Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday appointed Secretaries of State for all 11 provinces, in line with the legislation on decentralisation that was negotiated between the government and the main opposition party, Renamo, and approved last year by the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.
The legislation contains potential for conflict since it sets up two poles of power in the provinces - one is the directly elected provincial governor, and the other is the Secretary of State, appointed by and responsible to the President.
Several of the Secretaries of State are much better known public figures than the newly elected provincial governors.
For example, the Secretary of State for Maputo Province is Vitoria Diogo, who was Minister of Labour from 2015 until earlier this month. The Secretary of State in the northern province of Cabo Delgado is the former Deputy Education Minister, Armindo Ngunga.
In Sofala, the Secretary of State is Stella Pinto Zeca, formerly governor of Gaza province. In Manica, Edson Macuacua becomes Secretary of State - he was a senior parliamentarian in the ruling Frelimo Party, and chaired the parliament's working commission on constitutional and legal matters. As such, he was one of those responsible for drafting the package of laws on decentralisation.
Mety Gondola, a former general secretary of the Frelimo youth wing, the OJM (Mozambique Youth Organisation), becomes Secretary of State in Nampula, while Amosse Macamo, editor of the Frelimo "Boletim Informativo" (Information Bulletin), is Secretary of State in Gaza.
Dinis Vilanculos, formerly the Frelimo First Party Secretary in Inhambane province, is now Secretary of State in Niassa.
Ludmila Maguni, formerly Deputy National Director of Information and Communication Technologies in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, is Secretary of State in Inhambane, and Judith Faria, formerly provincial director of education in Nampula, becomes Secretary of State in Zambezia.
Although there is no provincial governor in Maputo City, the city does have its own Secretary of State. She is Sheila Santana Afonso, who was formerly the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development.
The 2019 law on the Representation of the State in the provinces, says that the central state is represented in the provinces and in Maputo City by a Secretary of State, who exercises the functions that are exclusive to the State and to state sovereignty.
The Secretary of State is tasked with organising state services not only in the province, but also in the districts. He or she heads the "Council of services of State provincial representation", which also includes the directors of the provincial services of the State, and delegates who represent public institutions in the province.
The Secretaries of State appear to enjoy greater protection than the provincial governors. A circular of 9 January, signed by Benigno Jonasse, head of the police Unit for the Protection of High Ranking Figures (UPAI), cited in Thursday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", says "Since there is a need to grant protection and security to the figure of the Secretary of State, I order the immediate allocation of all provisions of security to the Secretary of State, namely escort, aide-de-camp and protection at his/her workplace and residence. The governor should only keep an aide-de-camp and protection at the residence".
In other words, the governors will no longer be accompanied by escorts of police vehicles with their sirens blaring - those have been transferred to the Secretaries of State.
The decentralisation laws give long lists of areas in which the provincial governors may exercise their powers - including agriculture and land management, forestry, wild life and environmental conservation, public transport, housing, tourism, primary health care, roads and bridges, and promotion of local investment.
But anything to do with state sovereignty is covered by the secretaries of state - including defence and security, public order, supervision of the borders, natural resources, mining and energy.
The full list of Secretaries of State is as follows:
Niassa - Dinis Vilanculos
Cabo Delgado - Armindo Ngunga
Nampula - Mety Gondola
Zambezia - Judith Massacula Faria
Tete - Elisa Zacarias
Manica - Edson Macuacua
Sofala - Stella Pinto Zeca
Inhambane - Ludmila Maguni
Gaza - Amosse Macamo
Maputo Province - Vitoria Diogo
Maputo City - Sheila Santana Afonso