NewsSouthern AfricaMozambique's Family relations, business barons and top negotiators


Posted on Friday, 15 March 2013 16:47

Mozambique's Family relations, business barons and top negotiators

By Jinty Jackson in Maputo

Photo©GIULIO NAPOLITANO/FAO; JINTY JACKSON/AFP; STR/REUTERSAs President Armando Guebuza prepares to step down in 2014, intermediaries, businessmen and members of the presidential family find new positions of influence.


The unassuming governor of Tete Province,Alberto Vaquina(1), seemed as surprised as anyone when President Armando Guebuza picked him to replace Aires Ali as prime minister during a dramatic cabinet reshuffle in October.

Correia is often seen as a frontman for Guebuza's business interests

Ruling party members generally welcomed the move, but Vaquina has struggled under the heavy mantle of his predecessor.

His ability to push through a new probity law – forcing lawmakers to choose between parliamentary and corporate positions – will be a key test of his abilities in 2013.

Agriculture minister Jose Pacheco's (2) star appears to be rising within the ruling party, the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo).

As far as further aspirations go, members of the public point out that he was interior minister during violent bread riots in 2010.

President Guebuza handed Pacheco a challenge when he selected him to head negotiations with the belligerent Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) opposition party in December.

The bellicose Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama(3) has been rattling his sabre from a remote military camp, and this presents a major headache for Guebuza's government.

Frelimo's usual response has been either to ignore him or pay him off, but that may not work as easily this time.

Dhlakama is banking on the fear his antics generate amongst ordinary Mozambicans to claim a bigger stake.

His activities are also distracting attention from his closest political rival, Daviz Simango, whose Movimento Democrático de Moçambique had looked set to wrest official opposition status from Renamo's grasp at the next elections.

In the meantime, the threat to stability casts a pall over the frenzy of investment in coal, gas and infrastructure.

One of the figures at the epicentre of that frenzy, José Eduardo Dai, is making a name for himself as a deal-maker between government and big mining interests.

Dai helped found the new Mozambican chamber of mines this year and emerged as the head of Mozambican operations for one of the world's largest aluminium producers, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC).

With a dozen coal concessions, ENRC is set to become one of the biggest players in the country's coal sector in the next few years.

A member of the first lady's extended family, Dai has smoothed the way for the Kazakh giant to build a major rail link to the coast in order to get the coal to port.


Elsewhere in business, the meteoric rise of Celso Correia is generating controversy.

Still in his 30s, he is already chairman of the country's second-largest commercial bank, BCI.

In April his firm Insitec made $16.5m by selling off shares in the country's biggest building firm, CETA, which it acquired a year earlier for an undisclosed amount.

With a contract to construct another hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi River, there could soon be no shortage of work for the building company.

Correia, an indoor football champion turned corporate mogul, is often seen as a frontman for Guebuza's business interests.

Murmurs of favouritism became audible when Correia won a coveted position on the Frelimo central committee in September as part of a group of young guns.

Among that group is Valentina Guebuza, the president's daughter and head of family firm Focus 21.

Her elevation to the central committee as a representative of former combatants fanned speculation that a dynastic succession is in the offing●


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