South Africa’s “Daily Maverick” warns that the Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo) government could be on the road to authoritarianism.
They spell it out; this status indicates highly concentrated, centralised power, political repression and cold shouldering of challengers. The DM sees further moves towards autocracy as a result of the 2018 election, which was seen as unfairly favouring Frelimo.
The man on top, who has taken this road is Filipe Nyusi, now in his second presidency. Within three years of having been elected in 2015, he reduced Mozambique’s standing in the Economists Intelligence Unit’s list to that of an authoritarian government. Mozambique also lost four points in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance by 2019 to 26th out of 54 governments.
The African Union and SADC have been concentrating on the insurgency in northern Mozambique and the country’s first liquid gas export to Europe. Further moves towards autocracy seem to have been overlooked, which the DM sees as arising out of the 2018 election, which had been seen as having unfairly favouring Frelimo. The September Congress centred around Nyusi, who was elected as party leader with 100%, with no other candidates allowed. This may be a sign that he wishes to change the constitution to allow him a third term. No-one, not even Grace Machel, the widow of Samora Machel appears to be strong enough to oppose Nyusi.
The AU has pledged support for civil society to prevent unconstitutional government change. In the past two SADC leaders had ruled for lengthy periods, without the organisation’s reprimand: Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos. Both had exploited their countries. Hopefully in Mozambique civil society organisations will find their voice to defend both their constitution and democracy – and that they will have the AU’s support.