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Publish date: 13 May 2024
Issue Number: 1076
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: general


Frelimo is tipped to win Mozambique's upcoming elections, retaining the power it has held since independence. It is fielding the country's first likely President who was not a guerrilla fighter. Daniel Chapo, born two years after Mozambique gained independence, may have Filipe Nyusi hovering in the background. News24 spoke to analyst Marisa Lourenço about Frelimo, Chapo and Nyusi.


What was the fuss about Frelimo's internal election process? It's almost certain Frelimo will emerge victorious at the upcoming polls. This will be done through a combination of its liberation credentials (it fought against Portuguese colonialism until independence in 1975); its enormous organisational and mobilisation capacity; the demise of the key opposition parties, the Mozambican National Resistance and Mozambique Democratic Movement; and rigging through voter intimidation and ballot stuffing. This means that whoever was chosen as the incoming Frelimo president is more than likely to be the next head of state, making an internal party matter a wider national issue.


Frelimo's presidential candidate selection is always a tightly guarded secret until voting time. Can you explain how the process works? There is a central committee, made up of 250 elected party members, with representation from all 11 provinces, and a political commission, which has 19 members, including the incumbent president and the party secretary-general. The remaining 17 are senior politicians, often handpicked by the former president (depending on his hold over the party once he leaves office) and the incumbent (depending on the extent to which he has managed to get his allies into the inner circle). While the central committee meets twice or three times a year, the political commission meets every week, underlining its position as the most powerful decision-making body in Frelimo. In an election year, the political commission presents a shortlist to the central committee, usually by mid-March, with up to three names, from which the central committee will vote. If the central committee indicates displeasure with the selection, it can reject the list or request that the political commission add new names. The winning candidate must receive more than 50% of the total vote. Failing that, a run-off between the two candidates with the highest vote shares is held.


Who is Daniel Chapo? He currently serves as the governor of Inhambane province, and his professional background is in law, journalism, and local and provincial politics. He is, in many ways, a surprising choice. Frelimo's presidents often have military experience, like Samora Machel (1975-1986), Joaquim Chissano (1986-2005), and Armando Geubuza (2005-2015); or served as minister of defence, like Nyusi. He also maintained a relatively low profile throughout Nyusi's time in power, and most of his political positions have been significant but not transformative.

Full Q&A interview

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