The ruling Frelimo party, which has run Mozambique since 1975, is likely to struggle to hang on to its overwhelming majority, according to sources in Maputo, against opposition parties Renamo and Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). There is also a strong chance that Renamo, the former rebel forces long in Frelimo’s shadow, will drop to third place in the voting.
“I think this election could be tight and Frelimo is unlikely to win a two thirds majority,” says a senior advisor to the government, who wished to remain anonymous.
“Unless there is a miracle, I think Renamo will drop to third place behind MDM. People in this country do not want war and they were not happy with the semi-civil war that Renamo tried to start last year.”
The man who will take the reins of Mozambique is Filipe Nyussi, the anointed successor of President Armando Guebuza, who was nominated by the ruling part in March. He is the son of former guerrilla fighters and is also expected to carry on the free market of the Guebuza years. Nyussi has little experience in business, but is known for his efficiency in running CFM, the state-owned railways and ports.
Political analysts in South Africa agree the elections will run smoothly and victory is certain for the ruling party.
“Mozambicans are willing to participate in the democratic elections, there’s no place for the rebels. When Nyussi gave a public lecture at UNISA (in Pretoria) he came across as somebody who could take the growing country’s economy to another level. He definitely stands head and shoulders above the rest,” says Shadrack Gutto, UNISA professor and political analyst.
In the first week of September, Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakama, returned to Maputo for talks with president Guebuza. This was their first meeting after Dhlakama went into hiding at the end of 2013 after a political dispute.
“I am afraid that if Renamo doesn’t change leadership they will definitely fail in these elections. I think it is frustrations, I have seen the party doing desperate things such as going back to the bush. But they have recently committed to put the arms down and go to the polls. On the other hand, Frelimo has been holding regular elections. No doubt, Nyussi is the party choice and there’s confidence that he will grow the economy,” says Tawana Kupe, a professor at Wits University in Johannesburg.
Dhlakama, who has run in every presidential race since 1994, saw his support wane to 16% in 2009 polls.
The World Bank forecasts the Mozambican economy will grow by 8.1% this year and up to 8.6% in 2015.
In August, president Guebuza launched the 175MW gas plant at Ressano Garcia. It was a joint venture between Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) and Sasol, a South African energy company with a 49% stake.
“Mozambique is set to become a global top ten gas player in the near future, if all the exploration and proven reserve results are taken into account… From an investment perspective, there have already been interests both from countries in the East as well as South Africa as off takers to products,” says Johan Muller, an energy analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
A peaceful election could help usher in a new era of prosperity in what was once one of the poorest countries in the world.