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Mozambique youth demand greater stake

By Fred Katerere in Maputo
Posted on Thursday, 17 May 2012 16:29

Competition for the leadership and calls for fairer distributions of national resources are shaking up the party that has ruled Mozambique since it gained independence in 1975.

A s Mozambique’s economic successes – $70bn of investment in gas production, 10bn in coal mining and another $10bn in infrastructure over the next decade, predicted by the World Bank – seize international attention, its leading politicians are vying to succeed President Armando Guebuza.

The big date this year is the ruling Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) party’s 10th congress on 23-30 September, when it is to elect a new leader who will almost certainly go on to win national presidential elections in 2014.

Until recently, the main division in FRELIMO has been between sup- porters of President Guebuza and those of his predecessor Joaquim Chissano.

This year, younger party activists are making their voices heard with demands that the coming resource windfall should be managed for the benefit of the wider society and not monopolised by the party elite.

As some politicians try to profit from these investments, factions in FRELIMO are making common cause with younger activists demanding more accountability. A key figure here is former prime minister Luisa Diogo, who has warned her colleagues that the fruits of economic success are not reaching most of the people.

After a stint as finance minister and working for the World Bank, Diogo is now heading Barclays Bank in Mozambique. Many tip her to become the next leader of FRELIMO and then state president.

She has strong backing from FRELIMO’s youth league, the Organização Juventude de Moçambique.

Last month, Prime Minister Aires Ali echoed Diogo’s concerns in a speech to parliament about worsening inequality. The faction backing Diogo is competing against the Guebuza and Chissano factions.

On 3 March, FRELIMO youth league leader Basílio Muhate criti- cised mayors for using young activists to win elections and then abandoning them.

Muhate and his colleagues also accused senior party and government officials of entrenching nepotism.

President Guebuza, who was a guest at the conference, seemed to have been taken by surprise. He replied irascibly, accusing the youths of not knowing the country’s liberation history, and that just seems to have deepened the rift. ●

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