as announced so far is as follows:
President of the Republic - Filipe Jacinto Nyusi
Prime Minister - Carlos Agostinho do Rosario
Minister of Economy and Finance - Adriano Maleiane
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation - Veronica Macamo
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development - Celso Correia
Minister of Land and Environment - Ivete Mabasso
Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy - Ernesto Max Tonela
Minister of Public Works and Water Resources - Joao Osvaldo Machatine
Minister of National Defence - Jaime Bessa Neto
Minister of the Interior - Amade Miquidade
Minister of Education - Carmelita Namashalua
Minister of Health - Armindo Tiago
Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries - Augusta Maita
Minister of Industry and Trade - Carlos Mesquita
Minister of Transport and Communications - Janfar Abdulai
Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security - Margarida Talapa
Minister of Science, Technology, Higher and Professional Education - Gabriel Salimo
Minister of Culture and Tourism - Edelvina ("Kika") Materula