Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday urged the ten new provincial governors to be "creative" in implementing the new model of decentralised governance.
Speaking at the ceremony in Maputo where he swore the governors into office, Nyusi recognised that they had a difficult task ahead of them, because there are no reference points. This is because, for the first time, the governors are not appointees of the President, but were directly elected in the 15 October general and provincial elections.
"This is not at all an easy mission", he said, "but given your individual experiences and those of your collaborators, you have everything required to be successful".
Nyusi admitted that "anomalies" could arise in the functioning of the new model for provincial governance. "We are in the process of installing this model", he said. "We are also capable of changing it to favour what the people want to know and attain".
"Sometimes it's advantageous to begin a process", he said. "And when we do our best, we can become a standard. But it can also be a disadvantage, because there is nothing to copy from".
Under the new system, approved unanimously by the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, the person who heads the list which wins most votes in the provincial assembly elections automatically becomes the new provincial governor.
Hopes by the opposition parties, Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) that they would win control of several provinces were dashed. The ruling Frelimo Party won a majority in all the provincial assemblies (which the opposition has blamed on fraud).
The ten governors are as follows:
- Niassa - Elina Judite Massengele
- Cabo Delgado - Valige Tauabo
- Nampula - Manuel Rodrigues
- Zambezia - Pio Matos
- Tete - Domingos Viola
- Manica - Francisca Tomas
- Sofala - Lourenco Bulha
- Inhambane - Daniel Chapo
- Gaza - Margarida Mapanzene
- Maputo province - Julio Parruque.
The post of governor of Maputo City has been abolished. The city is the only province whose boundaries coincide with those of a municipality. An elected governor would be redundant given that there is already an elected mayor.
Several of the governors already have experience under the previous system - Parruque was governor of Cabo Delgado, Rodrigues of Manica, and Tomas of Niassa. The only one who remains in the same province is Daniel Chapo.
Nyusi demanded that each governor should be an example of frankness, transparency and integrity so that speeches against corruption are more than an exercise in mere rhetoric.
"Avoid the temptation to confuse public assets with private property", he warned. "My appeal is that you manage public assets carefully. There are few such assets, but you must respect them, conserve them and use them for the correct purposes".
He wanted the governors to be pro-active, and not leave everything up to their subordinates. If they found that the bathrooms in a school were clogged up, for example, they should take action personally to solve the problem.
Nyusi pointed out that, with the new system, citizens in the provinces will not address their complaints to the President, but to the governor.
"That's the fruit of decentralisation", he said. "I wouldn't like to hear that it's easier to speak with the President than with the governor. It should be the other way round".
Nyusi told the governors not to innovate for the sake of innovation. "Don't try to invent the wheel", he exclaimed. "Avoid the temptation of wanting to change everything, as if you were inaugurating empty houses".
Instead, they should consider the experience and opinions of the staff they found working in the provincial offices - although this should not prevent them from recruiting whatever other staff they deemed necessary.
One embarrassing incident during the ceremony was that the governors took the wrong oath of office. They read out the oath appropriate for people appointed by the President, and not for directly elected governors.
This gaffe was serious enough for Nyusi's office to issue a "clarification", explaining that there had been "a mistake". The correct oath of office does not mention the President and states that the governor "will use all my energies at the service of the Mozambican people".
It is hard to see how the protocol officers could have made this mistake, since the oath is specified in the amendments to the Constitution passed by the Assembly of the Republic last year.