Maputo, 5 Jun (AIM) – A former spokesperson for Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party, Caifadine Manasse, is suing 23 Frelimo parliamentary deputies, all from the central province of Zambezia, for criminal libel, reports Monday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique”.
This lawsuit is unprecedented. Never before has a senior Frelimo figure opted to wash the party’s dirty linen in the courts.
This comes a few months after claims by Venancio Mondlane, a prominent deputy in the largest opposition party, Renamo, that a Frelimo deputy in Zambezia was involved in drug trafficking. This deputy was also supposedly a member of the Assembly of the Republic’s governing board, it’s Standing Commission. A Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the matter, but was unable to identify any deputy who was also a drug trafficker.
But, according to “Carta de Mocambique”, it is widely believed that the person responsible for the rumour was not Venancio Mondlane, but Caifadine Manasse, who supposedly invented the drugs story to target his fellow Zambezia deputy, Helder Injonjo, who is the First Deputy Chairperson of the Assembly.
This was one of the accusations against Manasse which led to his expulsion from the Frelimo Zambezia Provincial Committee in March. Other charges against Manasse included incitement to violence, failure to pay his party dues, and breaching confidentiality about matters concerning the life of the party and its leaders.
It was thought that the Frelimo Central Committee might discuss the case of Manasse when it met in March. But the case was not discussed, since Manasse had appealed against his expulsion to the Zambezia Provincial Verification Commission, the Frelimo disciplinary body in the province.
Rather than settle the matter behind closed doors, Manasse sent a request to the Attorney-General’s Office (PGR) on 31 May, asking for the start of criminal proceedings against 23 Zambezia deputies.
In his request to the PGR, Manasse claimed that the Zambezia Frelimo parliamentary group had imputed to him “in a public and conscious manner, facts offensive to his honour and good name”.
A report submitted to the Zambezia Provincial Committee accused Manasse of attempted character assassination by associating Injonjo with drug trafficking. The report said there was evidence that Manasse was the author of this claim.
Following this report, the Provincial Committee expelled Manasse from its ranks. This decision, Manasse told the PGR, “created embarrassment for my personal life and my political career”. Following “all these lies”, Manasse became “a victim of attacks” in the media.
The 23 deputies, he said, were aware of the malicious purpose they intended to achieve, and of the consequences of their acts. Their behavior “has provoked very deep damage, that will be very difficult to repair”, particularly in his political life “as a senior militant of the Frelimo Party”.
He accused the 23 deputies of criminal libel. They had intended “not only to stain my honour and good name, but also to destroy my character and reputation”. He claimed they wanted to destroy his future, “as a man, as a politician and as a professional”.
This bitter dispute is certainly the last thing the Frelimo leadership wanted during an election year.