Maputo — The Central Committee of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party on Saturday night elected Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi as the party’s candidate for the 15 October presidential election.
Since none of the five candidates won a 50 per cent majority in the first round, the voting went to a second round, and the result was not announced until around midnight.
The results from the first round were:
1.Filipe Nyussi (Defence Minister) – 91 votes (46 per cent)
2.Luisa Diogo (Former Prime Minister 2004-2010) – 46 votes (23 per cent)
3.Alberto Vaquina (current Prime Minister) – 37 votes (19 per cent)
4.Aires Ali (former Prime Minister 2010-2012) – 19 votes (10 per cent)
5.Jose Pacheco (Agriculture Minister) -3 votes (2 per cent).
In the second round, Nyussi clinched his victory, winning 135 votes (68 per cent) to 61 votes for Diogo (31 per cent). In both rounds there was one invalid vote, cast by a Central Committee member trying to vote for two candidates.
The election marks a generational shift in Frelimo, in that all of the candidates are under 60 years old and thus too young to have taken part in the independence war that freed Mozambique from Portuguese colonial rule.
Of the five, Nyussi is the one with the closest links to the liberation war, in that his parents were Frelimo veterans in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and he was educated at the Frelimo primary school at Tunduru, in southern Tanzania, prior to Mozambican independence,
Nyussi was born on 9 February 1959, in the Cabo Delgado district of Mueda, often regarded as the cradle of the Mozambican revolution. He undertook his secondary education at the Frelimo school at Mariri in Cabo Delgado, and then at the Samora Machel Secondary School in Beira. He took a degree in mechanical engineering at the military academy in Brno, in Czechoslovakia, completing it in 1990, just as eastern European socialism was collapsing.
Back in Mozambique, he joined the publicly owned ports and rail company, CFM, and became assistant head of maintenance in the northern branch of the company (CFM-Norte) in 1992. He was Executive Director of CFM-Norte from 1995 to 2007.
He had never held any government position until 2008, when President Armando Guebuza appointed him Defence Minister, he post he has held up until now.
He was elected to the Frelimo Central Committee at the Party’s Tenth Congress, held in the northern city of Pemba in September 2012. He is not a member of the party’s most powerful body, its Political Commission. Even if he is elected President in October, according to the Party’s statutes, he will only sit on the Political Commission as a coopted member, without the right to vote.
The obvious solution to this problem would be for the Central Committee on Sunday to elect Nyussi as the party’s General Secretary, replacing Filipe Paunde, who resigned on Thursday. The General Secretary sits ex oficio on the Political Commission.
Of the five candidates, Nyussi is the least well-known nationally. Frelimo thus faces a major task to ensure that his name and image are known and recognized throughout the country before the October election, where he will almost certainly face the two best known figures in the opposition – Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel movement Renamo, and Daviz Simango, leader of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).
Immediately after the announcement of Nyussi’s victory, President Armando Guebuza, who is chairing the Central Committee meeting, declared “We had to seek ways of finding the best solution, and we did it. We chose our candidate, the candidate of Frelimo, who is the candidate of all Mozambicans”.
He added that all those who stood in the election “provided an excellent service to all Mozambicans”.
Taking Nyussi by the hand, Guebuza declared “we are going to win, and this is the candidate to win. United, let us match forward to victory”.