Mozambique: Assembly Elects Members of Council of State

Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday elected the seven members to which it is entitled on the Council of State, an advisory body to the President of the Republic.

This was only an election in a technical sense: the seven members were, in reality, chosen by the political parties represented in the Assembly, and in proportion to the number of seats they hold. This the ruling Frelimo Party, with its huge majority in the Assembly (184 out of 250 seats) appointed five members to the Council of State, while the main opposition party, Renamo, appointed two.

The third parliamentary party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) only holds six seats, which is not enough to allow it to appoint any members.

The six appointed by the Frelimo Parliamentary group are Alcinda Abreu (a member of the Frelimo Political Commission, who has held several government posts, including foreign minister and environment minister); Methodist pastor Jamisse Taimo (former chairperson of the National Elections Commission and general inspector of the Ministry of Science and Technlogy); islamic cleric Aminuddin Mohammed; Felizarda Paulino (a supplementary member of the Assembly from Nampula province); and Maria Luisa Massamba.

Renamo appointed Juliano Picardo (a former parliamentary deputy, who stood for President of Renamo at the party's Congress in January 2019, but only received five votes), and businessman Abdul Magide Ibraimo.

The other members of the Council of State are President Filipe Nyusi, previous presidents (Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza), the speaker of the Assembly (Esperanca Bias), former speakers (Eduardo Mulembue and Veronica Macamo), the Prime Minister (Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, the chairperson of the Constitutional Council (Lucia Ribeiro), The ombudsman (Isaque Chande), the runner-up in the latest presidential election (Renamo leader Ossufo Momade), and four figures chosen by Nyusi.

Nyusi's choices were former defence minister Alberto Chipande (the man reputed to have fired the first shots in Mozambique's war of independence), former education minister, and currently a leading civil society activist, particularly on matters of women's and children's rghts, Graca Machel, a former Frelimo commander in the liberation struggle, Eduardo da Silva Nihia, and the Mayor of Beira and leader of the MDM, Daviz Simango.

The President must consult the Council of State prior to any declaration of war, or of a state of emergency or state of siege. The Council must also be consulted over the date of general elections, and if the President wishes to dissolve the Assembly, to hold a referendum, or to sack any provincial governor or district administrator.

The Assembly also appointed five members of a second advisory body, the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS). Four of the members were appointed by the Frelimo parliamentary group and one by Renamo.

The Frelimo appointees were former Security Minister Jacinto Veloso, former Defence Minister Aguiar Mazua, former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Antonio Hama Thai, and founder member of the women's detachment during the independence war, Marina Pachinuapa. Renamo appointed a colonel from its militia, Domingos Manuel Joaquim.

They will join former interior minister Basilio Monteiro, whom Nyusi has appointed general secretary of the CNDS.

Under the Constitution, the Council must give its opinion prior to any declaration of war, or state of emergency or state of siege, and the suspension of constitutional guarantees these may involve.

None of these states have ever been declared in Mozambican history. Other powers of the CNDS are much more likely to be invoked - thus it must give its opinion on Mozambican participation in peace missions abroad, advise on the criteria for using zones of total or partial protection intended for the defence and security of Mozambican territory, and "analyse and accompany initiatives of other state bodies that seek to guarantee consolidation of national independence, the strengthening of democratic political power and the maintenance of law and order".

The Assembly also appointed three members to the National Human Rights Commission. The two chosen by Frelimo are the former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Cidalia Chauque, and lawyer Alfredo Caetano Dias. Renamo appointed Augusto Mateus, who was a political adviser to the later Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakama.

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