Campaign ends as Mozambique prepares for national elections

Political parties in Mozambique have ended their campaigns as voters prepare to go to the polls tomorrow to choose a president, parliament and provincial assemblies.
The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, known as Frelimo, is expected to continue its domination of the political scene. But a new political party has emerged to compete for the leadership of the opposition.
Political parties in Mozambique held their final rallies Sunday parading through the streets of Maputo and passing out leaflets.

Voters are expected to re-elect President Armando Guebuza to a second, five-year term and give his Frelimo party continued control of parliament and many provincial assemblies.

Frelimo led the struggle for independence in 1974 and has dominated politics ever since.

Spokesperson Danilo Nhantumbo says Guebuza wants to build on the country’s impressive recent growth rate and improve the quality of life in what the United Nations says is one of the world’s poorest countries.
“The priorities: Education, health and infrastructure and to promote the culture of peace and democracy and good governance,” said Nhantumbo.

But the Renamo Party, which fought a 17-year civil war against Frelimo after independence, hopes its candidate, Afonso Dhlakama, will win the presidency on his fourth try.

Renamo Spokesperson Eduardo Namburete says the ruling party has been in power too long.
“We are very concerned about the lack of justice for citizens. Justice is only allowed for people who are connected to the ruling party,” said Nambureta. “Ordinary citizens are not entitled to fair justice.”

Dhlakama has been accused of weakening the party by refusing to step aside in favor of a new generation of political leaders. He says if he loses tomorrow he will not run again.

A new party, the seven month-old Mozambique Democratic Movement, is the result of a Renamo power struggle. Its 45 year-old leader, Daviz Simango is the mayor of Beira, the country’s second city. He was expelled from Renamo last year but ran as an independent and won re-election.

MDM parliamentary candidate Ismael Mussá says its time for the younger generation to govern.

He says the MDM is focused on the youth which has three major problems: housing, education and jobs.

Political analyst Calton Cadiado of Maputo’s Institute for International Relations, says Simango and the MDM are likely to be viewed as the success story of these elections.
“No matter what kind of results he [MDM] will have in these elections, he will be a successful party because he is a new party and he is trying to come into this political process in a high dimension,” said Cadiado.

But he says the new-comer needs to win some important seats in parliament in order to be seen as a major player.

There have been reports of political intimidation and occasional violence during the campaign. And opposition parties have complained that some of their candidates were excluded from the race on technicalities.

But all parties say they want a peaceful and orderly vote tomorrow.