Jun 16, 2012
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Where is the opposition?

All around Maputo and Inhambane, the two largest cities in Mozambique I’ve been to so far, one can see posters of the ruling party, Frelimo, and of the president, Armando Guebuza. It might be like that at any given time, but it seems that the propaganda has been intensified recently due to the celebrations of the 50 years of the founding of Frelimo.

The former guerrilla and current dominant party has definitely used their five decades of existence to consolidate power. I have yet to see any presence of opposition parties in Mozambique. I have asked around and the answer is usually a smile and something like “ah, the opposition is too small/irrelevant/weak”. Of course, Maputo and Inhambane are in Southern Mozambique, strongholds of Frelimo; but still, at least in the capital it should be possible to stumble upon some form of manifestation from other parties.

At least two others, Renamo and MDM, have seats in the National Assembly, forming a recognizable minority. Frelimo has a supermajority and does not need to bargain with them, but at least formally they should have a channel to voice alternative platforms for the country.

However, I do not see that happening yet. I don’t see it in the streets, and I don’t see it in the media. The largest newspaper in the country, “Noticias”, is state-owned, and completely editorialized. A couple days ago, for example, the headline was “Growth surpasses current difficulties”, and it was basically a report on a speech by the president claiming that “the current quantitative and qualitative level of social structures and public services is by far superior to the one that existed in the colonial era”.

Well, it would be shocking if it wasn’t! Mozambique has been independent since 1975, and although it experienced a civil war until the mid 90’s, it would be hard not to have any improvement in nearly 40 years. What I find most disturbing is that the rhetoric of “we are better than during the colonial period” is still used to support the power structures in face of stagnant poverty. How long can that card be used successfully?

Aside of the level of discourse used by Frelimo, I haven’t seen a word about any other parties in either “Noticias” or in one of the largest independent newspapers, “O Pais”. Will keep looking.

Poster of the president of Mozambique in a market in Inhambane

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1 Comment

  • Who are the owners of the larger private media corporations? What are their political affiliations? Are they members of Frelimo? Do they have close ties to Frelimo? What about political institutions? Does parliament have any real power or is power concentrated in the executive branch?

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