By Gary van Staden, Senior Political Analyst, NKC African Economics
Parties that want to contest national and provincial elections in October have until the end of July to submit their list of candidates to the national electoral commission (CNE). Meanwhile, the armed opposition Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) party continues to squabble over its leadership.
The submission of candidate lists opened this week, July 2, and will end on August 1 ahead of the elections scheduled for October 15. A total of 39 parties and coalitions have registered with the CNE to take part in the national and/or provincial polls.
Realistically, only the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) party, Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) that stunned Renamo last time out by winning some seats in its backyard have any prospect of success.
Frelimo is expected to emerge victorious once again and Renamo is likely to claim fraud and contest the outcome once again.
Renamo’s performance in the central and northern regions will be a key test of its electoral appeal. Changes to the constitution will allow Renamo to select the regional governor in those provinces where it obtains a majority, if any.
Meanwhile, local media reported in early July that a new group of Renamo fighters based in Funhalouro district in the Inhambane interior have threatened to block the demobilisation and disarmament process until the party’s leader, Ossufo Momade, resigns.
The call comes after accusations that Mr Momade had removed those who did not support him at the party’s congress earlier in the year.
A spokesperson for the Funhalouro group told media that there were 280 armed men in the district – a claim likely to be unreliable given the total absence of Renamo activity in the region for some time.
The new threats follow those made to media by Renamo dissidents in the central province of Sofala in June when Major General Mariano Nhongo threatened that dissidents would kill Mr Momade unless he resigned. The dissident fighters have been labelled deserters and criminals by the Renamo leadership and their credibility is in question.
Their claims that Brigadier Josefa de Sousa was executed on Mr Momade’s orders were proved false when the “dead” brigadier appeared at a press conference to say claims of his death had been exaggerated.
With electoral season now underway, there is a heightened possibility of renewed dissident Renamo conflict in parts of the country, coupled with localised Islamist fundamentalist activities in the Tanzania border regions that are likely to attract media attention.
We do not believe that these activities pose a serious threat to overall stability in the country. But given the proximity of the elections, they could prove disruptive at times and closer to the polls, there is an increased prospect of violence.
Frelimo remains the most likely winners of the polls, but we anticipate Renamo will once again reject the outcome, allege widespread rigging, and possibly provoke more short-term conflict.
Dissident Renamo activities are unlikely to have a major impact on stability or on Renamo, as their numbers remain small and they are isolated.